August 15th, 2011
By Karen Macklin
We practice yoga and meditation for many reasons, one of which is to let go of our attachments to emotions, relationships, and habitual patterns and addictions. But what if we start to develop an attachment to our practice? And how do we know if it’s an attachment—or if it’s discipline?
I got to thinking about this after reading a great comment that was left on my last post. I was asking whether or not it’s a good idea to take a break from one’s yoga practice while on vacation. The commenter said that it was essential to take breaks so as to not form an attachment to practice. I understood what he meant. I have been around people who will absolutely die if they can’t get to their yoga class. It can be an uncomfortable thing to watch, someone racing mindlessly out of work, or cursing while looking for parking, driven by a dire need to get on that yoga mat and decompress, dammit.
And I will admit that I have gone through stages in my life in which I depended on my practice in order to regulate my emotions and energy during times of stress, grief, or physical ailments. That was when I practiced more at studios, and I refused to miss one class with my teacher. I gave up certain professional opportunities, not to mention social plans, because of this determination. But in a sense, that urgency was helpful because it kept me showing up day after day. It felt like discipline.
July 13th, 2011
Life is happening all around us, but sometimes we can get caught up in the routine and stuck. Maybe we're afraid of trying something new, or of trusting that we are supported in new possibiliites. Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” This life is a gift, and the more we treat it as such and embrace it, the greater the adventure it becomes.
My Manduka helps me #practice living. What does your Manduka help you #practice?
Here's how our community is #practicing:
"Last night on my mat I was inspired to invent my very own secondary internship project. @MandukaYoga is inspiring me to #practice being bold'
"Falling. Letting go, trusting enough, pushing harder. The balance may not hold long, but the fall means it held. #practice"
" We moved about a month ago. I feel like my body is settling into a new place, a new energy and finally grounding! My mat stays grounded for me when I don't. ♥"
"My Manduka helps me #practice Grace."
"My Manduka helps me #practice listening."
July 6th, 2011
So I just got back from Wanderlust Vermont (ENORMOUS thanks to Manduka for giving away tickets so I could have this opportunity) and am simply blown away by the power of this yoga community. Even articulating it may prove difficult.
Every class reverberated with synchronicity. I brought up the desire for more JOY, unconditional joy, and the next class was about joy. I was dwelling on purpose, and how to bring a vision to fruition and the next sequence of a class was about envisioning that purpose unfolding. A random dude came up to Kendra and me to ask if he could recite his poetry (these things happen at yoga festivals) and the entire poem was about a flower that has served as a metaphor for my whole life. Ok – that one doesn’t sound so incredible but trust me – it was. It’s the feeling of being in the right place at the right time, and then a long series of those moments. Reminds me of a Death Cab lyric I used to love, ”a series of blurs,” only this was exactly the opposite: a sequence of moments strung together by grace and in perfect clarity.
One practice on Friday led by Seane Corn – wow, she is powerful! – directed us toward being prayerful in our practice, prayerful toward our own needs, the needs of those in our immediate circle, and in the world at large. One instruction really hit me – it was to do that next sun salutation in honor of someone hurting, someone who doesn’t realize the truth of who they are, their worth, their beauty, their radiance. As I worked my way through that saluation my brain was scanning hard to select a person to direct that energy – you are LOVED and worthy of LOVE – and I quickly was overcome with emotion.
There are SO so many of us in need of that message. My mind couldn’t rest on just one person. Instead, a circle of people I know and love and to whom I want to deliver that message – all standing in a circle. And then another circle of people I don’t know, or don’t know well. Among them – folks in my immediate community: the ill, the hurting, the homeless, the victimized, kids in poverty, battered women, those living in shame with mental illness, the incarcerated, the damaged, those who are addicted, lost, abandoned, forgotten.
It sounds so small – maybe even trivial to some – but this is the practice of prayer and living prayerfully. Even in a single minute of yoga, envisioning this community in need of healing while moving your body has a remarkable effect – it imprints those images and emotions and longings to help deep into your muscles, your bones, your cells, your body - so that you remember it and can live each day with awareness and hope that healing can happen for all.
I’m under no illusion that yoga by itself will necessarily solve the problems of those on the fringes, whom yogaServe reaches out to. But I’m also aware of the power of self-worth and the tragedy of living in a culture where that concept is often foreign. This reminds me of a story where Westerners had gathered to listen to the Dalai Lama and one person raised his hand with a question: “How do you deal with self-hate?” The Dalai Lama asked him to clarify what he meant. Self hate? He literally didn’t understand the question, the language, the pairing of the word “self” with “hate” because in his belief system and culture one’s goodness is celebrated.
This brokenness – an inability to see your worth – is at the core of so much suffering. Certainly those who are victimized or otherwise at risk could benefit from a reminder of it, and a bit of self-care (in the form of yoga!). I don’t believe I’m overstating the problem. Try reflecting on it for a moment – envisioning your own worth and affirming that you’re worthy of love and peace and contentment and joy. Try saying it to a friend who is struggling. The odds are that it conjures immediate emotion. I’ve seen many friends and loved ones begin crying just at the mention of it because it runs so counter to the messages we hear each day – that we have to earn respect and love, that our status, our income, our health, our beauty, our jobs, etc. make us worthwhile to the world. Consciously we may think we know those things don’t correlate with our worth but we’ve absorbed that message to the very core of our bodies sometimes. Yoga begins to unlock the truth.
July 6th, 2011
They say injuries are our greatest teachers. This is an idea I am trying my best to wrap my mind around as I am healing from one. As I stare forlorn at my mat rolled up in the corner, I remember how easy it is to confuse our true self with the physical form. Yoga is not just what we do on the mat with our bodies(though that isn't often discussed at parties or over tea). Although so much of the world is reinforcing the idea that we are just these bodies, we are more than what can be seen by the eyes. We are more than our thoughts about our bodies, our jobs, or our bank accounts. If I can just sit down for 10-15 minutes daily, breathe, focus and still, that is just as deep a practice as getting my ankle behind my head.
By mindfully changing my breath, I can change my thoughts. As my thoughts change, so do my actions. As my actions change, so does my destiny. Who knew? :)
My Manduka helps me #practice healing. What does your Manduka help you #practice?
Here's how our community is #practicing:
"Manduka let us take our practice out onto cement in a parking lot on a dairy farm... as the cows strolled by, we were solidly connected to the earth. In the sun. First day of summer. Not even aware we were parked on top of cement with some gravel :)"
"My Manduka was a great sponge for a long day! It soaked up what was no longer needed."
Where Is My Guru
"We are practicing with our ponchos on!"
Lauren Narayani Neuhs
"Peaceful warrior. Balancing dualities. Soft yet strong."
"Forget what you learned.."
"Be open to all of life's possibilities."
"Just breathe! You can only eat the elephant one bite at a time."
Jamie Davies O'Leary
"I will not let finite disappointment overcome infinite hope."
"Live monday as if its Friday.. Everything is in your mind."
Sherry Okun Rudnak
It's borrowed but: "Practice radical self-acceptance today."
@MandukaYoga "Permitir y observar..."
"Dance to the rhythm of life :) "
June 22nd, 2011
I like to wake up early. The morning is such a sweet, peaceful time in my otherwise chaotic corner of Los Angeles. In these stolen moments I can hear the world outside my window, and am able to hear the nuances of life outside and inside of me. As these fragile sounds fall upon my outer ear I feel them within my heart. This got me to thinking, how often did we really listen? Not just to the sounds of nature, but even in conversations? Are we really listening or just waiting to speak? Holding our breath until a pause between words? In pauses, the grace of the wind speaks to us.. In listening, we can truly hear the heartfelt sharing of our loved ones, and be present in the moment.
My Manduka helps me #practicing listening. What does your Manduka help you #practice?
Here's how our amazing Manduka community is #practicing:
"I #practice being in the moment."
" My Manduka helps me #practice staying grounded."
"Tonight I #practice dedication - I'm planning lessons for the graduate social media class I'm teaching and I'm using the inspirational, excellent job Manduka does in social as a teaching tool. Your messaging is sincere and true to your mission - Manduka was founded by yogis on the simple idea that a better yoga mat can make a world of difference. For your practice + for our world™."
The Get In Shape Girl:
"Knowing that everything I need, the universe will give me."
"To lead with your heart. "
" Being a better teacher :) Being a better student. We all fall down, it is how we get back up that counts!"
"MandukaYoga is like the frog that needs to be kissed... And my mat became the love of my life. "
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