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Balance

28 Feb

In my adventures becoming a Yoga Instructor, I have done a lot of personal research, not just to become a better teacher but a better person as well.  So much I have learned through yoga echos what I believe in religiously and has really opened my mind with clarity on certain areas of life.  The effects have been quite amazing and for this I am grateful.  I can see myself becoming calmer, less panic attacks (or freak outs as I like to call them) and, while becoming more hands on with the positive choices, things that can cause stress and drama I have become more detached.  The joy of becoming more detached with the chaotic aspects of life is that I am finding more time for myself and for my loved ones.  Time to work on projects, time to spend out walking with my dog, time for more baking!  Its astounding the amount of time we spend on a daily basis worrying about things that really don’t need a second thought!

I wrote this little piece to tie in with one of my classes, a sort of meditation piece to open with and give students something to reflect on while they are working through their asana’s.  It is based on some of the teachings of the famous yogis, B.K.S Iyengar.  Now you don’t have to be a yogis to reap the benefits of yoga practice, a lot of it is mental well-being.  I believe God has many tools and platforms with to which he can reach His children in a way befitting their unique minds, Yoga is that tool for me and maybe it can be yours as well.

Balance
 
  Balance is something we all struggle with, whether in our physical yoga practice or simply in our everyday lives.  Every living thing around us strives for balance.  However, change is what disturbs balance and of course life being the curious thing that it is, change is the one thing that is constant in this world.  Do not fret though, without imperfection or imbalance, life would be dull.  It would be meaningless!  The struggle for balance is a dance that is essential to Life!
 
Imagine a tree.  A tree is  strong, the trunk is hard and dense, giving it a good foundation from which to grow.  Yet it is flexible, able to sway in the wind.  If the wind counts as change and the tree wasn’t able to move with it or, “go with the flow”, the dense foundation would mean nothing.  The tree would eventually break and fall.  So to be flexible or, “dynamic” adds to the density of the tree, making it that much stronger and amazing.  However a tree wants more from life than to be strong and sway in the breeze.  It wants to grow, to reach for the sun, produce leaves and fruit.  It loves to give shade and protection, to be a home.  This is what gives a tree luminosity.  With its protective quality, the tree is tranquil.  The gift of leaves and fruit is a quality of alertness.  The continuing quest to reach for the sun, is clarity.
 
Using a tree as an example in the strive for balance is the perfect example.  As we go through life or work through our asana’s, we want to be as strong in our foundation as the tree, but we also want to be dynamic and flexible.  For us, using the breath as a tool for this is much the same how the tree uses the earth, drawing in what we need for our minds and bodies.  Lastly, in our quest for balance, we involve our minds, to stay alert, yet more importantly, calm and accepting. 
 
It is a struggle, a dance we will forever be learning, but enormously rewarding.  We may never find perfect balance but isn’t it said that the journey, not the destination, is what matters most?

Keep Breathing

1 Feb

When I was little all I dreamed about was becoming a ballerina, chased that dream till I was 24 and finally realized after I graduated college, it was never gonna happen.  From the moment you have understanding of words, people fill your head with notions that you can do anything you want to, be anyone you want to.  In a very broad, pure sense it is true.  Why then couldn’t little Bethany grow up and be that ballerina?  I tried my heart out.  I auditioned, trained, did everything I was supposed to, really put myself out there.   Real life limitations happened, my body’s limitations.  I have scoliosis.  That is something I can’t ever change no matter how hard I try.  I couldn’t become a Ballerina because my shoulders are permanently hunched, because my hips aren’t even and when I bend forward you can actually see where my spine curves.  I was a good dancer but I was never going to be “great” because my body just wasn’t made in the image if a ballerina.  God made me perfect though, yes I have limitations, but he has taught me how to use them, and accept them.  He gave me Yoga.

Yoga, pure and simple, is a beautiful art form.  It is slow and focused, stimulating mind, body, and soul.  Technique is key but if yours isn’t perfect, you aren’t moved to stand in the back of the class, you are encouraged, welcomed with open arms.  Even with yoga I am constantly challenged.  My scoliosis doesn’t take it easy on me here either.  I have a harder time rolling my shoulders back, opening up my chest, lengthening my spine, than your average learner.  This doesn’t mean I am bad at Yoga though.  In fact it has taught me to stop beating myself up, have patience, work with my body instead of trying to force it.  I embrace my weakness because it has shown me my strength.  I am graceful, strong, and determined.  I may have rounded shoulders but I have long straight legs that are powerful and amazing.  My feet are built perfectly for balancing, I have long toes and a beautiful arch, my ankles are sturdy and flexible.  My arms are beautifully shaped and graceful.  The fact that I have something to work for just makes it all the more worthwhile.

No matter how much joy filled my heart when I was dancing, I always felt I was on trial, that I had to prove that I belonged.   Maybe I never did.  God gave me the want to be in motion.  I want to move, leap, dance, balance, stretch.  Yet dance was judgmental, it wanted something I could never give, it wanted perfection and I was just….me. 

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Which is why I feel Yoga is such a gift.  It gives me the challenge of mastering a pose or movement yet it doesn’t judge.  I am not less because of my disability.  I am more, I have more to offer.  I understand so much now about how the spine works in our bodies, and how to protect it, care for it.  I have a better grasp on it then probably someone who has a perfect spine and lovely straight shoulders.  Now when I start teaching I will be able to help my students that much more.  I have learned that I am amazing at the balancing poses, or the stretching poses.  While my back may be curved, it is strong and I will master back bends.

Before, when I was a dancer, if there was something I didn’t know how to do, I would berate myself and force myself to do it whether my body was ready and capable or not.  I probably caused some damage that I will definitely experience in my golden years.  Heck, I already get achy joints when it is going to rain.  Through Yoga I have become excited when I see something I don’t know how to do yet, or I don’t have the strength yet.  Because this isn’t a race, I have all the time in the world to master the Inverted Locust pose.  I am not competing against anyone else.  I will be able to do it when my body is ready, and my body is becoming stronger everyday!

I will always have a special spot in my heart for dancing, when ever I hear an awesome song my body starts twitching, just aching to be let loose.  But dancing and being a dancer are two entirely different things and I finally learned that.  Yoga is Yoga.  God gave me Yoga.  God is Good.

Full of It

11 Jan

So I want to apologize, I am not writing about what I actually practice.  I have every good intention of leading this simple natural life, having my ducks in order, and all that jazz.  I don’t.  God has granted me this wonderful knowledge and understanding about life, but I have to be honest, I have squandered it.  I don’t practice what I preach.  I want to though, with all my heart, not sure why I prevent myself from doing so.  Maybe I am more afraid than I realized, afraid of success because then I have something to uphold rather than just work for, which is way less pressure.  Maybe I am afraid to be happy on my own without help from anyone.  Or I hold myself back for others to catch up.  I might be afraid of being a person others look up to because I don’t feel confident in myself.  I thought I was done with fear but now I know that fear has a deeper hold on me then I ever realized.  Maybe I am just so used to making others happy that I have no clue how to do it for myself.

There are some days when I truly do love my life, I see God’s beauty everywhere and it fills my heart with such happiness it hurts.  Then there are the days where nothing is beautiful and I feel all alone and not sure where I took a wrong turn to land me here.

Those are the days when I need to reach past the darkness and grab a hold of something good, something strong, but I don’t.  I let myself be filled with sadness and do nothing productive.  Which is not good.  I have to start taking my advice.  I need to start doing something for myself and let go of this fear that wraps itself around my heart.  It was foolish of me to think fear was something easy to be rid of, that I could analyze myself in the span of a couple of days and voilà, its gone.  I underestimated my enemy and it took the advantage.

Now reader don’t worry, I am not a crazy depressed loon, I just had a rude awakening to my mistakes and now I have a heck of a lot of catch up to play.  Not to mention my yoga teacher training practicum midterms are this week so there is no time to waste.  It’s a now or never kind of thing.  I am going to ace this midterm because I want this, and it is at the same time, something I fear.  I am gonna kick it in the ASS.

So please be patient with me, don’t give up on my humble blog, because I was full of you-know-what when I wrote my last couple entries.  Good advice is worth nothing if you don’t follow it yourself.  From now on I am gonna back up what I say, I am gonna walk the walk.

New Chapter

3 Oct

I am about to embark on an adventure.  One of those big, life changing kinds, that scare the dickens out of me to be honest.  I am starting a career.   A career that I have recently invested a huge chunk of cash into and will be investing about a half of years time learning the trade.  I am becoming a Hatha Yoga instructor.  My training starts October 16th and I will not be certified until April 2012.  It is about 200 hours worth of time which does not include at home practice.

I can’t exactly pinpoint what lead me to this huge decision.  I believe it was a combination of frustration with having a job I am not proud of (even though it was a decent honest way to help pay the bills), knowing I have more to give in life, and wanting to do something that makes me feel better outside and in.  I haven’t even been taking yoga that long.  I started this past spring and fell in love with it immediately.  The straightforwardness of yoga, the purity and focus of it, the strength of mind and body that is entailed.  It was the closet I have come to mind cleansing exercise since I studied ballet.

What fully pushed me towards Yoga as a lifelong pursuit was what seemed to me as an answer to prayer.  I have been extremely frustrated with the stagnate state of the jobs that I always find myself ending up in.  Not that there is anything wrong with working hard at a boring job to pay the bills, its something honorable.  But,  I felt that inside I have something to give, something to offer and my current position was not the right outlet for it.  I prayed that God would help me find something that would offer the chance  to fulfill that longing inside, that gift that wants to be set free.  The next day I went to my yoga class and all was normal except at the end of class, my instructor asked everyone  if we would be interested in her offering a Teachers Training course.  Instantly that caught my attention.  It seemed so simple and honest, a straightforward answer to my prayer.  God is not going to force answers upon us, we have to use the wisdom he instills in us to be able to recognize when HE is offering us an answer.  This  in my heart, felt like an answer.

Sooooooo October 16th, marks the beginning of this adventure.  I am filled with a mixture of fear, excitement, uncertainty, and determination.  My darling hubby has been bearing  the brunt of these tremulous emotions like a champ and has even offered to help me with my pre-class homework.  Haha, boy is he in for a treat when I let him listen to the Sanskrit names for every position, that I have to memorize.  Anyway, I am planning on recording my whole experience in here, so stay tuned!