saturday observation

I love teaching weekend mornings downtown!  It’s such a great group!  I enjoy a 25 min bike ride to downtown Yoga Oasis studio, get it all set up: ac on, candles lit, incense burning, sign-in sheet ready, sweat wiped off, welcoming smile on my face.  I put myself in the shoes of my students, who would be waking up on a Saturday morning and choosing to start their weekend with yoga.  how would they be feeling?  what makes them come to practice?  what do they want from practice?  What can I offer them to brighten their day and teach them something?  Doing this helps me to get out of my own head, whatever drama may be playing out up there, so I may be fully present to be sweet and helpful to whomever arrives.

Today’s word was “observe.”  One of my first yoga teachers, Ulla Lundgren, said that yoga is ‘Svadyaya,’ or study of the self.  I just started a book called Self Observation, the awakening of Conscience, An Owner’s Manual, by Red Hawk.  Red Hawk summarizes a principle in physics called Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle” in the following way, “The act of observation changes the thing observed.”  I remember learning about this in school, how the behavior of particles changes simply because they are being observed.  I remember being in awe by this, but sorry to say, it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind and priorities, so I’m grateful to receive it again in very clear, jargon-free language.  I dived into further research on Wikipedia and vague memories of past physics classes re-emerge along with forced focus to combat glazed eyes and mind-wandering tendencies… There is much more to this principle and these ideas, but for now, I’m using Heisenberg’s principle.  Thinking about this makes me realize that the observer is what is being observed and is therefore constantly changing all the time.  …

I recently finished a book called, Gurdjieff, A Beginner’s Guide, How Changing the Way We React to Misplacing Our Keys Can Transform Our Lives, by Gil Friedman.  The core practice in this book was also Self-Observation.  Friedman says, “The only person who can do the Work is ourselves… The only way to make the Work functional is to actually apply it by observing ourselves uncritically.  We are the subjects of this Work.  The aim of the Work is not to change the world but to change ourselves.”  Yoga asana is one way to practice this concept in our bodies, minds, and hearts.  We affect ourselves through our direst observation and subsequent interaction with what we observe.  For example, in triangle pose, we observe our leg muscle is disengaged and even bent to a degree.  Simply observing this may instigate corrective action, but observation comes first.  The teacher’s presence and guidance, along with the big energy of a packed yoga-hour room may also motivate fuller participation, for it has been scientifically proven that when people are watched they perform better.  Christina Sell spoke to this in her recent workshop, “Teaching the Raw Beginner.”

If we practice watching ourselves from an objective viewpoint regularly we change just by this simple act.  Again and again, simple, but not easy.

Terrific Tuesday!

I taught three classes at central today.  On top of my normal classes I got to sub for Rachelle at 8pm.  What a day!  That’s how I know I am in the right field–whenever my mind tells me, “there’s no way!” or “man, I’m gonna be so tired!” or “I am done!” an unexplainable surge of energy arises from within me and gives me what I need to get the job done, and usually well.  I’m so grateful.

In my yogahour classes the word of the day was ‘resilient’.  To be resilient is to be able to bounce back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed; to be able to withstand or recover from difficult situations.  Through yoga asana we practice being resilient in our bodies as we assume various poses.  We are always welcome to step into deeper practice in our minds by quickly recovering in our minds when events subvert our plans, circumstances supersede our expectations, or emotions erupt.  This is the practice of yoga on and off the mat.  I believe this consistent practice is advanced practice.  Sure, doing the fancy yoga poses is cool.  Who wouldn’t wanna touch their feet to their forehead while balancing on their forearms in a backbend, right?  Ha!  Or at least see someone who could?!  Wherever you begin is perfect.  The Bhagavad Gita said there are many paths, and all paths up the mountain lead to the same place.  Whether you begin with the body through yoga poses (asana) and breathing (pranayama) or the mind with meditation and contemplation or heart with devotional songs and poetry, they all serve to take you deeper into the practice.  Ultimately, yoga is a practice of self-study, self-observation.  Through self-observation one may bring oneself into balance or harmony.  In his book Light on Yoga Mr Iyengar says, “it (yoga) means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly.”  Like most things worthwhile, it’s simple, but not easy.SONY DSC

I recently encountered an opportunity to cultivate the virtue of resilience.  I’m on the path of Anusara certification, and feels like a long time traveling.  I’ve seen and experienced much along the way!  Test… check….video….check…and check….and check!  And now a little more digging deeper.  The saying, “it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey” applies here.  Because I am “only Inspired” and not YET certified, I serve with no less enthusiasm.  My classes are still lively, fun, heart-centered, rich and authentic.  I teach challenging classes that offer one the opportunity to reach inside to find what they need to carry on, just as life so often does.  Facing “rejection” in the realm of my own head is much more difficult than the reality of it.  My assessor said I am going to get certified, there’s just some things I need to do now to make my teaching “stellar.”  And yes, she really did say “stellar.”  I dig the word usage, I’m in.  😉

Last night I was reading through the Yogahour Teacher Training Manual, by Darren Rhodes, again  and the following quote jumped off the page, “We learned the hard way (often the only way) that there is often potential magic to seemingly tragic.  When failure seems inevitable and you refuse to give up, pivotal and lasting transformations can and often do take place.  Without the pressing possibility of failure, what would push us to discover our true capacity?  Possible failure can be the very force that invokes superlative success.”

complain challenge!

“If we want to try an experiment and apply the Work, the next time we are in a conversation and someone is criticizing something, or someone, we can see if we are able to withhold our criticism.  It is much more difficult than we might think.  …  The problem with being negative, such as continually complaining, is that we lose force or energy.  To do this Work we have to accumulate energy to make greater efforts than the efforts needed to get by in life.  If we withhold the criticism or complaint, we will gain force or energy.  We will also feel better.” Gil Friedman

I read this last week and used the word “complain” for this past Tuesday’s yogahours.  The word was a little challenging to weave throughout class (is that complaining?), but I presented this challenge to my yoga students and reported humorously that I’d been working on it.  I say humourously because it is funny to observe how often the tendency to complain arises.  I choose to be lighthearted otherwise I’m criticizing myself and it’s counterproductive.  One of my regular students came in to class today and  reported how she’d done so far on the “experiement.”  We shared about how we both arrived at times where there was nothing else to do but keep our mouths shut.  My Grammy always told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  I wonder if she realized the magnitude of this lesson.

My computer dictionary defines complain: to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event; (complain of) state that one is suffering from (a pain or other symptom of illness); state a grievance; make a mournful sound; groan or creak under strain.”  The thesaurus:  protest, grumble, whine, make a fuss; object, speak out, criticize, find fault; informal kick up a fuss, raise a stink, bellyache, moan, snivel, beef, bitch, sound off, gripe.  My observation has led me to realize how often I even make little noices in protest of something, or facial expressions when I dislike something.  It’s been an enlightening week.  I am grateful for the experiement because I do feel better doing the work.  I may not always catch myself before I complain or criticize but I’m dramatically more aware when I do it and I am getting better at catching myself before it progresses into a full-on rant.  I love this practice.  It’s an endless endevour and I’m so honored to get to share it with you!SONY DSC

uplift

I am so grateful for my work. I love teaching yoga because I’m continually working to better myself and by my efforts my students can benefit. The other day on Facebook Scott Marmorstein said the following and I was really inspired by it, “This is why we really do sadhana, not only to uplift ourselves, but to express our best and uplift others.” I dig it. Teaching as often as I do supports me in continually working to be the best version of me that I can be so I may be of service and help others to work towards being their best. He also said that without challenges we can’t grow and without struggle we can’t be free. This helps me muster up courage or at least perseverance to face the pains of growth. (well at least I hope that’s what it is!)

I’m currently working on the following books right now, My Body is a Temple by Christina Sell, Observing Spirits by Peter Rhodes, Gurdjieff A Beginner’s Guide How Changing the Way We React to Misplacing Our Keys Can Transform Our Lives by Gil Friedman. Those are the main three. Also, working on a lovely poetry book by Swami Chidvilasananda called The Magic of the Heart Reflections on Divine Love. And intermittently one called Change your Brain Change Your Body by Daniel G. Amen, MD.

That’s all for now. Enjoying a little reading break right now.
Love, Love, and more Love!