Books about yoga, Living with intention, The Yoga Club, Yoga off the mat

What’s Compassion Got To Do With It?

The Kiss woodcut by Edward Munch

The heart of my yoga practice, and why I came to want to teach, is compassion. The journey I have been on, the obstacles personal and outside of myself, secondary infertility, challenges of modern life, moving from place to place and even abroad, all of these things have led me to grow my understanding and love of all beings and places. It sounds dramatic, but the truth is, it is so, so simple.

In studying yoga I have found compassion to be a philosophical thread woven into all of the lineages. I came to yoga for exercise, and to yoga philosophy and deeper study via Buddhism, and the acceptance of suffering and desire to love and nurture all calls me daily. Judith Hanson Lasater writes, “Plant compassion, get compassion,” in chapter 9 of her book “Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life,” and this has become a mantra for me when that animal instinct to snap at a seemingly rude cashier, or to honk at a driver speeding and weaving dangerously when I’m attempting to safely deliver my children to school.

I want to start a conversation regarding compassion in my local yoga community and beyond. So I am leading a free community event this Sunday, November 17, at Premier Yoga & Fitness in Mansfield. See The Yoga Club for more info. Register for this event here!

And if the title of this post plants a Tina Turner song in your head, we are of like mind.

– Smile –

Introspection, Living with intention, Pondering, seasons, Yoga off the mat

Introspection, on the second day of fall

I’ve been getting emails reminding me it is time to renew my Yoga Alliance registration and my teacher’s insurance. Have I really been doing this a whole year? What have I done in this year? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself as we roll from summer to fall, as the light changes… it’s still hot as August here in Texas but in my mind the leaves are turning and we enter the darker, sleepier days of the end of the year.

So, what have I done this year? I have taught a lot of yoga classes. I have also kissed boo-boos, celebrated birthdays, tested new recipes, checked out a ton of library books, supported family members through life-threatening health emergencies, waded through muddy parenting waters with friends… the list goes on. What I have NOT done a lot of is writing, and I have not nurtured Slow Lotus as an entity as much as I would like to.

Autumn brings the harvest but is also a time to sow, hunker down, germinate, and ready ourselves for another year of growth and bloom. I’ve been thinking about Slow Lotus and my intentions. I have some nebulous ideas and am starting to write them down, I have been meditating, I have been pulling together some images, and I am starting to gain clarity on what this next year will look like. My first year out of the gate so to speak has been humbling and invigorating. I’ve felt so busy, wonderfully so, but now I’m feeling the pull to focus. I’ll be sharing more yoga here, and in real life. On and off the mat.

Books about yoga, Living with intention, Things my yoga teacher said, Yoga off the mat

Truth in yoga

Almost three years ago, I started taking yoga classes with my (now) mentor. On occasion she would speak of truth when closing the practice. Something along the lines of living truth. I was perplexed by this. What was this truth she spoke of? Was it some secret I was not privy to? Was it a Hindu concept? This particular class is at a Christian community health center, so I wondered, is this truth she mentions God? Jesus? Something about it made me uncomfortable, because generally I am a secular person. I have my own connection to the universe and spirituality, and kind of avoid the whole organized religion thing.

I think it took me a year to even talk to my teacher about yoga at all, and months beyond that before I gained the courage to ask, what is this truth you speak of? What if I don’t agree with it?

She recommended a book by Deborah Adele. I will forever be grateful that this was my introduction to the the ethics of yoga, known as the Yamas and Niyamas. Adele’s book is a perfect laymen’s guide… had I been pointed to Patanjali’s Sutras at that point, I may have run the other way.

One of the Yamas can be summarized as Truthfulness, as a code to live by. Adele explains this as being truthful in all affairs of life, but also to one’s self. Imagine living in such a way where we all could say and do as we wish, without judging each other or ourselves. To live our truth is to live fully. To work against our truth generates misconceptions and negative energy. And who wants either of those things?

This definition of truth is taking me a long time to embody. Years! It’s not like I walk around lying, it is more that I am (we all are!) so conditioned to act against our truth to maintain whatever reputation we believe we are supposed to have.

Example: as a parent of an elementary school aged child, I feel like I’m supposed to be up to my neck in PTA duties. But my truth is, I don’t wanna. I like showing up when I can, when there is an event that supports Dove, or the teachers, or the school… but do I want to organize that event? I could do it! But I don’t truly want to. Do I want to sell wrapping paper, or fundraiser for whatever this year’s “a-thon” is? Nope. I am being 100% honest with myself (and you!) here. So. The ethical thing to do is to NOT do these things. This is soooo far from what I used to think I should be doing. But now, living my truth, I know it is better for me and all those involved to decline these pressures and send twenty bucks directly to the PTA instead, for them to do as they see fit.

See what I’m getting at here? It’s ok to say no if you want to. It’s ok to wear sweatpants to Target if you want to. It’s ok to take a knee for anjaneasana if your body needs that. You do you! Be true. Live your truth. I know I’m trying.

Namaste.

Advanced Yoga, Living with intention, My YTT

Endings as beginnings

I completed my teacher training last month, and have since been hired by the local YMCA (my “yoga home”) to substitute teach yoga. This past weekend I taught two classes back-to-back, and it felt significant. Sure, physically it was demanding, and I loved that part. But beyond that, teaching beyond a peer group, beyond a beginner class, felt like I had finally graduated to Teacher. Funny, though. You’d think this would mean my journey as Student has ended, my 200 hour training HAS ended… but this is just a start. The first page in a new chapter on this journey. Sunrise/sunset, inhale/exhale, open/close… there is no end. It’s humbling and inspiring at the same time.

Living with intention, My YTT, Yoga off the mat

Teacher Training Completed. What’s next?

I passed my final yoga teacher training exam this past Saturday. I studied my sit bones off and that showed in my grade. I’ve become a more calm teacher with experience, and I’m ready to register with Yoga Alliance.

Just about every person I’ve encountered since graduating from my YTT program has greeted me the same way: “Congratulations! What’s next?”

Well isn’t that the million dollar, or perhaps I should say, two hundred hour question.

I have a lot of thoughts and ideas, lined up like the birds on the wires here in this photo I took this morning. But who knows when the ideas will lift and take flight, which will flourish, which will stick.

My best answer today, merely hours out of the program, is as follows.

I will continue to practice. I will teach when I can, as much as I can. I will live yoga. There isn’t a set path, it isn’t a linear process. We shall see! I promise I will continue to share yoga forever. And I know. I sound like a certified hippie. But this is where I’m at today.

Thank you to everyone has helped me get here. For now, stay tuned! Let’s put our legs up the wall, tune into our breath, and see where that takes us.