After a teaching a lovely group of yogis this a.m., I was asked by a student for a copy of the reading I’d used at the end of practice.
The theme for today’s class was about waning resolutions and the “BIG WHY” behind our actions. It is two full weeks into the New Year after all.
Maybe the momentum on our intentions is starting to feel lackluster?
So we practiced hip openers and peaked the practice with Super Warrior (or Super Soldier). Not an easy pose by any means, I taught it in stages. Every stage has its beauty.
And why do we do these crazy looking postures?
Is it for the glory of the pose? If so, we’re probably going to be disappointed. The pose only lasts a few seconds.
There IS great benefit to the increased space and flexibility these poses afford us. But if you are only in the beginning stages and not “peaking” like the cover photo of Yoga Journal, does that mean your offering is not beautiful?
Perhaps consider today the deeper why behind your actions and your yoga, and offer it to God.
Dedication to God is what makes the offering beautiful.
Today’s reading was a quote from Mother Teresa.
“There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This where the respect and devotion and the love come in. That we do it to God and that’s why we try to do it as beautifullyas possible.”
You can also find other readings and quotes I’ve used in class on a new Resources page here at Perfect Peace Yoga. Just click Yoga on toolbar and select Resources from the drop-down menu. Viola!
I hope you enjoy having a location from which to pull some yogic inspiration. How will you use your own resources to create beauty?
I am no stranger to the New Year’s resolution. Each year I enjoy the process of reflecting on the past 365 days and considering what the next 365 might offer.
But I tend to go a *tad* overboard. (ahem)
A few years back I stopped calling my list “Resolutions” and relabeled them “Intentions”. This not only sounded more yogic, but also seemed to provide additional breathing and wiggle room to the process.
RESOLVING seemed so absolute. And Lawd knows I wasn’t always adhering to the letter of each self-imposed January 1st dictate.
So resolutions also seemed to be setting myself up for failure.
INTENTION comparatively, in yoga is a point of focus for the mind. A place to bring yourself back to when you recognize the thoughts have gone off on a tangent.
I still adore the intention concept and use it in every yoga class.
But my type A personality managed to turn New Year’s intentions into a laundry list of to-dos. Looking back at my 2014 Intentions, noble as they may be, many of them are sitting there woefully unchecked off.
Which is ridiculous, because how does one complete an intention? You don’t! They are ongoing.
I don’t want to finish intending to be kind, etc. And let me assure you that “be kind” wasn’t on my list.
Last year’s Intentions list was full of bigger ticket to-dos, and I’d be much more honest with myself if I just called it a “Big Picture To Do List” and was done with it.
So WHY DO YOU CARE?
I’m sharing all the above to get to this point. Here is a link to a post over at Storyline Blog about starting life over.
Included in that post is a free .pdf with 5 ideas for change that I really enjoyed. The fifth idea is that the writer (Don Miller of Blue Like Jazz), can only do 3 BIG projects a year.
That’s all he has capacity for.
Knowing this upfront is a freeing thought. One must carefully choose what those 3 projects will be, and take on or not actions accordingly to see those 3 projects through to completion.
If I was to accept similar for myself in 2015, that would mean I need to create no laundry list of “intentions” today.
And that’s hugely satisfying on many levels.
Several bad sleep nights in a row, and I don’t have the physical or mental acuity to know what I’m having for brunch, much less all of the grandiose potentials for this entire year.
I’m choosing this year to mull a bit longer. What BIG THINGS might unfold this year? I don’t know yet, and so I’m going to hold off on writing anything down.
Less perceived failure. More diligent consideration.
Instead, I’m going to follow the sage advice of my best friend Heather and simply ASK MORE QUESTIONS. This is a great tool to let real ANSWERS reveal themselves.
Also, because I’ve been enthralled with the effects of essential oils this past year, I’m going to apply Young Living’s Envisionblend today and just breathe it in. I’ll probably diffuse it all week.
begin experiencing new, more rewarding dimensions
What you focus on expands. I must be able to envision a thing before it manifests.
May we all be easy and gentle with ourselves. Create space for good to show itself to us. Try for solid, unbroken sleep. Choose less and choose better.
Our beautiful home has at least one unwanted guest. We learned this week that (a ?) sewer rat has made its way from below ground up into our unfinished basement.
Even typing those words puts a gag reflex in my mouth. Rats make me feel ill. Thank God its not in the house!
Living in the DC metro area, this is a very common occurrence; but common does not mean welcome.
So what to do? (Other than call pest control which is done and being implemented as I type.)
Turn this into a yoga theme of course!
I might cause mass gag attacks if the actual theme was rats. And there is no ‘rat pose’ that I know of, Praise the Lord!
I found inspiration in an invitation.
“A Divine Invitation” to be exact. Hafiz writes:
You have been invited to meet The Friend.
No one can resist a Divine Invitation.
That narrows down all our choices To just two:
We can come to God Dressed for Dancing,
Be carried on a stretcher To God’s Ward.
This poem reminded me that all situations are made from our perspective. That my response alone is my own.
And from this reminder, The Divine Invitation theme was crafted for class. We played with a slower flow, allowing time to consider each pose; just as time must be allowed to consider your response to the Invitation.
Will you respond with joy? Dressed for the party?
That option sounds like fun!
What about the other option? “Be carried on a stretcher to God’s Ward.” ??!!??
That sounds rather harsh. I either dance or be hurt?
I interpreted this to be a win – win poem. (Note: I chose this option. It’s one of joy, and I also believe it to be true.)
EVEN IF I DON’T accept the Divine Invitation and arrive on the (scat of rat) scene with joy, I am covered by grace.
EVEN IF I DON’T do as I should, displaying the fruits of the Holy Spirit in my actions and act the Bitter Betty in the corner, I will be carried.
EVEN IF I DON’T receive the gift of the present and am injured by my tightening, I will be healed.
Healing happens in God’s Ward.
So, my choices are two: come dressed for dancing and enjoy, or don’t and be healed anyway.
It is a beautiful thought as I am bound still be in my pjs and not my dance clothes at some parties. At some point, I am going to forget the joy option is better.
So for you literal rats – I’m still not going into the basement until you are gone and the 1930’s french drain is fully sealed against your ingress.
And for you figurative rats that would steal my joy and have me hurting – not in the presence of My Lord you won’t.
He has promised:
*The joy of the Lord is MY strength! – Psalm 28:7
*O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. – Psalm 30:2
Should the Psalms not be sufficient reminder, let’s sign off with some Ecclesiastes 9:7: Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is NOW that God favors what you do.
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of moderation and spiritual discipline. This preparatory season officially starts on Ash Wednesday, and in 2014, Ash Wednesday is this week on March 5th.
Spiritual disciplines are simply good habits that help keep you close to God and mature your relationship with Him. The Bible discusses many including prayer, meditation, service and worship.
Yoga, the union of mind, body and Spirit, can also be a spiritual discipline. I write “can” because much of today’s Western yoga has attempted to isolate the physical postures from any spiritual aspects. But the inherent nature of yoga is to unite all facets of our being, including our Spiritual selves.
As Christians, the practice of yoga is a good and healthy habit of meaningful movement with the purpose of using our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit, to connect to Christ.
We were given these bodies for the purpose of experiencing relationship with the Lord. Yoga affords us a means of using our bodies in experiential worship.
If you would like to further explore yoga as a spiritual discipline this Lenten season, I invite you to join me for a four week workshop series in Washington, DC.
Purpose, Postures & Prayer:
A Lenten Yoga/Meditation Workshop
A 4 Week Event on Tuesdays
March 11th to April 1st
from 6:15 PM to 8:30 PM
Lincoln Congregational Temple
United Church of Christ
1701 11th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
This four-session series led by Wendy Maines will incorporate yoga, spiritual discussion, Centering Prayer, and a book of daily reflections, all designed to assist in the spiritual growth and transformation that believers seek and pursue during the sacred Christian season of Lent.
The Bible commands us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” (Mark 12:30) When we worship, we are to do so wholly; with all parts of our Self. This weekly series will explore the yoga tools of asana (postures), pranayama (breath) and the chakras (senses and energetics) to guide you into a more complete, holistic worship experience.
Register herefor the series or individual sessions. Bring your own mat. Refreshments will be served after each class.
A free-will offering will be accepted.
March 11– Introduction to yoga as experiential worship. We will focus on the PURPOSEfor your practice and will emphasize the 1st chakra and standing postures.
March 18 – Will focus on the yoga POSTURES that correlate to the chakras. The moving practice will emphasize the 2nd and 3rd chakras and hip openers, seated postures and twists.
March 25 – Will complete an exercise of praying the Lord’s Prayers through the chakras and focus on yoga as embodied PRAYER; emphasis on the 4th and 5th chakras and heart.
April 1– The final session will concentrate on PRAISE. Using the chakras as a tool to remind us of all we have been given, we’ll journal through a worksheet of gratitude; emphasis on a restorative practice to awaken the 6th and 7th chakras.
If you have any questions, please contact Wendy Maines – wendy (at) perfectpeaceyoga.org.
Today I drove round trip from Alexandria to Richmond for client meetings. It was a crisp, sunny day; my favorite blend.
I had my presentation prepped and available in backup format on my laptop, a flash drive and emailed to myself.
My iPhone was charged and loaded with great songs, yoga playlists to review, podcasts and of course driving directions.
Coffee and client giveaways? Check. Two plus hours driving time to allow for traffic? Accounted for.
Everything I could think of to prepare was done. So away I went.
If you have ever driven south on I-95 to Richmond and exited for downtown on Canal Street, then you know there is a modest yet mandatory toll at that exit. I tend to forget as I don’t frequent Richmond that often.
Of all the prep I just mentioned, I did not check to see if I had any cash. Specifically, change at that, for this toll is a drop and go affair.
My wallet was COMPLETELY EMPTY. Not like I’m low on cash empty. Like not a dollar or a cent in it empty.
And darned if cash isn’t still a requisite in some places in 2014! Coins too!
The Jeep console had some randomness floating around and amidst hair bands and buttons, I found three dimes to hit the thirty cent toll and drove though.
Client meeting, lunch, hand shakes and adieus later, I head back out towards home. Surely, there is no toll to get back ON the interstate?!
Wrong. There is a seventy cent toll going north towards DC.
Had I visited an ATM whilst around and about in Richmond? No.
So back to the console I went. Scrounging and scrapping for coinage.
Do you know that I found SEVEN MORE DIMES?!
In total, my Jeep possessed exactly one dollar in dimes. Which it offered up to me at the exact time I needed it. Had the coins been quarters (which is much more likely as I tend to save them in my car for meters), I would have been over at the first toll, and under at the second.
Only one dollar needed. Exactly one dollar supplied.
I’m not sure what I would done if I hadn’t found the money. Blown through the toll and risked a video ticket? Asked the car behind for some spare change? Not a life changing situation either way.
But I am flabbergasted at today’s small provisions.
Sometimes you get exactly what need, exactly when you need it. I am so thankful for this reminder.
Ten Dimes Are Ample.
Philippians 4:19 says “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”
In my opinion, it FEELS like we only get what we need sometimes, because those are the times the need being met appears in the form we’ve requested.
The Bible does not say “sometimes”. It says “My God WILL meet ALL your needs…” This means it’s a done deal.
I will try to remember this small ten dime example the next time I’m fretting about a perceived lack.
I’ve been so fortunate in my life to have not known true hunger. I’ve always had roof over my head. I’ve had the love of my family. My basic needs have always been met and so far beyond.
My “lacks” tend to reside at the top of the needs pyramid:
“I could really use a massage.”
“Someone ate all the ice cream.” (Me)
“The fall tv line-up is taking a mid winter recess.”
And true life hardships do occur, where sadness and the feeling of lack are pervasive. I’m not trying to dismiss any blue emotions as irrelevant.
But maybe I’m looking for one hundred dollars of a thing, when ten dimes are ample. Maybe I already have ten dimes of what I need in someplace I’ve not thoroughly searched.
A well known musician in the yoga community Trevor Hall, has a beautiful song that I think speaks to all the above.
Enjoy, and check your pockets for some loose change and good rain.
This morning’s 6:15 power hour class was lovely. It always is to me, but this week I feel I should have paid the students to teach them, as I’ve left classes a much more fulfilled person than when I arrived.
(Of course, little about me would use the word fulfilled at any time of day prior to 7:00 a.m., but that’s another issue altogether.)
I write this because the themes for this week’s classes have been items I have been needing to hear. And hopefully, students benefited as well.
Monday’s theme was about seasons of winter in our lives.
We are all rather weary of the cold weather, recent week of inboundness and dreary skies. But we also experience wintery seasons of discontent and sadness, and they can strip us of our energy and enthusiasm for life.
I spoke of physical movement directly impacting our emotional states and congratulated students for coming to class first thing in their day.
Class ended with a reading from Mother Teresa which I’ll paraphrase as: no matter how you are feeling, continue doing your best. Your life’s purpose culminates in what you offer back.
As 2013 comes to a close, many of us (me included) are reflecting back on accomplishments of the past year and compiling our goals for the next.
Having the calendar year end and start again provides everyone with a lovely common ground for newness and fresh outlooks.
A 2014 experience I am really excited about is going through the Holy Yoga 95 hour certification programand immersion. The program starts on January 2nd. I’m certain this unique addition to my teacher training will help me more deeply experience and communicate Christ’s love through yoga.
Meanwhile, a required reading for this certification is Eat This Book by Eugene H. Peterson. As a lover of the written word, I am slurping up his discussion of consuming the Bible as you would a meal and benefiting in kind from the nourishment it provides.
Peterson states “Exegesisis the care we give to getting the words right.” He also writes,
“This is not a task from which we graduate.“
This got me thinking.
There are actually many events in life where there is no graduation!
And quite frankly, this is a new way of examination for me. I am very goal oriented. I love the process on birthdays and New Years of celebrating successes and envisioning new adventures for the future.
The very nature of setting goals involves a built-in expectation of meeting the goal and moving on. Graduating, so to speak.
But what of all the ongoing aspects of our living? I think that I am guilty of thinking about how life “will be better” when certain graduations occur.
For example, “Being a Mom will be less challenging when our daughter is able to…”
“My job will be less stressful when…”
“My life will be made easier when…”
There’s nothing wrong with that thinking per se. It’s probably true a lot of the time. But if I am always looking ahead to that upcoming time, not only am I not living in the moment (maybe I’m even resenting the moment), but I’m also setting myself up for a fail.
There is no graduation from parenting. I will always be a parent, and there will always be new joys and challenges with every season.
There is no graduation from marriage. We vowed until death do us part. That is the intent (and separate bathrooms is a saving grace) despite any and all under-breath-muttering.
Fools on a freezing bus rooftop last NYE in NYC.
There is no graduation from citizenship. The benefits and responsibilities continue throughout age, location and majority political party changes.
There is no graduation from scholarship. As much as I’ve learned along the way these 38 years, I’ll continue to both learn and be schooled.
I must also add for my personal and continued reminding… There is no graduation from dishes. They too will continue in perpetuity.
ALL of these graduation-less-nesses are blessings. For reals. Because at first it can sound a tad depressing. No checking off on a list. No “I did that” bragging rights. I’m a fan of the felt satisfaction when tasks are successfully complete.
But do I really want to check my marriage off a list? Do I really want to sit back forever from being a seeker? Do I wish to invest nothing more into my daughter? Of course not.
A fun day parenting!
(Though I may enjoy a George Jetson style does it all for you robo dishwasher.)
So why would I expect things to change for the better as soon as an aspect of these roles is different? It may feel better or it may not. The one certain thing is that change is coming and certain roles are unending.
If I can wrap my head around a lot more NOT graduating, maybe I can also appreciate more the finer flow of the processes.
Life IS about the journey after all, right? No wise person ever wrote “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one completed check box.”
This being said, I do have my 2014 Intentions set (and they do have check boxes next to them for year end review). I’m not completely immune to the joys of list making!
One of my Intentions is to memorize 26 Bible Verses; one every other week.
With the concept of not graduating in mind, I think I will start with Matthew 16:24.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Though I am going to memorize the NIV version above, the Message version is so eloquent and helps me better understand what it means to take up my cross:
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?What could you ever trade your soul for?”
There is no graduation from compassion.
There is no graduation from following the Lord.
[Tweet “There is no graduation from the love of Jesus!”]
May we all have great success on this no graduation journey of letting the Lord lead. Happy New Year!
For a while now, I’ve wanted to consolidate a list of my “Peace Prescriptions”. I’ve previously written on this subject, and peace is an obvious focal point of Perfect Peace Yoga.
In this hectic holiday season, we may send and receive Christmas cards stating “Peace on Earth,” yet Christmas season can actually stir up unrest in us all. We can focus too much on all the to-dos, and not on the meaning behind the lists (Happy Birthday, Jesus!). I hope these Peace Prescriptions will help you uncover some calm while you reflect on the reason for the season.
1.PRAYER – Anne Lamottspeaks of her simple prayers, offered up with frequency: Help. Thanks. Wow. Praying does not have to be an elaborate event. I find that when my three year old has pushed my impatience button or a work event is causing me angst, if I just close my eyes and send up a HELP PLEASE message, I can create a pause in the heightened emotion. This allows the Spirit the space to move and work in me.
Philippians 4:6-7says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayerand petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Of course, not every prayer need be one of help or urgency. Which leads us to…
2. GRATITUDE – To prevent extra stress in the first place, it is wise to remember your blessings. Think on the things for which you are thankful. Consider where you are already abundant. For so many of us, need is not a verb used in its truest form. We are with shelter, clean water, food, companionship, entertainment and so. much. more.
When situations get you frazzled, imagine having to sleep about outside above a metro grate to get the heat from the rising steam. I see this with frequency in the winter here in DC: homeless men and women taking what they can, where they can.
Several times I have seen the same mother and her two children asking for money near Dupont Circle. One time, her oldest – about four years old – was breast feeding while she sat on the sidewalk. I thought “What if that is his only food today?”
“What if she has to provide milk for both her children because they can’t get anything else?” I gave her money that day. My heart was broken for her.
My daughter does not know hunger. For that and so much more, I am so very grateful. When I begin to feel petulant because a situation is less than ideal, I try to push back any sense of entitlement with gratitude.
There but for the grace of God go I.
3. SERVICE – Another way to increase your peace is to get your mind off yourself. Where can you contribute to help another? Do you have a talent you can share? A listening ear? Maybe take advantage of the holiday sales to purchase a toy or winter wear for a local non-profit helping families in need?
I struggle most frequently with the mundane, repetitive tasks around our house giving me a foul attitude.
Really? The dishes need doing again?
Didn’t I just fold the laundry?
If I try viewing these tasks as acts of service to my family, they become (slightly) less wearisome. If I put on some good tunes or a podcast, they can become even enjoyable…which makes me think music should be added to this peace prescription list! Perhaps a part two later…top ten tips for increasing peace.
4. MEDITATION – Another simple, accessible tool for creating calm without cost is meditation. Sitting. Watching the breath flow in and out.
Noticing your thoughts has they happen and pass. Coming back once again to the breath. I turn on a timer for ten minutes, sit down on a cushion and let the magic happen.
I find the timer is a must because without it I’ll concern myself with the time and not the release of time constraints.
I’ve had experiences of great breakthrough just sitting still. I can ask a question and wait to listen and learn the answer.
Sometimes, the breakthrough is just that I needed a break.
Psalm 143:5b – I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
Ten minutes without doing anything is a great gift to give yourself. Speaking of gifts…
5. RECEIVE (your promises) – Sometimes I find the act of receiving to be the most difficult. We are promised so much from our Lord: salvation, peace, strength, wisdom …the list goes on. But we have to receive the gift of those promises before their benefit is granted us.
I love how the yoga posesavasana at the end of each class acts as a physical symbol of surrender. You are lying down with arms out and palms up, eyes closed. You have put in the work and effort of the practice. Then you come into this physical posture of submission, acceptance and reception. You surrender to what is provided.