Provocatove article offering some thoughts on trends within current yoga culture.
Like butterfly wings
Her lashes softly close and open,
Open onto unknown ancient depths of being.
Have we just met
Or have we been before many times
In the presence of the mystery that is each of us?
The mystery which is expressed through the fact of our existence,
The universe whose consciousness is us.
We wonder at the separateness of a stranger
Even as we find a oneness in our wonder.
गते गते पारगते पारसंगते बोधि स्वाहा
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha *
Gone, gone, completely gone
Gone to the otherside, the farthest shore
Alone,alone, completely alone
Sighing waves, blank sands blow
Seagulls wheel in the emptiness of sky
Sadness and sadness, deepest sadness,
Separation, awakening my heart,
Opening in tears
Around, around, all the way round
Salt sea washes, confused and crashing
Against itself, in turbulence, impassable
Oversea sun sets
Somewhere far away a lotus opens to greet her
Exposing the golden jewel,
Sun to sun, hidden treasure,
Earth echo of the star song,
Perfumed light and perfection
From the deepest dark beneath depths
*This is the mantra from the end of the Heart Sutra.
Nobody really knows what it means, but it is said
to be one of the most powerful mantras of all.
The first verse of the poem is a literal translation of it,
or at least as far as one can translate it, because the
Sanskrit grammar is endlessly debatable by the
learned in such things.
The Dalai Lama’s translation says
“go, go, go beyond, go thoroughly beyond, and establish yourself in enlightenment”.
Text and photo ©2016 Unjay
How can you tell if some one is good at yoga?
Ha! Trick question- you can’t.
Yes, of course you can see if someone has tight hamstrings and finds forward fold challenging, or if someone cannot balance in tree pose.
What you can’t see is the internal process of someone else’s awareness.
And yoga is all about awareness and acceptance.
I would rather see a student trying, failing and trying again to be that tree with equanimity and good humour than a student looking smug and trendy and self obsessed as they execute a perfect eagle pose or ashtanga jump-through.
But even then, who am I to judge? I don’t know the trials of that lululemon girl’s life; I don’t know if that perfectly built guy without a shirt in hot class has a mother in hospital. Despite appearances, we do not know what someone else’s life is like. So how can we judge them? Maybe their attitude is all front when really they are clinging on for dear life as it falls apart beneath their fingers.
So we should limit our judgement to the edges of our own mats. And even then, yoga teaches us to be actively accepting of the present moment. If that moment includes struggling with a vinyasa flow, then the only important thing is whether we are fully present to that experience. And if we are not, then let’s accept that too.
And again, asana, which is what most people think of as ‘yoga’ is only one of eight dimensions of living a yogic life. So even if someone has perfect alignment and amazing flexibility in class, it doesn’t mean they have a strong meditation practice, or live compassionately or have any of the other yogic virtues.
My advice to students: don’t compare yourself to anyone else in class; spend that energy instead on focussing clearly and closely on your own practice- and enjoy being in that moment no matter your distance from “ideal form” or “full expression”.
That spark of pure, perfect, divine essence is in you anyway. What else could you possibly add to that?
Shala Om now has three sessions every week to be happy, be real, be relaxed and be yourself.
- Tuesday 6.30pm Uniting Church, Semaphore, 146 Semaphore Road (next to the Exeter Hotel)
- Thursday 6.30pm Uniting Church, Semaphore
- Saturday 9.00 am Timeball Tower lawns, Cnr Semaphore Road and The Esplanade (outdoor class, weather permitting)
See you on the mat!
We are excited to announce a new venue for 2016.
The council has closed access to the community room, at least for now, so sadly we bid that fabulous, unique, somewhat bizarre ambience farewell.
This year we will hold classes in The Chapel, Semaphore Uniting Church.
This beautiful restful space shall help us enter that yogic place of inner awareness.
We are also excited to announce a second evening class, along with our Summer Saturday morning outdoor class.
More Om for everybody!
Shala Om 2016 Classes
- Saturday 9.00 am On the lawn next to the Timeball Tower (top of Semaphore Road, opposite jetty)
- Tuesday 6.30 pm Semaphore Uniting Church Chapel
- Thursday 6.30 pm Semaphore Uniting Church Chapel
All classes $10
Enquiries to Unjay, 043 1928 663 or email@example.com
See you on the mat!
Christmas and yoga
Christmas… A celebration of the birth of Jesus dating back to around at least the third century A.D., with uncertain origins, but certainly including both Christian and pagan content.
Yoga… A philosophy and practice dating back maybe 5000 years or more, possibly to the Indus Valley civilisation.
They are the same. Essentially.
Huh!? You may say… How can they be the same?
It’s actually simple and clear. The word yoga derives from a Sanskrit verb meaning to “yoke together”, specifically yoking together body, mind and spirit through physical, mental and spiritual practices, disciplines and virtues.
Christmas (Christ’s mass, or the sacred feast day dedicated to Christ) celebrates the embodiment of the divine in human existence.
Yoga teaches that the deep essential nature of each of us is perfect, pure and divine. Christianity says the same about Christ.
Thus yoga and Christmas are celebrations of the spirit embodied. “Hail the incarnate deity”, as the carol says. In yoga terms, “Ham sa”: I am that [which is pure perfect and divine].
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.
When I was in yoga teacher training, we had a very restrictive structure. There was a set number of specific asanas we had to present, and almost a set script where we had to state counter indications, modifications and benefits of each pose. I can see why a teacher training regime would have this structure, but I did find it frustratingly rigid and predictable.
Now as a teacher in my own shala, I find classes anything but predictable. I have an outline of each class worked out in my head, but I have learnt to abandon it at a moment’s notice. Instead I take as my starting point my students’ needs at that moment in that place. My sequence starts with them.
I have regular students, but every class they have different needs. Maybe there are injuries. Maybe everyone is exhausted. Maybe they are up for a challenge… I can never predict what my students’ needs will be, so each class is a surprise to me! I may have planned a vigorous class filled with sun salutations and side planks but end up teaching a restorative class where we don’t even get off the mat. But no one has left disappointed. (Or else they are really good liars.)
In my other work, both as a kindergarten teacher and a musician, I have come to realise that I can wing it and it will work. (Almost) always. Relying on intuition and inspiration taps into a magical flow where I can connect with my “audience”, whether they are music fans, yoga students or four year olds. I don’t really know how it works, but it does. Ideas always come. Inspiration is infinite and available. It just takes a little bit of courage to step out over the ravine onto that glass floor that doesn’t appear to be there. My parachute is that I can always return to something I know if the glass floor cracks. Play the chords, read a story or return to my yoga training sequence. But I almost never need that parachute. Anyway, what is the ravine under the glass floor? Nothing life threatening- just the risk of embarrassment, an awkward moment when I don’t know what to do or say. It passes.
And the payoff for that tiny bit of courage? Thirty four-year-olds completely entranced by a story I am making up on the spot- yogis looking sleepy, relaxed and renewed as they come out of śavasana- people dancing and singing as I play.
I say the risk is worth it.