"The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers. "
- Erich Fromm
Above are pics in and around the neighborhood Yogayama resides in, the host of my morning Mysore program. It's been going great thus far. Thank you to all who have joined us from day one, and to those who have yet to come and are planning to! We're waiting!
Our vision: to build a thriving Ashtanga yoga community. Let's go!
On a moving train . . .
You, darkness, that I come from
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.
But the darkness pulls in everything—
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them!—
powers and people—
and it is possible a great presence is moving near me.
I have faith in nights.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
The human heart. I'm fascinated by it. What it can endure. The strength it carries. The love it can hold. The hurt it can take. It's amazing. Recently I've been struck by the soul centering force of the heart. Heart acknowledging heart.
I recently watched the movie The Way Back, based on the true story of men who escaped a Siberian prison traveling on foot to the only route to freedom, south. They walked all the way to India! Imagine. Crossing the Gobi dessert, even trekking their way through the daunting Himalayan mountains. Though the movie had all the dramatic flair of a Hollywood film I couldn't help being drawn by the energy and determination the human spirit can endure. We see this in countless examples, this only being one. This perseverance is what makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. What is that exactly?
Often it takes being brought down to our knees by external circumstances to dive into this essence. I guess you can say the force becomes stronger than our own fears and doubts. We wake up to what is real and self sustaining. Our defense mechanisms and blocks become useless in the face of enduring or simply striving to move forward and live. Or maybe we become inspired and/or awakened by a chance encounter. The possibilities are endless. The commonality we share is our one beating heart.
The stability of focus seems to be one attribute in persevering. Steadfast. I have had my challenges in this life; however, I can't say it has been to the extreme of many stories told. In a way I practice perseverance in getting up daily to practice. It has slowly taught me the energy to simply carry on. Opening up to the lessons the practice reveals, and leaning into it, head on. A training ground of sorts. Hopefully, not missing one single step in the act of self-realization.
We enter a time where the center of our being is essential to collectively reaching higher states of consciousness for all humanity. I must connect here first. Boundaries diminish when we reside in the heart. Pulling the energy down from the head into the heart center inspires the practice to come from a place of devotion. More than just physical. This sacred time has taught more about grace than I could have imagined. It doesn't become work. I am unfolding into reality. This breath. This moment. Compelled to expand into this space I desire to become intimate with it. I try, at least. In the act of making an effort I have the opportunity to observe where I need to grow. Where the fears are. What blocks I carry. Just keep walking. Or what I tell myself, just keep showing up.
The heart. A force so strong, so powerful, it burns and it yearns. I can see often why I would rather close than open. To expose this part of myself I must lie awake in every moment. To feel everything. To feel it all. From the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows. This is where the juice is, and sometimes it seems easier to simply numb. When I open to the pulse of life, I can flow with the rhythm of the earth itself, and the act of surrender seems to happen on it's own accord. Not always an easy task, but one that is essential to understanding what it means to lead from the heart.
At some point in our practices the heart becomes apparent. To do it for a long sustained period we have to soften or we break. Or maybe we are drawn there in time. We open to our true nature and allow that to breathe life into our bodies as we practice no matter what we are presented with in day to day life. To continue on is the theme. Connecting to the undying part of ourselves in the mist of change, tragedy and triumph.
Ahimsa would suggest that the foods that you ingest should cause no harm to you are anyone else. Questions that surface when contemplating Ahimsa and diet:
- Is the food I am eating causing damage to my body?
- Was anyone or anything harmed unnecessarily in the creation or processing of this food?
Aparigraha deals with taking only what is necessary and letting go of attachments. Questions that surface when contemplating Aparigraha and diet:
- Is there more food on my plate that what my body needs to be healthy?
- Am I wasteful with food?
- Are my eating habits taking food away from others?
- Am I attached to certain foods in a way that is harmful to me, the environment or to others?
Sauca deals with purity and cleanliness. Questions that surface when contemplating Sauca and diet:
- Is my food clean and free of all impurities?
- Does this food contain toxins?
- Is this food toxic to me, other living beings or the environment?
- Does this food disrupt the purity of my mind and emotions?(Maybe think about alcohol,sugar, caffeine and its effects on mood and behavior)
Santosha deals with being satisfied and content. Questions to contemplate:
- Do I feel satiated when I am done eating or am I too full or underfed?
- Does this food turn off my hunger signals or make me crave more? (sugar, high fructose corn syrup)
- Are my cravings disruptive to my feeling of satisfaction?
- Am I making a decision to be happy about the food that I have to eat?
Tapas/Disciplined Use of Energy
Tapas deals with the heated energy it takes to stay disciplined. Questions for diet and Tapas:
- Am I eating more calories then I can burn off?
- Am I disciplined about my food intake?
- Am I disciplined about my yoga practices and exercise that helps my body stay balanced?
- Are my thoughts on food steady and balanced?
Svadhyaya deals with self inquiry and studying things that will promote self improvement. Questions for diet and Svadhyaya:
- How do I feel when I eat this food?
- How do I feel when I eat at this time?
- Have I done research on the proper diet for my body?
- Do I understand the long term effects of this diet?
David, Sarawati, and Me
"For modern practitioners it is important to realize that Ashtanga Yoga is not just the latest exercise craze, newly developed just to get your body into shape. When you practice this yoga, you become part of an ancient tradition that has weathered many a storm. Connect with this age-old wisdom and honor its founders and many contributors. Know that when this practice was conceived, many concepts and ideas that make up our life and society today did not exist. And this tradition will still exist when many of these ideas are gone. In the meantime, continue your practice mindfully and respectfully on the ancients and don't worry too much what modern scholars, who barely dip their toes into the ocean of yoga, have to say about it."
This is a lengthy conversation regarding the nature of our food sources in the United States. An important topic for the entire population of the world. To what lengths will we go to pull in a profit? What are the costs? What will be the long term effects? I'm almost too afraid to ask. We can start first by being educated on where our food comes from and take the necessary steps to more conscious food choices. If it's about the all mighty dollar at the end of the day, then we need to start speaking with it. Support your local organic farmer is one. This is an important issue. No doubt.
"It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom." - Aristotle
Whew. The past month has been busy! I am just about feeling like I am settling into my new routine. This week I'm rounding out the fourth week of our brand new Mysore program at Yogayama! I feel blessed to be part of such an amazing place, right in the bustling Östermalm area of Stockholm.
Since arriving back from India in the beginning of February, looking back on it, I'm amazed how everything came together in such a short time. It's a testament to when the time is ripe, well, it is ripe. I had plans to start something, not knowing exactly where, and to make a long story short, the opportunity to set up shop at Yogayama simply flowed.
To the students who have jumped in with both feet, arriving in the mornings from day one, it's been a sincere pleasure. With continued focus to create a space for sustained practice I can't begin to explain what rewarding hard work it is. Teaching the Mysore method is the most enriching way for Ashtanga yoga to be transmuted. Often misrepresented, I am repeatedly reiterating, it isn't only for advanced practitioners. It is for any-BODY who feels the desire to learn this method. Young, old, athlete, non-athlete, thin, round, short, tall, sick, healthy - please come as you are. This is where the yoga journey begins.
My day starts at 3:00 am when the alarm goes off, then I prepare to practice. After practice, shower, get ready, catch the train and head to Yogayama to teach from 6:30 - 10:00. It's odd by the time 10:00 am rolls around I've already had a pretty full day compared to most. It's just a different rhythm. What I've found is if I'm not in bed by 8:00 pm then it can be pretty tough going for me to get through the rest of my day. I need my sleep! Ahhhhh. It is so important. I've never been one of those people who can get by on little. I mean, I've had my spurts where I can manage without much, but it doesn't last long.
With the new Mysore program just beginning to settle there will be new projects on the horizon, as well as more blog posts! I haven't been around much, but I promise you, I am still around and kicking and will be writing more!