Namaste Yogis & Yoginis,
As they say, the only constant is change...
We get that intellectually and try to remain aware, but we often forget all the many forms that change can take. Moving house, getting married/divorced or changing jobs are obvious... but aging, growth (physically/spiritually/emotionally), seasons, years... These can all be more subtle and we don't recognise them for what they are – forms of change. It is around us constantly, so it makes sense that we try to become skilled at meeting it.
Often we try to fight change, but this makes us exhausted and is usually futile… Sometimes we try to ignore it, but it happens anyway, we just become stuck and stale… Others resign themselves to it, which is a step forward but can rob our joy… Embracing it can be invigorating, but we can sometimes forget to enjoy what is…
I don't have all the answers! Or any of the answers! But here are a couple of principles that have helped me along the way...
1 - Open handed holding. Imagine a butterfly landing on your open palm... If you try to grab it and hold onto it, it will fly away immediately. If you simply keep your palm open, it may decide to stay a little longer and delight you. Approaching life like this is similar to the teaching of Santosha (contentment) – being grateful for what comes without undue force. At its heart is allowing, presence and gratitude. Life feels more joyful, miraculous and flowing. Even when we don't want something to change, when we have this attitude, we understand it must at some point, and that we were blessed to experience it even for a little while. This allows for change to happen gracefully. It can be applied to small moments – like a butterfly landing; and big moments – like aging, seeing our kids leave home, leaving a home/job we loved, struggling with a hard life lesson, and loss of someone we loved. We will experience sorrow/loss, but we know that too will pass and transform to become part of the new person we will be, not better or worse, just different, changed.
2 - Karma Yoga. In accepting change gracefully, it doesn't mean we don't act when we are called to. At the heart of Karma Yoga is the teaching that you do your absolute best in any given moment, but the outcome doesn't belong to you. It belongs to the Whole/God/Greater Good/Universe (whatever word you relate to). Our individual karmas are just a splash in the ocean of the collective karma, but we can decide what we want to contribute to the collective experience. This can be applied to any situation – relationship, sport, work – but is particularly potent when facing collective/global change.
As a sometimes-activist, I really struggled with how unfair it all was, how much damage was being done to our Earth, to its people and animals. I became depressed, and was in a constant state of despair and sorrow. My Sanskrit/philosophy teacher Rami reminded me of Karma Yoga. That what we were experiencing was the accumulation of actions by millions of people over hundreds of years, that I personally wasn't going to be able to change it, and shouldn't expect to see an outcome to the fights I took on. However – he also said, in spite of this, if I feel called to act, I should ACT! I should answer that call, and do whatever I could, to the best of my ability. The only difference was in the mindset of expecting to see a result from my action. I had to trust that my actions would contribute to positive change, and that positive change could happen, but that I may not directly see it. This took a great weight off my shoulders. It freed me to do my best, and act when called, but not to be dismayed when things appeared to be going badly. I could not know what the bigger picture would bring. For some of us, our actions do seem to have a bigger impact, but they are the visible peak of a mountain of actions by thousands that have gone before.
No single action is wasted or unimportant. So act, do your best, but let go and trust in the highest outcome. This way, we are an active part of conscious change, but we do not lose our peace of mind to the same degree.
This is captured in the teaching in the Bhagavad Gita 2.47:
“karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana; mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi”
“let your actions be their own motivation, not the rewards; do not be someone motivated by outcome, but also do not be someone who abstains from acting”.
High Performance mats coming back into stock!
**VB Black Pro - 6.5mm non-slip dense yoga mat designed to last! These mats are always a sell out, so email the office on email@example.com if you want to put your name down for one - first in, best dressed!
Students, please REMEMBER:
1. Bring your towel to place over blankets, if sweaty;
2. Wipe your mat after practice using the bucket/cloths provided;
3. Allow mat to DRY before rolling up to avoid bacteria/odour.
2020 TIMETABLE has commenced!
View online at www.goldcoastyogacentre.com/timetable
Ayuveda for Gut Health with Dr Ram
Saturday 1st February at 1pm to 3pm - tickets $25
Pancha Maya Kosha Workshop with Suzanne
Saturday 29th February from 1pm to 3pm - tickets $25
Kirtan with Madhava - SAVE THE DATE
Friday 20th March from 6pm (4pm and 6pm classes cancelled)
GCYC is proud to announce we will be hosting an evening of Kirtan on Friday 20th March with the sweet sounds of Madhava.
Madhava’s kirtan is one of the most transcendent kirtan experiences you will ever have. He sings with so much heart and dedication that everyone who is present is effortlessly transported to another universe on waves of his chanting. His melodies are rich and inviting, his voice is honest and true, and he always surrounds himself with beautiful musicians and artists – he artfully reveals a doorway to the divine world through sacred chant. Madhava is a treasure to hear and to join with in kirtan.
Tyalgum Ridge Summer Yoga Retreat
Friday 14th February to Sunday 16th February 2020
The Tyalgum Summer Yoga Retreat is coming up - a full weekend of yoga and meditation with Katherine, assisted by Anita Joy, gourmet vegetarian cuisine, with special guest Loren Jemahli providing music and sound healing, stunning views to Mt Warning, and a beautiful balance of rest, rejuvenation and activities! This retreat has now SOLD OUT but if you would like to put your name down for our Winter Yoga Retreat at Springbrook or next year's Summer Yoga Retreat, please email the office on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fresh Decade, Fresh Approach
As you step back on the mat this year, can you look at your practice with fresh eyes? Although it can feel good just to drop into the habit of our bodies, is it the best and highest practice?
Just because you have always placed your hand on the floor/grabbed your toe in Trikonasana – should you? Have you looked at how it effects your spine when you do this? Your breath?
The only guidelines regarding asana we are given in the Yoga Sutras is “sthira sukham asanam” (2,46) “the asana is steady and comfortable*”
Sukha is often translated as being comfortable, but also means happiness and literally translates as “good space”. To me, good space means good space between our vertebrae (and for the nervous system), good space in the joints, good space for our lung capacity and our heart to be open, good space for our organs, and good space for our mind – our mind should also be in a good space.
When we strive in a pose, we often close that “good space”. Compressing or distorting the space for our spine, lungs, organs – how can we feel good/happy/be in a good space like that? Going beyond the body limits can have a detrimental effect on body, and mind. When this becomes a habit, it can increase the detrimental effect, and kill presence and consciousness in a pose.
On the other hand, good space can lead to good alignment – long, natural spine, open chest cavity, relaxed shoulders, lengthened neck and collarbones, hips and pelvis balanced. When the breath enters the space, then moves out through the nadis – it organically creates alignment in the physical body if you allow it. I sometimes imagine that my body is an asana shaped balloon that inflates equally in all directions. This helps me get a sense of space throughout and that the breath is not just air going in/out of my lungs but the skin breathes too, and the breath is also the vehicle of consciousness and prana. Just thinking differently can create physical change.
So this year, check in with yourself as you practice – am I steady? Am I in a good space? Does my spine have enough length and space? Do my lungs have enough space to breath effectively? Is my heart open? Do my joints have enough space to move smoothly? Have I created enough space for the energy to flow through my channels (nadis)? And HOW DOES THAT MAKE ME FEEL?
Initially, you have you consciously introduce these questions and observations, but eventually, they become a new and healthy habit, that you can simply refresh from time to time. The instructions you hear in class often remind us of these actions too, so listen fresh in class as well! You may hear an instruction 50 times before you actually “hear” it!
Of course – there are always exceptions, and sometimes a teacher/style instructs an action with intention. Holding the toe in Trikonasana is a good example – instructed in styles like Ashtanga, it becomes a physical goal – but the counterbalance is to let go of perfection in that moment. Let the front leg bend if needed to keep the spine free (including the neck). This is vairagya – letting go, knowing when it is appropriate is another aspect of practice we'll chat about another time.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
Hope to see you on the mat or at one of our events!
Love and blessings over Xmas <3 <3 Suzanne