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.

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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.

Living with intention

Lessons from Lithops and other plants

About two months ago, I decided to try my hand at succulents. I shopped around and added twenty plants to an online shopping cart, then got to work sketching where I would plant them. When I researched light requirements in-depth, I realized that the rocky succulent garden I had in mind would not work in front of the house, becuase these plants prefer Southern exposure.

As my garden progressed, I uncovered small hurdles… some plants need more nutrients, some less. Some are easily sunburned. Very few can handle winters here in zone 8a. My list of plants that could thrive here was getting shorter and shorter.

I deleted the online shopping cart and went to the local nursery. I let my kids each pick out a succulent, and my daughter picked a Lithops… a “living rock.” Sounds easy to care for, right?

After a few weeks in it’s new home, the plant started showing signs of ill health. The old me would have tried to revive it. More water, less water. More sun, less sun. The old me would have tried to do anything recover the plant, before tossing it into the compost heap for recycling.


But the now me, the me who accepts that I alone cannot do all the things, know all the things, and fix all the things, recognized that it was time to go to my community for guidance. I posted a photo of my sickly lithops, and immediately learned that it was, in fact, NOT a lithops, but a close relative called pleiospilos nelii. Not a living rock but a “split rock.” The extra leaves that we found appealing at the nursery are, in fact, a sign that the plant was in transition, and in fact I shouldn’t save them… they will feed the plant and shrivel. We had sunburned the plant by putting it in too strong sunlight, for too long, too soon. We had overwatered. We had made assumptions based on research, trusted the nursery would only sell a perfect plant, but we lacked the experience and patience to set the plant up properly.

We are not at our best acting solitarily, living in a vaccuum. Our plants, our selves, require not only sun and water, but patience, support and imput from those who have “been there,” acceptance of who and where we are, and time.

When I looked at this plant, I saw a plant that was dying. But people who have “been there” have assured me that if we re-pot the plant in the appropriate growing media, slowly acclimate it to it’s new home, and wait, the damage will “grow out,” the sunburned leaves will shrivel and nourish the plant, and new, healthy leaves with eventually grow.