Monday, September 28, 2009

Shadow Yoga: a workshop

The website states, "According to Hatha Yogic anatomy the body is composed of three discrete bodies and five sheaths, (coverings or shadows). The practice of Hatha Yoga has evolved with the purpose of dissolving these shadows." Mark Horner spoke for half an hour about shadow yoga. He described it as a discipline that cleanses the shadows which occlude your true light. Mark said that the body is a container for energy. He also made the point that our body is directly connected to food. The more food you eat, the body grows. If you eat less, the body shrinks. I had not thought about it in such simplified terms.

This is the first time I really made a connection to my body as a temple or vessel. And, the idea that I should tone and take care of my body to reach my more spiritual goals in yoga. I haven't really acknowledged, before now, that I had higher spiritual goals! Nonetheless, the talk that Mark gave was profoundly relevant to where I am on my yogic path. He told us the structure of the class was that we watch him and observe. Then, we do the moves as best we can. He often had us repeat moves. The shadow yoga moves are hard to describe. They were not asanas that a yogi would recognize. They look much more like moves from martial arts. The moves were more inclusive of all the parts of the body and all directions. The feet, ankles, hands, and wrists had more focus. I loved becoming more aware of the entire system of yoga and not just the asanas.

A few points I took away from this experience are:
  1. We are on information and stimulation overload. It is time to simplify and get rid of the excess in our lives and bodies.
  2. The less connection I have with my vessel and path the easier it is to abuse and ignore it. Yoga helps!
  3. A dedication to the body is a dedication to the soul. It is time to allow myself to be good to my self.
This workshop was a very intense experience and at a level that I would not have understood before now. It is true that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. Even if its only for one day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The power of Right and Perfect

The one thing my mother has always been adamant about is "use your right and perfects"! She has taught me from a very young age, to focus on what is right and perfect coming into my life. It is such a simple tool that it is easy to forget about. It is also easy to doubt the power this tool has. Even as someone who has seen it work many times, I let it fall to the by the wayside. As I mentioned in my blog about emotional release, we can get into a pattern of negativity.
In the last several months, during the economic recession, it has been hard for me to stay positive. At times I would allow myself to fall into depression or wallow in self pity. But usually, after I forced myself to do a yoga practice, I was able to genuinely focus on the positive. Then I would say the magic words, "I give thanks for the right and perfect ___.". Just yesterday I stopped panicking, took a deep breath, and asked for the right and perfect new job. By the next day I had one. Granted, it doesn't always work that fast but I do believe it works!
I encourage you to try out your right and perfects. Pick something specific and ask for it. Say it as many times as you think you need to! Be ready to accept what you asked for into your life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Emotional Release

On hour twelve, of the sixteen hours of yoga this weekend, I was laying in Savasana. I was trying to keep my mind present. As I focused on being positive, a thought crept into my mind. What the hell am I going to do? Images of living in a tent on some friends' property came to mind. I went to that property a lot growing up. It was also the last place I saw my dad before he died four years ago. I was picturing the cool crystal river water that I played in with my dad. Suddenly, waves of colored light were washing over me. Daddy. The tidal wave of emotion that followed shook me physically. Lying in Savasana I was sobbing uncontrollably. The gates had opened and all my fear, worry, and pain were escaping. My amazing teacher Dennis asked me if I was okay. He told me it was alright. Eventually, I calmed down and my fellow yoginis were very sweet and supportive.

Dennis later talked about the fear that is for survival versus an artificial fear. Though the fear of where am I going to live is a real fear, it doesn't need to govern me. It is easy to get into a pattern of being fearful all the time. Always worrying. What I found this weekend is that I was stripped down. Down to a more true me. I almost feel like bones, muscles, and blood with no skin. Just wrapped in raw emotion. The emotions are always there just under the surface.

I am an emotional person and since I heard about emotional release from yoga, I figured it would happen to me. I hoped it wouldn't, but now it has, and it was a good thing. Now at the end of this amazing weekend, I just have to figure to put my skin back on.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Returning to yoga after summer

Aside from the pinnacle of my summer, the Wanderlust Festival, I did very little yoga! Today marked day two of my return to the Bo Tree's yoga teacher training. I was a little surprised to learn what my body had remembered and my mind had forgotten. My body fell back into the asana practice easily. What I had forgotten were the subtle body cues I was working with in the spring. Things like not locking out my knees and elbows, engaging my core, and building up my arm strength.
I was back to square one when it came time for Pincha Mayurasana (forearm stand). My intent had been to practice plank and dolphin poses to build up my shoulder strength. Of course, during the sumer, I didnt even think about it. I was a little disappointed to still be unable to do it even though three months had past. View this pose here:

This led me back to some of the important points in yoga.
  1. Being compassionate and patient with your body.
  2. Finding time to do a daily practice will never get easier. The time is now!
  3. Taking a yoga class can always teach you something.
Though getting going again can feel daunting, a little patience makes all the difference. I found that my willingness to learn and physical strength were right where I left them!