Category Archives: yoga

Mind, Body, and Soul Nourishment

The garden is a refuge, a place of quiet contemplation, a source of nourishment for mind and body alike. — Dean Pailler

My garden is nature, books, love, laughter, fruits and vegetables, and coconut milk ice cream. It’s writing and yoga and the vibrant life intermixed with the sounds of vibrant silence. I nourish myself with these things daily.

photo by Konejita.

 

Do you feel nourished in your life, work, and love? Is nourishment something you seek on a daily basis? How do you nourish yourself? Nourishment to me, consists of incorporating elements of mindfulness, love, compassion, and peace throughout my day.

I have had a lot of moments of sadness in the past couple of weeks yet I have still been able to keep myself nourished. It’s a matter of practice. If we breathe deeply in yoga class and it becomes an integral part of our practice, then we can breathe deeply in moments of stress when in the past we would have been more likely to shut down or attack. If we nourish ourselves in the moments of joy, then we can do it in the moments of sadness.

There is always joy in every moment of sadness and the key is to find it. It’s embedded in acceptance, surrender, and love. When we accept our current situation, we can use it as a tool or anchor on our path rather than becoming a victim on our own path. We gain the control in our lives and manifest our dreams when we are the love and happiness we seek in life because we know that this hardship, this challenge will pass, but we have an unconditional faith and love in ourselves that is always present.

So even if you hate your job, you do not feed yourself that hate by focusing on that, you focus on all that you are grateful for that this job allows instead. You allow a path to be created each day through that gratitude that brings you closer to the career you are seeking. The same is true for people we find ourselves hating as well. Create boundaries, spend less time with the person, and have no expectations or attachments to a certain outcome where that person is concerned. We can let these situations limit us or we can let them teach us areas where we need to let go a little more and let more love into our lives. Love is the only thing that will lead us to more love in our lives.

Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

Create this love in your life. Feel this love for yourself and let it be unconditional regardless of your perception of yourself or of your life.  Let this love be a constant that inspires and nourishes you. Let it create a spirit of limitlessness in your life where your obstacles become your stepping stones and where your enemies become your teachers.

— lissa


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variations on letting go

You only lose what you cling to.— Siddhārtha Gautama


photo by Daisypops1.


***

I wanted you to make a jar
for certain dark sections of the heart…
and a jar open on all sides — a freedom jar —
that would hold only what wished to be held.

— Stephen Dunn

What if that was the way we held onto everything in life — a touch that both held and let go at the same time? Is that the essence of a life truly lived?

***

I love this song by Gaura Vani and as Kindred Spirits. I listen to it almost every day and try to listen to myself to find what I need to surrender. What is holding me back? What is pushing me forward? What can I do to be here in the present?

***

For the first time in my yoga practice, I went into balasana (child’s pose) and stayed there for a large part of the sequence. The students surrounding me flowed into virabhadrasana one, prasarita padottanasana, sirasana and I breathed and let go into the floor, feeling the way the pressure of their feet into the wood softly moved me ever so slightly from side to side, feeling the way my breath allowed me to slowly let go of the tension I had been carrying.

The teacher had told us to return to child’s pose if we needed to rest but also if we started to drift out of our self and our practice into the practice of someone else in the crowded room. It was the first time I had heard of using child’s pose in this way to return to yourself.

Instead of shaming myself for taking this rest, I let go of my expectations and opened my heart to my gratitude for the practice, my gratitude for my coming to class when I was so tired, my gratitude to just be with myself in this room full of people who wanted to be with themselves yet together at the same time.

***

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali talks about the effort of practice and non-attachment in yoga. We must practice for a long time, unceasingly and with love to secure the long-lasting effects of peace and quieting that yoga has on the fluctuations of the mind but at the same time we must not be attached to the outcomes of our practice. Our practice is a freedom jar in a sense.

Yoga, as well as life, is the work of practicing, working, growing while simultaneously letting go, detaching from expectations and desires. The alternation between working and letting go can be seen in each cycle of breath we take. We fill and grow on each inhale and release and let go on each exhale. We can’t fight the exchanges of breath. We accept each new cycle of breath, giving and receiving with all of those around us and accepting our interconnectedness with each new breath.

–lissa

I-15What is YIOM?


close your eyes and live…

Close your eyes. Forget the realities, the obstacles, the fears, your mind, and just listen to your heart. What do you want right now in your life? What do you need?


photo by Ben Heine.

***

You can give yourself anything you need in life. The thing is you have to know what you need rather than how you feel. Your feelings are not even a quarter of the picture; there is a story underneath them waiting to be seen and heard. You have to feel what you feel and then let your feelings go and move beyond them to connect with the heart, soul, and core of you — that is where the answers lie.

In Jack Kornfield’s book A Path With Heart, he quotes Carlos Castanenda: Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself… Does this path have a heart. If it does, the path is good. If it doesn’t, it is of no use.

If we are still and listen deeply, even for a moment, we will know if we are following a path with heart. — Jack Kornfield.

A path is every choice we make in our lives. The small choices we make throughout the day create our lives; those small actions determine how we will act in the bigger moments: choosing to remain silent when someone says something about us that is untrue, choosing to stay in rather than go to a dinner party where we won’t know a lot of people, choosing to go out when our body is saying all it wants is a night of rest… If we repeatedly make decisions that don’t honor what we need, will we then have the strength to leave an unhealthy partner or apply to that dream job we’ve always wanted?

For me, finding our path and following it is at the heart of the meditation practice. Sit with yourself, be with yourself, and give yourself what you need. Be aware of the parts of you that feel vibrant and strong and send more breath and prana to them. Be aware of the areas that feel hollow or tired or sad and send more breath and prana to them. Whether your form of meditation is asana, chanting, running, knitting, creating art, do not be afraid to leap into those moments of stillness for all of our truths lie in those moments.

–lissa

What is YIOM?


letting go is love

If you want to be… let go.

Letting go is not getting rid of. Letting go is letting be… In the end, we discover that to love and let go are the same thing. Both ways do not seek to possess. — Jack Kornfield

***

My old apartment had a spot on the living room floor that radiated warmth. It probably was in close proximity to a radiator in the apartment below mine, but I liked to think that it existed for the sheer pleasure of my feet’s touch.

I would trace my feet along its boundaries, feel the divide between warmth and cold, and wonder if it was a love story meant for only a few tiles to share. It didn’t matter that the whole room wanted to be loved. I wanted to be loved.

Every time I rediscovered it, it put my entire body at ease. Sometimes, I would lay my whole body on the floor. The warmth could hold my hands, cheek, chest, and the beginning inches of my waist all at once.

I would curl my body as tightly into the fetal position as I could and try to contain the warmth. Slowly, my body would start to shake. It was time to let go, and this fact never changed no matter how much I struggled. It always escaped me too soon, and the cold would run up my spine like a shiver.

***

To say the least, letting go is just something I did not do up until about five years ago. I carried every negative, shameful event and feeling that I could with me. It’s no wonder that so many parts of my body are so tight. I wrapped my story, the sad one that I would not let go of, into my hips, my hamstrings, my trapezius, anywhere I could fit it. This is one of the main reasons I don’t get discouraged with my limited flexibility in many poses. I know that those areas of tightness are old wounds, old sadness. I’m not going to force myself deeper into poses to get rid of them. I’m going to be patient and let yoga be a form of love for my present, past, and future and offer love, offer forgiveness, and offer acceptance in the form of my breath.

One of the things that I am most thankful for in my yoga practice is the lessons it has taught me in letting go. I feel like each exhale, each time I smile when I fall out of a pose, each time I close my eyes in a balance pose is a road map straight into the heart of letting go. My yoga practice has made me very aware of the things that I carry and the things I can let go of.

Letting go doesn’t mean losing or giving up. It’s a form of healing  and forgiveness. It’s a form of love and it creates space for more love.

What are some things that you do to let go?

–lissa

photo by Walkabout Wolf.

What is YIOM?


Love until all we are is love…

If we are to reach real people in this world… we shall go from love to love and peace to peace until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering. — Gandhi

Is the whole world simply longing for peace and love? How do we go about covering the world with peace and love? Should it start with each individual? If each person had a strong sense of love and peace in the world within them than surely this, in turn, would create a different world around them.

Let’s start small big with you and me. Let’s do something to claim our peace and love today. Things we can do:

1. Read inspiring quotes like this one:

My love, he is here inside. He does not leave, He doesn’t need to arrive. — Mirabai.

Know that you never have to go far to feel love. All you have to do is go within.

2-6. Sing. Dance. Sweat. Laugh. Be creative.

7. Write:

I want a peace poem to exist within the spaces between our breath. I want our love to merge into a living breathing artform and our insides to vibrate sonnet-like love. I want to love until all we are is love…

I want to tag the moon and have it play chase with me all night. Imagine what the moon must feel like: majestic velvet expansiveness.  I want to be that. I want to lean into the moon, the trees, the beauty surrounding me and find out their secret. How are you happy? Why are you glowing when there is so much loss all around you and embedding you? Maybe they would whisper back, it’s simple, my love. Let go and love.


 

8. Release something holding you back: judgments, fears, emotions, the past.

I’ve learned that even when I feel sad, I don’t have to become sad.

Honor who you are in each moment. Be aware of how you feel but know that your emotions, fears, and judgments are not you. Emotions are meant to fluctuate and change. Observe them, recognize them, validate them, and then let them go. Meditation is the best tool to use to develop this process of awareness and surrendering.

If you would like to learn more about this, check out an enlightening article by Sally Kempton about letting go of sadness.

9. Pay yourself compliments often. Treat yourself to something you love whether that’s silence, a sports game, music, dessert, company, nature… Reward yourself every day with little things for the little things are in actuality the big things.

10. Practice Yoga. To truly embrace love, we need to know that sometimes, most of the time actually, our heart needs to lead the way. We need to trust that our heart is strong enough to stay open in the face of love as well as the opposites of love. You cannot protect yourself from fear/rejection/hate/abandonment without protecting yourself from love too. We think we’re safer by closing up when, in reality, the more open we are, the less we suffer. That is because being open indicates the practice of letting go and letting go is love.

If I’m feeling blocked and want to create the space to open up a part of me that is closed, I’ll come onto my mat and come into either a supported setu bandha sarvanagasana/bridge pose (block under my sacrum) or a supported matsyasana/fish pose (block long ways between my shoulder blades and another block under the bottom of my head; option: not to have the block under the head if no neck issues) and breathe through the space where I feel closed. A mantra you can use is a beautiful one I saw on @GaneshBaba’s twitter page: “Breathe in abundance; breathe out surrender.”

11. Help others.

–lissa

top photo: by ilsebatten.

bottom photo by risquillo.

What is YIOM?


Manifest Your Life

 

I went to a Manifest Your Life yoga workshop in New York City with Jennifer Pastiloff, a phenomenal Los Angeles-based yoga teacher. I first discovered Jennifer after reading her moving article about fear in Elephant Journal.

I have had few yoga experiences that felt as complete as this workshop. It was the perfect blend of guidance and independence, meditation and asana, and humor and intensity. It’s rare that I find a class where we do pranayama exercises, inversions, meditation, arm balances, twists, back bends, and flow and truly go deep within ourselves. Jennifer created a class of love and safety where it was okay to fall and fly. She encouraged us not to take ourselves too seriously and said we had to laugh if we fell out of a pose. She helped us to align our body and our thoughts.

What do you want to manifest in your life? JP asked. Get a piece of paper and write down one, ten, or twenty things you want to manifest. Be as specific as possible.

I wrote down seven words to describe what I want to manifest: whole, love, courage, acceptance, abundance, authenticity, and peace. I want to be a loving and open person no matter my circumstances; I feel like everything else will fall into place in my life if I have those two things.

Give voice to your dreams. Be in a feeling of that which you wish to receive. Thank the universe in advance for what you are manifesting. — JP

What do you think of when you think of faith? — JP

I feel faith:

when I am one with myself

when I fully embrace the present moment

when I stop judging and start feeling

when I let go of my fears and worries and believe in life; believe that my life will unravel just as it should without my controls or worries

when I embrace my love for me,

when I feel how connected we all are,

when I love, when I hurt, when I laugh, when I find the freedom in being.

What do you think of when you think of doubt? When you start thinking about doubt, what starts to show up in your thoughts and your life?– JP

I think of the fearful, guarded person I used to be. I worry can I ever be fully free of that person? I think of the chronically depressed, negative person I used to be. I worry do I really deserve to feel this happy?

I need to claim my power and let go of the past and fully embrace myself and my life. I am not my past. I am not my future. I am this present moment, this present breath, and I am capable of anything in this present space.

I want to live to my fullest, love to my deepest, and breathe to my freest.

When you ask yourself what you want to manifest, ask yourself does it feel natural?– JP If you’re dreaming of being a professional football player, do you actually have the age, anatomy, and determination needed to make this happen? Be realistic but don’t let your self-doubts keep you from going after your dreams.

When we were in savasana, Jennifer read Marianne Williamson’s gorgeous text about self-actualization.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson

I felt tears come to my eyes as I felt fully embraced by my worth, my light, my love, my talent. The words Who are you not to be? kept ringing in my head. I’m tired of playing small. I’m tired of hiding myself to make others comfortable. I’m tired of holding on to the person I used to be. I want to live. I want to love. I want to be.

–lissa

top photo by ojaipatrick.

bottom photo by monbikke.

What is YIOM?


the yoga off the mat

Today marks the start of YIOM or Yogis Inspiring Oneness Month, a month-long celebration of yoga for the month of April. The concept was created by Lorin from The Vegan Asana and over twenty yogis and bloggers have signed up to write about an aspect of yoga three to seven days per week for the month.

I try to live my yoga throughout the day — finding compassion in the stranger insulting me, breathing through my sadness rather than stuffing and hiding it in my body, and softening and opening in the face of fear since that is at the heart of love. I want to share those things with you. I want to focus on the yoga that starts when we roll up our mat and walk out of the studio. What happens when we enter our lives and leave the dream-like state yoga on the mat can often take us to? Do we continue to face ourselves throughout the day? Do we see ourselves in the people that we like as well as dislike? Do we maintain openness no matter what circumstances we face in our day?

–lissa


majestic velvet expansions

photo uploaded by Nika Fadul.

i want a poem to exist within the spaces between my heart beat. i want the inches of longing and hollowness within me to merge into a living breathing artform and my insides to vibrate sonnet-like love. i want to move my soul so deeply that it becomes a soaring hot pink balloon that i could tie around my waist and fly away towards heaven. i want to tag the moon and have it play chase with me all night. imagine what the moon must feel like: majestic velvet expansiveness. maybe i could bring back to life that deep belly laugh that went extinct when i realized the word no is the most misunderstood word in the entire book of languages. i wish that i could take a pair of scissors and cut through the vivid horror tales that replay on and on in my head. if i could have stillness, more than anything, i would want it to be autumn and to sit on a freshly washed sheet and stare up at the rainbow of leaves and watch the tree branches dance with the wind. have you ever noticed the way autumn sounds so alive?

there’s a point when you lose too much and fate becomes a dark looming thing that drags you along on a leash and kicks you in the bottom if you ask to just rest and sit for a few more moments. i want to be majestic velvet expansiveness. i wish i could lean into the moon, the leaves, the beauty surrounding me and find out their secret. how are you happy? why are you glowing when there is so much loss all around you and embedding you? maybe they would whisper back, it’s simple, my lovely. let go and love.

–lissa