Hello new yogi’s!

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To all the yoga newbies out there, there are a couple of things I really want to tell you…..

*Keep coming to class

*Keep trying new things

*Keep practicing (remember we call it yoga practice not yoga perfect)

And the next time you are in class look around at everyone with you in class ….We all started right where you are. Yep even the teacher was a yoga virgin at one time. Everybody started right where you are right now…Everybody!!

Talk to the people on the mat next to you, the ones that are doing ‘stuff’ you think you could never do, I bet you’ll find out they haven’t been doing this yoga thing very long. But they kept coming and they kept trying and they are still here doing things they were certain they would never be able to do. 

But please know that learning Yoga is so much more than just learning the poses. Yoga is about learning to express yourself and learning yoga is learning understanding, understanding who you are, where you are now and where you’re going.

That’s Yoga; a never-ending journey to be who we are right now. It is not now, nor has it ever been about trying to put your foot behind your ear, let me say that again! Yoga is not about tying yourself in a knot, that’s gymnastics not Yoga, but hey if you can that’s Great! Because I sure as hell can’t. Baby I don’t bend that way!

So when you take a Yoga class, remember, that your yoga practice is an opportunity to shake loose the stiffness, dump that junk we carry and wake up the body. And when the body is awake the Spirit very quickly follows and when the Spirit is awake there isn’t anything you can’t do.

Om Shanti

Cheryl

More off the mat chat

I’ve been talking about the concept of taking Yoga off the mat. I want to delve a bit deeper into that concept. Yoga has the reputation, certainly in the West, of being ‘only’ a fitness regime, a physical health program. And that’s part of it for sure, but at some point you realize that yoga is something else. Your practice then becomes so much more. And that’s when the real struggle begins, because you start to question things in your life. And that can make the people in your life uncomfortable. It can make you uncomfortable.

Odds are when you first come to yoga, whether through a studio or a gym class or even online it was through the lens of the physical practice, the asana practice, and so for many that’s all yoga is, only a bunch of postural exercises.

But after a while yoga begins to take on a different meaning, you start to recognize something in your practice that you can’t quite put into words.

I tell my students all the time that yoga will slowly worm it’s way into your life, it will start to move you in ways you hadn’t expected. Slowly and over time your yoga practice becomes your own…. Not your teachers practice, not your friends but your practice. Even if it looks similar on the outside, on the inside it’s unique. It’s intimate and subtle and you find yourself looking at the rest of your life through that now intimate and subtle lens.

You may change behaviors in your life, like drinking less or eating differently. You may stop smoking or maybe you start going to the gym or the park to exercise. You may stop participating in conversations with friends that marginalize other groups outside your own. Your prayer or devotion time might now start with an asana practice. You start to find the subtleties of yoga in the way you wash the dishes, in the way you actually listen to someone when they talk. You may also look at yourself differently. You may see your beauty, where before you saw only flaws. You may start realizing your strength is in the very same places that others had only seen weakness.

Yoga off the mat is an ambiguous phrase but the truth is yoga will change you and you will reflect that change in your life. As your practice grows so will you, you will blossom and flower into a new, better version of yourself.

For me Yoga is the basis of my life, it is the foundation of who I am and every single day yoga reminds me of where I come from and how I can continue to move forward. If I never get on the mat again, if for some reason I never do the movement practice again, yoga will still be an integral part of my life. It is how I breathe, it is how I move, it is how I face the challenges of life, and it is the foundation for my relationships, my relationship with my students, with my friends, my family and with God. Yoga isn’t about perfection it’s about reaching deeply into myself so that I can then reach higher and find the better parts of me.

Yoga is my spiritual practice.

Yoga doesn’t take away the responsibility of our daily existence, yoga doesn’t teach us to run away but instead to be grounded and rooted in the experience of life so that we can see the beauty in our daily lives.

Om shanti

Cheryl

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It’s all about the Sukha Baby

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‘Sukha’…… Approach your yoga practice (and life) with the understanding of Sukha.

Sukha translates as ‘easy’, for example ‘sukhasana, or easy pose’ but in our yoga practice (and life) it means so much more. In our modern western way of life ‘easy’ almost means lazy or to do something without any thought. ‘No problem’ we say, “its easy peasy”. But Sukha is actually work, but it is work that requires very little effort. So Sukha = Effortless Work. A student of Krishnamacharya, Ramaswami Srivatsa, says that sukha is ‘No Pain with Gain’. Read that again, NOT ‘no pain no gain’ (this isnt the 80’s) But ‘No Pain With Gain’. Whoa, can you do that? Can you really stop forcing your body into Chinese Acrobat positions and still be doing Yoga. Of course you can! Teachers are all the time saying ‘if it hurts don’t do it, but thats not the whole story. It isn’t just don’t get hurt, it is about trying to do poses without force, without strain and stress. Remember Yoga is about de-stressing not creating more stress. Feel how different it is to move out of pain instead of into pain. What a concept!

And like all of Yoga we can take these teachings off the mat and intertwine them into our lives. Matthieu Richard, a Buddhist monk and the author of Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill defines sukha as: “the state of lasting well-being that manifests itself when we have freed ourselves of mental blindness and afflictive emotions. It is also the wisdom that allows us to see the world as it is, without veils or distortions. It is, finally, the joy of moving toward inner freedom and the loving-kindness that radiates toward others.” So perhaps we can take that idea of No pain with gain into other aspects of how we live. When we are having a heated discussion with our spouse or partner, turn down the heat and apply Sukha, and see if you reach a mutually beneficial conclusion without the pain of arguing. Maybe you are stressing over how to ask for a raise at work, apply Sukha, see if your calm mind and presence can help you to better articulate the whys of you getting a raise. There are countless ways to bring Sukha into our lives.

So the next time your in bridge pose (or living your life) think about how you can use Sukha …..Effortless work. 

Om Shanti

Cheryl

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