Thank you so much for another year of my being able to teach yoga and be inspired to keep taking my teaching deeper. Many of you reading this have attended class, this past year or previously, and generously supported me and Loving Kindness, this donation studio labor of love and service. Many of you have moved away, or even have never taken a class with me, but stay on the list, or are following this blog because you like the inspiration and yoga teachings. You are all in my prayers and thoughts and I have such love and appreciation for you being interested, introspective, willing to learn and change and grow, and through that to teach and inspire me to be a better and better human and man. And for many of you I am so incredibly appreciative of your dedication to your regular practice of yoga and your attendance at classes which makes this tangible and loving community possible.
As we begin the new year, here are a few thoughts that I hope will be inspirational and helpful, if not just interesting or funny.
New year, the arbitrary line we draw in time, is, of course, a time to reflect on where we’re at and make some positive and purposeful commitments for where we want to go and how we want to be in the future. If you haven’t made any resolutions yet (or yearly!), I strongly encourage it! The first one I ever did-to floss my teeth daily- when I was 18, I continue to this day and my dentist says is part of my teeth being in much better shape than they would be otherwise.
Whatever commitments/resolutions you have made for this new year (maybe more yoga practice? 🙂 , there are a few things to remember that can be helpful in actually fulfilling/manifesting them. First, they need to be very specific, so you can know without a doubt if you have done it or not. If they are unclear at all, I see that as just a wishy-washy way of expressing something some part of you WANTS to do, but the rest of you is committed to NOT do or that you know that you are really NOT going to do. Specificity in this regard could mean knowing frequency or quantity or whatever you are intending very clearly defined. One of my resolutions this year, a renewal of one of the past fews years that I am getting better at but still not perfected, is to read at least 5 minutes every day of some spiritual book, whatever I’m reading at the time. I know exactly what I’m intending and know if I did it or not. Or if you “want to do more yoga,” that may not happen, but if you intend to practice on your own M, W, F in the mornings for 30 minutes and take a class on Saturday, for example, then you know if you did it or not.
I also tell Nikki, my wife, what I’m intending so that she knows and I have someone to whom I am “accountable,” so I’m not the only one who knows what I’m trying to accomplish. If you don’t have a significant other you live with who you can share your commitment, or even ask for help or support from, in this age of social networking, you could partner with a friend who has similar aspirations and support each other electronically. Many have found that to be invaluable in getting on the mat or for other commitments. Some people have even told me what they are committing to as far as attendance at class. If you find that helpful, you are welcome to do that, but then you’ll have to tell me what happens when you aren’t there 🙂
I think it is also helpful if whatever you choose, in this case, is something that you enjoy or at least find helpful. Though last year I chose (and am continuing) to do locust pose each day in my asana practice for several reasons, one of which is that I find it very difficult and even unpleasant on some days, in some strange and unexpected ways, I still found and find it helpful. Certainly, you may resolve to do something that is going to be not particularly fun, but there should be some possibility of joy in it, at the very least.
(I promise that sometime in the near future, one of these articles will be on Excuses and Resistance, a fascinating and potentially endless topic, as you probably already know!) (Note: I have since written that, and you can read it here.)
Earlier today in my asana practice, I came to the “sad” (for me at the time) realization that I think the pose of the year this year is bridge pose (setu bhandasana) in the way I’ve been guiding fairly regularly of late, with gripping the mat with your feet and pulling them toward the head, while trying to move the siting bones toward the back of the knees. As one who is self-confessed “quad dominant” and finds that particularly difficult but also strangely satisfying when it happens, I can easily see the possible benefits of regular practice of this pose for my body and being, not the least of which is helping out my knees which are maybe the most easily compromised part of my body. I think that that pose is going to continue to show up regularly in classes, too, since as I’ve been guiding it more regularly, I have come to realize how many people are “quad dominant” (maybe just “lazy hamstring-ed?”) or who at least find that movement so incredibly difficult that it is worth some more exploration. AND I hope that you knowing that that pose is likely going to show up in class won’t keep you away 🙂
One final thought and encouragement at the beginning of the new year. If there is anyone you still hold a grudge toward or who you haven’t completely (or at all) forgiven, why not take a little time to relax, hold them in the Light and give them some prayers for Peace and let go the burden of carrying them around all the time. Remember forgiveness is something that we do for ourselves!… AND the whole world benefits from there being more Light and lightness (=not so much heaviness) in the world. I did it (at least some more layers and with more people) and I’m sure you can, too.
May you and may we all realize the Infinite Peace dwelling in our hearts and then be of meaningful service in the world!