The Yoga of Quitting (or Future Suffering is To Be Avoided – Sutra 2.16)

Two years ago I was holding it down as a mother to a 5 year old, a yoga studio manager and yoga teacher, a full time safety professional, a part time housekeeper, a sometimes Pintrest mom and I started losing my hair. It fell out in clumps. I was doing way too much and my body was clearly communicating the flashing red sign of STRESS. So I quit doing it all. I QUIT.

c6a2cad04bd5924188ad918b5a512219I didn’t quit all at once, because I still had the wrong headed modus operendi of achieving. I quit small things first – like I quit having fun or I quit socializing or I quit enjoying life. But as my hair kept falling out, and I looked at a big clump of it one day, I decided to quit trying to be all the things. Because WHY? I was bringing suffering into my own life, caused by my own wrong efforts, and exacerbated by a need to always be more.

It was more than hair loss – it was also manifesting as infertility.

After years of struggling to achieve conception and dealing with what I thought was infertility – it turns out I was dealing with stress. Stress was leading to hormone imbalances and medical issues and what I discovered was I wasn’t allowing the joy of living to filter into my body – I was actually blocking life. I was doing that to myself; I’m sure I’m not the only one.

If you read this because you Googled “fertility, yoga, stress, pregnancy” or something similar – what are you so busy doing that you could quit? What’s blocking your life force?

I’m 36 weeks pregnant, about to birth a baby in a month and the busy-life is here calling me again. I’m not answering it. I’m cocooning. My meditative focus is simply on my family. What does this have to do with yoga?

I still look to the Yoga Sutras for those answers:

  • Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind – 1.2
  • When that is accomplished, the yogi abides in their own true nature – 1.3
  • The changing states of our mind can be harmful to our focus – 1.5
  • Yoga practice is the effort to be fixed in concentrating the mind – 1.13

I could go on and on with the sutras supporting us to assume a role in life with full force and focus. I can rewrite these sutras to suit my circumstances and goals. Personally, today, I want to still the mental fluctuations and focus them onto birthing and raising this new baby. Right now, my true nature is mother and life vessel. If I take on too much, I might harm my primary focus, which should be a healthy baby. The effort to stay focused on this process is challenging.

Yoga is never the poses you are doing, it’s not a physical exercise, it’s a mental way of living. The Yoga Sutras can teach us about motherhood or painting or dancing or postures or meditation or anything we wish to do well. And yes, we can indeed do more than one thing well,  but we can’t do ALL the things well, ALL of the time, ALL at once. Something will always break down.

If you discover that you begin to do some of your tasks poorly or that your health begins to suffer, you cannot really be truthful to yourself that you are living your life well concentrated – you are then bringing harm to yourself and ignoring what is one of my favorite yoga sutras:

  • 11849790_1642484662630447_540587482_nFuture suffering is to be avoided – 2.16

Bottom line, don’t be afraid to quit something that isn’t serving your highest good. Listen to that nagging voice in your head that is asking you why you struggle – maybe that something doesn’t matter as much as you think. Maybe you can let it go and let yourself be ok without it.

Takeaway: Settle in and take stock of what’s not serving you in life. Make a commitment to quit ONE THING – it can be small, but declutter your life of unnecessary tasks, people, things, or feelings.

Rediscover Joy.

To My Readers and Students: Thank you so much for sticking with me in my absence. Thank you for finding ways to practice and keeping connected even while I’m on a break. I never forget you, I never quit you, and you always inspire me, even when we aren’t face-to-face. 
Advertisements

The Miscarried Mind

Live more. Complain less.

These were the thoughtless words designed to uplift that scrolled through my Facebook news feed on the day I miscarried my embryo, my baby, my tiny soul spark.

Do people ever think of the way an innocuous meme might catch someone having a really bad day off guard?

Really, these words were sort of perfect to capture how I am feeling about the fact that I just flushed my embryo down toilet, a tiny spark of life that grew for too few days. This ‘live more, complain less,’ is how we treat the mothers of the miscarried. Better luck next time.

Today I had my first miscarriage. It’s not a first that I’m proud of, but it’s still a milestone. It’s the first time that I watched my mind and my emotions spring sky high, all the way up to heaven’s happiness, and then subsequently watched them sink low, down into muck and mire and my backyard septic tank.

Expecting Me

Me on the day I knew I was expecting to expect.

Don’t get too excited, people say, don’t get excited until week 12. The risk goes down and you have a better shot at a full term baby. Tell me a mother who hasn’t gotten her heart excited after months and years of trying to conceive. The elation that comes when you finally see the plus sign isn’t something you need to suppress.

 

Don’t be too sad, people say, many pregnancies end in miscarriage, it’s common, it wasn’t a baby yet. Tell me a mother who won’t be devastated by watching the little soul potentiality exit the womb in a sea of red. The sadness you feel as you physically become aware that the life has left your body isn’t something you need to pretend doesn’t exist.

Why am I sharing this?

I’m sharing it because it’s real. It’s happening to me, today. I’m sharing it because I’m a yoga teacher, a person who teaches others how to move through and feel their experiences without becoming too attached. For me, to move through, I have to feel it – feel it all and part of me feeling is sharing it too. I’m sharing because there are millions of women who can’t, who won’t, who were told that they shouldn’t care too much or that things will be better next time. I’m sharing because it is unhealthy to hide and disconnect from the experience. I’m sharing because the soul that tried to be born in my body deserves a little bit of recognition and mourning.

So, to that tiny raspberry cluster of cells, I want you to know that I felt you. I want you to know that someone in my yoga class this weekend told me that I was glowing and that was YOU glowing. I want you to know that I exactly know the moment you were conceived and I know the exact due date of March 25 of 2017. You were made of pure love and joy and your parents were so excited at the thought of your spark of life. I celebrated fully, I became really excited and I’d do all of that again, even if I knew I would lose you. You made me feel so happy and wonderful and your loss makes me feel so devastated and empty – but I’d do all the same things again, I’d have all these experiences again, because I’m learning and I’m growing from them. I’m alive – fully alive and feeling my life, even the less than perfect parts of it all.

Maybe the purpose of your short life was to open me up raw, to share this with others who can’t find their own voice. Maybe there is a blessing in that for both me and them.

RAinbow

A Rainbow in My Backyard.

 

I hear that a miscarriage is called a Rainbow baby. I like thinking about that, the symbol of the rainbow – of God’s promise that after 40 days and 40 nights of flood and rain and storms, that things would be OK again. I understand that now, I will be OK again, and I believe that there is a promise out there that someday, in someway, your spirit will find a home again too and that we might meet in this lifetime or the next. No matter how short your life, your mother loved you.

Until that time, I am going to feel your loss and breathe into it. I’m going to sit on my yoga mat and allow myself to be less than ok – allow myself to practice in the pain and sadness because there is no joy and light without sorrow and shadows.

So no, you don’t have to live more and complain less. You do what you need to do and if you need a hand to hold or a hug, I’ll see you and won’t say anything more because there aren’t enough words.

just-because

Something to Remember.

 

Namaste.

The light and love within me, sees and reflects that light and love inside you. Until we meet again, may we all know peace.

It’s Hip to Be Square – Except When It’s Not.

10802591_1501415153467456_301750394_n“Inhale, step your left foot forward into Warrior I as you square your hips to the front.” calls the teacher.

Somewhere in the back of the room, a student is sweating, unable to breath smoothly because, dammit – those hips won’t square. Now the student is cussing at himself in the mind because why can’t he do it “right.” That student decides yoga isn’t for him, leaves and from that moment on decides he “can’t do yoga.” That’s BULLS*%T!

If I could say one thing to new students everywhere, I would repeat the mantra “You can’t do yoga wrong.” over and over and over again. Sure we have alignment theory and sequencing theory, but there are generalizations in yoga because we are generally not teaching yoga in the way it was intended centuries ago. Now we have group classes and teacher manuals with a whole lot of big egos teaching it all. (**note** – in case you thought I didn’t have an ego because I was a yoga teacher – WRONG, I’ve got ego to spare).

Yoga was designed to be customized to the student. Traditionally, a student would seek out a reclusive guru – some master teacher that maybe lived in a cave or a forest and learn, one-on-one, from that teacher. The techniques varied based on a student’s physical condition, mental ability, and personality characteristics.

In 2016, we have a modern society based on monetary exchange and yoga is mostly done in a group setting. Obviously the yoga of 2016 is going to have evolved and changed based on the humans teaching it over the centuries. Make no mistake – “classical yoga” as we teach it today, is really only dating back to the early 1900s coming from Master teachers like Pattabi Jois or BKS Iyengar. And it was not developed in some altruistic “healing “manner – money was involved. Please don’t get it twisted – capitalism, American individuality and accomplishment culture have changed or evolved yoga. A public group class is rarely customized because by its very nature, it’s public, open to all and available to any type of body.

finalWhat does this mean to you, as a student?

When yoga teachers, in a group setting, say things like “square your hips,” they are intending to reach all 30 people in the class – it is a cue that works for most bodies and is not customized for you, the individual body. Hopefully the teacher you are with is kind enough to reach you at least once, individually in the class, but not always.

The cue itself is well intentioned, Warrior I is a neutral hip pose (sometimes called closed hips) and the hip bones are intended to be face forward. The cue is intended to cultivate the action of moving the hips TOWARDS that direction. You aren’t doing it wrong if your hips won’t make it forward – you have genetics at play and life experience that lives in your muscles and connective tissue.

tumblr_nka5igNB0h1qzun1ro1_400Please know that some poses won’t be possible for your body. However, you can still benefit from cultivating the actions that move towards the intended posture. This is called a “krama,” or a stage of the pose. I do hope your teacher offers you variations or adaptations, if not – you might seek a different teacher.

Maybe you have short arms and arm balances make you feel like a “T-Rex.” I read my spiritual texts and no where does it say you are going to hell if you can’t master the Crow pose.

Maybe you birthed twins and your middle is not as toned as someone who never had kids – love it, for God’s sake – you made LIFE! That’s way more impressive than someone who can balance on one arm.

Maybe your story is one of abandonment and violence – well of course it will be hard for you to “open your heart,” – my goodness – just-becausesomeone literally trampled on yours! It’s ok to hate heart openers.

Maybe as a kid you were constantly asked to be perfect and now in your yoga practice, you just can’t stop perfecting that asana. Here is your chance to practice being human and allow for “mistake!”

 

The Bhagavad Gita, a classical Indian yoga text, states “no effort on the path is ever wasted.” Work TOWARDS your square hips, maybe someday the hips will square, but you also need to be OK with knowing that maybe they won’t.

final

You’ll never be perfect at yoga, so stop aiming for perfection and allow yourself to live in progress. 

 

If you take nothing more from all these words – take this – You’ll never be perfect at yoga, so stop aiming for perfection and allow yourself to live in progress. Practice your potential.

Root to Rise

2-13-12-14-10-16-47m

I was taking a hike the other morning. It was one of the first hikes I’ve taken since winter released her chilly and isolated grip. The sun was shining, the dappled light streaming down through the branches like sunshine glitter and the robin’s egg blue sky aglow with a promise of warmth. Welcome spring!

20160319_114525.jpg
As I walked the trails at Peoria’s Forest Park Nature Center, I came upon a tree that had not made it through the icy grip of winter. I noticed that the root system was fairly shallow and thought back to the ice storm we had experienced in December. The tree had not been rooted strongly enough to weather the challenge of this particular winter. It toppled over.

The root system had been shallow. The foundation had not been strong. The journey of this tree was more broad than deep. And now here is yoga.

y8The breadth of yoga is vast. The methods many. This debate over the right and wrong is pointless – the truth is that there are many paths for many people. Your yoga doesn’t need to be the same as someone else’s. As we begin a yoga journey, exploration is required. How do you know where you want to root if you aren’t sure of into which landscape you wish to plant?

However, at some point the endless wandering does need to pause and plant. The exploring gives you a wide number of roots but the staying is where the depth is found. That’s not to say you can’t replant your tree of yoga, but consider that if you are seeking something specific, it may be hard to discover it if you keep skimming just the surface.

Tree-of-YogaThis analogy can be married to whole host
of yoga topics – what lineage is right for you? What pose do you want to achieve? Anatomy? Meditation? Breath work? Supernatural yoga powers?

The point is that if you don’t plant some firm roots for your goal to grow, at the first sign of a storm, the tree of your practice can be easily uprooted. This is where the practice of setting intention can be helpful. Be clear about what brought you to the mat and then revisit your intention every so often and fine tune it.

Choose your own adventure – study it well – do the practice and all is coming. You can weather any storm. You can root down to rise up. You can.

 

The Space Between: Creating the Creative Mind

Cue up Dave Matthews and let that song run in the background of your mind. I just created a thought wave for you. In yoga speak, it’s called a chitta vrtti, a cool way of saying fluctuation of the mind.

Often times the analogy of an unruly monkey is used with a leash. I prefer the image of the ocean, rising and falling, sometimes turbulent, sometimes calm – that’s just the nature of the ocean – to fluctuate with the weather. Same with humans – the nature of our mind is to fluctuate with each new input. That’s not a bad thing. It’s normal.

Chitta Vrtti

If you have been going to yoga or meditation with this idea that you have to stop thinking – you don’t. That is not the teaching in the Yoga Sutras and it’s not the purpose of meditation. It’s worth clarification because often students will say something like, “I’m not Good at Meditating.” This indicates that thought is bad, which isn’t true, it also indicates that calming yourself is something to be “good,” at doing – logically, the process never ends, therefore, one can never be good at it.

Thinking mind is only troublesome if it gets in the way of living fully. Our thoughts of creativity and even of anxiety are necessary human skills which help us solve problems and also keep us from life threatening danger. The issue is when your thoughts are based on misperception or are redundant, like a broken record. Someone once told me that 80% of our thoughts are the same thoughts we had the day before and someone else said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. This is the problem that yoga practice aims to solve.

Repeat

You don’t have a THINKING problem, but you may have a REPETITIVE thinking problem. Make sense?

The techniques of yoga are utilized to create space between your thoughts. This helps you have the time and awareness to notice destructive, non-helpful thought patterns and create the space for enhanced creative thinking.

SPace

Meditation Practice

Let’s try this as a meditation – this is something anyone, anywhere can use. Being good is not a requirement.

  • Sit quietly and comfortably
  • Notice the thoughts in your mind. Are they fast or slow? Are they on one topic or many? Are they a list or are they visual? Just notice your thought process without controlling or stopping it.
  • Before you go further – notice if you are judging your thoughts. Rather than judge, sink into the noticing – nothing is wrong with you, you are sitting safe and still, the only thing moving is your mind.
  • Now notice your breath. Is it fast or slow? Is it rough or smooth? Is it deep or shallow? Is your breath moving as your thoughts are moving?
  • Become aware of the spaces between the breath. Become aware of the spaces between the thoughts. Just notice without control.
  • Do the thoughts impact the breath?
  • Does the breath impact the thoughts?
  • Just notice.
  • Continue fluctuating between breath and thought for about 2-3 minutes, longer if so inclined.
  • As you conclude, notice any difference in the thoughts between the time you began and the conclusion. That’s good information for you to receive.

You’re done! You did great! And if you applied the meditation without just reading through it, now you understand Yoga Sutra 1.2 – Yoga as the process of creating space for clearer thinking.

Pause

If you are interested in more info on the Yoga Sutras, check out my Instagram feed – I am doing a project where I’m posting all the Sutras as images.

Take Time to Make Time: Creating More Joy for the Holiday

The buzzer wails on the nightstand, you roll over and hit snooze.  You rush out of bed, perk yourself up with coffee, and like a busy bee, dive right into your To-Do list. The packages need wrapped, the cookies need baked, the elf needs to come up with an excuse for forgetting to move, and you need to smile and be nice to the kids.

But maybe all you muster is a quick ponytail, a haggard look, and a wistful sigh as you watch all the Merry making that TV families make so easy. All of a sudden you are yelling at the children and a lovely holiday is spoiled by stress. Sound familiar?

I’ve got a solution – take time to make time. I promise you that taking time to reduce stress will make you feel like you have more time and space in your day and you will be a happier, healthier version of yourself.

IMG_0831

How Can Taking Time Make Time?

As we turn an eye towards the quality of the time we spend each day, space is created. Rather than rushing about, with worry and anxiety stealing precious minutes of our day – the anxiety and worry are reduced and we receive those minutes back.

When we prioritize health and wellness – we reduce stress, anxiety, and chaos. Compare this to a hurricane – the winds blow high and when the storm clears, all that is left is a mess.  This is how we treat our Holy-Days? Like a hurricane – rushing about without taking time to notice the light, the people, and the glory of the season. “That went fast,” we cry when it’s all over, and then we rush ahead to diet and fret over cleaning up the mess we made of our “most wonderful time of the year.”  A mountain of wrapping paper and regrets over what we missed and how we acted towards our loved ones – that is not merry making – that’s insanity.

IMG_0832

This year choose to reduce noise and stress; choose to make that commitment to your family for a more focused version of you. When you prioritize your own health and stress management – you gift yourself, but you also gift everyone else around you. Someone needs to be the calm in the storm.

The presents will still get wrapped, the food will still get cooked, the show will go on even if you decide to take time for yourself. No one else in your life is going to prioritize your stress level and well-being, you absolutely must do it for yourself.

IMG_0833

An Invitation to Join the Joy

Join me at Be.You Fitness on December 24, 2015 at 9:00 am for a 75 minute Ode to Joy: Movement and Merry Making. We will focus on stress reduction, boost  immunity, calm anxiety, and open the heart with a specific intention of creating more space and time in our day so that we can experience more of the joy of the season. Regular class fees apply – please pre-register, so I can bring tokens of appreciation for everyone!

IMG_0830

7 Ways to Wish Yourself a Happy Birthday

I love birthdays. I’m never ashamed to get older. I’m fiercely aware that the alternative to getting older is to die young. So every year, rather than be afraid, ashamed, wistful, or have a regret – I try to spend the day incorporating all the things I’d like to achieve or focus on for this one day. If you want to reframe your birthday celebrations and welcome in the wisdom of age – try these practices.

  1. Wake Up EARLY. Earlier than normal. This indeed is the year you can put your health first. The first thing you do upon waking is drink a glass of water and go work out. I prefer yoga, obviously, but this can be a run or whatever gets your body moving. Moving the joints keeps them youthful.

    Wake Up and Yoga!

    Wake Up and Yoga!

  2. Luxurious Shower or Bubble Bath. After your sweat session, you want to smell better. Use those products you “save for special occasions,” and then use them every day because you deserve to feel special every morning. It makes getting older much more pleasant.

    Happy Birthday Bubble Bath

    Happy Birthday Bubble Bath

  3. Play with your animals or kids or both! Sink into that feeling of play, let yourself enjoy playtime without a “to do” list or agenda. Just be free with them.

    Play with and like a kid.

    Play with and like a kid.

  4. Read a book. Maybe you have a goal of more spiritual study, or tackling a fiction novel or an autobiography. An engaged mind is a key to staying curious and attentive, which is a cornerstone of youthful living. Not everyone is a bookworm, maybe your brain training is Sudoku or a cross word puzzle – the key is brain train.

    Yoga Sutra Study

    Yoga Sutra Study

  5. Eat good food. Dessert is certainly acceptable on your birthday, but surround your cake and ice cream with very good nutrition. Eat an epic salad, load up on good protein, pick up some fresh herbs. You are what you eat and if you are intending on an active life well into older years, you probably don’t want to be fried chicken.

    Garden Salsa Sounds Good!

    Garden Salsa Sounds Good!

  6. Treat Yourself. Think spa or manicure and pedicure. Reward your body and skin for carrying you for all these years. Say thank you to your muscles and yourself. Stress relief is shown to keep you feeling younger longer.

    These are the actual products I use. I get them at Senara Health and Healing Center. www.experiencesenara.com

    These are the actual products I use. I get them at Senara Health and Healing Center. http://www.experiencesenara.com

  7. GRATITUDE. You absolutely must end your day thankful. Take a moment to reflect back upon your past year, make a haphazard list of every single thing you can think of to be grateful about. It doesn’t have to be a big thing – small things matter too, like fresh water and blue skies. Studies show that an attitude of gratitude reduces wrinkles.

    And I'm Thankful for YOU!

    And I’m Thankful for YOU!

The End is A Synonym for a Beginning – The Happily Ever After of Senara Yoga

Happily Ever After

 THE BACK STORY

In November of 2012, a dear friend and yoga colleague approached me about becoming the Director of Yoga for Senara in Peoria, IL.  I did not immediately say yes – considerations of my family, my work life, my practice all needed attention.  Ultimately I accepted the responsibility. I said yes to leading a group of fantastic teachers, to spending hours creating schedules, websites, flyers, and processing payroll; I said yes to opportunity because I believe that when a door opens, you walk through it.

Courtney, Des, Molly, Chris, and I. Without the teachers, we wouldn't have had the practice.

Courtney, Des, Molly, Chris, and I. Without the teachers, we wouldn’t have had the practice.

In May of 2015, that same friend called me up to say that she and our mutual friends felt disconnected from me. My time had grown so short that they hadn’t seen me in more than a year. She let me know that I was missed and there was some concern among the group that I wasn’t making enough time for life and fun. How ironic, because her call came during a time when I had been considering this fact for weeks. It was as if the stars aligned to give me this message very clear and crisp – the time is right to move forward.

That friend, has been in my life for all the major changes and you know who you are – I say thank you. You gave me the push to prioritize and accept inevitable change.

I'll never forget this serene space and all the lovely people who floated into my life here.

I’ll never forget this serene space and all the lovely people who floated into my life here.

I have no regrets about my time with Senara. The lessons learned, the friendships made, the progress in my own yoga practice was all worth it. However, it’s important to recognize when opportunity changes into burden or burnout, and so it is here in June of 2015 that I close the door behind me and the end of Senara Yoga.

Without all the helping hands, we couldn't have touched so many hearts. Thank you to my staff, past and present. I truly love you.

Without all the helping hands, we couldn’t have touched so many hearts. Thank you to my staff, past and present. I truly love you.

This is a mutual decision. Senara is ready to grow in new and exciting ways and I am too. I am forever grateful to Senara for changing my life and my health and will remain close with the Kramers, an inspiring power couple, that have lifted me up, inspired me to pursue my dreams, and have healed my family through their wellness offerings. I encourage all students of Senara Yoga to remain patrons of the Spa and Chiropractic services – there is nothing to regret. This is simply a change of venue and habit.

 

 

 

MOVING FORWARD

2015 is a year of change in my world. My child begins kindergarten in fall, and like all mothers, this march toward school makes one consider if enough time was spent. This is a good choice for my family and my personal yoga practice – a lesson I’m happy to know at 33 rather than waiting until my child is all grown up and regretting time not spent.

This is NOT the end of my yoga teaching path. That meanders onward and forever. Yoga will always be a priority in my life. Currently, I’m in an intense program for my 500 hour level certification through Prairie Yoga in Lisle, IL.  My thesis is expected to be completed in 2016 and will require intense hours of research and study so that what I offer the yoga community is meaningful and will cultivate positive change in our practices and perceptions of yoga. It deserves my full focus to do it right.

In the midst of a sun salutation at Senara Yoga. These windows streaming light and framing clouds were always my favorite.

In the midst of a sun salutation at Senara Yoga. These windows streaming light and framing clouds were always my favorite.

I plan to completely take off for the summer, maintaining only periodic classes in Lake Camelot on Tuesday nights, outside, by the lake at sunset – seriously, it’s so beautiful. You are welcome to join in if you wish. In fall, I may consider hosting workshops at various studios in support of home practice development and maintenance.

In support of home practice, I’ve joined Audible Yoga, a hosting space where one can download audio classes. My voice can lead you through familiar practices and you can always access my teaching. I’ll attempt to post 3-4 classes per month. You can also find inspiration for your practice on my social media feeds where I supply more in-depth teaching on the deeper practices such as Yoga Sutra study, meditation, and short videos on alignment or support for your physical practice.

A common call from my students has always been : “I love your classes, but they don’t fit my schedule,” thus the opportunity I’m exploring will be to offer more digital content to you when you want it and then meeting up periodically for in-person instruction.

Padma Mudra: Opening to New Opportunity. Thank to Gena Applyby for the lovely professional yoga photos these past 3 years. www.genaappleby.com

Padma Mudra: Opening to New Opportunity. Thank to Gena Applyby for the lovely professional yoga photos these past 3 years. http://www.genaappleby.com

Senara will be having a closing practice on July 2nd – 6:00 pm – 90 minutes. If you have ever been a Senara student or teacher, please attend. We will enjoy a physical practice, a meditation for new beginnings, and then share in the simple joy of community.

Here is a link to my teaching schedule, which is updated regularly and you can share with your friends: https://kirstenheddenyoga.wordpress.com/classschedule

image

 

 

 

What Happened When I Held Hands With Death

I held hands with death today. The grip suprisingly strong around my hands which were closing so gently around skin, paper thin and velvet soft. In the yoga sutras, Pantanjali tells us that the one suffering no human can escape is a fear of death, or a clinging to life. This hand to hold, clinging to life, I felt that desire in waves not only from a wizened hand – but shuttering throughout my whole body. Tears sprout and I cannot be sure if they are for the fear of death in a loved one, or my own fear of death that lives within me. The hand holds mine and I feel a soft caress, in the repose, I know we connect.

United in this moment, there is love, anguish, and a sharp flash of ego, which haunts the end of a life. Not the ego of the dying, but the ego of the left behind. Ego telling us to hold tight, complete that bucket list, time is short. That’s not it either. There is a space to live between clinging to life and letting it go. The saying is, “You only live once,” but that’s not true.wpid-instaquote-20-03-2015-23-16-45.png

You only die once. We receive life every day we open our eyes and in that moment, opportunity to fully awaken presents itself.

In yoga there is the practice of dying called Savasana. At the end of every class, we allow death for our hurt, our pain, our suffering, and then we reawaken into our potential and possibility. B.K.S. Iyengar says:

Savasana is about shedding. We have many skins, sheaths, thoughts, prejudices, preconceptions, ideas, memories, and future plans. Savasana sheds all of this….threads of tension…like Gulliver imprisoned by the threads of the Lilliputians…to cut tension is to cut the threads that bind us…to find out who we are not.”

Savasana can be scary in this way too. No one is clear on what happens when you cut all that binds you from the material, physcial world. There is a thread of tension that will always linger, tying the soul to the body here on the earth. Since no one can know what happens after death – there is fear in the letting go, slipping into the void. Many master teachers will agree that the practicing of many little deaths, many letting go’s, prepares for the ultimate letting go, the body death.

I find Paramahansa Yogananda’s quotes on death to be helpful in times of death awarenss, I espeically feel drawn to this one on this day:

Natural death—that is, in old age, or whenever the soul is ready to change its mortal form—is just like the falling of ripe fruit from the tree, of its own accord, without the resistance that green fruit exhibits when being pulled down by a storm or other great force.

Final Rest and Relaxation, Practice for Death, Art by Felipe Ikehara

We can use the little deaths of savasana to allow us to release the ties that bind us, then tensions of living, so that we can float through our life aware of the experience, never missing a heartbeat. In that, Savasana is the most important and the most difficult asana in our practice.

I give thanks and honor to the many teachers in my life. Without the shared practice, the shared wisdom, and all the shared love – I cannot hope to progress in yoga or in my life. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. May the peace of the practice shine through my teachers, through me, and into you dear reader. This one light may and must shine in all of us – Namaste.

Overcome Bullying with Yoga

I was bullied. I was threatened, shamed, and physically abused through bullying. Now, 33 years old, the pain and disquiet of being bullied lingers. Being bullied can make you feel that someone is watching and waiting to poke a big hole in your balloon, hoping to deflate you.

Inflated/Deflated Project

Inflated/Deflated Project

Enter yoga.

Yoga means union. Yoga is a community. Yoga makes a person feel like it is ok to be different; it’s ok to just be you. We find an acceptance in all the yoga-speak about being non-attached, forgiveness, offering love, compassion, and self-care. Yoga class is the place one can go to make mistakes, to fall down and get back up, to practice overcoming obstacles and find inner potential.

We strengthen our bodies so that we strengthen our spirit. We practice strength so that we can share that strength with others who might not be as strong, so we can support and lift up the other folks who are having a hard time.

Bullying is something that makes a person feel alone. Yoga is a practice to unite and overcome isolation. You become strong enough to forgive and shift perspective, which opens up a new space within you, a space you can fill with your potential to create, to share, and to love.

The magic of the practice is in the journey. As you work your body, you find you have a new script, your own personal inner life coach that tells you that you are capable, that you are strong, that you are beautiful – just the way you are.

I did not have a context for inner strength until I found the practice of yoga. Bullying is not personal, it is one person transferring their negative shit onto your negative shit and making a giant shit pile. It stinks, but manure makes great fertilizer. Keep practicing your potential and see what can bloom for you.

Out of the Muck Grows The Flower

Out of the Muck Grows The Flower

 

Have you ever been bullied? Feel free to share your story with me in the comments, or direct message me on Facebook at Kirsten Hedden Yoga. I know you can feel alone – sometimes it helps to reach out to someone that cares – I’m here to listen.

4 Practices to Try Right Now:

Protect Your Inner Child

Protect and Strengthen – A Downward Dog over Child’s Pose

Previous Older Entries

Connect

309-657-9881
Classes:

Mondays: 7:00 pm @Senara on Willow Knolls

Fridays: Noon & 4 pm @Senara

My Personal Practice

Alignment Authenticity Anatomy Junkie Spiritual Flow Mantras Mudras Continuous Education Practice What You Teach Progress Not Perfection Guiding Teachers: BKS Iyengar Pattabi Jois Shiva Rea Daren Friesen (Moksha Chicago) Marinda Stopforth (Prairie Yoga - Lisle, IL)

There was an error retrieving images from Instagram. An attempt will be remade in a few minutes.