Monday, May 24, 2010

Radical Simplification

When something isn't working in our life, often the best remedy is a radical simplification. Simplify to the point where our bodies, mind, and spirit can digest easily and clearly the task at hand. Simplification means choosing to release the unessential, those things that cling to our lives like barnacles. Simplification means organizing your life to focus on that which is most essential, that which makes you feel the most alive, and then putting your energy there.

One mode of radical simplification is to connect back to our bodies through the grounding practice of yoga. Here, everything is boiled down to inhale and exhale, expansion and contraction. Here, everything seems to make sense. Here is where we practice the art of simplification. And from that simple, most basic place we manage our lives in a way that really works for us.

While doing asana (poses) this week, we will focus on our breath. This is such a simple but essential part of our practice. It is one of the secrets to what we are trying to achieve in our yoga practice, this discovery of 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 what is essential.

I hope to see you in class this week.
By the way, Yoga Nidra (see below) is a great way to practice radical simplification.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shakti to the System

In non-duelist thought, everything has an equal counterpart that ultimately balances the universe into one balanced state. The symbol of yin and yang is a perfect example of this: each side is not only balanced by the opposite of the other, but more poignantly, the essence of one is located in the heart of the other represented by the black circle in the white space, and the white circle in the black space.

Balancing out the masculine energy of light and spirit, in yoga philosophy the energy of Shiva, is the creative and dynamic female energy of Shakti. According to this model of yogic philosophy, while the masculine energy is contemplative and spiritual, the female energy, however, is determined to do something about it-to dance and celebrate that spirit into form. It should be noted that despite our gender we all have energies and traits that are both masculine and feminine. Therefore, Shakti could be described as the spirit producing action. I’m guessing that we’ve all experienced this feeling of Shakti sometime or other when we’ve been inspired to action.

When we express this Shakti, we feel powerful and creative, we breathe and we move. This feeling of Shakti is very empowering. It is the defining action that changes worry into something productive. After all, as one of my teachers, Judith Lasater taught me, “What is worrying but praying for what you don’t want.” Not only worry, though. Shakti tells the Universe that you are serious by putting action to your resolve. Even if our answers to our doubt or what is moving in those subtle realms of thought and spirit isn’t immediately available, by expressing this Shakti, we’ve open up a channel whereby more spirit and clarity can shine through. Sometimes it takes physical motion, a little re-arranging of the furniture, to realize the bigger changes that you’d like to see. Besides, it’s fun! Fun is exactly this: motion on spirit.

I’d like to invite you to familiarize yourself with this feeling of Shakti. My mode to become familiar with this is by first drawing in through breathwork and meditation to identify spirit. Then using asana, we’ll explore a way to celebrate that spirit that will be fun and challenging. We’ll breathe, move, and sweat. Once we’ve been reminded of our higher selves through this practice of yoga, I invite you to apply the added spirit you will feel into the vital elements of your practice of everyday living, your relationships and work.

I invite you to join me and Jami Larsen this Sunday as we explore this concept in a fun and sweaty workshop at Sugar Space. See details below.

See you in class.