Some of my favorite places, on Earth.
All photos by me, except the last one. Photo by Karen.
It's Volleyball Friday in my world. My favorite day of the week! Today was one of those days where everything seemed crystal clear. As my opponents approached the net or made their plays I seemed to be able to read everything. What was different? As I pondered between plays I noticed that I was able to really focus. I watched the other side look for spots and then moved. I watched the ball and could feel my breath. Most days don't tend to be so Zen like. What is interesting is how Focus is parlaying into the rest of my life at the moment, and it's such a good thing.
Look at this girls focus. She is my current inspiration and has changed the way I ride my horse. She is practically looking behind her at her next jump. Her horse can see where she is looking and is moving in that direction with her. Her focus affects her horse and this team was in the blue ribbons. I've been focusing on focus in my riding lately and it really has helped my volleyball apparently.
So where does yoga fit into all of this? Everywhere! Dharana - When the body has been tempered by asanas, when the mind has been refined by the fire of pranayama and when the senses have been brought under control by pratyhara, the yogi reaches the sixth stage of yoga, dharana. BKS Iyengar. Dharana is not restricted to yoga alone. Draw in your focus and savor life's sunrises and gifts.
Love and peace,
Ahhhh, the Kriyas. Its sort of like talking about the birds and the bees with your children. You don't really want to bring it up but it is in fact part of life. So, today I had a student in class that must not have remembered to put on their underpants before yoga. Let's just say the shorts were short and there was nothing left to the imagination. As a teacher its very distracting and I'm sure the other students are distracted as well. But, my students are my teachers and so this leads me to the topic of the Kriyas. The Kriyas are by definition a set of techniques for cleansing the body. Yoga in its practice is a physical detoxification and cleanse as well as a purification for our entire being. With that said, we need to honor that process and begin our practice "clean". Take a shower BEFORE yoga. Check your clothing and make sure it is appropriate for the activity at hand. WEAR UNDERWEAR! Brush your teeth and clean your gums and tongue. Prepare for your practice as if you are going to church or to some place of importance. Have a cup of tea or coffee but not a huge meal before yoga. Go to the bathroom and empty your bowls. Clear your mind of any negative thoughts or toxic energy. Soften your heart and be open to receive. Let go of all expectations. Step on to your mat feeling the best that you can possibly feel and you will enjoy the complete bliss and grace that yoga has to offer.
With so much gratitude and love!
Yoga Sutra 2.47
Relax the intensity of your effort and continue to meditate on the endless infinite energy within. Why? Because all of this simply never ends. If it was not the practice of asana and yoga, it would be something else and why not have it be something that is moving you towards liberation?
This sutra came up in class today and served many of us well as we patiently worked through some deep psoas and lunge sequences. Often times we struggle with issues and situations in our lives with great angst. Remembering that life is endless can help to let go of such petty anger and get back to savoring the journey with all its sweetness and nectar.
With so much gratitude,
Recently in class we have been focusing on the shoulders. When I think shoulders I do Handstand or Ahdo Muka Vrksasana, upside down tree. Handstand is the best shoulder opener and strengthen there is. In our work in class several students found their first unassisted handstands and it was awesome. After I learned how to kick up into my first handstand I was on my hands all over town. It did not matter what outfit I was in or shoes I was wearing. If there was a wall and some footing I kicked it up. Here on one of our yoga shoots I found this great barn with a great wall. The smell of the grass and mold was grounding and the walls were soft and sweet. Handstand gives us a different perspective on life, it gives us strength, balance, focus, breath and incredible shoulders. Take advantage of this playground called life and have some fun where ever you are. You'd be surprised how others will want to follow your lead and have some fun too.
My family and I took a road trip over the holidays. We stopped in St. George, Utah on our way home for a break from the endless driving through Utah, Montana & Wyoming on our little ski-cation. After a restful nights sleep we took a hike, found a place to chill and I thought I'd do a little yoga. First we made prayer stones in this cool wash. Lots of stones and spirits I might add. Yes, there may have been dust on the lens but I know otherwise. When I saw this shot I had to sit down, again. I felt every cell in my body shiver and jump for joy. I knew that all of my prayers had been heard and that I/we/everyone, are never alone. I felt light, love and an incredible sense of being. I could not have asked for a better beginning to this New Year. Peace and Love! Marie
Where is your focus? So often in class I see students fidget and fuss, looking around and watching other people, their minds still active and distracting. Our Drishti can help us in focusing the mind and setting it at ease. It strengthens out postures and empowers us. Every posture has a Drishti and often it is a distant gaze or focus to the tip of the nose. Its a concentrated effort from the inside out. Use a Drishti in quiet meditation and watch how your calm and focus come to attention. As a teacher, when I see a student completing their postures with a focused Drishti it shows me that they are there, they are getting the most out of the moment and the posture can do its work. Complete each posture with your Drishti, your breath and your heart and let yoga do you.
Love and peace,
Join me and Hillary for another awesome workshop focusing on inversions, hip openers and heart openers. Give yourself the gift of yoga and savor this time to work on your self from the inside out. We hope you will join us.
Living, loving and teaching in Santa Barbara, CA.