Addicted to Loving ?

Addiction to people. Is that a thing? That fine line between loving someone, and having a co-dependent-attachment driven relationship. Most of you have had this kind of relationship. Almost as if the other person involved, or the relationship itself is like a drug. Like the best drug you have ever had. Your experience with “it” has been so incredible, birds flying high-nothing can touch you- happy. So much so, that you just cannot imagine not having it. And then there is the come down. You feel sad, unfulfilled, at a loss of control, that the only thing that will make you feel better again is getting your fix. You know that when you are about to do this drug again that it maybe not the best idea for your long term health, but yet you do it again because you want that feeling of elation, and it turns into this perpetual cycle, spun out of control, to which you don’t have an answer of when or how or if you should stop. You ask yourself if the come down is worth the high. Subconsciously, on some level you have decided it is. Your friends grow concerned for you. Some enable you. You stop doing it for a while. You feel good. You relapse, you feel great. Then you come down again. And find yourself asking the same questions.

I’ve not been addicted to any drug. But I have had a remarkably profound connection with someone who caused me to analyze a relationship or person as a drug. To the point where I can maybe even get away with talking about how some drugs aren’t so bad. For example, coffee. Coffee is a strong drug. But its not necessarily bad for you. In fact, coffee has been proven to be a powerful antioxidant, it stimulates the mind, it brings people together. It represents ritual. However, too much coffee is not a good thing; It can dehydrate you, make you shake, make you crash, some people are so caffeine sensitive, they cannot drink coffee.

We all have our thresholds, our tolerances… apply that to your said metaphorical drug like relationship and then compare. At what dose is it good for you, at what dose is it no longer a good thing. And how do you go about monitoring and regulating your decided healthy limit. So much can factor in. I might be somewhat addicted to coffee, so saying i’ve never been addicted to any drug was probably a lie. I could live without coffee. I just don’t want to live without coffee. I like waking up in the morning and making coffee. I find joy and comfort in the smell wafting through my house. Sitting and drinking a hot cup while I read or write and get ready for my day. Meeting a friend for a walk and getting coffee. Taking a long drive with some coffee. I’m not going to quit drinking coffee. But perhaps I don’t need to drink 5 cups a day. The healthy choice would be to balance my consumption with water, or tea, or booze…just kidding…kind of.  Or nothing. Sometimes nothing is exactly what we need to do. Take a step back and hopefully reconnect with ourselves.

The moral of this piece is to moderate accordingly. Watch your habits. Get to know yourself. Practice getting to know yourself, being true to yourself, and loving yourself as hard as you love whatever, or whoever your so called addiction is. Everything can and will fall into place. None of this is easy. Thats why we practice. Thats why I write.

Afflictions of the self

I love yoga asana, but lately my practice has been focused internally; more off the mat than on. Deep self reflection and growth are occurring. Sometimes asana helps me work through it. Sometimes sitting and meditating, being alone in nature, or talking to a good friend or writing is my practice.

The Kleshas (afflictions) of Yoga are often referred to as the seeds of suffering. They are negative patterns we develop that keep us from reaching samadhi (enlightenment).

The 5 kleshas are: Ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred and clinging to life. But there are also believed to be as many as 108 afflictions; another significant factor of the number 108 in yoga and buddhism.

Todays blog is about my own battle with these afflictions. I hope that it can bring some insight into your own practice, primarily your practice of real life-Yoga off of the mat.

During the youthful years of our lives, we tend to be quite focused and caught up in imagery. What we watch, what we read, what we hear, what we learn, all factor into this image of what we want to be; what we think we should be. Then we grow up a little more through experiences life hands out. These images are in hindsight a kaleidoscope of emotional chaos and beauty, and when the focus settles a little more clearly and we are able to take a breath and calm our mind, we find that maybe what we really need is to let go of the images we thought we needed to represent, and just be what we actually are. That part takes guts. Because what we actually are sometimes is nothing close to the idea of what we thought we were or what we want to be. And the only way we will ever reach that ideal of the self is through deep and honest examination of who we truly are.

We all have parts of ourselves which we prefer not to address because we don’t care to come to terms with the realness of those parts. So we try to sweep it under the rug. Its only when we start to recognize that those negative traits are actually hurting us and keeping us from being happy. Once we realize that, we have a decision if we are going to examine that part of ourselves and try to emerge from it, and overcome it, or if we are going to let ourselves dwell in the negative patterns, hence continue to create a cycle of negativity -thus lack of fulfillment.

For a long time I suppose I just thought it was everyone else making me feel the way I do sometimes. I had to finally admit to myself my deepest insecurities were my own doing, and I was continuously creating the same patterns in my relationships because of my lack of understanding of myself, moreover my unwillingness to change.

Its been said that you have to love yourself first before you can love anyone else. I have heard that expression my whole life, and it wasn’t until recently that I actually “got it.” If I love myself, faults and all, I can love another for who they are, without transferring my patterns of negativity  onto them. Maybe my faults aren’t really faults, maybe they just make me wildly-uniquely-beautiful-lovable-take me or leave me- me.

Realizing when something is an issue only because I created it to be so in my own mind. The mind can be dangerously powerful. Sometimes against our greater good.

I recently fell in love with someone. The kind of love that makes you realize you can have everything you want, and you deserve it. The- you want to give it back like there is no tomorrow kind of love. The kind of love that has forced me to address my patterns of jealousy and insecurity as my own bullshit. To simply let myself be loved without attachment because love has no attachments it just IS. When its real it is this constant energy that you cannot subdue regardless of your patterns of escaping who you really are. Jealousy is a very real, very ugly, very mind altering emotion, that we all experience to some degree or another. I hate it. When I notice the green eyed monster emerging for within me, I literally start to feel like a different person. A person I don’t want to be, with thoughts and feelings I don’t ever want to take me over. But they have a tendency to do just that. And this is why I brought you here today. My work, my practice is to break those habitual thoughts that in no way serve my well being, or the well being of those I love.

My yoga mat is a good place to take that intention. One thing I admit about myself as a practitioner is that I have a fear of falling because I don’t trust that I can hold myself up. Why am I afraid of falling? Because I don’t want to lose control? Why don’t I trust the tools I have in my practice? The mental overload of getting hurt becomes so great that I tell myself its not worth it to just go for it. But the infinite wisdom of my higher self reminds me that  even in mastery one can make mistakes. There is no such thing as perfection. Own your fears. Own your faults. Own your setbacks. Only then, with practice, will they go away. My intention is to deeply examine those afflictions I have on and off my yoga mat. My asana practice is simply a form of understanding myself better. The ultimate realization the the mind should not be my higher power.

Teaching Yoga When you’re having a bad day

Theres something interesting about the profession of teaching yoga. That when you show up to teach, you assuringly have to leave your baggage at the door, in an attempt to maintain the “holier than now-guru-peace and love rules all- mentality. I can try to do that. Sometimes successfully and sometimes not. I’ve always been a sensitive being, wearing my heart on my sleeve with a face that cannot even minutely hide my true feelings.

The other day I was experiencing anxiety in a way I never had before. Things had been building up and I completely broke down. All I could do is cry. I had just minutes before yoga students were going to walk through the studio doors to attend my evening Hatha yoga class. I was mustering up everything I could to try to conjure up the yoga teacher mentality I have practiced as a life style for years now. But I could barely keep a straight face. I could barely breath. And I had to teach a yoga class to a room full of students. Anticipating the dreaded questions of “how are you?” when there was no way I could look them in the face and respond “great-fine-,etc” and not be completely translucent. I’m all about authenticity in my practice, and I preach it to no end when I teach. It would be inauthentic to tell a student I was fine when I was near an anxiety attack. What I could do is be honest and say it wasn’t the best day, and proceed to use whatever energy I had to create a good practice for the students who showed up.

I feel like this is a situation that us yoga teachers can find ourselves in more often that most people would expect. The thing is, just because someone is a great yoga teacher, or has an admirable practice, a great philosophy and attitude towards life, doesn’t mean they have it all figured out. Yet we are expected to smile and praise sunshine and rainbows when shit gets hard. We are all initially drawn to the practice of yoga to better ourselves, and the deeper we go into the practice, the more we dig up, and its not always pretty. It can be downright challenging, and scary, and very painful. As teachers, we use our own lessons to pass on to others. Allowing our students to know that we don’t have it all figured out could go both ways; they either respect and connect more to us, or they feel let down. I choose to be real. News flash- just because you spend your life practicing yoga doesn’t mean you don’t still have afflictions. Practicing yoga helps us ameliorate our afflictions though, and emerge into greater more enlightened beings. But never will any of us be perfect.

My good friend attended my class that evening. She held me in her arms as I cried and then I splashed my face off with cold water and went into the practice space to teach. I felt like throwing up the whole time, as I told my students to let go and be present and breath. After class my friend and I were walking to our cars and she told me it was an amazing class, one of the best hatha classes she has ever been too. I told her that was odd to me because I felt like I was going to throw up the whole time and she responded surprised and just gave me a hug and told me that my rawness and sensitivity is what makes me such a good yoga teacher, and to embrace that in myself.

Your yoga teacher doesn’t have it all figured out. But they are on the path to it, and respect them for sharing that path with you, and wanting you to find that awareness as well.

The light within me honors the light within you. In darkness and in Light.

Namaste.

Foundations of Vinyasa Workshop

This workshop is a great opportunity to learn the foundations of Vinyasa yoga. My intention is that you  will gain the tools to feel strong and safe in any yoga class you partake in. You will learn the most important aspects of the practice; proper alignment in postures, breath regulation, restraint and modifications, and linking it all together to create a strong and graceful flow in your practice.

This workshop is for all levels. I create a relaxed environment where all feel welcome to explore their curiosity and learn without expectations or attachment. Beginners and seasoned yogis are encouraged to come and refine their practice!

 

When: Saturday January 17 2:30-5:00 pm

Cost: 35$

 

Location: Sweat Hot Yoga , 3516 Fremont Place North Seattle, Wa 98103

The Importance of Breath; Down to a science

Breathing. It is the first thing we do once born, the last thing we do before leaving this body. It is vital to our existance, and yet many of us are unaware of our breathing patterns throughout the day. Partially becasue yes, it is intinctual to breath. But that is just the beginning.

The Sanskrit word “Prana” translates to ” Life force” or “vital energy ( flow).”  The Sanskrit word “Yama” translates roughly to ” dicipline within society.”  Henceforth “Pranayama” , dicipline of vital energy through the breath,  exemplifys that concious and proper breathing is not only integral to your yoga practice, but infact your life.

Have you ever noticed that if you are cooped up inside your home or work space all day, with no fresh air circulation, that you dont feel so great? Lacking energy, feeling depleated and constrained?  Yet if you take a walk outside and breath in fresh air, you feel more energized, healthy, and your general moral is boosted? The quality of air we breath and the acknowledgment of how we are breathing has tremendous effects on our health. One example is nose breathing verses mouth breathing; When we breath through the nose, it functions as a filter for free radicals and dangerous pathogens in the air. Breathing through the mouth, we are more suceptable to germs and viruses growing, shallowness of breath, less oxygen flowing to the brain. . . Now thake those facts and put yourself back in that stuffy, dusty, stagnant air filled room. How are you breathing? Is the breath gently filling the body with the inhale and evenly so releasing with the exhale? Try it. Through the nose. Ask yourself throughout the day: “How am I breathing?” Not only will more mindful breathing improve your overall health, but it will reduce stress and remind you to be present.

Letting go of expectations

My Father used to tell me , “If you want to make god laugh, make plans.” Because more often than not, life dishes up the unexpected, changing our precious plans.

Planning is good in the sense that having direction and feeling prepared is valuable. Some personalities need to plan more than others. Yet, ironically, the persons that are dependent on having a plan are the ones that are most negatively affected when their plan doesn’t go accordingly. Hence why I felt compelled to write about it. We can create a plan and do everything necessary to see it is executed just how we foresee it too, but the reality is that things can change in a matter of seconds, thats just the law of the universe. Nothing is really guaranteed (Except for math, but thats another blog. Entirely). I think what we all need to do, is focus more on letting go of the outcome in our plans, but still stay driven in our integrity as if things were all going to work out in the end. Because they do once we learn to let go of what we think is concrete, and focus more on being present with that which is right in front of us now. If we think too far ahead into the future, then we create stories, that may or may not even be likely to happen. With the creation of those stories can come excitement, stress, worries, fear, or doubt. Whereas if we were all to focus on working hard today, being the best person, friend, relative, lover, partner, sister, brother, parent, or child we possibly can, letting go of those stories because they should have no bearing on this day, on this moment. Take a deep breath and treat this moment, each moment with good intention, and an open heart for what may come. One day at a time. Then we can free ourselves of great disappointment, jealousy, fear, and all the other negative things we let govern us at times.

I know that some reading this may think to themselves ” Its not that easy.” You’re right, its not. If if were easy then everyone would already be practicing these values. Thats why its work, and thats why its important to be reminded of it.