Tag Archives: yoga sutras

Spring is here – kind of

Today is the Spring Equinox and even if it doesn’t feel like it the seasons are changing. In spirit of spring cleaning I’ve been doing a gluten, dairy, and alcohol free cleanse.

The change of season can bring time for clearing and shedding the unnecessary excess in our lives. This winter I noticed I’ve been carrying around too many negative thoughts about my body. So as I replace my heavy pasta meals with tasty juices cleanse my system of dairy, gluten and alcohol I’ll also be trying to shed the self-loathing thoughts.

So how am I going to begin shedding thoughts that have lived within me most of my life? I’ll begin by practicing¬†prakti paksha bhavana or cultivating the opposite.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Sutra II.33 Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavana (When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavana.). Basically, to control the mind and obstruct the thoughts that we do not want, we invite in the opposite thoughts. Creating a positive environment by controlling the words you read and shows you watch is the practice of pratipaksha bhavana. Removing negative thoughts by replacing them with positive ones.

Just as quinoa pasta is my substitute for my favorite Barilla, thoughts like “my legs are healthy and strong” are replacing “my thighs are huge”. Eventually the positive thoughts will replace the negative, it just takes time and practice. For now I’m focusing on pratipaksha bhavana, tasty juices, and hoping for warm weather!

Live Light Practice:

Begin each day with a gratitude journal listing at least five things you are grateful for. Then throughout the day each time you have a negative thought replace it with a positive one.

Mar20

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga has been helping me with tennis lately. I recently started playing again after 10 years being off the court, and yoga is keeping me present and grounded while in the game. As the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali say: Yogas citta vrtti nirodihah (yoga is the controlling of the fluctuations on the mind), and tennis has become a yoga practice of quieting my mind.
 
At times during the tennis game I’ll think of something I need to do later or something I want to tell my opponent and I miss the shot because I was distracted. When that happens I pause, bring my attention back and tell myself to just hit the ball. All of the excess chatter of my mind disturbs the peace of the game.
 
In a yoga posture we can use the dristhi (gaze) to focus our mind. When our eyes are focused on one point our minds narrow to ekagraha (a one pointed focus). The same can be applied to a tennis game. I find I’m loving playing the game now that I clear my head of the excess chatter and keep my focus on the present moments. In the past I would get so frustrated by a missed shot that I would throw set after set. Now I use the tennis ball as a concentration point and let it cancel out the excess thoughts. Of course I still get a little upset when I loose points, but overall I’m having fun and enjoying the game!
 
Live Light Practice:
 
Candle gazing meditation will help to hone in the skills and practice of ekagraha (one pointed focus). Tratak or candle gazing meditation brings the mind to a one pointed focus. Where the eyes go the mind follows, so as you bring your eyes to fix on one point your mind also fixes on one point. For this meditation you will need a candle, matches, and blankets. Seat yourself onto two blanks in suhkasana (easy posture) or a chair. Have the candle lit in front of you. This candle gazing meditation is inviting in ekagraha (single pointed focus). Allow your eyes to have a soft gaze on the candle flame, with your attention guided to that one point allow the breath to flow evening in and our your nose. Practice this meditation every evening for one week for 5-10 minutes.

Feb23

Gentle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A theme that keeps popping up in my life is ‘be gentle’. This reminds me of sutra 2.46 sthira sukham asanam ‘asana is a steady and comfortable posture’. There is not to be gripping, tension, or hanging out in a yoga posture. Asanas are a balance of flexibility and strength. Whether you are standing in tadansana (mountain pose) or trikonasana (triangle pose) there is a combination of strength and suppleness. I find that in postures I tend towards hardening rather than softening while engaging my muscles.

The other day I was watching my cat, Ike, as he was laying around. Suddenly he jumped up and bolted across the apartment. His ability to be strong, agile, yet completely flexible intrigued me. Ike relaxes when it is time to relax, and engages when it is time to play. It is the kind of strength, flexibility, and adaptability that I hope to create in my life. Rather than always living in ‘fight or flight’ mode, being able to be in a state of real relaxation and then adjust as necessary.

As the season shifts slowly from this mild winter to spring I feel as though there is a blossoming and clearing in preparation for the summer months. Even if this winter wasn’t that cold, the short dark days still had the heaviness of winter. As those impressions melt away the idea of gentleness comes forward inviting me to soften as the days lengthen and the warmth comes.

My asana practice has shifted as I try to melt away the hardening and soften into the spring. The challenge to release from the habitual pattern of using strength rather than flexibility is an on going process. As I focus on this intention on my yoga mat I begin to notice the softening in my life. We are our own worst enemies and judgements towards ourselves do not foster an environment for growth. Now is the time to be kind to myself and let go of the lengthy list of things to do and be gentle and more realistic about what I can accomplish in one day. When the judgements fall away, things become much easier.

 

Live Light Practice:
Allow the self-love and self-care to happen without the underlying judgement. What does gentle mean to you? What does it look like? How do can you be gentle with yourself? What is one way you can be gentle today?

Apr12

Asana is Steady and Comfortable

This video is about Sutra 2.46: Stiram sukham asanam (Asana is a steady and comfortable posture). We are looking for suppleness and strength in a posture. Where we are free of tension and toxins so with a quiet body, a quiet mind follows. A completely supple body is always healthy and tension free. So notice how you are sitting right now – where is there tension and where is there suppleness?

As we begin to notice patterns in our asanas we notice the same in our day-to-day. How does steadiness and ease show up for you? Are you often tense and stressed and unable to let go? Or are you so free and go with the flow that you have no control in your life? Just like in a asana where we don’t want to sink into our joins, we don’t want to be complete push overs in our lives.

Take a moment to reflect on which end of the spectrum you lean towards – strength, flexibility, or balanced sense of steadiness and ease?

No judgement, just become aware of your tendencies.

Feb10
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