“The beauty of life is that you can start again” - Cody Mitchell
Wrapping up day 18 of yoga teacher training with a cup of steaming hot tea, a prolonged lavender epsom salt bath and a caster oil wrap (I’ll dive into that later).
I’ve started to realize if you don’t take time for yourself there’s no way you keep your sanity between this program and “real life”. During constant physical and mental training, it is key to take some time out of your day to regain balance, to recharge what is referred to as “Prana” or “life force” that’s in each one of us.
Not recharging your Prana can lead to a drained, unhappy individual (It’s the feeling you get when you give, and give, and give, and give, then you give some more…until you become a zombie-d out, quick to snap shell. Not a fun picture, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there before).
This talk of Prana leads us into today’s topic covered in YTT,
The 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga (the ways to reach Nirvana, or complete balance in life):
1st step: Yama - refers to restraining, to harmonize one’s social relationships with others and world affairs. Sub categories are what you want to do less, such as inflict harm, lie, steal…)
- Ashimsa - non-harming (no hurting others, yourself or creatures)
- Satya - truthfulness (do not tell lies)
- Asteya - non-stealing (wether physical objects or other peoples time)
- Brahmacarya - sexual continence (only involving yourself with one individual at a time, to ensure you are not wearing yourself thin, or giving away too much of yourself at once).
- Aparigraha - greedlessness (to live within your means)
2nd step: Niyama - refers to observing. Sub categories are what you want more in your life.
- Sauca - cleanliness (taking care of your self, staying pure)
- Samtosa - contentment (self acceptance, being happy with who you are and what you have). “No amount of self improvement can make up for a lack of self acceptance” - Johnny Kest
- Tapas - fire; heat; austerity (also known as discepline, building something and sticking with it)
- Svadhyaya - study of scriptures and oneself (like I’m doing right now)
- Isvara-pranidhana - devotion to the Lord
3rd step: Asana - the practice of bodily postures, or ashtanga yoga.
“But a yogi never forgets that health must begin with the body. Your body is the child of the soul. You must nourish and train your child. Physical health is not a commodity to be bargained for. Nor can it be swallowed in the form of drugs and pills. It has to be earned through sweat.” ― B.K.S. Iyengar
4th step: Pranayama - control of energy (this can be through breath which can help control your body and mind, or by taking care of yourself). “Thus through the mastery of pranayama the covering of brightness is removed” - Yogini Sadhaka
5th step: Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses (dhristi, bandhas, focusing internally not externally) “where your attention goes, your energy flows” - James Redfield
6th step: Dharana - binding of the mind (concentration, focusing your senses on one thing, ex: meditation)
7th step: Dhyana - reflection (a deeper form of meditation, ex: when you get so deep into a conversation everything else falls away; feeling of making a deeper connection with something)
8th step: Samadhi - unification (dissolving the ego, the sense of “I”, to become apart of something greater then one’s self)
“The point of yoga is to eventually dissolve the “I”, some meditate or go to church…”
“If Dhyana was a spark of connection and communication, awakening between you and your experience, Samadhi is where spark and connection becomes a consuming fire that burns away the feeling of separateness.”
These points actually struck home with me, pretty hard. To the point where it churned the emotional pot deep inside me.
Prior to this program, I got to a point where I felt so mentally drained, I had given all of my “Prana” to a lifestyle, which over the years had taken more from me then it gave in return. Slowly this permanence brought me to my lowest of lows, like a small weighted anchor ever so gradually ebbing down into the a dark abyss of the mind, where anxieties and worries flourished. I had everything but felt nothing.
It took a point where I no longer obtained happiness from the things I once loved, that brought out the awareness that something needed to change. That this lifestyle was slowing killing me from the inside out.
So I cut the rope, and let the anchor fall…
And it has been a slow rise ever since.
But with each breath I rise. With each vinyasa I rise. With each laugh I rise. With each prayer I rise. With each act of kindness I rise. With each meditative moment I take for myself, I rise…I rise towards the sun, the light which resides within me, within you, within all of us.
The light, if we do not tend to it like a fire, breathe into it to stoke the flames, will snuff out, just like mine had.
It is so easy to loose yourself, to become something for someone else, for a lifestyle; to give your Prana to fill up someone else’s. Until one day, you have nothing left to give, and the light is barely a spark. But as the most wise of Yogi’s say…"begin again”.
So I am beginning again, to recharge my Prana, my flame, my light. This 8 fold path, this is the universal path to happiness, to nirvana. I believe it can be agreed, that in every religion, these outlines are almost identical to one another in how to bring peace into one’s life. I think that is a good indication as any, to trust in this new lifestyle, to bring bliss, well-being and joy to living. This is a lifestyle which has been followed over thousands of years, by the most influential, enlightened beings ever to walk this earth…Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi…they all followed this similar, if not identical path to understanding.
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
– Siddhartha Gautama
“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”
– Jesus of Nazareth
My teacher Cody became aware of my present state of emotions during class and later sent me this beautiful passage which I’d like to end this blog on. It resinated with me and I hope it can bring some light to you as well. Namaste <3
"Everything that has happened along the way—forget it.
Forget about the first love who broke your heart.
And forget about the last break too.
Forget the time a friend you thought was best pushed a knife in your back.
Forget the words and the spite that resound in your head.
Forget the trauma that injured your flesh or your bones.
Forget the rejection you felt when someone failed to recognise your value.
Forget the tears that cleansed your soul.
Forget the mistakes that everyone makes.
Forget what you gave, without return.
Forget the mistrust, the resentment and the jealousy.
Forget about lies, betrayal and deceit.
Forget about the ones who got away—they were not meant.
Forget the time someone tripped you and caused a fall.
Forget the times you gambled but forgot you could lose.
Forget about whispers and gossips and stories—it is all an illusion, the truth only lives in one self.
Forget about rules and regulations—make new.
Forget about thinking—let the mind sit still.
Forget about time—let your heartbeat decide.
Forget about fear, it will paralyse—it is useless.
Forget about perfection, it is unobtainable—imperfection is true beauty.
And forget about forgetting—allow the release to happen. Naturally.
Then try as you can, to remember this…
Everything is already a part of you, the lessons have been learned, the memories etched and the effects have sunk in.
There is no need to hold on—it all already exists, so allow it. Let it just be. Without grasping.
Without pressing repeat.
It all had a purpose, once, long ago. Even if it was yesterday, or a minute ago—it has now passed. Past.
So just breathe…and breathe again. Deeply.
Right here, right now.
You are alive. You survived. In this very moment, this one… here…
You can choose. Choose to live.
Run. Fly. Wildly.
And begin to feel alive.
Everything and nothing and all in between—feel it all. Flushing through your veins—let it in, let it sit and then let it go.
Slowly, but very surely, replace all of the forgotten with all of the new.
Add to it, mix to it, blend whoever you were, who you are now with who you are about to become.
Alchemy—turn it to gold. Turn you. It is easy. Try. All of you. Every part.
Stir the storms with the rainbows, the pleasure with the pain. Create.
Forget the old. Sprinkle in new.
Stardust. Magic. Wanderlust. Mystery. Moonlit skies. Forests. Deserts. Sparkle. Dance. Have faith. Go. Find. Don’t look far. It is there. It always was, always has been.
Right there, right here. Right now.
And each time you are overwhelmed, or hurt, or angry or in pain—go back to the top, read once more, unlearn, forget and begin again.” - Alex Myles