Wild Spiritual Abandon!

Shakubuku

I live in a region of the world where when you meet someone for the first time there are only 3 questions that you had better be able to answer; “What do you do?”, “Where do you live” and my favorite “Where do you go to church”.

My usual answers, in the order in which they were presented, are “spin plates” …“in my head” and then to answer my favorite…. Well for years my answer was an apology of sorts,

“well, (my foot kicking the dirt) not anywhere right now” which was always followed by their sales pitch extolling the virtues of wherever they happened to camp on Sundays. I haven’t “gone to church” in years and probably won’t ever. I haven’t ever found God in a building. But you can’t say that because then the conversation goes in some weird directions, with me on the defensive about why I don’t go and them feeling the need to ‘save’ me.

I do not need saving.

I choose to simply live life with Wild Spiritual abandon!

I abandon all forms of ‘religiosity’, I abandon dogma and I abandon the notion that God writes best sellers and then what ya know if I didn’t find God out there just hanging around waiting for me to get my head outta my ass.

It took a moment of shakabuku (a spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever) and it was just one moment, a conversation with one person, a moment of serendipity that re-ignited the spark I always had and had always known about. That meeting of two souls, mine & his, was one of the single most pivotal moments of my life, it was a game changer. But it still took a little time to figure it all out and to go out on that spiritual limb. My courage was lacking; the courage to swim against the tide, to move in a direction that was scary to everyone but me and the courage to find my voice. It was yoga that helped me, for years I taught Yoga on tip toe. I tippy toed around ‘yoga’, teaching and living mostly the asana practice but not paying any attention to the spiritual practice, but after my spiritual concussion, I awoke with a new understanding of what I had been tippy toeing around. A simple truth, that we are all children of the universe that the divine lives in each of us and so now when someone asks “where do you go to church?” I simply say, “Nowhere & everywhere, I am living life with spiritual abandon”

interfaith clergy

Om Shanti

Cheryl

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Yoga Nidra a sweet, slow meditation

On Saturday March 21, I lead a Yoga Nidra meditation, at Yoga East. I had about 15 participants, some knew about Yoga Nidra, some were new to the practice. Some brought their own blankets and pillows for comfort; some just used what the studio provided but everyone came to de-stress. Yoga East is such a calm space to begin with, with its bamboo floors, pale green walls and a welcoming atmosphere, that it didn’t take much coaxing for everyone to settle in. With bolsters under their knees and blankets to keep them from getting chilled, they all looked very comfortable.

If you aren’t familiar with yoga nidra, let me give you a little background. Yoga Nidra translates “Yogic Sleep”, but it isn’t sleeping. It’s a deep meditative state that allows the body to heal its self on a cellular level. Nidra is one method of Pratyahara, the 5th limb of yoga and the gradually withdrawal of your senses.

Yoga Nidra brings an incredible calmness, quietness and clarity to the mind & body, it also induces deep physical, emotional and mental relaxation. Yoga Nidra takes us through the many layers of awareness, down through the levels of consciousness and into our sub-conscience. In Yoga Nidra our brain moves beyond sleep & dreaming accessing the healing Theta waves & the restorative Delta waves, you are deeply relaxed and yet still in a state of awareness. It is deeply restorative and allows the body to completely de-stress.

 

I recorded the session, so if you‘d like to join us please make your self comfortable  by coming into savasana. Cover yourself with a blanket and place a bolster or pillows under your knees this will help your hips and lower back to be comfortable. This recording is about 35 minutes long, so allow yourself plenty of time. Give up any expectations of what you will experience in Yoga Nidra, and simply allow yourself the opportunity to relax. Relaxing takes practice, so meditate often and use this audio whenever you like.

I made the choice to have it hosted on YouTube, since YouTube is a video site, I had to make a video for it. So I just grabbed some flower pictures from our garden last year and some snowy pictures from last winter and made a slide show.  The picture quality isn’t the best and this is my first attempt at a YouTube video. Since I plan on uploading audio podcasts of live classes & workshops I’m going to research other hosting & posting options. I promise to get better 🙂

But hey, don’t worry about what it looks like just close your eyes put your head phones on and kick back.

Om Shanti

What did Yoga teach you this week?

 

I read that question on someones Facebook page and thought now there’s an interesting question. What did, yoga teach me ? As a teacher sometimes I forget, I am a student too.

This week I felt the influence of yoga telling me “to stop pushing”.  Stop running. Whats your hurry? Why are you grabbing and clutching and at what?

When you can give up the pushing and the pulling and deeply surrender to where you are, giving up the notion that you must rush to an outcome, things become clearer. In those moments ideas become cemented in truth instead of illusion.

Just the act of simply slowing down and allowing things to unfold organically. Smoothly. Opens us to our higher purpose.

Well there is truth to be found in that.

There have been times in my life when I grabbed at every opportunity, no matter what it was. The opportunity to teach or to work. And that may have been the right thing then but not now. Now I know that not everything is an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to work perhaps, but is it work that will transport me to the next level in life or keep me stuck…Here. Not that ‘here’ is a bad place, but is it the place for me now? Is this where I need to put my energy? Will this opportunity help me move into the next phase of my life?

So this week as opportunities came pouring in, more than I could possible take on, instead of saying yes to everything I could, (my normal pattern) I stopped and slowed down enough to allow things to happen as they should without the pushing. I relaxed and I listened, and when things began to unfold, I knew just where I needed to put my energy and where it was best to say, “thank you but no, I can’t”.  And some of the things I said ‘no’ to this week, in another time or place, might have been just the thing. But now, right now, as I shift my direction, change my focus, I am learning what might have been a golden opportunity ‘then’ will only serve me hold me back ‘now’.

 

So this week, I stopped pushing. Lets see what the Universe puts in front of me this week.

Bring it!

….wait, does that sound a little pushy you?

Om Shanti

Chaturanga Dandasana; dreading, dreading, dreading

aka, Hover or half plank, Low push up, it doesn’t matter what you call it Chaturanga is still a dreaded pose for yoga virgins. It’s a toughie, I get it, and even men sometimes have trouble with this one. But this pose isn’t all about strength; there is finesse to it as well. And remember this isn’t realllly a pose, nooo it’s not, it’s a transition between plank and cobra/updog. It’s a bridge from point A to point B, albeit, sometimes a shaky pre-Columbian art bridge AKA Romancing the Stone, but a bridge none the less.

Chaturanga builds strength in the obvious places, Triceps, upper back, chest, it is also a great core strengthener and since the foundation of Chaturaga is in  your plank pose, it has all the benefits of Plank as well. Starting in Plank;

  • shoulders over tops of hands
  • long line from crown of head to heels
  • belly drawn in, bandhas engaged
  • press down through the hands to create the lift in the body
  • use the bandhas in the hands too

Ok, now we’re all set up; go on, Chaturanga to your hearts content. Go ahead, lower down…I’ll wait…….

So? How many of you ended up doing ‘bellyflopasana’?

 Yea, like I said it’s a toughie. But this is where the finesse comes in, you have to keep your elbows close to the body as you lower down, otherwise you lose the work of the big muscles in the upper back.  If you’re just learning this pose or having trouble with it lower your knees to the mat. Seriously, lower your damn knees. Sorry, but why wont anyone do that? Did they have a teacher who rapped them on the head with a ruler if they modified a pose?

Look, if your belly is getting to the ground first (before the chest and chin) take  the knees to the ground before you start down, if you’re lowering the belly first you compromise the low back, put too much load on the shoulders and probably lock your elbows. You end up moving through the bones and not the muscles, so how are you getting any stronger if you aren’t using the muscles.    Sigh….

Tips for Chaturanga

  • keep your ears pulled back ( i.e. don’t drop your chin to your chest)
  • press the heart center forward, that helps keep the torso long
  • press the tail bone towards your heels, lengthen don’t tuck, that just flattens out your back, and ‘tucking’ is a whole ‘nother post
  • press down through the hands and engage Uddiyana Bandha as you lower down
  • keep the legs very active, Quads drawn up &  Hamstrings engaged

We wanna avoid this if possible. By tilting the shoulders down towards the finger tips, puts way to much load them.   To protect the shoulders you need to work towards getting a 90 degree angle in the elbows. So try this ….. As you start lowering down press forward out of your toes, that should shift your torso forward enough to get the 90 angle you are looking for in your elbows.

This is lovely Sadie Nardini  doing a damn near perfect Chaturanga. She Rocks for sure.

From that point you can keep pushing forward and roll over your toes into Cobra or Updog.

Happy Hovering 

OmShanti

Rumi, an amazing way to start the day, Thank you Mirth and Motivation.
Namaste

Mirth and Motivation

“Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more — more unseen forms become manifest to him…” Rumi

He says, “There’s nothing left of me.
I’m like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
to sunlight.”
This is how Hallaj said, I am God,
and told the truth!
The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.
Completely become hearing and ear, and wear this sun-ruby as an earring…

The mystic poets, Rumi, Rabia, Hafiz, Gibran, Milarepa, Mirabai, Mansur al-Hallaj, and others, never hesitate to take us deep into the realm of the unseen; shedding light on the meaning of life, the complexities…

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Yamas and Nyamas ……Aparigraha

 

In the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, the yamas are the first limb of the eight limbs of Raja yoga. They, along with the Nyamas are the ethical guidelines, the Do’s and Don’ts of Yoga.

अपरिग्रह – aparigraha
Sutra 2.39, When one is steadfast in non-possessiveness or non-grasping with the senses (aparigraha), there arises knowledge of the why and wherefore of past and future lives swamij

Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness, Not being greedy. Taking only what is necessary for you to live. Aparigraha can also be translated as “non-attachment”, letting go and not clinging, clutching or grasping.

It’s about living your life in a balanced state of being, present in the moments as they come, with what you have right now and only with what you really need. It’s the balance we’re looking for.

If you choose to give up all you own, no possessions, have no where to live and no idea where your next meal is coming from, just letting the universe provide,  then you are taking the idea of aparigraha too far.  But if you cling to possessions, or identify your self with the things you own, always trying to always ‘keep up with the Jones’, acquiring far more than you will ever need or use, that too is a life out of balance.

We’re not talking about just objects and possessions, but to feelings, emotions, and memories as well. When we hold on to past identities of who we once were, we stay trapped in the past. Clinging desperately to the things, ideas, accomplishments and failures that we identify with as who we are is an unbalanced way to live. The flip side to that is if you live in a fantasy world, of what might happen or could be or if you live with the idea of ‘only if ‘ then you are grasping at that unknown future. Always rushing to get somewhere else than where you are. When you can’t be in this moment, respecting where you are right now, you miss the moments of your life.

When my 3 sons were very young, my husband went away, we weren’t really poor, we certainly had plenty of “things”. When he left I had 2 houses, 2 cars, more furniture than I knew what to do with and a basement full of boxes filled with memorabilia…..to reference George Carlin, My Stuff. Both of the houses were mortgaged to the hilt; both cars had loans on them and I had made the choice to stay home with my children for 14 years so I had few, if any marketable skills. I had no savings, no cash, nothing. Oh but I drove a red Cadillac. I was learning a lot about myself in those days, and I thought I was doing ‘ok’, we had moved into the smaller of the two houses, taking just the basic things we needed and moved the rest of our stuff in the basement of the other house. When the day came and I finally sold the other house with the basement full of stuff, I was given 15 days to move out my things. But on day 5 I went to the house I discovered the new owners had hauled all of my ‘things’ off to the dump. All of it! Everything was gone, tools, toys, boxes of clothes, books, all the important papers we’re always told we need to keep, all of it gone, except an antique desk and a rather large grapevine wreath I had made. Of all the things that I had to be angry about, and believe you me there was plenty, this took the prize. I felt violated. It took me a long time to get past the anger at losing my things, my stuff. But in time I realized that the universe had given me an amazing gift, the opportunity to live simply again to return to the days of enjoying people not possessions. Of loving life, not things. I try to remember the lessons of those days that possessions and things are transitory and that memories are best stored in the heart.

So my definition of Aparigraha is this;

The ability to remember where you’ve been without staying stuck in the past, to appreciate what you have and not worry about that which you don’t, to love where the journey of life is taking you, without to many worries about how you’ll get there.

  

OmShanti

Cheryl

Monday, ain’t it Great!

“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.” Henry David Thoreau

Its Monday, my favorite day of the week. Yep I know that makes me weird, but Mondays are fresh, bright and a new beginning, even if only on a small scale, like a week. So how are you going to spend your new day, your new week? Are you walking consciously? Or is this the place where you leap?

Sunday Haiku… March 4 2012

 
Bright skies overhead
Do not tell the whole story
The storms changed everything

Blessings to the people who lost so much more than things on Friday from all the deadly tornadoes. They lost security, peace of mind and many lost loved ones.

From the mid west
we pray for blessings and peace
to my own hometown