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Pacific Ashtanga

1 Jul

Yesterday, I thought I would jaunt down the street to Pacific Ashtanga. What could be better than yoga directly across from the bay at Dana Point? Plus, there’s something completely decadent about having a yoga studio within walking distance. Not that I walked.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t in the mood for the predictable Primary Series, so I chose a class called “flow”. Sounded nice and, well, “flowy”. You know – the sort of class one might want to take while on a beach vacation after just completing over 100 chatarunga pushups with Geo the Pokemon Yoga Master the day before. Yea, Flow sounded great.

Well, I”m glad t say I don’t know what the hell I really want after all.  Had I known what I was in for, I never would have gone to class, even though it was exactly what felt delicious, adventurous and was exactly what I needed after all. I went to class and to my surprise, at Pacific Ashtanga, “Flow Class” really is code for: Ashtanga’s Primary, Second and Third series on crack. Mmm Hmm… it was that addictively good.

Class was taught by Diana, the owner and there were only 5 students. We proceeded with the regular deliciousness of the Primary warm up: 5 Surya A, 5 Surya B. I was on auto pilot when I heard: the sequence go: Utkatasana, bakasana, Mukta Hasta Sirsasana (tripod headstand), directly to chatarunga, urdvha mukha, adho mukha, a bunch of warrior variations, vinyasa, then jump from down-dog to bakasana, back to tripod headstand, back to baka, and through the rest of the vinyasa… crazy! We did that 5 times and Diana proceeded to add fun variations, headstands, and such craziness as peacock in lotus (which I got!!!!), and Crow pose in Lotus (which I almost got). We did delicious backbends, drop backs, mukta hasta sirsanasa to eka pada bakasana, and all sorts of variations. We sang the Patanjali invocation and the Ashtanga closing chant.Diana’s practice is insanely advanced and she is a really great teacher.

I reveled in the Indian lineage that permeated the studio. After coming from Yoga Works the day before and enjoying class immensely, wandering into Pacific Astanga was like adding the frosting to a cupcake. The studio is presented with so much devoted attention: the altar with photos of Guruji, the beautiful statues, the candles and lanterns, the chanting, and the sheer dedication of the instructor to her own personal practice, was a cut above anything I could ask for. If you’re ever in the OC… do yourself a favor and check out Pacific Ashtanga. They also offer Ashtanga Prep classes if you’re not craving a little Ashtanga on crack like I am…

Today, reveling in my Ashtanga drug of choice from yesterday, I’m reminded of the words of Lao Tzu: “There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with a heart.”

dogma shopping

25 Apr

Why am I constantly surprised when I find the words for things I can’t find words for? So what if I wasn’t the one to use them first..

My beliefs have radically changed over the last several years. As a result, things have become more clear and I am less attached to my beliefs. When my old paradigm dissolved, it went with a big fight. I was really convinced that the belief structure I was clinging to was absolute truth. I had a long list of reasons why. I was still open-minded, but there were certain core beliefs that were Dogma for me: doctrine set in stone. Any new information I was considering would only be accepted if it fit into that given construct of what I already viewed as True. (And why I couldn’t for the life of me fully grasp, The Power of Now the first time I read it!)

Thankfully for me, I hit a huge, massive depression. It was either drive off of the freeway and leave this earth quietly (which seemed like a refreshing thought at the time), or try anything and everything to survive and scramble some semblance of happiness together. I looked at my little boys and I knew I wanted to figure it out. For me, healing started with physical yoga and opening my mind to try ANYTHING that might help. I was in desperation and I knew it. I tried aura readings, meditation, counseling, medication. Piece by piece I was able to glean little things here and there that helped. What I discovered was that my past spiritual framework provided me with very little REAL knowledge on the subject of happiness, what it was, where it came from, and how to live in it’s abundance. I had no clue before hand, what the architecture of the Spirit, or the Mind were. I started to wake up to things that were right in front of me that I never saw before. I couldn’t get enough yoga and buddhist philosophy. I still can’t. Not because it’s superior, not because I feel that it’s truth with a capital T, but because I see so clearly that much of it is helpful, and much of it matches up with reality. I have found that by living what Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Your own life is the instrument for which we experiment with the truth”, that I’m waking up more every day as I work honestly through these teachings.

Now that I’m well versed and practiced in this yoga world of mine, and I feel very little suffering in comparison to years past – I’ve been wondering… Have I become a DOGMA SHOPPER? You know, switching one paradigm out for another, hanging on to my new beliefs and dogma so tightly that I can’t see the clarity around me? I’ve decided that I’m hugely relieved to be asking myself that question. 

A while back, when having lunch with a friend who shared my old belief system and had really helped me back during my dark depression days, she was asking about my shift and I was able to share with her how happy I am now. Her response was “I’m sorry”. She was so upset that I had left behind what she saw as true, that she couldn’t see happiness right in front of her.  It’s true, we need some structure of belief in order to function. We need a helpful viewpoint of the world in order TO function in peace and happiness. Having said that, I don’t want to end up living in a kooky world of magical thinking, replacing one set of self-soothing man-made beliefs for another, but still having no proximity to deeper awareness. I do not want to spin my wheels in quicksand.

It seems to me that the key to functioning healthfully within the given belief structure, is to just hold on softly and gently. To hold those beliefs in your hand and keep looking at them from every angle. Work them. Feel them –  but never feel that they are yours to hold on to for dear life. Only hold on to what works and what is simple and clear right out in the open. Dogma seems to be the death of personal enlightenment and to be a little selfish here, I don’t think I can go on living without those a-ha moments. Those times when we discover truths so obvious, so simple that they are hiding right out in the open, under our noses. A-HA… click, got it! 

No, I don’t want to just be a dogma shopper, simply replacing one set of beliefs for a new-improved version. I want to experience more clarity. Not because I want Truth, but because I want peace. I want happiness. 

In true yoga fashion, things are working in synchronicity. I found myself listening to Adyashanti again tonight, and of course – he is speaking much more eloquently, the exact ramblings of my mind. 

What was that New Year’s Resolution?

8 Apr

Oh yea. Damn it. Courage. Gotta work through the fear.

Something New

6 Apr

The problem with my life, is that I need something new to do. Something more exciting, more fun, more enriching to come my way. Would somebody ask me to take on some huge monumental project or task please? ‘Cause I really need a way to fill up my time!

Whew! This year has been THE BEST. I am so grateful for everything that has come my way. I’ve had the chance to meet some amazing people, start up some really cool projects, and line myself up even more closely with my life’s purpose. Really, it’s a great position to be in to wake up in the morning and realize that if I’m going to get everything done today, some things will have to come off of the to-do list. (you know that list, the one I can never find and never follow?) The even cooler thing (is cooler a word?) about The List, is that almost everything on that list are things I love doing. Considering that, I find that I don’t want to take things off of it, which creates a bit of a problem from time to time.

The beauty of it is, that I’ve learned to say NO. It’s been a huge lesson for me to just say no to things I don’t feel in alignment with. The hard part about it is that everybody else has an opinion about what I should do or not do! It’s been a huge experience of growth for me to listen to my soul and let that wisest part of myself decide what I will and won’t participate in. When I do listen, it makes saying no the easiest thing in the world.

So now I live in a (mostly) world of Yes’s that seem aligned with my heart. Now I find myself deep in tapas, working to just step out of my own way. My natural humanity seems to be the only obstacle in front of me now.

In the past, my yoga practice has been focused primarily on the limbs of the yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama and dhyana. I have to admit that I kind of poo-poo’ed the 5th and 6th limbs of pratyahara (withdrawing the mind from sense perception) and Dharana (concentration) as practices that I would get to later. And, as yoga tends to do, those limbs have organically unfolded themselves at my feet in exactly the right moment.

I’m realizing that in order to get out of my own way, it’s time to embrace withdrawing from sense perception and make love to concentration. What’s an extremely creative/ADD girl like me to do when the universe is calling out for more concentration? Reign it in, baby!

Maybe this will help:

For me reigning it in, structuring it, creating a consistent rhythm in life and staying in synch with THE LIST (cue the scary music) is a yogic practice of great effort. It’s coming along as with most other yogic practices, but for me this particular practice has been a lot more clumsy and a bit less joyful.  I’ll be looking for ways to inject joy into the mystic journey of THE LIST as I go this week. When it’s all said and done, it all has to be done.

Maybe that To Do Tattoo isn’t such a crazy idea after all?