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!

Letting Go

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Over the past two years, I have been caught in the midst of some very serious family drama. Despite my desire to retire immediately to a secluded island in the Pacific, I was obliged to continue to deal with normal day-to-day issues – how to pay the bills without giving up on my dreams, how to fit in my (almost daily) yoga practice and still be productive at work, how to be true to my needs and yet continue to be present for my friends and family, how to (occasionally) eat delicious foods without getting a tummy ache… I think you get the idea.

In order to deal with the familial quagmire, I needed to speak to people I had not spoken to in years. This was not easy for me. I had to do some serious soul-searching in order to approach them with equanimity. Fortunately, this situation made me discover that I could do without the anger and resentment I had been traveling with for so many years. I no longer wanted to be a victim. I decided to allow myself to forgive the past for not living up to my expectation of how it should have been. I appealed to myself to acknowledge that we all make mistakes, myself included. I realized sometimes you need to give up what you have been holding on to in order to begin anew. I would never have been able to do this without yoga.

My friends can tell you that I believe in the healing powers of yoga, but most of them probably could not tell you why. I am writing this now, because I want to explain that I see yoga as a very practical route to resolving conflict within ourselves and, in turn, the world we live in.

We are intrinsically a part of the fabric of our families, our communities, our nations, our Earth. We must somehow learn how to navigate the waters of life. This is where yoga comes in for me. Through the first limb of yama as discussed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, we are taught how to be better citizens of this world. These precepts teach us how to be constructive and compassionate by letting go of violence, dishonesty, theft, indulgence and greed. Niyama, the second limb, reinforces the first by advising purity, contentment, self-study, self-control and surrender. The yogic practice of asana or posture follows the yama and niyama in the eight limbs of astanga yoga. This is not by mistake. Though we place much emphasis on the physical practice in the West and many of us confuse the practice of asana with the broader path of yoga, the postures alone do not lead to transformation.

Friends, my practice is not just a series of physical exercises, but a journey of discovery of my true Self. I may need to be a part of society (not all of us can run away to the hills to meditate on the nature of existence), but I can do so mindfully, with humility and acceptance of what is and what is to be. When observing my actions (and reactions) more holistically, my practice of yoga then becomes a process of letting go – a release of old habits, of ego, of expectation, of non-acceptance. It takes on a new form that helps me to face life in new, more productive ways. It helps me to be free.

 

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