Yogatory P1 :: Ahimsa – non violence, non-harming, compassion for all living things

Recently I created my own business, Ahimsa Wellness. You probably haven’t heard of it because…well I haven’t entirely figured out the technological blah blah of how to launch it! But the intention is there and I’m watering it and it is a brilliant segway for me to introduce to you the concept of Ahimsa; non violence, non-harming, compassion for all living things.

I need to acknowledge up front, there is so much violence and harm being done to others and the world around us right now but I am NOT burying my head in the sand. I’ve made a choice to not use this blog as another platform to discuss  current affairs.  I’m using it to share what I actually DO to minimise harm to myself and others.

In my last post I lightly described the 8 limbs of yoga and committed to sharing my insights and thoughts to you on the first two limbs, the Yamas (universal morals) and the Niyamas (individual morals).  This is a really cool commitment because every time I revisit these teachings, I find something new about myself and the way I am flowing (or not) with life.  It’s a good old check & balance sesh!  Word of warning though, it’s part and parcel of reviewing these intimate parts of ourselves that we unearth things that may not feel, look or taste good! But you owe yourself 100% honesty in this inquiry.

Now these are MY feelings, my interpretations of many different teachers interpretations.  It’s up to you how you interpret Ahimsa and all the components of the 8 limbed path of Yoga // the path for living and how you decide (or not) to practice.

For those that are not officially practicing Yoga but reading this – can you see how transferable the practice of Yoga is to daily living?  You’re already doing Yoga!!

On the mat:

Go gently. Take rest when you need it.   Don’t sacrifice your body for the sake of a pose.  I’ve learned the hard way, dislocating a shoulder trying to do a hand stand “because everybody else was”….*blushes*….silly duffa.

Yoga is an internal practice.  It is NOT a p!ssing contest to see who can turn their body into a pretzel first.  Mind your own business by keeping your attention on where YOU, your body and your breath are at in the only moment that exists. This one.

If you can’t breathe in a back bend or twist, get the heck out.   You breath is your barometer for when you have gone too far.  If you are forcing, it’s very hard to be feeling.

Check in with your face – even if you can’t see it, feel it.  Is there tension in your jaw?  Are you furrowing your brow?  Are your shoulders tickling your ears? Relax, find ease, you never know when the wind might change and you’ll get stuck with the “when will this pose be over” face.

The person at the front of Yoga class is a guide, you are the real teacher.  If something is suggested that doesn’t feel good (excruciating pain = good example) don’t do it!

Off the mat:

Let’s get the most controversial one out of the way. Consider closely what you consume, what you eat. If it had a heart beat and you are ok with this, continue. If there are medical reasons you need to eat flesh or your body craves animal protein, listen to it. I have not always been a vegetarian and perhaps I won’t always be a vegetarian but the more I look at the ethics around the meat industry, the more aligned I feel by not contributing to it.

Save the animals. Drink beer & eat bread instead ;)

Save the animals. Drink beer & eat bread instead 😉

Start with YOU – be kind & compassionate to YOU.  This goes for your thoughts, your words and your deeds.  Treat yourself how you treat others – you are worth it! For the record this is my toughest work.  Sometimes I totally love the sh!t out of myself, I relish my own company and I feel quietly confident on my path knowing that if my heart says so, so it is.  But other times, I can be consumed with doubt, riddled with insecurities and swamped by feelings of inadequacy.

This is the work – letting these feelings arise so they can pass. When we don’t entertain these negative nelly phases (that don’t like being time framed!) we give ourselves the freedom to choose to focus on what is important, what is the kindest most compassionate thing you can do for yourself right now.  Then go do it.

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Who you spend time with is who you become! Change your life by consciously choosing to surround yourself with people who embody values like yours. Chose wisely who and what you want to expose yourself to, what you feed yourself with.

I expose myself to this every morning! Create beautiful things in beautiful spaces where you can breath beautiful breaths!

I expose myself to this every morning! Create beautiful things in beautiful spaces where you can breath beautiful breaths!

Respect your elders. Respect your youngers. Respect all living beings.

There is a certain level of discipline required here – to be loving and kind to ourselves is something we are not encouraged to prioritise and you guessed it, it’s a practice, not a perfect. The vast majority of us have spent many a year talking ourselves down, dimming our own light and dabbling in various (and creative!) means of self sabotage. So be patient and tolerant as you lift veils on your own behavior and learn to really love yourself.  Only from this place of self love can we fully love others.  I used to gag at such BS but I wish I wish I wish I knew earlier in life just how imperative our own self love and self care is to the rest of humanity.

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Non-violence is unconditional love; it is true compassion. By learning how to love and be loved we can begin to embody the practice of Ahimsa in our lives.  Here’s a coupla-few more ways to bring kindness and compassion into your life which will in turn, filter into others!

Get goodness in you on the daily!

Get goodness in you on the daily!

Let the nature nourish!

Let the nature nourish!

Set cheesy reminders in your phone, in case you forget how loved you are!

Set cheesy reminders in your phone, in case you forget how loved you are!

do no harm

Capture blessings you come across so you can remind yourself later...or post them on your blog!

Capture blessings you come across so you can remind yourself later…or post them on your blog!

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Yogatory!

Yogatory – a theoretical laboratory about the magic of Yoga.

Just like life has many layers, so does Yoga.  We call them limbs and there are 8 of them.  The best bit – they are transferable to all facets of living, regardless of whether you have ever stepped onto a Yoga mat! Yoga by the way is not a religion, for me it’s medicine. It’s an experimental, experiential inquiry of the self, though the self, to the self.  Touching your toes ain’t got diddly squat on the rest of the package!

There is a heck of a lot of writing done on the subject and most stem from the Yoga Sutras (ancient texts) as described by the darling sage Patanjali. I’m going to keep my interpretation as palatable as possible.  But I’m 100% taking advantage of the opportunity to shine the light of awareness on the OTHER elements of Yoga because like most peeps, I was seduced initially by the physical postures, the Asana.  Now though, 2 years on from completing my first teacher training, I can simply say Asana is just one part of the whole.  It’s not what I live for and wait for it…it’s not even what I do #everydamnday.  Yes I practice Asana regularly but teaching 6 or 7 classes a week, 1/2 on the mat 1/2 floating around the room adjusting does not constitute a solid Asana practice….BUT I am still practicing Yoga.  Sharing yourself, your truths, your vulnerabilities and imperfections in front of a bunch of people is an intense (mostly wonderful) experience!

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The 8 limbs are like a road map to union.  Like any good road trip, it’s all about the journey as opposed to fixating on the destination. We need to go through all the detours, pause a drink in the beauty around us, peel off some layers, refuel etc. These various stages (sometimes disguised as setbacks) are all preparation, all laying down of a solid foundation to lead us…home.

I’m making a #commitment# (I shrink even typing that word!) that for the next 10 weeks I’m going to roll through the first two limbs – the Yamas & the Niymas and share my reflections here.  Yes there are 10 but no they are not commandments. For me, they are my guide, a moral compass.

First up, I’m re-visiting Ahimsa – something I hold very close to my heart..

Ezzie

Pondering life, contemplating death

Two people that held a space in my heart left the earth in the last two weeks.

I have felt an outpouring has been brewing in my fingertips.

Here it comes. It’s all over the place, a perfect reflection of how all over the place I was when I was writing.

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She sits by the sea for comfort, grace, understanding. The clarity. It comes and goes as frequently as the ocean waves.  For what is life, to live? To die? To fumble in between? To remember and forget? To laugh and cry and nod and shake and dance. And then?  To suggest care free living sounds, feels tastes INSANE right now. How can we NOT care when we can hear, touch and taste so much suffering? A life lived well, with courage, joy, strength – Andrew Jones. Rest in Peace.

To be brave – I’ve confused this with reckless.

To be strong – I’ve replaced this with arrogance.

To be knowledgeable – I’ve found ignorance.

What’s the way? The method? The recipe for living?  If there’s a code, gimme some crack already.  I’ve had more practice at functioning on high speed.

They say when a person dies, one is born. But the death, the passing, the transition … how does one hold this in the regard high enough that justifies no more breathing?  Miriam…were you honored?  I hope I did you justice.  In the moments when I burnt for you.  Shed tears and prayed for you.

Sagittarius full moon – pierce through the illusions.  Ok, I’m trying here.

A child taunts the ocean, daring the waves to touch him.  Catch me if you can. Oh how life catches us. Holds us and repeatedly kicks our ass. Who decides what we deserve? Is it us? Really? Karma? Do we have a say in this or is someone having a fat old time pulling all our strings? As soon as I think I get it, I realise I really don’t.  When I am woken by the moon at her fullest and I go outside with my precious things to sit and talk, she just stares at me. Silent. Gaze strong and unwavering. But not unnerving. Nurturing. Sometimes there just are no answers. So why the incessant questioning? Shit there I go again.

In Yoga we speak of Santosha. Contentment. My default for quick contentedness – move. Flee. Travel. Roam. If in doubt, discomfort, challenge……leave.  This method of madness is finally becoming clear to me – I’ve done the maths and since 2006 I have not spent longer than 12 consecutive months in Perth.

Perhaps I am beginning to see through my own veils. The filters or the lens which I see through.  Time to stay still long enough to feel what is, especially when they (the feelings) are not as I’d like them to be.

Oh to be free I feel a part of me call. What is this to be free business? I’ve gotten further away from the truth.  Picking holes in my own beliefs and understandings.

I watch a woman with her special child, the one teasing the ocean. Negotiating with him not to submerge himself fully in the sea on this sunny but winter day. Now, again and not for the first or last time my perspective is shifted.  There will always be challenges, adversities, tragedies.

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The writing ceased there, with no neat and tidy ending.  Just a bit of balm for the wounds.  I hopped in my car and drove until something stopped me. I got out and took this picture. Do you see what I see?

Surrender to the mystery.

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If you’d like to a sound track to ponder to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkGBLLjAXEA

The Invitation by Oriah

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own
without moving to hide it, or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

unnamed

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation

Yinspiration

My love of Yoga has fallen to a new level.  A real deep one.  For a while there, we were off. Yoga was like that one friend we have that’s just too honest and therefore you can only take in small doses.  Yoga and I took a wee break because, the truth hurts.  Through Yoga I was finding out so much about myself and quite frankly, I couldn’t hack it.  And what is becoming clear, when the going gets tough, I usually bail.  Like skip the country bail.  Since this is not an option for me right now (although I have come up with many a crafty concept to reinstate the possibility of it being an option!) I’m here.  I’m staying put.  And I’m doing more Yoga than ever.  I have fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with Yin Yoga in particularly. Or perhaps it’s Yin yoga that is supporting me as I free fall…

Anyway, I stumbled across some assessments from my teacher training and I thought I’d share a bit. Of course it’s one of those things that is better tried for yourself 😉

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What is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga, it’s a little like desert.  What appears a tasty treat (“Just a few poses per class”) often ends with you feeling a little softer, somewhat calmer and more often than not, rather content. The foundations of this decadent practice are exploring and playing with our own edges, remaining still and quiet and holding poses for extended periods of time.  Yin allows you to sit with the cumulative effects of these precepts. I won’t fib, it’s not always pleasant but there is a freedom found beyond what initially resembles torture, enticing practitioners to transcend mind made limitations and instead, find doorways. Adopting a meditative and contemplative mindset adds another dimension to this deceivingly challenging but delightfully rewarding practice!

Although my journey with Yin is very juvenile, it’s clear to me it’s the other half of Yoga my practice has been craving. This passive (but not inactive), soft practice allows the practitioner to dabble with their own version of LSD – that’s long holds, slow breaths and deep stretching.  Single postures are used to facilitate stretching of fascia, the connective tissue that essentially binds our body, providing an internal scaffold if you like.

Though the postures have a general shape, there are individual anatomical variations within each pose.  Practitioners are encouraged to self-align and therefore the sensations experienced (mental, physical, spiritual and emotional) will vary between individuals.

Yin is an ancient practice that has been resuscitated, largely by Paul Grilley.  As the pace of life has increased, this has been reflected in the styles of Yoga practiced. It is only in recent years that the benefits of bringing back balance to our practice and harmonising Yang with Yin that this receptive and surrender soaked style of Yoga has become popularised.

How do Yin and Yang Yoga relate?

Everything in life has a naturally occurring balance of Yin and Yang qualities.  Light has dark, hot has cold, contraction has expansion, the moon has the sun….I could go on! They are opposite forces that are both interconnected and independent of one another, existing within one another. To come back to our centre, to a place of balance, is to seek equanimity.   This is briefly described in the foundational text of Yoga, the Yoga Sutras.  Patanjalli explains “II.48 that once the balance between opposites is achieved, “thereafter one is undisturbed by the dualities.” (1). 

As we bumble through life, we are innately connected to natures seasons and cycles.  Through the practice of any style of Yoga, our awareness of this is increased. We feel ourselves contract a little deeper but also expand a little further.  We begin to witness the swaying in and out of balance as the influence of our relationships, home life, working environment, diet etc. evolves. Depending on our state of being, we will gravitate towards different styles of practice, seeking different forms of nourishment (or whatever it is you have been drawn to Yoga for).  Some days this is a kick ass, Yang infused, Vinayasa sweat sesh.  Other days you will pass up a Friday night on the town to recluse and journey inward via a candle light Yin class. In this sense, Yin and Yang Yoga don’t only relate, they fully complement one another.

What is the role of the teacher in Yin Yoga?

I consider sitting in the seat of a teacher a great privilege. Not only have people carved a chunk of time out of their day to sit, breathe and receive, they choose to do it in my company. Therefore showing up and being present is a pre requisite for the role.  But, as a fellow human, off days don’t evade me.   Thankfully, Yoga has given me the tools to ground, centre, re-calibrate and do the best that I can in the present. This means creating as well as holding a space where Yoga can work its transformational magic with what I have, in the moment.

I teach Yin Yoga on Thursdays at 6am (the early bird gets the worm right?) at The YogAbode, Unit 10/515 Walter Road, Morley East.

Patience please, I’m creating a dream

Good International Day Of Happiness morning to you!

This post has a soundtrack – PRESS PLAY : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJTm_Kyq3BQ

I’m going to start in reverse order, sharing interesting things before I launch into a very quick babble.  I say very quick because things have started shifting at a cracking speed.  Who ever is driving this thing called life seems to have their foot on the accelerator and I am so gosh darn excited about all the changes that are coming in to fruition but at the same time, working hard to steady myself… with varying success!

# 1 – Did you know the kingdom of Bhutan, nestled high up in the Himalayas chooses to take the lime light off gross national product, instead fostering a culture deeply rooted in Gross National Happiness? I have spent much of this short year in Vipassana meditation, either sitting (meditating) or serving (as a volunteer). The underpinning message of this beautiful beautiful technique is to untie the roots of your suffering so we can all BE HAPPY. When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. So it’s brought me back to the age old question; how I am contributing, how are we contributing and is it enough? I am swaying between feeling like I am sticking my head in the sand while I write this *fluff* when there are bloody awful things going on, right here in Australia: Close the gap, not the communities . So right now, it doesn’t feel like I am doing enough. But, I’m doing my best in my we area of influence. I think you are too.

You happiness effects my happiness effects your happiness.   We are all connected.

You happiness effects my happiness effects your happiness. We are all connected.

# 2 – Now this may gross you out.  In fact I have already found out from a dear friend that this was too much for her – in her words, she likes her chemicals! Well, I don’t (anymore). Truth be told when I was using deodorants heavily laden with things like ALUMINUM – yup, check yours, almost promise it’s a key ingredient, which you are then mooshing straight into your glands.  And yup there is controversy around whether this is really bad or really not so bad but I feel my body does not need heavy metals slathered into it on the daily. Anyway, I PONGED.  I was beyond wiffy and I was damn well self conscious about it, which in turn had me sweat on it.  Repeat cycle. Two weeks ago I decided to MYO (make your own).  One week ago I spent 7 x 12 hour days working in a kitchen (got the rookie burns to prove it) cooking for 50 people. RESULT – no wiff, no pong, no worries and NO ALUMINUM DEODORANT EVER AGAIN.  No contributing to another plastic, single-use container either because I just found a pretty little jar, mixed these guys up together and hey presto.  Wanna have a crack?  If your coconut oil is solidified, warm it up gently over low heat so you are able to combine ingredients first.

Here tis:

6 tablespoons of coconut oil

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup corn flour

A few drop of essential oils. I used tea tree for it’s anti bacterial properties but really, it’s all I had kicking around!

I couldn't do Natarjasana before MYO deodorant.

For the sake of humanity, I couldn’t do Natarjasana before MYO deodorant.

# 3 – Today is going to be big.  Even if you aren’t thinking it, you’ll be feeling it at superbly subtle levels…

Solar Eclipse + New Moon (great for setting new intentions) in Pisces + the Autumn Equinox = heartexplosions‬

My mission for this potent period of things & stuff? To follow the wonderful wisdom of Bryonie Wise!

Go Slower.
One thing.
One step.
Quiet reflection.
A meandering walk & a hushed conversation.
A full breath in each moment.

A room with a view.  Not my room but I enjoyed the view.  I totally underestimated the influence the environment you choose to be in can have on you. Choose wisely! Say no.  Move.

The environment you choose to be in, you choose to be a part of.  Choose wisely! Say no. Say yes. Move. Or stay (if your environment looks like this!!)

Now I have re-read those words, re-affirmed my intention for today.  Now I am not going to type furiously in a hurry to share my dear diary.  Now I’m going to calmly and succinctly reiterate to myself (cos that’s pretty much what I’m going when I write a post)  *Pause for a moment, I’ll drink my ginger tea, you drink yours*  Exhale. Inhale. Repeat.  Feel. Love. Remember.  Find LOVE+JOY. Then share it.

lovejoyMy dreams, the ones that have been reignited, the ones that I am birthing, the ones that I am reestablishing my confidence to make happen, they’ll take patience.

I’ll save the unveiling for another day.

This addonis !

“What is now proved was once only imagined” William Blake

Better done than good

Better done than good.  Better done than good.  This is my new mantra thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert. You see, we met last Saturday night and since then, she’s been in my head.  Actually, since reading Eat Pray Love donkeys years ago, she’s been in my head.

There’s been a heck of a lot in my head of late and it’s been tricky to decipher it all. Decipher any of it really! I have wanted to write often but haven’t.  I’ve wanted to Yoga often but haven’t. I have want to do many things but haven’t.  Then as I was doing my meditation (walking quietly around Lake Monger) I totally called my own bullshit card.  I saw how clearly, despite my multiple detoxes & colonics, I was so FULL OF SHIT.  More excuses than you can poke a stick at.

So the words penetrated.  Apparently you need to hear things repeated 6 times before they sink in.  6 repeats or one lap around Lake Monger. Things (that’s a broad net to cast, I know) are better done than good.  Better to just STOP making those excuses that are generally followed closely by feeling tewibble, rounded into sneaky little cycle of viciousness!

It’s better that I just bust out a quick blog post – it’s better done than me sitting on it for ages, trying to make it “good”.  Waiting for the right time, space, place, ray of sunshine, scent of incense.  Excuses, I SEE YOU!!

4919026fe0ddd8555e62ff0dd4f0a43bWhile I have your attention, I shall share something wonderful because I can and I think if you are STILL reading this, you’ll like it! I have just signed up for a 21 day Gratitude Experiment with Yoga Alchemy. I vote you do too!

Today’s task was to write down 3 positive happenings from the day and to reflect on who to express gratitude towards.  Here goes:

1. Spontaneous road side rummage, thank you to what ever guided me there and thanks to Dad for letting me pinch the ute.  All the time. Thank you for the reminder that I once went to Ikea and that I need never, ever do that again. Ever ever.  Your trash = my treasure. So thank you also to the lovely pre-owners of all my goodies!

10954980_10155270176930564_7243483037214290739_n2. I had a beautiful, timely conversation with a beautiful friend. These things (conversation + friends) are such a rare commodity.  Like politicians with integrity! This beautiful ray of light in my life also sent me this after our chinwag. Melted my heart, soothed the sore spots and made me twinkle like a fairy from head to hoof. THANK YOU SISTER!

unnamed3. I got to hang out with this lil rapscallion.  Loki and I have been house mates for the last three nights and I tell you, I’ll miss his wake up calls.  Loki as the name suggests is quite the little trickster and I really enjoyed looking after him, he’s been my perfect mischief making match! Big thanks to my mate going away and needing a kitty sitter!

LokiThere.

Simple.

Better done then good.

Much Love.

P.s It’s a full moon this week, so a perfecto time to dispose (read:begin the surgical removal) of any old, average habits.  You’ll probably find them holding hands with some excuses! Set the intention, at least..to loosen the grip.

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