Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch!

    Nia: Thurs at 9 am

    Yin Yoga: Mons at 11:30 am

    Gentle Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 am

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Posts Tagged ‘Eight limbs of yoga’

Cool Breath

Posted by terrepruitt on June 19, 2017

When I was young I remember waiting impatiently for my dad to get home one day. The second I saw his truck I was out the door running to it. I distinctly remember bombarding him with questions before he even opened the truck door. We had been assigned to do a little research. You probably did it too in school. You had to go home and check with your family to see if their ears were attached with or without lobes and to see if they could roll their tongue. I think that my mom could do it, but my dad could not. But I could be wrong on that. I don’t know about my brother. I don’t remember if I checked with him or if he wasn’t home or what.  Funny . . . I remember running up to my dad’s truck to ask him, but I don’t really remember the results.  Currently, it is almost summer, but the temperatures think it is summer and we are having unbearable heat. I was thinking about cooling asana and I came across a pranayama that I had not remembered studying, is supposed to help cool the body.

First of all, (back to the tongue rolling) when I was in school they taught us the ability to roll your tongue was genetic. But I am finding out now, that there have been many studies that point to it not being genetic. One family study in 1951 sampled a large group which showed “non-rollers” had “roller” children . . . they concluded that couldn’t happen if rolling was simply “a simple one-gene, two-allele genetic character, with rolling completely dominant to non-rolling”.

Now back to the pranayama. There are many pranayama and even more variations. Pranayama is a limb of yoga and is – at its very basic – breath control. They are ways of breathing in different ways. Each one said to help (and sometimes hinder) specific issues. There is one technique called Sitali, which is a cooling breathing technique.  As I mentioned, it has been hot here so I feel many of us could use techniques that will allow us to cool our body down.

This pranayama is easy and can be practiced by anyone that can safely practice asana.

A lot of instructions on pranayama instruct the practitioner to be in a specific position. I would recommend assuming the instructed position when possible, but also, since pranayama is used to target specific issues, I also believe it can be done when needed. Say the ideal way to practice a technique is cross-legged with your eyes closed in a calm place with no distractions . . . but you are needing/wanting to find some calm while stuck driving in traffic. I would encourage you to try the technique, but obviously you are not going to be able to sit cross-legged, traffic is not a calm situation, and you should not be closing your eyes, but Samavrtti or Equal Breath pranayama during traffic, might help make it more bearable.

So for this one, if you can . . . yes, sit in a calm distraction free area on the floor in sukhasana using whatever props you need to be comfortable. But if not, try it where you are able.

________________

Sitali

Relax your shoulders and lengthen your spine. Let your face relax.

Then curl your tongue and let it stick out from your pursed lips.  Just let it stick out, no need to jut it out far. Then inhale through your mouth letting air come through your rolled tongue. Take a full inhale.  Then bring your tongue into your mouth, close your mouth, and exhale slowly through your nose.

Repeating it at least 5 times. More if you want and you are able.

If rolling your tongue is not something you can do, just put your tongue up against your lower front teeth, purse your lips as if you are going to whistle, then inhale, allowing the air to pass over your tongue. Take a full inhale.  Close your mouth.  When you are ready to exhale do so slowly through your nose.

________________

As I often say, there are many variations on how to do asana, same with pranayama.  There are variations to this, but this is the basics.  Inhale through your mouth over the tongue, exhale through your nose.

Seems easy enough.  Did you try it?  Did it help cool you down?

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Withdrawal Of The Senses – WHAT?

Posted by terrepruitt on October 19, 2016

In January I started writing about the Eight Limbs of Yoga with a post called More To Yoga Than Just Asana.  They are 1-The yamas, 2-The niyamas, 3-The asana, 4- Pranayama, 5-Pratyahara, 6-Dharana, 7-Dhyana, and 8-Samadhi.  I finished posting briefly about the niyamas in April.  So it has been six months since I visited any of the limbs on my blog.  I thought I would pick up with the fifth limb – pratyahara and share a what I understand about it.  As I have said before, all the limbs and their smaller branches (like the yamas and the niyamas) can (and do) have volumes written about them.  I am only scratching the surface AND only exposing what I understand them to be at this time.  Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the senses.

That is what I have heard it described as.  I never really understood or agreed with the “withdrawal of the senses”.  The initial “scratch on the surface” was not enough for me to get on board with this limb.  As I looked briefly into the meaning or the idea, I think I understand it a bit more.  Now I can totally relate.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitThe books I used to help me put it in perspective and allow me to understand it in a way to actually apply it are B.K.S. Iyengar’s The Path To Holistic Health, T.K.V. Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga and B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light On Pranayama.

In The Path To Holistic Health B.K.S. Iyengar said, “When the senses withdraw from objects of desire, the mind is released from the power of the senses, which in turn become passive.  Then the mind turns inward and is set free from the tyranny of the senses.  This is pratyahara.”  Ok, I feel that put me on the path to understanding.  Him saying “withdraw from objects of desire,” made me think, “Ok, we are not just shutting off our senses.”  I made me think that it is more of a form of concentration than a form of torture.

Then in The Heart of Yoga, I understand T.K.V. Desikachar’s to be saying that we might sense things but we ignore them, but we don’t really do it necessarily as a conscious practice, but because we are in the moment.  We are attuned to what we are doing.  We are focused. To me his explanation made a lot of sense because he was saying that our senses are not entirely withdrawn and shut off . . . we are just focused.  As an example, in an asana practice we are going to be aware of our body and sensing where our arms are in relation to our hips, but we are not going to be thinking about how we need to apply lotion to our arms or how our hips sway when we do the latest dance move.  While lotion and dance moves might not be examples of “objects of desire” they are examples of thoughts that distract us from the asana practice.

It also sounded to me like T.K.V. Desikachar was saying that we can – and more than likely have experienced Pratyahara before.  It could be when we are so focused on something we don’t realize what is going on around us.  Perhaps on the phone and not noticing someone is trying to get our attention.  Perhaps we turn everything out when focused on a task such as cooking, knitting, sewing, writing, drawing, etc.  Where the senses are withdrawn because the focus and concentration is so intense.  This goes along with T.K.V. Desikachar saying that pratyahara comes naturally.

I’m thinking that not having it be a conscious practice might depend on what you are doing.  I could be at first we might have to really focus on concentrating, but eventually it will just become a part of our practice.  I think the more we practice the better we can achieve pratyahara.  Light on Pranayama described pratyahara as quieting the mind saying that pranayama and pratyahara help with that.  I know that when I focus on my breathing it helps quiet the mind and I feel more focused.

So now that I feel that pratyachara is not just withdrawal of the senses to all that is around you, I feel that I could actually be practicing and doing this limb of yoga.  At this point it helps when I am in a class or following a yoga application and not just doing yoga on my own.  We all know how distracted I get when I do that.

How about you?  How well do you practice pratyahara when doing yoga?  Can you think of a time when you have experienced pratyahara when not doing yoga?

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The Last Niyama

Posted by terrepruitt on April 11, 2016

Somewhat funny that I have one last niyama to write about.  I started writing about the Eight Limbs of Yoga in January.  First I talked about the fact that there is More To Yoga Than Just Asana (that is the name of the post).  Most people are familiar with the fact that there are yoga poses, but not everyone knows there are eight parts, or what are called “limbs”.  Then some of the limbs have even more “branches” you could say.  Two of them have five branches or offshoots.  I was making my way through each of them writing about them briefly.  They are the yamas and the niyamas.  As with many things in Nia – the cardio dance exercise I teach – the many aspects of yoga are deep and volumes can be written about each.  I have barely scratch the surface.  But the last one I have to write about is the fifth niyama, Ishvara Pranidhana.  Some people refer to it as surrender to the Devine or surrender of ego.

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Some debate the concept of the Devine, some saying it is God, some saying it is the universe.  Then you have to decide what surrender means.  So, if you are going to follow the path of yoga and practice all the limbs, I would say that the first thing you might need to do when practicing this niyama is decide on your “Devine”.  I actually appreciate the texts that translate it as God because that is my Devine.

https://c2.staticflickr.com/2/1447/26357425736_dbbc866eb9_b.jpgThe Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar says it means “to lay all your actions at the feet of God.”  That to me sounds like surrendering to the Devine to me, but then “lay all your actions” is up for interpretation.  Again, I will say that I am just barely touching the surface and with that “barely touching”, the idea of it can change.  But it seems as if that could mean to trust in what is happening.  Surrender and let things be.

One teaching I received described it as “bringing about serenity, letting go, opening to silence.”  The teaching also suggested to use “devote” instead of surrender.  But just like with the poses the translation of all of the ancient writings are mixed.  Some say it says this and means that and some say it says that and means this.  So it can be confusing with so many conflicting and contradicting translations.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitBut just because I have my “Devine” decided doesn’t necessarily make surrendering easy.  It is still a challenge sometimes to accept what is.  Although, as I mentioned first, having to write about this niyama at this time struck me as funny because the first thing I thought of is that I did surrender to the “Devine”.  I did not write my last two self imposed scheduled post because I surrendered to the fact that I was taking a few days away from home and in order to get somethings done, I had to skip writing my blog.  Ok, I did not HAVE to, but I had to let it go since I couldn’t come up with something to write about. At the time I hadn’t even thought about posting about this last niyama.  Or I would have at least posted on Wednesday.

Also, we took a couple of days and stayed near the ocean and to me nature is just a reminder of the Devine.  So . . . I felt as if I surrendered a bit.

Ahhh, surrender to what is and have faith that all is as it should be.  Relax and let go a bit.

 

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How are you with surrendering?

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Svadhyaya – The Fourth Niyama

Posted by terrepruitt on March 21, 2016

I’m still looking into the Eight Limbs of Yoga (1:  The yamas – restrictions/restraints/ethical principles    2:  The niyamas – rules/observances/spiritual practices    3:  The asana – the poses    4:  Pranayama – breath work    5:  Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses    6:  Dharana – concentration    7:  Dhyana – meditation and    8:  Samadhi – transcendence)  I am working my way down the list posting about a little bit about each limb.  With the first two limbs there are five of each yama and niyama.  I am working my way through them, too.  Well, this post is about the fourth niyama or rule, observance, spiritual practice.  It is svadhyaya – study of self.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitT.K.V. Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga states that svadhyaya means to get close to yourself or study yourself.  Sva = “self” or “belonging to me” / Adhyaya = “inquiry” or “examination” . . . so self inquiry, self examination.

One can study or examine oneself for various reasons.  One way many are probably familiar with is eating . . . you have probably heard the terms “emotional eater”, “stress eater”, “bored eater” and the idea is to stop and think – examine when you eat so you can identify if you are one of these types of eaters.  These labels could be applied to many things . . . drinker . . . fighter . . . .abuser . . . “neglector” . . . cleaner . . . . smoker . . . whatever the situation, the study has to be done first in order for the behavior to be altered.  WHY is it you are doing what you are doing?  What is it that causes you to do what you do?  With that type of knowledge of self then steps can be taken to change.

A lot of our behaviors are habits and sometimes just acknowledging that and applying a little bit of mindfulness we can change the habit.

If you want to think about svadhyaya in relationship to “on the mat”, the actual practice of the third limb of yoga, the asana, then it can be applied in the sense that it is all about you when you are on the mat.  There is no competition between the person on the mat next to you.  Or you having to do something in order to please or impress the teacher.  It is all about you and what is going on with you at that particular mat time.  This is a great time to practice svadhyaya.  It is when you get to stop all the other thinking and think about things like how your foot is connected to the earth.  It is your whole foot or just the edge?  Are you using the muscles necessary to make certain that it is the whole foot.  Are your shoulders down?  Is your chest open?  Is your spine long?  Is your stance too wide?  Can you tweak your arm/leg/head just a little in order to invite in that sense of relaxed control?  Where you are not sinking into your joints hanging out in a pose, but using your muscles but not over using them?  Are you aware of the placement of your knee?  Are you focused on your breath?   If you study how each pose is sensed by your body it allows you to try to determine if you are in the pose correctly and allows you to get the most out of it.

With the study of self there is knowledge gained about self.  With the knowledge of self one can work to improve or enhance oneself.  With enhancement of self, the idea is that one moves closer to the divine.  Many think of the divine as different things.  But most people agree that we all have areas in which we could grow.  Most people agree there is always room for improvement.  It makes sense that we have to look in and examine, practice svadhaya, before we can change.  This is just one way – and a brief one at that – to look at svadhaya.

What do you think?  Do you think of svadhaya on the mat?

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Tapas – The Third Niyama

Posted by terrepruitt on March 11, 2016

Tapas, no, not the little plates of appetizers in Spanish cuisine.  But that is, honestly, how I remember this niyama.  I think, “What is the third one?  Oh yeah, little plates of food.”  As I have mentioned before, and this word is no different, you will probably see it spelled many different ways.  If you want to not confuse it with the little plates you could spell it Tapahs. Although, the Heart of Yoga, does link Tapas to food.  First he says that it literally means “to heat the body”.  He goes on to say that by doing so we cleanse it.  Another form, he says is “paying attention to what we eat”.  So that does kind of tie in with food.  The book further states that “posture, attention to eating habits, attention to breathing patterns are all tapas.”  I learned tapas as discipline.

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I like the way Connie Habash, talks about it in her article. She talks about tapas as being that fire that gets you to do things.  The inner flame that motivates you, she says.  That desire or discipline that has you doing chores or a daily workout even when you really don’t want to.  The thing that keeps you on track.  I am way more on board with that then “voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong”.

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The practice of tapas allows for balance as it is the discipline that keeps everything in check.  So, this is a brief idea of tapas.  Tapas is the third niyama.  There are five niyamas.  Niyamas are the second limb of yoga.  There are eight limbs of yoga.

I have mastered none.  I am just posting about them as a way to familiarize myself with them and a way to keep them and their ideas at my fingertips.  Yoga is a practice so these are things I can process for years to come.  I share them, too, as a way to introduce you to the other aspects of yoga.  Just like I share the principles and other things that make up Nia.

Can you easily see why yoga is called a practice?  🙂

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Being Content – The Second Niyama

Posted by terrepruitt on March 9, 2016

Ahhhh Santosha, the second niyama.  The niyamas and the yamas are the second and first limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga.  As with many things there is often more to it than what is popular knowledge.  Most people are familiar with yoga, in the sense that they know it has to do with stretching.  Many people will even say, “I am not flexible enough to do yoga.”  Ha . . . that is probably more true than they know.  Tee hee.  But, actually they are just referring to the physical aspect because, again, that is what is popular knowledge.  To me, that is fine, just knowing yoga as a physical practice is fine.  In fact, if that is all you want to do when you think of yoga, that is fine too.  I am not here to say you have to do yoga a certain way or that you have to practice all the limbs or you aren’t doing real yoga — in fact, to say that, in MY opinion — is not practicing “real” yoga.  Ha . . . so intertwined it all is.  But anyway . . Eight Limbs . . . More To Yoga Than Just Asana.  The first two limbs (yama and niyama) are rules and observances.  There are five of each.  I have posted a bit about the five yamas and now I am working my way through the five niyamas.  This post is about the second one — Santosha, contentment.

Ahhhhh.  Sigh.  Sounds so super easy . . . if you consider yourself content.  But it might not be if you look at it.  If you really look at “true” contentment it might be a little bit more difficult than at first glance.  This one is tricky because in some cases it might appear to be laziness or unambitious.  But really it is just being content with where you are.  Again it can be connected to some of the yamas, because we would be content with where we are and not try to “steal” something away from someone else.  We will be content with what we have in that we won’t try to get all that we can (either material-wise or sexually).  We will not try to possess everything and hoard it all.  These are comparisons to the last three yamas.

Santosha extends to worrying.  Worrying is a form of non-contentedness.  We are thinking about the future and not content to be right where we are.  It could be a matter of not trusting that we are where we need to be.  It could be a matter of not focusing on the now.  There might even be an aspect of control to consider.  If we are always trying to control things it could be that we don’t trust what will happen to be the right thing or that we are unable to surrender to it.  Hmmmm . . . .

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Again I will say, I have not mastered this entirely.  I think I am content in some situations, but I might be a little non-Santosha in others.  But, again, it is a practice.

What would you like to share about Santosha?

 

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Sauca – The First Niyama

Posted by terrepruitt on March 7, 2016

I teach Nia, you may know that.  You may also know that Nia is a cardio dance exercise.  You can go to class get a workout and not think about it at all.  Or you can take it a little further if you would like and delve into some of the things that Nia likes to do, like connect movement with things in life, practice the 13 Principles of the Nia White Belt in your daily life.  But the 13 Principles of the first level of Nia are things like being Joyful in your movement or doing something in your own time or noticing how your body moves.  Whereas if you are going to practice more than just the physical aspect of yoga you are going to be observing rules and restrictions and practicing breathing techniques and meditating.  So even though I often compare Nia to yoga saying that it is a practice, I don’t think of the Nia practice as rules and restrictions.  With yoga there are the Eight Limbs of Yoga.  I listed them in my post “More To Yoga Than Just Asana“.  I am more familiar with the first four than the last four.  I can say that the first four have more.  As in the first two have five each, the third has hundreds, and I am not even sure how many the fourth has, but I know of at least ten.  The first limb is the yamas.  I have written a brief post on each yama.  Now I am going to skim the surface of the niyamas.

As I mentioned, there are five niyamas.  Some call them rules, some call them observances, some call them spiritual practices.  The first of the niyamas is Sauca . . . . as with many of the Sanskrit words you will probably see it spelled different ways.  While it might be spelled different, it is pretty much agreed upon that this niyama is about cleanliness, purity.

The Heart of Yoga says “Cleanliness, or keeping our bodies and our surroundings clean and neat.”

Recently I had the opportunity to examine this niyama by being assigned to write about it.  I decided to take the points that were mentioned in the lecture and make a little table.

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I decided I have showering down.  I believe that I do a good job with my general hygiene.  Although, it has come to my attention that some people don’t consider it “good hygiene” if you are not wearing make-up.  For some people wearing make-up is a very big deal and it had been pointed out to me recently – that make-up should be a part of every woman’s beauty regime.  So, I guess SOME people might not agree that I have the “good hygiene” thing down.

Oh, but if one includes, “dapper new clothes” in that “good hygiene”, yeah, I don’t have that down at all.  While my clothes will be clean, they might be really faded and what many people would think of as “time-to-get-rid-of”.  So just as someone who thinks that having make-up on is part of good hygiene, someone who doesn’t wear or tolerate old and faded clothes might think of me as not having good hygiene.

Keeping things clean is always a “needs work” because SOMETHING is ALWAYS dirty.  I mean, even if I spent all my time cleaning there would still be dirty things.  But I think I do ok with the necessary basics.  Our kitchen is clean, our bathrooms are clean (the showers could always use sand-blasting, but basically they are ok), the cats’ litter boxes are clean (that is a never ending “battle”), our house is basically clean . . . but I can’t keep up with the dust.  And, again, that is me saying it is “clean”, but I will not admit to it not being cluttered.

Who cannot swear with all this clutter around?

And cluttered speech . . . that is funny.  At times I am very aware of this and I can keep the clutter out, but sometimes a story is just so much more fun with all the drama (good drama, as in a play or good story) that clutter causes.  The suspense because you added three more sentences that were not necessary, but your audience is on edge.  Sometimes that is just too fun.

Non-judgmental . . . this kinda reminds me of the Yama, Ahimsa.  Being “non-violent” with oneself.  I could work on judging myself less harshly so as not to judge others so harshly.

Regarding the non-violent thoughts, perhaps with the non-judging, I won’t want to slap the person that didn’t obey the traffic law or show any regard to common sense while driving.  Needs work.

Ok, I think I have the littering one down.  I say, I think because I don’t litter.  I don’t throw things away if it is not in a garbage can or recycle bin.  But there might be something someone else considers littering that I do, that I am not aware of.

Not damaging the planet actually made me laugh.  It should be “work to keep your damage to a minimum”.  Because all of our modern convenience damage the planet.  Driving my car, damages the planet, having a cell phone damages the planet, eating food from our food sources damages the planet . . . . so I try to be good about it.  I take care not to waste water or electricity or even “THINGS”.  I am not a big throw-it-out-and-get-a new-one person . . . . hence all my clutter.

Good intentions.  I try, I am sure it could be better.

I work hard not to gossip.  Not easy . . . but it kind of helps when you don’t have the opportunity.

Again, as with all the limbs, I am just barely touching the surface.  These are not all the ways of sauca, but I think the list/examples we were giving was a good representation.  I am sure there are other ways it can be looked at, but in light of this, what do you think?

 

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Don’t Be A Hoarder

Posted by terrepruitt on March 2, 2016

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitIn reviewing some of the things that actually make yoga yoga, I have been posting about the Eight Limbs of Yoga.  The first two limbs, the yamas and the niyamas are restraints and observances, respectively.  I am working my way through posting about them and I am on the last of the yamas.  The fifth yama is one that probably speaks to many of us. The fifth yama is about non-coveting, non-hoarding, non-clinging, non-possessiveness, non-greediness, non-grasping, etc.  You get the picture.  The fifth yama is aparigraha.

I think this is a big one in our have-to-have-the-latest-and-greatest-of-everything society.  We covet the new electronic gizmo our neighbor has.  We buy more than we need until our closets and garages are over flowing.  We have so much stuff that there are places we can rent to store the stuff that doesn’t fit in our homes.  We cling to the very idea that our lives will be better with more stuff.  We are compelled to consume.  And all of that is if we are just talking about material things.

There are other applications of aparigraha, just like with all the limbs and the other yamas, much could be and has been written about them.  I am just barely scratching the surface.  Another way to think about aparigraha and the “non-clinging” is letting go.  Perhaps we cling to things that no longer serve us, whether they be ideas or habits or even long standing customs.  Does everything we do serve us now?  Could we learn more if we let go of something we have always thought to be?  Would our lives improve if we didn’t do that thing that we have always done?

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitAnother way it could be applied is to people or relationships whether we look at it as letting go or non-possessing.  We might need to let someone go, a relationship that is no longer serving us.  Perhaps we have just grown apart or we realize that the relationship is just not a healthy thing so we need to let go.  Or, more directly related to teachers in my line of work and students, perhaps we need to let them go.  We need to not think of students as ours, so when they visit other classes we are not offended.  When they move on to different teachers we can practice aparigraha, by not getting hurt because they were “our” student.  No matter the reason they moved on, we can happily let them go to move on to what is best for them.

I liked that example of the fifth yama very much.  It is a great thing for me to remember and try to practice.  I mean I already know about the rest and I seriously need to work on it – as evidence by my closets.  But I liked the different way to look at it, too.  I always feel funny saying “my” students because I don’t mean for it to sound like they are MINE, especially since at the Camden Community Center, where I have a bulk of my classes the students are students to many instructors.

As is the case with all the yamas, I need to work on this one.  I am planning on practicing it big time as I do some Spring cleaning.  Going to try to not-hoard, as is my habit with clothing.  Might (notice I say might) part with more of my mom’s clothing, which I probably never will wear, but I was clinging to – for many reasons.

How about you?  Do you have anything (whether it be a material object or an idea, habit, or custom) that you might practice aparigraha with?

 

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Non-stealing, Got It, Right?

Posted by terrepruitt on February 19, 2016

The Eight Limbs of Yoga, two of which are yamas and niyamas, restraints and observances.  Yamas as ethical principles and niyams as spiritual practices.  The first yama being ahimsa – non-violence, the second being satay – truthfulness.  The third is asteya – non-stealing.  This one kinda lands like the non-violence one.  Seems pretty easy.  But then just like the non-violence yama, it has its in-between-the-lines and fine print.  Non-stealing can mean a lot of things.

In The Heart of Yoga T.K.V. Desikachar’s notes asteya as:

“Noncovetousness or the ability to resist a desire for that which does not belong to us.”

Oh.  A little different that just “non-stealing”.  It is going so far as to say we should not covet things that do not belong to us.  Uh, I think that adds a whole different spin to this yama.  I mean, I will go out on a limb and say most of us are not going to go out and STEAL our neighbor’s whatshehaveit, but we might WANT it.  We might even think about if we had one our self.  We might even imagine us having one and him not.  Or us all having one and using them together.  But we are coveting when we do that.  We are wanting that which is not ours.

He also notes:

“One who is trustworthy, because he does not covet what belongs to others, naturally has everyone’s confidence and everything is shared with him, however precious it might be.”

We can also be stealing other things.  If we are focusing our attention on wanting what is not ours we are “stealing” attention from what we do have.  Possibly from people and things that are deserving of our attention.

One of my teachers mentioned jealous as a cause for stealing.  Dominating someone’s time if we are jealous of attention they are giving to someone else.  She also compares greed to stealing because we are taking more than we need.  So sometimes asteya has a hint of non-hoarding, since some consider taking more than one needs a form of stealing.  It is being taken away from someone else that might need it and then kept and not used.  Some of this might be the more difficult stuff to work on.

But if we work on it we might feel more at peace.  I know that when I am not spending my time thinking about what I don’t have I have more time to enjoy what I do have.  And, as I said, that time is not “stolen” from what is present.

As I said when I started posting about the eight limbs and especially the yamas and the niyamas, they can get pretty deep.  They can be explored and examined at great length.  I am just barely introducing them.  Hopefully giving you something to think about.  I know they have me thinking.

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Yoga Was Supposed To Be A Secret

Posted by terrepruitt on February 15, 2016

I recently heard that yoga wasn’t meant to be done by the masses.  It was originally supposed to be for a specific type of person.  It was basically supposed to be a secret because not everyone is ready.  Not everyone can do what needs to be done to do yoga.  The eight limbs containing the yamas and the niyams, the Nadis, the bandhas, the Vayus all of the stuff that takes a huge amount of time to learn and perfect.  Having to practice and perfect all of that with the ultimate goal of achieving ascension into the divine or merging with the divine.  It really is for people who can and want to devote their whole life to it.  Just like an athlete wanting to go to the Olympics, they pretty much give up everything to practice, practice, practice, and perfect.  Yogis, just like that.  Giving it all up so that they can devote their life to doing yoga.  That really is the only way anyone could do all of it.

If the translations are accurate with all that one has to do and give up in order to “do” yoga perfectly, you really have to be removed from the things of the world.  In order to cleanse and purify in the way that is referred to in the text one would have to live on a mountain top.  That is why it was supposed to be a secret.  That is why it was not considered something anyone could do without living apart from the modern world (perhaps the Western World).

Once I heard that it made a lot more sense to me.  I felt relieved.  I thought, “Oh, THAT explains a lot.”  That explains why, a long time ago, I remember yoga being associated with people far away on high mountain tops.  That explains why it always seemed to unattainable.  That is why, when I was young it was this super-duper strict/restrictive practice that really didn’t appeal to me.  That is why some of the poses that seem outrageous really are.  They are not meant to be done by a person who has a yoga practice several times a week.  They are truly meant to be done by someone who spends ALL their time doing yoga — and by yoga, I don’t mean the asana, I mean ALL eight limbs.  Those pretzel people don’t work 45/50 hours a week and then just show up to their mat and bend like that.  They are the deep practitioners that do YOGA.

I believe that is why the limbs get rewritten to work with the modern life.  I believe that is why there are so many version and variations and modifications and names to one pose.  Things have been adjusted to fit into a life that is not JUST yoga.  There are still many benefits to doing modern yoga.  Many people don’t think of modern yoga as yoga and I think when compared to ancient yoga, I could agree.  I don’t think of a lot of the yoga that happens as yoga.  Things like paddle board yoga and water yoga, not really yoga.  But then again, as I said, the yoga I do, the yoga I teach might not be considered yoga compared to ancient yoga.  So it really depends on what you think yoga is.  It really depends on the what and the why.  What do you want to get out of it?  Why do you want to do it?  When you do it are you getting what you want out of it and is your “why” being handled . . . .then who am I or who is anyone to say it is not yoga.

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I really think our yoga is so far away from the ancient yoga that the people from thousands of years ago would be appalled, but then again, they wouldn’t.  If they were as truly enlighten as the text said they would be if they practiced all eight limbs of yoga, they might just shrug their shoulders and get down on a mat and join us for some hot yoga, Karaoke Yoga, or whatever yoga is happening in the studio that day.

Perhaps yoga is done at different levels.  So the ancient yoga is for people who remove themselves from the modern world and dedicate their lives to nothing by yoga, and then all the other types of yoga are for the rest of us.  From the religious type of Kriya yoga all the way to Karaoke Yoga.

I have in my head some requirement for me to consider something yoga, but really in keeping with the way I’ve been taught about the yamas and the niyamas, I can just let it all be.  I can be happy that there are different “levels”.  The different levels allows it to be accessible for all.

Did you know that yoga was supposed to be a secret?  How do you feel about that?  Ever want to try something like Karaoke Yoga? Trampoline Yoga?

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