July 2019
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Namaste Yogis & Yoginis,

Many of us in the West find it easier to do, than not do. On the path of Yoga, both are essential.
When we take our first steps of our Yoga Journey, we discover there are just so many things to do… There’s a body to challenge and condition, there are physical weaknesses to overcome, there’s a mind to wrestle, a breath to refine and condition, emotions to pacify, senses and desires to bring under control, and an ego to do battle with. It is a fierce, bloody fight, and we are ecstatic – because it gives us so much to do, it gives us purpose, it’s meaningful. It gives us something essential to do and a way to justify our life and our existence, and it is glorious.

And then one day, after we have been battling long, we sit down to pause and take rest. As we do so, we notice a golden light shining a little way ahead of us, and we take a few steps towards it. Walking towards it, we find we are naturally inclined to give a great relieving exhale… and then everything drops away… the battle… the effort… our thoughts… our concepts of who we are… the need to achieve, the need to control the outcome… all drop away, dissolve and disappear… and we are left in a state of Satchitananda – pure being, pure awareness and pure bliss.

Eventually, it is time to go back to the battle, but as we walk back, we realise we feel different. Stronger, taller, clearer. Once back in it, we realise we are less emotionally invested, we can be more objective about what we need to do. We understand the purpose of the battle is not the battle itself but who we become as a result of it. While we feel taller and stronger, our opponents – our ego and desires – seem weaker. Similar to when we become an adult, and we see something that when we looked at as a child seemed huge and insurmountable, but when we see it as an adult – it just isn’t as big as we remembered.

As we engage in the next part of our battle, we find our mind is no longer fully engaged in just the battle, but is being drawn back to that beautiful bliss. We end up returning there more and more often, until eventually the battle and opponents lose their intensity and begin to feel no more arduous than a necessary, even enjoyable task such as gardening – where we need to water, dig, nourish and prune in order to enjoy beautiful fruits. The battle simply becomes a beautiful, necessary activity that we do to maintain our bodies and spirits, in order to allow ourselves to BE more fully.

Eventually the effort and the reward become one, the gardening/the fruits, the battle/the peace. There is no difference. We are just being. Being in our effort, being in our breath, being in our enjoyment, being in our asana practice, being in our relaxation, being in our awareness, being in this moment… just being.

Like in nature, there are seasons for all of these states… the effort, the rest (abhyasa, vairagya) but the closer we move to Yoga, it is all just being. We begin to experience (and look for in our actions and practice) the state of karma akarma – action in non-action. When we apply this to practice – we are able to attain the beautiful state of awareness and being that Yoga brings. When we apply it to our lives in general, we experience contentment, satisfaction, purpose, productivity, harmony and bliss more often… Guided by the light of our True Nature and leading us to our highest experience of life, love and self.

Much love,
Suzanne & the GCYC team

Winter Warrior Reward - your chance to WIN FREE YOGA!

Boundary Setting Workshop with Jacinta Callaghan
Saturday 27th July - 1pm to 3pm - tickets $30

A Mindfulness Intervention: Dharma of Surfing & Sacred Activism
FUNDRAISER - proceeds to Sea Shepherd

Saturday 17th August - 1pm to 3pm - by donation

Headstand & Inversions Workshop with Nicky Knoff

Saturday 28th September - 1pm to 5pm - tickets $150

PRACTICE TIP - Taking your practice deeper...

This month’s tip is mostly for home practice – when you have time and space to explore and feel what your practice has to offer, but the points here will also enhance your class experience greatly – enjoy!

First, start with the body.

Make sure of your foundation, your alignment. Work harmoniously with the biomechanics of the body to experience “sukha” (good space/ease/happiness/feeling good) and “sthira” (steadiness/strength) as instructed by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. This includes the breath, which when used properly can clear channels, direct energy and melt away the edges of limitations to allow you to progress with ease and grace, without being in conflict in your body.

Secondly, observe how you feel. What feelings are arising in the pose? We all store energy/emotions in our bodies. The asana and breath are tools that stir energy/emotion up so we can set it free and let it leave our system. There are a number of ways to do this. You can use the feelings, let them go, or simply observe them and let them transform organically. For example – if you feel anger or frustration arise. You can use the energy of the feeling to overcome fear or strengthen your determination, or channel it through the nadis to  your pose clean strong lines as it moves through the body; or you can breathe it in feel it, breath it out – let it go – empty it from your system and mind using the breath; or you can simply get curious and observe it, be with it, and as you enquire more deeply into its nature, find that it naturally transforms of its own accord. Pema Chodron even recommends trying to observe qualities of the feeling such as hot/cold, sharp/dull, shape, colour etc and simply in examining and understanding the emotion is set free.

Sometimes the feelings you experience are positive ones – in this case you might take a breath to stop and be grateful for them, breath IN and absorb the positive energy they give you, let it take root and support you and inspire you in your practice.

Thirdly, be aware of what the pose wants to give you. For example, backbends generally open the solar plexus/heart area of the chest. The feeling that you get when in a backbend can be one of feeling free, open, fearless and confident (co-incidentally these are all qualities traditionally associated with this area). Sometimes when in a seated twist, I feel grounded, calm and benevolent. When you take time to notice what a pose inspires in you, you can then choose that posture any time you need/want to experience those feelings.

Then the fourth stage is simply just being with the posture and the after effects of the posture. This leads to a deeper layer of awareness and understanding in your body, psyche and being. This is where you get a taste of Samadhi (the ultimate state of Yoga). You are no longer objectifying the pose, no longer exploring the pose, no longer trying to learn from the pose or progress the pose, but you and the pose simply exist in a natural state of bliss and oneness.  The limitations dissolve and you’re no longer you, or the pose, or anything outside of that.

This is Samadhi, and the only thing left to do is to simply enjoy.

This practice, performed for a long time (dirgha kala), without pause, and with severe devotion (satkara) will become the rock you stand on (dridha bhumih) - Sutra 1.14

Hope to see you on the mat or at one of our events!
Love and blessings <3 <3 Suzanne

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