My Love Affair With Yoga: How Yoga is Like a Long Term Relationship

Yoga and  I  are in a long-term relationship. It is one that I am continually finding new reasons to fall in love over, and over and over again! It’s spicy! I love that it isn’t just down dog and warrior two. Even if those may have been the reasons I fell in love with it in the first place.

No, it’s mysterious. Dangerous! Even more than a hint naughty!

Just when things are threatening to get a bit stale, it surprises me. Sometimes it’s a nuance in the way to place my hands on my mat. Other times, it’s floating into scorpion handstand from the back of my mat. It keeps my interest piqued and coming back for more.

Oh sure, there are days I am so frustrated I want to swear it off all together! We have our fights. No relationship is entirely drama free. I don’t always get my way. I pout. I lay blame where it doesn’t belong. It’s the poses fault I can’t do them. Perhaps I’ll just ignore certain poses as a way of “getting back at them”. Of course we make up and I realize it’s not anyones fault. Relationships are just hard work. Gaining deeper understanding requires a lot of work, time and patience. Patience I don’t always have. It also provides a mirror. One I don’t always want to look into.

Yoga often offers me well meaning yet unsolicited advice. I sometimes feel its being bossy. I don’t appreciate being told what to do. I’m not proud to say that I ignored a lot of it on good days. On bad days, I even did things out of spite! (Oh, I should take it easy today you say?! Well, maybe I will practice twice today….take that! I can do whatever I well please!) I usually come around and realize that yoga does really have my back and is just trying to look out for me. I feel lucky to have it in my life. It seems to know what I need before I do. It brings to my attention that which I would otherwise miss.

However, regardless of the hard work, the ups and downs, and disagreements nothing soothes me like those first few ujjayi breaths in down dog. I am suddenly home. This is love.

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The Truth, Why We Lie, and Our Yoga Practice

Angela Kukhahn adjusting Aiden in Paschimottanasana We lie to ourselves for the same reasons we lie to others.

Fear.

We are fearful that we are not good enough just the way we are.

We lie because we are uncomfortable with what “is”.

The person next to us in class is doing a huge backbend so we push ourselves into it ignoring the truth that our body is not ready.

We let fear feed us lies that tell us we are not “enough,” “good,” or “worthy,” we must try harder, and push more.

Last year I experienced a setback/blessing in my practice, depending upon the way you look at it.

Having a couple of ribs dislocate certainly gave me time to think about how truthful I was being in my practice. I was forced to acknowledge that there had been warning signs along the way that I had chose to ignore.

Fearing separation from my beloved practice I ignored that nagging pain in my shoulder, and denied that I needed to back it off and rest. The truth usually does find a way to be told, and in my case it was in the form of my first and second rib popping out of place.

We must continue exploring our practice from moment to moment. Of course it’s healthy to expand your practice and work at your edge, but Satya (truthfulness) is the conversation that you have with yourself along the way.

Each movement is an exploration into the truth “Is this healing and creating more space in my body? Am I best serving my needs in this posture?”

For those of us injured the question is what habits need to be addressed that caused this in the first place? What patterns of misuse could I be enforcing if I am not practicing with proper awareness and the right intention?

We must seek in our yoga practice ahimsa (non harming) and Satya (truthfulness).

We should regularly ask ourselves where are we creating compression?

or were can we make more space, and create more freedom?

On days we are exhausted not forcing ourselves to complete every vinyasa is an example of living in truth. (this is tough for some of us..)

On the other side of that coin, when you find yourself making excuses of why you can’t/won’t/don’t do certain poses, you may need to be more truthful with yourself as well.

Alot of things can come up during a yoga practice, fear, not wanting to be challenged, inability to accept change, fear of embarrassment, being self- conscious of how we may look in a pose, judging in advance how good we will be at a given asana, believing that others are judging us for how we practice, and sometimes accepting defeat before we even try.

These too need examining and stand as roadblocks to living in the fullness of Satya.

What is coming up for you on the mat?

Fear?

Complacency?

Anger?

Mr. Iyengar refers to yoga as an “involution” in his book “Light on Life”. On truth he states “The presence of truth can make us feel naked, but compassion takes all our shame away. It is this inner quest for growth and evolution, or “involution” that is the profound and transformational yogic journey that awaits the seeker of truth.” Oftentimes the attitudes, beliefs, and challenges we experience on our mats are a reflection of things we need to work through in everyday life. The practice provides a mirror in which we can often see things more clearly.

Our bodies need different things from day to day, and our practice should be an expression of that truth. Real yoga is what happens in the absence of illusion. If you think that forcing your body into a pose that is unhealthy for you is somehow going to “advance” your practice for instance, you are living in an illusion and it will ultimately bring you suffering. If however you are avoiding a pose because it challenges you, and think that is helpful to your growth that also is an illusion. Real yoga is experienced when you banish feelings of inadequacy, and fear and do what is right for your body. This is yoga, this is Satya, breaking old patterns of fear, destroying illusion, and living in freedom. The truth shall set you free!

Getting Un-Stuck: Spiritual Housecleaning For The Yogi Soul

Brian Aganad giving Andy a yoga adjustment photo by Tara Rice

Even if we try not to, we inadvertently acquire too much “stuff” as we go along and we have two choices…

get rid of it…

or

let it bog us down…

According to Feng Shui it’s not always the mess in the garage that is the problem, but what it represents.

Clearing clutter is all about letting go, and letting go of the fear that we must hoard things because we lack faith in the abundance of the universe.

In order to make room in our lives for growth we must continually let go of that which no longer serves us.

This could be a toaster oven, a relationship, or boxes of stuff that should be given to Goodwill, there are many places were we hold onto things long after we should have let go.

Part of the problem is that we are continually being told we “need” things. It is part of who we have become as a society.

We are consumers and hoarders, and we live in a culture of “more is better”. Thoreau wrote “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

In yoga we move from the external obvious things slowly inward to the subtle work.

Over time our practice evolves from doing the perfect Triangle Pose to shedding self-defeating behaviors that are holding back our spiritual and emotional growth. Yogic philosophy calls these self limiting beliefs samskaras, these are the impressions left behind by previous thoughts and actions both good and bad. Samskaras are what keep us stuck like a broken record unable to change its tune, you either change the record or you get to listen to the monotonous song of your past karma!

Old attitudes, belief systems, prejudices, and habits that we hold dear are examples of samskaras. It’s what makes you judge a situation, person, place or thing in advance, and in so doing rob yourself from the real experience. It takes us out of the preciousness of living in this very moment and drags us into the past, preventing change.

Time to get off the merry go round of “what happened to me,” clean out those spiritual cobwebs and be free!

As a good friend of mine reminded me the other day, yoga is not just to make our bodies flexible, it is so our minds may be more flexible as well.

Our spirits and minds get bogged down with scars from past experiences that cloud the way we perceive things. In one word “Baggage”!

If it’s no longer serving you its holding you back, let it go!

5 Quick Tips For Making New Yoga Friends (and Avoid Having “Yoga Frenemies”)

yoga friends in Italia! Angela Kukhahn, Cortland, Sonya, Desirre, Stephanie, Tara RiceMaking new yoga friends may not be your ‘top priority’ in life, but if you don’t want to make any yoga ‘frenemies’ and you want to ensure that people will move their mats over to squeeze you in next time you show up late to a packed yoga class, here is what to do…

1. Nobody else has the Miley Cyrus ringtone, we all know its you. Be a good yogi and take the walk of shame over to the ‘cubbies’ and turn it off. We forgive you, admire you a little (that took guts!) and you just earned yourself some good karma points too!

2. Leaving your yogitoes ‘skidless’ mat cover rolled up in your yoga mat so that the bacteria can fester and breed in the tropical like conditions of your car trunk is not called being ‘eco-friendly’ it called something else,…disgusting! (Ewwww.) If you breed a new kind of Fungi on that thing that is later named after you don’t say I didn’t warn you…wash it! (The entire yoga class thanks you! )

3. We understand you like burritos and we do too,… but not before yoga class please. (I thought we talked about this, no?)

4. Chewing gum is a yoga don’t, and it’s not just because everyone is jealous over how cool and nonchalant you look rolling into class with a mouthful of Blueberry Blast Bubbalicious. (Although admittedly, that is a factor)

5. There is your ‘garden variety’ moaning, and then there are moans of a different ‘variety’,…let’s keep it PG here people. Do it for the children,… and the people around you trying really hard not to die laughing. (or throw up a little bit in their mouth)

BIG HUG!

Angela

Are You a Yoga Bully?

Have you ever considered that you may be bullying yourself in your own yoga practice?

No, I did not write this article to scold you for forgetting to sign in to class, to tell you what a naughty yogi you are for coming in late, nor will I make you admit and apologize for “The farts of yoga classes past”. (No more pre-yoga burritos people)

When I use the term bully it is more in terms of how you approach your own personal practice.

Sure, we all have good intentions. At least for the first five seconds before we get thrown the first karmic curveball.

You just so happen to roll out your yoga mat next to the person twisting themselves into Cirque de Soliel worthy shapes…

Of course then our friend ‘Mr Ego’ decides to pay a visit to your mat.

You know you should feel content (santosha) breathing next to your bendy classmate in your suddenly meager looking half splits. And for the next three long seconds you really do try, you really do…

But, the next thing you know you are trying to push your poor little bottom down the last two inches into the full splits. (Ta Da!)

Your dear little bottom doesn’t like it one bit, but it goes down. (Ouch!)

Sure, basking in the glory of full Hanumanasana Splits is undoubtedly exciting! Pulled groin muscle and ice pack? Not so much!

Over at the YisforYogini blog my friend writes

“I resist my limits. I like to believe I have none. In effect, I spend much of my practice not truly listening to myself (the real me, not my football coach alter-ego). I am aware, however, and this means I can change. I, too, can be a sensualist!”

Read the full article HERE its brilliant!

She talks about being either a Yoga Pusher or a Yoga Sensualist. What are you? Are you listening or are you pushing?

Crazy About Coconuts!!!

Many of you know how much I love coconuts! They are excellent snacks. They last forever in your fridge, and seem to take forever to spoil. yes, I have a hatchet, and I know how to use it thank you verymuch.

An essential part of becoming a coconut lover, is figuring out how to get the darn things open!

Some of the benifits that I have noticed since eating them

1. They are delicous…mmmm, like natures pudding. love pudding, yum!
2. They are filling, and a perfect little mini meal
3. They seem to have a calming effect being a cooling food and I am very Pitta and run a little hot. Perfect for summer!
4. Coconut Meat and oil burn fat
5. Coconuts have a cooling affect on the body, great for hot summer days, and nights when its too hot to sleep
6. The Coconut Juice is great for rehydrating the body, and is like natures own perfect sports beverage! (Minus all the yucky added sugar, and toxic couloring)
7. They detoxify the body
8. They are low in fat, and calories.
9. They are antiviral, antifungal and are a natrual antibiotic

Check out what the ladies over at The HotandHealthy Blog have to say about their coconut love here Cu-Cu for Coconuts

Happy Yoga


If you are like me you have probably said something in the heat of the moment that you later regretted.

When we get upset our body begins to experience physical changes, stress hormones flood the system, as our body prepares for “fight” or “flight” . (As you can see “Be Nice” is not a priority)

It is times like these that we really need our yoga!

Patanjali says that when you find yourself approving of, reacting to, or acting in a negative way immediately follow it up with something equally positive or remove yourself from the situation. In this way we stop the negative thoughts, words, and actions before they gain momentum.

Now I know this may sound a bit silly at first, but try it, it really does work!

At the very least you will not be as quick to say something you will later regret.

Don’t allow others to draw you in with negative talk either. Follow up their negative comments with positive ones and see how long “Negative Ned or Nancy” keep talking to you.

If you find yourself unable to immediately find a positive thought, take a time out. Read something inspiring, take a walk, hang with people who love you. You may find that petty inclinations simply dissolve when you give yourself space to breathe.