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Yoga with Roxoliana

Victoria BC

First Steps

Taking our first steps out of or into anything is often very difficult. We must shift from stillness into movement. This movement may be in a known or unknown direction, but the movement itself can upset the comfortable sense of steadiness that we had in our previous stillness. We may have experienced any range of sensations, feelings, or emotions in that previous still place. We may have labelled them as positive or negative or neutral. Yet the weight of inertia may still make it difficult to step out of that stillness and into movement of whatever kind.

Try taking first steps with steady intention in your heart; know why you are moving. Support that with clear focus in your mind, flowing energy throughout yourself, and firmness in your feet. Move your whole self in harmony with the intentions in your heart. Practice this on your mat as you move within and between various yoga postures and practice in your daily life as well. Notice how this feels.

Knots

Life has a tendency to wrap us into knots of tension, of repetition, of habit. These knots may be physical, mental, or emotional, or some combination of these. A physical yoga practice is one excellent way to unravel some of these knots. Another excellent way to unravel them is to allow ourselves a little time away from our regular routines. This may involve travelling away from home and work on a small vacation, or it may involve going about our activities at home in a new way for at least a brief time. Last week I had the opportunity to travel to visit old friends for a few days. On the drive home I realized my inner vision felt clearer, my ruts of habit felt less deep, and my ability to set new intentions felt invigorated. I am grateful for this and for the support that surrounds me. Now my practice becomes lighting a fire inside and finding the courage and strength to manifest these new intentions…here we go!

Gratitude

We say please and thank-you many times a day in fleeting moments and short interactions, but how often do we pause to truly feel a deep gratitude for the gifts of this life that surround us? I am grateful for the love of friends and family (no matter what it looks like), for fresh air, clean water, and a warm bed. I am grateful for nourishing food and for opportunities to share it with others. I am grateful for a healthy body and mind that I can move and stretch on my yoga mat, and for the few minutes each day that I get to spend practicing!

Cherish the Light

Without the light there is no dark and without the dark there is no light. As the days grow shorter we are reminded to cherish every moment that we do still receive light. We might tend warming fires, open curtains wide to slanting rays of sunshine, and begin again to enjoy candlelight. Perhaps we may be reminded also to cherish the light that lives in our hearts. This light is always with us, even through our darkest days.

Transitions

The time we spend shifting between two states deserves as much care and attention as the time we spend in the states themselves. When a cat transitions from wakefulness into sleep she allows as much time as needed to find the right spot, ‘knead’ her little paws into the sleeping surface, and curl up into a cozy position. Only then does she sleep. When I help my garden transition from the flowering of summer into the dormancy of winter I allow enough time to harvest the edible plants, cut back the perennials, and protect the soil and roots with a layer of straw. Only then do I leave the garden to rest. When we transition from an active postural yoga practice into deep relaxation or ‘savasan’ we create warmth and comfort for our physical bodies, ease our breath and mind, and soften the space around our hearts. Only then do we unravel our movements into stillness. We transition into cat naps, winter gardens, and ‘savasan’ with care so that we may truly enjoy the depth of restorative stillness that we all deserve.

Work and Play

If you read these posts, attend my classes, or in any other way participate in yoga with me, you will likely notice that I speak about balance often. Balance is a play between two contrary elements, a concerted effort to allow these elements to coexist in some sort of harmony, and a trust that these elements actually converse with each other rather than battle with each other.

In today’s instance, the balance I seek is between work and play. At what point is it time to leave the house-cleaning alone and sit outside is the warm autumn sunshine? Does work come first or play? Or do they alternate over and over again in small pieces? Can work exist within play and play within work?

Do I tend generally towards work or play over the course of my days, and therefore which should I invite more of into my life? If I know the answer to this last question, can I apply the appropriate effort to manifest this balancing act?

Just Enough

We need only ever do our best. Whether in relationships with ourselves or others, whether in work or play, whether in time or effort spent. Our best is enough. Less than our best is less than enough. More than our best is more than enough….and our best is always changing. Therefore we do just enough. We practice treading along that middle path between not enough and more than enough…we practice feeling, observing, and expressing this concept of just enough.

Boundaries

When we practice hatha yoga postures we engage our muscles to create specific forms within which we then expand and stretch. In other words the actions of our muscles offer boundaries against which we then expand and stretch. Without the pliable resistance of these boundaries, our stretches would be overly casual and floppy and our expansion would be airy and formless. We need these boundaries to press up against, and we need them to be firm yet pliable. Are there activities in your daily life that would benefit from a little pliable resistance? A little containment and form? A little bit of a boundary to play against?

Perspective

The rain this morning reminds me of being a kid. The rain meant that we had to stay indoors, that we had to find something rather quiet to do, and that we couldn’t run about. Now the rain means that I am able to stay indoors, that I have the opportunity to choose something rather quiet to do, that I allow myself to not run about. The weather today is the same as it was on those rainy days in my childhood, but I have shifted myself to a new perspective on the situation. I have fresh eyes, and a beginner’s mind; I have adopted a new attitude and decided that a previously unsavoury situation is actually quite delicious! It is partly a simple matter of time and age, but there are elements of attitude and perspective in play as well.

The types of yoga practice that immediately appeal to us may shift over time, so that a certain kind of practice is quite unsavoury at a certain time in our lives while at another it is delicious. Do we have the power to intentionally shift what is unsavoury or delicious? If we spend enough time observing and experiencing a certain kind of practice with an open mind and open heart, is it possible that it might change from being delicious to unsavoury, or being unsavoury to delicious? From my experience the answer to this question is that it is possible but not definite. A new perspective may create a new response within us, but it also may not. I do believe though that it is worth the effort and worth the experiment!

Fluidity and Stickiness

Water is very fluid and moves quickly and easily compared to honey. Honey is quite sticky and flows slowly and deliberately compared to water. Your mind is capable of being in the state of either of these two substances; consider these two scenarios.

Thoughts, emotions, sensory details, and other information slip and flow through your mind with little attachment (like water).

Thoughts, emotions, sensory details, and other information get a little stuck in your mind, holding focus for some time before eventually and with some difficulty flowing out (like honey).

When is it useful for your mind to be in these two states? What kind of yoga on the mat will help you practice these two ways of being in your mind?  There is a richness and a depth to yoga on the mat that allows you to find what you need for your own balance and harmony. How and what will you practice for your mind today?

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