Desire Yoga

Find your center. Know your strength. Thrive.


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What Yoga Body? I’m Weighing in…

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I’ve been sitting on this for a while. I’ve been conflicted about whether or not I should comment on the skinny yoga articles, the fat yoga articles, the yoga for every body articles…and I find myself finally sitting down to write this—unable to not comment on the issue of yoga and body image. I think this is the most appropriate place to address my thoughts since this volume of Lotus Petals: Lesson Guides to Deepen Your Yoga Practice concerns Asana. Asana means seat or posture, originally referring to the seat or posture taken for meditation. It has expanded to include a variety of postures which tone the body, calm the nervous system and teach breath awareness.

As a teenager, I weighed up to 175 pounds then lost much of it to weigh 135 pounds. Currently, I weigh anywhere from 145 to 150 pounds depending on the season, the time of day and other things. So, I am very familiar with body image issues. At this point in my life, I also understand coming to our mats to practice yoga is our chance to forget about the image of our body. We practice yoga in order to become familiar with our body and acknowledge it.

So, let’s take a leap into the rabbit hole. I’ll repeat here something you may have already learned. Yoga is not about your body. Yoga is about you. Through yoga, an individual has the opportunity to find their true self, the self that no one sees, their secret self. When we practice yoga, we move the body to get into the body, so we may eventually quiet the body and in turn our minds.

We move through our days so rapidly; we don’t even know where we are in space. It is a figure of speech, but it is also very literal when people wonder aloud, “Now, where am I?” Sometimes, we really just don’t know where we are in our day, in our lives or in our relationships. We move so rapidly we neglect to be mindful of those things, not through any fault of own, but through habit, conditioning and social expectations. Ineffectual habits, social conditioning and expectations build a fortress of neglect. We neglect one another, and we neglect ourselves.

As I mentioned before, with a yoga practice, we gain the opportunity to get into our bodies, to bring our complete awareness to bear on our movements, becoming focused on the present moment. This level of focus allows us get out of our heads. It allows us to slow and abandon the parade of thoughts rampaging through our minds without end. Ironically, when we sit for meditation or to simply relax and return to our thoughts, this same movement quiets and calms the mind imbuing us with a fundamental sense of well-being.

In our media laden society, we are inundated with pretty pictures of people doing beautiful asanas. The human body is a miracle. It is a working, living breathing evolving miracle, and these pictures are beautiful. However, they are not reality. Yoga is not always pretty. It is not always the nice neat categorical package promoted to consumers. Yoga is life. Yoga is awkward on occasion. Yoga can be messy. Yoga is sweaty. Yoga is sexy. Yoga is every thing that life is, because yoga is union. It is the integration of the mind, body and spirit. Yoga practice is grace filled; it is not always graceful. I have fallen on nose and my bum; I have stressed and strained muscles. My shoulder tweaks every now and then as I write this. The reality of yoga makes it a beautiful path of discovery.

This same reality is in part the beauty of the current ‘Yoga is for every body’ movement. However, as teachers and as practitioners, we cannot forget: yoga is not about the body. The body is a vehicle for our souls and yoga gives us the means to live happily with the bodies we have. When we practice yoga, we find our body’s capabilities and limitations while reshaping it and cultivating it to be the perfect space to house our beautiful souls. We practice yoga to annihilate the boundaries in ourselves and in our lives so we can recognize, explore and manifest infinite possibilities. So, when you think about your body and you look at the pictures in yoga magazines, on blogs, on Facebook and on Instagram, remember those pictures belong to the individuals taking that journey. Those bodies belong to those individuals and your body is your own; you get to write your journey however you choose.

Yoga is not about the body. The body is a tool. The body is a space for the priceless and rewarding work of freeing your soul.

From Lotus Petals: Lesson Guides to Deepen Your Yoga Practice, Volume I: Asana 

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Join Me for an Ahimsa Themed Practice

Ahimsa (nonviolence)=Compassion + Courage

In observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 19, I’ll be offering a shared yoga practice. The theme will be ahimsa. We will share a loving kindness meditation and a centering yoga practice.

The session will be at The Studio, 4567 Indian Creek Parkway, Overland Park, KS at 6:45pm. There is no charge to participate. Please, sign-up using this sign-up link @The Studio. Space is limited.


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Yama: Ahimsa Starts with Being Kind to You

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Graphic Source: MindBodyPlate.com

Ahimsa is one of the yamas,  the ethical practices or restraints, yoga practitioners strive to exercise in their daily lives. This particular yama comes to mind as I follow the events in Ferguson, MO and New York City, at the University of Virginia, etc., and these are just things happening in the U.S.–the list of violent acts coming through my news feeds, seem endless. Reflecting on the nature and purpose of nonviolence seems pretty appropriate today on the eve of our Thanksgiving holiday.

♡ Nonviolence encompasses the way we behave toward others and ourselves. It includes our thoughts, our words and our deeds. The way we move through the world expresses and reflects who we are on the inside. Be kind to yourself and you will learn how to be kind to others.

♡Choosing nonviolence does not equal being a pushover. People who embrace nonviolence embrace the challenging and creative work of finding nonviolent solutions to difficult problems. Be kind to others and you will find progress and growth happening all around you–possibly with you leading the way.

♡Nonviolence like most virtues is a choice we make moment to moment and day to day. Shall I be angry? Shall I be calm? Shall I be sad? Shall I be happy? Shall I be critical? Shall I be helpful? Choose well. Be kind, because kindness leads us to compassion.

Namaste.


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Synchronicity Comes with Listening

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Picture Source: Pinterest board Spirit by Jessica M.

Synchronicity happens when work and preparation come together to create some fortuitous circumstance. It’s the right place; it’s the right time. You’re the right person and good things happen.

While living in sync requires us to take cues from the world around us, part of living in sync involves listening well to ourselves. This does not happen in an egocentric way, but in a way where you ask yourself: What is true? What is real? What shall be done? Then, listen for the answer.

Recommended reading:

8 Ways to be Your Own Guru
http://www.gaiamtv.com/article/8-ways-be-your-own-guru?cid=soc:twitter:myyoga


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What Is Your Intention?

As we enter each yoga practice, we may set an intention for it. Intentions shape the means and the methods we choose to accomplish our goals. They are an important part of our practice as we grow in our understanding of Yoga’s many aspects.

The opportunities for learning and exploration afforded us by setting intentions for our yoga practices are infinite. We may choose to center a practice around steadfastness in the face of difficulty and practice poses which encourage this virtue–the Warrior Poses and Chair Pose for example.

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Reverse Warrior Pose

We may choose to focus on loving kindness toward ourselves and others spending more time approaching, holding and transitioning from one pose to the next–perhaps modifying poses we would usually fully express during our practice. An example of this, would be taking Extended Puppy Pose instead of Downward Facing Dog Pose.

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Extended Puppy Pose

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Downward Facing Dog Pose

Choosing not to set a specific intention and allowing a practice to emerge as you go through familiar poses is an intention as well; it is the intention of being present and listening to your inner voice.

Namaste