Tag Archives: spaciousness

Perfection and Relation

It is all to easy to hold ourselves to unattainable standards. Especially in the world of yoga today where so often the images of physical perfection permeate much of our visual concepts and by proxy our deeper understanding of the practice. Instagram, Facebook, yoga journal, the list of images of what it’s supposed to look like goes on and on. And in the midst of the sea of perfect postures the ultimate value of the practice gets lost.

At the heart of spiritual philosophy the understanding of perfection is that all things are perfect no matter how they are revealed. However, when we look at ourselves the natural tendency is to see imperfections before sorting through the critical dialogue and seeing the innate perfection. Constant asana practice does over time generate more skill in the asana postures, but more importantly it generates a presence of mind that enables sorting through criticism, judgement, fear, and more, to arriving at spaciousness with a perspective that is life enhancing rather than depleting. A perspective that honors the way one feels before what one looks like.

Bringing attention to a more subtle value inherent in the practice is not meant to diminish the value of striving to achieve an image of beauty in the form of a pose. Rather, bringing attention to such nuance increases the capacity to experience grace where we are. And in the company of grace energy softens, the form of the asana softens, the light that shines innate perfection from the inside out radiates, and no matter the level of skill expressed in the form, beauty is there for all eyes to see. In this sense the standards of perfection that one may wish to hold oneself to become more attainable, in asana practice as well as life off the mat.

Through a practice that is focused more on the inner experience rather than the outer presentation a deeper connection to self is gained. And this is one of the greatest gifts of any spiritual practice (and yoga is inherently a spiritual practice), to gain a deeper connection to self. Not only the self that is associated to personal identity but more importantly that self that is connected to the inherent perfection of all things. Such a connection provides not only the grace that softens asana, but more palpably the grace that softens perspective in the face of the difficulties of life. This is where the practice translates. Not in Facebook likes or Instagram views, but in spaciousness of spirit and palpable heartfelt connection to the deepest perfection of an evolving animate relational world.

With Love, always, in all ways, for giving, in joy,

Genevieve

The Four Keys.

Patanjalis Yoga Sutra 1.33

Matri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha dukha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatah cittaprasadanam.

By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion toward the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains it’s undisturbed calmness.

Life is a constant push and pull, ebb and flow, navigation of calm and rough waters. Maintaining balance while riding the roller coaster of life is not easy to say the least. It is because of this that religion and spirituality have become so prominent or necessary over the centuries of the history of human beings. It is in adhering to the formulas set in religious or spiritual practices that we humans find solace, and keys to maintaining peace of mind and spaciousness of spirit. Patanjalis Yoga Sutras are some of the oldest of these formulas and still widely practiced because they have proven to provide lasting personal peace.

Yoga Sutra (thread) 1.33 is said to “hold the four keys to lasting happiness”. Regular practice of the principles set forth in these four keys has a direct and positive effect on ones perpetual search for peace of mind and joyfulness of spirit. The Sutra states that there are only four types of people in the world, the happy, the unhappy, the virtuous and the wicked. Alongside these four types of people are four keys to use to obtain and maintain successful and harmonious relationships and interactions with these people; friendliness, compassion, delight, and disregard.

Life constantly presents each of us with opportunity to be better people, or not. These opportunities are what make life exciting and challenging. Whether in familial relationships, student teacher relationships, work relationships, romantic relationships, or relationships with acquaintances and strangers, the other person is a reflection of oneself. These reflections, being the attitudes and actions one chooses to bring to the table of life in any moment of interaction, are always a reflection of our inner perception of the world.

The offering of Yoga Sutra 1.33 is that of a practice of perception followed by action. By offering attitudes of friendliness toward the happy we move away from feelings of envy. Moving away from envy not only creates inner spaciousness but also allows the free flowing delight of enjoyment when any and all people are happy, and this is often reflected in personal relationships when you are happy as well. In offering compassion to the unhappy, by remembering “once I was like that and now I am like this”, brings great inner peace in times when we are asked to relate with unhappy people. Delighting in the virtuous is recognizing the value of the standard they hold for all and the opportunity to meet that standard oneself, as opposed to berating one for ones human mistakes while living this fallible life.  This perspective allows for patience while ones own journey toward virtue unfolds with authenticity in relation to ones own needs and desires.  The offering in this teaching, of disregard to the wicked, is perhaps the greatest offering of spaciousness and peace to oneself of all four keys.  By disregarding the poor, base, and down right wrong behaviors of others we not only get closer to the true embodiment of unconditional love, we also hold space for our own steady and clear peace while riding the waves of life in relationship to an always changing animate world.

When we meet our own inner waves of comfort and discomfort with emotional empowerment, and maintain peace of mind, then we find as a result of our own inner harmony the reflection we receive in relationship with others is calm and constant.   It is this calm constant inner harmony that we should strive toward on a regular occasion, and in practicing the four keys of Yoga Sutra 1.33 we can attain this goal.

Truly, it is not easy to be emotional creatures, we are always presented with challenges and obstacles. When we remember that life is full of ups and downs, then we find that we create more personal ease when we attend to making the arch’s of the waves smaller and closer together, in essence, not so extreme.  Like other religious and spiritual practices Yoga Sutra 1.33 is a reminder that people always have responsibility for, and the ability to, control their emotional landscapes, and ultimately through disciplined practice can grant themselves steady peace of mind and spaciousness of spirit.

With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,

Genevieve

Just One More, Class 20

In the old days class twenty would have marked the moment of crossing the finish line of the Spring or Autumn Yoga Challenge at Shree Yoga Taos.  However in 2014, we decided twenty wasn’t enough and twenty-one would be an appropriate upping of the ante for those like me who fervently take the plunge regularly.  In the old days I would have experienced an elated delight toward the end of class, just like the experience I had this evening when my body made an inner exclamation of and undying love of yoga and being in my body.  Unlike challenges past, as I finished class this evening there would not have been just one more class looming in the distance.

Many times in my life I have been asked, “What is it you love about yoga, what brings you back to the mat?”  My answer to the question has always been true and despite the many years that have gone by it continues to be the same.  “There is always more room”,  I answer with confidence and ease.  The longer I practice the more often I experience more room in my body even if it is limited in its movement.  I experience more room in the energetic body followed by more room in the relaxed quality of my muscles.  No matter the spaciousness or limitations of my physical body I find there is always more room in my mind after I practice, less judgement, less criticism, less running around in circles on the same thought, any thought, be it expansive or limiting, dissipates like vapors off a hot cup of tea.  Mostly however, the thing I find most appealing is that there is always more room in my heart to love and be loved, to experience joy no matter my physical surroundings, freedoms, or limitations.  This spaciousness in my heart translates directly to my spirit which always feels after a yoga practice unlimited in its expansion, unlimited in its knowing, unlimited in awareness of time and space, unlimited in it’s eternal presence and connection with the eternal heart of all hearts.  Even if my awareness of this radical unlimited spaciousness of my spirit is only for just a tenth of a second, I have the great joy of experiencing it every time I come to my mat.

When I was doing my yoga teacher training my teacher Bea Doyle so brilliantly said, “It does not matter what type of yoga you practice, it is ultimately a spiritual practice.  A student may say that’s not for me and align them self to a rigorous physical practice with a teacher who never touches on the spiritual aspect of the yoga.  However, it is inevitable they will find themselves asking “does this serve me?”, and no matter the answer, the question itself is spiritually based.”  Bea calls this “the back door approach.”  Bea is a remarkable teacher who has a subtle way of including the spiritual qualities of the practice without ever sounding dogmatic or off putting.  Perhaps that is because she was a math teacher for twenty years?  I feel so fortunate to honor her as my teacher and I often hear her wise and intelligent voice in my head, as well as in other teachers at Shree who have also studied with her.  Like Bea, I do my best to bring the spiritual aspects to the classes I teach, however I know I am not as subtle about it as she is, being that subtle wouldn’t suit me as it would not be authentic.  Authenticity is another valuable teaching I learned in her spacious and beautiful studio Bhava Yoga on Central in Albuquerque, authenticity, spirituality, asana, spaciousness, how to string instructions together, and so much more.

Now it’s been five years since I finished that teacher training, five years since Shree opened it’s doors, five years of regular teaching which amounts to thousands of hours, maybe seven yoga challenges including autumn and spring, and countless hours of time on my mat at home, in class, and elsewhere.  Tonight as I was rising into locust pose (Salabasana), a pose that for all these years of practice has not only alluded me, but also brought that discomforted “why am I doing this?” question to mind, I felt surprisingly and amazingly good.  “Ah, I love yoga!” exclaimed my body as we repeated the pose and an old mystery became clear.  “Ah, I love that there is always more room.”  I reminded myself to mark that moment as an important one on my path of always learning, and like the invitations of my teacher suggested, I moved on.

This evening I attended Liz’s 5:30-7:00 pm class knowing it would be subbed by Doug Gilnet.  In this challenge I have made a concerted effort to get to all the wonderful teachers at Shree’s classes.  With the exception of Kelly who is out of town, I have been successful.  Class was a perfectly paced slow flow of back bends and forward bends.  With my new awareness of the high point of my hip, and the ever changing strength and flexibility of my muscles through this winding yoga journey I felt really really great through tonight’s entire practice.  Music is my favorite drug and in my world always makes life more delightful, for his class Doug offered his students a really gentle mix of beautiful music to support our time on the mat.  Traditionally yoga was taught by men, I find the quality of a mans voice while teaching yoga to be inspiring, steadfast, secure, and supportive, and Doug’s voice fits this description.  Doug generally teaches at Shree on Monday afternoon’s from 3:30-5:00 pm, he also heads the yoga program at Ojo Caliente, where he can be found Tuesday through Friday should you desire to take yourself on a really nice personal yoga and soak retreat.  However you find your way I highly recommend attending Doug’s class, I am confident you will leave like everyone left class tonight, calm with a peaceful serenity across your face.

Now, as darkness begins to blanket this magical town I so fortunately call home and I contemplate the solar eclipse taking place with tonight’s full moon, thinking this must be the dark side of the moon Pink Floyd spoke of, I restfully reside in my inner light, ever-growing like the expanding universe and the spaciousness of my heart.

One more to go, yet so many more to come.

When a new galaxy comes into creation do you think perhaps the conscious intelligence that breaths us all ever states “just one more”?  Who knows?  I know, I don’t know the answer to that question, yet the universe continues to expand, as does my heart.

With love from my big spacious heart,  and the ever expanding curiosity of my spirit and mind, good night, sweet dreams, in joy,

Genevieve