This week in our Yoga classes (the ones I teach LOL), we are focusing on the concept of "Tending". It started on Monday when I was doing my housework, which to be honest I'm not really a fan of.... and a little thought surfaced as I vacuumed and puffed pillows. And it was this, the feeling of 'tending to my home', feels SO MUCH nicer than 'doing my housework'. And so as I worked my way around my living room, I started to get really into this 'tending' business. And it shifted something in me, because as we know, words matter.
I looked up the definition of 'tend' and it said:
To stretch ones self toward
To pay attention to
To apply oneself
And that made so much sense! So to tend to our lives is for me to focus on the small things. To pay attention and stretch toward a living room that has an inviting feeling, to return a few emails that were lingering in my mind and taking up space, to book myself in for x appointment, to look after myself during my asana practice.
During class it can look like:
Noticing when I sit, that sometimes my left knee needs support and putting a block under it
In Savasana making sure my t shirt is tucked in and I'm not lying on a fold
Looking after my shoulder which lately is feeling a bit sore.
Outside class it can look like:
Arriving a few minutes early (makes a huge difference as I'm one of those people that thinks it takes 20 mins to get anywhere in Sydney!!!)
Going to bed at 9 (yep, really I have done a few nights of this lately)
Tidying loose ends up.
As Adrienne Maree Brown writes "what we practice at the small scale sets the patterns for the whole system". Oh how the little details matter!
There's so much Yoga in Travel, and so much Travel in Yoga!
Bear with me.
Here's a little glimpse through the Gunas, the constant interplay of energy:
Rajas - The take off! The excitement, the getting ready, making plans, googling places, scheming, and the very upward feel of energy. Its the climb and the first few days of the holiday!
Tamas - The Arrived. A bit tired, a little weary, a tad worn out. Think: the reside from the first few days of exciting travel, of new smells, maybe the food is a little different, jet lag, rhythms maybe even seasons also contrasting from where you've been.
Sattva - The Return. A coming home to a sense and feel, of internal balance. The tending of one's self. Looking at yourself through the lens of Ayurveda you could use your own wisdom and sense of "knowing" what you need to restore you. I think here of: good sleep, Oils (Essential or an oil for some Abhyangha), Meditation, reading and for me ... quiet time. These are little but powerful ways of restoring balance and equanimity to one's soul. A balm to the soul if you will.
Essentially, Yoga encourages us to get to know ourselves. We do this through Asana, Mediation, Mantra, (there's plenty more here) and Ayurveda. When we do this, we have sovereignty over our self, and we become wise to know and feel what it is we need.... through our wisdom body, our Vijnanamaya Kosha!
Here's a few notes of the Yoga I got up to on my 3 week Vacay:
- On Board. I try to find little areas to stretch, usually its near where the food is prepped. So its quick! Arms up, stretching from finger tips to toes, taking this then into a side stretch. And then usually a forward bend. Careful of turbulence! Oh, speaking of turbulence which I'm not a fan of (who even is!!), Pranayama is my antidote. Its the most tangible way for me to calm my jitters, just the time to notice my breath, release my tight belly, and softly breathe is quite the medicine. On the ship, my SIL and I went and did some lovely Yoga together in the gym, beside people doing kick boxing, ab crunching etc.
- Theme Parks. So lately I've started to get really nauseous on rides, which isn't great if your family are really into it and you have a 4 day pass! With the simulated rides, I just closed my eyes. I felt into my sit bones on the seat, my thighs in contact with the seat and that seemed to help a bit. So a bit of sensory adjustment there, thank you to Pratyahara for helping me out there.
- People. So many people, queues, heat, noise. My antidote here is to find quiet. And sometimes that looks like I'm being antisocial, but its more self preservation. I need that quiet time to digest the day. And for me that looked like sinking into the couch on one particular night, and watching Eat, Pray, Love and on quite a few nights, an early night.
I love that this is underpinned by wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita, "no effort here is every wasted, even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow".
Little moments, simple solutions, provide us with the art of taking care of our selves.
I'm so grateful, I teach community Yoga.
Teaching my local community is such a gift. But it wasn't a gift that I could have even imagined. My Dharma led me here, for real. After some deep and thick study of the Bhagavad Gita with my teacher Kelly Sunrose, I really dropped into what felt real and true for me. Oh I'm not saying it was all roses and lattes, it was something I had kinda struggled with, as I wanted to be "more".
But "more" brings a stress with it, a longing and a tension between where I was and where I wanted to be. Or where I thought I wanted to be! But slowly, over a few seasons, I began to notice something. I noticed a feeling of truth, a feeling tone of "this is right", and as I began to notice that, I began to feel so happy and grateful.
Teaching locally is the best for me. Its connecting with students, knowing their names and sometimes their families, its remembering that yes this student has a sore hip, this one is going through something major, has just recovered from ..... And this is a gift, THIS is for me an honour. This is the truth of teaching for me, that my dharma in teaching yoga is to teach local and to offer the best of myself to these students.
And this isn't always easy. Because even the Yoga world is full of courses, How to pack out a room, How to be more, 10 steps to be a great Yoga Teacher, How to take your teaching to the next level, when to share, when not to share.... and it goes on and on! And Instagram! Oh how I love Instagram. But I tripped up there a couple of months ago. I almost developed a little Instacrush on a fellow Yoga teacher's account,, you see her photo's and words are divine! It's beautiful. And it captured me for a little while, until I realised ...... oh THIS is beautiful and she has a way with texts and images, but I'm feeling distracted by her path. So I unfollowed her. Not because I don't want to see her glorious images pop up on my feed, but because it was distracting me from my own path. And more and more, I'm feeling that this feeling of truth, authenticity and integrity forms the foundation of my path. This takes effort, self reflection and truth... and these are sometimes gnarly, awkward and uncomfortable. But hey, isn't life like that sometimes! If we aren't growing, if we aren't catching ourselves and re-orienting toward our own true north, what are we up to?
I feel true and lit up when I'm practising Yoga, when I'm studying the old Vedic Texts, when I'm bringing that forward in an accessible and sometimes fun way to students. This is my dharma, I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. It feels "true".
One of my favourite texts is called the Radiance Sutras and here's a little of their wisdom on it too from Insight Verse 160:
Friends, relatives, neighbours, people who abide
In your village, city, country -
Be not concerned with their attitudes
Toward these teachings.
Everyone is discovering the intimate universe
In their own way.
We are aren't we! No one can do that for us. We must discover this life and our path for ourselves.
If your reading this and want to throw in a Yoga posture to contemplate all of this with, do what the ladies in the top photo have done. Find a bit of wall, snuggle up to it with your hip (whichever one) and then turn and gently swing your legs up the wall, Viparitia Karani. Find a good distance from your hips to the wall, and then Rest your hands and arms where they feel comfortable, by your sides, resting on your heart or even up behind you.
Sometimes its good to turn things inside out, and upside down to have a break and get some perspective.