Friday, November 15, 2013

Hi everyone!

Please check me out at my new space:

The Yogi Movement

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Let's stay connected!

Namaste,
Monica

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tradition as our Primary Teacher





So,  it seems like whenever I’m hanging out with my fellow Ashtangi’s, and we’re talking about practice, the same controversial practice topics come up. One of the things with Ashtanga Yoga is that it’s not all black and white. There’s not just one way, but that’s such a hard concept for us in the west to accept. We’re always trying to find the “right” way, or some sign which tells us what move to make next.. 

Ashtanga is built on traditions (some call these rules, but I really strongly disagree in using that term), and in Ashtanga Yoga, our primary teacher is the tradition. I also want to point out that it’s really important to research and understand the tradition, and then practice it for a long period of time (just like the Sutras say) so that you can experience the practice and the teaching for yourself. This way, you don’t just understand it from a book, or because someone told you to do it, but you've also gained the intelligence and wisdom within your own heart.

Even so, all of these things are still thoughts, ideas, and concepts, which are still conditioned beliefs, which is still Samsara. That’s where it gets tricky and why it’s not so black and white. No, it doesn't mean you won’t find enlightenment, or go to hell if you didn't practice 6 days this week, or decided to practice on a moon day, or did second series on a Friday. What’s important is that you honor and understand the traditions, and then if you decide to do something different, what is the intention? Is it ego based, did you make an excuse, or do you have your own agenda (example: I’m sick of rules and doesn't make any sense to me, so I’m doing what I want!)? Or, was it because you just had an off week and now you want to fit your practice in when you can, which might be a moon day? When your intentions are in line with devotion and love to practice, then you really haven’t broken tradition, you’re just finding a different perspective in which to honor it from. This is when your practice takes a shift from a surface level to a more spiritual understanding.

The purpose of following these things is not because someone said so, but because submitting oneself to a certain lineage creates humility and a softness within, and it also has a certain charm on our character. I agree with David Robson when he said, "When we are confronted with the demands of the tradition, our fluctuations and preferences are revealed, and if we manage to surrender to the tradition rather than its challenges, it is then that real change can take place."  That’s why it’s important to practice and experience rather than just dismissing a tradition. It’s not black and white, up or down, or this way or that way. It just is.


When I step onto the mat, I start chanting:
Om
vande gurunam caranaravinde
sandarsita svatma sukhava bodhe

This translates to:
I bow to the lotus feet of the supreme guru
Who teaches knowledge, awakening the great happiness of the self-revealed 

This means that I am bowing to the tradition. I bow to this practice and teachers who embody this tradition, and have dedicated to humbly pass it down and honor it, so that I can awaken wisdom and happiness within!

Namaste, 
Monica

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Listening and Following the Flow of the Universe



Today was pretty awesome. I've always had trouble in my practice with Supta Kurmasana. The last time I was able to come into the full posture without any assistance was when I was in California around January 2013. After patience, acceptance, non attachment, and lots of talking and listening to my body parts, I was able to come into it today with total flow and openness.

Not only that, Setu Bandhasana feels good and strong. I've been feeling antsy and lots of energy in my legs lately. This posture gives me the opportunity to use all of the energy and strength in my legs to hold up my foundation. I've actually been holding it for around 8 breaths because I'm enjoying it so much. Who know that Setu would feel good one day??

Setu Bandhasana


And lastly, My backbends finally feel solid again. I feel strong, deep, and they are not uncomfortable and exhausting me. I'm so grateful for this shift in my practice and for these moments. I know everything is impermanent, so I take the time to appreciate and celebrate it!

I've been feeling lots of shifting going on lately. Maybe it's the moon, maybe it was my trip to Nepal, maybe it's just that I'm finally learning to listen and follow the flow of the universe. Regardless, since I've been letting go, life has become more abundant, I'm less attached, and the world seems more radiant. Practice is more than postures, but when life opens and changes, it reflects in the practice. I'm so grateful for this practice and this time.

Namaste y'all!

Monica

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Healing Quality of Nature

I love that I've decided to start taking more walks and thankful for the healing quality that nature's been providing me. Today I went into the park, and saw some White Ibis's and wasps (Yikes!)! I also had a woodpecker that came right up to the tree I was laying next to. He got so close to me and it sounded like the drumming of earth's heartbeat. I also had some squirrels that came into my path, and they even posed for me. Being with nature, laying on the bench, hearing the woodpecker... it just filled my days with smiles. Below is a slideshow! Enjoy :)



Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Namaste, 
Monica

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Recipe & Pictures!

Hey everyone!


Check out this delicious dinner on my recipe blog!

Here's the link: Vegetarian Delights of a Yogini: Soba Noodles with Ginger


Also, some cool pictures from over the weekend! Click here: My Walk to Whole Foods and Starbucks!



Love Always,
Monica

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Staying Present, Moving Forward, And with a sense of humor

On the last day of the Nepal 2013 Vasudhaiva Retreat we were asked to reflect on our experience at the retreat, and to create a mantra that related to something we needed to work on. I chose the mantra, Always Move Forward because I don't want to ever let my fears hold me back.


I also decided to write down some inspirational and motivating words on another piece of paper to help me embody these qualities. If I ever feel like I'm holding myself back, I just look at this as a reminder to stay present and move forward. I also wrote at the bottom, Always have a good sense of humor, because I tend to work myself up and create crazy stories in difficult situations that are based on no truth. This will be a reminder to take a step back when I get worked up, and always find humor in the difficult times. 


                                     

When I arrived home last night I noticed this snail guarding my door. He was moving very slowly. That was a reminder that everything moves slowly, but to never get frustrated and give up. Thanks Mr. Snail! 





xoxoxo,
Monica

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Yoga is NOT like Chocolate! Well, unless you have an irrational fear of chocolate!


Photo taken in Pharping, Nepal at the Neydo Monestary during the 2013 Ashtanga Yoga and Buddhism Retreat hosted by The Vasudhaiva Institute 
One of the best experiences of my life. Check out http://www.vasudhaiva.com/ for upcoming, life changing retreats!

It was an interesting feeling this morning in practice. I felt tight, but still light and free. My energy wasn't as intense, but I still felt strong. I had the thought that I would just keep doing Sun Salutations because they felt so damn good and open. As my thoughts wondered around me like clouds, I kept my concentration one pointed - on my breath. I didn't let my thoughts control me because I know they are not bigger than me. As much as I wanted to just do these delightful Sun Salutations, I also need to find delight and strength in the difficulties in life. So, it was important to not let my thoughts control me and begin to move forward.

I noticed a lot of my patterns today in practice. I kept thinking I would stop at a certain point because I was “tired.” But again, that’s just a thought. I've found ways to deal with these little obstacles. I usually remind myself that the postures are just five breaths. It’s funny how uncomfortable things can be that it makes me find excuses and then justify giving up. I know the next posture, which might not be so uncomfortable is right around the corner, so why not just take the 5 breaths? I’ll probably see it’s not so bad, or at least see what other kind of lesson is in store.

It’s important to not give up and find a way to become accepting and indifferent to the discomfort. It’s so easy to create an aversion and then convince ourselves that it’s not an aversion, but that we’re just “listening to our body”. Can you tell the difference between actually listening vs.convincing/justifying? Marichyasana B (see below) is one of those uncomfortable postures for me. It’s doesn’t hurt, and I’ve never had trouble with it, but it feels so tight and constricting to me. It’s always been tough for me to find the space and comfort. Now, I spend my time going a little slower in the uncomfortable postures and expanding my breath. 

I go in and out of Supta Kurmasana (see below), and right now it feels so far away. I just spend some extra time working and breathing in it, trying to find extra space and comfort. It’s time to deal with the issues, not run away.

I've decided to give more time to the Primary Series.  I've realized that it’s important for the Primary Series to feel open, light, and free (most of the time) before adding on so many second series postures. I can only speak of my human experience, so this is what I've found and how I feel. I still have a lot to work on in Yoga Chikitsa. 



Parivrtta Parsvokanasana
One of my least favorite postures of the standing sequence is Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (see left). I used to bring my back knee to the ground to help find a deeper rotation and twist. I think this is okay in the beginning, but then I got used to the modification. One of the important aspects of that posture is rotating the torso and twisting towards the opposite hip. It’s good at first if it’s a tight posture. You want to be able to flatten the hand on the floor and bind the shoulder on the outside of the knee. Sometimes it takes a few breaths in the modification to find that deep twist. Once you’ve been doing that for awhile and can come up on your back leg creating the full expression of the posture, why not try from standing? We need to learn that rotation with the hip joint for other postures, so it just makes sense to me to take advantage of the foundations within the standing postures.


Once in the primary series I found myself gliding through. During Janu C, I actually started to remember my dream from the night before. I was in a white hotel room. I know it was significant so I wish I could remember more.

Yoga Chikitsa is the real therapy. It’s my therapy. No, there are no pills, no instant gratification, and it moves slowly. Even so, it’s worth it because it treats the root and not just the symptom.  It’s the best way to self-inquire, but you really do have to listen. Just like anything, it can be used in the wrong way. It’s crucial to find the balance of understanding discomfort as a way of purifying, but not creating and pushing yourself into pain. Practice mirrors life and life mirrors practice. Patanjali has two specific sutras, (2.1) Accepting pain as purification, and (2.16) All known future pain should be avoided. I keep these with me and remember to find a balance in those when I practice. My teacher once said, “Yoga is not like chocolate.” I believe it. However, if you have an irrational fear of chocolate, then maybe it is like chocolate.

If you practice with the intention of love and devotion, you’ll find that you can find happiness and shine love even on the most difficult situations.

Supta Kurmasana
Marichyasana B
Namaste,
Monica