Hi, y’all! I hope you’re enjoying this beautiful sunshiny autumn weekend. After a challenging few weeks, I’m happy to report that I’m feeling more peaceful and content than I have in some time. Speaking of contentment, santosha, one of the niyamas, is the philosophical focus of my classes this week. We’ll contemplate the difference between happiness and contentment, and discuss Yoga Sutra 2.46, (translated by Chip Hartranft here), “Contentment brings unsurpassed joy.” I linked to Yoga Journal’s explanations of santosha and the yamas and niyamas above, but I think it’s worthwhile to consider the interpretations of a variety of teachers. I especially enjoy North Carolina School of Yoga teacher Chandra Om’s emphasis on faith and trust as a means of cultivating santosha. (I don’t agree with complete renunciation of all desires, though. I think desire is an inherent and natural aspect of our humanness and that we should not reject any aspect of our selves. Perhaps practicing consciously refraining from over-indulgence is a more attainable and balanced approach than complete renunciation.)
In our asana practice, the focus is one-legged standing balances such as Natarajasana (dancer pose), utthita hasta pasangustasana (extended hand-to-big-toe pose), vrksasana (tree pose), and ardha chandrasana (half moon pose). (I’ll offer plenty of modifications and variations, too.) These poses provide an excellent opportunity to practice santosha, one of the niyamas (practices we do to uplift ourselves in order that we can be of service to others), because they often challenge us to let go of our notions of how the pose should look or how well we think it seems like we are executing it from others’ perspectives. The challenge is to practice these poses (and challenging balancing acts in our lives) accompanied by smooth, steady breath with a willingness to embrace our current expression of the pose, whatever that looks like, and the faith that we’re exactly where we are supposed to be in this moment.
Please join me this week for as we explore these ideas and poses in the following classes:
MONDAY, Yoga (all levels, beginners welcome!), 10:30-11:45, Heart of Yoga School
MONDAY, Lil’ Asana (for lil’ yogis ages 4-10), 4:15-5:15pm, Heart of Yoga School
WEDNESDAY, Baby & Me Yoga (for mamas or caregivers and babies up to pre-crawlers), 10:30-11:45am, Durham Yoga Company
WEDNESDAY, Veda Vinyasa (slow-flowing vinyasa class accessible to all levels), 5:45-7:15pm, Heart of Yoga School
SUNDAY, 11/25, 2:00-3:15pm, Donation Class for El Futuro, Carrboro Yoga Company. This will be an all-levels flow class with all money collected donated to support the important work El Futuro does for Latino community members with mental health and addiction issues here in Carrboro and around the Triangle. Come enjoy yoga and give what you can!
SATURDAY, 12/22, 12:00-2:00pm, The Teachings of Pema Chodron, Heart of Yoga School. This donation-based workshop-style class will include meditation, asana, and readings/audio recordings from Buddhist nun Pema Chodron’s books and teachings, including Comfortable with Uncertainty, When Things Fall Apart, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, and Getting Unstuck, as well as time for discussion. Pema Chodron was the first spiritual teacher whose teachings I could really relate to, and they still resonate for me over and over again. Her approach to spiritual practice is very accessible to all, emphasizes kindness toward oneself and others, and can be easily applied to ordinary, everyday circumstances. (Please pre-register by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
“Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason it’s important is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering. We’re discovering the universe.” — Pema Chodron
SUNDAY, 12/23, 1:00-3:00pm, PARTNER YOGA PLAYSHOP at Heart of Yoga School. The teachings of yoga emphasize connection–to our breath, to the earth, to the divine, and to each other. In this fun donation-based asana playshop, we’ll explore our physical and energetic connection with others by way of partner poses. We’ll do a variety of poses–standing, seated, and balancing, and maybe even one or two Acro Yoga poses. Feel free to bring a partner or come solo, because we’ll mix it up and change partners periodically throughout the practice. Some hatha yoga experience is suggested, but all levels are welcome and modifications will be offered as needed. Bring a bottle of water, an open mind, and a readiness to play! (Please pre-register by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
MONDAY, 12/24, 10:30-11:45am, Donation Yoga Class for American Syringomyelia and Chiari Alliance Project at Heart of Yoga School. Please join me for a fundraising class for ASAP, an organization dedicated to funding research and improving the lives of those affected by syringomyelia, a rare and debilitating disease of the spinal cord, and chiari malformation, an abnormality in the cerebellum part of the brain. My Mother, along with thousands of other Americans, suffers great pain from this disorder, and I am excited to be offering a class in support of this great organization that has helped her connect with others with the same disease, get educated about treatment options, and find a specialist who understands this complicated disorder.