Philosophy

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. 

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 Yamas - Ahimsa

Yoga Yamas

The Yamas are the first "limb" of yoga as concluded by Pantanjali, a famous sage who brought together the teachings behind yoga in his compilation The Yoga Sutras.  

These social observances are boiled down principles to govern your actions, motives, and behaviors as you interact not only with yourself, but with your community. We will look closely at ahimsa today, or non-harming. 

Ahimsa:  Non-Harming/ Non-Violence

Ahimsa is simply practicing to reduce physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and spiritual harm and violence.  This yama requests that you take a look at your actions and see how you can live more symbiotically with your community in order to foster health and vitality around you instead of harm and destruction.  

Practicing ahimsa in your words means using intentional communication.  Intentional communication considers all factors going into the exchange to ensure that the intention of the words spoken are able to be received and understood fully. 

 

Examples:

•   Communicate intentionally by asking: Is it true? Is it necessary? Can it be spoken to minimize harm?

•   Try to go organic – your money gives energy to the industry standards you accept

•   Buy local produce and products to minimize the use of petrochemicals in transport while boosting local economy.

•   Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is when your body recovers and rehydrates from the day prior

•   Use compassion with those who are unhappy or suffering

•   Release judgments of yourself and others

•   Create strong boundaries for yourself and others to respectfully operate within