Thursday, November 15, 2012

Revisiting the Meaning of Ahimsa

On my way to work I had that moment I have successfully avoided for a few years (ok, weeks). ROAD RAGE! I was on the highway traveling the same speed as the rest of the lane, when a driver came up very close to my rear bumper. So, I lightly tapped on the breaks to ask the driver to back away from my car a bit. (Tailgating is not only illegal in Connecticut, but is also fairly dangerous). The driver proceded to motion with her hands. I got a bit upset, which I feel I am perfectly entitled to be. The driver was not only potentially putting themself in danger, but was also potentially endangering others.

What I am not so proud of was what happened next. The thing that happened in my own head. I started rushing through a list of what ifs. What if I was hit? What would I say to the driver if they hit me? And it got really ugly. In my mind I was threatening physical harm, for tailgating. For tailgating.

Ahimsa is an ethical principle of yoga - nonviolence in word, thought, and deed. I work really hard at keeping this promise with myself in word and deed - to the degree that I do not eat meat or swat flies. I do on occasion, however, get a little violent in my head. The brain is wired to do crazy things - and for me is the hardest to control. How does one not be violent in thought if they cannot control the brain?

I am hoping that writing this posting will be helpful to me. Creating awareness, acknowledging my thoughts without guilt - allowing myself to be in touch with my thoughts to possibly curb the fruition of them in the future.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Just Hit the Mat - 5 Methods to Spice Up Your Practice

I have been trying to fit in more asana practice, but hit a short dry spell. My cure? Hitting the mat. Once I get there, it typically comes naturally. But there are times when I need a little extra boost. So here are my 5 favorite ways to keep my asana practice fresh:

  1. Change Your Pose - modify common poses. For standing poses, try modifying the placement of your limbs: place the back heel on the wall, take the front toes up the wall or take the toe mounds of the front foot up the wall, press your bent knee onto a foam block at the wall. You can also change the placement of your arms - take triangle pose with your arms reaching parallell to the floor, take your warrior poses in reverse namaste. Prop your back bends and forward bends.

  2. Hold for Longer - Try holding poses for longer. Instead of doing 10 poses, do five for twice as long. Time your headstands and shoulder stands and try doing them for 30 seconds to a minute longer next time you practice.

  3. Break Out the Chair - Yoga chairs are such wonderful tools. Don't have a yoga chair? No worries. Grab a regular folding chair. Experiment with poses using the chair. Support your standing poses, back bends, forward bends, twists. You will be surprised at the results.

  4. Do Inversions First - Many of us save our inversions until the end of our practice. Try placing the inversions at the beginning of the sequence for a more internal practice.

  5. Challenge Pose - Open up light on yoga and find a pose that looks crazy. Create a sequence that can build you up to it. Take your time. Create a new goal. You may not get to that pose today, next week, or even for years. Who cares? You created a new goal and got excited about something new.

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