Where’s Your Will?

To hear the word “surrender” in a yoga class is commonplace. To surrender into the pose. To surrender any pre-conceived expectations of how a pose should look or feel. To surrender the ego. Now, surrender is a fine practice. It fosters sensitivity, humility, patience, and awareness. All worthy and necessary qualities.
But what has become of the Will? The deliberate nurturing and cultivation of an adamant Will. The bedrock upon which all action is built. Such talk is practically akin to blasphemy in most of today’s rainbow chocolate covered chakra-licious yoga classes, but the simple truth is that the practices of Yoga are part of a system intentionally designed to nourish and mature the power of the Will.
Now please don’t suppose that by that is meant a system to empower and create a particularly willful variety of stubborn Ass. No, that is not what is meant, though that does tend to be what is conjured in mind when one speaks of Will these days. Three conjoining terms from Yoga will shed light.

Iccha (Will) Kriya (Action) Jnana (Knowledge)

A yoga sadhak was expected to cultivate a Will strong enough to take the Action necessary to attain to Knowledge. Self-knowledge. Furthermore, consider this. Meditation is the fixing of the mind upon a single object to the exclusion of all other mental and sensory diversion. Meditation is only made possible if the Will is strong enough to hold the mind from wandering. The foundation of Meditation is the Will.

Yogas chitta vritti nirodah.

Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the Mind – the classic rendering of Patanjali’s most famous sutra written above. But wonderful, symbolique Sanskrit also allows for this translation -
Yoga is the cessation of the wavering of the Will.

I leave you with two quote to take for a spin.

“Do as thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” – Aleister Crowley

“You’ve got to know when to hold em’
Know when to fold em’
Know when to walk away
Know when to run”
– Kenny Rogers

Namaste Mo-fo’s!!!
Tom Sharp, KYT

How many breaths do we take in a lifetime?

Alex Hitchin’s Quote aka “Hitch”– “Life is not the amount of breaths you take. It’s the moments that take your breath away!”

Coming to the mat allows the opportunity to find those moments where we marry the breath. The breath can be easily forgotten when the intensity of the pose overpowers us, and the teacher gives a nudge reminding us to remain present and breathe.

Yin is a style of yoga that asks nothing but to soften and breathe in the stationary pose, slow and steady with a sense of core softness and surrender.

There are three main principles in Yin postures:
1) Come into the chosen shape to an appropriate edge.
This means coming into the pose non-aggressively and sensitively, allowing breath to be slow and steady, so we can detect the appropriate depth of sensation, while using props blankets, bolsters and blocks.

2) Reminding ourselves that we’ll be in this shape for some time and the need to breathe and soften, being aware of ourselves in this space.
We draw our attention to the breath and with each inhale and exhale we settle deeper into the shape. Each time our attention wonders off in its own direction we come back to the inhale and exhale, all the while reaping the benefits of our Yin practice.

3) Knowing that we will be in this pose for some time developing an ability to surrender and breathe. Each time we are in these shapes it affords us an opportunity for a time of introspective reflection or mini-meditation while finding the qualities of slow and steady breath.

In addition to allowing us to connect breath to our practice; Yin with its long hel passive poses permits connective tissue which becomes shrink-wrap like over time to stretch in a gentle and passive manner a return to a more youthful (elastic) state.

This practice has given me the ability to bring meaning to more of my moments, living with care and intelligence, being able to access resources within my inner world and feel connected to life!

Always remember “life is not the amount of breaths you take. It’s the moments that take your breath away!”

Pat Setley E-RYT500

A Winter Reflection

It is that season, the season where we turn inward to re-awaken our sense of self.

The days darken early, and even the world around us reveals its bones –- the naked tree limbs that stretch against the sky, the patch of ice that in its very stillness reflects the universe.

It is in this spirit, the spirit of reflection that I offer you the following lyrical essay that I wrote about a little place called MOYO.

I hope you enjoy it and remember to use this winter time to reconnect with your “self.”

the yoga studio

They come in the early evening for yoga, carrying red, purple, green rubber mats,
tight-rolled, banded in silk made from Indian saris.

They come in black pants and tie-dyed headbands,
carrying their water canteens;
browsing in the gift shop before class,
chatting over hand-rolled sandalwood incense, semi-precious gemstone malas,
neti pots, China gel, gypsy bags,
amethyst crystals strung on leather cords.

They put boots on the raw wooden rack,
hang jackets on pegs,
unroll mats and bodies on the wooden studio floor;

In the back room, I prepare for massage,
lighting the crimson pillars around the Buddha’s head; warming the bed; steaming the towels; scenting them with essential oils — lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus

I offer a prayer to Shivago, the father doctor, in the language of Pali,
Na-a Na-wa Rokha Payati Vina-Santi
May this healing medicine encircle the world . . .
I direct the words into my breath, my heart, and my hands.

When my client arrives, I place my fingers on her, traveling a different landscape; eyes closed, I will press here, there, feel the subtle beat of pulse and hard bone, strum against the cords that bind this body, down the lamina groove, over the erector spinae muscles, C-7 to the thoracic spinous processes, to the lumbar’s secondary curve, down to the fish-shaped sacrum, and then separate hands to trace each iliac crest.

Little lumps of hard fascia poke through her tissue, bits of cold butter against my palms.

I rub muscles; effleurage, petrissage, jostle, hold, compress, using knuckles, forearms and fists
until she melts on this river of herself.

Sounds rise from outside the door. The yoga students depart with flushed, perspiring faces, and call out cheerful goodbyes,
the gentle click of the door between this world and that one.
But no matter, it is all ways, you, always you, under your own hand.

Patti Kinsey CMT, LMT  Massage Therapist

What is in your sleep toolbox?

I love sleep, plain and simple.  I must have inherited this from my father who can sleep at the drop of a hat.  Imagine my excitement when I was introduced to a yoga practice called Restorative Yoga and found myself surrounded by blankets, bolsters, neck pillows and the like. I was smitten to say the least… seems like the perfect time to take a nap!

 

Well lo and behold, Restorative Yoga is not time for a nap BUT it can help you get a good night’s sleep.  This practice of balance and healing assists us to create space in our muscular-skeletal body, our emotions and our mind.  Just as importantly, it gives us time for ourselves to reset, renew and reenergize.

 

One way you can get a better night’s sleep is to spend time in a pose with your legs above your heart. You can easily access this position with your legs up the wall, chair, couch, coffee table, etc.  The key is to keep your feet up higher than your heart.  If you want to go all Sanskrit, the beautiful name of this pose is ViparitaKarani.

This highly accessible pose only requires a supportive place for your legs to rest and maybe a firm blanket for cushioning the lumbar spine.  Of course, additional props like a neck pillow, a blanket to cover oneself, or even a strap to keep the legs from falling outward are akin to putting a cherry on top of a sundae.

 

What would you expect to get out of practicing this pose?  The benefits are numerous including the following:

  • Increasing circulation which helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body
  • Relieving swelling and fatigue in the legs
  • Helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis
  • Quiets the mind
  • Can help promote ease in meditation and sleep.  This will also attribute to a more healthy sleep cycle.

 

 

When should you practice this pose?  You can certainly practice at anytime of the day but to transition from activity to sleep, it is most beneficial right before bed.  Find a place where you can be undisturbed for 15-20 minutes, put on your comfy pjs, turn down the lights, and take a few deep breaths as you settle into the pose.  Feel free to wiggle, adjust, and settle with some deep breathing until you can begin to relax the muscles, the mind.  I highly recommend Left Nostril Breathing to go along with the pose.

 

To do this gently close the right nostril with your thumb of your right hand, breath in and out of your left nostril, closing eyes. Use this breath if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.

 

With practice, the body begins to remember this relaxed state and can more easily ease into your (hopefully 8) hours of sleep each night.  Happy Rest, Happy Healing and Happy New Year!

Diane Kistler, Certified MOYO Teacher

 

For more yummy poses, check out Diane’s blog at www.RestorativeYoga-Feelingthebliss.blogspot.com.

 

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Over the past several weeks,  I have been setting an intention to gain clarity on different aspects in my life.  One day before yoga class, that clarity was realized as I glanced in the bathroom mirror.  Staring back at me were the words: “BE STRONG…Stand up for what you believe in!.   “WOW”!  I immediately felt a sense of clarity.   These words made me realize that I AM STRONG for managing my depression and I should STAND UP and help others gain the strength I’ve found.  Namaste!!!

I continued to stare at my reflection and wondered if the people in my life were a mirror reflecting my true self.  Could this be?   I have found myself looking away from people and closing myself off many times before (a typical response of a depressed person is avoidance which only causes symptoms to become worse).  For instance,  if I had the courage to show up for yoga on a depressed day, I would enter into child pose creating a proverbial shell around me.  Funny how I found myself avoiding the part of the yoga practice that would’ve  helped me manage my depression the most!  Now, I realize when I’m feeling raw, miserable and closed are the times in my life when I need my sangha (community) the most.  I don’t need to hide in my shell but reach out and OPEN myself!   Our MOYO sangha has given me love, support and allows me to see that everyone is an authentic reflection of me.

No matter what you are dealing with either depression, anxiety, stress, life/death issues, loneliness, etc. I encourage you to practice yoga to OPEN to your true self and reach out to your sangha for love and support  because they are an authentic reflection of you…..

Come and join me on January 21st as I facilitate Yoga for Depression and Anxiety.

Gratefully,
Eileen Connell, Certified MOYO Teacher

Sambasana

I like to move it, move it! I like to think of each yoga class as a DANCE — the choreography of the asana; the primitive rhythm of the breath; the unique expression of each special being. So why do so many yogis practice so still, so rigid, so POISED??

Dance has been used for centuries as celebration, worship, ritual…even for communication and self-expression. Couldn’t incorporating a little dance into our yoga practice do that for us? First, try thinking of its ritual nature — that every time we step onto our mat, we’re honoring someone {ourselves, each other?} or something {world peace, hot, fresh pizza?}, using each precise movement paired with breath as a sacred act.

Now, imagine that with each act, you also have a beautiful story to tell…but you really need the movement to have it be heard. Try this: Before you step onto your mat, pick one of the following that speaks to you, and make THAT the theme of your practice.

 

  1. WORSHIP {A higher being, yourself, your thighs…} — What if every reach toward the sky fills your heart with adoration? What if your Warrior II was an homage to those thick, strong {maybe even jiggly} thighs?
  2. CELEBRATE {An accomplishment, the fact that you’re still breathing…} — Bring your JOY. Smile, laugh, sing {even out loud, maybe…what???}.
  3. COMMUNICATE {Speak with your TRUE voice} — Have each movement speak for you. Feeling your power? Be STRONG with each asana. Feeling romantic? Let your Heart Chakra lead you.
  4. EXPRESS {An inner flair, your grace, love…} — Let your fingers and hands create a beautiful mudra, flow with your hips to the beat {of your breath, the music}, create a Sun Salutation that is all yours.

Remember, the most important thing is that if you’re connecting your mind, body and soul, it’s YOGA!!! Need more easy, breezy ideas?? Try these:

  1. Wake Up. Cue your favorite music {Guilty pleasures like “Everybody Dance Now” encouraged}. Dance, move, leave it ALL on the floor {you go, J. Lo.}
  2. Find a local DANCE studio. Hellloooooooo? Ballet, Hip Hop, Ballroom {my heart flutters as I write this}, Salsa, your daughter’s 8th grade dance…whatever calls to you.
  3. Attend a flow-y yoga workshop/class. There are some great teachers out there who masterfully incorporate yoga and dance! Some of our recommendations: Faith Hunter {http://www.faithhunter.com/Faith_Hunter_Yoga/Home_faith_hunter_yoga.html}, Natalie Levin, Dana Flynn {http://nyc.laughinglotus.com/ourteachers_dana.html}, Simon Park{http://liquidflowyoga.com/}, and Shiva Rae {http://shivarea.com/about-prana-flow}

Now, go get ‘em Footlose!

Kelly Whalen, CYKT

P.S. Look for more MOYO Mixx classes in the new year — a PERFECT opportunity to add a little Sambasana to your repertoire.

Vata Season

The other day I put my milk away in the pantry instead of the refrigerator. Last week, not one but two clients forgot to show up for their appointments. At least three clients complained that they have been edgy and unable to sleep lately. What’s going on? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s vata season. According to the 5,000 year old health science known as Ayurveda, we’re each born with a unique combination of three constitutions called “doshas”. These doshas’ are known as vata, pitta and kapha. Each of these doshas’ relate to an earth element.

  • Vata – Air & Ether
  • Pitta – Fire
  • Kapha – Water

 

Not only do we each posses these doshas, but all things posses them, like food, various stages of life and seasons. Late fall and early winter is the season of vata so it’s no wonder that we all get a little “spacey” or “air headed”. Remember, vata is the air element. This season can make us feel a little disconnected and ungrounded. So what’s the remedy?

 

In my practice as an ayurvedic nutritional consultant, we focus on four areas to help balance the doshas, creating harmony among mind, body and spirit. Diet, breath (pranayama), yoga (asana) and routine/lifestyle are the areas of concentration. Through the ancient art of ayurvedic pulse analysis, we can determine your unique combination of doshas, detect any deep rooted imbalances and offer suggestions in these four areas to help get you feeling your best.

 

If you are prominently vata to begin with, the fall season can be especially difficult for you. To help soothe vata, include warm, slow cooked foods such as soups and stews in your diet. Use warming spices like cinnamon, cumin, and even red pepper. Indian and Mexican foods are good choices. Sip warm tea through the day. I like to infuse some fresh ginger in my tea as well. Avoid too much cold food such as salad and ice cream and use minimal ice in drinks. As far as your yoga practice goes, include grounding postures like tree, triangle and warrior. Sun Salutations should be done slowly and consciously. Include warming breath work such as kapalabhati. Too many hours in front of the television is very aggravating to vata especially before bed. Try turning the TV off an hour before bed and create a bedtime routine of some calming breath, meditation and soothing, seated yoga postures. Daily self massage (abyhanga) with warming oils is very grounding and helps with the dryness of the season. Create a daily routine, going to bed and waking at the same time each day. Strict routine is excellent for vata.

 

Through my boutique at Moyo called Under The Bodhi Tree, I provide oils, herbal supplements and other items, as well as, nutritional consulting to support you on your journey As a vata person myself, I always dreaded the fall season. Through ayurveda, I’m able to soothe aggravated vata and really appreciate this beautiful time of year. I’m now able to soak in the gorgeous colors of fall. There is nothing better than a brisk walk outside and then coming in for some delicious vegetable stew by a crackling fire.

If you would like a consultation to help identify and balance your dosha, feel free to contact me at Moyo or by email at lisa@moyo-yoga.com and come meet me Under The Bodhi Tree. Wishing you a blessed and beautiful season. Namaste

 

What is the Significance of 11/11/11?


Let’s Start the Aquarian Age Together!!!! Please join us on 11/11/11 at 6:30 PM (to ?) to celebrate this great time of change and transitioning. There will be Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, Dancing, Music, and refreshments. Please feel free to stop by at anytime and bring a dish! All activities are FREE OF CHARGE.

11/11/11: Completion of the full cycle of the Cosmic Unity Consciousness Wheel. We will not suddenly wake up in heaven. Things will still look very chaotic and there will still appear to be much darkness in the world. However, with the completion of this cycle of the cosmic wheel, Cosmic Unity Consciousness will be fully here and available to us to use much more readily, and the numbers of individuals stepping into this level of consciousness will expand rapidly.

I then started hearing about it from my teacher, Yogi Bhajan. He came to this country in 1969 and started teaching Kundalini Yoga, a type of yoga that had never been publicly taught before. He could see that many changes were coming that were associated with the shift to the Aquarian Age, and it was time for people to have the tools they would need to transition from the Piscean Age that we had been in for 2000 years, into this new age.

What are these ages? Astronomers will tell you that the Earth rotates on an axis and that this line going through the center of the earth has a slight wobble to it. It goes through a little circular wobble about once every 24,000 years. This cycle has been broken into 12 parts associated with the 12 astrological signs, based on which constellation the axis is wobbling towards. From around 2000 B.C. to 0 A.D. we were in the Age of Taurus. From 0 A.D. to the present we have been in the Age of Pisces. For the next 2000 years we will be in the Aquarian Age. We have been in the transition from the Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age for the last 50 years. The official beginning of the Aquarian Age is November 11, 2011 or 11/11/11. Some people have set this date as December 21, 2012. Considering that this is a 2000 year cycle, no matter which date you accept, we are in for lots of change in the near future!

Why is this so important? Many people go their whole lives not caring or knowing if they are a Pisces, or a Gemini, or what their moon or rising sign is. This change to the Aquarian age is so important because it changes the astrological conditions for the entire planet. Every person on planet Earth has been and will be affected by this shift. Let’s investigate what will be changing.

The Piscean Age has been dominated by hierarchy, and power. The key phrase for this age was from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To be or not to be.” To make a successful and happy life, you needed to resolve this question. The key to the astrological sign Pisces is “I believe.” During this age, in order for you “to be,” you needed to find someone or something to believe in. When you found that thing, you attached yourself to that thing and were guided how to live. This could be a religion, a political ideology, a charismatic leader, work, etc. The keys to life were hidden and secret in the halls of power and in the monasteries and ashrams. But you didn’t need to know these secrets, only to follow leaders and guides who did. This created vertical hierarchies as a result, and it was essential to find your place in the pecking order.

This has been the foundation for human consciousness for the past 2000 years. Everything that you have learned from your parents, and they from their parents, going back 2000 years, has been colored by this Piscean frame of reference. And now that is all changing.

The Aquarian Age will be dominated by networks, and information. The key phrase for this age is “Be to be.” The key to the astrological sign Aquarius is “I know.” This is the age of information. Nothing is secret anymore. All information is available at your fingertips. Where the Piscean age was organized in a vertical, up and down structure of hierarchies, the Aquarian Age is organized in a horizontal network, opening the world up to true equality. During this age, the focus is no longer on your identity and existence (“to be or not to be”), but on accepting yourself as a whole person (“be to be”) who does not need to believe in something outside of yourself. You are ready to accept that you have the knowledge and wisdom within yourself. It is no longer necessary to attach to something outside of yourself, but to become a leader of one: yourself. Instead of being a railroad car that is pulled by an engine, you become your own engine. It is your responsibility to stay on the tracks and to keep moving forward.

With this understanding, it is easier to comprehend what has been happening in the world over the last 50 years. On the inner level, since the 1960’s, there has been a huge movement towards personal transformation: self-awareness, self-improvement, yoga, meditation, tai chi, alternative healing, natural foods, etc. There has also been a major increase in depression, suicide, anxiety, stress, and drug use, both pharmaceutical and recreational.

In the outer world, we have seen amazing changes: civil rights, environmental consciousness, women’s rights, gay rights, global consciousness, etc. We have also seen the rise of fundamentalism, terrorism, partisan politics, racism, xenophobia (the fear of the “other”), and general fear mongering.

This shift is bringing out the best and the worst in mankind. Some people are preparing for this shift by opening their hearts and minds and embracing this new age, and some people are intimidated by the changes that they don’t understand and want to return to a “golden age” in the past, or to circle the wagons and trust only those who are like themselves (3HO.org).

—-Sarah Stavis,  MOYO Yoga Teacher

A Message to Our Students, From the MOYO Teaching Team….

We are an eclectic group of teachers… eclectic in background, approach, emphasis and personality. We are unified in our core principles, dedication to our practice and love for teaching the Moyo community. This blog is dedicated to our students; to share why we teach and express our gratitude for the privilege of guiding you through your practice.

 

  • Yoga is an art of self-expression… teaching provides me with a vehicle to share my yogic experiences.

 

  • Teaching yoga allows me to practice seeing my true self. When I guide others in their practice and allow myself to be vulnerable, I tap into a part of me I don’t usually expose. In teaching the children, I experience the most about what life is really worth living for — expression, truth, pure delight. Pus I ADORE the energy and love of the community!

 

  • Yoga turns me on! It lights me up! Yoga transforms me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I teach to share the experience of freedom and peace present in a yoga practice.

 

  • I teach because I honor the integrity of each pose yoked to simple, steady breath. By feeling the sensation right here & now, we uncover the tenacity to face our truth (pain, desire, joy, hope and fear.) This authenticity demands surrender to this moment and calls for right action in our lives. It is here that we discover the capacity of love. I teach to hold this space for others, deepening their experience and mine.

 

  • The teaching of yoga is my foremost method of practice. When I teach I’m there, in the moment, letting what is inside out. Filter free, but entirely witnessed.

 

  • Something comes out from within me when I teach – perhaps its love… Love for the students, love for the community and all we have created at Moyo. My cache of love just spreads as I lead the class through their practice. Teaching brings out the best in me, so I can live a full and complete loving life.

 

  • Yoga allows me to be in tune with my inner truth. When I teach, I share this whole body experience to help others find their truth. I feel the superficial layers peel away, revealing our inner potential. This allows us to connect together in beauty and light. May we continue on our spiritual journeys together, realizing we are all LOVE. SAT NAM!
  •  When I teach Yoga, I know that we are all divinely connected in this journey called LIFE. The students are my teachers. When I practice yoga, it is with the hope that what I learn, I will be able to share with my students. We share the circle together student and teacher; like Yin and Yang, divinely connected.

 

  • I believe that it is through our children that we set examples on how we want the world to be.  That is why I teach yoga to children.  It is by giving them this tool that I know I have made a difference in their lives now and in the future.

 

  • Teaching for me is helping others find awareness and live from the heart with authenticity to connect us as one.

 

  • Teaching yoga enables me to give back to others what I find during my own practice, a love of self without judgments and criticisms. Someday that part will shine thru but for now it’s a constant struggle that I am challenged with every day. I hope to enable others (as well as myself) to recognize the path we are on is truly where you are supposed to be and that everything we are seeking in life, sits within… We are beautiful in every way!
  • Yoga inspires, invigorates AND calms me.  It brings balance, harmony and JOY to my life!  I love yoga!!!  It is my most sincere hope to share all of these feelings with my students and that they too will fall in love with yoga!  A day with yoga is ALWAYS a better day! ~ Namaste

 

Feeling Stuck?

What do you believe about your ability to improve?  There is really two broad ways to look at it:

- You believe that your abilities are established and can’t change much, regardless of how hard you try.
OR
- You think that you can learn and grow if you invest enough effort.

Well, here’s the deal: mindsets are self-fulfilling prophecies.  In other words, if you think you can improve, you will.  If you think you’re stuck, you are.

But here’s the good news: mindsets are learned and can be changed.

Want to learn how to believe you can?  Try this on for size: people who feel stuck tend to place strong evaluations on things going on – and they use positive or negative labels to express their evaluations.  In contrast, those who focus on growth are more concerned with learning the lessons behind what happens.

For example, when you get in an argument with your spouse, do you call him or her names in your own mind?  If so, consider instead what you can learn from the situation.  Realize that maybe he isn’t as responsive when he’s under a lot of stress, or that she doesn’t respond well to being teased about her quirks.

The same thing applies for positive events.  For example, if you close a nice deal, rather than label yourself “so smart”, think about what you’ve done to reach that success.  Maybe you applied your skills very well, or maybe you paid close attention to what the client truly wanted.

How do you think about setbacks and small wins that life brings you?  For a few days, watch for labels, and then try to figure out the lesson behind the situation.

http://www.smartsandstamina.com/