PERFORMANCE YOGA – 06.08.15 (Do What You Have Been Coached to Do!)

Who drives our performance … spectators or us?

Modern society does not like to accept us for who we are.  It will constantly distract us from who we are to build a persona that does not fit us.  It would like for us to fit it’s perceived reality and consequently destroy our authentic self in an attempt to appease the masses.  It will yell and scream at us in our moments of failure and display jealousy in our moments of success.  Is there a way to appease the world around us?

No.  An answer of “no” to that question drives a stress response in our bodies.  We want to be loved and admired.  When we cannot meet the requirements of others, we become stressed and our bodies suffer.  It is our deepest fear that we are powerful in who we are, but the world will not accept who we are.  So a different question should then be asked.  Should I do what I have been coached to do?

Throughout life we have mentors and friends that allow us to bring our authentic self out for the world to see.  We all receive coaching to find the depth of ourselves.  Re-frame the thought process and our intention.  Our performance and life are not for others.  They are for us.  Step out, be who we are right now and let our abilities define us.  Embrace our abilities, our role and give weight to that which we can control (Interval pace, stick handling, cross-over, training, etc).  The reactions of others are for them.  Look in the mirror … what have you been coached to do?

BOOK – “The Champion’s Mind:  How Great Athletes think, train and thrive.” by Jim Afremow
Do What You Have Been Coached to Do!

“Your job when you play is not to win or please others – that’s beyond your control.  Instead, your job is to do what you have been coached to do by carrying out your specific assignments with the right attitude to the best of your abilities – that’s within your control.

Know what your job is and do your job.

Knowing your responsibilities and doing your job is how you can magnify the relevant aspects of your performance while shrinking everything that is irrelevant.

Embracing your role on the team is how you can be true to what it is you are doing.

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Flow w/Fred – 7.24.14 (YFD – Accentuate the Positive)

  During one of my YogaFit trainings, the instructor (Renee!) gave us an opportunity to do something most of already do.  We try to say something positive to ourselves.  The problem often encountered here is that we say the positive, the positive does not get reinforced, and then the positive turns and compounds the negative.  It is a very scary cycle.  

  So before one of our Master Class sessions, we were asked to think about a negative thought.  It was open to anything that might have crept up, been stuck in, or been embedded in our minds.  We were given the opportunity to re-frame that thought into a positive statement.  Oh the many uses of PostIt Notes :).  So you’ve probably all done that part before.  Where the change came, was that we left that note at the top of our mat throughout the entire practice.  Every time we found ourselves going down to the mat, each person saw a beautiful note written by a beautiful person.  As we’d lower from our plank during Sun A, the note would be there.  As we’d move from upward facing dog to downward facing dog, the would be there.  

  Just as the movie Inception thoroughly discusses how the body perceives thoughts and dreams, the body needs to feel that it is a part of the process.  A thought is easily dismissed when it is not reinforced in some capacity.  Each student was given the opportunity to take their thought and connect it to their pranayama (breath), asanas (movement), and soul.  It was beautiful to watch.

Accentuate the Positive

“When bound by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be cultivated.”

When we feel emotionally wounded, affirmations, along with postures, pranayamas, and visualizations, can speed the healing process.  “Emotions are patterns of energy.  When energy patterns get reinforced, over time they become very strong and difficult to dislodge or even recognize.”

“Tension is a result of blockages in our energy flow caused by emotional reactions to life.”  If suffering is obstructed space, then it makes sense that when you begin to relax and dissolve those obstructions, you are more in the flow of life.

We may be able to temporarily manipulate our mood with our affirmations to create a happy, even blissed-out state of mind, but it is likely to be a premature transcendence.  “Positive thinking can even be a source of depression.  The more you try to force that positive thought, the negative thought goes deep somewhere inside you.”

Poet and Essayist Lucy Grealy could not confront the belief that she was ugly by telling herself she was beautiful.  When she was nine, she had a virulent form of cancer that destroyed her jaw and severely disfigured her face.  Despite numerous operations, the structure of her face was never returned to her.  Lucy believed she had an ugly face.  You could not tell her she was beautiful, because she wasn’t.  Her mind was elegant, her wit was wry, and the beauty of her spirit soared on the written page.  Lucy was only thirty-nine when she died at the end of 2002 of a drug overdose.

“I can’t say whether Yoga might have made a difference in Lucy’s life.  Perhaps it’s some form of hubris on my part to wish that she had been in my class.  I wish I had had the opportunity to ask Lucky to close her eyes and dive beneath her physical body, her emotional body, home to the ground of her being, where she was whole and beautiful.  It might not have saved her life, but I wish I had told her how beautiful she was beneath her ravaged face.  She might have dismissed my compliment if I’d said it in a classroom or over lunch, or even on the dance floor.  But if she were in the flow, mind absorbed, body relaxed, awake to her energy in a Yoga pose, for that moment, on her Yoga mat, she might have believed me.”

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab

Morning Vinyasa – 7.5.14 – Letting Go of the Banana!

As you read through the meditation below, take a moment to think about your banana.  I apologize if this post makes you hungry as it did some of my students yesterday :).

Let Go of the Banana!

I am fascinated by an ancient of capturing monkeys in India.  Like the breath and the trapeze artist, this process gives us insights into how we stay attached to objects of life and how deadly that can become.  In this process of catching monkeys, small cages with narrow bars are made and a banana is placed inside the cage.  The monkeys come along, reach in between the bars and grab the banana.  Then the monkeys begin the impossible task of trying to pull the banana through the bars.  And here is the amazing thing – in the moment when the monkey catchers come along, the monkeys are totally free.  There is nothing keeping them from running off to safety as they hear danger approach.  All they have to do is let go of the banana.  Instead, they refuse to release the banana and are easily taken into captivity.
“Bananas” for us are anything we expect to give us the same fulfillment the second and third time.  When we expect our spouse to make us feel good like they did the evening before, or when we expect a dinner out to satisfy us like it did the last time, or when we expect to be appreciated like we were yesterday, indeed anytime we want the same “feel good” results, we are “holding on to the banana.”  Our expectations keep us captive and often disgruntled.
The image of the monkey holding on to the banana is real for those of us captured in our attachments.  Indeed, nothing is holding us.  We, like the monkeys, are totally free.  Instead, we choose to hold on, choosing our attachments and our greed rather than our freedom.  To choose freedom, we simply need to “let go of the banana.”  Instead, we create our own prison of captivity.  What we hold, begins to hold us.  As illustrated in the following example, captivity can also be an image of our self that we insist on holding.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

Flow w/Fred – 6.26.14 (YFD – Svadhyaya)

Pouring the Foundation – Tapas, Svadhyaya, Ishvara-Pranidhana

In the world of Yoga today, in addition to chanting, there are self-help books, workshops, and a wide variety of Yoga therapies – literally hundreds of ways to know the self.  The way I know best is right on my Yoga mat – through self-observation.  As your practice begins to burn away the impurities, the obstacles to your freedom, you begin to cultivate a listening – to your body, to your mind, to your emotions.  You can cultivate this listening by observing your breath and the sensations in your body as you practice.  This takes intention and attention.  It is easy to practice Yoga as though it were exercise, moving from posture to posture, with little awareness of the sensations in your body or your feeling state.  This is unconscious Yoga, and though you will feel good afterward and will receive many physiological and psychological benefits from your practice, you run the risk of energetically reinforcing old patterns and habits of mind.

When you practice Yoga with awareness of the sensations in your body, your thoughts, and your feelings, you will grow in self-awareness.  And as you grow in self-awareness, you begin to have glimpses of what it means to feel utterly and wholly connected, how your small self is not separate from the Absolute, the Self of the universe.  When you become awake, there will still be pain in your life.  Pain is inevitable, but you will no longer suffer more as a result of your pain.  You will remember that beneath the temporary separation you may be feeling, you are whole.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab

Monday Movements – 6.23.14 (YogaFit Level 2 – Mountain 2/3)

“I have found that when the sense of wonder leaves me, when everything becomes dull and ordinary, it is because I have kept too fast a pace for too long. I have pushed past my own boundaries and now I am out of balance. It is time to rest. When I am rested, nothing is dull and ordinary; everything glows with mystery. Whether I take it easy for a day or escape into the woods by myself, it is hard to give this rest to myself. There are a million and one reasons why I can’t. My ego likes to feel important, and it doesn’t when I am resting. My ego also doesn’t like the idea that life can go on without me, even if it is only for a few hours; I like to be where the action is. Besides, in this culture of constant activity, there is always so much that needs to be done.
I am hungry to tame the stimulation and pull back the indulgences. And I am hungry to do nothing and let that be more than enough. Resting rejuvenates my sense of mystery. In this simple act, I find my eyes are shifted to wonder and my heart spontaneously bursts with songs of gratitude.” BOOK – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele