Tag Archives: self love

Yoga is not about being anything at all. Many of the Greats would say that if anything, yoga is about becoming one with everything, and so, about being no thing. There are hosts of ideas, thousands of years of scripture, and a billion and one styles of yoga in the modern world to fiddle with the big (and small), ideas of the practice, but my truth is that the yoga is about: being many things, learning many things, digesting many things, and then being free and capable to make informed decisions about what I might like to repeat. It’s about being supple, in body and mind, and keeping my heart open to the mystery. For that all to work out, it’s got to continue to change as I do. Over the years, different aspects of the yoga have enticed me, and for different reasons. In allowing transformation to happen, even seeking it through a variety of models of praxis, the yoga has become integral and linked to every encounter and breath. And seriously, I feel it is just beginning.

I have a teacher who likes to say that if you have found an idea or a practice that you enjoy and the concept of “rinse, lather, repeat”, is enticing, then you have found the impetus to practice. It is from this desire (tapas), and curiosity for process that we begin to understand what it really is that brought us to ask for practice at all. One can’t know what the end result is before it has come, but we have to strive for resolution and goals. Without direction, we are rather lost at sea. I like to look at the yoga – and especially something like the Root Down challenge – as an invitation just to set a course. It may be an arbitrary thing to attend 20 classes in 30 days, but that might just be the gift. Somewhere in all that breath and time with community, inspiration and deep wisdom will rise from the depths and the roots.

The Root Down Spring Yoga Challenge is on, as of today, and I am feeling all the feels about it. Already I’ve worried about how all that time traveling to and fro, and being on the mat at the studio is going to happen. But I know from experience that the yummy part of the challenge isn’t completing it, but witnessing the inevitable shifts that take place in the middle of it. Picasso said it nicely, “I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” He spoke directly to the surprise embedded in any commitment’s fibers. Just start, and see what unfolds. Join me for 20 in 30 days this spring. We can help support each other in the ebbs and flows of all that asana, remind each other to stay hydrated, and to stay open to the wild growth that will come from our setting strong roots into practice.

Love and giant respect, Suki Ola

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For today, a list of 8 things I believe that I know to be true :

Stay creative, stay open wide, and steer clear of certainty, for it mocks the spirit’s nature of freedom. As the noise of the news is deafening, and I can only stomach so much atrocious information at one time, this is my practice of late. It is like a sweet salve for the parts of me that border on obsession and anxiety to figure out the truth, right now, and fix the issue. My wise and candid Father recently emailed me a link to a list that well-advertised his disposition of keeping a beginner’s mind. One of the most curious humans I know, my father explores the world with childlike wonder. I am blessed to have such a teacher and guide, and found 25 Ways To Kill the Toxic Ego That Will Ruin Your Life to be a funny peek into the state of humanity. The precepts are simple, happy reminders to stay present. The language is wholly approachable, and each facet provides a conversational channel to deeper spiritual teachings.

How easy it is to be swayed into the camp of certain doom, and absolute disgust, when faced with the facts and anti-facts of today’s cacophonous media soundscape. But, I was reminded this week in a community talk about resiliency (thanks, Kyle and Jan!) that it takes time to digest hard information, just as I know so well the slow and uncomfortable process of digesting foods that don’t sit so nicely in my guts. I have been led by fear and anger to make sheer judgements based on fear-producing newscasts before, ok, many times, but am encouraged by things like this new-age-y list with decided inquiry. A doomed planet, rampant hate on and off the streets (in seats of office), and disarray in the pockets of policy that are supposed to be arranged so neatly are not the only news, they’re just the loudest. Reading through the lines is super hot right now, and there are bushels of good people doing good things to meet the challenges of an awkward start to 2017 on earth.

The recent momentum in industries of self-help, wellness, and practices like yoga points to a pursuit of health and peace and happy, as a cultural theme. I happily participate in these ultra-mod industries of wellness, and observe the irony of needing to be ever-reminded of one’s own innate capacity to heal. Plus, it’s nice to be in such abundant company. Thus, I am a student of yoga, every day, and I try to educate myself, reading: astrological forecasts; a slew of online news reports; spiritual wisdom journals; herbalism, meditation, yoga, wellness, and insight blogs; books. Certainly these are a curated set of horse’s mouths, and I choose them carefully, as every tidbit affects the scene and timbre of the day. Some days the ole’ guts are ready to absorb mainstream media, and some days, some things are just impossible to swallow.

The special brand of action that is born from curiosity, which leads to exploration, and then to glimmers of understanding, will well up inside of me if I wait and see what it looks like, feels like, tastes like, and breathes like. I believe that the wisdom that only comes from experience – prajna – is the good stuff. I know this, and I teach this. Yet, I forget. And at the risk of being too a cheerleader, which some days I am really into, We know this. We have gone down weirder paths before, together.

First on the 25 ways list, Epictetus, the Greek philosopher born as a slave (according to Wikipedia, where admittedly, much information first reaches the shores of my peering mind) is quoted to say, “It is impossible to learn that which one already thinks one knows.” Smart, Epictetus. How many times have I talked myself into being sure of something, only to be dashed on the rocks of mystery and chance?

When I think about it, the things I believe to be true fit it one rather small basket. And when I falter, and question the relevancy of what my teaching yoga has to do with anything at all, I recall that these spare lessons feel universal, and totally relevant right now:

Love is a resilient, unbreakable, and indelible force;

Life is fragile;

Health is a balancing act;

Yoga helps me, most of the time;

Breath is happening, but breathing is more fun;

Peace takes effort, and has got to come from inside;

Trust your gut;

All is shifting all the time, so let it, as certainty can surely kill: creativity, the mood, and will at least put a rude scratch into the perfect mirror of divine mystery. 

Love and deep respect, Suki

In the Middle

My obsession with finding resolution has led me down some strange, and awkward paths. Looking back I can see quite clearly how choices I made as a younger human were tethered to some deep yearning within myself to fix… everything. It didn’t matter if it was my motor broken or someone else’s, but just that there was something to repair. Recently as a student (which is, like, my favorite thing to be), in Kelley Tredwin’s Breathing is Good Medicine workshop on mindfulness based stress reduction and the power of the breath, I was rekindled to the knowing that a mind needs to complete a thought. Oh, poor mind, ever-destined to chase resolution around like a mystical bone in a world of unfinished, and beautifully undone cycles.

Kelley used the example of mulling thoughts over until far too steeped in the middle of the night. Without the clarity of daylight, a brain will just continue to ramble about, trying to resolve an issue that cannot, by default, be solved by thinking alone. Some dilemmas, like: the crumbling vitality of our environment; deep veins of hatred and judgement that perpetrate all manner of disgusting behavior; war; and the proliferation of over-packaged, processed food that neither nourishes nor sustains life, just cannot be solved in one act or one day. Even a year with superb collaboration from all beings everywhere might not save the planet, but I believe that even so, the actions we take today matter. What paradox. Dear mind, be patient.

The character of Shiva in the pantheon of deities and gravitational heavyweights of Hindu thought is well known for his offering of destruction, oft-named Lord Destroyer. But dissolution is only one of Shiva’s five acts, or states, of the eternal. The first four of Shiva’s acts are creation, sustenance, concealment, and revelation. Each of these five states charges toward ultimate dissolution, which is perhaps why he is so well known for the end. But every end has a beginning, and a middle, and a place where the path is lost, and then found again before meeting itself in resolution. And upon complete dissolve, an energy has the capacity to be reborn and begun, again.

As I understand the concept, all things in the universe are ever acting amidst the reality of one of these five states. The first and the final – creation and dissolution – are fleeting, maybe even momentary. From the conception of a human being to the emergence of a thought, creation happens in an instant. Often the end of a concept, body, or belief occurs in a similar tiny time frame. In science, such momentous shifts are called quantum, and can be proven to not be arriving out of nowhere, but to be the result of much courting, conversation, and collaboration.

Most of the time we spend in our bodies is settled in the state of sustenance, or maintenance. The acts and habits of preservation that sustain life are where we spend the most time and energy, while living. Though landmarks and aha-moments do plant their stakes into the fecund soil of our consciousness and tissues from time to time, the majority of the day-to-day is just that; brushing teeth and little greasings of the wheels that keep things rolling. To live fully in the act of sustenance is by default, to not know what is to come, but to trust. And unless one is dying to die, and can’t wait to dissolve into the ether in an act of solving all the issues of having a body, for now, let go. I encourage myself to savor the good stuff in the middle, and let more than a few strands remain frayed and untied, just for today.

Love and peace with the messiness,

Suki Ola

With or without distractions, you’re still just dealing with yourself. Practice in a cave, practice in traffic, practice joyfully, practice diligently, practice because you think you ought to, it’s all the same. Lest we forget that all in the yoga practice is a reflection of our deepest, and sometimes most hidden selves, this week, remember. And when distractions come up, acknowledge them, let them know they are seen, heard, and felt, for they are not separate from the practice that runs like a smooth engine.

At the height of summer, I am distracted. The days are long, and much is accomplished in each cycle of sunlight, yet I consistently feel that I can do more. Why aren’t hours for asana presenting themselves? Why haven’t I finished a book in July? Why do I put off making dinner until it is dark? The summer heat rather aggravates my body, which leads to mild, but persistent discomfort: a little extra heaviness, angry and clogged pores, dryness, heat in my feet. I do my best to remember that the remedies I know will help me feel more comfortable are a part of my work, just as it is to sit, to stretch, and to wonder. It’s a full time job tending this body in the heat, and it gobbles hours like popsicles.

I eat coconut. I sip cucumber water. I put my butt in the pond, and wait until a coolness settles from skin, to bone, into mind. The high desert summer sun is a reality of my world, and it rather messes with the balance of my body and soul. I learn much from the buzzing activity of the summertime, run screaming for the hills and the rivers, and give thanks to live in a place that is ever-shifting its temperature, and feel. The four seasons offer a perfect place to practice, and metaphor for the always needed reassessment of reality, which is only happening in this moment. For when the rains come, though all the problems of the world have not been solved, I am feeling better than before. And so, all is well.

All shall be well. All shall be well. All manner of things shall be well.” ~Saint Julian

Love and be well,

Suki

An Invitation to the Core Episode #1

There is nothing that you can do, or can change about yourself, to do better yoga. There is no goal you can set that will make you better at yoga. You can apply yourself, with discipline and love, attention to detail, mindfulness to progress and respect to your practice, and then you will be doing yoga. But there is not one thing in the world, beyond self reflection (which has no goal, no expectation, and no externally focused result attached to it), that you can switch on and in so doing, deepen your practice of yoga.

By becoming more self reflective, we do not learn to become perfect, but rather learn to notice when we are moving further away from perfect. Behaving badly does not necessarily cease when we become “yogis”, it just turns into something recognizable. Advancing the practice looks like noticing sooner and sooner when the crappy behavior is settling down to stay. Master practice is nipping poor behavior in the bud faster and faster along the way. In learning to accept and recognize where we lose the path toward more goodness, good feelings, good relatedness with the world around us and ourselves, we learn to make yoga. Sharon Gannon, the co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga says, “You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. All you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”

To truly notice what is in the reflection, we must be connected. In our bodies, connection looks like strength, or an interlacing to center. Core strengthening exercises, then, are the seed at the center of the asana practice. Cultivation of the strength it takes to truly look within is the beginning of yoga. The exercises will ask you again and again to look closer. This week, find one fun new way to make core strengthening a part of your everyday and enjoy what arises from your very own depths. To come in episode #2: some playful ways to build deep core.

Love, Suki