Effort vs.surrender: yoga’s tug-of-war

One of the most difficult parts of any yoga practice is cultivating the ability to find the perfect balance of effort and surrender.   I always loved when my teacher would remind us to, “go to your edge, but not past it.”   Aaaah, the edge.  That point in your practice where any less wouldn’t be enough, but any more would be too much.  Getting to the edge requires some effort — effort in body and focus.  Resisting the urge to go beyond requires surrender and faith — surrender to what your practice IS here and now.

If there’s one thing that yoga has taught me more than anything is acceptance of exactly where I am in my practice at any given moment; to let go of ego; and embrace the process. The next time you go to your mat, try to find your edge.  Go to it, and surrender to the moment. 

“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo credit: Pinterest


The Power of Expectation

Acceptance.

We talk a lot about letting go of expectation in yoga.  Expectation of others, and expectations of ourselves.  But, part of being human is recognizing that we do have certain expectations that we can either let go or learn to shift.  But here’s a different perspective on the power of acceptance for what is vs. expectation from ourselves and in relationships from one of my favorite bloggers, Janis Cohen, LCSW.  Expectations are a part of all relationships, including the relationship you have with yourself.  They are the deal breakers.

You expect others to be a certain way and, if you are intuitive enough, you get what you expect by expecting the right things from the right people.

Read the full post, “The Power of Expectation” on The Human Experience blog.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo credit: Pinterest

Hey, I think that squirrel just took my picture

Squirrel . . . Brit Squirrel

One of my closest friends has three of the most beautiful children on earth.  The two girls are the oldest, and have beautifully innocent, and hilarious perspectives on life.  Today, during my daily meditation outside, I was reminded of one of their most comical observations.

I was surrounded by birds, chipmunks, and squirrels, and at one point, a chipmunk ran right up to me, stopped in his tracks as if to say, “Oh crap, you’re not who I was looking for,” and made an abrupt about face to run the other way.  The look on his face was priceless; almost human. I was so tickled, I laughed for about five minutes, and every time I think about it, my heart smiles at the experience.

It reminded me of the story my friend told be about a time her and the girls were on their way somewhere in the car.  At one point, the younger of the two turns to the older and says, “Hey did you see that?  I think that squirrel just took my picture.”  The statement actually started a debate between the two on how and where a squirrel would get a hold of a camera.  Not that a squirrel couldn’t take a picture, but that he might not have the means with which to do so.

I peeled in laughter for days at the story, but I was more in love with how their conversation represented endless possibilities.  Through the eyes of a child, we can relive newness; limitlessness.  Through the eyes of a child, we can experience excitement over EVERYTHING.   Look at everything today as if it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it.  Embrace every moment as if you’ve just stepped onto the playground for the first time.

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”  ― Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Don’t skip to the next song

I’m a huge music fan.  I love music of all kinds, and am always looking to discover more music to please my ears.  So, of course I’m a huge fan of Pandora and Spotify as a way to find long forgotten hits or to find that great new sound.  Even though I love finding new bands or songs to obsess about, I do have my favorites, so there’s always a temptation to skip over a song I don’t know to find the one I can sing along to.  I was doing this incessantly until my own personal playlist was just a repeat of the same five or ten songs; a perfect metaphor for how we often live our lives. We’re on autopilot, always skipping forward to the next weekend; the next holiday; the next something.  Skipping over the unknown for the comfortable.  So, I broke the cycle for fun. Continue reading

Don’t bury your head in the dirt

dog yard statueIt’s only natural to want to shy away from conflict or avoid facing issues that cause emotional discomfort. However, facing your fears head on first thing in the morning may be exactly what you need to do to break the cycle of suffering.

In addition to my daily yoga (asana) and meditation practice, I recently added a ‘wake-up’ meditation and body scan. Several months ago, after I’d started my regular morning practice, I noticed that I still had some bouts of anxiety during the day that I couldn’t figure out. So, I began to practice awareness as soon as I awoke, and found that it was just the ticket for quelling anxious feelings I didn’t even realize I was harboring.

Stress and anxiety are both natural states, and part of being human, but there is a simple remedy to ensure you start your day in as relaxed a state as possible — by greeting you with gratitude.

Too often, we jump out of bed, head straight for the shower, turn on the television, or down a cup of coffee. Our body is in fight or flight mode and it hasn’t even had a chance to acclimate. No wonder, there’s so much tension in western society. Tomorrow morning, try something different. Set your alarm for about five minutes earlier than usual to allow yourself time to feel what it’s like to wake up, instead of feeling like you’re under attack.

Before you even open your eyes, just softly bring your awareness back to your environment. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Reach your arms overhead for a nice stretch, and rub your hands together vigorously to make some heat before cupping them over your eyes. Then, just lie there and notice. Notice if you have any tension anywhere in the body. Notice if you feel dis-ease as soon as you come into the world, and welcome whatever sensations you experience. Say thank you to any physical or emotional feelings good or bad. This different type of awareness, one of gratitude, can quickly dissolve feelings of angst. Treat your morning wake up as gently as you would a long, restorative savasana, and you’ll eventually arise with calm.

Just yesterday, I was talking about this new practice to my mentor from teacher training, and she even suggested bringing your hand to that place on the body in which you’re feeling turbulence, and saying, “thank you.” I love this concept of truly connecting with the self through touch, presence and thankfulness.

In Buddhism, there are four central teachings known as the four noble truths. One of these is dukkha or suffering. The belief is that humans share a bond of suffering, and that living a life of dharma protects us from suffering. And, embracing suffering for the teacher that it is, with gratitude, is the first step toward peace.

We can’t all be boddhisattvas on day one, but when we begin to notice that we are experiencing dukkha at the hand of our own thoughts, and welcome all that is, we begin to live a life of presence — a life without suffering. So, don’t bury your head in the dirt to avoid pain, face it, embrace it and leave it.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi