Ahimsa — High Horse Dismount

I’m still shaking off the dismount from my high horse. I mindlessly climbed up there an hour ago, totally lost all oxygen to my brain … & coming down is a hard hit.

I feel like I have more of these moments than the average person. Moments when I think I’m right, have a better handle on the truth, & take it upon myself to enlighten someone else.And what’s more, I deeply desire to avoid conflict. So I find myself mindlessly using passive-aggressive techniques to convey “my” ever-so-correct point-of-view.Then (thankfully, & hopefully sooner than later) I realize where I am … precariously atop an imaginary pedestal.And so begins my descent back to myself.

As I prepare for the Full Moon Hatha Practice this weekend, the concept of ahimsa comes forward. Ahimsa is one of the yamas in the 8-limb path of Yoga. (Learn more about the yamas here.) Rolf Sovik of The Himalayan Institute explains:

In Sanskrit the prefix a means β€œnot,” while himsa means β€œharming, injuring, killing, or doing violence.” Ahimsa, the first of the yamas and the highest ranking among them, is the practice of non-harming or non-violence. This is the key, the sages tell us, to maintaining both harmonious relationships in the world and a tranquil inner life.At a deeper level, ahimsa is less a conscious process than a natural consequence of yoga practice. As our journey unfolds, it leads to awareness of the peaceful and enduring core that is our true nature; the desire to prevent harm is a spontaneous expression of that awareness. We begin to realize that the inner self in others is identical to our own inner self, and we wish no harm to come to any being.

The name of this full moon — Full Hunter’s Moon — may seem antithetical to nonviolence. And yet how can we apply non-harming in our yoga asana practice … & then OFF our mat to things we are passionate about, to the goals we “hunt,” or the unjust systems we seek to dismantle?

Ahimsa applies not only toward how we act outwardly, but to how we think inwardly. My thoughts today conveyed a subtle form of harming, not only toward the person who’s actions I was judging, but also toward myself. Even now, my internal state is unsteady after my “high horse ride.”I hope I get the chance to meet this person again from the “peaceful & enduring core that is my true nature” … that is our collective true nature according to Yoga.May we use the tools of Yoga to ground ourselves in our True Nature & Ahimsa. And when you or I do take to our high horse, may our descent be quick & yet full of grace … with the will to begin again. And again.

Check Out “Yoga is Dead” … an Intro to the Podcast

Here’s an intro to the creators & content of the Yoga Is Dead Podcast … through another podcast I listen to regularly … Mindful Strength.

Check it out, these womxn will make you think & deepen your inquiry into why yoga … why yoga for you … are you practicing, honoring, appreciating the holistic science that is Yoga? How can we people who identify as white honor without appropriating the Yoga tradition? Questions I wrestle with daily … I hope you do as well … Take a listen:

Tejal Patel & Jesal Parikh of the Yoga is Dead Podcast with Kathryn Bruni-Young of Mindful Strength

Fall Equinox … A moment to pause & rebalance

Waning Moon Vibes

Have you noticed? The moon is hanging out til late morning! It’s been so heartening for me to walk to work, spot the Moon, … & keep walking.

Until the last few days … When I made myself STOP … right in the alleyway, or on the sidewalk, or in my yard … Look up & pause.

Pause. Take a breath. Be in awe.

I hope you get a chance to greet the Moon before it goes dark in the next few days ;).

Yesterday I got to hang out with 10 amazing folks at our first session of the Beginner Yoga Series at The Yoga Garden. It’s a total gift that I get to share asana, breathing techniques, relaxation, meditation and more with this group. We come to the practice for various reasons, & a community is formed. I have to make myself pause. Take a breath. Be in awe.

In awe that folks make time for their well-being … The question becomes: Why am I in awe of this commitment to self-care? Why is this not the norm?

It once was …

Our ancestors once lived by the rhythms of seasons, Moon cycles & life stages. There were times for working, but also times to rest, rejuvenate, celebrate … even be still.

Our western go-go-go society has overtaken our inborn rhythms … & replced rhythm with production, instant gratification, & retreat into our screens.

I know my body & mind have been overtaken by these norms. It’s only in the last few years I’ve tiptoed back to the concept & embodiment of rhythms, Nature’s cycles, & connection with Something Bigger.

Following the Moon’s cycles has supported my exploration. What do you do to reconnect with your natural and/or ancestral rhythms? to step away & care for your well-being? I’d love to hear in the comments or in-person …

Know when you reconnect with your mind/body/spirit, you are not being “selfish.” Yoga (“the big Y” Yoga) is the science of self-realization — not for its own sake, but so those of us who are householders can go do our work in the world with a clear, calm, cheerful, and one-pointed focus.

And when each of us does our unique work for the good of the world, we collectively find out way back to those innate rhythms. Simply, the world becomes a better place for ALL of us.

Enjoy this waning phase of the Moon. Pause, breathe, stand in awe. Where do you reconnect with your natural rhythms? Where is there a disconnect? The New Moon is a perfect time to begin again.

Here are some resources I use:

Year Long Meditation initiative with The Himalayan Institute

Sanctuary app with Rod Stryker of ParaYoga

The Moon is My Calendar by April McMurtry (new calendar is shipping soon!)

Spirit Daughter moon workbooks

I look forward to hearing from you & seeing you in an asana class soon!

Sunday Vibes

I listened to an interview with Ross Gay on On Being with Krista Tippett last week while driving to Himalayan Institute of Pittsburgh for a reboot of my yoga/Ayurveda practices.

Ross Gay has written a couple of books now, & the interview focused on “The Book of Delights.” Did that title make you smile too? You totally have to hear him read excerpts from “The Book of Delights” … go ahead … take a listen … this blog post will be here when you get back ;).

I especially fell into delight listening to him read his essay “Loitering.”

That’s been my day today, Sunday. Loitering. Puttering. Meandering. Taking my time. Which, as Gay says in his essay, is a revolutionary act.

I’ve been catching up on the Bhagavad Gita Satsang with Hari-kirtana Das. He offers this online study free, & you can sign up at any time & begin studying the Bhagavad Gita, one of the primary texts of modern yoga. While Yoga Sutras may seem a bit abstract or esoteric, the Bhagavad Gita takes place on a battlefield … & is a text for householders like you & me, working in the world that may feel like a battlefield (!), & still striving to walk the path of Yoga.

Today we learned of 2 more mass shootings — one in El Paso, TX, one in Dayton, OH. There is no delight here, only sorrow & anger & grief. We cannot retreat into a cave. How do we act? Hari-kirtana Das said, “The one thing a Yogi cannot tolerate is injustice” in regards to how the Bhagavad Gita applies to today’s circumstances. For those committed to a yogic path, how do we act in the face of injustice?

This question continues to occupy me. Living in the tension of Delight & Injustice.

It’s also Leo β™Œ season, the season of the Lion — a time for play, confidence, courage with heart, & being joyfully you. Feelings of generosity may be welling up in you … let that giving spirit overflow!

It was fun today to make these, & I look forward to sharing in classes this week:

I’m looking forward to experiencing the ocean breeze soon … a delight.

What delights you today? I’d love to hear. Seriously. We cannot ignore our duty to respond to injustice & violence … & at the same time … We amplify the energy we focus on & speak about. Share what you’re delighting in here or in your conversations … or use social media for GOOD & share there. I look forward to delighting in your delight!

How Does Summer Manifest in Your Body?

Greetings from me, sheltered from the sun & heat a few more minutes before heading to the Fayette County Fair, my second home this week. It’s just the beginning, & I’ve met a ton of people, experienced lambs being bathed/shaved & Lego creations being built, & witnessed the amazing dedication of 4-H Members & Volunteers. & that’s summer, right? New experiences, socializing, using the extra daylight to its fullest.

Let’s take a turn to summer yoga classes … It’s been my joy to practice with you! We’ve been practicing Pitta-balancing yoga asanas (postures), breathing techniques & meditations in classes all summer … & maybe you’ve heard of Ayurveda, Yoga’s sister science, in yoga classes or workshops. While Yoga is the science of self-realization, Ayurveda is the science of daily life. These two sciences complement each other on our unique paths through life.

A basic Ayurvedic principle is “Like increases like.” Therefore, balance comes from doing the opposite — for example, summer tends to be hot, fiery, sharp, light, & active, which are all Pitta qualities. All of these qualities are great when they’re in balance — we enjoy the warmth, the long days, the fun activities outdoors & with friends.

In balance, we’re kinda like Luna here, my new friend from the Fayette County 4-H Dog Club:

Ah, summer vibes …

However, if we also tend to have a fiery, active personal constitution (dosha), the combination of summer & our individual tendencies can take us out of balance — think overheating, fiery temper, sharp words, overly competitive or driven, burnout, indigestion, etc. So, to return to balance, we shift our practices/mindset to cultivate the opposite qualities (think cooling, nurturing, non-competitive, shade, siestas, etc.).

Here are a few articles that I found helpful today as I continue to balance my own naturally fiery constitution in the already fiery-ness of summer ;). Enjoy!

The Ayurvedic Basics of Summer, a.k.a. Pitta Season from Banyan Botanicals

How Does Summer Manifest in Your Body? from Banyan Botanicals

Check out Kathryn Templeton’s article on Pitta dosha HERE at Yoga International. Here’s a bit from her Ayurvedic recommendations for asanas (hopefully you’ve noticed these in our group classes πŸ˜‰ &/or private lessons):Pitta

So enjoy the light, joy, & playfulness of summer … & cultivate practices to keep you cool & calm in mind, body & spirit. See you soon, Friends! E

Summer Vibes – Work & Rest

Here’s to summer:

Andie, 9-week old service dog-in-training with Canine partners for Life, has this summer yoga thing DIALED IN.

Last week I decided to dial down my teaching for the month of August (beginning July 29th, see class schedule). This was a difficult decision. One, I enjoy teaching. Two, I really enjoy teaching yoga. Three, I tend toward loving to work … a little too much.

As you might’ve heard in class last week, my voice left the building. This happens once/twice a year, usually during a season change … yet also happens to me during times of stress or overtaxing my body.

Enter new job, huge fundraiser, and an upcoming 10-day County Fair.

Now, for 3 decades I’ve pushed my body to go go go 6-7 days a week, whether in school, college, grad school, &/or multiple jobs at one time. I’ve pushed through illness, exhaustion, & relationships in order to work … granted, it’s always work I LOVE … wildlife biologist, wildland fire crew, camp director, outdoor rec student, wilderness guide, humane society volunteer coordinator, etc.etc. … yet work has taken precedence over most everything else.

In my 20s I could borrow from my energy stores without much consequence … Live on 5 hours of sleep, too little to eat, train for a marathon or hike miles a day, work hard, go adventure in the woods/rivers on the weekends, & get up Monday & do it again.

In my late 30s, however, it started to come back on me. Stress build-up, panic attacks, lethargy, “weird” health issues that no one could explain … which in turn affected my relationships & ability to function in the world. I could put on a good show (or so I thought).

Yoga is teaching me a lot about myself. First, to notice that I was past “Empty” on my internal fuel gauge. And had been for a WHILE. And to admit that. Not easy for a Type A perfectionist.

Second, yoga has been teaching me that it’s ok to take a break … whether that’s a 5-minute walk away from the computer, saying no to an “opportunity” that would tax my currently tenuous energy stores, or backing off on work (sacrilege!) for a period to recharge.

More & more of us are waking up to the fact that the speed of modern society IS NOT NORMAL. We are not made for a 24/7 “on” world. The exponential uptick in stress-related illnesses speaks volumes to this fact.

I’m a product of this modern society. If I’m unaware, I work long after everyone is gone, I work through meals, I’ll go to sleep & wake up working on something. (This is also Pitta out of balance πŸ˜‰ … which has been our theme this summer in classes, i.e. pitta-balancing)

The sciences of Yoga & Ayurveda provide practices to maintain and/or return us to balance, homeostasis, reconnect us with our Selves & Something Bigger.

So I’m trying to stay aware … & I knew I’d overdo last week, it was inevitable given the tasks needing done. Time to course-correct.

I know the next few weeks with the Fayette County Fair will be taxing since it’s all new to me … so I’m scheduling my practices — morning workouts, yoga nidra, meditation, massage, my health “potions” as Jim calls them πŸ˜‰ … & lightening up on workaholic tendencies.

I teach what I need to practice. Have you heard me in class these past weeks? “What if you could back off 10%?” “What would it be like to take support here?” “Allow yourself to rest.” I need to hear all of these gentle reminders.

So August will be an experiment in taking a breather, time to reset & recharge. I’m looking forward to strengthening my own yoga practices & knowledge, so I can come to classes with fresh insights & energy in September.

Of course I hope you’ll join me in a class, or schedule a private session to meet your unique interests. I hope you’ll find the yoga you need for this time in your life, whether it’s in the classes or workshops I offer from the Himalayan Tradition, or elsewhere in our community. So many opportunities for wellness locally when we seek it!

And I hope you’ll be curious about those areas you’ve been pushing hard (maybe for all the right reasons) … & maybe give yourself a break too. Allow yourself to return to homeostasis. We can do this together :).

Thanks for your example, Andie the service dog. Do your work, & rest well … preferably belly up near some good dog treats.

What has your yoga practice (postures, meditation, lifestyle, etc) been revealing to you recently? I look forward to hearing …

Remember to register for the Year Long Meditation with Himalayan Institute! You can join any time … Here’s our collective meditation hours as of yesterday:

Positive action to change the world, positively ;).

Come practice with me soon & follow our adventures on social media during my hiatus! Much love to each of you, thank you for your dedication to your practice on and of the mat.

Full Moon / Lunar Eclipse

Serendipity … these cards came to my attention after Sunday’s Chair Yoga class … from an affirmation deck by Tosha Silver.

Today is the Full Moon, with a partial Lunar Eclipse … this moon, the Blessing Moon … a time to offer gratitude … a time also to be content with the blessings or results of the work one has done the first 6 months of the year. Not adding more or less, but content with what is.

I over “did” last week & into the weekend. I knew there would be an abundance of work due to a special event (long nights) & teaching on top of that (early mornings).

So now I’m a little under the weather. Sore throat out to the ears, overall tired feeling. And my cycle began a week early, which adds to the exhaustion.

In past years, I would have pushed through … this is my Pitta nature (What is my dosha?)… to keep going despite the warning signs from the body. I’m not choosing to push through this time, & it’s a blow to my ego.

I’m so grateful I don’t have to push through. I have a job & a supervisor that allows flexibility & understands there are days you need to rest & recover. Also, sharing the yoga practices in group classes, people understand if I need a break one day. Not everyone has this flexibility …

And yet, my badge of honor used to be my endurance … & frankly stubbornness. When I used to run & ttrain for marathons, I wasn’t the fastest runner, but I didn’t stop … I paced myself & made my distance & time 95% of the time. As a wilderness guide, I may have been slower at hiking, but I could hike for miles without stopping. At various awesome jobs over the years, I could be the first one in the office & last out … day in & day out.

And I can’t do that anymore. Or I could, but I pay the price in sleep, relationships & overall health.

It still causes me discontent. My ego says, “You SHOULD be able to do this … If you were a good employee/teacher/person, you’d be able to …” Can anyone relate?

So today, this Full Blessing Moon & Lunar Eclipse, I’m reminded to rest in what I already have & who I already am. Contentment.

And maybe it takes some Courage to be Content. To say, “Hey, I’m doing what I’m doing, I’m doing it WELL & with INTENTION, & it is enough.”

What is “enough” in your world? I hope you get a few moments this week to rest in Contentment with that “enough” … To be Courageous & gently but firmly say to your ego, “Hey, what I have / am is enough today, & it is GOOD.”

And maybe take a nap.

This moon cycle’s card from Spirit de la Lune:

Happy Blessing Moon.

It’s Time to Meditate & Change the World

The Year Long Meditation with Himalayan Institute is finally here!

No meditation experience necessary, no flexibility required ;). What is required is a commitment to cultivating your own inner light & peaceful mind in order to change the world around you.

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CLICK HERE to register (it’s free!) & join the movement.

When you register, make sure to check out Pandit Rajmani Tigunait’s (Chair & Spiritual Head of Himalayan Institute) video message. In it, he answers many questions about the YLM & offers inspiration for your practice — I so enjoy hearing his positive & direct wisdom.

If you’re in yoga classes with me, we’ll practice short meditations at the end of class, so why not add your minutes to the collective?

Setting aside time for meditation isn’t easy for me. I’ve been pretty sporadic, honestly. My teacher gave me a meditation to practice, & I’ll do it religiously for a few months, then slack off to a few days a week, then get back to every day, then do ZERO for a week. When I get back on schedule, I notice how difficult it is to find that rhythm again. That what was once just a few minutes to settle into meditation when I was practicing daily, is now fidgeting the ENTIRE time I’m trying to meditate!

Also, I overworked last week, late nights & early mornings … & now my body is exhausted & throat unhappy … so there’s another excuse as the week starts.

So I begin again … & again …

Sharon Salzberg, renowned meditation teacher, says, “We don’t meditate to become better meditators. We meditate to become better at life.”

Again, listen to Panditji’s talk about YLM — I think you’ll find yourself smiling.

So, I’m gonna continue to work on my meditation practice, & I hope you’ll join me! Our efforts multiply.

I also realize it’s the Full Moon on July 16th … & a partial Lunar Eclipse too … what an auspicious way to begin!

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I’d love to hear about your meditation practice if you have one … OR if you’d like to start a meditation practice & what inspires you to do so. What keeps you going when you want to hit the snooze button, or look at social media, or just don’t “feel like it [meditating]”? Your insights inspire me & I’m sure others reading this post too!

“Pinball Mind” from Listen Well

As I composed this month’s e-newsletter about the Year Long Meditation, the Listen Well offering came to my inbox. Give it a listen & see if you can relate … cuz I can TOTALLY relate:

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I’m looking forward to our closing meditations together in class.

Also, the book I’ve shared in classes recently:

This dude is a DOCTOR of Forest Medicine! How cool is that?! Who wouldn’t want to get a prescription to go & walk in the forest 2 hours a day?

I’m reading this book to Tortilla as he deals with the fireworks (for WEEKS now, poor puppy):

As long as I’m in my pinball mind πŸ˜‰ … Ever since I heard about “moon gardens,” I’ve wanted to cultivate one. A Moon garden can be composed of night-blooming flowers, or flowers / plants that reflect moonlight, i.e. white flowers, silvery plants. The effect is said to be cooling & calming to the senses & the mind.

Here’s what I have so far …

This last photo is of one of my faves — a Jasmine variety — I pause every morning to enjoy a moment here before walking to yoga class. The blooms last only a day yet the smell is heavenly.

See you soon, E