Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ayurveda: Science of Life

Ayurveda is the fascinating and practical science that studies the world and how we can best come into harmony with this world. It is the sister-science of yoga. One of my teachers told me that to truly understand yoga, you must also have a working relationship with Ayurveda.

Ayurveda studies three basic qualities, called Doshas, which in their combination describe everything in the universe. To simplify, these qualities are: Vata, wind quality; pitta, fire quality; and kapha, earth quality. Just like everything in the universe, each person has a unique expression of these qualities called a prakruti.

Understanding your prakruti empowers you to negotiate the elements in your life in order to guide yourself toward radiant wellness for body, mind, and spirit. Have you ever wondered why you don't feel fantastic even though it seems like you are doing all the right things that should make you healthy and feeling great? Have you ever followed a popular diet or exercise regimen only to feel worse? Sometimes even the kind of yoga we practice makes us leave feeling off. Understanding your prakruti helps you to guide yourself toward specific types of life-practices that optimize your unique chemistry.

Excessive amounts of any dosha causes us imbalance. Understanding this and correcting imbalances, often by simple and practical means, puts us back on the path to balance. Ayurveda acknowledges that what may be health promoting for one person may be diminishing for another. I appreciate the idea that each person is different and therefore has a different avenue to wellness. Regarding anything that affects our health, be that medicine or food or yoga, Ayurveda always asks, "For whom, how much, when, and why."

Sometimes it takes an Ayurvedic practitioner, a trained guide, to help you figure out your prakruti and place yourself on a regimen that will guide you toward optimal wellness. With even a little understanding of Ayurveda and your prakruti, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to keep yourself feeling wonderful. With this understanding you will find the best food choices, sleeping, yoga and exercising patterns, and even scheduling, that will keep you feeling amazing.

This week, perhaps you can choose which yoga classes you attend based on what you feel like would balance you out the best. Feeling Kapha, (earth): sluggish, slow, or weighed down, or unclear? Try coming to a power class (classes listed on the left column of this email). Feeling Vata (wind): ungrounded, flighty, agitated, nervous? Try coming to one of the Restore classes. Feeling Pitta (fire): overheated by a project or feeling of expectation or perfection? Try balancing with a gentle class or Yoga For Stiffer Bodies, an active but balancing class. Use Auyrveda to direct your yoga choices.

Also, please consider learning more about this fascinating science by attending our workshop hosted by me and Sunny Rose on July 10, 11, and 12. Sunny will also be around to conduce private consultations for specific information about you.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Radical Simplification

When something isn't working in life, if you feel stuck with some sort of quandary, often the best remedy is radical simplification. Simplify to the point where our body, mind, and spirit can digest easily and clearly the task at hand. Simplification means choosing to release the unessential. Simplification means finding what for you is most essential, what makes you feel the most alive, then organizing your life to place your energy there. It means choosing what is superfluous and letting it go.

One mode of radical simplification is to connect back to our bodies through the grounding practice of yoga. In yoga things boil down to inhale and exhale, expansion and contraction, tension and release. And from that simple, most basic place, our awareness opens up and we see clearly from the vantage point of our True Self, that deceptively simple place of being.

While doing yoga this week, we'll practice simplifying by focusing on our breath. Breath is such a simple yet essential part of our practice. It is one of the secrets to find our True Self through the union of body, mind and spirit. As we focus on our breath and the simple practice of connecting to our body, my hope is that we leave class feeling freedom and clarity as well as a deeper understanding of what is essential in our lives. I hope to see you in class this week.

Outside of class, may I also invite your to consider ways in which you could simplify your life. Try sitting in meditation for 10 minutes every day this week and contemplate how to simplify life.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Holding Space

We don't need to change or be better than we are. We practice deep compassion as we extend this same privilege to other people and things around us and allow hem to simply be, especially those things that would easily turn our hearts bitter.

As we practice yoga and meditation, we cultivate and practice being. We also reduce the suffering knon as Dukkah, which would hold us back from experiencing our hightest self.

One act of holding space is allowing yourself to be wtih a person or thing and allow them to be just as they or it is. I'm thinking of a friend who is sick or experiencing something mentally or spriitually challenging. Simply being with that person and holding space for them, without the need to fix or change anything, just being, allows a deep compassion to exist between the two of you.

Another act of hodling space is the decisive act of making room in your heart for that which whould sooner cancer your heart with feelings and make your mind fester with "shoulds" and what-ifs." When you hold space for someone or something, you don't have to fall in love with this person or thing but you are simply offering compassion toward them or it by not becoming sour toward it. And by so doing, you ultimately offer your own heart and mind in the same compassion--the heart that flourishes when it feels abundance and love, not bitterness, and the mind that abounds when it is sheltered from shoulds and what-ifs."

Here are a few examples of holding space:

The NYC 4 Train: stopped en route causing me and my wife, Celeste, to miss our flight home.
Me: bought a NYC 4 Train T-Shirt--holding space for the 4 Train.

World: Just as it is.
Me: Accepting the world as it is.

Holding space is often the first part of forgiveness toward yourself and others.

This week, practice holding space for things that your either don't understand or which bother you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Daily Dose

We all deserve a moment in the day where we enter the timeless; we forget our job, our responsibilities, the persona that we've created for ourselves, and abide in the part of ourselves that feels the most real. It's coming home. It's not about escaping our lives. It's about everyday building a discipline of presence and awareness where we can enter back into the conversation of what is most real.

This conversation with what is most real depends on awareness--paying attention. There are many harvests in our lives, the opportunity to gather the richness of everyday miracles, and if we are not aware, these harvests will pass us by. The seasons changing, the seasons of our lives coming and going, the richness of sharing the lives of our children, are all examples of our different harvests. Without awareness, seasons come and go unaware. Without presence, we think we are living our lives but instead our lives are living us. We go on day by day simply perpetuating the daily "to do" list without ever getting the feeling like we are experiencing anything real. But with awareness, we can fully received the richness of the moment because we've apprenticed ourselves to see it. By practicing awareness it's not that our lives suddenly don a realness but now we open our eyes to see the beauty and realness that was there all along. With awareness, even our "to do" list will seem magical and inviting.

To find this realness requires radical grounding, some form of practice to which we can travel each day. Coming to yoga and moving into the practice-realm of our body and breath, this nuts-and-bolts portion of being, gives us passage into the chambers of the more ethereal parts of being, mind and heart. The combination or uniting of these different elements, body/mind/spirit, is yoga. Yoga isn't the only way to do this, meditation, poetry, music, running, Ben and Jerry's (that's right) or anything else that makes you fully aware of the moment and alive are all good ways to practice this sort of realness. With it's emphasis on breath and presence, the immediacy of our bodies sensation, yoga, however, is a particularly effective and calibrated method to help us develop and maintain our awareness--sort of a template whereby we can then base our life's events and decisions from.

Once we've grounded ourselves with our yoga practice and removed the peripheries, once we've practiced being in that space that is so real, we then go back into the conversation of our jobs, families, and relationships armed with that realness, with a quality of being that feels very authentic and very natural.

Then, having replenished the source (us) we can benefit those things that grow out of us instead of sapping them. A medicine man recently told me that if we refuse to take care of ourselves through practices like yoga, we end up becoming a burdening rather than helping those things that depend on us.

Come to yoga and get your daily dose of this essential and vital part of you.