Yoga is of course about seeing very clearly, what is actually happening. Not what we wish, or don't want, or "tell me what you want, what you really, really want" thank you Spice Girls but what is here, now, right in front of us. But Yoga is also skilfulness in action, thank you to the Bhagavad Gita for bringing us this wonderfully deep and complex battle that show's us what skilfulness in life looks like.
One of the juicy parts of this epic, is that it directs us in many different ways, to fully be who we are. Yes, isn't that cool! An ancient and epic tale of war, which slowly offers us much advice on life.
Anyway, its a big topic this Bhagavad Gita, but there's one part in particular which I'd love to write about. And its this, personal alignment, or integrity. THIS! Yes.
Personal integrity has a feeling-tone. We know when we feel good about our words and actions, maybe a smile, perhaps a skip in your step, most likely a great nights sleep. But on the flip side we certainly feel it when we are not, think anxiety, worry, fearful thoughts, lack of sleep. There's a knowing there, and its like a feedback system (Vijnanamaya Kosha territory!).
You just ##know##!!!
And this is where the skilfulness comes into the picture, *skill*fullness. Think about that, feeling in such alignment that you can be full of skill in responding to and envisioning your life, creating good Karma and maybe disrupting old patterns that no longer are useful.
How do we get there? Well, there's no "there". It feels impractical and honestly stressful, to make it a final destination, or a place to get to. But what we can do, its we can notice and really embrace that feeling when we are in alignment, and also, when we are not. Self-study, or Svadhyaya is our trusty companion here. If we aren't learning from our days, we are not taking advantage of the platter of information that each day gives us.
Take your time, each day take notes.
Journal, get nerdy with your days.
There are many ways in Yoga to nourish and fill your tank. Each person can probably find at least a handful of ways to feel good through the practice of Yoga.
Lately, I've taken time to just sit outside, enjoying a warm drink and soaking up the warmth and feel of this glorious sunshine. Simple.
Did you know by just doing that, your nourishing and tending to yourself. Yes! I know, so simple but so much more. The Yogi's put names to 5 layers of our being, called Koshas. Sitting and soaking up the sunshine and breathing in the fresh air, is nourishment for two of these, your Annamaya Kosha and your Pranamaya Kosha, thats your skin or your most gross physical layer and your vital energy in non Sanskrit terms.
These koshas are subtle layers of our being, and are a way of looking after and nourishing ourselves, beyond the common lingo of “mind, body & spirit”.
If your looking to dive a bit deeper into the Koshas here are a small handful of practices (some of which you may already do) to get you started:
1. Soak up the sunshine (ahem, yes as mentioned above)
2. Breathe in the fresh air (special times; dawn and dusk)
3. Practice the Hum Sa Mantra (quietly saying to yourself; inhale Ham, exhale Sa)
4. Pick a Yoga Sutra, a poem, a value, set an intention and really feel into that, soak it up, embody it and let it become part of who you are and how you are in the world.
5. Find something in nature to be with that helps you settle into a sense of awe, a sense of honour and or reverence, for this magical planet we live on. Let yourself be omazed!
So just there, above are 5 sweet & simple practices. If you’d like to know more about these, Light On Life by BKS Iyengar is a great read. He was a householder like us, managing homes, feeding dogs, cooking meals. He shows us how to nourish these in ourselves, in our daily life. No moving to an ashram required!!
Sweet hugs to you.
Thank you David Bowie for that intro.
Life is full of stories about change. I love a good story, particularly one that illustrates the strength/love/resilience of the human spirit.
And the one's lately I'm really into, are the small personal victories. The tales of people making small steps toward their best selves. Now, I'm not going to go all Anthony Robbins on you but it really makes to jump for joy to hear these from my friends, family and students.
Because the big change, the large platform, the overnight success, and the list goes on, well that makes headlines, right? And I think this is because we underestimate and shrug off small change. We dismiss it because on some level I think we believe as a culture, that BIG CHANGE is the only change. That we need to look like we are "making it happen", we are edgy change agents!
I have learned, through personal experience, that small change is sustainable and often endures. If I use a Yoga example, you might see someone really pushing to nail a pose, say a handstand, and they push and push each class to get "there". Or a friend decides to "give up sugar" (been there!!!) and clean out every cupboard, every crevice where its hidden, and after day 3 ..... they are a cranky mess (um, yes maybe me!!).
Through studying ourselves and really knowing what works for us, we can implement change that will stick. The old "Svadhyaya", getting to know ourselves, all of ourselves, really & truthfully. That's really a very worthwhile step to take, before implementing any new habits or rituals in our lives.
So, lately I've jumped for joy (internally) after these small but awesome things happened:
- A student told me after class that they are feeling their body opening up in Yoga, they can feel it week after week of class. Yes! Yes! Yes! When this happens to us we are literally living into Yoga Sutra 1.12, we are living into the practice with a sense of not being attached to a certain outcome.
- After a Yin class recently, a student said that they finally are feeling a sense of calm when they do Yoga. She mentioned that in her day to day life at work that the breathing I talk about really works!
- For me, rolling out the mat or just doing 3 to 4 Yoga postures before bed really helps me to get a good nights rest. Its not fancy, its usually in my PJ's and its only 3 to 4. I talk about these in class often, but incase you want to know I do:
This can take about 3 minutes or up to 15! It depends. But I do it most nights and it makes a difference, I can feel it in my body.
So the story here is, do you have a small victory? A small insight? Have you made any little changes that are holding up, that feel like they are becoming embedded in your life? I'd love to hear.
Until then, keep tinkering!