Thursday, March 31, 2011

Which Do/Be Youbie?

'To be or not to be?' This truly is the question, now isn't it?

I have had a lot of brand new students to my classes lately. This is a wonderful thing and brings me incredible joy. It really pushes me to get back into my 'Beginner's Mind' and to try to remember what 'downward facing dog' felt like that first time. Newbies force me to check my languaging; to find more creative ways of leading a posture or breath. Plus there is that bliss of bringing others to the path that has given me so much passion and Love. I have always said that even if I can only bring this passion and Love to one other person, then I have done what God has asked. Hopefully it will be way more than one.

But as a human and an instructor there is an element of newbies that intrigues me. It is the energy of their postures. Rarely do I see a beginner that, as corny and cliche as it sounds, IS a posture. This is something that I usually only see from seasoned students or other Yoga instructors. And I do know how truly corny this does sound. I am one of those folks who thinks a lot of stuff is corny and weird and to 'be the posture' is probably the absolute corniest thing I can say as a teacher.

But there is Truth in it.

You can either DO or BE. You have the choice. Some days I just 'do' but most times, in my Yoga practice at least, I 'be'. On days that I 'do' Yoga, I am usually tired and in a lot of pain. When, in those moments, I am able to give in to the Prana suddenly I will find myself not doing but being. Here is the magic of Yoga. Surrendering to Prana takes a huge leap of faith and trust in the unknown. I mean, what the hell is prana anyway?!? It's the same as asking, "What is electricity?" But you trust that when you flip the switch that the lights will come on. Prana is the same thing. Flip the prana switch and the Light will come on. Maybe it is that unconscious fear of the Light that causes us to just 'do'.... (Hmmm, I'm gonna ponder on that one for a bit...)

'Being a posture' has an energy behind it that is hard to describe but you can see it in a beginner's frame. When an arm is up over the head but is not energized, it looks dead. The energy actually stops where the Prana is stuck. Try this: flex your feet towards your face. Feel the energy in that simple movement? Now let go of the flexion. Feel how the energy 'dies'? This is what I'm referring to. And you may not feel anything at all. That's ok, but this story will seem really weird if that's the case...

Lots of times the do/be shows in the face. The 'do' student often has the uncertain 'deer in the headlights' fear look. When you see the awake student 'being a posture', Light actually radiates from the face. They glow from the inside out. The Prana switch has been flipped on! Jai! (victory!)

So now the question is posed again: To be or not to be? Are you a human doing or a human being? Are you holding the posture or is the posture holding you? Personally, I'd rather be shining Light than not, but that's just me. So I'm going to BE. BE ME!!

Now you decide, for now at least. At some point you may not have a choice. As 'A Course In Miracles' declares, "This is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time."

Do or be?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Shakti Shimmy

"Hey, girl! Wanna a burger with that shake?"
Tink and I have been talking about 'kriyas' lately. This is a very bizarre part of a spiritual path, so indulge me a little.
Kriyas (cree-ya) are involuntary movements caused by spiritual energy moving through the body. This website describes them pretty well. The first time you experience a kriya you think you are going out of your mind. It is even hard to tell where the movement is generated. The best way for me to describe how they feel is to say it is similar to when you are just falling asleep and your body jerks. Although those jerky movements are more electrical currents from the brain and kriyas are not.

Kriyas don't scare me. In fact, I enjoy them because when I am having increased kriyas I know that I am near Truth. I have seen amazing displays of kriyas whenever I have been in the physical presence of my Guru, Shri Anandi Ma. The most vigorous, almost violent display was from a woman sitting near me when I was a new disciple. It was so uncontrolled that I thought she had tic douloureux. I have seen a woman uncontrollably writhing with delight at Ma's feet during meditation. Dileepji, Anandi Ma's husband, often will just tell people to control their kriyas when Ma is instructing. It is hard to receive when all of this energy wants to escape the physical body. When he gives this command, the kriyas will just stop. Just like that.

My beloved Shri Anandi Ma

This leads to an interesting quandary.... If kriyas start on their own and are caused by energy, how come you can stop them with your mind? The answer, as I have understood it, is simple: Ask and you shall receive. That's why. As disciples of an enlightened being, we are instructed to pray to Anandi Ma for help to stop these. This works.

Kriyas can be disturbing though. When your body is flinching, shaking, or trembling we automatically think of the central nervous system. This is correct even when analyzing this completely weird part of spirituality because the sushumna lies near the spinal column and the ida and pingala wrap around the sushumna. The Kundalini's shakti winds it's way up towards the crown and sometimes Her shakti is so powerful that is is released through other parts of the body. This is nothing to be scared of or disturbed by.

(I bet if you are not a yogi, you are surprised to recognize this symbol! Yes, this is the sushumna, ida and pingala. Amazing, huh?)

One case of kriyas that I always think of is Swami Kripalu. His sadhana (personal, spiritual practice) created so much prana that it was violent at times. He practiced behind locked doors, only allowing a select few to bear witness. He often came out battered and bruised. This neither scared nor phased him. It only brought him closer to enlightenment. Also consider American religions; Shakers and Quakers. Kriyas are how they got their names. The often shook during prayer.


So you may someday find yourself quaking during class, meditation or prayer. Have no fear. Feel free to shake what the good Lord gave ya'!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

That's Why They Call it the Blues. The Kapha Blues, that is.

The following is my own experience. Feel free to have your own opinion.

I'm a kapha. I couldn't get more kapha if I tried. Kapha is one of the three Ayurveda constitutions. You can determine your own dosha by taking this simple, basic quiz. In fact when I took this quiz lately I actually had 0% pitta and 0% vata....ugh.

We all have qualities of all three doshas. Vata is primarily an air quality. Pitta is fire. Kapha is water and earth. Think of people you know. We use terms like 'air head', 'hot head', 'sluggish' to describe other people or how we're feeling. This is often a reflection of our doshas.

I've talked about my dosha before but I'm really out of balance right now. The month of January has put me in a kapha funk for the last few years. I'm usually out of it by February but this year it's taking me a little longer. (hence no blogs for most of those two months this year)

Here's my experience of what it feels like being as kapha as I am: If I'm in a water imbalance, I feel like I'm drowning. If the water and the earth are both prevailing, my blood actually feels like mud. If I'm finding some pitta (fire) in my life, I feel grounded. (the fire evaporates the water element and dries out the earth that enables me to stand firm) I rarely have a vata (air) imbalance but when I do I can actually get light-headed.

Sometimes being kaphic is fun. We're lovers, huggers and so very giving. We love to eat. My husband is also a kapha so our best vacations are lounging on a beach then going out to dinner. Personally, I think it is not so great to have two kaphas in a close relationship for that very reason. We struggle to find the motivating fire that can keep our lives going...but again, that's my experience.

The last two months I have been enveloped in a kaphic depression. I feel like that commercial with the swimmers in a pool of caramel. I can barely move. My thoughts are muddy. I don't want to face life, especially the aspects of life that require me to be fiery. I have absolutely no fire at all.

I have just started to emerge from this mud bath in the last few weeks. It's been rough though. Aas I start to emerge and feel better I can look back and see all the things in my life that have fallen through the cracks while I've been down. Here is where I have to give myself some space and not beat myself up. This is probably the worst case of the blues I have had in many years. This time around I have been excellent about not feeling guilty about feeling bad. I have done specific things to take care of myself. And most importantly, I have been honest with those around me that I haven't been feeling well, including my children. I took this time in my life to explain to them that Mom's brain isn't working as best as it can right now. We talked about, "What would we do if one of us had a broken leg? Or the flu?". We talked about how sometimes we go to a doctor. Sometimes we take medicine. Sometimes we pray. Sometimes we do all three and more. They understand this. They have even checked in with me to say, "How are you feeling today, Mom?". They are amazing.

Your brain is the most important part of your body. You must take care of it. When it doesn't feel good, it's ok. All of us get the blues, kaphic or not. Just know that it's ok to seek help. Realize why you're blue. Take preventative measures if you feel it coming on and let the people who love you the most know so that they can support you as you would them.


Here's a wonderful website I found that specifically deals with kaphic depression. Click here.

Many blessings to my fellow kaphas. May you find your fire somewhere....