Late night blogging for the win! I still count it as day 8, as long as I can start typing at my computer before the clock strikes midnight, that’s fair…right? It can be a tad difficult to reflect fast enough when your teacher training class ends at 10pm >.<
Starting with yesterday…yesterday was a day which I am BEYOND grateful, for the knowledge I have gained from yoga.
A day in which something unexpected crashed into me, a blow taken “below the belt”, a hit from someone, I didn’t know could, or would have the ability to inflict this particular pain on me mentally.
There comes a time, when the mantra “let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go…” needs to stay on repeat in your head. Or one of my favorite mantras, “send him love, then drop it, send him love, then drop it...” and even, for good measure, “forgive him, forgive yourself, and let it go, forgive him, forgive yourself, and LET IT GO…”(these happen to be from one of my all time favorite books, “Eat.Pray.Love” (if you say, “well I’ve seen the movie, it was okay”, stop right there, read the book, then get back to me)).
Its moments like these, I reflect back on what I’ve learned from my practice. The art of loving myself, and loving another to the point of forgiveness. To let go. To just LET. IT. GO…to just breathe. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out…
This whole process of breathing in and out, with mantras on repeat in my head, like an old record player, spinning, spinning, running the needle deeper into the vinyl, deeper into the base of my subconscious; saving me from myself, getting me out of my own way, giving myself time to breathe and reflect before I react, this to me is what I learn from yoga, this is what yoga means to me.
The ability to move past the obstacles that come at you, to “ride the wave”, without going to one extreme or the other in terms of emotion.
An analogy I visualized in class this evening...imagine yourself sitting in the middle of a teeter-totter, nimiety/ego/ecstay laughing giddily in the seat next to you, pushing its chubby little legs off the ground, while misery/doubt/cravings are on the other end, staring at you while limply plodding along. But you’re in the middle. While everything else around you is in constant motion, the ups, the downs, the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, you are in the middle. A fixed point in which you are unaffected and can thus observe, and take in everything that surrounds you. Cultivating knowledge and understanding without negatively reacting to either spectrum of the teeter-totter.
THIS, is also known as “Yoga Citta Vrittie Nirodha” and by chance, also what we went over in class today :)
I found this great tid-bit of background information I’d like to share with you before we sink into the quote of “Yoga Citta Vrittie Nirodha”.
The yoga journal writes "Take enough yoga classes and you’ll eventually hear one of your teachers quote from the Yoga Sutra, which is the guidebook of classical, or raja (royal), yoga. Written at least 1,700 years ago, it’s made up of 195 aphorisms (sutras), or words of wisdom. But do you know anything about Patanjali, the person who supposedly compiled these verses?
The truth is that nobody really knows much—not even exactly when the sage lived. Some practitioners believe he lived around the second century BCE and also wrote significant works on Ayurveda (the ancient Indian system of medicine) and Sanskrit grammar, making him something of a Renaissance man.”
(So, from this whole tid-bit we just read, we now know Patanjali is a guy, a pretty rad guy who pretty much formatted yoga)
Patanjali's famous definition of yoga is "yoga chitta verity nirdodhah", which means "yoga is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind". Chitta is mind, vrittis are thought impulses, nirodah is removal.
This ability to feel more, but be less attached, stronger. Not craving more pleasures or averting, to be happy and at peace in the present, which what you currently have.
Some of the students and teachers today had their own definition of what yoga means to them:
+ A connection to breath and body
+ A Union of opposites
+ The end of suffering beyond pain and pleasure
+ A connection to self and God
+ Experiencing sensation
+ It takes out the highs and lows
+ Experiencing the full of emotions
+ “Yoga class is training for life” - Julie
+ “Watching everything change, knowing it is impermanent” - Patience
So as you can tell, yoga can be pretty powerful, a tool, a lifestyle. I am grateful to have this in my life for moments like yesterday. A juncture which bled into today, like a fresh wound that I couldn’t cover up with my positive mantra band aids, no matter how hard I tried. It took an hour of meditation in class and an intense hour of power vinyasa flows to finally get out of my head.
Prior to that I was reluctant, worried, physically lethargic and I felt I had been hit with a verbal baseball bat of negativity. After practice though...after is the hard part to reach (this is why it’s called practice). To physically and mentally push yourself out of that rut. To sit for an hour in meditation and focus in on your breathing and only your breathing. Despite the negative thoughts that creep into your mind like a numb, cold sludge, shrouding any positive space that you are desperately trying to bring light to. It takes the focus of breath, or “Anapana”.
Luckily I was successful in my ability of pushing out thoughts, to the point there I fell asleep in meditation (again) and almost kissed the floor with my face (I think I will practice this art of meditation, in the morning, after a cup of coffee, during my time outside of teacher training). After coming back to reality there was still a sense of guilt hanging over me. Thankfully Patience had the right mind to push us to our limits in the heat vinyasa class, where literally each yogi at the end was moaning, groaning and sweating puddles of salty awakening onto the floor.
My dhristi (or focal point) was pretty “on point” during class, so much to the extent I focused so hard on my pose and my gaze in front of me I did forget about everything else. I could only feel the dull ache in my heel, the squeeze of my legs compiled on one another like a vice, my heart beating in my chest like a kick drum, the palms of my hands pressing so hard into one another I couldn’t tell my right from left…I forgot about everything else. When I did come out of the pose and was finally instructed to lay down in savashana (after many more all-consuming postures) I was so exhausted and only concerned about the present moment, my mind was like, (pardon my french) “fuck it”. Fuck that constricting negativity exuding into my life. I only have the present and I know deep down my intentions are good, so with that, I want to move forward even if that means letting go of someone for the time being.
Chocolate chip, gluten free, vegan cup cakes also make things a whole lot better by the way. And you know what is even better then that? TWO wonderfully, succulent chocolate chip, gluten free, vegan cupcakes. Baked by the talented Chrissy (you seriously rock at your cupcake making skills girl!).
Group back rubs also make things a lot better (everyone sits in a circle and rubs the persons back in front of them, its bloody brilliant!).
And last but not least, a group hug with 10 amazingly sweet yogis also makes everything a whole lot better! (Yes this all sounds very hippie, but frankly, don’t knock it till you try it!)
Today was a wonderful example of what yoga means to some individuals, what it means to me personally and how it can impact your life positively. These methods don’t always work to cure an achy heart like it did today, but some days, it does work, and when it does, it's a beautiful thing <3
I am SO grateful for this program and everyone in it, teachers and students alike. Much love to you all!
(we finally got our group picture too! I wanted to document the beginning of this adventure and everyone in it. Unfortunately Patience did not make an appearance in the photograph, she was most likely somewhere around the building, fluttering around in her bubbly manner, sending out love into the universe, I’m sure lol)
Until Sunday my friends, शुभमस्तु (shubhamastu)!