Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Yoga -- Stepping Up to the Edge

I began my Yoga Teacher Training this summer and am completely enjoying learning more about myself and my yoga practice. As I go through my training, I wanted to share my thoughts and insights along the way.

You probably know that yoga dates back thousands of years...and that there are many styles, philosophies and practices of yoga. The one I am studying is warm power yoga -- a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga. It is closely modeled on the Ashtanga style of practice.

This week we learned (and were tested on) the eight principles behind this type of yoga, which I believe is attributed to Baron Baptiste in his book, "Journey Into Power."

As I prepared for my test, I got the opportunity to workout with my oldest son, James, who is almost 15 years old. Our time together is rare, which also keeps our conversation limited.  Sometimes the time we have together in between activities, work, friends, etc. is so short that it needs to be used for the details and logistics of life (schedules, activities, expectations, etc.).

But not yesterday. We had a cherished hour to workout and talk.

As you know, teenagers can sometimes be short on conversation. Questions are usually answered with one or two words, tops.

When I mentioned my yoga teacher training and the upcoming test, I said, "There are eight principles that I will be tested on tonight in class. Can I run through them with you to make sure I remember them all?"

"Sure," James said.

After each set or weights that we did, I would tell him one of the principles and explain it to him. As I mentioned the first three principles, James listened, smiled, and said, "Good job, Mom!"

When I got to the fourth principle, James started to apply the principles he was learning into a decision he was facing. Each time we stopped and I told him the next principle, he applied it to his situation. It was beautiful!

As we walked out of the gym, he said, "Mom, I've decided what I am going to do..." and then he told me his plans. Our conversation and the eight yoga principles helped to bring us together and helped him to figure it out. Yeah!

Here are the principles in case you are curious:
  1. We are either here or nowhere -- stressing the importance of staying present. ALL life is lived in the present moment. As Baptiste said in the book (pp. 32-43), "'Now here' or 'nowhere.' Interesting, isn't it, how the only difference, really, is a little extra space."
  2. Be in the Now and you'll know How -- When you tune into your intuition and into your body, you will find the answers you need. As Baptiste said, "The answer to 'how' is always 'be in the now.'" The answers come from the inside-out, not the other way around.
  3. Growth is the most important thing there is -- if you aren't growing you are stagnant, regressing...or dying. Growth is forward movement. It is a choice. Are you growing or dying?
  4. Exceed yourself to find your exceeding self -- if you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten. Fear is your greatest obstacle.
  5. In order to heal, you need to feel -- it's important to face difficult things to get through them and begin the healing process. 
  6. Think less. Be more. -- Let go of your thoughts and just allow yourself to be. Stay mindful, but not focused on specific thoughts.
  7. We are the sum total of our reactions -- Things happen in life and it is our reaction to those things that creates how we experience our lives. Our quest is to widen the gap between the stimulus and the response so we are not reacting to life, but responding to it instead.
  8. Let go. Try Easy. -- if we allow our thoughts to crowd in (and possibly take over), we can create tension and anxiety. By letting go, we allow flow in our lives.
I find there is a lot of wisdom in these principles...and I think James would agree...if I could just find him to ask him. He's been out with his friends ever since our deep, philosophical conversation.


Lori Lavender Luz said...

I'm so glad James got a connection with you as well as some insights into decision-making. I especially like #7. It helps with an issue I'm facing.

Great list.

Ailey said...

Thanks for sharing these.

Allison said...

These are great - and how awesome that you had a rare moment to connect with your teenager. :)

Tami said...

These are so simple, yet profound. I love them!