Widening the Circle

Sending you well wishes as July begins! First, a PSA from Tortilla & Baxter (my boys, pictured above) — Keep your pets safe this July 4th! Tortilla recommends a comfy bed indoors, chew toy, Rescue Remedy & soft music or fans to block fireworks noise. July 5th is the busiest day at shelters & rescues — so keep your pets safe & secure in your home!

Now on to my musings =) …

Check out my Hatha Class schedule here =) — Love Yoga Class Schedule

Yesterday I got together with friends from my 2015/2016 yoga teacher training at Himalayan Institute – Pittsburgh. Sidenote: I recommend the sweet potato fries at Cafe io.

My teacher friends & I each have our own unique teaching schedules, teaching focus & methodology … & I learn a million amazing things each time we get together. I had no idea what kirtan was before meeting Chris. Gigi is teaching in community centers & studios, & has one of my many dream jobs — banding & counting songbirds. Elizabeth recently moved to Pittsburgh, & I always get ideas for places that Jim & I need to check out (have you heard of Randyland?!). Nancy, a retired school teacher, now teaches kids’ yoga, & I gained awesome tips for working with my kindergarten group this summer.

These beautiful, funny, intelligent, spirit-full souls filled my cup to overflowing this week — a week filled with new programs (exciting), fireworks sending my dogs behind toilets (not-so-exciting), & the emotional beginning of my monthly cycle (beautiful yet sometimes a bummer). From the initial 9 months of weekend yoga teacher trainings together, we’re continuing to widen this circle of support & friendship …

Several years ago, the phrase “widening the circle” struck me — I can’t remember where I heard the phrase, yet it’s part of a quote from this guy you might know:

Albert Einstein Quotes Wallpapers8[14]

One of many reasons I think “widening the circle” strikes me is that I’ve felt a little outside the norm, & at times rejected from groups, since I was a kid. I’m not unique here — I think we’ve all felt this way at one point or another. When I learned the term “introvert,” I felt a weight lift — oh, so THAT’S why big groups/parties are exhausting! That’s why I enjoy solitude – not because I don’t like people, but because I can recharge my batteries.

This widening the circle is so appealing to me — & being with Gigi, Elizabeth, Chris, & Nancy this week further confirms the appeal. There’s so much learning to be had, such inspiration to take in, so much laughter to lift any spirit. Well-being is cultivated.

Now, you extroverts are probably thinking “duh” — & I give you credit for that. I love your life-of-the-party, wide-circleness.

Widening the circle is what I love about my personal yoga practices too. I jumped into yoga thinking I’d get exercise with a little stress relief sprinkled on top. I was an over-exerciser & anorexic for over a decade during my teens & early 20s, & in bouncing back I wanted more balance, but also wanted to continue to move my body, sweat, etc. in a “healthier” way. I LOVED vinyasa flow classes – the movement, the challenge, the pretty poses. I practiced for years.

Widening the circle. “Yoga isn’t exercise,” a renowned teacher stated matter-of-factly. Curiosity. What are these 8 limbs of yoga? Asana (poses, the physical stuff) is ONE part of yoga, one that has been capitalized on in exercise-crazed Western society. So what are these other “limbs”? The journey begins …

As a teacher trained in Hatha Yoga, I wish I could say I loved my first Hatha Yoga class. I didn’t. Seriously. My mind said, “This is so sloooooowwww … we’re holding these poses forEVER … why am I laying in Savasana for 10 minutes? I’ve got shit to do.” I was used to moving!

But I returned to class. Each time I practiced the simple (not easy) movements, breathing techniques, relaxation … I felt something shift. A widening of the circle … of compassion for myself, of the strength within me, of something bigger/deeper than the external skin/muscle stuff. I practice vinyasa, yin, etc. now & then … yet the Hatha practices continue to have a profound effect on my mind, body & spirit.

Because of my own initial experience with Hatha Yoga, I encourage first-time students in a yoga class to avoid allowing their minds to make snap judgments about their experience … to come back for a second class. (Caution: There is something to be said about following your gut instinct if a class feels emotionally or physically unsafe.) It takes courage to try a new class, & the mind can be clouded by nervous energy, excitement, uncertainty, etc. In addition, Hatha Yoga classes can be quite different from popular Western fitness-based yoga classes. There is a pose sequence, yet also breathwork, subtle energies being manipulated, soothing the nervous system, focusing the mind.

On one hand, how great is it that there are so many choices? I hope we (myself included) continue to widen & deepen our understanding of yoga practices, not only on our mats, but in our lives too. On the other hand, our one-&-done culture is not used to Patanjali’s instruction from the Yoga Sutra to practice “with consistency” & “over time” in order to experience the wide circle of benefits the 8 limbs of yoga offer. One class, meditation session, or workshop isn’t going to cut it.

The circle of yoga practitioners is widening — over 36 million people in the U.S. alone. If you’re practicing, who can you invite into the circle? If you’re not practicing yet, maybe it’s time! There are a MULTITUDE of ways to practice yoga — one of my teachers said, “If you can breathe, you can practice yoga.” You are part of the circle!

I look forward to hearing from you, & how we can widen the circle of well-being in Uniontown & beyond. The benefits of yoga philosophy & practice are meant to be shared. Contact me through the comments, or by email at erica.seaverengel@gmail.com … or the very best way, face-to-face in a yoga class!

Cheers to you! E

 

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