Flowing into some free flow Yoga. Working that deep discomfort. Moving through poses in a 99 degree studio. I need this discomfort in my practice, because I am going through mountains of challenges in life right now. Stepping into new terrain that always gives me an exhilarating nervousness. Lately in my practice some really astounding moments are happening. Great realizations. Deep heart openers are taking me down dark alleys with the flashlight on my chest leading the way. I FEEL myself breaking wide open. Lately exploring poses I never dreamed that my body would be getting into. Finding myself hitting new aha moments daily. I have hit a shift, and I want to ride this rainbow out for a long time. I am unstoppable. Sweat rolling down my face, and I am almost seeing stars. A little death. Every single practice I find myself becoming nothing. Becoming everything. Not sure which, maybe just becoming.
Every single day the practice shows me that I will never truly die. How so? Because I die every single practice these day, yet I still exist. I find compassion where I once found irritation. I feel connected in every moment to myself and the energy around me in class. Proximity to the other souls in class with me and a panoramic view of many warriors breathing deeply together with similar goals. Self study.
On rare occasion I can see myself playing a role from an old pattern. This does not last long because my breathe has become a passageway to rapidly bring me back. This has taken a lot of practice but it is working out well for me. A point of light guides me to the truth. We are never-ending. A continuous stream of consciousness that flows from one moment to the next. We exist, and will continue to do so. I AM. This awareness is so powerful in me that I am able to live in an uncompromising faith and have lost interest in playing roles that have no true worth. Not when I am worth everything. And so are you.
In between ease and edge, we eternally exist. In practice, when I am closest to Source. The space between ease and edge is the place of awakening. Becoming. If we are growing in our lives, we continually declutter our past selves, dying continuously to a clarity that only a regular practitioner can know. The practice becomes everything when it becomes a part of you.
How well do you know your own edges. How much ease do you sip daily. Too much ease can sometimes turn toxic. We now live in a culture that has flipped upside down. We are living in stark contrast to ancestors that worked diligently to have a cup of tea mid day between chores. Now people are trying to fit in time to go to the gym because the comfort is suffocating us as a society. Obesity is at an all time high and now even our children are having health problems due to lack of movement and too much feeding.
We all need to feel nurtured and loved. This is essential ease that if not existent in lives can create harshness in our behaviors. But we have attached ease to laying around, watching tv, scrolling Netflix, eating processed foods for comfort instead of earning it. The courage we acquire through reward is lost. Lack of movement and a diet heavy in density creates lethargy. We need momentum of movement in our lives. In deepest moment of pure COMFORT and ease, we can experience a palpable stillness. Yet if this is not earned, it is not experienced. Our comforts become unconscious moments of distraction. In deep comfort of Child’s Pose, this constructive rest allows us to take a sip before moving again, which allows people to continue on a path of wellness, and not distraction and addiction. We earn that pose for a few breathes, and learn to work for it.
We can find comfort in chocolate cake, sleeping in, warmth and cozy sweaters. Winter at its finest revolves around a fireplace and a nice window to glimpse the landscape. Candles, good lighting. The Danes call this HYGGE. These are splendid luxuries that lose their value when experienced in such abundance that there is no counterbalance to them. In Ayurveda, Kapha is all things earth. We need a certain amount of earth in our intake. Kapha is what makes our skin supple and pretty, and gives us endurance for the long haul. Healthy sweets can even be an antidote for anger and anxiety. But when we take too much Kapha it becomes toxic and this is always the precursor to most disease. We do not want a heavy and toxic temple to walk around in. We need the fires of spice and the aliveness of alkaline to keep our bodies balanced. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the American diet is all heavy. So our culture is becoming heavy and unhealthy.
When we move toward edge, we see that our society is shifting into a paradigm that frowns on any edge. We are making it okay to normalize obesity even though it is not healthy. It is not okay to fat shame people. It is also okay to empower people to be at their very best. People want to be their healthiest and most vibrant selves. Why aren’t we offering the tools for them to do this in modern culture. When we care for someone we lift them up and guide them to wellness. People should be told daily of what they can do, not of their limitations. Why do we just accept that if someone is depressed or anxious that a pill is the only alternative. Why do hospitals and physicians not have more nutritionists and health counselors on the payroll. I believe that we are all aware of why this is happening, although an awareness in alternative therapy is growing. People are yearning to feel better and looking outward for inspiration on how to do so. People that look will find their way to the light of wellness. Joe Dispenza, Andrew Huberman and many other powerful voices are leading new paths in the field of alternative medicine. The Placebo Effect and Becoming Supernatural are two of my favorite books and Huberman Lab is a necessary podcast in my life.
Our external world is always a glimpse of our internal world. How clear is your mind? How well do you tend to your temple? We attract what we are. Going inward can be an uncomfortable venture when we first begin to practice yoga and meditation. It is hard to purge and spring clean. It can arise many emotions and feelings clearing out closets of old memorabilia. But it is essential for growth. We must create spaciousness inwardly so we can redirect our lives and cope with change. “To fight the good fight daily with ourselves.” When we clear our minds and our bodies, something truly amazing is introduced to us. Clarity and inspiration. When we don’t look for comfort at every turn, we become capable of sitting through these feelings. We come out the other side, fresher, cleaner, newer. How can we glimpse into our own lives and begin to see that we are the creators of our own magic, but we are also the creators of our own problems. Yes we have challenges and most certainly traumas from childhood that we had no program in creating. These experiences are not our faults. I am speaking of dissolving traumas and letting go. Of not allowing these patterns to continue. Breaking patterns and growing instead of staying on bumpy roads and well orchestrated reruns. If we continually see ourselves as limited, we are most certainly writing our own scripts , and limiting our own potential. If we see ourselves as competent players in the chosen directions of our lives, we become quite powerful. What we think we become. It has become apparent to me in my own life, that I can dissolve past patterns with awareness and discipline. Yes this takes time to master. Yes it is not easy, until it is. As in all practices, we get better and better. Until it becomes a part of you. Breaking yourself open is an uncomfortable experience. There are not many ways to do this and the medicine is simple. The practice is the only way. Clearing your house in the way that you chose. With movement, nourishment, and focus. The more edge in your practice, the more ease your life will bring.
In my Hot Yoga class recently, we were brought to a peak pose that I have not attempted for two years. This pose has brought me much irritability in the past, because of my numerous failed attempts. So I moved deeper into the instruction, surprisingly finding that my body eased into this pose with very little work. True power. I felt so strong in this moment, realizing that the two years that I have continued my practice, my body has opened up for me. My practice gave me sideways access to a pose that I had long ago given up on getting into. In a moment I finally understood a Bruce Lee quote fully. “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” This is why the practice is everything. The practice never lets us down, if we continue on it. As long as you continue to challenge your body on the mat, your body will take you to places that you never believed were yours for the taking. Your only task is showing up. There is always time for a good stretch and a check in with your body. Although everything in life sometimes seems complicated, presence is simple. Sometimes we stay so deep in our minds with our external discontent; we never just check in with ourselves. This is why building a healthy relationship with ourselves is the most important aspect of Yoga practice, and the first one. Ahimsa, non violence begins with the way you treat yourself. If you are treating yourself in a godlike manner, you will not allow other people to treat you badly, and you will not see yourself as a victim, either. You will see yourself as a powerful human that has limitless potential.
For most of my young adulthood, my right ankle was delicate and sprained easily, sometimes swelling up to the size of a baseball for no apparent reason. For years it was even larger on normal days than my left ankle. Astoundingly this year I noticed that my ankles are now the same size. I also have not had a sprained ankle for 12 years, which is the amount of time that I have been practicing Yoga. I have also healed my low back which as a young woman had began to go out and leave me unable to walk for days at at a time. All in this practice. I have seen my body heal and correct itself. Even subtle pigeon toes from childhood has been corrected in a thousand warrior poses. I am grateful to have found this path. I am truly strong and aging younger every year. Yoga and Ayurveda invites us to heal ourselves. This is a lifestyle and not a one stop shop. There is no simple fix for anything in our lives. Lifelong journeys invite us to make life our truest medicine. With a promise, the practice becomes a part of you and is never lost again. Attaining it is a journey, but once you have it, it is yours. I do not fear a relapse with alcohol, nor falling into my old bad habits. Hardship comes and goes but the practice will stay. Until I leave this earth and go home. My one true thing. This practice is the only thing that I have found in this life that is true. It gives me ease, and edge and the magic in between. It keeps me in the present moment and away from false realities and inauthentic situations and relationships. It allows me to see what is truly real in my life. It also allows me to see people that care for me without expectation. True friendships and relationships that are supportive and loving and good for me.
Staying in my habits during lockdown paid off well. I kept moving. I did not change my 5am wakeup time. I hiked and worked even more. I felt unstoppable. Underneath our beliefs, we are all unstoppable. The problem is people stay in patterns that keep them down. An awakening can be found, if sought. Faith is the hardest thing to acquire, sometimes. In ourselves most of all. But I promise, so worth it. If I found it anyone can. I have been beat down and run by my addictions throughout my life before finding the light. So grateful.
Finding light comes in between duality. When you are capable of seeing the lessons that lie in the midst of opposition. Edge and ease should fit in equality to each other. How hard are you working for something? Are you sipping ease between. If you do not this will raise Pitta and we will become temperamental in irritability and anger. Competition. Burnout is possible too. We must tame every element, including fire. Too much ease will raise lethargy and sluggishness. Recently in class, I was taking my students through Lizard and beyond. Deep hip opening through many breaths. Irritation can be high sometimes in Yoga. Deep discomfort, but so sweet in the end when we push through. I heard a girl, as she struggled in Lizard, say softly to her friend “I didn’t know how inflexible I was.” I looked at her quickly and said, “ You didn’t know how flexible you were either, did you?” She shifted her perception quickly. As uncomfortable as she was, she was truly owning her practice. I wanted her to see what a warrior she was. Those moments allow us coping skills that we would not otherwise have. A lot of people quit in their practice. Or stop growing because they do not want to go deeper into discomfort. And this is okay. But inviting our students to go further in their stretches, can be essential to their growth. People can grow strong in life, simply by experiencing a daily challenging Yoga practice. There is a time that the surrender may feel so close, yet so uncomfortable, that you are on the threshold of losing a part of yourself. Extreme discomfort. This becomes our largest struggle. If we can hang on for surrender, there is a deep exhale and a release that allows. When this happens, we grow in our courage and our patience. Limitless potential becomes attainable. And then the world becomes ours. There is no goal when the light presents itself to us. This is only the beginning.
Lethargy may seem like stillness but it is quite different. Eckhart Tolle says that when people are watching commercials that they are the lowest energetic lines of awareness. It becomes almost robotic. There is a quiet comfort there but this is far from awareness. Parallel to working through our life with a distracted mind, yet lower vibration. Have you ever been in the car thinking about something that his bothering you, replaying a film over and over in your mind and all of a sudden notice that you reach your destination without hardly realizing or remembering the journey? This is the furthest side of ease, when we are fully unconscious and somewhat relaxed allowing our bodies to take us deeply into a distraction. Also smoking or doing drugs and alcohol can somewhat feel in this way. Eating a decadent chocolate cake, while afterwards realizing that you felt swept away from reality in the gluttony. Unlike unconscious ease, there is a true ease in yoga. Perhaps your Yoga is a long run in the woods, or distance cycling experience. Maybe your yoga is in walking, or pushing yourself in an uphill hike to take your shoes off and dip your toes in the creek. Allowing the world to fully open up to you. This is an ease that we should all work for. A place that we earn, a space that we are bettering ourselves take a moment to silently feel proud or pat ourselves on our back.
My favorite event in the summer is my 108 Salutations event. On the longest day of the year I practice 108 sun salutations with a group. We take the energy from the sun and transform it through our practice. Giving thanks to the energy and the fire of our most powerful planet in our solar system. The SUN. Pure edge is the rhythm of that practice. Edge keeps us sharp and focused. Passion allows us to implement action into our work to transform and problem solve. Breaking ourselves wide open, allowing the warrior in us to rise to the occasion. Tapas is a sanskrit word for self discipline. Pushing through your edges, without shutting down. Growing yourself and creating a stronger body. But remembering that edge should be in equality in exertion to the ease that you reward yourself for it. Otherwise the doshas become unbalanced. And this is when irritation will rise, if you have not rewarded yourself with some comfort. Or lethargy will rise if you are not meeting your comfort with exertion of edge to match.
As structured as I am with my daily practice and 5am wakeup calls, I had noticed that I had began to feel quite comfortable. My practice had become easy, my schedule was rarely changed and I had acquired a delightful addiction to sugar. It grew about unnoticeable at first. I had went fully plant based and had began to use this discipline as my very own special excuse to eat all the sugar i wanted. Until I realized that something was beginning to happen with me. I was beginning to feel a little drained. I was slowing down. My weight had come to a stagnant halt even though I had eliminated all animal products. It didn’t seem to matter how much cardiovascular that I was implementing into my workouts. I was stubbornly stuck. I knew deep down that it was the sugar. The smell of cupcakes from the downstairs bakery in my building drew me in two to three times a week. I even noticed myself telling the bakers a lie here and there about who was enjoying all the cupcakes. Wow, I was fibbing over cupcakes. I did not like myself for doing this. It was almost like a dirty little addiction and it was starting to feel a bit shameful. The favorite waitresses on Saturday brunches all knew to bring me a mountainous bowl of sugared creamers with my coffee. I sat gabbing away with my yogis after our practice. I was in a comfortable program until my awareness gave me a glimpse of how stagnant I had become. Even my vegan lifestyle had somehow turned around on me. I had convinced myself that i was entitled to eat endless pasta dishes and vegan brownies on a regular basis. Ohhhh and my own homemade naan bread with vegan butter. It was time to shake this earth a bit and get back on track. I had to check myself. The Life Center asked me to lead some cycling classes and I knew that I needed to acquire some energy to do my best. I am not being hard on myself. Comfort is okay at times, as long as it doesn’t begin to become another addiction and slow us down. Earth can grow on itself and I noticed I was losing energy. I was also nibbling through the day when I wasn’t hungry. Sometimes I found myself needing an afternoon nap. I wanted to be energetic again. Those cycling classes take fire and steam to teach. In September i began shining a light on my habits. In October I did a five day juice fruit and nut fast. In November I started a month out with a three day water fast. Thanksgiving was spent alone by myself eating a piece of salmon and a green salad and the same for christmas. I didn't want to comfortably ease through the holidays and carry my extra five pounds through with me to begin on new years day. New years Eve was celebrated by allowing myself non alcoholic mocktails and enjoying grazing finger foods at my party, but that was about it. I started New Years day out with a long walk in the woods with my favorite furry granddog Banjo.
I have fasted for the last fifteen years. On and off, it is a practice that always leads me back to a disciplined way of eating. I have practiced strict three month fruit fasts at times. Juicing on Sundays for a season. The occasional water fast to reset for a day. I knew I wanted to get back onto a good fasting routine. I did some online research, starting with Andrew Huberman and the fasting experts that were on Joe Rogan’s podcasts.
I must admit. This comfortable time in my life was okay. I would not want to replace it. I needed that time. I feel that I was going through a personal shift. I had to let go of a few things. We always have a little piece of luggage hoarded into the back of a closet somewhere to release, don’t we? I had held on to this one for a while. I feel lighter now. Not only in weight of my body, but weight of my heart. I have a little more creativity and a lot less of my emotional baggage. The only person that can ever pull us out of our own funk, is ourselves.
Remember to check in with your personal Physician, Doctor or family Nurse Practitioner before fasting or changing your diet in any way. Safety first and as always, check in with your doctor with any contraindications to your pharmaceuticals.
Remember between those times of life.
There is a place.
A gentle and loving glimpse.
Of what lies beyond our lives.
It is a connection to source.
An abundant refill upon asking.
Love can not diminish, it grows upon itself.
And you have as much as you need.
When you bring your gaze to it.
Thank you for your precious attention.
Ayurvedic Health Counselor
Tina Chabot School of Yoga RYS 200