The Yoga of Cleansing & Four Tips for Increased Vitality
Here are four tips to get you started with a fall time cleanse:
I like to tell people that yoga is born out of adversity and a deep desire to know the truth. Yoga is just as much about understanding our darkness as it is about understanding our light. It teaches how to navigate the valleys and climb to the peaks; without one you could not have the other.
No matter how much we may try to avoid misfortune or feelings of distress they find a way to creep into our life. Distress comes in many forms: a broken relationship, a parking ticket, political change, losing your job, ill health, even death. It is natural to want to avoid these kinds of experiences.
Conversely, life can be full of positive and enriching experiences. This can look like material success or healthy relationships for example. It is natural to want to covet these types of experiences despite their fleeting nature.
Ultimately yoga encourages us to move past identification with negative or positive experiences and find a source of lasting peace within, unconditioned by outer events.
Most of us are probably not there yet. Most of us still react unfavorably when the world does not conform to our expectations or get carried away when good fortune comes, secretly clinging to the hope that it will never go away.
How do we navigate the ups and downs of life and find lasting fulfillment?
Here are three suggestions:
Yoga teachings embrace the notion of karma. Briefly, the word karma refers to the act of doing something (either negative or positive) and the subsequent negative or positive result, all within the same word or notion.
Just as there is an ecology to the orbit of the earth around the sun, weather patterns, and growing a healthy garden, so to there an ecology to our actions.
Nothing in the creation happens in isolation, it is all interconnected. The fabric of life responds to and influences our conditioning, choices, actions and circumstances.
It is easy to condemn outside forces and neglect asking what our role might be in the situation.
Jokes aside, we are literally at the center of our life experience. How we feel and think about a situation happens inside of our skin and mind. The onus is on us to face our circumstances and choose the healthiest actions and perspectives, even if it is difficult at times. Ultimately, this will set us free.
If we relegate the responsibility of our life to the outside world we are destined to be disappointed.
Yoga is no different than any other form of personal enrichment in that it can become a form of spiritual narcissism and we forget about the plight of others. Everyone else has experienced or is experiencing some form of hardship, it is one of the uniting features of humanity.
This becomes particularly important when working with people who may rub us the wrong way. How can we clearly see our own shadow in response to their actions, without getting triggered and resentful in the process, thereby perpetuating the cycle of negativity?
I’m not suggesting that you become a doormat or that you should become the next Mother Teresa. I’m asking how we can create space around an ingrained “Me” orientation, and become more capable agents of good in the world in the process.
If you have gotten this far in the article, you understand the value of dedicated yoga practice. As my teacher once said “If you work on yoga, yoga will work on you.”
Cultivating ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘being kind to others’ does not have to be another hard fought battle. Regular yoga practice helps to foster these qualities so that they come more naturally.
Developing our capacity for great dedication and compassion is a gradual but inevitable process that stems from regular practice. In order for the practices to work, you have to do them. There does not seem to be anyway around that. Developing a home practice will benefit you in many, many ways. In the quiet of your candle lit basement you will cultivate wisdom and insight.
Practicing with others can also be beneficial. Particularly when done in a concentrated setting like a ytt or retreat. Practicing in these environments builds a collective power that is greater than the sum of its parts and can take your practice to the next level.
Learning how to navigate the inner forces of dark and light is a lifelong process of investigation and discovery and requires ongoing effort. Yoga can greatly accelerate that journey and empower us to face what is in front of us and extend positive regard to others along the way. Yoga is a way of life that draws out the very best within us, the fruit of which is lasting peace.
Traditionally, yoga was offered freely in service of the welfare of the whole creation. As students and teachers of yoga, how do we live in alignment with this noble ideal and still pay the bills? How do we live in attunement with yogic principles and fulfill our responsibilities?
Classic yoga offers a method -Karma Yoga.
Most of us are familiar with the word “karma”, it literally means “action”. The word “yoga” refers to a means of spiritual development. Karma yoga is the “yoga of selfless action”.
Typically we perform actions with some degree of self centeredness:
It is difficult to not get emotionally invested in our efforts, to expect a certain result and become identified with that result. This will result in one of two outcomes; either disappointment or a temporary sense of self-satisfaction.
Karma yoga asks us take a different approach, to set aside our agenda and act impartially, without attachment to the final outcome.
Acting impartially is not to be confused with apathy. As a yogi, it is necessary to perform actions wholeheartedly, just without getting “stuck” or “attached” to the outcome. Perform all actions for the actions sake alone.
Karma yoga has more to do with the spirit in which we perform actions and has less to do with the outer circumstances surrounding our activity.
One could be working in Mother Teresa’s ashram in Calcutta, tending to the needs of destitute people, all the while thinking about how awesomely selfless they are, and miss out on karma yoga. Or, perhaps someone acts as a farmer who tills the earth in service of the people who will eat the food, accepting a “good” or “bad” crop with equanimity.
The main idea is to recognize any ingrained selfish motive when performing actions and dedicate all actions in service of the highest good.
Just like asana practice, karma yoga is a practice. Karma yoga gives a point of reference in which we can bring the spirit of yoga to all of our actions (including practicing and teaching yoga). It will shine the bright light of self awareness into our activity and can be practiced at every moment.
It does not have to be perfect from the get go – it rarely is.
Learning how to recognize our own motive and choose to live in a universal way is an ongoing process one that will bring greater peace to the world and, in the great cosmic equation, benefits all (including you 🙂
Come find out more about Axis Yoga’s ongoing yoga teacher trainings. This will be a great opportunity to experience a class, meet graduates, get your questions answered and get a taste of what Axis is all about!
Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017 9:30-11am
Sixth Ave. UCC – Upstairs
3250 E. 6th Ave, Denver – 80206
As we gear up for our upcoming Spring retreat, we are examining the theme of “returning to center” and what it means. Beth Sanchez is special guest on our blog today and will be co-teaching the retreat. Let us know what you think about the notion of returning to center and self reflection. And thank you to Beth for her thoughts and commentary below.
For me, I go in and out of seeing, knowing, feeling, believing, and abiding in the deeply inter-connected Universe. – Beth Sanchez
Indra is an ancient Vedic Diety, a God-King and administrator. His net forms the very fabric of creation. At every cross point in the net, there is a jewel reflecting all other points across space and time. Everything in the mutually causal web is connected to, reflects, and is accessible through all points in the web. One incredibly close microcosm of this principle is right here in our own bodies, as this image of firing neurons suggests.
This ancient understanding is both old and new. Inter-connectivity, Inter-Being, Dependent Co-Arising, all things being related and depending on the existence of all other things to manifest; these are the truth claims of Indigenous humans everywhere and appear throughout Buddhist and Hindu thought as well as many other philosophies. In the book of Romans, Paul says “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others”. The Zulu concept of Ubuntu refers to the deep relationality of human subjects offering each other humanity and existence.
From the Rig Veda to Parmenides, to Einstein and countless (m)others, the myth of separate self-ness has been dispelled innumerable times. Yet, the delusion of separate self-entities persists. The felt experiences of separation, alienation, pain and their emergent forms of structural violence toward the (ultimately nonexistent) “other”, defy our deepest knowing.
The experiences of unified awe or divisive pain either draws us toward fulfillment or away from it. Can it be that our access point to the heart of the Universe, to what seems to evade us, to the deepest satisfaction possible is right where we are? Can it be that what we most deeply long for is hidden right here in plain sight? Can it further be that returning to the center happens easily when we practice together with our relations who have the same hunch?
Stop right now, drop into your vast being in one single slow breath. IN……..(gap), OUT……..(gap).
Isn’t it a marvel?
If that small taste intrigues you, PRACTICE TOGETHER WITH DEAR ONES who share the same hunch. For me, I go in and out of seeing, knowing, feeling, believing, and abiding in the deeply inter-connected Universe. I know that in my own habitual self-ing, other-ing also arises and is part of multiple socio-political-economic systems in which I live. I am not yet fully established in this knowing. In fact, I only get glimpses; the kind that have “ruined” an otherwise promising conventional life. Yet these glimpses are undeniable and overwhelming and they happen more reliably WHEN I AM WITH YOU! Yes, I need the help of your presence and relationality. I hope you can relate!
Let us be here together, in the very center of the practice-hood, the center of sushumna, the center of the enzo, the center of our circle of friends, the center of our Self, the center of our home, the center of the Universe, that most holy place which is right here and right now. The portals are already open.
This unique retreat is co-lead by Derik Eselius and Beth Sanchez. With 34 years of yoga teaching experience between them, they have made a significant impact on the Denver yoga community, leading Yoga Teacher Training programs, and offering classes, workshops retreats that are affordable and accessible to people of all backgrounds.
Step out of your familiar routine and open the gateway to inner renewal and freedom. This retreat will be a remarkable opportunity to cultivate fresh insights and revitalize your core with the timeless practice of yoga. Join us as as we go beyond the ‘pose’ and dive into a multidimensional yoga practice; while surrounded by the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Learn more here.
Where: YMCA – Santa Maria Camp Center: 51321 US-285, Grant, CO 80448 | One hour from Denver!
When: May 12th, 10:30am to May 14th, 12pm (home in time for Mother’s Day!)
Cost: Only $199 to cover the costs of food and lodging, making this retreat accessible to everyone, plus a donation at the conclusion of the retreat.
Register: Click here to learn more and to register!