Yoga Contentment in Nature

Can We Be Content?

By Jessica Jordan

Yoga Sutra 2.42  

santosha anuttamah sukha labha

Santosha: Contentment

Anuttamah: extreme, ultimate, unparalleled

Sukha: pleasure, happiness

Labha: arises, gained, benefit

 

Yoga sutra 2.42 focuses on contentment, achieving unparalleled happiness by engaging the contentment already within us. But how do we put this into practice?

We are constantly exposed to a barrage of television and internet influences as to what is normal and expected of us, contributing to our lack of contentment. “If I just had that one more thing, then I’d really be happy.” “If I could just get a bigger house, then I’d be happy.” And in a world of online shopping, our instant happiness is just two shipping days away.

The happiness we get from acquiring passions is only temporary. We need to find new ones to sustain this sort of happiness. There is no end to it. But true contentment, leading to total happiness and bliss, is in a class by itself. (Desikachar)

In the Western world, I think most of our lack of contentment comes from trying to keep up with some unrealistic measures of who we’re supposed to be. Where does the “idea” of who we’re supposed to be even come from?

Look around. We are trained our whole lives on what we should and shouldn’t do and say. “What should I wear to this event?” “What kind of car should I drive?” “How much should I participate in my child’s sports program?” “If I say what I really think, will it offend someone?”

Which brings me back to my original question: Can we be content? And how do we do it when external forces are constantly pushing us in different directions?

Our contentment comes from within. Sutra 2.42 tells us it’s already with us. It’s a niyama to practice in order to come closer to the happiness that we already have.

From perfect contentment arises unparalleled happiness. (Moors)

From contentment one gains supreme happiness. (Mukunda Stiles)

There are two practices I try to use in my daily life with guidance from this sutra. I ask myself, “Do I really need that?” “Do I really even want that?” “Is that going to make me happier?” “Is that going to make my life better?” By retraining myself to ask these questions, I’ve started to see that there really isn’t much I truly need to be content.

The second practice is one I use before I meditate. I think of all the things I’m grateful for that I already have. This way, I am retraining myself to notice what is already so wonderful in my life and experience contentment from these observations. Believe me, my list of blessings just keeps getting longer.

Jessica Jordan is a Certified Yoga Teacher, 2020 Graduate of the 200 hour River Flow Yoga Teacher Training at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness.  She lives with her family in Highbridge, WI. 

Journey of Sound

by Flora Jerde, Vibrational Sound Therapy Certified & Licensed Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki 2 Practitioner.

You may have recently heard the term Journey of Sound, but what exactly is it? The term describes an experience that falls under a broader term: Vibrational Sound Therapy, or VST. A VST practitioner blends vibration and sound with the use of Tibetan and crystal singing bowls, chimes and gongs to induce a deeply relaxed state in the body and mind.  Using sound and vibration, VST activates the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress in the body.

Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, Director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center explains, “If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears, but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.”

Science has proven what ancient cultures have known for thousands of years: sound has the power to heal. Studies show that this practice called “journey of sound” or “sound bathing,” directly reduces anxiety and depression.

Participants at 5 Koshas say they like the Journey of Sound because it’s deeply relaxing and nonintrusive. Participants lay comfortably on yoga mats (or sit comfortably in a chair) with feet positioned toward the front of the room where the bowls are arranged. With lights dimmed and the room at a comfortable temperature, the Journey of Sound begins with a guided meditation, then the singing bowls are brought to life and participants are immersed in 45 minutes of beautiful, multilayered vibrations and tones. As you listen to these sounds, you tend to feel them just as much as you hear them, highlighting how the experience of sound manifests not only through hearing but through physical vibrations and frequencies. The Journey of Sound experience is unique to each person.

If you’re looking for a gentle and effective way to reduce stress or anxiety or would simply like to enter a deeply relaxing state, a Journey of Sound may be just the thing for you!

Flora Jerde, Vibrational Sound Therapy Certified & Licensed Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki 2 Practitioner. Flora was instrumental in developing the Aspirus Hospice Massage Therapy Program and has worked as a Hospice massage therapist for over 14 years. Flora brings her present and caring approach to her Journey of Sound events and offers individual VST sessions in addition to group sessions. To learn more about Flora and her services, visit https://www.beyondblessedtherapy.com/

February:  Expressing Love & Embracing Self-Love

by Renee Peterson, MSW, RYT, RPYT

It’s the season of love.

Most people think of February 14th as a day to celebrate and recognize the love of their life and those dear to them. It is, and this is important! But what about celebrating self-love? Some people might think self-love is self-centered and ego driven but it is quite different. Self-love is being mindful and aware of what you need to be healthy and productive.

Psychology studies report that self-love and self-compassion are key for mental health and well being, keeping depression and anxiety at bay (Medical News Today, Ana Sandoiu March 23, 2018). When we don’t take care of ourselves and continue on the path of Doing vs. Being, we experience adverse health effects, such as, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, heart disease, etc. Our inner critic, or in yoga terminology, the chitta vritti, is the monkey mind of continual thoughts running through our minds. We experience these thoughts in the form of ridiculing, judging, and constantly reminding us to remember what to pick up from the grocery store or what deadline is coming up. You get the picture.

According to Patanjali, “If you can control the rising of the mind into ripples, you will experience Yoga.” Practicing yoga is one way to cultivate self-love.

How do we achieve self-love?

Professor Neff, Sbarra and colleagues define self-compassion as a construct that encompasses three components:

1. Self-kindness – treating oneself with understanding and forgiveness,
2. Recognition of one’s place in shared humanity – acknowledging that people are not perfect and that personal experiences are part of the larger human experience,
3. Mindfulness – bringing your attention to the here and now, experiences in the present moment. Bringing about emotional equanimity, calmness, clear rational thinking.

Yoga centers us, grounds us and brings us back to neutral. When we practice yoga we get in touch with our breath, physical body, emotional state, spiritual side, and our heart center. The physical and breath practice of yoga allows us to move with comfort to release tension in our body and quiet the voice of our inner critic. This allows us to feel freer boosting feelings of self-love and kindness. When we are kind and loving to ourselves, we can be kind and loving toward others. Appreciating the simple things in life.

When we are kind to ourselves and acknowledge that we are all ‘perfectly imperfect’ we treat ourself with kindness. When we pause to mindfully reflect on how we are breathing, physically feeling, and listening to our thoughts, we can begin to let go of our stress and tension and lower our levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in our bodies.

Try it: It only takes a minute or two. You decide how you feel.
Take a moment to sit comfortably,
Close your eyes or gaze softly downward,
Notice your breathing. Is your breath short and shallow? Smooth? Hurried? Just notice without judgement.
Now, focus on slowing your breath down.
Smooth breath in, slow breath out.
Soften your physical body with each exhale.
Allow the negative thoughts in your mind to form ripples that move away from your consciousness.
Keep breathing for a minute or two or longer. Smooth inhale; smooth exhale….

Slowly, bring your awareness back to the present moment.

How do you feel?

This may be your first step toward self-love. Simply quieting your mind, quieting your body, and releasing your thoughts.

This is yoga: controlling the rising of the mind. Now direct your thoughts with positivity and kindness to yourself and toward others.

As the song, Seasons of Love*, goes from the musical Rent we have:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousands moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee….

(The song goes on to teach us:)

Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the loooooooove
Remember the loooooooove
Remember the loooooooove
Measure in looooooove
Measure, measure your life in love
Seasons of Looooooooove
Seasons of Looooooooove

*lyrics by Jonathon Larson.

Renee Peterson, MSW, RYT, RPYT, is certified as a 200-hour Viniyoga Wellness Instructor (2014-15) and Prenatal Yoga Teacher (Jennifer Colletti, Yoga Center of Minneapolis, 2017) in addition to completing the Yoga Bonding Postnatal & Mom and Baby Yoga Teacher Training Course (2016). She teaches people across the lifespan and is particularly gifted with adapting yoga for a variety of individuals including prenatal and postnatal and people with structural conditions.   Renee has a caring and nurturing approach with her students.  Prenatal, Family Yoga and Yoga for Beginners and Beyond are among Renee’s regular classes at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness.  She is also faculty with the River Flow Yoga 200-hour teacher training. Learn more about Renee and her classes at: http://www.5koshasyoga.com/teachers/renee-peterson-ryt-200/

New Year, New Habits


How can you bring your yoga practice into the New Year?

How can you set the intention of a regular mind-body practice while creating the habit of practice?

Practicing yoga is one way to enlist the wisdom of our minds AND bodies, to generate a lasting shift – if we stick with it. A lasting shift happens if we are able to create new patterns, consistent patterns of behavior we call habits.

James Clear has written a book about habits titled Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, a New York Times bestseller. In it, Clear lists four intervention points for habit management.

In order to encourage a good new habit, the intervention points are:

  • To make it Obvious (visible)
  • To make it Attractive (enticing)
  • To make it Easy (convenient)
  • To make it Satisfying (rewarding)

We might not be able to use all the strategies in developing a good new habit, but we can focus on the interventions that are most effective. I am intrigued, wondering how this meshes with one of the joys I find in yoga, that is, yoga is an enjoyable way to challenge our patterns of movement and patterns of mind.

How can we get into the habit of yoga for the New Year?
Here are 4 ways to bring your Yoga Practice into the New Year! 

  1. Obvious Strategy: To enlist the obvious strategy, Clear makes the case for clarity in our intention. Intention is familiar to yoga practitioners. Clear states that people often don’t have so much trouble with ‘willpower’ as with clarity. In order to envision yourself following through, fill in the sentence: I will __(activity)__ on __(day)__ at __(time)__ in __(place)__. Now your imagination can see you actually doing it!
  2. Attractive Strategy: Make a date. Is there a friend who you would like to see more often, and/or one who you know shares your interest? By using a commitment device, you can make your clear intention more attractive in two ways. One, you enjoy the activity and enjoy the person’s company. Two, it is very unattractive to be perceived as the person who backs out.
  3. Easy Strategy – There’s a word for that in Sanskrit, sukham: comfortable, happy, easiness. It is used in Sutra 2.46, Sthira sukhamansanam: stable and easiness in posture and presence. There is a connection between being stable and being comfortable. By finding your steadiness you grow your comfort; by creating ease you grow more stable. We can make things easier for ourselves as we start to cultivate a habit by building the habit with a series of small steps, instead of making a giant leap. The first thing to do is show up. Step one: every day take out the yoga mat with the rule that you’re doing yoga for just five minutes. Grow steady in how you show up, and your practice can expand from there.
  4. Rewarding Strategy: I appreciated that Clear makes a distinction between types of rewards. He points out that bad habits tend to reward us in the short term (donuts taste so GOOD), and good habits (like avoiding donuts) tend to be more rewarding in the long run. Consistent yoga practice provides many long term rewards, but it can be difficult to recognize them because they develop very gradually. In the practice of yoga, we also take the time to notice the rewards in the now. In this moment, we sense gratitude for our breath, for our abilities and the connection between body and mind.

The beauty of developing a yoga habit is that the practice itself develops our ability to pay attention and expands our awareness. By giving ourselves a structured way to pay attention below the neck, we enroll the mind AND body in remembering our intentions.

Written by: Mary Kluz, MS & RYT-200. Mary Kluz is works in organizational health and leadership and is Associate Professor Emerita with the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Division of Extension. Mary is a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 200 hour level with Yoga Alliance and is a certified 200 hour Viniyoga Wellness Instructor through the American Viniyoga Institute/River Flow Yoga Teacher Training School. She teaches weekly yoga classes at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness where she focuses on stress reduction and centering.

Profiles in Resilience: This is What Resilience Looks Like

by Julie Bonasso Krolczyk

“What will you do today to keep loving, to keep moving, to keep growing?”

I was deeply moved by my amazing sister-in-law who perfected her first paddle board headstand last weekend at our home.

But what REALLY inspires me about Katie is how her physical strength is representative of her inner strength. Not so long ago she lost her husband to pancreatic cancer and suddenly found herself a single mom to 4 children.

How did Katie choose to handle this massive curve-ball? By leading with her heart in the following ways:

She takes her children on remarkable camping vacations to beautiful places and spaces.
She creates incredible memories in the mundane and in the special.
She writes daily.
She hikes the Appalachian trail.
She cries.
She gets angry.
She embraces life.
She asks for and accepts help.
She honors imperfection.
She loves.
She builds bonfires for friends and family.
She does headstands.

Katie is an incredible example of how we can be resilient in a time of tragedy; how we can find joy in the face of sadness; and how to keep moving even when the weight of grief weighs us down.

The cool thing about resilience is that it isn’t a one-size fits all concept. Headstands may not be your jam, but perhaps swinging on a hammock enjoying the breeze is? Or reading a book? Or preparing a meal? Or snuggling with kids? Or serving at a soup kitchen? Or picking fresh herbs? Or calling your mom?

Or ….? Or ….? Or ….?

We can CHOOSE to create our own mini miracles every day to deal with life’s curve-balls.

What will you do today to keep loving, to keep moving, to keep growing?

 

Julie Bonasso Krolczyk is a health and wellness coach with 15+ years of experience coaching professionals in lifestyle behavior change: Stress Management, Nutrition, Exercise, Relationships and Career.  She sees clients at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness in Wausau, WI. If you would like to share your story about resilience and inspire others, contact Julie at julie@revealyourpower.com to be featured on the 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness blog.

Novice Yoga Anxiety

by Janie Martin

“If you wish you were more flexible or more relaxed, give yoga a try. If you are nervous about going to a class, go with a friend. If people with serious diseases can participate and enjoy it, so can you.”

Joining a Yoga Class

One of the things on my long list of desired post-retirement activities was to join a yoga class. Several people had recommended this to me; and I heard and read good things about yoga for both building flexibility and improving balance. Those abilities deteriorate as we age, so the potential benefits were obvious. All the same it took a bit of guts to go to the first class.

Joining an activity where most people have been participating as a group for a while is a little intimidating. There is the factor of feeling out of place, fear of not being able to learn or keep up, or becoming a laughingstock.

But all it took was one class for me to feel at home and know that I was going to both benefit from and enjoy participating. The group was welcoming and warm, and the instructor immediately put me at ease. I went from hiding in the furthest corner of the room to being comfortable in the first row within two weeks.

Find A Type of Yoga You Enjoy and a Teacher Who Can Adapt for Your Needs

There are several different types of yoga, so you might need to experiment a little to find what is best for you. There are even “chair yoga” classes for those who have balance problems or difficulty with kneeling postures.

When I moved to Wisconsin I hated to leave my old class and instructor, but luckily I immediately found a class with an equally good instructor. And the diverse people in my new class have become friends like my old classmates were.

We all have two things in common; we were able to summon the courage to try class for the first time; and we all find the activity beneficial. Other than that we are all different – some in great shape, some a bit rust-bound and some who have not done any physical activity their entire lives. Some wear old sweat pants and loose t-shirts; some have slick exercise clothing. We all fit in, and we all encourage each other.

Some class members have some physical limitations, but the instructor is good at modifying the activities so they can fully participate. Some have what the instructor cheerfully calls “cranky” knees or a shoulder that doesn’t want to cooperate – but she continually urges us to stay in the zone of halfway between easy and hard effort – a perfect way to avoid injury but still benefit from movement. I always leave feeling better than when I walked in.

Classes with Camaraderie, Not Competition

Now that my husband is retired, he too goes to a class – one targeted for men with a male instructor. Using our bodies in class, the focus is on celebrating what we CAN do, not on what our bodies won’t let us do. There is no scorekeeping, no competition, and no comparisons. Chatter before class is about gardening, families, and hobbies. There is a lot of laughing, and those who miss class are warmly welcomed back after vacation or surgeries.

You Can Do It

So here are my thoughts for you if you have ever considered yoga. If you wish you were more flexible or more relaxed, give yoga a try. If you are nervous about going to a class, go with a friend. If people with serious diseases can participate and enjoy it, so can you.  If a class member who told me she is seriously in a battle for her life can give it a try for the first time, so can you.

Namaste!

Janie Martin is retired and a student at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness.  She tends her horses and cats and writes in western Marathon County.  

Staying Connected to Your True Self Through Practice & Detachment

By Karey Krampota, RYT-200, Certified Viniyoga Wellness Instructor

“In Yoga Sutra I.12, Patanjali explains that to achieve a state of yoga, or focused concentration, one must utilize both practice (Abhyasa) and detachment (Vairagyam). Practice and detachment are two of the very first tools Patanjali offers to help in this process of refining the mind toward clearer perception and a deeper connection with your true self.”

For a while now, my thinking pattern was directed by and committed to attachment and with-holding from regular practice. I was attached to my thoughts, feelings, body, mind, relationships, experiences, and surroundings. If you can relate to this pattern, then you may also experience what I did. My thinking pattern was interfering with my practice, my mood, and my ability to be fully aware. Holding on to my thought pattern of attachment and inconsistent practice caused me to be distracted, disconnected, unfulfilled, and untrue to my self.

Practice and detachment work together. Without one, the other does not progress. To break my thinking pattern, I recommitted to practice and to my goal of a more focused, present, and peaceful state of being. My practice is a combination of asanas, breath practice, and chanting.

By combining these, I’m able to quiet my mind and focus my attention, taking me closer to my goals. I also have started to implement the discipline of letting go of the thought patterns and habits that are standing in my way.

How can you begin to learn and experience the benefits of practice and detachment? Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful.

1. Identify attachments. Can you identify attachments that are affecting your mood or ability to be fully aware? This is a good starting point for knowing where to focus when you commit or recommit to your practice.

2. Shift your thinking patterns. This takes time but being aware of your patterns is a good step. Shifting my thinking pattern to practice and detachment has taught me to do things to the best of my ability and to not be attached to the end results of my actions.

3. Move on from holding on. Whenever I have negative thoughts or feelings, I move on instead of holding on to them and allowing them to take hold of my current state of being.

4. Focus on the bigger goal. If something doesn’t go as I anticipate, I continue to move toward my goal without the results altering my true self.

5. Breath. My breath is my connection to my internal quiet space and my external being. It is my source to the stillness and peace within my mind. While breathing with this Sutra 1.12 in mind, I focus on what supports me and let go of what doesn’t. As I inhale, I bring my awareness to anything within that serves my goal, such as patience, strength, courage, clarity, and wisdom. As I exhale, I let go of what no longer serves me or my goal, such as doubt, anxiety, distraction or negative thinking. I try to concentrate on the process and journey of my goal, releasing obstacles or anything else that is no longer serving my soul or goal. After I have completed a good amount of breaths, I begin to return my awareness to my body and my surroundings. Reminding myself that through regular conscious breath practice, my true self is always there, unaltered and unchanged.

Incorporating Sutra 1.12 into my life has reconnected me to my deepest layer, where I can be present, focused and intuitive with my true being. This has been my goal for a long time, slowly keeping this Sutra to heart in order to make steady progress. To remain unaltered and unchanged by my current experience and remain true to who I am.

Source for Opening Quote: https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/decoding-yoga-sutra-1-12-embrace-the-value-of-practice-and-non-attachment 

Karey Krampota, RYT-200, is a recent graduate of the River Flow Yoga Teacher Training School at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness.  She teaches Toddler Yoga, a chair yoga class and subs for various classes at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness.  She also works on customer relations, marketing and promotion.  

Tips For When Life Slows You Down

By: Julie Bonasso Krolczyk

“The Power of the Pause” – Shannon Sommerling

Are you dealing with physical or emotional pain and have had to slow down? Are you tired of being frustrated? Not sure how to move forward?

I recently was sidelined from physical activity for 3 months due to a back injury.

Here’s what I learned – just as in a yoga pose, there is strength in stillness, resilience through releasing (what doesn’t serve) and wisdom 
from wonderment.

TIPS FOR WHEN LIFE SLOWS YOU DOWN:

1) Change the Narrative – Our thoughts create our actions create our life. When we have self-limiting beliefs, we engage in self-limiting behaviors. When we change our inner critic to self-love, and change our limiting beliefs to the power of possibility, we start to act differently and feel better. Catch your inner-critic and ask: Would you say those same words to a child? If not, change the story you are telling yourself.

2) Practice Gratitude – When we are grateful, we are not resentful about the things we have lost nor are we worried about the future. Every day, write down 10 (TEN!) things you are grateful for during the day.

3) Look Within – What needs to be released in your life? Is your pain associated with something you are holding on to that is no longer serving you? What is God/Universe saying to you? “Slow down and listen.” Be honest with yourself. What is the downtime trying to teach you?

4) Find New Ways of Coping – All of my normal strategies (yoga, spinning and hiking) were not available to me. I thought – what do I do now? Find new ways to de-stress: Meditation, Prayer, Deep Breathing [INSERT YOURS HERE!]

5) Seek Support – Isolating yourself can give you a short burst of temporary respite, but in the long run, you need the encouragement of others to keep moving forward. Reach our to your tribe – your partner, your friend, your community. They love you and want to see you thriving.

Julie Bonasso Krolczyk, is a Certified Health and Wellness coach with 15 years of experience coaching individuals on lifestyle behavior change:
Stress Management, Nutrition, Exercise, Relationships and Career.  

You can see her for individual health and wellness coaching at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness.

Learn more about Julie and her services at: http://www.5koshasyoga.com/wellness/health-wellness-coaching/.

Ahimsa (Non-Violence) and Communication

Feeling connected to other people is a fundamental human need. Research for decades has shown that babies will fail to thrive if emotional connection is missing, despite having all physical needs met. Susan Pinker has a TED talk titled The Secret to Living Longer Might be Your Social Life, which describes how social ties extend life spans in blue zones, areas in the world where a notable percentage of people live past the age of 100.

How can we cultivate more and deeper human connections? The yoga sutras have something to say. Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras takes us to the deeper practice: control of thought forms and study of the mind, Raja Yoga. In this chapter, the eight limbs of yoga are introduced.

2.29  yama-niyama-āsana-prāṇāyāma-pratyāhāra-dhāraṇā-dhyāna-samādhayaḥ-aṅgāni

The eight limbs of Yoga are social ethics, personal observances, physical discipline, expansion of prāṇa through mastery of the breath, focusing attention away from external objects, choosing what to focus on, maintaining the focus, and assimilation of the object of focus. 

Physical practice is noted (asana); it is only one of the eight limbs of yoga, though it gets the most attention in our culture. The first limb, yama, provides guidelines for dealings with others and the second (niyama) in the list instructs us on developing ourselves. I’d like to focus on the first limb, yama, the teachings for social ethics:

2.30  ahiṁsā-satya-asteya-brahmacarya-aparigrahāḥ-yamāḥ

The social ethics are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation to serve the pursuit of the Absolute, and absence of greed. 

In my life I’ve noticed, if I’m focused on non-violence (ahimsa), the other social ethics are more accessible to me.

But what does that look like, ahimsa, non-violence? Is there a way I can actively cultivate something that is non-action?  Frustration!  We are creatures built for action! At the surface level, non-violence is abstaining from action. I won’t hit, bruise or kill another being. This is at the level of the physical where I can easily recognize this sort of violence. It leaves a mark.

We are also familiar with the violence of some words, when we hurl insults like rocks with the intention to hurt at the level of feeling. So much more clever than the primitive use of sticks and bullets. Certainly I am practicing ahimsa if I keep it to myself when I’d like to take a verbal jab.

It can be harder to recognize the violence in the thinking that precedes the judgment, and the harm that does to the relationship and to me, as these thoughts live in my head.

Judgment is so acceptable in our language. Sometimes we disguise this as the language of improvement. If I don’t tell him (or myself) what is wrong with him (or me), how will anyone be motivated to change?

Much judgment is built right into our language. The verb “to be” is rarely used alone and quite frequently followed by a judgment. “She is so insensitive” is used as commonly and casually as “she is tall,” as if we could see inside another person. And when I tell myself the story that I know how you are, it justifies my retaliatory reaction.  Dr. Brene’ Brown writes, “Dehumanizing always starts with language.”

I’m interested in communicating more mindfully, at the least, questioning my first reaction. How can I move from my judgment to a space where I have the chance to connect more deeply with another human being? Slowing down, I can check what I have perceived, watch my thoughts and choose my response. Each step provides an opportunity to practice ahimsa.  These active choices allow me to abstain from violence, and possibly, cultivate deeper human connection instead.

Mary Kluz, RYT-200, has been actively teaching yoga since 2015 and is part of the faculty for the 240 hour River Flow Yoga Teacher Training. She is an Associate Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin-Extension. Mary is offering workshops on Mindful Communication, September 15, 2018 – 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and September 27, 2018 – 12:30 to 4:30 PM. Her yoga classes on Thursdays (5:30 pm) and Fridays (5:00 pm) are focused on stress relief and centering.

Still the Mind, Find Your True Self

By Pauline Zweck, RYT-200, Certified Viniyoga Wellness Instructor, 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness

 “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the end of strings that somebody else pulls.”     –      Howard Thurman

1.3 Tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe ‘vasthānam

Then the Seer (Self) abides in His own true nature.

1.4 Vṛtti sārūpyam-itaratra

At other times {the Self appears to} assume the forms of the mental modifications.

We humans are constantly letting our thoughts define our world and ourselves. We cannot get in touch with our true Self until we learn to clear our mind. Patanjali reminds us that we are all divine expressions of the universe. Behind the different forms of energy is one unchanging Self.  A still mind understands this and sees their neighbors as themselves.

When I was young, I felt connected to Self. Growing up on a farm afforded me many opportunities to just be one with nature; a creek, tall grasses, a woods with wildflowers and raspberries, a 360 degree expanse of the horizon, witnessing skies before they had to compete with manmade light.  Utter and complete freedom. There was a oneness in my small world of nature and family.  My mind had yet to start carrying on conversations with me, or if it was, I was too pure and innocent to know I should be listening.

Then the layers came. I’ve often contemplated on when this first occurred. A time comes in one’s life when you realize other people have expectations of you. This repeats and repeats many times over.  I dutifully lined up to accept the layers and identities. Even when these are positive, the separation begins. I am this, you are that. Many of us relish and foster our uniqueness, voraciously adding to our collection. Until we experience a burden.

All the things we identify with sometimes gang up and clutch at our true Self like heavy armor that is a few sizes too small and it becomes necessary to step back, breathe and let the armor fall away lest it smother us. Once we remove the years of labeling, we can discover that we all exist from the same source of energy.

Pauses are necessary. I connect with my true Self by meditating, or resting in my hammock. Taking time to watch a leaf, the sky, a bird, brings the oneness back. I give over. The armor drops away. With the Self there is no effort. It just simply is.

Pauline Zweck, RYT-200, trained at the 200 level in 2007, studying a blend of yoga disciplines with a focus on modifications and moderation to make the practice available to all. In 2015, Pauline became certified to teach Viniyoga, a style of yoga that is adapted to support your physical and emotional needs throughout the various stages of life.  Pauline teaches at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness on Tues at 5:30 pm (Yoga for Beginners & Beyond), Wed at 12 noon (Mental & Physical Balance) and as a long-term sub from Nov – April for Mon 8:30 (Senior Yoga Therapeutics-Mat) and 10:00 am (Senior Yoga Therapeutics-Chair).  She is also faculty with the 240 hr. River Flow Yoga Teacher Training.