Just for some background info for you, I’m explaining the Yamas and Niyamas before we jump in 🙂 The Yamas & Niyamas are a set of Ethical Practices that are used in the Yogic traditions. Yamas, or Restraints, consist of 5 categories: Ahimsa (Non-Violence), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya (Non-Stealing), Brahmacharya (Non-Excess), and Aparigraha (Non-Possessiveness). Niyamas, or Observances, also have 5 categories: Saucha (Cleanliness or Cleansing), Santosha (Contentment), Tapas (Self-Discipline), Svadhyaya (Self-Study), and Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender).
During my 200 hour YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) we visited the Yamas & Niyamas, but not at the depth I would have liked. Now being out of the training and learning more about them and myself as a teacher, I’ve taken the time to read more about them from different sources. I’ve also decided to work through each one, taking some time with each to learn about myself and how I can apply each of them to my day to day life. Right now I’m working with the book, “The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice” by Deborah Adele. Her writing flows nicely and she’s easy to understand. She also delves into each category, or jewel, and gives extra insight. For example, within Ahimsa, she lists subtopics like Courage, Balance, Dealing with Powerlessness, Self Love, Developing Compassion, and what violence towards others might look like outside the most common ideas of it. She also gives her readers some questions for exploration within each jewel (her term) that is broken down by the week. She breaks down the questions for self-inquiry into a month per Yama, but I decided to do 2 questions per week, taking only 2 weeks per Yama instead of 4.
For the first week (5/5-5/11), I practiced Courage (M/T/W) and Balance (TH/F/S), and I left Sunday open to review the past week and journal my experiences. I’ve been journaling every day about my experiences and what I’ve done that took me out of my comfort zone/took courage, then about how I achieved balance. Typically I only write a few sentences, but I’ve been keeping up on Instagram as well.
For my first day of courage practice I taught a class out of my normal sequencing. I always teach every class different, with different asanas and a different focus, but I have a normal flow to my Power classes: warm up, sun sals, balancing, core, Savasana. It was out of my comfort zone to teach things in a slightly different order, but I did it and it was no big deal. Part of what Deborah asks of us is to decipher if we are feeling fear or just feeling uncomfortable since we are doing something unfamiliar. This was definitely just something unfamiliar.
I also practiced jumping into Bakasana (Crow Pose), which is something I’d never done before. At first, I was fearful of this. I was afraid to hurt my wrists. I work with my wrists constantly to get them stronger and to be able to bear more weight, so initially the idea of all that weight being plopped down on them was scary. The more I did it the less afraid I became and the more I realized that the weight wasn’t just “plopping” down anyway.
Lastly, the thing that took me out of my comfort zone the most was logging back into Facebook. I won’t go into detail here. I logged back on to make some connections for a YTT(Yoga Teacher Training) happening in August in Vancouver, BC. On a side note, if you are a yogi/yogini and would be interested in training with Eoin Finn I’d be happy to give you more info! He’s such an amazing person and full of light that he readily shares. Check him out 🙂
Deborah writes, Don’t find balance from a place in your head of what it should look like. Instead, find guidance from the messages of your body.
This is honestly something I’ve been working on for months already. When I tell myself, “OK, this needs to be done”, I try to take a minute or two to feel instead of just think if I actually want to do this task my brain is telling me needs to be done. Sometimes I don’t need even a minute! I already know, hey I really don’t feel like doing any asana right now, or, nope, I don’t feel like folding those clothes. In those moments, I stop and ask myself, what do I feel like doing? Sometimes it’s vegging out in front of an episode of The Vampire Diaries or Modern Family, and you know what? That’s totally great! If we don’t take some time for Self Care, we aren’t going to be our best when it’s required. I know I can’t fully show up and be all my family needs me to be without my down time on Fridays.
For my practice of finding balance on TH/F/S I declined an offer of the zoo, I vegged and watched TV instead of cleaning, and I sat down to write when I felt like doing it. Of course there are always going to be things that need to be done. But do they need to be done right now? I know I used to really get myself worked up about ALL the stuff that has-to-be-done-right-this-very-second. And I also know I am not alone in this. I still struggle with it, but I’ve definitely gotten much better. Sometimes there are things that I get so super excited about that I want to them right now, right now!, but it just doesn’t make sense to try to get it all done right now, right now! In these instances I take a step back and observe myself. I observe my thoughts and emotions and sometimes have a little chuckle to myself about it.
What can you do this week to work on personal courage? What can you do this week to help yourself find more balance? Is there something or someone that you need to let go?
I know letting go can be scary, but when you let go of something that no longer serves you, it’s more freeing than you could ever imagine. This week I challenge you to look within and find the courage to let yourself find balance.
Many Blessings Friends <3