Yoga

Yoga Exploration: Saucha

Exploring Yoga can lead you on several paths.  Learning more and more about yourself every moment.  As I came upon Saucha or Purity I was slightly confused as to what this means in the context of Yoga.  Saucha is the first of the Niyamas (Read more here about Niyamas).  Many of us think of purity and think of being untouched or perfection.  That is not what Saucha is.  While part of Saucha is cleansing our bodies and minds, it is also about purely loving yourself.  Instead of looking for someone else’s love, love yourself for you.  It means the beginning of focusing on our spiritual body instead of our physical body.

Saucha

Patanjali wrote Saucat svangajugupsa parairasamsargah.  Sri Swami Satchidanandatranslates to By purification arises disgust for one’s own body and for contact with other bodies.

This means once purification comes we begin to realize our physical bodies are just bodies it does not define us, the body is not who you are it is a vessel.  Our bodies become indifferent, we no longer admire it. We begin to realize our true self.

As a society many are so concerned with our physical bodies we never really get the chance to discover who we truly are.  Purity invites us to explore and love our true self.  Debra Adele says “Being pure with ourselves means we are not afraid of our thoughts or our feelings, and we do not have to hide anything from ourselves.”

We are beautiful creatures with our own unique spirits.  Dive into that spirit, find out truly who you are and love it!  Live purely as you!

Practice Saucha, find yourself and love that self!

Want to dive deeper into Purity?  Check out Debra Adele's Book Yamas & Niyamas

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Yoga Exploration: Aparigraha

A yoga exploration can lead you down paths you never expected.  I certainly received a lesson of my own while teaching about Aparigraha, but I’ll tell you about that lesson a little later.  This is our last Yama to explore (Read more about Yamas here).  Aparigraha means non attachment or non-possessiveness.  We can have an attachment to material possessions, money, a person, objects; really anything.  These attachments keep us held to a place of entrapment.  To be free we must let go.

Aparigraha

Patanjali wrote Aparigraha sthairye janmakathamta sambodhah.  Sri Swami Satchidananda translation When non-greed is confirmed, a thorough illumination of the how and why of one’s birth comes.

We can live our truth when we let go of the attachments.  Our truth becomes clear to us when our minds are not clouded with attachment.  Debra Adele says “A bird cannot hold its perch and fly.  Neither can we grasp anything and be free.”  When we hold onto all these attachments, we are holding ourselves back from growth and freedom.

Earlier I mentioned a lesson I learned, here it is!  I was teaching a yoga class the other day.  My inspiration was non attachment or letting go of attachments, labels and expectations.  I felt that it was a beautiful class with little bits of inspiration dropped throughout it.  At the end of class I did not get much feedback and I am used to hearing great class thank you.  So for a moment I thought wow maybe class wasn’t so great.  Then it came to me I was expecting to hear feedback, I was attached to that.  And so in that moment I let that go, knowing I had done my best and spread the words of non-attachment.  I had learned a lesson in what I was teaching and that was pretty awesome!

If we walk through life always wanting more and waiting for it to come how can we ever move forward?  The attachment keeps us stuck to that place.  Unable to be in the present moment.  Unable to see the beauty in front of us.  Unable to grow towards a greater life.

Trust in the greatness to come and let go of the attachments.  Life holds so many beautiful things, be open to all the beauty coming your way.  Don’t let it pass you by.  Life is ever changing, be ready to flow with life instead of being stuck to one aspect.

Practice Aparigraha and live free, flowing through the beauty.

Want to dive deeper into non-attachment?  Check out Debra Adele's book Yamas & Niyamas

XO

Katie Bell

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Yoga Exploration: Brahmacharya

Exploring yoga was always a passion of mine, diving deeper into what yoga really is.  And to share it with all of you is just as awesome to me as learning about it myself.  When I came to this next Yama (Read Here for more on Yamas)  I was a little unsure how to interpret it.  Brahmacharya which means NonExcess, continence, chastity.  Three different interpretations I received meaning different things yet basically coming together at the point of moderation.  So for today I have concluded Brahmacharya means live in moderation.

Brahmacharya

Patanjali wrote Brahmacarya pratisthayam viryalabhah.  Sri Swami Satchidananda translation is By one established in continence, vigor is gained.

Ever ate too much and felt so full you didn’t want to move?  Out shopping and thought oh I need one more pair of yoga pants, yet you get home with nowhere to put them?  That would all be excess.  While many of us live in a society where moderation is often difficult to grasp, it is often the simple things in life that make us the happiest.  When you think about it what makes you happier enjoying time with a loved one or buying another pair of yoga pants?  Achieving that goal or eating so much you can’t move?

When we look at life through a different lens of what is most important, moderation doesn’t seem so distant.  Living in moderation allows us to gain energy and maintain energy.  You are full of energy and power, however it is not an endless source.  When we use our energy in excess there is none left for our important tasks or fulfillment.

Using energy wisely can allow us to access resources and create fulfillment and success.  The huge plate of food, that new pair of yoga pants do not fulfill needs and wants at least not for a long period of time.  We have that power within to create that fulfillment.  Leave indulgences to the side and see the beauty in moderation and enjoying the simple things.  With that you will find fulfillment and the freedom to appreciate all things, moments, experiences.

Practice Brahmacharya and live fulfilled and free!

Want to dive deeper?  Check out Debra Adele's book The Yamas & Niyamas

XO

Katie Bell

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Yoga Exploration: Asteya

As I continue down this path of Yoga Exploration, I have reached a pit stop on Asteya or Non-Stealing.  When we think of stealing immediately what comes to mind is taking an object from someone or some place.  And many of us think well I am good in this department I would never steal something.  And in all honesty that was my beginning thought too.  However when you dive deeper into Asteya it becomes so much more.

Asteya

 Patanjali wrote “Asteyapratisthayam sarvaratnopasthanam” Sri Swami Satchidanandatranslation, to establish in non-stealing, all wealth comes. So what does that mean?  Before I tackle that lets step back a minute.  What we think of stealing is only a small part of what stealing can be.

Have you ever been late to an appointment?  That is stealing time from someone.  This is definitely one I am working on.  When someone schedules time in their day for us, we must respect that and when we are late we are stealing time from them.  That is a new thought, right?

Or how about talking with friends?  Person A is so excited about this vacation, then person B comes in and takes over talking about their vacation to the same place.  Is there a time you can think of that occurring?  That is stealing joy or a moment from someone.  We all want to be heard, we all want our moment to speak.   So much so that often we are not truly listening and focus only on what we will say next.

Stealing is not simply taking an object from a person or place.  Stealing is taking joy, ideas, time, thoughts, and moments.  And so what Patanjali was saying is when we stop stealing from others and live in our own joy, our own ideas, our own thoughts and so on we will be full of wealth.

Something to think about.  By no means are any one of us a bad person because we are late or we interrupt a conversation, however being mindful of our actions and what we may be taking from others can help us to create our own joy, thoughts, moments, and so on.  We are all on the earth together, so let's be mindful.  Practice Asteya and create your very own everything!

Want to go deeper into Yamas & Niyamas Check out Debra Adele's Book

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Yoga Exploration: Satya

As we continue this Yoga Exploration, we have come to Satya or Truthfulness.  This is the second Yama.  And what a powerful thing to think about.  Truth or Truthfulness is often scary and yet holds so much power.

Satya

I had a family member pass away a few weeks ago and as I listened to his daughter speak about him and how the one rule they had in their family was to tell the truth, I was blown away.  She also said that there can be no disappointment when you tell the truth.  The words were so powerful and profound.  And yet so simple.

Whether truthfulness means telling the truth or living in your truth if can often be fearful.  The truth has the capacity to reveal a different light, a different world.  Living in truth gives us the power to be real.  The power to truly be ourselves, something many of us long for and are not sure how to get there.

Patanjali wrote Satya Pratisthayam kriyaphalasrayatvam.  Sri Swami Satchidananda translation “To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.  The truth permits us to let go of what holds us back, the worry of what others think or will do.

Lies and stories are illusions that take us away from the present moment.  They keep us from our truth.  Living in our truth brings light to our lives and helps us remain present, in this moment.

To live in our truth we must let go of being “nice”.  Nice is our thoughts of what we should be not who we are.  Be you!  There is a truth that is rooted in you, allow yourself to live that truth.  When you allow yourself to live that truth, you will begin to feel a shift in your life.

I encourage you to explore Satya further in Debra Adele's Book Yamas & Niyamas and Live your Truth!

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Yoga Exploration: Ahimsa

Ahimsa or Non Violence is our first Yama.  Minor review…Yamas are restraints in an “ethical code” discussed in the Yoga Sutras, Written by Patanjali.  Patanjali wrote Ahimsa patisthayam tat samnidhau vaira tyagh, translation- All hostilities cease when one is established in nonviolence.  (Sri Swami Satchidananda) Ahimsa

What is violence?  According to Merrium Webster it is the use of physical force to harm someone, to damage property or great destructive force or energy.  This does not simply fall under one situation, violence can be a multitude of things.  It can be to the self, to others, physical acts, verbal attacks, and so on.

Violence comes from fear.  Fear is of the imagination; it is what we create in our minds.  When we allow fear to keep us hostage, violence seems to become the only viable option.

We must find courage inside to push past that fear and face it.  Courage does not mean having no fear, it means to face that fear and have faith and belief in yourself to move through it.   Finding compassion, self-love, and balance.  Connecting with ourselves.

In her book The Yamas & Niyamas, Debra Adele compares this to Mr Miyagi in the Karate Kid.  He is a force to be reckoned with yet he does not use that force unless threatened. This is living in Nonviolence.

Nonviolence is the basis of all yoga philosophy.  That is the importance of this single act. Consider this, if we move through life in violence how can we expect the world around us to do any different?  The more peace you find in yourself the more peace you will find in the world.

 

Dive Deeper into Ahimsa: Nonviolence, read The Yamas & Niyamas By Deborah Adele.

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Yamas & Niyamas : A Yogi's Way of Life

  Yoga is a complex yet simple practice.  Although there are different branches of yoga and several asana styles, it is clearly stated that there are ten principles of life.  And so what does that mean?  Patanjali discusses this in the Yoga Sutras.  The ten principles of life are a way of life or ethical guidelines.  It is an approach to life that creates simplicity, transformation, and fulfillment.  This is a yogi’s way of life.

Yamas & Niyamas

Are you still with me?  Curious as to what this all means?  I was too!

Yamas and Niyamas are like a map, guiding you towards your fulfilling life.  Yama in Sanskrit means restraints and Niyama means observances.

Yamas are

  • Ahimsa or Nonviolence
  • Satya or Truthfulness
  • Asteya or Nonstealing
  • Brahmacharya or Nonexcess
  • Aparigraha or Nonpossessiveness

Niyamas are

  • Saucha or Purity
  • Santosha or Contentment
  • Tapas or Self-Discipline
  • Svadhaya or Self-Study
  • Ishvara Pranidhana or Surrender

These are powerful stops on the map and with each one comes transformation.  Each Yama and Niyama lead us towards a fulfilling life.  The next Ten weeks I will be diving deeper into each one of these, join me on this journey. Follow Facebook to see each Yama and Niyama discovered further.

Dive deeper yourself, check out The Yamas & Niyamas By Deborah Adele or Read The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda

Explore, Transform, and be Fulfilled in your life!

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Yoga Sutras: the foundation of yoga

Yoga Sutras

The first time I heard Yoga Sutras, I thought Wow!  Yoga is way more than I ever expected.  That thought rang with truth, because yoga is so powerful and life changing.  Most of us think of yoga as a physical practice and it is so much more.  Join me in this exploration of the Yoga Sutras.

Pantonjali (pah-tan-jali) wrote the yoga sutras, in the estimated time frame of 5,000 B.C. to 300 A.D.  The exact time is unknown.  The 195 sutras are the foundation of what yoga is.  The entire Yoga sutras are written in Sanskrit, so you need a book of translation unless you read Sanskrit of course.  I recommend The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda .

Sutra is Sutora in latin and in English suture, which means woven together/thread.  The Yoga Sutras are a woven blanket that covers yoga.  They are the foundations of yoga.  The Sutras are separated in four chapters

  1. Contemplation
  2. Practice
  3. Power
  4. Liberation

These four chapters encompass all of yoga.  And there are two sutras not chapters, sutras that are about asana.  Those two Sutras are found in Chapter 2: Practice.  They are

2.46 Sthira sukhamasanam

  • Translation – Asana is a steady, comfortable posture
  • Sthira means steady
  • Sukham means comfortable
  • Asanam means posture

2.47 Prayatna saithilyananta samapattibhyam

  • Translation – You can master posture by lessening the natural tendency for restlessness and meditation on the infinite

Asana is meant to open your body, bring your body to a place of ease so you can meditate.  Now let’s take a step back and start in chapter one.

Pantonjali defines yoga in sutra 1.2 Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah – Translation Yoga is controlling the fluctuations of the mind.  Wow!  That is Yoga.  The sutras in chapter one dive deeper into contemplation and controlling the fluctuations of the mind.

Chapter two Practice Pantonjali goes into the practice of yoga what keeps us from steadiness of the mind and the two sutra on asana are found in chapter two.  What keeps us from stillness of the mind, are you curious?  I was!  Here it is…

2.3 Avidyasmita raga dvesabhinivesah klesah

  • Translation – The five obstacles are ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred, and clinging to bodily life

That is powerful and full of truth.  The rest of chapter two explores those obstacles further.  The Yamas and most of Niyamas come up in this chapter too.  Yamas and Niyamas are and outline of self-transformation and/or an ethical code of being.

Chapter Three ventures deep into three Niyamas, the intuitive nature and enlightenment.

Liberation is chapter four.  I am going to mention one sutra in chapter four.

4.7 Karmasuklakrsnam yoginastrividhamitaresam.

  • Translation – The actions of a yogi are neither black nor white (good nor bad), the actions of others are of three kinds: good, bad, and mixed.

It is in this sutra I began to understand.  We are all divine beings and nothing we do is good or bad.  They are simply actions.  Dropping the labels frees us.  Liberation!

The Yoga Sutras are complex and at times confusing and yoga is life changing.  I encourage you to get curious and ask questions!  Learn more! Get on your mat and explore!

All translations were from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Sri Swami Satchidananda

 

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Branches of Yoga

Branches of Yoga

Yoga is not simply an asana practice (Physical Postures).  There are several aspects of yoga.  Yoga falls under these six Branches.

Raja (Royal)-This yoga is about self-control, follow Yoga-Sutras and big in philosophy. How does the mind work, there are no asana or postures in this Yoga

Jnana – Self Inquiry, this form of yoga is study’s ancient texts and grow intellect based on the study of texts

Bhakti- Yoga of Devotion, You choose your devotion.  There is repeated chanting of chosen devotion.  If you look up Hanamon he is an example of Bhakti Yoga

Karma- Yoga of Service, this is Selfless service with no attachment to results, you are simply serving

Tantra – Yoga of balancing/connecting energies/yoga of rituals, Use of rituals to balance energies within.  An example is Kundalini.

Hatha- Yoga of Postures or Asana, A body oriented transformation.  This is the yoga many of us are familiar with, the physical practice.  There are several different types of asana, find one that fits you best.

You can practice yoga in any or all of these branches.  It is your practice and your lifestyle, make it fit to who you are!

Follow up next week for more about the Yoga Sutras

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What is Yoga?

What is Yoga

There is so much to say about what yoga is, this post could turn into pages and pages.  I am going to give you the basic answer to what is yoga?  It is…

Patanjali wrote the Yoga-Sutras 2,500 years ago.  Patanjali wrote Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah, this translates to the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is yoga (Sri Swami Satchidananda translation ).  So in other words, yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.

As stilling the mind seems impossible it is not!  Asana or the postures of yoga allow your body to reach tangible progress and allow you to move deeper within, towards stilling the mind.  Let’s think for a moment…when in a yoga class what is on your mind?  Usually not that stress you have going on outside the studio.  It is either nothing or how will I transition to that posture.  You mind is stilling without a thought.

With that yoga is not simply the physical practice or Asana.  Yoga is so much more.  Yoga is a practice, a lifestyle.  You move through your life with yoga.  Yoga brings you into the present moment, allowing you to breathe and move forward with life.

Each Person’s experience is different and their own.  My experience is a clear mind, easy breathe, gratitude, and walking away in the present moment.  I love to do Yoga in the Start of my day because I can move through the day being present, focused, and clear.

Yoga can be as simple as taking a few deep breathes, creating presence.

 

Please share what yoga is to you, on our facebook page!

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