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 ‘niyama’

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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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.

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, SJCityFitSo that would be discipline over your posture, eating habits, and breath.  The idea is that if you have discipline over all of these things you are purifying the body and practicing tapas.  The Heart of Yoga also says, “Tapas is often described as penance, mortification, and a strict diet.”

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”.

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, SJCityFitWhich is good because I guess even though “tapas is often described at penance” it doesn’t mean penance or castigation” so it is mentioned later in The Heart of Yoga.  Basically we are disciplined with ourselves.  Not doing something (eating, exercising, working, playing) in excess.  Doing what we need to stay healthy, but not taking it overboard.  While exercising is a good thing it can be done to a point of making the body or mind unhealthy.  And that can be said of many things, as I mentioned work and even play.  If there is too much “play” then there is no balance.  Yoga is all about balance.  Things need to be in balance.  The yin and the yang.

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 . . . .

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, SJCityFitSo we are to accept what is happening, what is in the present, and what we have.  We are to be content with what is.  Santosha is not to worry about what will be and try not to control everything.  This does not mean we cannot make plans and have ambitions, it just means that we should enjoy what we have and not be too disappointed when it is not the way we think it should be.

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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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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Ahimsa And Yourself

Posted by terrepruitt on February 5, 2016

Recently I posted a bit about the eight limbs of yoga.  Basically a list of the limbs and a sentence about each.  Then I followed up with a list of the yamas and niyamas which are the first two limbs of yoga.  I am sure each limb can and does have volumes written about them.  And I am sure that each of the yamas and niyamas have volumes written about them.  I thought I would just do a post on each yama and niyama.  I was taught the yamas are restraints or restrictions, while the niyamas are observances or rules.  Ethical principles and spiritual practices, respectively.  I mentioned one way to look at it is our attitudes toward our environment and our attitudes towards ourselves.  Well, this is a bit about Ahimsa.  A way to look at Ahimsa.  Not the only way, just one way.  And not even the entire way, just a bit.

Ahimsa is non-violence, non-harming, and/or non-injury.  Now for me, the first thing I think of is non-violence as a physical act.  I think of hitting, punching, stabbing, shooting – something physical and VIOLENT.  I don’t actually do any of those things.  So I think, “I’m good.”  I bet a lot of us are.  But then when I remember that the idea is to have it apply to our thoughts, our words, and our actions, I realize, “I’m not so ‘good'”.  How often do we say that all too common phrase, “I wanna kill . . .” or “I could kill for a . . . ” even though I never really would, am I practicing ahimsa when I say it?  I don’t think so.  I am not sure that this type of talk is not harmful.

Another way we can look at ahimsa is as compassion.  So if we are compassionate we are non-violent, non-harmful, and/or with not cause injury.  And this could be applied to ourselves.  Are we compassionate with ourselves?  Do we get down on ourselves when we don’t do as we expected?

An exercise I participated in recently had us examining how we practice ahimsa when it came to ourselves.  Ahimsa and our self on and off the yoga mat.  In regards to Ahimsa with myself off the mat I realized I say – to myself – I am stupid a lot.  Because of my habit of getting to bed so late the first think I think of on Monday morning is  “Oh, I’m so stupid.”  I think, “Every Sunday since you don’t have to teach on Mondays you stay up too late and then it is so difficult to get up on Monday.  And it sets the tone of being tired for the rest of the week.”  What about you?  Do you ever find yourself saying things not in keeping with ahimsa in regards to yourself?

On the mat or in any exercise situation, we could apply ahimsa.  It could be as simple as not being violent with oneself.  It could be as simple as not causing harm – don’t do anything that will harm you or cause you injury.  But sometimes it is the compassion that is the challenge.  The compassion that says, “You need to be gentle with your body today, right now.”  We so often have that other voice saying, “You are here, get the MOST out of your workout.  Work harder.  Burn more calories.”  Perhaps even chiding you for something you ate and so feeling like you were “bad” for eating something “bad” you have to punish yourself with a really hard workout.  That is not ahimsa from many angles.  Sometimes it is difficult to be compassionate with yourself on the mat or in a workout situation.

It could just be a matter of, as Aadil Palkhivala said, not pushing when we should be pulling back, not fighting when we need to surrender, not forcing our bodies to do things they are not yet ready to do. So sometimes it is not just “not doing” more, but surrendering or not fighting.

As with all the Yamas, there is a lot of room for me to improve in practicing them.  I am not posting about them because I have them all figured out and I practice them perfectly.  I am writing about them to help me remember them.  I think I have a lot to work on when it comes to ahimsa in thought and even words.

What about you?  Just in regards to Ahimsa towards yourself?  How are you with that?  How does it differ on and off the mat?

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