Thank you, Stephanie Germann, for your thoughtful insight on yoga safety for the first episode of Hometown Yoga. That was a learning experience for me because I’ve never done the tech on a podcast before. Please forgive any unnatural bumps or starts!
Four things that darken the heart from T.K.V. Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga
Avidya: misapprehension, incorrect knowledge, false understanding
Desikachar writes, “These are the four possible ways avidya might be expressed.”
- The ego: “I am right,” “I am sad,” “I am a yoga teacher”
- The desire to have something whether we need it or not
- Refusing things and having feelings of hatred
- Fear—afraid of death, we cling to life with all our might
“The Beach is not the place to work; to read, write or think…The books remain unread, the pencils break their points, and the pads rest smooth and unblemished as the cloudless sky. No reading, no writing, no thoughts even – not at first.”
“One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone. One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea; bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today’s tides of all yesterday’s scribblings.”
“Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”
We think something between 12,000 to 60,000 or even 80,000 thoughts a day. So our minds are always very very busy coming up with stuff.
The purpose of this exercise is to see if we can get a snapshot or a thin slice of just a few of those thoughts.
Meditation Prompt/Intention: First Yama, Non-violence. One way I think of intentions is as seeds that can be planted and nurtured and grow. Intentions are also a lot like actively choosing habits.
MEDITATE: If it’s comfortable for you, maybe close your eyes, relax and begin to breathe evenly, follow your breath in your belly, your throat or where the cool air enters your nostrils, and notice your thoughts. Watch your thoughts without judgment come and go like clouds in a clear blue sky. They are what they are—just thoughts of which we have thousands upon thousands every day. You may also notice thoughts that carry heavy emotions, try breathing slowly and deeply into your chest or the space you feel the emotion most in your body. Maybe your throat or your stomach. TIMED: 5 minutes.
JOURNAL: Maybe jot down some notes about the dominant thoughts, emotions, ideas that came up in your meditation. What thoughts did you see? Or you may choose to make a grocery list. Or nothing, which is also a valid choice. Let it come organically, whatever is on the tip of your tongue or tips of your fingertips. TIMED: 5 minutes
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra states that there are eight limbs of yoga. These limbs are meant to be practiced on and off your mat. Yoga teachers will often suggest during a class that how you practice on your mat is very likely to be how you practice life.
The first two limbs of yoga deal with ethical disciplines called “universal moral commandments” by BKS Iyengar.
1. Yama, or how we conduct ourselves in the world.
There are five yamas:
2. Niyama, the disciplines that address how we manage our relationships with ourselves, from self-discipline to spiritual observances.
There are also five of these:
Tapas (heat; spiritual austerities)
Svadhyaya (study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self)
Isvara pranidhana (surrender to God)
3. Asana (the poses)
4. Pranayama (breath)
5. Pratyahara (looking inward, withdrawal of the senses)
6. Dharana (concentration)
7. Dhyana (meditation or contemplation)
8. Samadhi (the state of being intensely present without judgment of whatever is)
“Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”
This is a restorative yoga class so the physical intention of the class is to do nothing.
Come to a supported virasana seat (hero’s pose) sitting on a bolster pillow or a block. Lengthen your spine. Rub your hands together, build heat, press heels of your hands gently into your eye sockets.
Set your personal intention. Maybe the intention is to let go. Let go of thought. Plans. The past. The future… Maybe it’s something else. Or nothing else…
While the challenges we face when we’re running around doing life every day do tend to make us stronger—build strength and resilience, discipline and confidence, we also we need to remember that all of that doing and work and engagement in life needs recovery time to be effective. Enter your restorative practice. I’ve read that it’s good to include at least one restorative class in your practice every week and I’ve found when I’m in a good rhythm, I take or do at home at least one restorative class each week.
Experts say a restorative practice makes you more relaxed and also more focused and effective.
Yesterday, I had this idea that since I live in a walkable city, I should walk to do a few errands, not just for pleasure like walking in the park, but useful walking, walking with purpose to move my body and to remove my car from the congestion that is in-town Atlanta traffic.
As I was walking and with no warning whatsoever, a massive branch crashed down three feet in front of me, destroying that fence you see in the pic. Three seconds later it would have been me!
Have no idea what I was doing that delayed the appointed rounds of my day by three seconds. But I’m grateful just the same. I called my brother right after it happened and sent him this pic. “Go out right away and buy a lottery ticket,” he told me.