Aparigraha

Before you become a yoga teacher, you go through this process called “Yoga Teacher Training”, in which you learn how to pass along the yoga asana lineage, how to give assists and modifications, finding your dharma, and you learn about yogic philosophy and the many tenets involved.  It’s all quite overwhelming and really, by the time you leave, you don’t REALLY understand a damned thing.  Okay, you understand a little.  🙂  I think most of the learning is done after you are left to your own devices.  Yes, I am running amok, making mistakes and learning life’s lessons— all the while I am teaching YOU about yoga; ironic… I know.

You see, as a teacher, it is my hope that I can pass along my journey and my mistakes and maybe you can learn from them.  You can take what you want and leave behind what doesn’t serve you.  Really, that is what life is all about; taking what you want/need and leaving behind what you don’t.  The problem with leaving behind what you don’t need, is that it requires this nasty little thing called “Aparigraha”.  Aparigraha is one of the five yamas in yoga and it means non-attachment.

Most of us are hoarders.  We may not be the old lady with 12 cats and a house full of magazines and boxes, but if you look closely at your life, I bet you too are a hoarder.  Do you have a closet full of clothes you NEVER wear?  Do you keep ties with “friends” that aren’t good for you?  Or, how about that Facebook friends list; do you actually talk to those 512 friends?  Do you have a basement or attic full of boxes that you aren’t even sure what’s in them?  Or maybe you know what’s in them, but just haven’t used them in years?  Do you have knickknacks or books lying around your house that really serve no purpose?  Maybe they used to bring you enjoyment, but now they don’t.  Do you have toys your kids have outgrown, but have failed to pass along to someone else?  How about your pantry or fridge?  Do you have food you bought and never ate?  Are there any cans past their expiration date?  Do you hold on to grudges when someone slights you or does you wrong?  Do you hold fast to routines and hate to modify your schedule?

These questions aren’t meant to pass judgement on anyone, just thoughts for you to ponder over.  As I mentioned before, we all hoard in one way or another.  Some hoarding habits are healthier than others and it is up to you to decide if your habits are “healthy” or not.  Maybe it is time to let go of something permanently, or perhaps a short break or detox is in order instead.  Sometimes, all that’s required is a mixing up of your schedule to spice up your life!  Life is all about decisions.  There are no good or bad decisions; there are just decisions.  The problem is, you have to be willing to live with the outcome that comes with it.

For me, the one thing I constantly struggle with is my physical wellbeing.  I have chronic migraines and I often feel like rubbish.  I often have a struggle as to whether I want to get on my mat or not.  More often that not, the pain and fatigue wins.  It doesn’t help that I am gone for 12 hours a day for work either.  With that said, I do practice mentally a lot and I do pranayama often.  There are times where I may often just do a couple poses.  Yoga is the one thing I refuse to give up.  I cannot give it up; it keeps me sane and healthy.  It helps relieve my stress and tension and helps manage my migraines.

So…. what about this whole hoarding thing?  Is this a bad habit?  Should I practice non attachment and let this go?  Absolutely not.  What aparigraha means is that I need to honor my body.  It means that when I need rest, I need to take it.  It means that when life comes up, I need to accept that life happens.  It means that when I don’t get on my mat, I shouldn’t beat myself up and feel like shit about it.  I’ve been there before.  I did that all through my YTT and it got me nowhere fast (except feeling like a shitty yogini).  There are times where I wish I had a more diligent practice and I wish I could progress faster than I am, but it is what it is.  THAT is non-attachment, my friend.  When you can look life in the face and accept the things that you cannot change, then you are practicing aparigraha.  That is when santosha (contentment) begins to envelope you and a whole new realm opens up.

Personally, I like the feeling of contentment, so I am going to keep this practice going.  It’s an attachment I can live with.  I enjoy my practice immensely, as it is a gateway drug to self discovery.  One which I learn more and more about myself, as well as the world around me.  I thoroughly enjoy teaching and I am fond of my tribe that shows up and I love the devotion they have for their practice.  Honestly, I can’t think of anything better than standing in front of a bunch of sweaty yogis, hearts all open, all divine beings.

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The Dragonfly

As summer fades away and autumn makes its stand, I sit here shivering, wishing for the longer days and the warmer weather once more.  I find myself busier than ever and like the leaves, my life too is changing; I can only hope for the better.  A few months ago, I was sitting outside, basking in the sun (waiting for my shih tzu to go “potty”) when a lovely dragonfly landed upon my forearm.  I was captivated by its beauty.  Long, slender, iridescent wings, that shimmered and glistened in the sun, attached to a thin black body.  It stayed but a moment and buzzed off.  In that brief encounter, it changed my entire mood.  I was ecstatic that nature took a moment to say hello, as I often neglect to say hello to it.  A few moments later, the same dragonfly came back to land once more on my forearm.  Are you kidding me!?!  I completely froze, not wanting to scare it off.  This time, it lingered a while longer.

I stared at it, as if it held all of life’s answers; pondered about what the encounter might mean.  Was my Granny saying hello from above?  Was this a sign telling me to slow down and enjoy life? In the end, it flew away before it relinquished its answers, leaving me yearning for knowledge, but with a sense of peace. With nothing left to do, I decided to take my little dog inside.

Curiosity got the best of me; I couldn’t leave well enough alone.  The first thing I did was search the internet.  My first search was the significance of the dragonfly.  It turns out that the dragonfly is indicative of change in ones life.  Okay… I can go with that one.  I recently started a new job and I am going to be doing a lot (and I mean A LOT) of traveling soon.  I also just started teaching yoga at a new location and supposedly, I’ll be teaching at another location once it opens up.

Dragonflies also are indicative of transformation.  Am I going through a transformation?  That I’m not quite so certain of.  Maybe I am.  I feel like I am struggling to find my way.  At times, I feel as if I am “on the path” and I know exactly where I am going and then, somehow… I get lost.  For instance, I was saving up to go to India and I had this plan all hatched out in my head that would ultimately get me to being an ashtanga yoga teacher.

I was practicing Ashtanga regularly, getting oversight by amazing teachers, teaching, saving, etc.  Now, I have this new job (which I wanted, btw) and I am gone from 6 am to at least 6 pm M-F.  I am sad to say that by the time I get home I am not motivated or energized enough to practice.  :/  My weekends are just as busy, I’m a yoga instructor and I am currently teaching both Saturday and Sunday.  My practice is sorely lacking and I can hardly find time to make it to the shala.  Pretty soon, I will be traveling back and forth to Nigeria and all of those things will fall apart.  All of my money I had saved to go to India I spent so my husband could go to Nigeria with me next month.

As of now, I am lost.  I can no longer see the path.  I am certain that there IS a path and I am certain that I will find it once more, I just don’t know when or how.  That is scary.  Maybe this is my transformation.  I believe that every once and a while you have these struggles, these little tests.  Sometimes you still end up at the same final destination as you planned.  Other times, the wind catches your sails and blows you in another direction entirely.  You have to ride it out and then get your bearings.  That is kind of what is happening to me now.  I let out my sails, thinking I would sail headlong into the sunset, yet a strong wind came and now I’m being blown off course.

The destination I was headed is fading further from my sight and my frustration is rising.  I am just about at the point of surrender though.  I am pretty sure that there is something better in store for me.  Maybe what I thought was meant for me WASN’T.  Maybe it wasn’t meant for me NOW.  Maybe it WAS meant for me, but something changed.  All I know is that if I keep my sights set on the destination that I wanted to go in, I’m not going to see where I am actually going.  Would you drive a car looking constantly in the rearview mirror or out the right window?  I’m headed for a crash if I keep looking anywhere but forward.  It is time that I change the direction I am looking.  It is time that I let go and transform my life into whatever it is meant to be NOW.

Here’s to the dragonfly that twice landed on me this summer.


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Message From Above

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I meditate, but I wouldn’t say I am diligent about it. I go back and forth between having a regular practice and then going weeks without sitting at all. I should sit more. I can tell it makes a difference. I’m more calm; centered. A while ago, while sitting, I received a message out of the blue. I don’t normally receive messages while meditating. Who this message was from, I don’t know. Maybe God spoke to me, or maybe I was finally at peace enough to listen to my heart. Either way, the message was abundantly clear and concise.

“Start an Ashtanga yoga practice, go to India and train, and teach Ashtanga.” Wow. That’s a tall order. I don’t currently practice ashtanga, but I do practice yoga. I have my 200 RYT and have been teaching for almost a year. I have taken a couple ashtanga classes, but I’ve never considered taking up an ashtanga practice, so this “message” really threw me for a loop.

I thought about it for a while and the more I thought about it, the more passionate I became. I finally looked up Ashtanga schools in Delaware and…. well, there aren’t any.  Now what? I expanded my search and found an ashtanga shala in Philadelphia.  That’s 80 miles round trip for a class.  ::sigh:: Is it worth it?

I waved it off and downloaded Kino MacGregor’s Primary series on Cody and started that. That’s good enough for a while, right? I really enjoyed it; so much so I signed up for one of her workshops this summer in North Carolina!! I cannot wait!

I could feel myself getting sucked in. I started researching India again and I could feel the pull. “Mysore. Mysore. Mysore!” I need to have time with a certified/authorized teacher in order to train with Sharath, and AYS will give me that opportunity. I kept thinking about it more and more and I decided this is my path. If I’m willing to travel to NC for a workshop and go to India for yoga, I should be willing to go to Philly, right?

After a talk and an argument with my husband, I finally paid for the May “Ashtanga Yoga for Beginners” course at AYS. I don’t know for certain what will happen after that. I’ll take one step at a time, but I’m thinking I’ll most likely have more of an Ashtanga home practice with an occasional trip to the shala to check in. I’ll just have to make sure I’m diligent.

Starting this coming Monday, my Ashtanga journey begins and I couldn’t be more anxious and excited! I’ll be driving up to Philly four days a week after work, so it will make for a long day, but it will be worth it.

I’m optimistic and feeling good about beginning this new chapter in my life and I can’t wait to see where it takes me! I’m certain I’ve made the right decision. My dreams are only confirming it.

Thank you for the message and for setting me on an unexpected journey.


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*  The Dragonfly