Thursday, February 25, 2010

Soaking Up the Sun Light

One of the many benefits of sharing the running of a yoga studio with a fellow yogini (aside from the obvious perk of getting to hang in Florida in the middle of the winter) is that we are able to share in the pleasure of each other’s waves of yoga enthusiasm. When Meaghan started preparing her sun salutation workshop we became immersed in all things sun salutation. This beautiful moving meditation has played varying roles in my practice over the years. Maybe it is because I first learned the mantras in India, or maybe it is because India is the location of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets that I have ever seen in my life, whatever the reason, for me, surya namascar will always be deeply rooted in India. I remember practicing surya namascar at my ashram and drinking in the beautiful view of the sun coming up over the jagged horizon before closing my eyes and pouring myself into the breath and flow of the postures and the visualizations that went along with them. Every single time I opened my eyes in pranamasana and prepared to chant the next mantra, the beauty of my surroundings would take my breath away again and again as if I were looking at them for the very first time.

After coming back to Canada, I used this series to warm up and pull me back to India before doing my two hour morning practice. After getting pregnant, I adjusted the series to fit with my blossoming belly and continued to practice it right up until my delivery. Once the baby came, surya namascar was all that I could seem to fit into the busy schedule of taking care of a little human that seemed to need something every moment of the day and night. Without the luxury of time to do a two hour morning practice, surya namascar taught me to surrender to the moment. I had to let go of all expectations and simply accept that a sun salutation might be my practice on any given day. This taught me to pour myself into those few moments with complete focus and pure intention. I learned so much about using each breath with awareness and reaping the full physical and mental benefits of each full inhalation and exhalation. On some days I would finish with as much calm and clarity as a full length practice would have brought. This is when I truly realized the potential power of the sun salutation.

Over that last couple of years, as time and circumstance allowed me to add more and more to my regular practice, I had strayed a little from the sun salutation. When Meaghan started pulling together her workshop and we began to talk more and more about the sun salutation at the studio, I began to revisit this old friend in the early morning hours (I have kids who are 2 and 4, so waking before the sun comes up is no great challenge). I am in full swing right now and those 12 sun salutations in the morning feel more and more right as each day goes by. This was my 4:30 am welcome to the Florida sun on our first day here and I could not resist doing a few more on the beach later on that same day.

To all of you back home in St. John’s doing the Sun Salutation workshop this weekend, happy saluting! I will be joining you all, albeit from 2000 miles away but we will all be opening our hearts and souls beneath the same sun.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Candlelight Yoga (in support of Earth Hour)

I'm super excited about this!

On March 27 Shakti Yoga Studio will be offering a 60 minute class (by candlelight!) to support the Earth Hour campaign.

Not familiar with Earth Hour? This video is a wonderful introduction:

During our class we'll explore restorative asana (postures), pranayama (breathwork) and an extended, seated meditation.

Here are the details:

Date: March 27, 2010
Time: 8:30-9:30pm
Cost: Use your regular class pass or membership. If don’t currently hold a pass or membership, the drop in fee is $14+hst
Instructor: Meaghan Hutchings

Please Note: For the safety of everyone participating in this lights-out class we will not be admitting latecomers. The studio doors will be locked at 8:30pm as we turn out the lights. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

More about Earth Hour and Candlelight Yoga to come in March...stay tuned and mark it on your calendar!

Om shanti,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Santosha / Post About Not Posting

I've been a very bad blogger lately. My posts have been few and far between and even though I regularly think of posting, I just haven't quite gotten around to doing it. So here I am, posting about not posting...

But in this post about not posting, I'm actually circling around a concept. A yoga concept. Just wait...i'm getting to it.

During those bursts of "blog posting thoughts" when I've either decided I a) don't have enough time or b) just don't have anything to say (b seems to be the predominant thought) what I'm really experiencing is discontent with the situation that I've found myself in. Discontent with the number of hours in a day, discontent with the amount of yoga-insight I'm capable of disseminating via this blog.

And so, in a very round-a-bout kind of way, I come to the concept of santosha. Contentment. One of the 5 niyamas of yoga philosophy (the philosophy of yoga is an eight-limbed path; niyama is the second limb and it refers to observances. i.e. Things we, as yogis, should practice).

My teachers discuss santosha in the following way:

More than a passive state of mind, actively cultivating contentment frees the mind from the effects of pleasure and pain. When contentment is perfected, one becomes desireless and attains unexcelled happiness.

In my moments of discontent when I desire more time and more knowledge I am no longer practicing santosha. Instead, I'm wasting precious time dealing with the effects of pleasure and pain (pain in this case). If I could just cultivate contentment to begin with, time would seem more plentiful and knowledge more accessible. And that is the magic of yoga...just when you think you can't practice because (insert your own personal obstacle here), yoga shows you that these obstacles can be overcome if you would only practice.

And so here I am, posting about not posting (but really posting about santosha). In light of these games our minds play on us, I'll leave you with a quote from Ashtanga yoga teacher Richard Freeman. He said this in a lighthearted way with a comical intention :)

"...your mind will try to cheat you out of yoga for the rest of your life. The mind doesn't want you to do yoga because you will become happy if you do it. And your mind would prefer to torture you. That's it's job"


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shiva Rea Sun Salutation

In preparation for our upcoming Surya Namaskar workshop I have become totally preoccupied with the practice of sun salutations. If you've been coming to my classes you may have noticed that we've started doing more of these vinyasas (flows). And it's a good thing too - considering how cold it's been here. We all need a good dose of yoga sun!

One of the more well-known yoga teachers in North America is Shiva Rea. She's widely recognized for her beautiful vinyasa sequences, many of which are based on the Sun Salute. I've often come across this video of her doing Surya Namaskar and thought I would share it with you now. A few rounds of this in the morning will make those cold winter days a little more tolerable.

Click here: Shiva Rea Surya Namaskar