When the universe is trying to say something, I do my best to listen. The universe speaks all the time and the listening part is what’s difficult. Recently, I have been repeatedly receiving the messages of acceptance and gratitude. Acceptance and gratitude are showing up in books I read, while teaching and taking yoga classes, in discussions with other people - these ideas keep finding their place into my world.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the past year has been a time filled with transition, waiting, and preparing for the future. It has been a challenge to live in the present moment, practice patience, and not live for what is yet to come. Since moving to Sweden two months ago, I have worked hard to get my career going and find a place for myself in the Stockholm yoga community. While two months is not such a long time to adjust to living in a new culture, start a new career in an unfamiliar city, learn a foreign language, and try to advance my yoga and spiritual practice, my mind tells me that I should be further along in the process. I should be working more, understanding Swedish better - my ego is trying to tell me that my current state is simply not good enough.
Yoga teaches us to accept where we are now and to not listen to the anxiety about the future that the ego chatters about constantly. The goal of a yoga practice is not to put your foot behind your head or pop up into a perfect handstand every time. Yoga is acceptance of our current state of being, our current physical practice, or stage of meditation, and to enjoy the ride wherever it takes us. Yoga teaches us not to practice inversions so that we can post great looking photos on social media but to practice inversions for the sake of the practice, the journey. Challenging ourselves to see how our egos, our minds, and our hearts respond to that challenge and learning from the experience. There is no ideal state of mind nor a perfect, advanced yoga posture.
As Westerners, we have been taught that goals are the stuff of success and advancement and, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. It is helpful and healthy to have milestones in life that create cause for celebration once reached. However, the trouble lies in not being satisfied with where we are now while, at the same time, looking at a future goal. Often, once we achieve that goal or milestone we are no happier than we were before. Instead, we are only aiming at different goals and future ambitions and the ‘new’ becomes ‘old’ all too quickly. It wasn’t that long ago that my focus and ambition was to live in Stockholm with Peppe and Pablo, teaching yoga. Well, here I am and my mind is only telling me to want more - that this is not good enough. Again, it is fine to want more just as long as we can accept where we are now! It is time for us to turn off our egos, our Beta brainwaves, and start listening to the heart, to what the universe is trying to tell us. Set goals, work hard to reach those goals but do not sacrifice the beauty of accepting where we are right now for the anxiety and worry of reaching some future accomplishment.
A big part of accepting our current state of being, is practicing gratitude for all that we have right now. What comes first, the acceptance or the gratitude? Maybe they both arrive together, carpooling into our consciousness at the same time. After all, how can we feel, really feel, gratitude for what we have without accepting our current state? And vice versa - by finding acceptance, we then become grateful for all that we have in the present moment! It is a beautiful cycle.
Lululemon has created the Fuel Happiness campaign which consists of weekly themes to inspire happiness and joy in every day life. Last week, when I taught a community class there, the theme was gratitude (coincidence?! I think not!). At the end of the practice, I lead the group in a simple gratitude meditation that I would love to share with you all now. This is something that you can do commuting on your way to work, standing in line at the grocery store, or laying in Savasana when your mind just wants something to do. Focusing on the breath, take a long, slow, deep inhale through the nose and then gently let it go. After 2-3 deep rounds of breath like this, on your next exhale mentally repeat, “I am grateful for” and on your inhale, mentally say something that you are grateful for in your life right now. It does not have to be something grand, or something unique to you or your life - it can be something as simple as giving thanks to the sun, the moon, the warm sweater you’re wearing, etc. This meditation always leaves me feeling lighter, with my heart more joyful. May we accept where we are in life right now and be grateful for all that we are and all that we have.
And Happy Holidays!!
I could feel a tickle in my nose and tears threaten to prick my eyes - criticism is always difficult to hear. As a newer teacher, I take feedback to heart and I want to hear it, it’s information that can serve to improve my classes thus helping my students, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to digest. Each class is new and different and equally as scary as the last. I put everything I have into teaching and sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn’t - and it sucks when it doesn’t. All of my training has come from the same studio in the same city, so it is fairly specifically stylized. When I think of my time at Pure Yoga I am filled with intense fondness and nostalgia for the community of supportive teachers and fellow teachers-in-training - it is my home and my yoga 'normal'. Perhaps NYC had an even greater effect on my training than first assumed - a city filled with yogis who want their classes delivered in a package complete with intense physical movement, inspiring philosophical nuggets, all in tune with the perfect playlist. My 200-hour training enabled me to teach a flowy, energetic, Vinyasa-style class and I went on to focus in on additional trainings in Yin, Yoga Nidra, Meditation, and Ayurveda. That is the yoga that I love and that I practice on my own mat - it feels the most authentic to me.
I am in the middle of attempting to bring my NYC-style of training to the Stockholm yoga market. I have had some missteps and it has been an ego-checking, trial by fire, ongoing, learning process. I am also subbing classes for the first time which presents an entire new set of difficulties. As a student, I understand that your heart sinks a little when you do not get the teacher you expected to lead you through your regularly scheduled program - the subbing teacher is immediately and easily compared to another person's voice and style. To overly generalize, yoga in Stockholm is slower paced, with mellow music, and soft voices. It is so different from what I am used to expecting from my favorite studios in NYC - Pure Yoga and Laughing Lotus mainly. How do I conform to this new style of yoga without completely changing who I am as a teacher?
I spent most of Friday night fighting back tears (some moments were more successful than others) wondering what the hell I am doing here, in a foreign country, trying to teach yoga. In my head, I was racing through each class I taught recently wondering if everything I thought I had done well had been totally off the mark. Was my voice and my tone completely wrong? Were the sequences too fast? Should I delete that hip-hop song from my playlist? Once I realized this ego-driven, self-bashing party I was having for myself, I only started to feel worse -- I was dissolving into the kind of behavior that yoga and meditation strives so hard to distance us from. I felt like a yoga fraud.
After some time, distance, and long conversations with Peppe and then my family, my confidence has started to slowly trickle back in. I believe in the yoga and I still have the desire to want to share the love and inspiration that I have received through the practice to other people. Teaching abroad has been harder in ways that I didn’t foresee and I am still struggling to find my place as a teacher in Stockholm, and I imagine I will for some time, but I am willing to fight the good fight. It’s hard, it isn’t always pretty, and it is quite often awkward - but it is so, very worth it.
We made it! We made it to Stockholm, finally! During the past year while waiting for my Visa to come through I left my job as a recruiter, gave up our apartment in Manhattan, moved home to Richmond for a month, then moved to Stockholm for almost three months, moved back to NYC to a corporate apartment in Midtown, started working part-time at my former company, taught yoga classes and took over 200-hours of yoga training, moved to another corporate apartment in Midtown, then moved back to Richmond, and last Friday arrived in a corporate apartment here in Stockholm. But wait, there's more! We are moving to another, and then potentially another corporate apartment in Stockholm before hopefully, finally buying our own home in the Spring of 2016.
For the past year, I have been anticipating the arrival of my Visa, nervous about flying across the ocean with my 10-year old dog, and excited about starting my life in a foreign country. Now that we are actually here (and Pablo did great on the journey over!), I am waiting to receive my Personal Number so that I can get a paying job, enroll in language classes, receive healthcare, and pay taxes (woo!). It seems like my life has been in a perpetual state of waiting for as long as I can remember.
While I was fortunate enough to teach yoga and even be hired back part-time at my former company in NYC, I have not been able to commit to any sort of 'career move' because of my recent gypsy lifestyle. One of the reasons I was so amped about moving and receiving my Visa is that I could finally start making career decisions - I can insert myself as a real potential long-term, full-time, yoga teacher! Well, after I receive my Personal Number in 4-6 weeks.
All of this moving, transition, waiting, has been tough. One afternoon in NYC, I was listening to Magic Lessons - a Podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love) and her message was spot on. She was speaking about how many of us, at one time or another, are waiting for some future event to happen - whether it be tangible or not. We wait until we lose 10 pounds, until we make enough money to finally be happy, until we quit that job and start pursuing our passion, until we get married so we can finally feel settled -- you get the picture. While we are doing all of that waiting and telling ourselves "when" and "until then", life is whirling by us. Even Ferris Bueller knows that, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Bueller was on to something and for me, keeping a regular yoga and meditation practice helps the body and mind stay in the present moment. This moment, right now, is the only thing that is real - the future is made of dreams and the past of memories.
Recently, after a long walk with Pablo and a short meditation session, I pulled out my Medicine Cards for a bit of inspiration and insight. I decided to draw a the Moon Lodge Spread which "is a mirror of your own personal unconscious" (if this is getting too out-there for you just stay with me, I promise!). The final, "central' card that I drew indicated 'the power shield of the True Self...the card of the circle of knowing the Within, the taproot of your personal consciousness" - sounds pretty deep, right? I drew the Ant - which I thought was a little underwhelming at first but Ant was just what I needed! The card description goes on to say that, "if Ant meandered into your spread today, it is time to show a little trust and patience in some life situation. You may have forgotten that you will always receive that which you need, at the time you need it most. If it is not on the horizon or just around the next anthill, you may need to use some strategy. How can you put to use your power of creation until "it" arrives - whatever "it" means to you at this time?"
Right on, little ant! Sometimes, the most subtle medicine is indeed the most powerful.
I would not identify myself as a 'kid person' (and if you know me - you would probably agree). Now, this has definitely shifted over the past two and a half years as I have gotten to know my amazing nieces Charlotte and (more recently!) Emma. I love Charlotte and Emma to the moon and back and believe they are the most amazing human beings on this earth - but other kids? Meh. Just not my thing.
So to my surprise, I found myself eagerly signing up for a volunteer opportunity to teach yoga and mindfulness to 4th and 1st graders at a summer school program in the Lower East Side. I have a burning desire to be able to spread my passion for yoga and have been trying to turn this passion into a career. I struggle with how to shape my career as a yoga teacher and how to veer away from being a personal trainer or an aerobics teacher and put the yoga into my classes (not that those are easy or 'less' jobs at all - that is just not my goal). I want to be able to not only teach in the typical studio environment but also to share yoga with people who may need it, can gain value from it, but may not have access to it or simply do not think that it is for them.
I hope to be able to share the yoga philosophy of acceptance of body and of self with everyone who practices and especially with the younger population. A demographic that is just starting to understand their body and themselves as an individual and make judgements about the self and others. Yoga teaches us that we are not our body, we are not our mind, we are something separate - our true self, the Atma, is limitless and pure. We can control our thoughts and we can control our physical bodies, therefore we have the power to make this life a very positive experience - or a negative one.
As a taller than average woman, I was what felt like an Amazon as a teenager. I wore a size 6 when all of my friends size 0 jean skirts were barely hanging on to their hips. I was bigger than all of my friends and felt awkward in my body for a long time. I longed for a boyish figure with a flat chest and narrow hips; to feel cute and petite instead of tall and gangly. Alas, this did not happen and it was never going to happen. Through my years in a yoga practice I have been able to better accept and understand my body for what it is and how it serves me. Every body is perfect and every body is beautiful - a fact that pop culture seems to refuse to let us believe. Yoga makes your body strong, it gives you a soft, gentle yet steady and determined focus, and there are yogis and yoginis of all shapes and sizes doing amazing things in the world.
Okay, so I didn't get across most of these thoughts in my first hour this morning of teaching a gaggle of 9-10 year olds - but that is fine. My job is not to preach acceptance and self-love to any open ears. My goal is to present the yoga philosophy and the ideas of what it means to be a yogi and maybe one day, one child will remember those yoga classes they took in the summer of 2015 and take the next step themselves.
Teaching yoga to kids is something I never saw myself doing, much less enjoying. But I put myself (way) out of my comfort zone and it was an awesome experience.
It seems that discussions of gender and gender identity are popping up everywhere these days. From Bruce Jenner to this J.Crew ad, things are definitely being shaken up a bit in how society views 'man' and 'woman'. As part of my mentorship with Kate, I recently read the book Nawa Yogini Tantra by Swami Muktananda where she discusses gender identity and stereotyping from a yogini perspective. According to Swami Muktananada, men and women are not very different at all and it is these norms that society places on us by how we define ourselves and our gender identity.
It becomes difficult to sometimes tell the difference between my own thoughts and feelings about being a woman versus ones that are cultural norms that I have merely taken on as my own. For my entire life, I have been in female dominated environments. I am one of two sisters, I went to an all girls school for 13 years, my college had a ratio of about 2 females for every male, I worked in an all female corporate environment for close to three years, and my sister just had her second of two girls - my world is a girl's world. Because I grew up in such a female dominated environment I was able to learn what 'being female' means from a number of strong women in my life (and I am not saying that I didn't have very open-minded, strong male role models as well - because I did!). I was never told to not play in the dirt or that boys are better at math (I am bad at math all by myself) or that girls should be quiet and reserved. The people directly around me (my parents, teachers, my friend's parents, etc.) told me that I could do and achieve anything that I set my mind to. Boys weren't in the equation all that much because frankly, they were never really around.
While I was being told by the adults closest to me that my gender was a non-issue, what are we being told by society at large and what factors influence us that are a bit more under the surface? Growing up, I knew zero stay-at-home dads (today in Sweden it is almost just as common for a father to stay at home with young children as for the mother!), I placed an enormous amount of anxiety and thought into my physical appearance, I was poked fun of for having messy handwriting (which I was told resembled a boy's), and I looked to movies and tv for my view of women in their 20's and early 30's (of which I personally knew slim to none at the time). In addition, I was taller than most of the boys and was painfully aware of the fact that I could not be the petite, blushing violet that I thought I was supposed to be. Despite my immediate environment trying its best to banish specific gender roles from my education and upbringing, those stereotypes were still prevalent.
The problem with these prescribed gender norms is that separate is not equal (surprised?!). While girls are told by society to be the princess, the damsel in distress, boys are told to be the superhero, the adventuresome cowboy. Swami Muktananda states that, "because people learn during their formative years to suppress any behaviour that might be considered undesirable or inappropriate for their sex, it would seem obvious that sex-typing restricts behavior". These restrictions follow us through childhood, into the teen angst years, and into how we choose suitable careers, date, and settle on a life partner. According to Swami Muktananda, freedom from these gender stereotypes and restrictions "greatly expands the range of behaviour open to everyone, thus enabling people to cope more efficiently with diverse situations. The most effective and happy individuals are those who have developed the masculine and feminine sides of themselves, for to deny is to mutilate or deform".
Through the study of yoga one can learn how there are aspects masculine and feminine in each and every one of us. As Swami Muktananda states, "this union of Shiva and Shakti, the union of male and female in one body, is regarded by yogis as the highest state of our existence: the transcendence of petty differences in an ecstatic state of true humanity". Shiva and Shakti, Pingala and Ida, Yang and Yin, are just a few examples of male and female that come up in the yoga tradition. In addition to the symbols, history, and tradition that yoga provides regarding the masculine and the feminine, yoga also allows a person a safe space to explore what it all means to him or her. Yoga teaches us that we are perfect just as we are and it gives no regard to society's views of what it means to be a male or a female. It breaks the stereotype and gives us a new mold to fill - to be one, unique, eternally perfect individual.
Wow - what a week! The weather is actually warming up (we had our first picnic of the year yesterday!), I taught my first yoga class at Pure on Saturday, went to my first yoga trance dance (if you have never tried this - you should!) , reconnected with friends and colleagues, and travelled to DC to await my new niece's arrival and have my Visa interview on Tuesday. It has been quite an eventful week filled with love, reaching milestones and goals, and travel!
Whenever life gets crazy and is moving a hundred miles an hour, it is important to stay open to change with an easy mind and heart. Today's asana is Anahatasana, an accessible heart opener that also stretches the shoulders, upper and middle back. Anahatasana, a yin pose, should be held for three to five minutes. The posture slowly and gently opens the front and back of the heart and corresponds with the anahata chakra.
The yogis believe that there are nadis, or channels, that flow along the spine and chakras are formed where these channels meet and create a whirlpool or a wheel. Just as our capacity for love is infinite, so is the anahata chakra which is found at the center of the body at the heart. This divine and infinite love can be seen everywhere in the world if we have our hearts open to finding it. It is beautiful to see this kind of love manifest itself in my sister and her husband in their care for their daughter and in the mindful preparation for their second born (who we will be welcoming any day!). Activating the heart chakra through asana promotes the growth of compassion, unconditional love, and deeper connection in relationships. Spread the love, yogis! <3
To get into the pose, start on all fours and walk the hands forward allowing the chest to drop toward the floor. Keep the hips above the knees and point the sitbones back. Keep hands shoulder-width apart. You can place a bolster under the belly along the spine or under the elbows. If the arms start to tingle, move the elbows further apart. If the knees are complaining, place a blanket under them.
It has been four months since the new year and since many of us made the usual new year's resolution. I think my resolution was to dust more? I am not sure if I can quantify the success of that one though because I have yet to live in one place long enough for dust to actually accumulate. So, we can call it a win-win for now:) But how many times have we made resolutions or promises to ourselves that we break sooner or later. Gym memberships spike in January, everyone goes on a health kick, or gives up a bad habit only to soon forgot all about the resolution and fall back into old ways. So, why do we even make these seemingly empty promises? We believe that once we stop smoking, lose ten pounds, get six-pack abs then we will be happy. These resolutions indicate that we are not whole, perfect beings just as we are.
The yogis believe that we already are complete beings and we need to connect mind, body, and spirit in order to fulfill our life's goals and find happiness. That is where a sankalpa can help. A sankalpa is a resolution of sorts but comes from deep within as a way of connecting us to our true self and calling (or dharma). We already have the necessary ingredients to make our sankalpa into reality - it is not ego driven but rather connects us to our deeper purpose. A sankalpa can be something to achieve today or a long-term life goal. For example, I help my partner with the laundry is direct, clear, and can be done today. I am present and full of peace is a sankalpa that can be applied over a lifetime and in many different situations. A sankalpa should be a positive statement that is in the present-tense, as if you are already acting out on that goal.
Repeating a daily and a long-term sankalpa during meditation and throughout the day can help us stay focused on how we want to live our life and its true purpose. Without having the ego involved, the sankalpa is driven with compassion and self-love.
In a piece found on themeditationcenter.org, Swami Veda Bharati is quoted from his article "Mind, Economics and Anxieties" in Life Positive Magazine. In the article, Swami Veda gives seven steps to creating and activating a sankalpa:
1) Count your breaths for a few minutes (there is an art to it that you need to learn);
2) Let the mind thereby become totally calm, soothed, wrinkle-free, a chamber of silence and stillness;
3) Then send a quiet, yes, very quiet, message to the forces of the subtle world;
4) Having done so, leave it there, surrender it to the forces, to the divine will, and do not struggle.
5) You may repeat this process daily.
6) You will begin to sense what your course of action should be. You will find yourself taking that course of action. The ‘forces’ will send you unexpected helpers and help from unknown sources.
7) Stay calm all the way through: an observer, not a doer.
Next time you find yourself in a meditation, create your own daily or long-term sankalpa and mentally repeat it to yourself three times. As Swami Veda Bharati says, this process can be repeated daily!
Happy meditating, yogis!
It's a travel day for me today! We were a big bag of mixed emotions as we left Stockholm early this morning to return to NYC for the next three months. Knowing that Peppe will be by my side during all of the upcoming changes keeps me feeling settled - wherever we are together, is home. We had a fun, productive, challenging, and fulfilling past few months in Sweden and I am feeling more and more comfortable there and like I can call it home.
Today's asana is a restorative pose that is great when traveling called Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani). In this posture, we lay on our back, sit bones as close to the wall as is comfortable, with (you guessed it!) our legs up the wall. Viparita Karani is remarkably grounding while also giving many of the benefits of an inversion, like handstand, but without expelling a ton of energy. Having the feet elevated allows gravity to move fluids in the legs which can be helpful before and after travel when we are sitting on a plane all day.
Thankfully, we had a safe and mostly uneventful trip across the Atlantic. After we got a bit settled in our new digs on East 59th, we happily discovered the Whole Foods around the corner where I stocked up on organic produce and all-natural bath and aromatherapy essentials. I enjoyed a soak in some lavender bath salts and then rolled my mat out, made my ginger tea, and put my feet up the wall. It felt so fantastic after the long day of travel. Now we are looking forward to an early bedtime to wake up feeling fresh again tomorrow!
Start sitting with your right hip as close to the wall as possible. Then shift both hips towards the wall and swing your legs up in one motion. Play with your distance from the wall - there should still be a natural curve in the spine. Sometimes it can feel nice to place a blanket or even a bolster under the sit bones.
Stockholm is gearing up for the long Easter weekend (many offices and businesses closed at noon today and do not open again until Tuesday!) and welcoming Spring with open arms. I have been thinking about new beginnings, detoxing, and Spring-cleaning all week and I feel that Mother Nature is on my wavelength as well. It snowed last night, covering the ground outside of our window in a soft haze of white that melted away with the warm, bright sun by the afternoon. Out with the old and in with the new!
Each morning we wake up to a new day, a new opportunity to live the life we want. Mornings can be a peaceful, energizing, and harmonious time or it can be stressful, rushed, and frenzied. We set the tone for our day from the moment we wake up and it is important to have a vibrant routine to get you out of the door smiling. Today´s Mindful Thursday series is all about the incredibly important morning routine and some tips on how we can start our days off feeling present, happy, and healthy.
First, wake up a little earlier. Just an extra 15-20 minutes can help get your day started right. To add to that time, prepare for your morning the night before. I like to drink warm ginger tea with lemon, turmeric, and a few drops of organic honey. So, the night before I make sure that my electric water boiler is full and I have fresh lemons and ginger cut and ready to go (no need to wield a knife before coffee). When I was in the corporate world and had a client meeting the next day, I would lay out my outfit the night before so that I wouldn’t have that crazed feeling of trying to find something to wear in the morning. Little things lead to bigger things that make all the difference!
Okay, so what is the first thing that so many of us do the second we open our eyes? Grab our phones and start scrolling through emails, texts, and social media. For most of us, our alarms are on our phones so we can seamlessly turn the alarm off and then flick over to Facebook. We must stop doing this. It is an ongoing struggle for me to not look through my phone first thing in the morning but that is not how I really want to start my day. Just as I am waking up, does my brain need to be absorbed in what my friend from camp 15 years ago did last night? No – it does not. If I do have the luxury of staying in bed for a few minutes after my alarm goes off, I try to reach for an inspirational book instead. Keep something to read on your nightstand that is accessible in the morning – make it easy on yourself to make that decision.
Next, meditate as soon as you get out of bed. I get onto my meditation pillow even before the ginger tea. As I said before, sit for just five minutes if that is all the time you can afford in the morning (five minutes is better than zero!). After meditation, visualize yourself successfully completing your daily goals. Big presentation? Create a vivid mental image of you knocking their socks off with your public speaking skills. Going for a run? Visualize yourself strong and powerful, effortlessly moving through space.
After meditation, I have my ginger tea and a healthy breakfast. Lately, I have loved overnight oats and chia seed pudding with yummy toppings. Avoid anything too heavy, fried or fatty. If time permits, I then get on my yoga mat. A few Sun Salutations, maybe some Yin, or I practice inversions. If I have more time, I will stay on the mat and move however feels right in my body.
Healthy and mindful routines and rituals are so important because once we build them up; we miss them if they are gone. If I don’t have time to get on my yoga mat or eat a healthy breakfast than something feels a little off the rest of the day.
So in short - prepare yourself for the morning the evening before, wake up a bit earlier, meditate, put healthy things into your body, and move! If we are able to incorporate these healthy habits into our daily lives it will benefit our happiness and our mindfulness all day long.
Happy Easter, yogi bunnies!
Happy April, beautiful yogis! April Fool´s Day is not my forte – I simply don’t have the chops to coordinate a good prank…ah well. I remember in elementary school a classmate brought in Oreos filled with white toothpaste (to look like frosting) for the class. I was completely disgusted for the poor victims of that prank – ew!
Anyways, in honor of the Spring cleaning and detox theme, Sutra 16 from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is spot on for Wednesday Yoga Wisdom!
Sutra 16: When there is non-thirst for even the gunas (constituents of Nature) due to the realization of the Purusa (True Self), that is supreme non-attachment.
The meaning of this sutra is a profound realization. Basically, Patanjali is saying that once we have experienced the nirvana that is within our own selves, all of the material crutches that we lean on become meaningless. The gunas (sattva, rajas, and tamas) are different qualities or tendencies of someone or something. These gunas cannot even compare to the wholeness that exists within each one of us. We no longer seek to identify ourselves with a certain characteristic once we understand the oneness and serenity that is our true self.
Elaborating further Sri Swami Satchidananda explains, “You can’t just go into the mind and erase the impressions. But they get themselves erased at one point. When? When you succeed in going within and realizing the peace and joy of your own Self.”
How miraculous - that all of the numbing, escaping, and bad habits are simply pointless! For me, this sutra turns yoga into a lifestyle choice and not just something that we practice on a mat. Yoga will allow us to move closer to finding our true selves and the need for outside influences will fall away. However, it is not a quick fix and we cannot denounce all of our bad habits after our first yoga class – it is a false boycott and, most likely, we will not stick with it. Instead, we must allow the yoga to do its work over time.
Foods that do not serve our body, alcohol, negative thought patterns, gossip, frivolous shopping, and laziness are a few examples of attachments that we rely on to numb, escape, ease our pain, and make ourselves feel happier. Slowly, yoga allows us to leave these outside impressions behind. Not only because we cannot dedicate ourselves to a practice when these impressions are running rampant in life but also because the yoga helps us to realize that we simply do not need these things. It is a cycle that leads us to an authentically happier and healthier life.
It is simple, peaceful and attainable – not a self-depriving struggle. I know that I still have a long way to go to detach from the material crutches around me but the journey does not seem daunting. I know that as I grow and stay focused on my practice, the need for these outside things will simply fall away.