Yes, I Can Change my Reality

Life is funny.  Last week, after writing this post, I learned from Hilary that her theme is for the month is Yoga Sutra 2.33, which says: When disturbed by negative thoughts, cultivate the opposite mental attitude (Vitarka-badhane pratipaksha-bhavanam).  No doubt, the universe is definitely trying to tell me something.

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So, March is here and it’s still cold, and frankly, I’m not loving it.  I’ve lived in the northeast for more than half of my life, and I still find it hard to believe how cold and snowy March can be! 

In years past, I have managed to do a pretty good job of buckling down and dealing with it - - but not this year.  For some reason I just cannot get over the fact that it is still cold and there is STILL snow in our forecast!  I keep googling the groundhog and his prediction for spring - over and over and over.  

Yesterday, we “sprang forward”. In ten short days, the spring equinox will arrive.  But I know, in my heart of hearts, that I will still have to pull on my boots and put on my coat, and my hat and my mittens, because it will still be cold -  for many weeks to come.

Friday, March first, I woke up and felt the burden of a seemingly never ending winter upon me.  I didn’t want to get out of bed.  I didn’t want to get dressed.  I didn’t want to go outside.  Basically, I threw a little hissy fit about it and did as little as possible for the entire day; I didn’t even go to my 10AM yoga class.  Consequently, by the end of the day I was so down I couldn’t even get myself motivated to go out with my husband.  Thankfully, he was very understanding, and we settled in to watch a mediocre movie on Netflix instead.  When the movie was over, he reminded me of something I had allowed myself to forget.  “Let today go.  It’s over and done!  But tomorrow, put your yoga clothes on as soon as you get up.  That way, you will have no reason for not going.  I bet after class I will get a text telling me how glad you are that you went.”  As per usual, the professor was correct!

While I begrudgingly pulled on my yoga pants that Saturday morning, and cursed the light snow that had accumulated on my car overnight, the moment I walked into Jaya, and Renea greeted me in her ever joyous voice, I knew everything would be alright.  And it was.

Erin started our class by reminding us that this was our time.  We were there and for the next 75 mins everything else could wait.  I closed my eyes and set my intention for centered peace.  As I began to breathe, slow and deliberate, I felt unburdened.   At the end of my practice, I was reminded of the prayer for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change and the courage to change the things we can.  

I cannot change the weather.  It is what it is.  BUT, I can make an effort to change my attitude.  This morning I read an article about an elderly person who said they spent many years hating winter and complaining.  Then one day they realized most of their life was behind them, and they simply could not stand the thought of spending one more minute bitching about it.  Right then and there, they decided to acknowledge their gratitude, each and every day, for another opportunity to rejoice in the gift of life - no matter what, even in the midst of the bleak mid-winter.

The practice of yoga has been a steadfast teacher.  I am learning to accept so many of the things I cannot change -  about myself, about this world, and about life in general.  I am also learning to find the courage to make changes where I can.  And if I get distracted and find myself off my mat more often than on it, I know yoga will still be there, welcoming me back with open arms and loving kindness.


Can we be a culture of Love Thy Selfie?


Be honest. Who hates Valentines Day?

If you’re not in a relationship, it can bring up feelings of loneliness and dread. If you are in a relationship, it can be disappointing or anticlimactic.

V-Day has the power to create depression and self-loathing in many people because of societal attachments to love and worth coming from another person. Society perpetuates the idea that if we don’t have a romantic partner in our life on February 14th, then we are worthless. This is an idea yoga looks to eradicate.

Society has become a “Look At Me/Watch Me” culture. More and more people are placing their value and self-worth on “likes” and “follows” on their social media. It’s mind blowing.

Many of us have become so busy creating an energy of being seen, noticed, and heard in the world, that we are attaching inappropriate value to our social media accounts. We compare our followers with other people’s followers. Seriously, are humans only worth-while and love-able if we are in a relationship and have a gazillion followers? Is that truly what will make a person love another person?

Social media has given us a culture of watching, but are we really seeing ourselves? And not through the eyes of social media, but through our hearts, souls, actions, words, and deeds. Aren’t these the things that warrant merit, the things others really love about us?

As yogis, we strive to practice awareness, acknowledgement, and non-attachment. It can be challenging to take that practice off the mat and into our lives. Yoga was, is and always will be about learning things on the mat to get better at living life off of it.

Likes and follows, by their very nature, are counter intuitive to the non-attachment of yoga. Are you posting for a result or to represent the work, self-expression, and the artistry itself?

This valentine’s day, let’s switch perspectives. Try cultivating value in yourself. Strive to see, hear, and notice yourself with merit and worth. And, finally, be more open-hearted and loving with the reflection in the mirror. Forget about a preplanned post for social media fame. Live for you, practice for you, and, if you post, post for you.


The Breath

This week we are pleased to share an article from one of our newest Jaya teachers, Erica Nealon.  While the topic of breath is always important, it can become even more relevant during this season of the year.    

The Breath


Take a second and listen to your breath. Watch your chest rise with each inhale and fall with each exhale. Think about where that breath is going when you take it in, and what is being released when you send it out.

We never spend much time thinking about our breath. We may only think about it when it’s cold and we can see it, or when we have exhausted it and our breathing is labored. 

The focus of the breath is essentially our practice in yoga, but we don’t really have to think about it. We just do it. We just breathe.

Our breath is what keeps us here. It’s what can take us back to the present moment. It keeps our bodies working. When we breathe, we send oxygen to every little cell in our body, keeping them working and expelling carbon dioxide with each exhale. 

Breathing is the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do before we die. 

Dolphins are conscious breathers. They do not breathe automatically like we do; they decide when to breathe. They actually have to think about it while they are sleeping, which means that a part of their brain has to remain constantly awake in order for a dolphin to remember to breathe. 

Humans can have prolonged periods of unconsciousness and not have to worry that our breathing will stop because we are no longer thinking about it. 

Dolphins use what is known as unihemispheric sleep - only one hemisphere of the brain can sleep at a time in order for the other one to control the breathing. For breathing purposes, they rest on the surface of the water while they sleep. This means they are actively thinking about their breath, always.

Imagine if we had to think about breathing. Imagine if you had to make a decision whether or not to breath. 

If I decide not to breathe at this moment, I can decide if I want to live or die; however, we never think about our breath in this way. Most of us never really think about our breath in any way. We just know we do it. We know that it is important, but we never take the time to focus on it. We think about breathing in terms of living. The breath gives us life. If we are no longer breathing, we are no longer alive. We don’t think about breath in terms of dying until we have to.

Have you ever watched someone take their last breath? When you know someone is leaving this Earth, you do not focus on their kidneys; you do not focus on their heart; you do not focus on their brain. You focus on their breath. 

There are patterns of breath that come before death. While the other organs may be failing and causing the actual death, it is the breathing that we can see and hear. As death nears, the breath becomes irregular. Rapid breathing may occur at first, followed by a period of little to no breath. The time between each breath becomes longer. It can just be a few seconds or it can be as long as a minute.

When you are watching a loved one in this state, that is what you are watching - the breath. When the final breath is taken, you know. You know that the person has left this Earth.

Do we focus on our own breath? We should. 

Focusing on our breath keeps us in the present. We live each moment by each breath. The next breath is not guaranteed. Each time we breathe, we are sending oxygen to the brain. We are sending it to the places in our body that needs it in that present moment. 

Taking some time each day to focus on your breath will ground you in the present moment. It does not matter what is happening around you; it does not matter what thoughts are racing through your mind. As soon as you stop and focus on your breath, that becomes the only thought. It becomes the only focus. 

It’s good to take some time each day and focus on the thing that keeps us alive, to be grateful that we can breathe.