Sunday, April 28, 2013

What does it feel like? The "it" being Yoga: Vinyasa Yoga Book Club Schiffmann #4

When I read the title, “What does it feel like?” I have to admit ... I kind of, sort of, maybe rolled my eyes just a little.  Come on Schiffmann!, I thought, if you say feeling-tone again ...  

While I’ve enjoyed Schiffmann’s book immensely, there have been moments when the flowery language almost got the best of me.  And I really thought this chapter might have sent me over the edge.

Boy was I wrong.  Not only did I love this chapter (perhaps every sentence is underlined), I walked away with language on how to answer the slippery question “what does yoga feel like?”.  It’s a legitimate question, and here are his answers:

Yoga Feels like ...

  1. Stretching your body after a really long train or airplane ride.
  2. Standing up after sitting hunched at your desk furiously typing for eight hours straight.
  3. Taking a deep, long yawn and stretch first thing in the morning (you know, that yawn that starts deep inside - as if you were stretching from the inside out?).
  4. Going through your garden and pulling out those big weeds (and as you practice more, you have to weed less and less).
  5. Learning something familiar, as if you already knew it.

    But remember. This is what yoga feels like, it isn’t what yoga is.  Schiffmann points out that yoga itself is much more deliberate and purposeful.  He describes the asana (AAH-SUH-NAH) practice like this:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Why Yoga?" and the Boston Marathon Bombings (Yoga Book Club Schiffmann #3)

When tragedy strikes and we are saturated with visions of horror through every media possible, what choices to we have to respond?

For many, it doesn’t take a large-scale tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing to make us feel completely helpless. The walls we have built to protect us from disaster, large or small, are strong and have been reinforced over our entire lifetime. While these walls may feel like protection, they actually increase suffering – a uniquely human experience that quickens death and decay in our mind, body and soul.

Chapter 3 in Schiffmann’s book “Yoga, The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness” couldn’t have come at a better time for me. The Boston Marathon bombing sent me into panic mode. I’m from a little town outside of Boston and the possibility that a dearly beloved friend was injured – or worse – felt more real than ever. For all my yoga training and practice, for a moment, I felt extremely helpless. “Why yoga?” Schiffmann asks – and I felt in that moment he was looking directly at me. Thank goodness he answered his own question, because I was starting to wonder myself.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Core of Goodness (Yoga Book Club Schiffmann #2)

In chapter 1 Schiffmann tells us to move like a perfectly balanced spinning top, into our center.  In chapter 2 he tells us what we find in our center: goodness.  Seems simple enough, yet most of us don’t believe we are inherently good.  And if we do, we don’t believe that we’re worthy of enjoying that goodness, and definitely should not tell others just how great we are!

But guess what - you did not create yourself!  Given that fact, why not enjoy the amazing person that you are!  Why not be in awe at the miracle of your being, that you had absolutely nothing to do with?  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Stillness - Vinyasa (Yoga Book Club Schiffmann #1)

Have you ever watched a perfectly balanced spinning top?  Poised yet moving at maximum speed this top appears motionless.  The stillness it requires to present such graceful movement is the same stillness you may have experienced at times in your own life.  Those moments when you feel perfectly content, exceptionally aware, and intensely connected.  

Anything but motionless, this dynamic stillness is achieved only when energy is moving freely through you.  When you wholeheartedly step into the moment, unbounded by affliction and completely connected to your center.

Undoubtedly you have also felt like the wobbly top, unbalanced and unsteady.  Off-center with an inconsistent connection to the ground.  This feeling occurs when we forget our authentic self, when we are disconnected from our true nature.  All our lives, many people - even with the best intentions - told us who we were.  They handed us a cloak to wear, burdensome at best, veiling our true nature and blocking our connection to our center.  

“Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are.  It is also a way of learning to be centered in action so that you always have the clearest perspective on what’s happening and are therefore able to respond most appropriately. “  

Counting Backwards with the Breath:

To begin your practice, count backwards for each part of your breath (both the inhale or the exhale).  You can you beads to help maintain your focus or you can quietly count to yourself.  Starting with a deep inhale, then on the exhale say 54, inhale 53, exhale 52, inhale 51 and so on.  When you have come to the end stop counting and follow your breath gently for a few minutes.  

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