True confessions of a yoga teacher
You might be sick of reading about New Year’s resolutions, but please indulge me. I see New Year's resolutions as being one of the niyamas (tools used to increase social and personal harmony and elevate consciousness) found in the yoga sutras; swadayaya, or self study.
Mukunda, one of my dear teachers, would encourage us to look at what our actions were and ask ourselves if those actions were giving us what we want. For example we keep eating food when we are not hungry, but we want to loose weight. We stay up late, but we want to be better rested. We watch violent movies and TV, but we want a calm mind. We want our body to be strong and healthy, but we don’t exercise enough. In practicing swadayaya we might recognize the disconnect between what we want to manifest in our lives and what we are doing, or not doing, to have that happen.
It has been shown that to create a habit takes at least 40 days of repetition. It is hard to say what it takes to break a bad habit, but when we see what we are doing is not giving us what we want engaging in a productive habit might replace a misguided habit. Simplistic perhaps, but it's a good start. However it is not always easy to stay with those 40 days, or even 1 week. It definitely helps to have a buddy (or two) who is also walking down a path of change to share the challenges.
Ok, now that I have written all of that yoga-teacher inspirational stuff, let me make a few confessions:
Number 1-While many people think that I practice asana every day, I am going to come clean and tell you that is just not true. The only asana I practice every day is sitting cross-legged for a minimum of 10 minutes, longer on a good day.
Number 2-My body is getting old! Things are beginning to wear out, wear down and disintegrate. People told me this was going to happen and much to my surprise, it is.
Number 3-Yes in fact I did think I would be immune to the above aging process because I, at one time in my life, did practice asanas every day. But those days are long gone and with them went the fluid joints, strong bones and toned muscles that accompany such consistency.
At 49 I noticed things were changing. By 50 I was able to properly ignore those changes, and by 51, when knee and back pain began to creep up on me I went back to a consistent asana practice. You might be happy, hopefully not surprised, to know it worked. I found some awesome asymmetries in my body and used poses to begin to correct them.
Here is another confession-If I did not need to get up and down from the floor many times a day, move easily around a room full of people doing yoga, and occasionally demonstrate an asana, I could have kept up ignoring the small failures of my body for a long time, at least until those small failures became much bigger failures.
I understand how easy it is to not notice when our body begins to weaken, stiffen and age. This kind of “acceptance” is built in to us. Sometimes when people come in to start yoga they say that the rigidity in their body, or their injury is relatively new. But I can often see that it has been a long time in the making. Things settle in and then get hard to move. The good news is the less time we wait the easier it will be to get back on the right track. We can replace the habit of ignoring our bodies and minds with the habit of self-study and assessment. You might remember this from the first paragraph; it is called swadayaya.
This is not about being cranky about aging and trying to stop the process. Our bodies are designed to last 120 years! Between the demands and stresses of life, disease and our frequent indulgences, it is hard to meet that potential. The longer we can keep ourselves moving comfortably and efficiently through life the more we will be able to give to those we love, right? The longer we have to fulfill our dharma. And generally speaking, we will be less cranky. This world doesn’t need any more negativity- It’s good to do what you can to not contribute.
So, to help you with this ongoing process I have created a coupon code that you and a walking-on-the-path buddy can use when you register for a workshop or a class block**. The coupon code will give you both 10% off your fees, but you have to email me so I know who your buddy is, and then your buddy has to register at the same time. I have also added classes to the schedule in the evening, and given you more time to sleep-in on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings. There are a bunch of workshops for people who are either less experienced with asana and meditation, or they just do better in a workshop setting. Check them all out by clicking on the hyper links above.
Don’t forget January 1st there will be a sale on class blocks and workshops. Just in time for you to fill your tool box with manifest-worthy habit-making classes for 2018.
** Your buddy must be a new visitor to Yoga Loka to receive a buddy discount on class blocks. Workshops are valid regardless of how long you have been at Yoga Loka.
Looking ahead to 2018
Yoga Loka is about to begin its 15th year in Frenchtown.
It’s been an amazing journey.
I am incredibly humbled by the degree to which the community has embraced Yoga Loka and what we do here. And I am so very appreciative of the kindness and enthusiasm of our students and teachers.
As we continue to grow and seek to deepen our commitment to yoga, to healing, and to community, we plan to introduce new classes, workshops and events at the studio. Our aim is to continue to cultivate what we have planted here 15 years ago and have so diligently nurtured all the time since.
In addition to these other changes, we will also be increasing some fees — for the first time since 2014. As of January 1, fees for drop-in classes will be $18. Class blocks and other fees will similarly increase. Click here to see the 2018 rates. Monthly unlimited auto-renew fees will remain at $99 for current subscribees until May 2018 when they will increase to $108. That $108 level also upgrades to receiving 10% off all workshops and boutique sales.
We are offering current students an opportunity to purchase class blocks for 2018 and other passes at 2017 prices through the end of the year. On January 1st we will continue our usual discount day — the 2018 class blocks will be 10% off for current students. You can purchase the class blocks on-line or during Aniko's New Years Day Class.
On behalf of all of us at Yoga Loka, I want to thank you for being part of this wonderful yoga community, for your ongoing support of the studio and of your friends and family who tread this ancient path, and for your dedication to your own practice. We wish you peace, health, happiness and success in the coming year.
Savasana, Eye pillows and you.
Savasana is one of those poses that some love and some, not so much. While you might have heard from your yoga teacher that savasana is one of the most important poses you can do, you may never have heard why that is so. More and more, research is pointing to the nervous system and suggesting if we can make a change there, we will find some long lasting and profound changes in our bodies, energy and mind.
This article gives a good description of what is going on in Savasana on these three levels, mind, body and energy. I also want to share with you a good technical reason to use an eye pillows during your deep rest! Parvathi often points out the direct connection of the eyes to the heart center through the nadis. Well it turns out there is also a nervous system connection between the heart and eyes, it is called the Oculocardiac reflex. Slight pressure on the eyes will stimulate the parasympathetic response and lower heart rate. This light pressure can also stimulate the vagus nerve, which can help us relax more deeply in addition to the other gifts a well-toned vagus nerve provides-good sleep, digestions and more ease in interactions with others.
This month is extended relaxation, so bring your blankets, scarves, and eye pillows.
And in honor of savasana month we are running a sale on Mad Lavender eye pillows; 10% off when you come in with this coupon code: Eyes2017
In addition to the other benefits of eye pillows, these smell wonderful!