Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

And now for something completely different March 29, 2011

Filed under: Miscellaneous,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 8:35 pm
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Since my blog’s been kind of a downer lately, today let’s talk about clothes!

I’ve gotten kind of picky about what I want to wear to yoga class. I hate doing yoga in loose-fitting clothes; I feel like a baggy t-shirt is always hanging in my face during down dog and riding up somewhere I don’t want it to. Same thing with pants, if they’re too baggy, they get in my way when I’m practicing. And I don’t like long pants, because then my legs get too warm in a vigorous practice, but I also can’t stand shorts (ever). So here’s what I like to wear for yoga. (FYI, gentlemen, you might want to stop reading here.)


Capri/cropped pants, close fitting but not too tight (to avoid the dreaded “camel toe” look), preferably with some flare at the bottom so I can easily fold them up over my knee during practice if needed. Elastic waist – no tie, no zipper, and none of that fold-over fabric thing that’s so popular with the kids these days, since that’s just more fabric to get in my way when I’m bending.

Right now I have four pairs of yoga pants that meet all these requirements. Two of them came from Target a year and a half ago; I looked at Target more recently but everything I tried on was of really thin material and resulted in camel toe. I got one new pair two weeks ago at Old Navy that I love (they even have pockets!). The ON website is down right now so I can’t link ’em but they were in their new GoGA collection (Go Go Active or something like that). I also got a pretty solid pair at Marshalls this past weekend. First I went to REI, felt ill at the thought of spending $55 on yoga pants, and then went to Marshalls, where I found a pair for $14.99 that seem like they’ll be quite serviceable. They also have a cute pattern on the waistband (which does not fold over).


Spaghetti strap tank top with a built-in bra. Because, okay, I hate sports bras. I find them really constricting and uncomfortable, and I honestly do not have enough bulk up front to really need one. When I’m jogging, a sports bra is a necessary evil (although there’s enough room in mine to store my iPod in there (and I even have a big old-school video iPod), and because that thing is way supportive the iPod doesn’t bounce at all!), but when I’m doing yoga, it’s just another layer of fabric. Which is important, actually, because if the room is chilly I don’t want my girls pointing at everyone. I actually feel a little conflicted about this. It’s yoga and I want to wear clothes that are comfortable, which would mean no bra, but I feel like it’s discourteous to be braless and potentially make my fellow yogis feel uncomfortable about the view. Considering my future as a yoga teacher, I feel like it’s possibly not professional to be braless in my workplace? I’ve only had one yoga teacher ever who went noticeably braless, which I was mostly cool with at the time (several years ago), but she was wearing a white tank which I thought was not too classy and was kind of distracting.Thoughts?

So it seems like the best solution for me will be tanks with built-in bras. I’ve been shopping for these a lot lately, and it’s surprisingly difficult to find one that is thick enough to be serviceable in a cold room and that also has spaghetti straps (because one of the other things I dislike about sports bras is the racer back). I have two really good tank tops right now that totally do the job, and are stretchy and comfy and also long enough to overlap the top of my pants and thus avoid getting a draft on my back while in a bendy pose. One of them I inherited from my friend Patty, and one of them is this PrAna top (the pink pattern is really cute in person), which is currently on clearance at REI for way cheaper than you can typically purchase a PrAna top. I know the usual price of PrAna tops because I did some top-shopping at REI this weekend too and didn’t buy anything because while yeah, they make nice stuff, I refuse to spend $48 on a freakin’ tank top. (Marshalls was a bust, no pun intended, in the tank department.) So right now I have two excellent tanks and a bunch of Old Navy basic cotton tanks that I have to wear with a sports bra. Hoping to find more of the built-in kind and phase out the ON tanks eventually. Or maybe look for a sports bra with spaghetti straps instead of a racer back, although I kind of want to stop purchasing sports bras altogether until my running bra falls apart, which shouldn’t be for a while as that thing has structural integrity like you wouldn’t believe.

So, dear readers, what do you find comfortable to wear for yoga? And where do you buy it?


Let’s explore that annoyance March 28, 2011

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 9:38 pm
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So, the carpet + dog hair + sticky mat issue at the yoga studio (which I mentioned last week) really is driving me nuts.  In the interest of exploring my reactions, getting to know my brain better, and nurturing my yoga lifestyle, I thought to myself, what exactly is it about this situation that’s so maddening? Well, first, I just got this nice new yoga mat, and it happens to be super sticky, so it’s getting all gunked up with hair and crud. Now I cannot use my nice new yoga mat at home, because my father in law is deathly allergic to dogs and we try not to bring animal hair into our home, plus I don’t want to transport this gunk to my floors at home, so I am still using my old mat at home and I only get to use the nice new mat at the studio, where I look at it and don’t feel excited about my nice mat, only annoyed about the ick issue.  I tried the lint roller but it’s just not sufficient for the level of stickiness combined with the level of gunk. So I feel annoyed, and further, I feel indignant – like, why can’t you have hardwood instead of carpet, how often do you vacuum this carpet anyway, why do bring your stupid dogs to the studio – at which point I get derailed, because that isn’t fair, they are nice dogs, N & J are entitled to run their business however they want, there may be any number of reasons why the studio is carpeted, and everyone leaves their shoes by the door so they are at least trying to keep the floor clean. So really what I am feeling is helpless, because I am experiencing a problem and I have no way to resolve that problem (the mat is gross, I can’t effectively clean it, and I can’t change the place where I bring the mat).

But, you know, that’s not really true either. I could vacuum the heck out of the mat when I got it home. I could take that sucker in the shower and hose it off. That would just involve a lot more time than I’m willing to invest in bi-weekly mat care. OK, then, if I cleaned it really well once then I could switch and take the old mat to the studio and use the nice one at home. Which I don’t really want to do either, because (1) the time to spend to get the thing actually clean, and (2) I don’t want to be limited to not using my good mat for the majority of my yoga practice. But I do have options – I just don’t want to explore any of these options. So now I am at the point where I need to either find another option (like buying a second nice mat to use at home) or accepting that the current situation is not going to change for the duration of this program. This should make me feel better: at least now I have considered all my options and concluded that I am not helpless, it is my choice to perpetuate the current situation, and there is a specific time when the problem will end.  But if I choose this last option, that of acceptance, then I need to be at peace about the cleanliness of the mat. Period. I’ll lint-roll it periodically to keep from getting gunk on my feet, but other than that, peace. So why does that seem like the hardest option of all?


I’m having an Ahimsa Moment

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 9:35 pm
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Today I had a lot of “Ahimsa Moments.”  Here are some examples:

I hate this stupid weather, it’s too cold out – Ahimsa.
Why is the train so crowded? Oh no, don’t sit next to me… – Ahimsa.
Great, every person on this elevator needs to stop on a different floor, we’re getting a grand freakin’ tour of the building – Ahimsa.
Man, why is it so cold in here today? – Ahimsa.
Yes, Figure 1 is on the first page, but if you’d looked at pages 2 and 3 you’d have found Figures 2 and 3 and not had to ask me this stupid question – Ahimsa.
I’m sending you the art to review. Not like I think you’ll actually review it any time this week. – Ahimsa.
WHY is it so COLD in here?! – Ahimsa.
All these emails, I never get anything done! – Ahimsa.
We’re all here waiting for the train, you don’t need to push – hey, watch it, jerkface – Ahimsa!
Yes, I’m eating pizza for dinner, so there. – Ahimsa.
ACK, I always leave everything to the last minute! – Ahimsa.
I hate getting stuck behind a bus, I’m going to be late! – Ahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimsa.
I HATE this stupid carpet, it’s like a dog hair magnet, why can’t they have hardwood floors like any other yoga studio – Ahimsa.
Thanks, dude, if you’re going to come in late to class at least shut the door behind you – Ahimsa, ahimsa, ahimsa.

And that’s just a quick survey.  I got cheesed off by so many more trivial things today I can’t even count them all.  And now that I’m trying to pay more attention to my thought patterns, it seems like I’m getting annoyed or frustrated or mad even more than usual.  I know that’s not true (it’s just that noticing it calls more attention to it), but it’s actually still a little scary: this is how my brain usually works, and I experience this level of frustration on a daily basis. I’m not sure how to effect a change. I want to change. I’m hoping that for now, noticing the pattern and calling myself on it will be enough to start.


Practical Experiments in Ahimsa and Satya

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle,yoga philosophy — R. H. Ward @ 12:58 pm
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Nischala Devi writes the following:

We may stubbornly hold the belief that others cause our problems and inconveniences.  In those situations we may appoint ourselves as their teachers to show them the correct way to act. From that attitude our egos enlarge, leaving us with less room for insight.  If you routinely feel it is the other person’s fault, take another look, this time from a different perspective.  (171)

Reading this really hit home for me because I had a difficult situation last week in my job. Because of all the thinking I’ve been doing on ahimsa and satya, this situation really stuck out to me as an example of how I can change my thinking, how consciously practicing satya and ahimsa (truthfulness and non-violence) can help me to be a calmer person (and a better colleague!).

I work as an editor and project manager, compiling large complex medical books.  I received the page proofs of a chapter that had been very difficult to assemble: the author constantly changing the artwork, which had an adverse affect on the artist’s time to draw the rest of the book; the book’s editor hiring a photographer to reshoot all the surgical images without telling me, sending me many new photos to process after I thought the chapter was done.  Now all that was over and the chapter was in proofs, but because of this history, I already had a negative feeling when I approached the proof.  It wasn’t the proof’s fault, but I still felt negative.

My colleague on this book project, a production manager I’ll call Ed, had sent a note the day before explaining that the author had cut one of the photos from the chapter, causing the rest of the figures to be renumbered.  I thought, Oh, this chapter, always troublesome! So when I opened up the proof, I was ready to find something wrong, and of course I did.  The renumbered figures didn’t match up.  I pulled out the original chapter text and photos and drawings, and went through one by one, double-checking everything and working myself up.  Doesn’t Ed know how to renumber figures?  What kind of production manager is he? I worked for an hour, discovered the problem, wrote a bunch of notes on how to correct it, and then sent it off to Ed and our page designer.

Only then did I notice that Ed had sent an email 20 minutes earlier.  He explained that he’d forgotten to mention that the author had moved a few other figures around.  Of course that accounted for the problem I’d discovered.  Then I got  angry at Ed – if he hadn’t been so neglectful, I wouldn’t have wasted an hour of my time!  I was so angry!  Then I took a closer look at the email he sent the previous day, where he told us about the first figure being renumbered.  He had attached a document showing the new figure numbers for all the images; like Ed had said, he’d neglected to mark on the cover sheet about these other figures being moved, but he’d  numbered all the images themselves in their new order, showing all the changes from the author including the other figures that were moved.  If I had looked at this document, instead of going back to my originals, I would have seen the change, but it never even occurred to me to look at Ed’s document.  He knows how to do his job – why didn’t I trust him?  I’d been too caught up in my own story about how this chapter was troublesome and I was the only organized person in the world.  I had been too focused on being right, being righteous, being in control.  I wasn’t looking at the truth, just making up a story about what I thought the truth would be.

Then, if I hadn’t gotten so worked up about solving the problem, I would have seen Ed’s email before I sent off my own email.  I acted hastily, and then looked like a dummy in front of both Ed and the page designer, because here I was, acting like a savior, going into detail about a problem that Ed had already noticed and pointed out.  I think this had a lot to do with why I got so very angry: my own behavior made me look silly.  Then too, I didn’t have any real reason to be angry with Ed.  He forgot to mention something.  Who doesn’t do that sometimes?  As soon as he noticed the problem, he let us know.  It wasn’t his fault I’d gotten worked up and spent an hour analyzing things.  There was nothing wrong with Ed’s behavior, only with mine.  Which just made me angrier.

I left work for the day and went to the train station.  I was standing there, feeling tense, feeling angry, when up comes my friend Sue.  She’s taking a painting class, and she told me about the project she assigned herself, to go paint her son’s boat once a month for practice.  At the end of this year she’ll have 12 paintings, all of the same boat, but all different because of the seasons, the light, different angles of viewing the boat, and Sue’s own improving technique.  So we talked about painting, and about boats, and Sue is such a sweet gentle person that I couldn’t stay angry while I was talking to her.  So I let the anger go, and listened to my friend.


First Week Round-Up March 27, 2011

Filed under: checking in,Pose of the Month — R. H. Ward @ 8:00 pm
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I thought it might be useful (for me, at least, I don’t know about for you) to check in periodically and see how I’m keeping up with my teacher training workload, and how it’s balancing out with the rest of my life.  TT began just over a week ago, so how did I do during my first week?

  • I’ve read about half of The Royal Path.  (It’s short and easy, I’m trying to stretch it out.)
  • I’ve started on the yoga sutras and have considered the first two yamas carefully (and there’s one more post in the queue on ahimsa and satya, too).  On schedule with this (especially since the next two are pretty easy – maybe I’ll make it through three this week).
  • I blogged Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday (a total of seven posts), so I’m keeping up with my rough goal of doing this five days a week or so.
  • I made it to yoga class at the studio twice, Monday and Thursday evenings.
  • I practiced my Poses of the Month (forward bends) almost every day and started keeping a journal about it.
  • My husband hasn’t throttled me yet.

I will start posting about classes and actual yoga at some point.  This week I had the weekend sessions to post about, plus some introductory things like the books.  Also, ahimsa is kind of a big topic.  I do see myself posting about the actual yoga I’m doing and the people I’m now doing it with.

The forward bends are interesting so far.  The idea here is to practice these poses every day, paying attention to how I feel in the pose, and see where it leads.  Right now I’m feeling really scatter-brained and unable to focus – hopefully that will improve over the course of the TT.  I will probably hold off on any big posts about the Poses of the Month until later on in the month when I’ve observed more.

I did, however, discover something interesting about my practice of paschimottanasana (seated forward bend).  N & J teach this as a pose of surrender.  They instruct their students to relax into the pose, let themselves go, just focus on the breath.  I’ve been having a lot of trouble with this, and I figured out why: I learned this as a much more active pose!  With my old teacher Gene, we focused on keeping a flat back, finding a strong grip/catch on the legs or feet, lengthening the spine on inhales and moving deeper into the pose on exhales.  So, for the two years I practiced with Gene and ever since then, I’ve practiced this pose in a very active way.  No wonder I’ve had issues with the way N & J teach it as a more passive pose.  Neither method is “right” or “wrong”, just different.  This month I’ll try to practice it N & J’s way and see what happens.

I haven’t been shirking my normal life, either, although there are definitely some bumps in the road to work out.  F is really understanding of me needing to spend extra time on yoga practice and homework, and therefore sacrificing some of our time together, but we’re still working out how we’ll handle things that we usually split evenly, like cooking and dishes, when I’ll be out the door to yoga two nights a week and needing to spend time on homework on other nights.  F also raised a concern about Facebook/computer time – if we’re sacrificing time together, then maybe we should be making some Facebook sacrifices too and not wasting time that we could be spending together.  He definitely makes a good point.  On the whole, though, I think we managed this week pretty well: got our taxes done, looked at some houses (we’re thinking about buying), had a nice dinner with my parents, vacuumed, cooked meals, even made it to church this morning.  I hope we’re able to continue fitting the TT commitment into our lives in a healthy way.


Ahimsa and Satya, part 2

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle,yoga philosophy — R. H. Ward @ 7:05 pm
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I want to reflect a little bit on how I practice (or fail to practice!) satya and ahimsa in myself.

Sometimes in the past I’ve found it difficult to be honest with myself.  Maybe I know deep down that things aren’t going the way I want them to, but I tell myself that everything’s fine and press on.  If I keep working at it, the results I want will happen eventually, right?  But maybe it would be better to take an honest look at the situation and make another choice.  By telling myself that everything’s fine, I deprive myself of the opportunity to change things, and potentially put myself deeper in a bad situation.

Or maybe I’ve made a mistake, broken something or forgotten something or said something I shouldn’t have.  Then I tell myself what a bad mistake it was, I always do these things and that’s why I’ll never be able to succeed.  Then I start on a downward spiral: clearly this mistake means that I’m a bad person.  Clearly I’m overweight, I’m lazy, I’ll never get things right.  Ten minutes later I’m ready to cry and can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend time with me.  (This whole thing really perplexes my husband: he asks what I want for dinner and I burst into tears, because he’s always so nice and asks what I want, and a terrible person like me doesn’t deserve such a wonderful husband!)

Now, maybe some of the things I’ve told myself are true, but certainly not all of them, and even though I did make a mistake, I don’t deserve to be punished like that by anyone, especially myself.  I find it hardest to be forgiving to myself – I can always forgive a friend, and when I’m the one who’s messed up, my friends and family never fail to forgive me and reassure me.  Yet I’ll worry over this mistake, which my friends already forgave me for, and be unable to let it go.  Why can’t I treat myself like my own friend?

When I get into patterns like this, I’m not acting with either satya or ahimsa, and I’m hoping that practicing the yamas will help me deal with this bad habit. While it may be true that I did something wrong, satya doesn’t demand that I reprimand myself repeatedly.  Satya demands only that I recognize and acknowledge the error.  If I’m practicing satya, then I should keep the error in perspective: I only forgot to throw in the laundry, for goodness sake, it’s not the end of the world.  Blowing things up out of proportion and taking them out of context is dishonest.  Then, once I practice satya and acknowledge that I was wrong, ahimsa tells me to let it go.  Hanging onto it does violence to my spirit, and I hurt myself over and over.  Making one mistake does not make me a bad person, or an undesirable or unlovable person.  Dwelling on these things, spiraling down until I feel like I am unlovable: that’s harmful to me.

So what can I do to change this habit?  First, I need to recognize what’s happening while it’s happening.  I need to say to myself, hey, I made a mistake.  I admit I shouldn’t have played video games all night, I should have called my mother, I should have cleaned the bathroom, I forgot to stop at the store.  I was wrong.  People make mistakes sometimes, but that’s okay.  Sometimes it helps me to make a new plan to make up for the mistake: it’s late at night now so I can’t fix it today, but I’ll stop at the store during my lunch break tomorrow.  And then – it’s over!  I need to stop thinking about it at this point.  Go for a walk, do some yoga, wash some dishes, bake some cookies, complete another task that needs to get done that I can accomplish today.  Or even just find a funny show to watch on TV.  Take my mind away from the pattern, and move on to something else.  Although it may be hard to act with love toward myself in that moment, I can step away from that moment and try to find a new moment when caring for myself is more possible.


The Yamas: Satya March 26, 2011

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle,yoga philosophy — R. H. Ward @ 2:22 pm
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Satya, or truthfulness, is the second yama.  We all know that we should be honest; when I am dishonest, I always feel a little sick inside.  So why do we tell lies?  Maybe we want to save a friend from hearing a painful truth, so we tell a gentle lie instead.  Maybe we think the lie will benefit us or protect us in some way, or make us look better to others than the truth would.  No matter what our intentions are when we lie, our dishonesty can cause hurt feelings, or upheaval within ourselves.  The more lies we tell, the stronger our fear that someone will find us out.  All this inner turmoil is created.  It would have been better just to tell the truth to begin with and get everything out in the open. While people can be hurt by our actions or words, I’ve always found that others are hurt more when we lie about what we’ve done.  For ourselves, the untruth is a lot heavier and harder to bear than whatever it was we thought was worth lying about in the first place.

Not long ago, a friend and colleague of mine left our office for a better job at a different company.  The following week, another colleague emailed me to say that he hadn’t known K was leaving and he was sad he hadn’t been able to say goodbye.  Had there been any kind of farewell party for her?  Of course, when I opened this email my first instinct was to lie.  I didn’t want to hurt this man’s feelings or make him feel excluded.  But if I lied, chances are that he would find out.  The party hadn’t been a secret.  What would happen if someone else in the office mentioned the party in front of him?  I couldn’t ask all my coworkers to join me in a lie – how childish, and how purposeless.

So I told him the truth: there’d been a small party with just our immediate workgroup, and then some of us went out for drinks.  I didn’t know how he had been left off the invitation list, and I apologized, but I would tell K that he was thinking of her.  I tried my best to keep it simple.  I hadn’t organized either event; I thought it was just an oversight, but I truly didn’t know why this colleague hadn’t been invited.  Since I wasn’t responsible, there was no reason to lie, and even if I had been the one who inadvertently neglected to invite him, there would still be no reason to lie, because a lie could have caused a lot more hurt than the original omission did.

There may be times when the truth would be far more hurtful than a lie.  Consider a friend who’s just bought a hideous dress that she adores.  Her dress isn’t hurting anyone (and hurting your eyes doesn’t count), so why spoil her joy in it with your interpretation of the truth?  Her truth, that the dress is lovely, is just as valid a perception as yours.  Or consider a group of friends where one person is being gossiped about when she’s not around.  Do we need to join in on the gossip, even if every word being said is technically true?  Do we need to run to our friend and repeat every harsh word that was said about her?  We want to be honest, but we also want to practice ahimsa: non-violence, non-harming, reverence and love for all.  At times when we cannot be honest without causing hurt, the best choice may be to be silent.  Sometimes it’s hard to know the right thing to say.  I want to start asking myself, why do I want to say this, what reaction do I want to cause by saying these words?  If I really believe that telling the truth will help someone else, or will prevent future hurt, that’s one thing; if I’m saying something to try to get others to like me, or to delight in someone else’s pain, then those words might not need to be said.


The Yamas: Ahimsa March 23, 2011

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle,yoga philosophy — R. H. Ward @ 7:46 pm
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Ahimsa, or non-violence, is the first and most important of the yamas: when you’ve got ahimsa down, all the other yamas will fall into place.  Swami Satchidananda describes ahimsa as not causing pain or harm; he says, “Causing pain can be even more harmful than killing. Even by your words, even by your thoughts, you can cause pain” (126).  This is an important point.  There are three main ways to be violent: physically, verbally, and mentally.  You might think, “But I’m not a violent person! I don’t punch people, I don’t say mean things!”, but we all have the capacity for violence in our thoughts.  Every violent action taken or word spoken started out as a thought, and even if that thought never makes it that far, it’s still hanging around in your head, causing tension, causing pain.  In practicing ahimsa, we should strive not to cause pain even to ourselves, and this is the really hard part.

Pantanjali has some suggestions for us about how to deal with these negative thoughts.  He tells us, “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of” (book 2, v. 33). When we feel hatred and anger, then, we should try to feel love instead.  Easier said than done, of course.  Both Satchidananda and Nischala Devi give the example of a married couple who are arguing, when their child crawls up or cries in another room.  Most likely, their anger will dissipate when they go to their child and hug him, because they’ve been reminded of love in the midst of their anger.

Satchidananda has this to say about how negative thoughts affect us: “But even before the other person is affected by my anger, I will be affected.  I’ll shake up my nerves.  My blood will boil” (128).  There might be something satisfying about getting good and mad, sure, but is it actually pleasant to feel that way?  Not for me.

I feel like I struggle with my temper all the time, but for a very long time, I never even used the word “anger”.  I would say, “I’m so annoyed at my boyfriend, he never washes the dishes”, or “That parking ticket really upset me.”  But what I really felt was anger – blood boiling rage!  And for some reason I wouldn’t admit it even to myself.  Maybe I don’t want to see myself as an angry person, but anger is still going to be there.  Not admitting to the anger doesn’t make it go away, it just makes it harder for me to deal with the anger and become a less angry person.  Now when I’m angry, I at least try to notice it, and say to myself, “Wow, I’m angry!”  Then that opens the door for me to do something about my anger.

If I’m not getting mad about something happening right now, then I find myself getting mad about something that happened days or months or years ago.  I’ll find myself standing there in the shower, holding the soap and not even doing anything, getting mad all over again about that stupid parking ticket from 2005.  This doesn’t do me any good.  I’m making myself late, ruining my experience of a perfectly nice shower, and getting all tense and worked up over something that’s past. Or, if I’m not getting angry about something long ago, then I’m getting worried about something that hasn’t happened yet, imagining how things could go wrong and how angry I’ll be!  I make up these long stories about how the man at the post office will be mean or how my friend will forget to invite me to her party, and I get all worked up about something that never even happened and is never likely to happen.  My friends are thoughtful, and I know the man at the post office (his name is Pete, and he’s kind of gruff but never nasty!).  So what good does all of that anger do me?  I squinch up my shoulders and get a crick in my neck, and that’s just the physical effects.  What’s worse is that my mind is disturbed, sometimes all day, sometimes such that it’s hard to concentrate on my work.  Sometimes I’ll be so busy yelling at someone in my head that I end up actually yelling at my husband when all he wanted to know is when we’re going to start dinner.  This is a violent habit!  It causes harm to me by affecting my moods, and it causes harm to those around me by making me grumpy and peevish.  It’s a habit I really want to change.

Instead of defining ahimsa as “non-violence,” Devi defines it as “reverence and love for all.”  I think this is a nice thought: it’s one thing to say, “don’t be violent, don’t cause harm,” but sometimes it’s easier to change a behavior by focusing on what to do instead – like Patanjali says, to think of the opposite, positive thing.  Now when I’m worked up about how my friend was inconsiderate, I try to remind myself about how busy she is at work right now or planning her wedding or  traveling lately, and how good a friend she’s been to me in the past and how much I care about her, and then I realize that it wasn’t a personal insult, she probably just forgot.  (I’m still working on loving the airport traffic cop who wrote that parking ticket, but hopefully throughout this training process I can get there.)

I think I have a lot more in me to say about ahimsa, so consider this part 1.  (It really is time for dinner!)


A Note on Books March 22, 2011

Filed under: books,yoga philosophy — R. H. Ward @ 9:48 pm
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So Friday night, just a few minutes into our first TT session, I had a happy moment.  I got to take one each from eight piles of books, and then I sat there with eight new books in my lap.  Yay!  Here are the books we’re reading:

There are few things I like better than a big stack of books!  I included a link to each book on Amazon in case you feel inspired to check any of them out.  As we move forward in class, I’ll post reviews here of each book as I finish.

This month, we’re doing The Royal Path.  I haven’t started it yet.  We’re also doing portions of the Yoga Sutras every month, as I mentioned yesterday.  I’ve read the Sutras before, in The Secret Power of Yoga, by Nischala Joy Devi.  Devi’s book bills itself as specifically a woman’s guide to the yoga sutras, which is why I picked it up.  I still found it difficult to get through, however (it took months!), and I knew as soon as I finished it that I’d want to reread it at some point.  Devi is actually a past student of Satchidananda’s, which I find interesting.  I’ve compared the commentary on only a few sutras so far (Book 2, verses 29-35 or so), and there are definitely some differences.

Satchidananda gives us the original Sanskrit, a direct word-by-word translation, and a restatement as a full English sentence, followed by commentary on each sutra, which is fairly brief. Devi, on the other hand, doesn’t claim to be a Sanskrit scholar; she is translating “the heart and spirit” of the sutras.  Her translation isn’t exact, but she strives to put each sutra in terms a modern woman can understand and relate to.  Devi specifically has chosen to translate the sutras into “positive, life-affirming language” (168-169).  For example, where Satchidananda defines ahimsa as “non-violence”, Devi calls it “reverence and love for all”; where Satchidananda refers to aparigraha as “non-greed”, Devi defines it as “generosity”.  Devi’s point is that, as soon as you see that “non”, you’re immediately thinking about what follows it (the violence, the greed), whereas by restating in positive terms, the focus is on embracing love and the divine.  I think she has a point, and it definitely leads to some slightly different translations, some slightly different commentaries.  I think it’ll be fun and enlightening to compare the two.

Tomorrow, hopefully: ahimsa!


Random Yoga Tips of the Day March 21, 2011

Filed under: Miscellaneous,yoga lifestyle,yoga philosophy — R. H. Ward @ 8:43 pm
  1. If you find that not just your hands and feet but, well, everything sticks to your yoga sticky mat, try using a regular ol’ lint roller to remove the excess gunk!
  2. Keep in mind that some gunk – for example, dog hair – is infinite, and no matter how vigorously or lengthily you lint-roll, you will never get it all.  It’s good to do your best, and then practice letting go of results.

Clearly I need to practice the art of non-attachment (and so does my mat, really, but I think I stand a better chance of attaining it, since the mat has the excuse of being sticky).

(This post brought to you by Blue and Linus, East Eagle’s yoga dogs, with whom I spent much of the weekend, and by the studio’s low-pile carpet.)