Dear Sweet Community:
It's that week...valentines. You know the week where you might hide in your home away from the incessant decorations of red hearts and pink balloons?
Amidst all of this media prescription of what "love" is and what we should do with it; I got to thinking about love. What does it means to care for another person? While I am thinking about love, I find myself, essentially, turning to the principles of love as described in the yoga tradition. In yoga we follow the yamas; moral guidelines to mitigate our own suffering and the suffering of others. In my own words, these are ways we can treat ourselves and others that show caring and deep respect.
The Yamas are:
Ahimsa: Non-harming. Obviously this is any thoughts or actions, that might harm physically or emotionally. But think about it this way, how you treat yourself might harm others. The love I have for my mom, reminds me to practice ahimsa towards myself.
Satya: Truthfullness. Being truthful with ourselves and others has many incarnations. I think about being honest in love. Understanding what we can and cannot give another person is important. Sometimes love means honesty with each other and being brave enough to tolerate it.
Asteya: Non-stealing. We steal in many ways. We can steal people's time, their energy, their needs, their aspirations, their inspiration. To love someone is to give to them, its not to steal from them.
Brahmacharya: Abstinance. Often we think of this as refraining from sexual activity. Traditionally Brahmacharya helps us retain our prana or life force. This is important, if we give all of our life force away then we aren't in our full vitality. When we use sexuality to bypass emotional intimacy we are robbing ourselves of prana. Or, conversely, when we are addicted to a certain emotional pattern to another it becomes toxic. Brahmacharya is abstaining from these depleting situations.
Aparigraha: Non-greediness. I like this one the most. I think about it a lot when it comes to love. It arises when we want things our way. Or when we keep a scorecard. Love means knowing when to give even when it means we have to compromise. And to know when we have enough. On valentines, you may not get the archetypal thing that signifies love to you, but maybe notice what you have received. This prevents greediness and ultimately supports us in being present with the expression of love that is all around us.
Happy almost Valentine's Day :)
Alignment Tip of The Week:
The past Friday we focused on the Vayu's (Energetic winds).
The vayus are energetic winds. Our prana moves in several directions and each directional winds aids in certain biological and energetic functions. I am going to talk about the vayus as they pertain to asana here.
I have mentioned before that all living things pulsate. There is a universal pulsation of up and out and down and in. Think of a beating heart, or a wave in the ocean. We pulsate too. Our breath adheres to this pattern of pulsation and our bodies follow our breath into an extending and grounding pattern of motion.
Start standing with your legs together, your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your heart. Cultivate uijayi breath.
Feel the breath start in the belly and the left hand as you inhale, the seat of Samana Vayu. Samana is the wind of coming back to the center, the belly.
Continue your inhale up to your heart and the right hand, the seat of Prana Vayu. Prana is the wind of the third eye and heart region. Udana Vayu is the upwards moving wind.
The last sips of your inhale extend your arms out wide and feel your breath move out in all directions for Vyana Vayu. Vyana is the wind that pulsates out.
As you exhale bring your hands back to the heart and belly and feel your breath move down for Apana Vayu, the downward wind. And finally feel your breath draw in from all directions back to the belly and your left hand, Samana Vayu again.
Try breathing like this a few times. Then add your legs. When you exhale bend your knees and when you inhale straighten your legs and come onto your toes. Repeat this a few times. Then you can exhale bending the knees and inhale lifting one foot off of the ground, exhale bend the knees with both feet on the ground and inhale try the other leg. This will teach you to use the vayus to create a rebounding effect in your body. Think of a basketball bouncing off of the floor to bounce towards the sky. The ball goes up by dropping down and rebounding off of the floor. This is how we transition into one leg balancing, find arm balances, or even go into inversions. In order to go up we must first find the downward and inwards directionals and then we can rebound up and must feel the extension out to come back down.
Try practicing this way through your vinyasa. You will find transitions easier this way. You may even find that the vayus help you walk with more cushioning for your joints.
Remember, this is a practice of plugging into the universal pulsation of life and it is a profound reminder that we are never alone!!
I look forward to seeing you all on the mat,