Fall Cleaning…

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Whew. 2014 has been a veritable blur of a year. Between work, teacher training, teaching, and general life happenings, I am not quite sure where the year has gone. But that’s okay, because it has ultimately been a productive year – one I can say I am proud of thus far. Not everything has gone the way I would have wished and there have certainly been roadblocks, but ultimately it has been a good one. That said, it’s not quite over yet!

We still have nearly two months to be filled with work, holidays, family, and (yes!) yoga practice. I think this is why I began working on cleaning out the cobwebs in early September. From closets to the bedroom to the kitchen and beyond, I organized, cleaned, built furniture, decorated – you name it, I did it. I didn’t get the whole checklist done, but I made some serious headway. It took weeks to just barely scratch the surface. I wondered at the time what my motivation was to tackle all these seemingly little projects (that turned out to be much bigger than expected) and initially chalked it up to a little cold weather nesting preparation.

Now, looking back over my last eight to ten weeks or so and anticipating the next eight weeks, I realize I did it both as a part of my yoga practice and a preparation for my yoga practice. Sauca is the Sanskrit word for cleanliness or purification. It is introduced in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in chapter two as one of the Niyamas, or personal observances, necessary for the yoga practioner to follow. In his book, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, BKS Iyengar translates these sutras on Sauca as:

YS II:40 – Cleanliness of the body and mind develops disinterest in contact with others for others for self-gratification (153).

YS II:41 – When the body is cleansed, the mind purified and senses controlled, joyful awareness needed to realize the inner self, also comes (154).

Don’t get me wrong – I am a social person at heart – but I totally jive with YS  II:40. When I am clean of body and mind, I am not as drawn into the petty everyday dramas that go on around me. I don’t feel the need to be a people pleaser. I enjoy having quiet time with myself. I enjoy my yoga practice and yearn for more. And there you are. The magic of the sutras. II:40 feeding into II:41: the less I seek self-gratification, the closer I come to my Self.

So, what does this have to do with my fall cleaning?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I cannot think clearly when I am not organized. I like a clean desk (and desktop). I prefer my bed to be made every morning. I enjoy the smell of a freshly cleaned house or basket of laundry.

Even more importantly, I cannot delve deeply into my practice when I am in an unkempt environment. I “take breaks” to go clean the dishes or tidy up the pillows on the sofa. I obsess over what I need to get done after I fit my hour in. I give up completely and promise myself I will get back to the mat tomorrow.

Now, because of my earlier fall cleaning mode, I got a lot of junk cleared out of my home and my body-mind is cleared for its own fall cleaning. I not only set the stage for coming home to a nice, clean sanctuary, but for deepening my yoga practice, as well. I encourage you to look at what cobwebs you need to clear for your own mental and physical health and your yoga practice. Likely you have already begun the process. Keep it up! And please share the ways you clear your body-mind for practice and life – we are all looking for ways to better ourselves, bit by bit, every day.

Namaste ॐ

Time, Time, Time

Hi Yogis!

It has been way too long since my last post – over a year ago – yikes! How time flies! Well, here is my post to let you know I am back in full force.

My lovely, brave and wonderful sister Lorin started her own inspirational blog Pink Warrior Fitness Journey (check it out!), which inspired me to get back to my musings on all things yoga. This post is dedicated to Lo – love you, sis!

Hare Aum ॐ,

Erin

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Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

~Dr. Seuss

I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of time. It is endlessly fascinating how we obsess over time. We never seem to have enough (kind of like really high quality, delicious chocolate) – yet all we have is time. I think I have been contemplating time most recently for a few reasons. First, I am nearing (gasp!) 40. I know, I know, I still have a couple years left in my glorious 30s before hitting the next milestone birthday, but still. It’s a big one. I have also been traveling for work a lot more and spending less time with my lovely husband than I would prefer. And I have been sick with a head cold, so I have had plenty of time for worrying and not so much desire to practice.

So what does this have to do with yoga?

All this thought about time has taken my precious time! In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali writes that abhinivesa, which can be translated as fear of death or clinging to life, is one of the main causes of suffering. Ultimately, I think my fear of  the aging process, of the time I am spending away from my love, my tendency to get bummed out when I am sick, and my other mental roadblocks are at least partially stemming from this instinctual urge to cling to life. And yet, by grasping at life I accomplish nothing – time rolls on and on and on. My yoga practice helps me to let go of that clinging, grasping nature, to be able to pause and reflect. It reminds me to be here fully with each breath in and to surrender on each exhale. Every pose, every breath is a great reminder to me to be present in the moment and stop worrying so much.

With that, here is my home practice sequence for today – my focus is on getting back to my practice today (I’m just getting over that nasty bug, so my asana was put to bed for a few days). Hope you can squeeze your practice in, too!

 Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog

Utthita Trikonasana – Extended Triangle Pose

Virabhadrasana I & II – Warrior Pose

Parsvottonasana – Intense Side Stretch Pose

Parivrtta Trikonasana – Revolved Triangle Pose

Sirsasana – Headstand

Sarvangasana – Shoulderstand (on chair)

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose (on bench)

Savasana – Corpse Pose

Celebrate Yoga Awareness Month!

Hi yogis!

We are about halfway through National Yoga Month and the good news is that there is still time for you to find studios giving away free yoga classes for new students, as well as some really cool events coming up, both of which you can search for on the Yoga Health Foundation website.

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As many of you know, I travel often for work and recently found this great article titled Om-ing in on the Best Hotels for Yoga - what better way to start your yoga practice than when you are on vacation or (even better) a work trip? Whether you are looking for a last minute getaway or something to look forward to in the coming months, the folks over at Gogobot put together a list of some great places to get your yoga on during National Yoga Month and beyond. From the Hotel Solamar in sunny, laid-back San Diego, California to Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa in sizzling hot Miami, Florida or the environmentally conscious James Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, they have sought out the best of the best across the country. If you have more great places to share, I would love to hear about them!

Yoga builds stronger ties with our loved ones, our communities, and our Earth. Share something you love with others – tell your friends and family about National Yoga Month!