Monday, January 16, 2012

You and Your Body Are On the Same Team

     With what attitude do you challenge your body? Can you create balance in your yoga practice between the need to challenge yourself and the need to nurture yourself?
     When we practice from a place of pure challenge, the motivation comes from wanting to accomplish or "do" the pose as opposed to simply relaxing in the joy of being in it. We muscle our way into postures that the body is not ready for or we hold onto this idea of what it should look like instead feeling it from the inside out. The breath becomes shallow, erratic or non-existent. We create tension in the mind and body instead of dissolving it and often we end the practice feeling residual tension, agitation and fatigue.
     Yoga is nurturing, it's joyful, it's loving yourself. It's knowing that you and your body are on the same team. Practicing to nurture means practicing with just the right amount of effort balanced with equal ease. It's exploring your own edge by challenging yourself just enough that you still hold space to relax and be calm. The breath-your most sensitive BS meter and your greatest ally-stays even, calm and deep. Sometimes it's as simple as backing off just a bit or it may be changing your internal dialogue at that moment. If you are repeating the "This is hard my quad is on fire" mantra it will be hard, it will suck. Instead, draw your awareness back to the breath and find something in the pose to celebrate. Do you feel stronger? Where do you feel more open? Do you feel more balanced and grounded?

     In today's practice, move from a place of integrity with an intention to nurture yourself. Explore your edge but without creating more stress. Simply allow your practice to support you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Om Namah Shivaya

"I bow to the goodness within who is the true teacher."

     In cultures around the world, the sun is celebrated as the illuminator of life for without it, nothing would be born. The ancient yogi's taught that each of us represents a piece of the greater whole of the universe. The outward greater sun is analogous to that which illuminates us from within, our spiritual center, the seat of intuitive wisdom, the heart.
     It may seem counterintuitive that the heart be the seat of wisdom as we typically look inside our heads for wisdom and guidance. But just as the moon reflects the illumination of the sun without creating any of its own, so too is the relationship between brain and heart. But the brain has a limited view of the world. It takes in all that the heart has to offer but reality is then filtered by perception, desire, ego and expectation. That is why what we feel intuitively is not always in line with our actions. We feel with our hearts yet act with our heads. How do we tap into and live from that intuitive wisdom? Listen, trust, and act with love.
     As an asana practice, Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) is an outward celebration of all that is within you; your divine goodness, your lessons learned, your generous heart, your capacity to love and your ability to stand firmly in your truth. All of this together is your light that illuminates from within you. Take a few minutes to do several rounds of sun salutations. There is no firm recipe...make it yours. Make it as creative and juicy as you want it to be. The key is to connect breath to mind and mind to body through movement to find the joy and love deep down within you and let it SHINE.