Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Middle Way

Since birth I have been drawn to ‘the middle way’. A Libra, and a middle child in a “mixed” marriage, I guess I was pre-disposed.

What is the Middle way?

I guess it depends who you ask.

The phrase “everything in moderation” immediately comes to mind. It is a favorite saying of mine and many people I know. In general, I believe it is a healthy adage to live by, but  sometimes it is also necessary to be moderate in ones pursuit of moderation!!!

Buddhism is often called ‘the middle path’ or ‘way’. While not a Buddhist, I do follow the teachings and writings of many who are. The interpretation that speaks to me is mindfulness; responding to what is happening in the moment, rather than from dogma, habit, or preconditioned expectations.  

The Buddhist intention: not too much attachment or too much aversion also comes to mind. Awesome intention- but hard to put into daily life!!!!

Yoga also is often perceived to be a middle of the road practice as well with its emphasis on acceptance and not-attachment. Yet, the path of yoga can be quite extreme in its requirements, depending on how the teachings are interpreted. In addition, different styles of yoga often contradict each other when it comes to alignment or what is recommended on a particular path of healing. Many of my yoga teachers over the years have been definite in their beliefs and protocols and yet very few of these wise and well respected people actually agree on what those protocols are.

This just strengthens my belief in the middle way!!!
Each one has something brilliant to offer. My job is to listen to my own inner wisdom and discern which is right for me. That being said, others would say that I am watering down wise teachings- that in order for transformation to occur you must you pick a path and stick to it. 

 Which voice to follow?

There is a popular Buddhist teaching that says: if two students are walking down the road- one will be told, go a little to the left and the other a little to the right. This teaching is a teaching on the middle way- Both  instructions are accurate for what is necessary in that moment for each individual and include the recognition that to bring the whole system into balance- what is required in the moment may not feel like a to move towards centre.
It is common to encounter resistance and uncertainty when we are asked to change a pattern or a habit. Often the recommended steps feel quite dramatic or extreme- they feel out of balance. A great example is learning Tadasana. When most of us first learn how to stand in Tadasana (Mountain pose) it feels foreign, and off centre- when in reality the sensation is the body getting used to a new equilibrium.

Knowing that change feels strange-how do we know if an uncomfortable feeling is an old familiar patterns causing resistance or something genuinely not for us!!??

Sometimes checking things out with a trusted teacher or friend can be helpful and necessary.

Ultimately we can develop the capacity to follow our own inner wisdom by continually returning to the present moment- and checking in

·         pause 
·         tune into the surroundings
·         feel the breath 
·         feel the body sensations
·         open to the wisdom of the body and the moment
·         rest
The result is a few moments of presence, a brief opportunity to connect to our own experience within the larger whole. 
From here the path may be clear. In my experience rather than a definitive answer, I encounter a greater willingness to be okay with uncertainty. 
I am more likely to accept the situation and move forward from a place of curiosity and compassion instead of doubt and fear: to walk the middle way.



Friday, 14 September 2012

A Change is Gonna Come

one more from the YCW Teachers in Training 

In our fast paced  world, where everything has to be faster better stronger, where we all are  very result oriented, yoga doesn’t really fit, why choose yoga as an activity of your choice when you can lift weights, run, play sports and see results and accomplishments bright, clear and fast?
I must say, these were exactly my thoughts, the classic, ill start yoga for stretching, and hey if I learn to balance on one finger, that’s a bonus!!
It wasn’t till 3 years after I started practicing that I realized, something amazing is happening, I started noticing those oh so very subtle changes in my mood, energy levels, attitude and in my body, things just became....... well...... better, the biggest difference is all of my aches and pains from running and lifting weights went away, I didn’t even notice when it happened, just know that the pain in my knees and lower back that I have struggled with since I was 14 were gone.
When this aha yoga moment happened (notice that yoga moments are actually 3 yearlong LOL)  I knew there and then, I need to learn more about this amazing discipline and culture, so teachers training program was the natural thing to do. When the realization happened my heart was pounding like crazy all  I could think of is – I need to go to there!!!!! Clearly I didn’t know about pranayama breathing back then! 
Till this day, yoga amazes me in its subtle power and strength, the slightest miniscule adjustments make a great difference, all you need to do is learn to listen to yourself be honest about your capabilities, and well, be patient.
Yoga changes you on every level, not just the hot yoga booty everybody are talking about, the change is coming from within, therefore it takes time for it to surface. But when it does, you know that there is nothing like it, it gives you wholesomeness, connects your body and mind, helps you to feel grounded and stable, and not just for tree pose but for all your life’s positions.

Now I love hearing ‘ oh yoga is for stretching’ it means that I can tell the wonderful yoga story again, and maybe, just maybe bring one more person to a studio, take a step back and observe how their eyes just open.

Can’t wait to become a teacher and watch the magical yoga transformations happen right in front of my eyes.

Namaste everybody im going to get my – soon to be hot yoga booty on the mat for a morning practice”
Vera Rubin is a member of the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200hr Teacher Training Program

Monday, 3 September 2012

Coming Back

September always reminds me of the cycle of life.

It is a time of returning.

For some it is a loss. I have a friend who always experiences a tiny bit of grief over the end of summer. Definitely the days are getting shorter, the air a little crisper and the green starts to turn to yellow.

For me it is mostly an exciting time- a time of new beginnings and returning.  Maybe I am predisposed to see it that way- as a September babe- it literally is the New Year for me. But it’s the time of Jewish new year, and for so many the return to school.

In the yoga business, it means people coming back from holidays – rested, inspired, seeing faces we haven’t seen in months.

It is the start up of new programs and new possibilities! It never fails to surprise me how happy I am to get back in to my routine- to get fully involved in work. The same work and routine I was so grateful to have a rest from a few months ago. That is the beautiful thing about life it is always changing.

 At the same time September can feel overwhelming- especially if I forget to pause and enjoy the moment and the beauty of it all. There is so much to do so much more to be done!!!
Aak- the excitement can turn to anxiety!! On the one hand the change is inspiring, but only if I remember to breath and stay present.
As we come back into our daily routines and rhythms why not do so with consciousness, gratitude, and love. Times of change are also powerful times for transformation- even more so if we enter into it consciously and with intention.

Take a few moments to connect to what you are returning to.
Breathe and feel the beauty of this quiet moment- even if it is just one -with nothing to do.
Connect to what you love or value about your life.
What you want to cultivate, and what you want to leave behind.

Anytime you feel overwhelmed- try returning to the rhythm of the breath to the quiet beauty of this moment, and return to your life fully present ready for anything.

 Welcome back!!!