Mindfulness

The Yamas - Aparigraha

Aparigraha - Letting Go

If you've been following along, you know that yoga is more than just asanas (postures) and meditation practices.  The practice of yoga is to "yoke" the mind, body, and spirit to help us be fully connected with ourselves on every level of our existence.  The first limb of a yoga practice is called the yamas, which are the social observances we can practice to help bring ourselves to a more aware, balances, and whole state of being. 

The final practice in the yamas is Aparigraha, the practice of non-possession or attachment in the material, physical, emotional, and spiritual world.  There are many discussions on how to interpret or practice aparigraha including those who renounce all material and social ties to those who possess plenty material items and relationships but do not define themselves by said connections.  The key to understanding aparigraha is to look at how you feel if all of your connections and belongings were to disappear.  Would you remain yourself? Would you feel lost or destroyed? Would you feel free?

Practicing aparigraha would leave you remaining whole, yourself, content at the root of it all as having people, things, and beliefs are all added blissful enjoyments and experiences.  Even if they last for a lifetime, we are not truly defined by these connections and enjoyments.  We are only defined by ourselves, our connection to our inner world, and to whatever our truth may be at any given moment and set of circumstances.  Even with that, we are consistently changing with the food we eat, the air we breathe, the ideas and experiences we have, and the overall disposition we take. 

Yoga Philosophy Fort Collins

In the tantric philosophy life is to be experienced, lived, and enjoyed with a sense of peace and continual bliss or ecstasy, which equates to being content amongst all of life's changes.  It is my belief and understanding that we must learn to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate what is in the moment, instead of our ideas of what may be.  These ideas of what may or should be are attachment. These judgments or expectations are ones that can detract from our joy and conscious experience. 

Living an unattached life allows you to remain whole within yourself without losing yourself in any person, place, thing, idea, or belief. It helps you feel free,  unhindered, and purely yourself in the most non-dual way we can experience ourselves. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you truly define yourself? Is this mutable? Is this a rigid idea?
  • What attachments do you have?
  • Do you spend most of your time focusing on the past, the present, or the future? 
  • What things do you consider “yours” and are they truly yours?
  • How do you view nature and her resources?
  • Are you attached to a particular experience or idea of what your spiritual path may look like?
  • Do you donate, give away, pay-it forward, or volunteer your time, belongings, energy, money? 
  • What emotions continually surround you? Do these move or are they steady in your life?

The art of un-attachment is not an easy practice, but vital for a sense of self, wholeness, and personal happiness.

As Buddha puts it "You only lose what you cling to." If we don't cling, and merely begin to appreciate the experiences and people in our lives past, present, and future we can remain whole and undefined by external circumstances.

It's my hope that this article can help you become a little less attached, a little more aware, and a lot more at peace.  We are in an ever changing wonderful existence. Allow your intentions and surroundings to guide you, not define you.  Appreciate what is, what was, and what may come in the moments they occur. Allow yourself to be yourself, a beautiful imprint on the energetic puzzle we call life. 

Missed the other Yamas?  Check them out here:

Have questions or need support?  Contact us. 

The Yamas - Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya: Appropriate Use of Vital Energy

 Image by: Alex Gray

Image by: Alex Gray

As we deepen our knowledge of what yoga truly is, we must take a look at our use of energy.  

Brahmacharya is the Sanskrit word in the Yoga Sutras' definition of the Yamas describing the observance of utilizing your vital energy appropriately and wisely.  It is important to note that our vital energy is clarified and essentially held in our sacral chakra (swadhisthana), which governs sexuality and creativity.

Some schools of yoga practice observe brahmacharya as strictly chaste or abstinent living to turn their sexual vital energy towards developing enlightened states.  Others, like Tantra, seek to harness and cultivate all vital energy in life to purposeful outlets and experiences. In the tantric tradition, sexual exchange is the literal act of honoring one another to fully experience and recognize the divine.  It is the act of giving and receiving soma, or sweet nectar of life. Regardless of lineage or perspective, by utilizing brahmacharya, one must know how to appropriately engage in their sexuality and intimate exchanges to be cultivating and expanding rather than damaging, degrading, or dishonoring to parties involved.  

Since our vital energy is that which creates us, makes us, and gives us purpose and life experiences broadening the scope of practice beyond sexuality is important for our culture and day to day living, especially with the state of local, national, and global affairs. Therefore, extending to all vital energy usage, this yama is the knowingness of when to take opportunities and also when to say no to those that will not serve you or the individual(s) that are offering them, which ties into the few yamas (ahimsa, satya, asteya) that we've covered previously. Some may even look at it as the practice of moderation and not indulging in an excess of any one thing to avoid burn out and depleted vital energy.

yoga sutras fort collins - bramacharya

It is also vital to note that intimacy is not always sexual in nature.  As one of my teachers presented to me, consider intimacy to translate to “into-me-I-see” for full depth of the word in all situations.  How can we see ourselves in not just our own being, but also in that of another in the following expressions of intimacy:

  • Situational
    • A temporary interaction based off of a situation in common
  • Intellectual
    • A stimulating exchange of thoughts and ideas
  • Emotional
    • Opening to another for safety, support, compassion, empathy, relief, etc
  • Physical
    • Eye contact, hugging, touching, cuddling, kissing or any other non-sexualized exchange of physical energy
  • Sexual
    • Kissing, hugging, sex, oral sex, foreplay, etc
Aerial Fort Collins

In order to practice brahmacharya ask yourself the following:

  • Do you have an abundance of energy?
  • Do you feel tired frequently?
  • What does your work and life balance look like? Is it balanced?
  • Why and how do you use sex in your life?
  • How do you feel after sexual exchanges?
  • Do you have firm boundaries for yourself?  Can you say no to others?
  • How do you create?
  • Are you allowing yourself to engage in uplifting intimate exchanges?
  • What/Who do you spend most of your time/energy/attention on?
  • Where do you put your financial resources?

Have fun exploring your use and view of energy and, as always, let us know if you need some guidance, coaching, clarity, or support in your ventures!  Once you're able to harness where your energy is spent, you'll be able to start manifesting a life you want to be living and one you can enjoy!

The Yamas - Asteya

 Freedom comes from within.   Photo by Kelsey White

Freedom comes from within. 

Photo by Kelsey White

In past articles, we've explored Ahimsa and Satya, the first two yamas from the text "The Yoga Sutras".  Today we'll discuss and take a look at asteya.  Asteya is the practice of non-stealing.  It is the respectful observance of sources that have contributed to your life or surround you in written, spoken, energetic, or situational exchange.

One way you can think of this practice as utilizing the academic use of bibliographies to ensure that you are giving proper credit to those who have introduced or developed the information that is presented to you in life. Another way is to respect the time and energy of yourself and those around you. Practicing asteya enables us to honor the community we come from and interact with in our lives, while simultaneously lifting each other up energetically instead of eroding the very forces that sustain and build us all.

Asteya, when practiced well, can physiologically affect individuals, including yourself.  When we practice asteya, we are able to positively support brain chemistry including our serotonin and dopamine levels. These two chemicals are related to doing a good job and value or stature. The more we practice giving people the credit they deserve, the more we help elevate their level of self-worth, value, and appreciation and the less likely individuals will experience chemical imbalances that result in symptoms like depression, anxiety, and social fears.

Be aware of asteya in:

 Photo by Mary Wrightson

Photo by Mary Wrightson

  • Your speech, writing, artwork/creations
  • Use of imagery on social media
  • Exchanges with teachers, professors
  • Exchanges with friends, family and lovers
  • Your own energy expenditures (thoughts, actions, emotions, words)

Ask yourself:

  • Did I come up with this?
  • Where did this (idea, thought, emotion, item, etc) come from? 
  • Am I living presently or focusing on past or future?
  • Am I adding to, taking away from, or being neutral in this situation?
  • Is there reciprocity in this situation or my day to day life?
  • How can I give more credit to my wealth of knowledge or those around me?
  • Do I know how to say no to others when it is depleting of my own energy? 

Enjoy taking a deeper look within and starting to become aware of your patterns and habits. As always, if you need support or assistance in working with this topic and construct in your life, please contact us to set up an energy or coaching session with one of our professionals so you can live beyond limit and start living the life you'd like to live. 

What to Look for in A Yoga Teacher

Not all teachers are created equal and there are. Not all trainings that are "Yoga Alliance" certified are credible or complete in how they're taught and what they require "certified teachers" to demonstrate before getting out and teaching people in groups and one on one.  With all of the trainings, certifications, styles, and advertising on the web or in magazines it's hard to know what to look for and how to identify whether or not you're in good hands, so we've made a few pointers for you to be able to feel informed about the studios, teachers, and environments you place yourself within.

Yoga Classes Fort Collins

Overall the  most important things when you're looking for a yoga instructor are:

  1. Knowledge and incorporation of the philosophy and energetics of yoga. 
    • Look to see how they define yoga.  The sanskrit translation is "yoking of mind, body, and spirit," meaning it's helping you connect with you on all levels. 
    • The philosophy begins with the Yamas (social observances) and Niyamas (personal observances), involves postures, breathwork, internalizing the senses to connect with your inner experience, concentration, meditation, and takes you as far as samadhi (bliss/oneness/absorption with your surroundings/infinite consciousness/etc).
    • The energetics involves bandhas (supports/locks), vayus (subtle winds or energies of the body), koshas (layers of self and experience), kleshas (root of suffering) at a minimum.  
    • You'll see more life results in a quicker amount of time by practicing and learning the full philosophy and energetics than you will by practicing the physical postures alone.
  2. Knowledge of the physical body, postures, and how to adapt to make them accessible to all persons in the room.
    • See if they're familiar with anatomy and physiology.  Do they know what muscles are doing what? Can they help you target and locate what you need to find to get into the postures? Do they ask you to find control and restraint at times and work deeper at other times?  Do they offer modifications and levels of the postures for all students to work at their own pace? 
  3. Offers adjustments without force and with your permission.
    • Adjustments should only be offered to help you learn how to find the alignments, space, or ease in your own experience.  If your teacher forces the movement or posture onto your body, it doesn't help you figure out how to find it on your own.  Those that use light touch, visual cues, verbal cues, sensory cues, etc are better teachers and will help you grow more in the long run in a safer and healthier manner.
    • Consent is key.  With so many of us walking around with traumas and personal preferences, it's important that your teacher give you the option to say you rather not be touched in class.  Whether they ask if it's okay, offer chips to mark if you'd like adjustments for class, or ask you to make a gesture in your opening meditation so they know who is and is not comfortable with physical assists, permission is VITAL so you feel safe and respected in your body and practice. 
  4. Clear with instructions and able to demonstrate, explain, and assist you with the practice.
    • They should be easy to follow and understand as you go through class.  If you're confused the whole time, they refuse to demo to help you figure out where to go or what you're doing and what you need to be doing...well then they may not be the best teacher for you.
  5. Warm, friendly, supportive, and approachable. 
    • It's important your teacher makes your feel comfortable in the skin you're in and actually cares about you beyond your mat.  If you have feedback or concerns about your practice or their teaching, it's important that they create an environment where you feel comfortable voicing your needs so you can feel safe and supported in your yoga journey.
    • They get excited to share with you and to see you grow.  They help you notice your progress and celebrate your developing practice.  They notice your small and big shifts and changes.
  6. Professional in appearance and demeanor.
    • It's important that the teacher is professional and focuses on you or the class you're in as a whole instead of focusing on their own practice or problems.  While sometimes a teacher's personal journey can be a powerful teaching experience and offer you permission to be sensitive to your own grown and needs, it should not be the main focus of the class as they are there to teach and serve you and your development.  
    • It's important they care about their hygiene and appearance to an extent. One of the main pillars of yoga philosophy is cleanliness, so if they're always looking disheveled and a bit rough or potent smelling, they are showing disrespect to both you and themselves. 
  7. They LIVE their practice. 
    • Yoga isn't just a hobby for them. The best teachers are those who take their practice into their daily lives in every waking moment.  They're present in themselves, they listen and like to be challenged to learn and grow, they care about the world, and they are focused on being their best selves.
Yoga in Turkey

 

We hope this guide helps you target the teachers who will be able to best help you deepen your practice.  We support the new teachers who are working to develop their knowledge base and ability to teach and guide students, but recommend those with a bit more training and experience to ensure a safe, supportive, and powerful environment to help you know your investment in yourself is going to be well worth the efforts and professional attention.

Have questions or need help finding the right teacher for you?  Shoot us a message at katew@livebeyondlimit.com or use our Contact page to receive some support.

Pura Vida - Live Pure and Presently

Pura Vida

Pura Vida.  Pure Living. Bliss.   Existing in your perfect consciousness and authentic expression. Yoga. Perfectly connected and balanced mind, body, and spirit.

Our life experience and consciousness is defined by how many things change in our lives, and I'm going to encourage that you embrace a heck of a lot more change and a lot less strict routine to heighten your life experience and be more aware, present, and balanced.  Once we get in a rut in our practice, our life, our activities and thoughts we create what we call in yoga samskaras.  These are patterns and pathways our energy takes and the more defined and determined the samskara, the more limited our awareness and experience as our brain creates neurological pathways to reinforce behaviors, perspectives, and thought patterns.  

To live pure, or free of these binding patterns we must be consciously aware and open to the constant flux the universe exists within.  When we open our minds to what more there can be, the brain is happy to create new pathways for the infinite potential of experiences in existence.  

For example, in your yoga practice, you may find yourself anticipating the next movement or breath pattern, but frequently the teacher asks you to do something different even though your anticipation had you starting something else, which suggests a lack of true presence and awareness of the moment. 

If we live purely and consciously we can stay whole and present in the moment and learn to react to what is and not just what we are expecting.  Our reactions then are based off of the current situation and not pre-existing knowledge and patterning giving us the opportunity to move outside of the samskaras and previous neruo-pathways to new pathways and the ability to grow and evolve in each moment. 

In doing this, we often are able to free ourselves of pre-conceived ideas that bring stress and suffering to our being and the yamas and niyamas (the first two set of practices in the yoga system) become effortless in the process. By relieving unnecessary stressors from our lives, our physiology begins to shift and our fascia begins to relax.  This enables the body to become more open and regenerate at a higher rate, which then leads to less discomfort and a greater range of motion in the physical practice of yoga and a more full experience off the mat in life.    

To be present is to be whole. To be whole is to truly be yourself and not what others have tried to make you. 

Give it a try and be surprised at what reveals itself to you in your experiences.  

 

What is Yoga?

Yoga is the connection of the self to the self, to put it simply.  It refers to being in sync with all aspects of yourself.

yoga classes fort collins

The word yoga means "to yoke" and refers to the yoking of mind, body, spirit, and emotion through practice and through life.  While some may view the "bendy" postures and development of physical flexibility as yoga, they often time overlook the understanding of the self that these postures are designed to reveal and the flexibility that is gained through developing continuity of the self via practice.  

Yoga traditionally has 8 limbs consisting of becoming aware and mastering how we interact with others, ourselves, our physical movement, our breath, internal awareness, focus, meditative capacity, and ability to be connected to peace and ease.  Mastery of the self can only happen once we finally accept who and what we are, what we're driven to, what we find pleasure in, and all of our "shadows" from our past or present.  

yoga retreats

Live Beyond Limit and more traditional studios aim to teach you all aspects of yoga so you can enjoy more ease, abundance, and joy in life via the practice of working with yourself on all levels. 

Yoga helps us learn to live fully, freely, and peacefully within ourselves and the world.

The Bliss of Living in the Now

Mindfulness

Research and practice show time and time again that mindfulness and living in the moment helps an individual to live with physiological and emotional stress.

According to studies and recommendations from Harvard, Oxford and UC Santa Barbara mindfulness and present living helps to reduce symptoms of stress, depression and addictions and enhances working memory and recall.  Pretty cool huh?  So why don't more of us partake in this wonderful practice? What does it even mean to "live in the now" or to practice being "mindful"? I get these questions a lot from clients and friends trying to minimize the chaos and unwanted events in their lives.

It's hard to live in the now because of the chemical and energetic imprints made as reactions to the stressors in your life. We are an overstressed and under-restored population as a whole.  Chemically we should bounce back to resting states quickly, but with our culture and social structure/interactions we have a hard time getting away from the stressors.

It's hard work to stay positive and stay in the moment of each and every experience.  It take practice....a lot of practice.  Happy, realistic and optimistic people choose to be that way.  They choose to focus on what they have and the things that are going well and use problem solving and stress management tools to cope and or change the things that are less than ideal.

In the moment individuals put the cup down and empty it after each interaction they have. Think of stress like this:

How much does a glass of water feel like it weighs?  How much does it weigh an hour later? A week? A year?  It progressively gets heavier and heavier and after enough time, your arm will give out from fatigue.  That's just like you're body! (Thanks to whomever originated this parallel).  

Therefore, if you have been in a stressful situation and you've left and moved on to the next event of your day, or the next day itself, forget about the stress source and focus on your new space and the tasks at hand.  Cycling through the situation, replaying or planning the next conversation and or allowing yourself to feel awful will only distract you from your present task, rob your happiness and leave you less productive and less pleasant to be around

Feel in the moment.  Notice what you're feeling and when you're feeling it so you can start molding your situations to help you feel great. This is the practice of self-study or svadhyaya.  Notice and change your perspective or walk away from the things that make you feel awful. Engage more frequently in the situations that make you feel free, joyful and celebrated.

Be aware.  If things turn sour in a situation ask yourself "What happened? Am I being defensive? If so, why am I being defensive?  Did the mood shift because of something I said or did? Do people move away from me or towards me?"  Look to yourself in a situation first and foremost, and only if you realize that it wasn't you evaluate what you'll do about the company you're in to ensure that you are able to stay present, mindful and engaged in healthy relationships and actions.

Lastly, but certainly not least, focus on the good stuff that is happening in the moment.  Every situation has two sides, so instead of stressing about the less than ideal conditions, enjoy the great ones. Enjoy your senses, nature, company and the things that surround you each moment.