Moving into Stillness
I've started dedicating my morning coffee time (or tea) to reading.
Lately it's been reading a chapter each morning from Donna Farhi's book, Bringing Yoga to Life. (this little morning routine was shared with me by my friend Maggie, and as inspiring as it was, I wanted to share it with you, so easy!) Diving deeply into all things Yoga, as I like to do... I often think about the meaning behind our shapes we make in class, what the postures have to give us, and how I can extend the idea to my students that it's not just about the poses. If you've been practicing yoga for a while, you've probably come to know by now that there's more to this time on your mat than meets the eye. We seem to step off as better people, more understanding, patient, curious, exuberant people. (Or at least it's my hope that you feel this way) This isn't by chance, it's by design: Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga. It's the moral and ethical code that we live by in this practice of Yoga. It's the meaning behind this practice we've all come to love, and it's time to become a little more conscious of it.
If you're still with me.... :) I'd like to share with you Donna Farhi's words on how we invite these limbs into our practice and our life (I'll spare you my own incomplete, jumbled, confusing description; she does it with such grace).
"If practiced with a conscious awareness of the purpose of Yoga, which is to realize a unitive state, concentrated asana practice, the 3rd limb of Ashtanga Yoga, will naturally involve each of the other
7 limbs of practice, especially the 10 ethical precepts of the yamas and niyamas (the first 2 limbs). Through the practice of asanas we can learn to be accepting of our limitations (ahimsa), truthful in our commitment to do our best (satya), and content regardless of the outcome (santosha). We can bring our burning enthusiasm and curiosity (tapas) to the practice and look deeply at our reactions and responses to difficulty or ease (svadhyaya) and ultimately surrender up to our practice to something greater than ourselves (ishvarapranidhana). When we find our right relationship to the ground, to gravity, and space, the breath is experienced as a whole-body phenomenon. When this happens we begin to feel ourselves as conduits for the life force and there is energetic continuity through our bodies (pranayama, the 4th limb of Yoga). As we delve deeper, the practice of asana involves consciously moving into stillness (pratyahara, the 5th limb), focusing our attention on one thing at a time (dharana, the 6th limb), and sustaining this awareness regardless of what is going on around us (dhyana, the 7th limb). When a posture has been perfected, an absolute balance is struck between effort and non-effort, the result of which is a neutralization of all sensation. When this happens the mind returns to original silence (samadhi, the 8th limb). There is no one left to do the pose, only the pose itself moving through us." Bringing Yoga to Life -Donna Farhi
Next time you step on your mat, can you shift your perspective a bit to find acceptance, truthfulness, contentment, enthusiasm, curiosity, surrender, the sensation of your life force, stillness, focus, sustained awareness, and silence? Or maybe just ONE of these things. Maybe pick one right now that you will decide to focus on, then follow through with it. Give your practice depth. Let me know if any of these stick out to you a little more than the others, I'd love to hear what your practice is centered around these days. P.S. Current Pittsburgh teaching schedule: Tues: 12-1p Slow Flow @ Illume Thurs: 6-7:15p Chakra Activation Yoga @ Inhale Northside Fri: 5:30-7p Yoga 1-2 @ Inhale Northside