Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pop quiz - what do you do....?

I would like to bring up what to me seems like a yoga dilemma... perhaps because I'm still a yoga rookie...

Ahimsa, one of the Yama's, tells us to have compassion for all living things. To me, this sounds like do no harm to other living creatures so if your actions cause harm to other... not doing a good job at ahimsa.

But, I consider myself also as a living thing.... so I should not harm myself either, right?

So here's the pop quiz question (sorry for stealing your line Keanu Reeves)...

Pop quiz - your point of view in a certain situation, is hurting another person. But letting go of your point of view and adapting the other person's point of view, is hurting you - what do you do?

Do you have to give in (and probably by calling it like that, it already sounds very un-yogi) and look for a yogi way to accept the other person's point of view? Sounds a lot easier than it is - how much can a person "give in", or go against what feels natural, before you actually are no longer yourself? Or is it all part of an evolution that you should go through when deep diving into yoga? What if you are actually happy with who you are, and you don't want to adopt an other view or evolve into a different person - is that haughty or are you then just not getting the point of yoga.

Maybe I should have stuck to being a Western yogi and stuck to the asana's and let the rest of the yoga limbs be... but somehow, the other limbs are fascinating and trigger me to think and question a lot of things....

So, my ultimate question.... what do you do?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Yoga sins - me bad yogi :-(

I was reading in yoga magazine and bumped into this poll: what are your yoga-sins?

These were the results of the online voting:
  • Smoking 6%
  • Drinking alcohol 16%
  • Eating meat 18%
  • Drinking coffee 19%
  • Abreact on others 10%
  • Judging quickly/gossipping 10%
  • Killing insects 10%
  • Being discontent quickly 9%
  • All of the above 2%
It  made me start to think and check how many of these yoga sins I am guilty of.

Smoking as a sin (Niyama - sauca), I get that. It is unhealthy and devastating to your body -- I don't smoke so good for me!

Drinking alcohol -- Alcohol can be viewed as toxic to your body, yet there are plenty of studies on the benefits of red wine (1 glass a day). Too much of anything is bad for your health -- why do they consider drinking alcohol as a yoga sin? I still enjoy my red wine from time to time, and am not planning on giving that up.

Eating meat -- the meat on your plate is the result of harm done to animals (yama - ahimsa). Defenitely a yoga sin and guilty as charged.... but considering a vegetarian week in the short future.

Drinking coffee -- same as with wine, why is that considered a yoga sin? Studies have shown benefits in drinking coffee. I have noticed that I have had periods that I don't want to drink any coffee and switch to tea or water. Still I do enjoy the occassional latte.

Abreact on others (yama - ahimsa) -- I can see where that comes from and it would make this world a better place if everybody would work on this -- no easy, but a good yoga practice in self control.

Judging quickly/gossipping -- same territory as the previous sin, but less "in your face". I guess it is kinda natural for people to judge and judging is based on your personal reference plate. Can't say I am free of charge (is there anybody who is?), but working on it for sure.

Killing insects (yama - ahimsa) -- I don't kill insects for fun, but a mosquito falls in a different category -- if I want to sleep and you keep bugging me by buzzing in my ear, you've had it coming.

Being discontent quickly (Niyama - santosa) - it is one of the basics of the second limb of yoga. With regards to happiness, it is better not to compare to others as comparison might compromise happiness. But comparisson might open your eyes when looking at your own situation and looking at all the struggle that is going on in the world. It might help you being more content.

So that is my view on these yoga sins -- I don't agree with all of them, that's for sure. I'm guilty of most of them - does that make me a bad yogi?

What is your view?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Teaching a balance pose

Yesterdays teacher training was good, and challenging.

We started with "teaching" one pose each - it resulted in a shortened but complete flow.

And I have to tell you, it is not easy to stay in a balance pose (standing hand to big toe pose) and teach at the same time. You want to talk slowly and clearly, but you still need to focus to keep your balance, and then, you have to give all the hints and tips to create a good alignment for your 'students'.
I need to focus on giving the different options while training - a beginner might feel more confident staying in the pose where you bend you knee and just hold your leg up instead of trying to get a hold of their big toe and stretch their leg completely. And I need name the pose at the start - but Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana is not really something that rolls out of your mouth easily - I'll stick to the Flemish for the time being.

Overall it was OK, not good, but OK. Next class is in 6 weeks time - by then, we all need to be able to teach a piece of the flow in order to create the complete flow. I have 2 balancing poses to teach - the standing hand to big toe pose and the tree pose. I will need to practice a lot, not only to be able to stay in the pose comfortably, but also to keep my head clear so I can focus on what to say and say it in a calm way.

Although it is not my ambition to become a yoga teacher I kinda like the challenge to teach. Before I would ever start teaching, I will need to practice yoga for a few years myself, to really get comfortable with the poses and know by heart what to do to get in alignment.

We continued class with deep diving in a number of poses and focussing on how to correct others. And then concluded with the entire flow.

So that is my yoga challenge for me for the next coming weeks, what's yours?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Yipee ki-yay namaste -- 40-day challenge completed!

Yipee ki-yay namaste -- 40-day challenge completed!

When I started my routine of daily asana's on December 25th 2012, I was really curious if I would make it and what it would do to me.

So here's the recap:

  • I enjoyed the daily "moment for myself" on the mat -- the me-time, even if it was just 20 minutes was great. It freed my mind and generally left me with a good feeling after practice.
  • Daily practice improved my alignment and my postures in general. I've spent more time deep diving in the sensations of the postures - where do I feel what, and is that good or is that my body saying "You're doing it wrong buddy!". Still, I have a long way to go when it comes to flexibility -- need to improve on loosening my hips and keeping my back straight. The road ahead might be long, but the first steps have been set.
  • Integrating daily asana's into your life is achievable - you need to agree with yourself that it doesn't have to be a full hours of practice but a balanced routine of 20 minutes is OK as well. There are 24 hours in a day and you need to choose wisely where you want to spend them on. 20 minutes a day never was a problem for me, in a lot of cases I easily practiced 30 - 40 minutes.
  • Being well equiped certainly helps -- comfy clothing that makes you feel yogi-like is step one. Having a good mat is a defenite benefit. Keeping the mat open on the floor all day is an invitation to step on it and start practising - simple as that.
  • The first 2 days of a Saturday of practising 5 hours are really really hard -- All my muscles were sore so I kept it very light and relaxing. I don't know what I will do next time when I have the "5-hours-Saturday", I'll just listen to my body and let it decide over the mind.
  • Mentally, you go through an amazing change..... who am I kidding..... never expect that 40 days of doing some daily asana's will change your life instantly --  What it did is have me think more about life, about yoga values, about yoga in general as a way of living. At this stage, I'm glad to have integrated daily asana's in my life. As for the first 2 limbs of yoga, I don't see any changes in myself versus the start of my 40-D-C, not even since the start of my teacher training. And to be honest, that was not the purpose for me either - I'm quite happy with myself, not saying that there is no room for change (I don't want to call it improvement, as that would mean it's not good now, so that would leave me dissatisfied with myself....) but if change will happen it will happen gradually and slowly. Evolution over revolution....
I'm glad that I managed to incorporate daily yoga practise into my life, and that I am reading more about it in general. The reason why I started this challenge, is because of an article in a yoga magazine -- according to that article, this daily practising should now be integrated into my life..... let's wait and see if they were right.