Tuesdays @ Triad Fitness/Thomasville YMCA – 7.29.14 (Ahimsa – Powerlessness)

  We are all incompetent to some capacity.  There are two ways to respond to our inadequacies, violence or love.  I’ve learned to accept that there are just some poses in yoga that my body, anatomically, just isn’t prepared for yet.  It’s really frustrating.  My background in competitive sports often clicks in and I want to surpass what others are doing and even what I thought I could do myself.  When recently working on flying pigeon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEsJMOW6RKc), I injured my right knee.  Everything went fantastic on the left side, but I don’t have as much openness or flexibility in my right hip.  The lack of flexibility here also puts strain on my right knee.  So in a hurried state of thinking both sides should be equal, I heard a pop in my right knee.  It seems to be healing pretty well so far, but all of that could have been avoided if I just decided to not be violent towards myself.  There was no reason to throw myself into a pose that I know my body was not prepared for.  

  I tell the above recent reflection because I do not want you to be discouraged by your practice.  Yoga is not a “on to the next level of poses and see what I can do one or two times.”  It is a constant communication between your mind, body and the world within and around us.  A practice filled with familiar poses and a positive acceptance of the state of your body can do wonders for you mentally and physically.  You aren’t powerless … you are quite powerful when you display patience, acceptance and love.  Don’t let the anger you hold towards yourself keep you from the beauty of the moment.

Dealing with Powerlessness

Mantra – I love who I am right now.

Whether we respond with anger, withdrawal, frustration, or resignation, there is a way in which our mind shuts down, as if we are riding a train through a dark tunnel and we can’t see anything but darkness and anxiety.  Ahimsa, nonviolence, invites us to question the feeling of powerlessness rather than accept it.

There are three ways of thinking that can shift you out of a feeling of powerlessness:  practicing gratitude, trust in the moment, and thinking about others.  Any sense of powerlessness we are feeling can be traced back to the story we are telling ourselves in the moment about the situation.  We all have the choice to tell a different story and grow ourselves up to take responsibility for our lives in a new and fresh way.  With this attitude, feelings of powerlessness become opportunities to become competent rather than violent.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

Tuesdays @ Triad Fitness/Thomasville YMCA – 7.22.14 (Ahimsa – Self Love)

Another great night at the Triad Fitness Center and the Thomasville YMCA.  It still amazes me that we went through the seven chakras in seven months and now are almost done with our first month of the Yamas and Niyamas. 

For me, self love is a very tricky subject.  I feel like I do a pretty good job of supporting myself in my job (middle school math/science teacher), in leading yoga classes, and in other ventures in my life.  The hardest part for me is when there are no distractions and you are left by yourself.  It happens late at night for me.  It is bedtime, but I can’t shut my brain off.  I often let things creep in that can frustrate me and spiral into a sense of doubt and lack of competency.  I sit almost lost as the minutes and hours pass by on occasion.  I’ve become accustomed to equating love with the amount of tasks I completed in the day.  I don’t know where the idea came from, but that is how my brain functions.  I wish it would let me be content.  Self love is often difficult for me.  However, I do truly hold on to the notion that for me to give love to others that I must first love myself.  It excites me to know that I will have more to give when I can reflect during those quiet times.

Here is our meditation from tonight.  Enjoy!  Namaste :).

Self Love
– I am excited about my incompetencies.

How we treat oursleves is in truth how we treat those around us.  If you are a taskmaster with yourself, otherws will feel your whip.  If you are critical of yourself, others will feel your high expectations of themselves as well.  If you are light hearted and forgiving with yourself, others will feel the ease and joy of being with you.  If you find laughter and delight in yourself, others will be healed in your presence.

Love lies at the core of nonviolence and begins with our love of self.  Not a love that is ego-centric but a love that is forgiving and lenient; a love that sees the humor in the imperfections and accepts the fullness of the human expression.  Finding this love for all the parts of ourselves means we have to forgive ourselves.  Without forgiveness, we carry guilt like a heavy burden around our hearts.  Guilt holds our love for self and others hostage and keeps us bound to a one-sided expectation of the human experience.

Our inability to love and accept all the pieces of ourselves creates ripples – tiny acts of violence – that have huge and lasting impacts on others.  Attempts to change the self, rather than love the self, keeps us trapped in vicious cycles that we can’t crawl out of.

Where fear creates harm and violence, love creates expansion and nonviolence and the true safety that we seek.  Nonviolence is woven with love, and love of other is woven with love of self; these cannot be separated.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

Tuesdays @ Triad Fitness/Thomasville YMCA – 7.15.14 (Ahimsa – Balance)

Another great evening last night with the folks at the Triad Fitness Center and the Thomasville YMCA as we continue our study of Ahimsa (Nonviolence).  It is very easy to look at Ahimsa as just how we physically treat people and refrain from actually hurting someone by physical means.  It goes so much deeper.  Our focus for class was the mantra, “I am balanced.”  Yoga has done wonders for my balance between the left and ride sides of my body.  The asanas are extremely helpful in healing the physical body.  The same healing can be attained when looking at the balance between the inside and the outside of the body.  Take a moment to look at the passage we read last night as part of our meditation.  Thanks for reading!

Creating Balance
Mantra – I am balanced.

  Imbalance in our systems is almost a certainty for violence, as the “dis-ease” we feel within finds its way to expression outwards.  Balance creates harmony within us, and harmony within naturally expresses itself in external actions that are harmonious.  
  We are a hungry, noisy people, bombarded with stimulation and advertisements that promise to grant us our deepest desires.  It is anti-cultural to claim any space that is simply space, or to move with any kind of lingering, or to take time for closure.  We are bombarded and we bombard ourselves.
  Like the body, the mind and soul need time to rest.  We create this rest by allowing space that we can breathe in.  Not more clutter, but more space, space to reflect, space to journal, space for closure, space for imagination, and space to feel the calling of the life force within us.  
  Balance is like this.  Spreading ourselves thin looks impressive, but in the end, we are the first to lose.  The health and well-being of our body, mind and spirit is a powerful resource and by keeping ourselves in balance, we can stride through life with greater competence and ease.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

Tuesdays @ TFC/YMCA – 7.8.14 (Ahimsa – Courage)

In our Tuesday classes, we studied the 7 Chakras leading up to July.  As I continue to learn more and more about the philosophy behind yoga, it has brought my classes to learning about the yamas and niyamas.  As we take the month of July to learn more about Ahimsa (Nonviolence), please feel free to comment below and continue to discussion :).  Enjoy!

Finding our Courage
Mantra – I have courage.

All around the world, children’s innocence is destroyed by abuse and horror.  If we look closely, we can trace all of these acts of greed, control and insecurity back to their root: fear.  Fear creates violence.

The first kind of fear is instinctual and built in us for survival.  The second kind of fear is fear of the unfamiliar.  The unfamiliar can become an abundant place for our exploration once we realize this fear lives only in our imagination.  It is only our minds that have created the turmoil in our gut and kept us hostage to the possibility of our own lives.

Seeking out people and experiences we would normally avoid provides a fertile place to learn new things about ourselves and about life.  Even those we might call enemies have much to teach us.  As we walk into our fears with both people and experiences, we will find that our sense of self has grown.  Thus, to create a life and a world free of violence is first and foremost to find our own courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to be afraid without being paralyzed.  Courage is found by facing our fears – the small ones, the big ones, the embarrassing ones, and the scary ones.  To live the fullness that our own life is inviting us into, we often have to let ourselves be afraid and do it anyway.  If we keep ourselves safe, how will our courage grow?

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele