Sometimes our yoga practice is active and sometimes more passive. We may engage in a challenging asana class or we might simply rest and breathe. These actions, regardless of where they fall on the active to passive spectrum are a part of a system, yoga, that promises both freedom and fulfillment.
The tradition also upholds a different kind of action as key to this freedom and fulfillment. That is, skillfully making use of our talents and resources for the upliftment of others. We call this Yoga in Action. At Yoga Bird, we endeavor to practice it in a host of small, informal ways, carefully listening to a student, purchasing responsibly sourced items, teaching inclusive classes. The list goes on.
We also practice Yoga in Action by inviting the community to participate in variety of activities that will provide financial support to initiatives that have a ton of integrity and that serve and solve problems with creativity and compassion. Among the most outstanding is the Himalayan Institute's Humanitarian efforts in Cameroon. We are continually inspired by the depth of the work HI does bringing health, education, and sustainable employment to this area of the world, where many of our neighbors have little resources and life expectancy of just 54 years. It is imperative that as yogis we serve as we are able, and if we can do a small part by helping financially and using our resources skillfully, it is our joy to do so.
In the upcoming days, we'll share all kinds of fun plans for a Yoga in Action Community Celebration. Think about how you'd like to be involved. We will also begin to formally include students in our Yoga in Action efforts, so if bigger picture efforts speak to your heart, consider getting involved long term.
The generosity, skill, and compassion of the students at Yoga Bird is a constant source of inspiration, and for this we thank you.
We're calling this new space the Yoga Bird Center for Teaching and Learning, and like our two studio spaces, it will be an inclusive, welcoming place where you can be assured that you are receiving the best, customized care from dedicated, professional teachers. Stay tuned for lots of announcements about programming and other opportunities in this space that will allow you of find upliftment and radiant health. Read More
At any time, we are expressing a unique combination of elemental forces in our bodies and in our minds. When those forces are combined in a way that’s natural to our unique blueprint, we thrive. When we’re working with a balance of elements isn’t just right for us, we can struggle. Yoga practice can help us recognize the elemental forces we are expressing and help us move toward just the right balance for us, to align our practice with our nature (or dosha in Ayurvedic terms.)
Sometimes when I suggest to students that I would like to help them design a practice that aligns more with their needs, I see a moment of panic. A certain number of students, I imagine, worry that I am going to ask them to practice in a way they find, “too easy.” Another group may dread a practice that’s “too hard.”
Aligning your practice with nature, your own nature and the rhythms of the world around you, is more subtle than “Should I make it easy or should I make it hard?” Alignment with nature begins first simply with noticing. What are your rhythms and desires? How is the world around you influencing your body and mind?
We begin an aligned practice by meeting ourselves where we are. If we tend to thrive on challenge and heat, we head there first. If we are more inclined toward an introspective, quiet practice, we begin there. Once we feel comfortable, we can begin to explore balancing forces. Perhaps we introduce a little light-heartedness for the fiery and competitive among us. We could explore a sustained, but doable challenge or us for those who tend toward being complacent.
When we consistently practice in a way that is aligned for us, the promise of yoga begins to open up. It’s not just theoretical anymore. Not only is practice more satisfying, we also see changes in ourselves off that mat. We may be able to let go of long-held patterns in the conduct of our lives. In short, we become more vibrant and balanced and ready to grow into a mature spiritual practice.
Want to know more? Anna will lead three practices based on the three Ayurvedic Doshas.
Yoga for Your Nature: Ayurvedic Yoga for Your Unique Needs with Anna
Three classes spanning Friday June 16 and Saturday June 17. ($25 each or $60 for all three) Friday, June 16, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm – Yoga for Vata Saturday, June 17, 8:00 am to 10:00 am – Yoga for Kapha Saturday, June 17, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm – Yoga for Pitta
Our interactions with others provide some of the richest experiences of our lives, belonging to communities, creating and contributing in our careers, and even sharing the ups and downs of life with lovers and families. On the other hand, doesn’t it seem that finding the kind of inner peace and non-attachment you associate with yoga might be a lot easier if it weren’t for all those annoying other people?
Nothing disturbs my meditation like recalling an interaction with an irritated neighbor or thinking about how to answer a whiny email. Nevertheless, the Yoga Sutra suggests that we can find cultivate non-attachment, live peacefully, and, at the same time, enjoy the company of others for all its blessings and challenges.
In Yoga Sutra 1.33, Pantajali advises this:
By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are successful, compassion for those who are suffering, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind.
Each of these four approaches is worthy of being considered carefully, as each allows the mind to become more calm, peaceful, and pure. Yogis would say, more sattivic. In some ways, the second, to have compassion for those who are suffering, seems like it may be the easiest to live by. We may find compassion pulling often at our heartstrings, and it may be almost impossible to imagine ourselves acting cruelly. But for many, we need look no further for an example of ruthlessness than in the ways that we talk to ourselves. Pandit Rajmani Tigunait suggests, in the Secret of the Yoga Sutra, that a compassion that does not include the self is, in fact, woefully inadequate.
Compassion for yourself, by the way, doesn’t imply, letting yourself off the hook and allowing the development of a sloppy character. Having high standards for yourself is a good thing. But compassion allows room for making mistakes, for growing, for resting when weary, and for celebrating your efforts and your many gifts. This kind of self-care and love may help you develop the most admirable character of all, as well as the inner peace to navigate our crazy world and still attend to your practice. Discuss this and the rest of the Sutra with me Saturday, June 10 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am at Yoga Bird