Starting off the challenge with Dawn DeMer’s lovely Bliss Flow class at the North Phoenix location. Let me just say right off the bat, I enjoy all of the classes I have taken at Blissful Yoga. I like the slow ones, the fast ones, the leisurely ones and the challenging ones. There is not a single part of me that thinks any of it is either too easy or too hard. You get something very different out of every type of class. It’s just as worthwhile to me to try to practice each pose in detail, slowly, as it is to move through a challenging sequence. There are some poses I feel I’m getting very comfortable at and some I simply cannot do. But there’s also a lot of value in trying to do things you cannot.
Tonight’s class was a slower class with more opportunity to hold each pose and adjust it. I listen and follow what is told to me. I enjoy trying to make each pose better, closer to the intention. All the instructors who use lavender scented oil at the end of their classes during savasana (corpse pose) win a special bonus with me. I love the smell of lavender. It was a great way to ease into the 30 day challenge.
I’m going to try to write about some of the books I’ve been reading over the next 30 days. I would like to preface this by saying I am by no means any sort of expert on the subject of yoga. So understand that my understanding comes from a beginner’s place. I will humbly share with you some of the things I am learning about, and reserve the right to change my understanding at any point in the future.
The first book I picked up about yoga was Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar. To date, I have read the first chapter, What is Yoga?, two and a half times. The first time I simply read it. The second time I highlighted. This third time through I am taking notes. There is an awful lot of information in these 35 pages. The remainder of the book contains detailed descriptions of all the asanas (poses) their purposes and properties.
What is Yoga? There appear to be many answers to that question. It is something different to each of us. Here are some quotes from the book that speak directly to me. I think you should read it yourself though if you are interested, perhaps different passages will speak directly to you.
A lamp does not flicker in a place where no winds blow; so it is with a yogi, who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him.
Work alone is your privilege, never the fruits thereof. Abandon selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure. This equipose is called Yoga.
Yoga is not for him who gorges too much, nor for him who starves himself. It is not for him who sleeps too much, nor him who stays awake. By moderation in eating and resting, by regulation in working and by concordance in sleeping and waking, Yoga destroys all pain and sorrow.
As a mighty river which when properly harnessed by dams and canals creates a vast reservoir of water, prevents famine and provides abundant power for industry, so also the mind, when controlled, provides a reservoir of peace and generates abundant energy for human uplift.
I am a person who has a very difficult time not thinking. I’m thinking constantly, and I’m often thinking about something other than what I’m doing. I think as I fall asleep, and I start again the second I awake. I am constantly changing direction. Yet I find myself amazed that for the time I am practicing yoga, I am often (not always, but often) able to think of nothing but my practice. This in itself is a miracle to me. I leave every time feeling closer to myself, newly calm and peaceful.
To finish this first entry of the 30 day yoga/blogging challenge, I will share a quote that has stuck with me for some time. I am not a person who believes in anything religious, mystical, or magical. I do not do things that require blind faith. I believe in reason and science. Yet it seems to me that it is a very simple fact that the mind and the body are one and the same, and this is why I am able to have a deeper connection with the ideas of Yoga than I am able with any other philosophy I have encountered.
“The awakened and knowing say: body I am entirely, and nothing else; and soul is only a word for something about the body.” -Nietzsche