The Earth Is Crammed with Heaven
Your Life is Beautiful
Recording of a recent Vinyasa class with Lesley. Summer 2019
Lesley’s Dharma Teaching on Tapas:
Every year when the weather starts to get oppressively hot, yoga teachers start to talk about the same things. We often start to toss around the word TAPAS. Tapas is Sanskrit word for heat. It also means discipline. The teaching is that our ‘impurities’ like tendencies toward gossip, negativity, blame and laziness can be burned up in the fires of our discipline. This awakens great Self-awareness and joy. In this class we play with alchemy of showing up and explore tapas on three different levels.
Open Level Vinyasa Class featuring lots of breath and energy work
This past weekend I sat on an incredible meditation retreat.
On Saturday the teacher spoke about awareness. He read this poem by Amy Schmit:
Energy In A Tight Space
Class recorded at Yogaworks in Northern California. This class begins with Kapalabhati Pranayama, Lion's breath, Uddiyana bandha and Agni Sara - fire wash.
A 60 minute vigorous vinyasa class follows. Music by the brilliant Ashana Sophia. Album - Ancient Stories
In meditation practice there is a state called the ‘sinking mind’. It’s a kind of mental ooze that happens when we drift off from our focus. We become a bit passive and sleepy. This kind of mental state also arises in asana practice as well. Sometimes we catch ourselves going through the motions without a lot of juice behind it. We are moving the body, but not really in the room. The mind is drifting and body disengaged.
To work with these state, we have structure and form in practice. This form exists because it helps
Back To The Source
The mind is faster than the body. I want to move at the speed of my body, not my mind. In asana practice, we aim to create a quality with the body and breath that we would like the mind to mirror. The pace we set when we practice has a big effect on kind of residue the practice will leave on every aspect of our being - the mind, heart and body.
Yoga philosophy teaches us that we all have the same common origin. Although we appear in many different forms, with different qualities, we carry the seed within us. If we can tap into this, we can feel and experience our commonality, connecting us with all forms of life. The patterns and shapes that we move through in asana practice embody this philosophy. While things may appear different on the surface, at the core they are essentially the same. What the yogi looks for in practice, as s/he move from asana to asana, is what has stayed the same. What is changeless within these changeable forms?
Prana Apana and Going Upside Down
In the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says that every asana is intended to encompass two aspects: Posture is mastered by relaxation of effort and concentration on the 'Endless'.
prayatna-shaithilya-ananta-samapatti-bhyam || 47 ||
We hear a lot about effort in yoga classes, but in this Sutra softness, shaitilya, is emphasized. Prayatna means effort. Shaithilya, on the other hand, is the softness. So translated, we should go into the effort of Asana practice with softness. This softness can be found in the quality of the breath, in our intention for practice and the way we move in our asanas.
AM I LOVE?
Inversions give us new perspective literally and energetically. They root us down, hold us still and move us inward. Inversions invoke a state of consciousness that demands presence. This takes us closer and closer to our essential and true nature which is bliss.
Joy In Repetition
"Do I have love or am I love? Am I alive or am I life? Am I conscious or am I consciousness? Am I blissful or am I bliss? Am I searching for ultimate reality or am I ultimate reality?"
'Through repetition, magic is forced to rise.' - Sharon Gannon
On your mat, and in your class, you are not practicing yoga. You are practicing ease. Ease with your body, ease with mind, breath and emotions... The yoga practice is the vehicle that helps you to deepen the awareness of when you are connected to that ease, and when you feel separate from it. The asanas are metaphors for the many different situations that we encounter in life