Monday, August 20, 2012

Niyama: Santosha (contentment)

Our next Niyama is called Santosha. The basic idea here is to find contentment in your circumstances. I love this. It’s so very Biblical. The apostle Paul said, “I’ve learned, whatever state I’m in, to be content”. It’s also very relevant. Take a look at your life. Are you content?

I have to admit that I’m not always content. I’m much more so now than in the past. I look at my wonderful husband, my sweet animals, and my amazing job, and a great sense of peace takes over. But then life happens, and I’m thrown headlong into wanting something to change. I want a bigger house, more money, more free time, more time with my friends & family, more, more, more…

Thankfully, through prayer & practice, I’m usually able to come back to contentment.

Santosha reminds me that this is enough. That now is enough. That I am enough.

Today, look at the areas of your life which seem to nag at you. Look at the “if only”s with a critical eye, then look at the present moment and find whatever happiness is waiting for you there.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Niyama: Saucha (purity)

What comes to mind when you think about purity? To me, it’s the color white. Like snow. Or crystal-clear, like pure, clean water. Or even the commercial about IVORY soap, being 99.9% pure.

This niyama speaks to every part of our being. Clean body, clean mind, clean spirit, clean motivations, clean environment….the list can go on. This one can be so challenging. If we work really hard to clean our homes and bodies, we often neglect our minds & spirits.

But it’s an on-going practice. We can keep our homes and other environments clean by taking a few minutes each day to straighten something or to clean a little while. We can help the greater environment by using green cleaning products and re-usable towels.

We can clean our bodies by using all-natural body products, by exercising to sweat out impurifications, and by eating a healthful, clean diet.

We can keep our minds clean by observing Brahmacharya, controlling what comes into the mind.

We can examine our motivations behind our thoughts and actions, to purify our hearts.

Today, make it a goal to be just a little cleaner, inside & out. Look for your purity.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Olympic Yoga?

It seems like every few years, there’s a rumor about putting competitive yoga in the Olympics. Will it ever happen? I have no idea. Predicting human behavior is pointless. But if they asked me (which they won’t) I would be glad to share my opinion.

Remember, this is simply my opinion. Just one interpretation of the ancient writings, and how they might apply today.

I believe yoga has no place in competition. When we approach the mat, we come with humility, and a sense of love and community that is in direct conflict with competition. When I first started teaching yoga, I realized just how competitive my husband was, as he asked me each time, “who won?” It took me a while, but I think I may have convinced him that we ALL won. Don’t get me wrong. I love competitive sports, and believe they have a place in society. But that’s not yoga.

We’ve been examining the Yamas & Niyamas here on the blog lately, so let’s look at how a few of those might apply to Olympic Yoga.

One Yama that comes to mind is Ahimsa, or non-violence. But the Olympics aren’t violent….are they? Remember the ice-skating incident years ago? That was pretty violent. And what about self-harm? Ask any world-class athlete, and they will tell you they put their bodies through rigorous training every single day. They push beyond what their bodies can take, and then push some more.
Another Yama is Aparigraha, or non-greed. No matter how pure your original intent, some greed is inherent in competition. There can only be one winner, so for me to win, someone else has to lose.

There’s also the Niyama of Santosha, or contentment. It’s difficult to be content if you can’t be number one. It’s always, “I’ll do better next time”. I’m not saying that you can’t be content if you didn’t win. Many of our athletes are amazing people, who are grateful for their chance to be in the Games. But it’s difficult. The ego wants to take over.

Finally, the Niyama of Ishvara Pranidhana. This Niyama is about devotion to the highest good of all. What are you devoted to in competition? Winning! And that’s just fine. In its place. But not in yoga.

So, if the Olympic Committee comes knocking on my door, looking for opinions, my answer is no. But what would you tell them?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Yama: Aparigraha

Boots for Nicaraguan children
 Our final Yama is Aparigraha, non-greed. To be greedy means to want (or take) more than is rightfully yours. I had an awakening to Aparigraha a few years ago. In college, I used credit cards, and racked up a ton of debt. I didn’t really understand at the time what I was doing, or how it would affect my future. I just bought what I wanted, when I wanted it. This greedy behavior put me in a terrible situation. This debt kept me awake at night with constant worry and fear. I finally did change my habits, but it was by sheer force of will that I didn’t keep spending. I got the debt down to a much more manageable level. But then I went through the Financial Peace Course offered by Dave Ramsey, and the change actually made it to my heart. Around that same time, I also took a mission trip to Nicaragua, and saw what people REALLY need.  The picture above is of rainboots that we delivered to a school.  Most of the kids there were barefoot, and in the rainy season, these boots were such a blessing.

I was ashamed at my greedy behavior, and began to look at things differently. It took some time and effort, but I began to release my constant need for more. I started shopping at thrift stores and yard sales and only purchasing what I truly needed and wanted. Only the things which are important. What I found is that I still have so much more than I need. By letting go of my greediness, my grasping, I was greeted with abundance. Things I need seem to flow my way much more easily than ever before. I am humbled by how God provides.

This idea applies to yoga practice, also. When you approach your mat, let go of what you WANT your body to do. See if you can be grateful for what you have, where you are. Release your constant need for more, and see where your practice takes you.

To read the other Yamas, check out Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, and Brahmacharya.

For the best financial advice, check out

Friday, August 3, 2012

Johnson City's First HOT YOGA!

Last night, 28 students packed into Mountain Yoga studio for Johnson City's first HOT YOGA class.  This Flow 1 & 2 class was definately not for wimps!  We practiced several flows, some great balance poses, and even an inversion...all with the heat up over 90 degrees.  Everyone was sweating...a lot.  But there were still plenty of smiles.  We are proud to embrace Hot Yoga, and look forward to offering more hot classes in the future.  Thanks, everyone!