_Yoga is skill in Action
The New Year is a time of new beginnings, a time for reflection, review and re-prioritization as we chart our course for the upcoming year. I have been re-reading the Bhagavad Gita and am choosing this text for my teaching theme for Winter 2013. The following quotes from the text strike me as powerful reminders for the upcoming year.
“Yoga is skill in action.”
The word yoga comes from yuj, to yoke, to unite, to connect. Yoga is to yoke your mind, body and heart, to connect to the deepest truth of who you ultimately are. Yoga also is action, practices that you do both on the mat and off the mat. When you establish a clear connection with your deepest core and act from that place, that is yoga, skill in action.
So, now that it is now 2013, how are you choosing to act and what are your actions? How are you consciously yoking your mind, body, and heart together? With what care and attention are acting? What is important to you? What actions are you choosing to take? What actions are you choosing not to take? For even in-action is a form of action.
“No one, for even an instant, can exist without acting.”
Everything you do or don’t do is an action, and every action begets other actions and consequences. Therefore, choose be present. Prioritize what is important. Connect to yourself and to others. Act with care whether you are preparing a meal, reading to a child, responding to an email or practicing asana. When you are connected to your true self, then your actions are skillful, precise, exactly what is needed in any situation.
When you find you have not acted skillfully, there is no need to reprimand yourself. Simply return to the practices and tools that help you come back to yourself once again. Pause, soften, breathe. Come back to your breath again. This is yoga, the repetition of practices that yoke, elevate and liberate. Re-set yourself and begin again. Ahhh... new breath... new year!
Winter Solstice – Moving into Stillness
As we move toward the Winter Solstice, the natural cycle of the season and the diminished daylight is an invitation to turn inward toward rest, stillness and silence. The word “solstice” is Latin for the “sun stands still.” Thus, the Winter Solstice is an invitation to move into the spirit of stillness. Paradoxically, in December our cultural institutions beckon us outward into perhaps the busiest, most hectic time of the year, the “holiday season” with amped up shopping, socializing and celebrating. Being consciously aware of these two energies can help us remain in balance and experience well-being and ease.
Yoga and meditation are the perfect practices for turning inward and nourishing our natural rhythms at this time of the year. The breath itself is our great teacher.
“The Earth breathes but one breath each year: from Summer to Winter, a long exhalation, a letting go; at the Winter Solstice, a moment of stillness and emptiness between breaths; then the long inhalation back into the Summer fullness."
The pause in the breath cycle serves as an invitation to drop into the silent, vast, infinite realm that is always there, lying just beneath the surface hubbub of our busy thinking, feeling mind-body.
In any quiet moment when your are breathing,
The breath may flow out and pause of itself,
Or flow in and pause of itself.
Here experience opens into exquisite vastness
With no beginning and no end.
Embrace this infinity without reservation.
Dive into it, drink deeply and emerge renewed.
-Lorin Roche, The Radiance Sutras, Sutra 4
In the midst of this month’s festivities and fun, may you also cultivate the quiet spaces to pause and go inward and deeply nourish your body and soul.
Annie Barrett. Educator, certified health coach yoga instructor.