Category Archives: Yamas
Just expanding a bit on last week’s post. Hope you enjoy and find a little inspiration.
- “Sometimes you’re in the right place looking at things in the wrong way.” – Abraham Hicks
- “You’re never too old for anything.” – Betty White
- “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.” – Buddha
- “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha
- “My religion is kindness.” – The Dalai Lama
- “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” – Henry David Thoreau
- “In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks. – John Muir
- “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu
- “The old law about an ‘eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “Do not let yesterday use up too much of today.” – Will Rogers
In peace & light,
On October 29, 1998, John Glenn became the oldest person to fly in space at the age of 77. We have an interesting relationship with aging in our society: we’re often told to respect our elders and listen to their wisdom while at the same time we are bombarded with media and advertising that tells us 40 is over the hill.
Yoga teaches us to let go of attachment to these labels. We often let our labels define us. How often have we looked around and compared ourselves to others thinking things like, “I can’t do this pose as well as her because I’m too fat/old/inflexible…”? Too often, the ways we define ourselves limit us.
I invite you to observe your thought patterns this week and really examine how you label yourself. When we build awareness, we can let go of limiting thoughts and actions and let our true inner Self shine through.
July 12 is National Simplicity Day. There are many ways to practice simplicity, including bringing awareness to our daily actions. Practice kindness, even when it’s hard.
On this beautiful Earth Day, I enjoyed a workshop with the wonderful Alie McManus. During our closing meditation, part of what we focused on was planting a seed for what we want to grow. Today is a perfect day to plant a seed for our future, both literally and metaphorically.
Take a moment today and imagine what you would most like to see happen in your life, in your world. Incorporate it into your meditation. Live like it is already a reality. See what happens.
With love and light,
As National Gardening Month continues and gardeners get outside more and more, it’s important to remember to honor the body. Moving the body before going to work is important. So, too, is taking breaks to stretch out the spine and legs. Occasional breaks will, in the long run, allow for more time to be spent gardening.
Here are some suggestions for some simple yoga poses that can be done in the garden.
Enjoy your time outside!
March 14 is Save a Spider Day. I’ll admit, spiders freak me out. But… I also know they are beneficial. For the past several years, I’ve had an orb spider build a web near my back door and the number of bugs that have made it into my house has definitely gone down. So if you want to keep bugs at bay, leave spiders alone and #thinkbeforeyousquish. Plus, it will give you a chance to practice the principle of ahimsa, or non-harming.
If you want to further honor our spider friends, add spider pose to your practice. I can’t find much info about the background of this pose, so feel free to enlighten me if you know more about it.
January 30 is a day calling attention to universal love and tolerance as promoted by two separate observances.
The International School Day for Non-Violence and Peace (or DENIP from Dia Escolar de la No-violència i la Pau) was founded in 1964 in Marjorca by poet Llorenç Vidal. DENIP is observed annually on or about January 30, the anniversary of the death of Mahatma Gandhi. The motto is: “Universal love, non-violence, and peace. Universal love is better than egoism, non-violence is better than violence, peace is better than war”. The day is meant to educate students in the ways of harmony, tolerance, respect for human rights, non-violence, and peace.
January 30 has also been established in several states as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. In 1942, Mr. Korematsu defied the military order to report to a Japanese internment camp and was arrested. He later sued the government over his conviction in the Supreme Court and lost. That decision is, with a handful of other cases, “what legal scholars describe as the anti-canon of American constitutional law — a small group of Supreme Court rulings universally assailed as wrong, immoral, and unconstitutional” (via npr.org and The Atlantic). His conviction as formally vacated in 1983 and he was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. In Korematsu’s own words, “If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up.” Always seek and speak truth.
In love and peace,
“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” – Mark Twain
Ever feel like you are constantly bombarded by bad news? I know I do. At the end of 2016, especially, I allowed myself to get bogged down and focused on all the negative stories that were circulating.
While I don’t advocate putting blinders on and pretending unpleasant things don’t happen, it does no one any good to let the dark drown out the light. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve decided to find reasons to celebrate something every day in 2017.
With that in mind, I’ve done a little research into the holidays and observances celebrated throughout the year to highlight on this blog. Some will be serious, some will not. Some will tie in to yoga, some will not (and in some cases I will stretch the imagination to find a correlation). So here’s our first lesser known holiday for 2017…
Happy Mew Year for Cats!
You read that right, January 2nd is the annual day to celebrate kitty cats brought to you by the good folks at wellcat.com. I’ve had cats since I was old enough to talk and I think they are totally awesome. My life has definitely been improved by my many feline friends (that’s Mickey in the photo above) and I can’t imagine not having one in my life.
Why Cats Are Awesome
- Cats are independent. This is a plus for those of us who love the attitude we get from cats and a minus for those who need the doting loyalty of our doggy friends. My cat is always happy to see me but she doesn’t get as stressed and act out while I’m gone as my dog does.
- Cats are unique. “Unique” is not a word I use lightly, but over the 45+ years that I’ve been around cats, no two have been alike.
- Cats are funny. If they weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many YouTube videos dedicated to them.
- Cats are smart. Cats are complex problem solvers and have brains that are somewhat similar to our own. People sometimes think because cat’s are hard to train, they’re not smart but that is more often than not our inability to figure out what motivates them.
- Cats have developed a language to communicate specifically with us. Adult cats “meow” for humans. They use other vocalizations to communicate with each other and other animals, but the traditional “meow” sound is pretty much for our benefit.
How to Celebrate Mew Year
- If you already have a cat, give him or her a little extra affection today. Give them some extra cuddles or their favorite food, or play with them using their favorite toy.
- If you want a cat, adopt or foster one from a shelter*. According to the ASPCA, approximately 1.4 million cats are euthanized every year in shelters. This obviously doesn’t include the number of cats who never enter the shelter system, so it’s a low estimate of the number of homeless cats who die every year.
- Volunteer to socialize cats at a local shelter. Shelter life is stressful and cats especially become scared and withdrawn in that environment.
- Spay or neuter your cat. You’ll help control the number of unwanted animals born and improve the health of your pet.
- Keep kitty indoors. Yes, all cats want to go outside; but I want to eat a carton of ice cream every night. Getting what we want isn’t necessarily what’s best for us. Cats are awesome killing machines. But that is all the more reason to keep them inside; they will kill not just unwanted pests but songbirds and other beneficial wildlife. Plus, your cat will be safer kept away from traffic, humans with bad intent, and other predatory animals.
*Here’s a list of some of the shelters in the Lafayette, Indiana, area:
- Almost Home Humane Society (adoptions are $20.17 from Jan. 3 – Jan. 7)
- Loving Heart Animal Shelter
- Natalie’s Second Chance
- PawSwaP of Greater Lafayette
- North Central Indiana Spay and Neuter
- My New Cat Rescue
- Lori’s Kitty Rescue
We’re wrapping up our exploration of the yamas this week with a look at aparigraha (you can see an overview of Patanjali’s the eight limbs of yoga here). The yama, ethical behaviors for social harmony, allow us to contribute to the health and happiness of the world in which we live.
Aparigraha is the concept of non-hoarding, non-possessiveness, and often as non-attachment. How many times do we let our desire for and accumulation of “things” get in the way of what matters most in our lives? Whether by “things” we mean material possessions or more ephermal emotions, the pursuit of outside sources of happiness often get in the way of our realizing our true and best potential. When we have faith that all we need is already within us, we can enjoy the freedom that aparigraha brings. We can take what we need, keep what serves us in the moment, and let go when the time is right with gratitude and grace.
When I was in college and took a philosophy course, I misunderstood non-attachment as a negative concept. I thought embracing it meant being cold and uncaring. As I get older, I see more clearly that our odd emotional attachments bring about so much divisiveness. We need only look at the current political environment in the U.S. as an example. We are so interested in reinforcing our own belief systems and tearing each other down that we have forgotten that we are stronger when building each other up.
In peace and unity,
We’re wrapping up our exploration of the yamas this week with a look at brahmacharya and aparigraha (you can see an overview of Patanjali’s the eight limbs of yoga here). The yama, ethical behaviors for social harmony, allow us to contribute to the health and happiness of the world in which we live.
Brahmacharya is most traditionally translated to mean abstinence or celibacy. But let’s face it, that’s not very practical for most of use practicing yoga today. The intent behind the original translation is self-restraint in the face of pursuing physical pleasures. By doing so, by practicing the right use of energy, we can pursue the essential truth.
We can start to tune in to this wise us of energy on the mat. Do we need an active, powerful practice or a more meditative one? Do we need to modify a pose or test our limits? Rather than taking the actions we always take without thinking, explore what happens when we tune in to the body. By learning to recognize our own energy levels, we can begin to understand that peace and happiness reside within us.