Monday, October 4, 2010

Contemplations and Asana



Namaste Everyone!

I know I haven't blogged for awhile, and that is because I have not been very active with creating new deliciously succulent vegan dishes. I have topics I want to blog about, but they don't really have to do with the topic of being vegan. Honestly, I have been pretty basic lately…. cereal with strawberries and hemp milk for breakfast, soup or a salad for lunch, and a lot of greens and veggies in the wok, soba noodles or wild rice, some braggs liquid amino, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes and I'm good to go for dinner. Last night I made wild rice with broccoli, veggies, and edamame, so I change it up now and then, but that's the usual! 

I have been so focused on my Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice that I haven't really had time to be experimental with new dishes and recipes. I really want to take time to blog about my experiences and contemplations that I have been having as I have delved deeper into this lifestyle. I am reading, learning, practicing, and experiencing so much and I know writing and sharing these experiences will help deepen my practice. So, I am changing the focus of my blog for a bit, and I hope you'll stick with me. I, of course, will still blog vegan recipes and thoughts as they come about as well. :)

This particular blog is pretty much going to be a ramble of a bunch of things that have been going on in my mind lately. As I've been reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, I have spent a lot of time just thinking about my life and how everything has changed. I read in the Yoga Sutras that the mind is always changing and you have to embrace that. People are scared of change and they try to hold onto this and that, but that's impossible because everything is always changing everywhere all of the time. We are always changing - every minute. So, once we realize this and embrace this - it's like a weight off your shoulders. It's such a relief to accept change (because it will happen whether you like it or not) so life can happen and you can really begin to enjoy it. 

Everything in my life has changed and I am happier than I've ever been since I stopped planning or forcing anything for the future. I truly believe that when you give up expectations and analyze everything in your life: your thoughts, your reactions, your worries and stressors - a path will open up and everything will start to make more sense. Swami Satchidadana says, "If we live in the present, even though the whole world might blow up in a minute, it won't bother us. If we have decided to be happy, nobody can make us unhappy. Anything might happen. An earthquake might decimate the entire world, but we need not bother about the future. Nor should we worry about the past. It has already gone. To be happy this minute is in our hands. But, a carefree life is possible only with a well-controlled mind, one that is free of anxiety, one without personal desires or possessions." 

I used to get so much anxiety and stress about money. You always hear… "Go to school so you can get a good job and make money. And, if you further your education, then you can make even more money!" It's so much more about money than education or doing what makes you happy these days. How many of you chose your profession because it's what you are passionate about and is exactly what makes you happy? How many of you received a degree in what you thought would make you happy later to find out that it's not for you? Don't get me wrong… I went to college and have an undergraduate and a graduate degree. I wouldn't give up or take back those experiences. I have learned something from everything that I have experienced in the past, and it has led me to where I am now. I am thankful for that, and I am excited for new discoveries. I can honestly say though that I didn't figure out what I was passionate about until after I received those degrees. Everyone is different though - this is just my experience. 

I used to get so stressed out about money, but once I started to think of money differently, it was like I was a new person. I started to think of it as just a number. I mean, that's really all it is… it's a number on a computer screen, a piece of paper, a round piece of copper, or a plastic square. What significance does it really have… why do we let it define us? When I die am I going to say…. I'm glad I owned all of those cars and homes and paid off my credit cards… or am I going to say I am so glad that I have an amazing group of family and friends and experiences? Yes.. we need money to survive and live comfortably, so I'm not knocking money… I just think we need to change how we use it.  In Asteya (non-stealing), which is part of the first limb of yoga ,  Satchidanada explains that we should just use our money for what we need to survive. He calls it stealing if you overindulge in buying and spending….. "If someone has fifty garments in his closet and his neighbor does not have one, the first person is stealing the second usage. Because certain people have the buying power to make a lot of purchases they raise the prices for poor people who don't have much money. If everyone merely bought for their own necessity, goods would be left over in stores and prices would come down. The whole worlds economy is based on this." I love this perspective. I never thought of overspending as "stealing" until now. 

It seems like once we have one thing…we can never be fully satisfied. When a person goes to purchase a home they look for the biggest they can afford, and then the next home purchase must be bigger with lots of upgrades! If we just built houses that were standard in size depending on how many occupants  to live comfortably with minimal possessions than we would have more room for people and families that didn't make tons of money to live. We would make it more affordable for them too. 

It's definitely a life long journey. I don't know that I will ever be free from personal desires completely or have a well-controlled mind 100% of the time. But, I am definitely going to try and do the best that I can to notice when these feelings come about, and then continue to analyze so that I can let go even more. Next time you feel stress or anxiety about something ask yourself why. Is the stress really worth it? What's the worst that can happen? Also, try to analyze negative thoughts as well. Do you think of someone negatively? Why do you not like that person? Is it really a good reason? I have found that self analyzation and compassion for others makes everyday a good day. 

Alright well that is my thought for now. 

Onto the next…..

I also wanted to talk about my Asana practice.The Mysore method has really helped my practice and I look forward to it everyday. Right now I am stuck on Marichyasana D, and I am trying to not get frustrated with that. I know I am getting closer, at least on my right side. My left is much tighter for some reason, but everyday I notice I am able to twist a little deeper and rotate my arm a little more. I am working to control my breath, my bandhas, and just examine how my body feels so that I can deepen all postures. I keep telling myself to enjoy each posture and the steps along the way. I will be excited when I can move on to Navasana though! I love working with all of the instructors here… I learn something new and different from all of them. 


Besides the asanas, my main focus is on overcoming distractions, controlling and deepening my breath, and learning to let go. Controlling my breath seems to be a challenge. By the time I reach Virabhadrasana A & B I realize I am actually a little out of breath. I can actually feel my heart beating faster, and that makes it tough to keep my breath slow and under control. Last night at Mysore was the first time that I felt normal in those poses. I think it's because I am doing better at always engaging my bandhas and paying attention to my breath. I'm trying to see if I can slow it down and deepen it even more. At the point when I get to the Marichyasanas I have to remind myself to keep my breath deep and even. Since I am trying to improve C and working on the bind in D I notice that my breath pattern becomes shorter and more forced. When I deepen and slow down my breath I feel like I can concentrate more and move deeper into the pose. I am trying to learn to let go and release tension in my body. Since I am working on the bind I believe I sometimes try to force it or tighten up. When I do concentrate on letting go I have noticed a difference. I am not there yet, but I know I have opened up and moved deeper into the pose, so I am optimistic!


Tonight is Monday so I am going to do the led series. I don't get to move past Mari D anymore since that is where I stop in Mysore. Every pose leads to another in Ashtanga, so until I reach Mari D I'm really not ready for the other poses. Even though this is true, I still like to attend a led class and practice the postures. I also love the group energy when a class is moving, breathing, and experience Savasana together. It really depends on the instructor too…. Lewis, who teaches Monday nights, radiates the most positive energy and I feel the prana in full effect.

Until Next time……… Om…….

Monica


Do practice Ashtanga? What are your thoughts on practice on and off the mat - Email MeI'd love to hear about it!

1 comment:

Ren said...

I really like what you wrote about not "forcing anything for the future" and living in the present. Even though I know this logically, I find I have to remind myself of this throughout the day. I really enjoyed reading A New Earth because of how it discusses this topic.
Right now I am trying to catch myself when I get frustrated because I feel like I never have enough time. I know that resisting the fact that I can only do so much in a day & worrying about what is undone just causes me stress… and who needs that?! ;)