New Beginnings….

Top and leggings by Inner Fire (www.myinnerfire.com)

Time to write a new blog; moving on and letting go of what needs to be let go of…

About eight weeks ago, we lost everything that we had, financially speaking. Yes, from one day to the next we were broke. My partner was close to a nervous breakdown, trying to make sense of what just happened to us.

Everyone knows being a stock market trader is not easy. Society tends to judge you as a criminal, robbing society from our common wealth. Well, everyone is different and we human beings can change if we see the necessity to do so. My partner certainly did and he was open to accepting change. Amazing, once you hit the rock bottom you become so awake and aware of what is happening in your life and what has gone sideways. 

Eight weeks ago, I was teaching yoga 12times a week in Bali but a couple of blips in our Internet connection here and there made us lose all our savings.

New beginnings… That was our only option and we had no other choice than to look forward and try to cope with our situation. 

Now, we live in Dubai and both of us have gone back to a ‘normal’ office job – doing what I love! I’m working for YogaLife Middle East magazine, while continuing to teach Yoga a couple of times a week at local shalas. It couldn’t have been more perfect and every day I am grateful for this change. Both of us found jobs we like and have started building everything from scratch, without any regrets. Only staying positive every day and doing our practice. 

Breathing in love – breathing out loss and despair. 

Inhaling change – exhaling worries and fear.

Inhaling hope – exhaling delusion.

Of course, we still come across challenges and are trying to pay the bills… Sometimes even in the ‘Yoga Business World’ you come across very non-Yogic behaviour. 

Given our financial situation, I also took a part-time managing role in a popular studio here in Dubai. However, after a week’s hard work of trying to keep both my full time job at YogaLife as well as the part-time job at the studio job alive, I realised I had to let go of one. Unfortunately, the owner of the studio believed that my working hours were only training hours. So, I should not be paid for them, even though an agreement with a probation period of three months had been signed. After her finding excuses after excuses, I was happy to receive a ‘little gesture’ from her side. This was a great lesson for me. You will still come across the so-called Yogis, who believe they have changed after their Yoga Teacher Training, but still forget their Yamas and Niyamas (ethical guiding principles in Yoga) very easily. We were in need of this money and tried to reason with the owner, but humans tend to forget their human side…. not able to let go of greed. The only thing we can do is to let go of ‘what no longer serves us’. So I did.

Nonetheless, everything happened for a reason… CHANGE.

What happened in the past weeks have been a dream come true in many other ways. For me personally this recent journey has been an extraordinary experience. 

Along with all the good and bad on the job front, I got the opportunity to help organise the UN International Yoga Day event here in Dubai. We invited my dear teachers A.G. Mohan with family, and Maryam Ovissi. What a wonderful experience it was to partake in guiding apractice for 17.000 people next to my great teachers Nitya Mohan and Maryam!

For my partner these weeks have been an awakening, and a fresh ‘breath of air’,with a beautiful outlook on life and all the avenues you can create.

You will be amazed what life has to offer when you trust the universe (Ishvara Pranidhana) and practice your Yoga ‘off the mat’. One door closes and the next opens, and you always come back on your path and travel your journey. 

Every one of us has a deep desire for happiness. But what we tend to believe is that our happiness is connected with a euphoric feeling and fun experience influenced by external factors such as wealth and success, instead of just a state of a steady mind with contentment and peace, no matter what happens around you… Even if your own world falls apart.  

You peel off all these layers of roles and conditioning you have inherited and lived with, until you discover your real light shining so bright without undergoing rollercoaster rides with euphoric highs and depressing lows. 

We can find this light within ourselves with the help of our breath and Yoga practice.

Everything that happened was meant to be. Meeting A.G. Mohan was just meant to be; reminding ourselves of the purpose of our Yoga practice: Calming our minds and minding our minds. 

A.G. Mohan and his son Dr. Ganesh Mohan beautifully summarised this in their latest book Yoga Reminder: Lightened Reflections.

Yes! We have lost everything, but we have gained so much more and we are steady on our journey to our real self.

OM NAMAHA

The Art of Letting Go.....

copyright © Azure Yoga

How many times in our lives have we felt like letting go is the hardest thing that we have ever done. We, human beings get so attached to humans, things, concepts, ideals, principles, routines, lifestyles, plans etc... and every time we experience change it feels as our world is shaken and collapsing and we are not able to comprehend what just happened to us..

Just a couple of months ago I experienced something similar… Many times in my life I had to move countries due to circumstances and situations, which did not leave me a choice sometimes. Yet again, I left my home that I built up for a year and finally, I felt settled and at peace. But sometimes our life takes us out of our comfort zone and we need to leave again. Honestly, this time moving felt easier. It would not be without the help of my daily Yoga practice and what we have been taught in our Yoga Teacher Training. I am very grateful to have teachers that have empowered us with tools to take our practice ‘off our mats’ and try to apply the Yoga philosophy such as the Yamas and Niyamas to our daily ethical guiding principles.

Kriya Yoga being one of the major tools that can help us to peel off our layers of conditioning imposed by our society and ourselves with the help of disciplining our mind and willing to change, surrender to what the universe brings to us…

The act of letting go with the help of Kriya Yoga in form of Tapas, self-discipline and choosing growth, Svadhyaya, self- study inviting us to get to know our real self, and Ishvara Pranidhana, surrendering to the universe and paying attention to what life is asking of us. Allowing ourselves to change consciously with our circumstances.

As water changes its flow with obstacles being in its way. Flexible, yet balanced and stable. Yet, changes also ask us to give time to grieve and die a bit more to regain strength for life as we experience it in our own Yoga practice ‘on the mat’. We start to warm up reaching the climax of the wave, releasing and dying with each Savasana at the end of our practice to let go and release what no longer serves us. We can try to apply exactly the same in our lives, while finding our equilibrium so that the fluctuations of our minds and lives balance out to find peace in letting go and willing to change. Our body changes every second. Our cells change constantly, and wouldn’t it be easier for us not to fight these changes and just accept. Change takes us out of our comfort zone. Opening our eyes to change and trying to break our vicious cycle of fighting it, could help us fight our vicious cycle in our conditioning. How we see change helps empowering ourselves to be our best self without the veils that hide our beautiful inner light, which each of us carry.

Controlling everything, the opposite of letting go, is exhausting and won’t necessary make the situation better. Trusting that the path is right and that everything happens for a reason.

If it is meant to be, it is meant to be..

Pade Pade …Step by step letting go.

Alertness and Relaxation - Off the mat

This weekend I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, who made a very interesting observation when reading my last story ‘practice self care and be a warrior of light’ on YOGI TIMES.

He has just recently started practicing Yoga and he started reading a lot on it. We discussed the notion of practicing Yoga ‘on the mat’ and he felt it was overrated ‘being on the mat’. Why does the mat get so much importance?...A notion of being depending on the mat…

I remember in our Yoga teacher training our BelovedYoga teachers gave us homework: to practice our Sun Salutations without a mat just on the floor at home and note down what we experienced.

And yes, I realized that we get so attached to our mats, the comfort of not slipping and feeling a strong foundation to practice on. When I felt the carpet or floor under my feet and hands, I was aware that I was alert and had to engage my core more to form a stable foundation, the stihra, for the easiness and sweetness of the asanas (poses), the sukha in the Sun Salutations.

As stated in Pantañjali Yoga Sūtras  2.46 ‘sthirasukhanmāsanam’ , translated ‘Āsana must have the dual qualities of alertness and relaxation’(T.K.V. Desikachar).

Like a balancing act with everything in life, an equilibrium between strength/alertness and comfort/ease. In life many things can happen that challenges our strength and flexibility and we need to adapt. Like walking on ice and feeling your feet loosing their grip instead of staying in your knees and trying to slide on the ice. The same in life… once we get too attached to our taken for granted stability, it will be harder for us to adapt.

What about if we felt the stability, the strength within ourselves to practice Yoga ‘on the mat’, also ‘off the mat’? Because within ourselves lies the true strength that we human beings all embody and tend to forget. Our true self has been conditioned by our society to rely on certain set of behaviors and ways of thinking. We alone can form our strength to act and walk through life with easiness and happiness without external factors, which change and constantly tend to influence us on a daily basis. Our strength is within all of us and we can use it to practice Yoga ‘off the mat’ with easiness and clarity without struggle and more listening to our own teacher.

However, we do sometimes in life need some support from outside, from family and friends to build our foundation in life and ’walk our path’.

Like a beginner taking his/her first Yoga class and would need the support from the mat (and the guidance of a teacher) in order to build strength and build his/her foundation for the future Yoga practice.

The same principle ‘sthirasukhanmāsanam’ (Pantañjali, Yoga Sūtras 2.46) can be adopted in life.

Confessions…

I feel the guilt inside of myself as I know I have neglected my body… the sanity of my mind and the deepness of my soul….How can I get out of this vicious circle? Get on your mat and stop self-pitying yourself and start loving yourself!

I have indulged in excessive dramas in my life, became a ‘drama queen’ and hence connected always with people, who have fuelled the dramas and have brought out the worst in me.. As an addiction always returning and not being able to cure myself from treating myself without any respect and dignity.. The side of myself, which is hidden deep inside of me and comes out when I cannot bear the weight on my shoulders and burn out… the need to burst after endlessly pleasing everyone and afraid of being judged and frowned upon..not being good enough and being accepted.

I am sure that many of you know what I am speaking of.. We do things sometimes we are definitely not particularly proud of and it takes even longer to be forgiven, but not forgotten and surely it will take longer to forgive yourself…

Yoga has helped me in the past year to let go of guilt, which was more a manifestation of my ego, growing even bigger with every sale I completed, more money I earned and the more successful I became…and the fear to be endlessly judged as a ‘bad’ person and a failure.. One day you realize that this is not ‘it’. Life should be more than that!

I let go of a non-functional marriage, of a family that loved their prejudices and high judgments first before being humane and accepting me… and a career, which didn’t serve me as a ’being’ rather another nice item on my CV…

Finally I freed myself from unwise decisions I have made without listening to my heart, my inner voice… It was painful and lonely from time to time… But I grew stronger and started standing on my ‘four corners of my feet’… every day on my mat and saluting the sun to let my light shine bright and sharing this light with every fellow yogi…. Ahimsa = non-violence, not only towards others, but also towards yourself and finding the compassion and kindness for yourself… without having to struggle, be punished and judged upon..

Loving yourself..

The hardest thing I have ever learned with the help of Yoga. Because we have been taught to be strong and showing no weakness as it can be used against us…

Try it out! Start on your mat and ‘handle yourself with care’! Not pushing, not competing… just loving and accepting yourself :) Be a warrior of light!

Namaste! 

©   Gregory Bonin de Pissarro e MacJames    Virabhadrasana III - Warrior III

© Gregory Bonin de Pissarro e MacJames

Virabhadrasana III - Warrior III

Asanas.... aesthetics vs your own individual Yoga

After a lot of thinking I finally decided to fill the Azure Yoga Gallery with images... Yet again, I feel the great importance to emphasise that images of fancy yoga poses is not why we practice Yoga ;-) hint hint... Maybe we have started out this way and fell in love with the aesthetics of Yoga poses without understanding the meaning of each asana (defined as 'pose', literally meaning 'sitting down' in Sanskrit) and it's benefits.

One of our teachers, Jafar Alexander just recently reminded me how we can define Vinyasa Yoga... 'a symphony of energies through the flow of breath connected with movements'.. Each component has a meaning and when connected together we flow through the practice... Each pose with our breath works with energies... 

So each of us has a different asana adapted to our own unique breath, body, mind and real self.... Yoga is more than about poses.... And you will notice with your daily practice that your body feels differently every single day... Not only your body but also your mind...You will feel stronger yet flexible to face each days' challenges... healthier with a calm mind..

Practice, feel it and think about it!;-)

©   Gregory Bonin de Pissarro e MacJames   Eka Pada Rajakopatasana (Mermaid Pose)

© Gregory Bonin de Pissarro e MacJames

Eka Pada Rajakopatasana (Mermaid Pose)

From doing to being!

'The point is that asana is infinite, underlining a practice that is about process rather than attainment of some preconceived perfect form.'- Mark Stephens