Each new day offers endless opportunities to pause in gratitude for what is around us. From that very first breath of the day to the comfort of a place to rest our head at night, we are given moments of mindfulness. Even in times of stress, while we may not recognize it in the heat of it, there are often times of reflection when we realize what a gift that experience was in helping us grow and learn.
Autumn, perhaps more than any other season, reminds us that change is happening all around us. The leaves share their vibrant colors as if to bid a final adieu before floating to the ground to become nourishment for the plants and trees above. Daylight shifts into darkness earlier and a chill greets us in the morning and evening.
As nature begins to slow down her pace, so can we, taking time for more self-care and eating the rich greens and beautiful squashes that nature lovingly provides in these cooler days. It’s time for hearty soups and stews, cups of herbal tea and chai, warm blankets, good books, and, of course, yoga!
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Most of us use the space provided at Asheville Community Yoga to move our bodies, to relieve physical and/or mental stress, to clear our minds, and to open our hearts to connection. On our mats we connect to our body, to our breath, to the moment and to life itself. On our mat we often feel an array of physical sensations as well as emotions. In one moment we may experience extreme discomfort in our body while holding our least favorite pose for what seems like an eternity. Then, in the very next moment, we may tap into a well of strength and stability we never knew existed within us! Our hearts may open to an overwhelming sensation of joy that literally moves us to tears only to be followed by the pangs of grief we thought we had worked through some time ago. A consistent yoga practice will reveal the cycles of life to each of us and Asheville Community Yoga is a place where those cycles can be celebrated as well as grieved. Asheville Community Yoga is truly a container for life to unfold.
As we embrace warmer days and more sunlight, we can take a cue from nature to sow seeds of intention in our yoga practice. What will you plant with your words and actions?
In the karmic tradition, we truly reap what we sow. In other words, our actions create a similar reaction. How often have you noticed that if you are in a particularly happy mood others around you seem to be lighter in spirit as well? There is an energy being exchanged, whether intentional or not, and positive energy creates more positive energy. Just imagine if we set our intentions – planted those seeds of kindness and compassion. It’s a powerful and hopeful thought for our community, our country and our world!
Saturday, April 22nd is Earth Day. What a great reminder to care for one another and our planet. May we all plant seeds of loving kindness for one another and our world, not just this month or this season, but always. Happy Gardening!
With longer days and warmer temperatures, we find ourselves connecting with the rhythm of nature as Spring approaches. We naturally begin to exercise more and perhaps begin tidying up our “nests” for a new season. Our bodies crave greens and vegetables, fruits and juices more than the heavier foods we consumed during the cold, Winter months. Many people choose this season to do a detox of their system as a way to feel cleansed and refreshed.
With February approaching, we often call into mind the red hearts and romantic love of Valentine’s Day. While this is a beautiful expression of Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d shift the focus towards the relationship with our personal practice. In the same way that romantic relationships ebb and flow, our relationship to our yoga practice fluctuates along with the seasons, our lives, and our energy.
There are times when we feel inspired by our practice and are excited to get to the mat. You may notice this change with the seasons. As the weather becomes warmer, perhaps you have more energy and feel drawn towards classes with more movement. At this time, it may be easy to make time almost every day to practice and you’re filled with love and energy for it. [Read more…]
Be Here. Now. The Present of Presence.
It’s a New Year, and with it comes all of those “Resolutions” for healthier lifestyle choices, mindful spending, and better habits in our daily lives. Unfortunately, with expectations come disappointments when we fall short of what we hoped to achieve.
Bringing our focus back to the present moment allows us to create a more mindful and accessible practice of being here now, noticing habits and behaviors we can change, as well as celebrating those moments when we are flowing with our intentions. Setting realistic goals on a moment to moment basis removes our attachment to outcomes. Rather than feel defeated if we don’t follow through, we know that each moment offers a new opportunity to begin again and be present. [Read more…]
Winter Solstice, when the sun slips easily into longer evenings and reminds us to come into a deeper place of stillness. Symbolically, the solstice is a time of turning inward and listening to your inner voice. Like nature around us, we become less active. This quiet season can create moments of reflection and deep peace.
Winter is a time when we can easily begin to fall off our regular yoga practice. As our bodies shift with the calendar, you may find it beneficial to change the style of yoga you are practicing. Craving peace and tranquility? Check out one of our Meditation or Restorative classes. Moving a little slower and have less energy? Try a Gentle Flow, Qi Gong, or Yin class. Need to stoke your inner fire a bit and create some warmth? Try any of our Vinyasa, Warm Vinyasa, or Hot classes. [Read more…]
Where do we find time to practice gratitude with the increasing busy-ness of our lives? Yoga teachers often remind students to pause in gratitude. Once we step off our mats, however, there are countless distractions which can take us away from an “Attitude of Gratitude”.
If you have been around the studio at all in the last year, particularly in the last month, you know well that the buzz-word has been… Expansion! We are expanding – the studio, and all of us who are a part of it. Asheville Community Yoga is a being with a life-force and a powerful will all of its own, and we as members of this community have proven to be greater than the sum of our many parts.
We can think of expansion as the inhale…. as we practice our capacity to draw in breath, and with it prana, our very life-force, grows. We learn to savor that pause at the end of the inhale, where we experience ourselves as full. But clearly, we can’t hold the breath in forever! This is also a season of letting go, releasing. We must, in order to make way for what is yet to come. This certainly doesn’t mean that taking that the things we release are not of value! On the contrary, the thing we choose to release has already been assimilated into our very being as nourishment, and what is released will be recycled. It is the nature of things. We see this palpably in the leaves falling from the trees, and returning to the fertile earth. [Read more…]
Friday, September 23rd from 6:30 to 8 PM
Join us for light refreshments and meet our lovely Featured Artist, MariLou Solares.
MariLou lovingly donated 100% of the proceeds from the sales of her beautiful artwork to the Center. This week, a matching donation will be made for each piece sold! Be sure to check out her work in the lobby outside Studio B and come out on Friday to meet her and learn more about her inspiration for these lovely paintings.
Undoubtedly you will agree that one of the great joys of living in this area of the world is being able to take walks in the magnificent forests that surround our lovely little city in the mountains.
Both our Teacher of the Month, Maegan, and our Student of the Month, Marilou chose variations of Hero pose, or Virasana, as their current favorite pose. Poses are like medicines. Perhaps Maegan and Marilou are tapping into an energy we could all benefit from bringing awareness too at this time. What can we learn from this classic yoga pose with the powerful name?
The pose itself is in some ways quite simple. It is basically a kneeling position, with the buttocks seated between the heels on the floor or on a block or bolster. A particularly luxurious variation is to lean back (perhaps over a bolster) for supta virasana, reclining hero.
You are in exactly the right place at exactly the right time – know this! Know it in your bones, and know it in your breath. Know it in the feeling of your feet touching the ground and in your skin touching the air around you.
Know it on your yoga mat. When you are resting in child’s pose, know it in the familiar feeling of support from gravity. As you stand in a warrior or a lunge, know that all of the choices you’ve ever made (even the ones that seemed like mistakes!) are supporting you from behind. As you set your gaze off into the unknown future, know the present moment in the verticality of your spine. As you surrender in reclined bound angle pose and feel the front of the body open, know through the experience of sensation in the present moment that things are unfolding in ways even more optimal than you could have imagined… [Read more…]
The days are stretching longer and warmer. As we move toward the longest day of the year, summer solstice, that movement can seem accelerated. As the days get warmer and warmer and the foliage more lush in these glorious mountains, there is an undeniable fullness in the air. Life-force is palpable. The air is thrumming. In Ayurvedic terms, we are entering the season of pitta dosha, characterized as fiery, assertive and active. [Read more…]
Although we do offer a prenatal class at 12:45 p.m. every Sunday, with the right modifications and body awareness, most pregnant women can attend any yoga class throughout the duration of their pregnancy.
Check out this video to learn some handy prenatal modifications that can be used in any class offered at Asheville Community Yoga. It’s never a bad idea to let your instructor know that you are expecting, especially if you are newer to yoga, so they can help you choose the appropriate modifications to help the practice meet you (and your little one!) right where you are.
Some of you may recognize Michelle as a former staff member. Early last year, Michelle moved here from Hawaii with her husband Pat, and we were lucky enough to have her on staff as Outreach Coordinator before she began her present job as Wellness Coordinator for Mission Hospital. We are so grateful and very fortunate she is still serving our community by continuing to volunteer her time and immense therapeutic expertise to teach here! [Read more…]
Lauren Cox has been a diligent volunteer and dedicated student for many months now. You may have seen her out helping everyone find a place to park during busy class times as one of our key parking volunteers. Lauren is a member of our current teacher training program, and we couldn’t be happier to support her on this journey, as she supports us in so many ways! [Read more…]
What does it mean to be “grounded”? It is a fact of existence that we all share here on this planet: we are constantly subject to the law of gravity; constantly bound to this earth. One of the things we learn through our yoga practice is how to effectively work with gravity. We give our weight to the earth, and feel the sweet response from the ground helping us rise and move and sometimes even float through our practice. Rather than being dragged down into the inertia of gravity and feelings of heaviness, we cultivate a feeling of unconditional support, and consequently the ability to move through space.
We talk about gravity a lot, but what of that other force that complements gravity and helps up to rise to meet the sky? We could call this force levity. It is the force by means of which the stem of a flower grows up from the earth, and by which its bloom opens to receive the energy of the sky. It is the force by which mist rises from a calm lake in the morning, or smoke from a campfire at night. It is also the force by which laughter bubbles up from our bellies, and light shines from our eyes.
Burcu Hensley has been bringing her sweet self into the studio for some time now, taking classes and graciously volunteering to help with cleaning twice a week. Each time she comes in, she amazes us with her capacity to be present and the lightness of her spirit. Burcu is a brilliant woman with a big life, yet she fills the studio space with an unassuming humility and grace that is refreshing to be around. We are so grateful!
Gary has been a longtime friend to this community, showing up for regular practice and volunteering with many major building projects around the studio. In 2013, he completed our teacher training, and has been teaching a senior yoga class from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Tuesdays. Gary is a solid friend and great yoga teacher, with an infectious sense of humor and a great smile that we are always happy to see!
Equanimity is defined as “evenness of mind especially under stress.” “Equanimity” comes from the combination of “aequus” (“level or “equal”) and “animus” (“soul” or “mind”) in the Latin phrase aequo animo, which means “with even mind.”
Most often, we tend to value equanimity when things are going awry. When life gets tough, it seems appealing to find a calm place of balance within ourselves, in which to take refuge…
There is another side to this coin, however. What about when things are going great? It may be more difficult to understand the value of maintaining an even mind when one is riding high on life – but this is just as important to finding that elusive quality of inner peace. [Read more…]
Ryan has become a hugely valuable asset to our community in the last months. Truly, it’s hard to imagine what it was like before he started practicing here!
He comes to numerous classes each week and helps us out in so many ways. From folding towels to parking duty to construction projects, Ryan shows up like a champ with a great attitude and plenty of energy for whatever arises. He is a true Karma Yogi, constantly looking for ways to serve without waiting to be asked. In fact, when we try and thank him for all he does, most often his reply is to thank us back! This kind of purity of service is rare and beautiful, and is an inspiration to us all. [Read more…]
Amber has been around from Asheville Community Yoga’s very beginnings. Truly, the place could not have been birthed without her long hours of dedicated service. She worked tirelessly alongside Michael out of pure love and commitment to yoga and service, and we all benefit today from that whole-hearted dedication. Amber is a true yogini on many levels, and it shines through her and permeates the studio we all love so much to practice in.
Amber’s dedicated practice is especially evident in her teaching – when she gives a cue for alignment, breath, or attitude, it is evident that she is speaking from her own deep well of experience. She has a knack for helping her students to really feel a pose from the inside out, and for conveying the understanding that yoga is more than just a physical practice but a way of being, both on and off the mat.
A key to living a happy life is accepting what is. This makes sense; indeed, if we are to be content at all in this world, we must be able to find contentment in it as it currently exists, even if we strongly desire change for the better. [Read more…]
Meet our Student of the Month, Peter Young! Peter has been tremendously helpful in so many ways, offering his invaluable skills in a number of huge construction projects here at the studio. Not to mention that he is a dedicated asana practitioner, showing up and sharing his practice and presence several times each week.
Most of you already know this wonderful woman. Cari joined our staff as Communications Director just over a year ago, making the move from Chicago to Asheville. From the moment she stepped through our door, there was a sense that she belonged here.
Before Cari embarked on her journey as a yoga teacher, she was a full-time journalist. Her ability to communicate clearly shows in her teaching, as she is able to effortlessly articulate the nuances of both simple and complex poses and ideas. Cari radiates a feeling of calm and capability – she’s the kind of person one feels comfortable trusting with any task or challenge.
Vulnerability researcher Brene Brown states that vulnerability “is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
How do we cultivate vulnerability? Two major aspects of vulnerability are authenticity and intimacy. Life coach Christine Hassler advises to think of the word intimacy as “into-me-see” – when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we allow ourselves to be seen. We all have many layers of self, and exist in many dimensions of psyche. Even if we think we know on a superficial level how we “should” feel – or even if we know deep down that everything will be ok … there are still oftentimes many messy layers between the superficial knowing and the deep understanding. We may know intellectually that a partner or friend didn’t mean to hurt us, yet still feel the very real emotions of hurt and anger. If we try and squash these emotions and pretend that everything is A-OK, chances are that rather than disappear these squashed emotions will fester under a cold surface, and eventually painfully erupt. [Read more…]
The year of 2015 is coming to a close, and 2016 stretches before us like a fresh slate. How will we choose to use the longer light, and the calm after all of the holiday festivities? [Read more…]
Jodie has been volunteering her skills here at Asheville Community Yoga for over a year now, and we are happy to announce that she has recently come on board as a staff member! In this time of transition for all of us, it is a huge blessing to have a bright light like Jodie join our team.
What inspires you to continue yoga?
Yoga inspires me to be open to infinite possibilities… in myself, in others, in our world. There is always more space to learn, grow and change, and yoga helps to inform my life through this ongoing process of thriving intuition. Yoga has been the constant in my life for over a decade, and I love being one of its students.
Our January student of the month, Melissa Reichmann, has been practicing with us for years now, coming several times a week to a variety of classes. Her dedication to her practice shows in her easy grace and alert presence. Melissa is truly a delight to be around, both as a student and as one of our most faithful volunteers.
Whether you have been coming to Asheville Community Yoga for a week, a month, or a year, you have probably met the lovely Sonya Costello! This beautiful being has been on staff since the very beginnings of Asheville Community Yoga back in 2010. She started off as a student, but soon came on board to work her magic as our Program Director.
Meet our December Student of the Month, Taylor Mitchell! Taylor’s presence and practice has been a great blessing to the studio. She is a great and dedicated volunteer in multiple capacities, but it is the precious gift of her gentle and sincere presence that stand out the most. Taylor is the rare type of person to be able to fill a room with calm, simply by being there.
Nita Carroll fell in love with yoga in 2011 after being laid off from a job she loved. Being laid off turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for both Nita and her future students! With the new free time on her hands, Nita dove headlong into the world of yoga. It helped her deal with what could have otherwise been a painful transition. [Read more…]
Jared Hamilton is a recent addition to our community, but dove in deep immediately. For the past several months, he has shown up big. He is dedicated to his practice, willing to try new things, and incredibly generous with his time and skills. In addition to hanging flyers and helping with studio chores, Jared was responsible for building the fire pit and keeping the fire alive at our 24-hour Yogathon fundraiser back in August. This is a guy who shows up big, and we are so grateful to have him around!
If November had a theme, it might be … you guessed it—gratitude! It is, after all, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.
Regardless of our feelings about the traditional Thanksgiving story we learned in grade school and the variety of individual ways we choose to celebrate (or not celebrate), we can probably all agree that this month is a powerful time of connecting (or reconnecting) with our communities, and sharing our harvest – both from our gardens and from our lives. [Read more…]
Janet Ledder is one of our most long-term and dedicated students. You probably recognize her name from the announcements, as the generous student who has donated countless massages to benefit the center! You might also recognize her from one of the many weekly classes she regularly attends. She is a bright spirit with a strong practice, a ready smile and a twinkle in her eyes.
Lindsay Fields has been with us from the beginning, teaching one of our most longstanding and loved classes, Tuesdays night’s “hot core” practice. Her classes are definitely challenging, but Lindsay’s demeanor is so authentically kind and her instructions so clear and intelligent, that even the toughest sequences seem accessible.
It is said often enough to have become cliche, but as is the case with most cliches, it is true: the only constant is change. The only true stability we can find is in acceptance of this fact. [Read more…]
Meet our Student of the Month for September: Diana Christopher! Diana is beautiful inside and out, and has a rich story to tell. [Read more…]
Meet our September Teacher of the Month, our own dear Wendy Mallett!
You probably recognize Wendy from the front desk, or from one of the many weekly classes she teaches, or perhaps even from the early days of Asheville Community Yoga five years ago!
Most likely if you are reading this, you know well how vast the world of yoga is. There are practices ranging from the most gentle to the most vigorous, from the most physical to the psycho-spiritual. Truly, there is a style of yoga to suit nearly anyone who is ready to embark on the adventure. And for many practitioners, the adventure of yoga is one that lasts a lifetime. Those of us who love yoga so much, love it in part because it is such a limitless well. One could study it for a lifetime, and still only ever reveal the tip of the iceberg of all that yoga is. [Read more…]
One of our dear students, Monica Cassani, has opened up on her blog, Beyond Meds, about the role that Asheville Community Yoga and her practice have played in her healing process. Read the excerpts below and check out the full post here!
Thank you Monica for sharing your experience so openly and beautifully, and for all of your support. It is our deepest honor and truest mission to be able to practice alongside inspiring students like yourself!
Bridget has been a steadfast and committed member of our community for several years now; in fact, several years ago she received the Student of the Month honor!
James started practicing yoga years ago, before there was a yoga studio around every corner in most towns.
Meet our July Teacher of the Month, Anna Cook! Anna graduated from our Teacher Training program last year, and has shown herself to be a natural born teacher.
Meet our July Student of the Month: Dr. Chris Lechner! Chris is a local hand surgeon, dedicated yoga practitioner, board member and great friend of this community. There are truly countless reasons why he deserves this honor.
Some of you may remember several months ago when our Executive Director Michael Greenfield had shoulder surgery. Chris was quite literally Michael’s “right hand man” during this time, performing the surgery, guiding his healing process and helping out in all kinds of practical ways. He has continually offered his service big time, and we are all so grateful! [Read more…]
A major part of success in yoga (in life!) is discipline. For some of us the word “discipline” might not have an appealing ring to it—we may have an association from childhood that to be disciplined means to be punished, that it means we have done something wrong. Let’s take a moment to reframe what discipline is, how it can actually help us to find more freedom in our lives, and bring us closer to realization of our heart’s desires.
Asheville Community Yoga is now a part of the AmazonSmile program, where Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by their customers.
Meet our Teacher of the Month, Rich Risbridger! Rich has been a dedicated yoga practitioner for more than 15 years, a yoga teacher for more than eight years, and an instructor here at Asheville Community Yoga for the past three years. We love having Rich around because his dedication, skill and sincere love for the practice is infectious and brings great joy to us all!
Meet our June Student of the Month, Julie Merrill! Julie has been a dedicated student at Asheville Community Yoga for several years now.
In addition to honoring us with her devoted practice on the mat, she has been an equally dedicated karma yogi. Julie regularly volunteers to help with parking during busy times, and generously donated a collection of her gorgeous mixed metal jewelry for our monthly raffle this past February. Check out her website to see some of Julie’s artistic creations
One of the most frequent comments we get when people walk into the studio is “Wow, these flowers are AMAZING!” <strong>This month, we would like to honor Pat McLaurin and Paul Harris as our Students of the Month. These incredible volunteers are responsible for keeping us always surrounded with beautiful blooms!
Meet our Teacher of the Month, Becca Odom! When asked to describe herself in three words, Becca said “honest, compassionate, and nurturing.” These are qualities that make Becca a great yoga teacher, a lovely human being and an all-around joy to have with us!
It’s that time of year again to cast your vote for the Mountain Xpress Best of Western North Carolina Readers’ Poll! We have won first place for Best Yoga Studio now for four years running, which puts us in the Hall of Fame. You can help us win for a fifth year! You can also cast a vote for one of our 50+ incredible instructors as Best Yoga Teacher.
We feel honored to be so supported by the community we serve. [Read more…]
Meet our April Teacher of the Month, Jerome Smith! Jerome is an ordained Pandit in the Himalayan Tradition. In addition to teaching meditation classes and workshops here at Asheville Community Yoga, he is also currently the spiritual director of Asheville Meditation Center, a nonprofit spiritual organization based here in town.
2015 Expansion Project:
What It Means For Our Community and For Neighbors of Asheville Community Yoga
By now, many of you are aware of our plans and vision for growth and expansion this year. We have heard from so many of you expressing excitement and support for the new opportunities the expansion project will create, and we would like to address a few legitimate concerns that have been raised during our conversations.
Some of you may have received a thoughtful pamphlet on your car, a personal message from Shawn Terrell, or may have been approached by one of the neighborhood tenants expressing these concerns.
This post explains our need to expand, outlines our plan and vision for the expansion, and addresses concerns voiced by a few community and neighborhood members.
This part of the year is marked by the spring equinox – the point in the year when the day is exactly as long as the night. It is a time of anticipation, as winter is poised on the brink of becoming spring. Ironically, the weather can be quite tumultuous this time of year. Rather than a graceful dance of balance and poise, it can appear as a violent tug of war. The changing of the seasons is a powerful reminder of the reality of constant shift and change, and the necessity of finding some sense of balance deep within our selves. How can our yoga practice help us to maintain a sense of calm and equanimity through the inevitable fluctuations of our lives?
Meet our Teacher of the Month, Anna!!!
We have been blessed to have Anna along on this journey with us from our very beginnings! Anna is a truly gifted teacher with her own unique approach to yoga therapeutics. In addition to her regular offerings of yin yoga and a warm therapeutic power flow, Anna stays busy accepting private clients for yoga therapy sessions and teaching semi-regular specialized classes on topics such as Yoga for Trauma, Yoga for Weight Loss, The Artist’s Way, and more. We asked Anna about what got her hooked on yoga and what keeps her inspired to practice, and this is some of what she had to say:
February’s Teacher of the month award goes to Jessica Chandra Shrago!
Jessica has been teaching at Asheville Community yoga for over a year now, and her generous and loving spirit makes her a perfect choice for this month’s honor.
As we enter into a new calendar year, many of us are feeling motivated. The days are getting longer again, and after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, January holds the promise of a bit of down time and some space for self-care. For many, the new calendar year marks a time for New Year’s resolutions. The support of the group energy of our community can be inspiring and help to strengthen our resolve! Oftentimes, however, our resolve is fleeting, and despite our best intentions, we can quickly settle back into the old patterns we were trying to break. The feeling of having let ourselves down, along with the winter looming on, can put us at risk for a bit of a mid-winter slump if we are not careful. How can we strengthen our resolve and sustain our highest intentions?
Susan has been guiding women into a state of flowing bliss for several years now with her Women’s Expressive Dance Wave on Monday evenings, followed by a women’s circle. Here are some sweet words of wisdom for 2015 from Susan herself:
December’s Teacher of the month award goes to all those who serve behind the scenes to support this place in being what it is!
Asheville Community Yoga is a pretty special place. It’s much more than just a place; it’s a vital community, a being in its own right, and as such has its own life-force, breath and heartbeat.
Meet our November teacher of the Month – Rebecca Willman!
Rebecca has been practicing yoga for 15 years and teaching since 2006. Whether teaching restorative, gentle or vinyasa, Rebecca’s classes are intuitively designed and are nurturing and supportive for all levels of practitioner.
Meet our October teacher of the Month- Ryan Kelly!!
Ryan has been with us here at Asheville Community Yoga for 4 years now – pretty much since the beginning! In addition to being an exceptionally skillful yoga instructor, Ryan is a biochemist and a mother of two. She is passionate about Taoist philosophy, herbalism, and classical music, all of which inform her life, her practice, and her classes.
Mudita (Altruistic Joy)
When you see that yoga student on his mat, effortlessly melting into the one pose that has eluded you for years, do you light up with joy and appreciation at his power and grace? When you hear of your close friend’s wedding announcement while you’re still reeling from a painful breakup, does your heart expand with the recognition of universal love being expressed so sweetly? Does the promotion of your coworker elicit immediate elation for his or her well-being and delight for his continued financial success? Errr, not so much? I’m with you.
Responding to the good fortune of others with envy is a human characteristic that we’d rather not advertise, but this is just what many of us experience. It’s as if we believe that there is a limited supply of happiness in this world and if someone else gets some, there is less available for me. This is a competitive reflex that seems to be culturally conditioned. When we are not feeling particularly joyous or open-hearted toward another’s success, it can feel inauthentic to acknowledge their joy. There is a bit of internal closing down that happens within as this occurs. A separation from others becomes a habit as the illusion of division rubber stamps its mark in the psyche. However, ancient wisdom teachings emphasize that all humans have naturally occurring divine qualities that arise within one’s own mind state if given the opportunity. There are four primary qualities, of which mudita or altruistic joy is one. The other three are metta or loving-kindness, karuna or compassion and upekkha or equanimity. We are all born with these spiritual attributes; they are potential seeds enfolded in our consciousness waiting for the right conditions and care to spark them into life where they can take root and grow to full bloom.
How can we use our yoga practice to nurture the seeds of joy that are waiting within? Look for what’s working well. Do more of what works. When my Asperger’s son was between the ages of 2 and 4, I was stuck in a pattern of constantly addressing his negative behavior, envious of other families who didn’t seem to struggle with parenting and desperate to find any positive in the situation. My husband and I began to employ the strategy of ignoring his negative behavior, unless it was harmful to himself or another, and look for what was going well, such as staying seated for 20 seconds or speaking respectfully instead of demanding. It worked. As we highlighted his small accomplishments, his need for attention through negative behavior subsided. He felt heard and validated and we felt as if we were better parents.
Look for the good. Have you shown up for yoga? That works. Were you mindfully breathing as you waited in line at the airport or in a seemingly endless line of stalled traffic? That works. If there is anxiety, agitation and a mind plagued by tight emotions, it may be difficult to appreciate our own good efforts or breathe with compassion toward a delay of unknown origin. Here is where yoga really shines. Mudita can be thought of as a twofold practice. First, the recognition of joy in others as we begin to recognize it in ourself and second, setting the intention to open to the joy within ourself while intending that others uncover the same inner joy.
To make this practice tangible, sit with the image of an artisan spring, where the water table is so high that its pressure causes water to spring up out of the ground wherever there is an opening in the earth’s surface, creating a deep pond with ground water flowing up from below. Repeat the phrase, May I open to the joy that is within me and be happy. Say it slowly and begin to feel that your body is like the pond, with an upwelling of natural, clear joy arising from the depths of consciousness. Allow a gentle smile to spread throughout your internal landscape, just as the upwelling of an artisan spring causes a gentle current to rise to its surface and glimmer in the light. Gradually shift the attention from the words to the feeling. Experience the “joy of letting go” flowing up from below and expressing itself as a smile. Focus on the pleasant sensations in your body and notice how those sensations nudge that little joy seed into action.
Mudita dismantles the wall of illusion that has been built up between ourselves and others, and as we slowly dismantle, we begin to experience tremendous freedom of joy that is undivided. The Dalai Lama, a spiritual teacher who radiates boundless joy despite tremendous challenges, explains the unlimited potential of mudita. He spoke in the middle of a rainstorm with a delightful giggle to many huddled, umbrella covered listeners, “It’s only logical….if I am only happy for myself, many fewer chances for happiness. If I am happy when good things happen to other people, billions more chances to be happy!”
By Margaret Kirschner
It’s summer time and your mind is consumed with thoughts of butterflies, picnics, flowers and long lazy days on the river, right???
If you answered with a resounding “NO” and a long chuckle, you’re not alone! These long hot days of summer often ignite the temper within us and can cause a bout of lethargy that can really rattle our nerves.
If this sounds more like your summer experience, never fear, yoga is here!!! There are many tools and techniques available to yoga practitioners to keep cool and stay calm in the summer months.
Beat the heat and stay cool, calm and focused during the longest days of the year with these simple practices. [Read more…]