“Too many of us move through our lives with our true selves
buried below layers of repressed emotion. With so much
energy channeled toward sustaining the repression,
there is little left over for the deeper questions.
The consequences of our evasion are profound.
Our stockpiles toxify into a cache of weapons
that turn inward against the self:
quick fix, long suffering.
As Rumi said, “Most people guard against the fire,
and so end up in it.”
This is the power of then. If we don’t deal with our stuff,
it deals with us.”
― Jeff Brown, Soulshaping: A Journey Of Self Creation
By Guest Blogger: Eva Montalvo
Sthira Sukham Asanam
We may think that ease (sukha) is better than effort, because it just sounds so, well EASY. Yet without effort (sthira) there is no strength or stability. On the other hand, we can overdo effort and feel as if we are straining and stressed.
In yoga we come into poses (asanam) that may be relaxing, and others that feel more strenuous. Practicing Sthira and Sukha really isn’t an either/or, though. It is balancing both at the same time.
For example, even in a relaxing stretch like child’s pose we can find a steadiness in our breathing and thoughts. In a stronger pose such as Warrior II, even while feeling the effort of the body’s muscles used to hold the pose, we can still look for a lightness and comfort by letting the shoulders relax down away from the ears and softening the muscles of the face.
Often, we can find ease or contentment simply by letting go of expectations – what we think “should” be – and simply acknowledging what IS. We can feel the pose and use the breath as a guide to that sweet spot of harmony within.
As you step off your mat and into your life, can you find this same balance of effort and ease? For example, even while performing a task such as preparing dinner, I find a sense of ease by putting on my favorite music and reflecting on the day with gratitude.
More about our guest blogger:
Eva is the Owner/Founder of Nourish Yoga & Wellness. Her mission is to inspire adults to live more energetically and vibrantly by helping them incorporate simple changes in their lifestyle, especially in learning how to move and breathe to connect to their body through yoga. She believes strongly in making yoga available for EVERY BODY and specializes in working with beginners and older adults. To learn more click here: https://www.nourishyogawellness.com/
Just because you CAN do something, does it mean you should? I recently realized while practicing yoga, after years of thinking I can’t do Camel Pose (Ustrasana), I actually can. Imagine that! I felt accomplished, proud of myself. All from a discovery that if I widened the space between my knees, I’m able to bend back just a bit deeper and take hold of my ankles. Prior to this discovery, I’d been priming my back with other poses which created some space. So I was ready at that time for this epiphany.
Fast forward about 2-3 weeks and I decide to teach it in class. First I demonstrate the gentle version of it, which I really like. And then for those who want to try a fuller expression, I demonstrate. The next day, I noticed sensation in my mid-back. The only explanation is that I should have stayed with the gentle version knowing that when I teach, I have a harder time being mindful of myself, because I’m focused on students. I did not, in that moment, have the ability to discern my best course of action. The Sanskrit for the concept of discernment is Vivek. I’d been learning about Vivek in a weekly class through the Princeton University Hindu Life Program. I had discovered the perfect lesson in Vivek (the hard way).
How can we take this lesson into our every day lives? Discerning how much we want to take in. One more news segment? One more Netflix series? Reaching, striving. One more commitment on the calendar? Should? Should not? Pause, breathe, think, weigh, assess…
Read more here about Camel Pose: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/camel-pose
I don’t know about you, but speaking candidly, I’m having a hard time staying focused these days. Starting, stopping, starting again, maybe finishing, maybe not. I’ve accepted that this is my current state of mind. What I do find helpful in the midst of moving, but not actually going anywhere, is taking time to pause. Pausing to look at how beautiful the clouds are especially against the bright blue sky, pausing to feel the sun on my face, pausing to inhale the outdoor scents of blooming trees, bushes, and flowers, pausing to notice patterns in the stone tile in my house I’ve never noticed before and taking time to just be in that moment.
Each day I think about all the things in my life I am grateful for. I try not to focus on what I don’t have, but turn toward the abundance that I do have. What do you notice when you pause?
During this season of awareness of our immune systems, there are practices and suggestions quite helpful for keeping the immune system toned. Sharing some of the many:
1. Reduce and regulate your exposure to stress. Stress affects the entire body and weakens the immune system as well as the digestive system. This involves the way you process stressful events in life as well.
2. Evaluate your lifestyle. Eat and sleep well. Focus on foods that are anti-inflammatory. Manage time and don’t over book or over burden your life. Being well rested helps your immune system fight and repair. It also helps the liver do its job detoxifying. Check out the Love your Liver Workshop coming up in April at this link: http://feelthepeaceblog.lynsirota.com/about/
3. Keep hands clean and away from the face. Sanitizing is good, but it is possible to overdo this. We need good bacteria too.
4. There are many foods, spices, herbs, and supplements that help the immune system. One of my personal favorites is Black Elderberry Extract. You can find it in stores under the name Sambucus and online. Try looking for a brand that is organic with little to no sugar.
4. Stay tuned in to your body and what it needs. Cultivate balance in the body and in life by staying deeply connected through physical movement especially yoga. Balance the body/mind through meditation.
Always check with your medical professional if you are concerned about your immunity or if you are thinking of trying new herbs and/or supplements to ensure no contraindications.
1. “Learning how to fail will help us more than anything else in life.”
2. “Protecting ourselves from pain—our own and that of others—has never worked. Everybody wants to be free from their suffering, but the majority of us go about it in ways that only make things worse.”
3. “When our main goals are to gain comfort and avoid discomfort, we begin to feel disconnected from, and even threatened by, others. We enclose ourselves in a mesh of fear.”
4. “Some people work hard, day and night, in the field of helping others, but their strongest motivation is to stay busy so they can avoid feeling their own pain.”
5. “It’s said that if we want to learn about our past, we should look at our present circumstances, for they are the result of our past actions. If we want to learn about our future, we should look at what we’re doing now.”
6. “Though we can’t predict or control what will come up next or how we will feel about it, we can do something about how we react. We can work on how we relate to whatever comes up.”
7. “Every time we catch ourselves going down the rut of a habitual reaction, we have a chance to interrupt the momentum and discover a whole new direction and depth to our life.”
8. “To the degree that we can open to our own discomfort, we can open to others’ as well, and vice versa. This is so because in reality there’s no difference between our pain and that of others.”
9. “When you become conscious, the first thing you discover is why you stayed unconscious all those years. Being conscious means you really have to feel what you feel, which is frequently very vulnerable and raw.”
10. “The interesting thing is that the more willing you are to step out of your comfort zone, the more comfortable you feel in your life. Situations that used to arouse fear and nausea become easier to relax.”
11. “Accepting something, by the way, isn’t the same as liking it. To accept a feeling that we habitually associate with discomfort doesn’t mean we immediately turn around and start enjoying it. It means being okay with it as part of the texture of human life.”
Invite the practice of mindfulness into your morning or evening shower. Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and feel the sensations of the water on all sides of the body. Alternate left/right shoulders, front body/back body. Inhale the steam and smells of soap and shampoo. Listen to the rhythmic cadence of the water for a few slow, deep breaths. Notice your shower habitat as if it’s the first time you’re seeing it. Can you find something you hadn’t noticed before? Stick out your tongue and let the shower water bathe and cleanse your palate. Pause after you shut off the water and feel the very moment the comfort of the heat turns to chill. Feel the chill. Give yourself a hug and start the day with the affirmation, “Today will be a good day. I’m grateful to be alive to experience this new day.”
Carpe Diem – Seize the day, peeps!