Yesterday many of Americans, yogis and non-yogis alike, took part in a very Yogic practice - saluting the Sun. No they didn't all take a Sun Salutation... they stepped outside and looked up. I have to say donning optometrist-approved eyewear and observing the moon block the light of the sun , midday was in a word: awesome.
It got me thinking, "Why this fascination with the Sun? "
Amidst sheer fascination with the Sun's ability to still burn our eyeballs even though the moon is 100% in it's path, I also took note of the swirls of messaging around the Eclipse's signal of astrologically guided change. Certainly with a galactic event of this magnitude shifts would simply happen! It's universal energy after all, right?
But what if nothing happened for you? You might be feeling a little disappointed, confused, or maybe just hitting the 'B.S.' button. For you healthy skeptics, me too. I feel you. Manifestors are talking crazy ... right? Maybe.
But first let's take a small detour to another sun-related debate in Yoga.
There are a lot of opinions around how ancient the Yogic practice of Sun Salutations are. Some day they are as new as modern gymnastics. Others say they are based off of ancient pranam, devotion, to the closest understanding of Divine energy we had - the sun. Regardless of their origin we have since infused a lot of meaning into our Sun Salutations to the point of arguing about the best way to do them, the best time to take them, and even arguing about what to call each pose. When we take a step back it's easy to understand why Ancient traditions thought the Sun was pretty incredible and deserved a nod of gratitude - truly it still is pretty incredible! Our Sun is responsible for all energy on earth - including our own energy and ability to get out of bed, move our bodies and do good in the world. So the way I see it, when we break it down the basic meaning it is one in the same: it's our duty to get up, get moving, and do so with YOUR intention. In the quiet of our own practice, in the simple moments we find to move and breath, does it really matter whether or not we are Saluting the sun above or getting in tune with our own potential?
Perhaps you are not one to 'Vision Board' or make large statements of intention. But what if you shake your own universe quietly, in small ways, each time we decide to step onto the yoga mat. The change we seek may not happen in moonsweeping majesty but instead in the daily commitments we make to do the work, stick to our schedule, create and make regardless of outcome.
If all of the manifestation hype overwhelmed you and under-delivered, don't worry you're not alone. As humans we are meaning makers and cosmic events like the moon passing in front of the Sun seem like a really great time to make a lot of meaning. Unless instead it could simply be a reminder to pause, realize there is so much out there, and acknowledge your own Sun-infused potential. That might be reason enough to feel inspired to use each miraculous breath as a means to do something awesome.
Client 1: "I wish I could travel the world."
Client 2: "I want to travel the world."
Which person will actually do it?
In my experience planning yoga teacher training and yoga retreats a 'wish' is usually followed up with a word that may as well be a kiss of death to aspirations and desires...'but'. I wish I could exercise but work gets in the way. I wish I could take that trip but finances are tight right now. I'd love to find time to meditate in the morning but its hard to do with the kids.
The reality is that every person I've had in my teacher training, worked with one-on-one, or brought on a retreat also has a family that they love, also has financial concerns, also has responsibilities at work and home ... and ... they also move into action.
They have all made a point to invest in wants (not wishes) - unapologetically.
You are invited to do the same. Your wants matter.
Use your practice as a motivation to move toward action and put your dreams, your bucket list, your goals, your wellbeing, yourself first. It may not be easy, but it will always be worth it.
I love traveling to teach. But sometimes, it can be a real pain-in-the-butt.
Literally. My butt hurts.
Sitting on a plane (or sitting anywhere) can lock up your body in some pretty unpleasant ways. Short hammies. Short hip flexors. Lazy glutes. Tight pecs. An unnatural position for the lumbar spine. Ugh.
In the yoga world we operate with a few concepts that can give insight into how to alleviate arse pain. But it doesn't stop there. Being a yogi I have committed to looking at all 'pain' in my life as an opportunity to learn about myself (yeah, and I'm definitely not perfect at that - but I'm doing my best).
Complimentary opposites - yin and yang, sthira and sukha - give me insight into what I'm sensing and feeling in my life. This principle guides my understanding that everything needs to come into balance for harmony. In Yoga's sister science, Ayurveda, they say 'like attracts like' and 'opposites are medicine'. This is how we help guide the body, and mind, back to homeostasis.
But, in what measure? Well if I was sitting for 8 hours I know innately that the solution isn't to simply stand up for 8 hours.
Instead I can call upon what we know about the samskaras - learned conditions or patterns - for further insight. These are the subtle impressions made by past actions that keep creeping up again - sometimes in pleasant and sometimes in not-so-pleasant ways. Waking up to samskaras asks me to examine not only what the habit is but to dig a little deeper into the root cause. Why do I do what I do? What do I feel the way I feel?
In yoga, the examination of samskara is offered in a macro level context - over the course of our lifetime. What a daunting task it can be to examine personal idiosyncrasies and the impact on an entire life! WOOF! That's heavy. How would anyone even start developing awareness?
What if the practice of WAKING UP started with shorter - bite sized - cause and effect? For example looking at the unwanted effect of a stiff body, pain in the tush, and an uncomfortable low back from an airplane seat. What's the cause there? The 'why' for all the suffering when it comes to prolonged sitting is the amount of time you sit there. It's the duration of the immobility that causes the harm - not the seat in itself. In fact if you did repetitive seats for the same amount of time you'd be doing squats and call that exercise!
If you want a literal opportunity to relieve sitting pain - tune into my Anti-Airplane Flow - and enjoy a 30 minute practice that opens the hamstrings, hip flexors and chest, while putting strength back into the glutes and spinal muscles and brings overall fluidity back into the body.
If you want to apply this idea of micro-level cause and effect as a practice of the larger endeavor of unwinding the wheel of samskara start simple. Look at small pains in your life. Likewise, look at small victories in your life! Instead of taking those symptoms - those effects - at a surface level, be open to more inquiry. WHY is this happening? What is your role in that? Is it within your control? Is it permanent? What can you learn from it?
This is the practice. This is why we practice. Not for fancy poses or perfected alignment. We practice to WAKE UP. We practice to become more aware of what we are feeling, understand our role in that, and develop the capacity to stay with ourselves long enough to stay present.
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