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Week 11: Live Your Yoga with Svadhyaya

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Good Morning Everyone and Happy Last Week of Pure Vida...

This week is about "Self Study." This subject is near and dear to me. When I look back on all my years of wanting to improve myself, I lead myself to believe that Self Improvement was Self Study. At this point, however, I feel they are quite different indeed.

To truly know yourself is a difficult task. It is so easy to lie to ourselves about what our personal truth is, but as the old saying goes: "The truth will set you free." In a society where so many are still trying to be good and trying so hard to present themselves as good, the idea of self-study gets lost in translation.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing in this whole wide world worth more than trying to be good, but no one learns by doing things right all the time. So why do we cherish being right the way we do? Is it that we do not want to own up to the dark sides of ourselves? Is it because we are afraid we cannot be dark, wrong, or different in our society? Or do we feel that being wrong is wrong indeed?

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Week 10: Live Your Yoga with Ishvara Pranidhana

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This week is about Surrender. In many ways I have no right to write about surrender and in many ways I have completely earned the right to write about it. I have this little rule: "You cannot teach what you have not experienced." I am not sure I am your teacher here, but nonetheless the rule still applies. Surrender has been a very tough subject for me to live. Being a recovering control freak, I am the epitome of non-surrender. For me learning to surrender hinges on trust and allowing my circumstances to be dictated by God. When we are young we are in the back seat while God is driving. Eventually we get to be in the front seat not to drive, but to get a front seat view as a passenger. One might think being a passenger is too passive, but living in a state of surrender is about knowing you’re better off letting your higher power drive.

My teacher used to always say to me if you get out of the way, "God will create circumstances that you could not have dreamed of." When we get in the way, we can alter and screw up the very blessings that were meant to come our way. Forcing, rushing, and manipulating God’s plans for us because we believe our two cents are needed, or to insure we get our way.

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Week 9: Live Your Yoga with Tapas

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This week’s assignment is about Self-Discipline. Yes, the everyday you gotta do what you gotta do self-discipline, but also so much more. We are talking about the self-discipline that not only gets the job done, but also refines and redefines you along the way. This is the type of self-discipline that defines the quote "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen". Of course, this crowd does not get out of the kitchen. We stand in our fire knowing full well what the fire was made for...transformation.

For a Yogi to "show up on the mat" is so much more than a few hours away from home. It is to offer ourselves to something a little grueling at times so that we may become a higher version of ourselves. Our practice does not need to be grueling everyday, it can be rather fun and adventurous for sure, but either way it should be done with self-discipline in mind. Stepping on our mats is an investment in our future. We are investing in the only home we will ever really have, mind and body.

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Week 8: Live Your Yoga with Santosha

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This week’s assignment has to do with contentment. It is so easy to be content when all is going well for us--when the moment is meeting us just the way we like it. But what if it isn't? All too often we are investing in making sure that our needs are met. Essentially there is nothing wrong with that, but at times it can be a distraction from letting things just be what they are.

Sometimes it seems like we are always getting ready for the next thing rather than enjoying what we have. I see this while I am eating. I was raised in a family with 11 kids. Food was not abundant so a vibration of "I better get mine" was present at my family dinner table. I have always eaten too fast—often not putting my fork down to get ready for the next bite before I am done with the one I have. Then I pick up my plate the second I am done to clean up. At times I do not remember chewing my food, which is an important part of eating indeed. Once I realized this, I started practicing putting my fork down after each bite so I can enjoy it and savor the moment.

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Week 7: Living Your Yoga with Saucha

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This week’s assignment has to do with Purity.

Yoga changed for me in a big way when I viewed it from the perspective that Yoga is the Purification of the Mental, Emotional and Physical being.

Hatha Yoga is designed to balance and purify the body while bringing "light" or consciousness into the being, especially the joints. While everything is energy, the contents of your emotional and mental activity is stored in the body lending to your physical state while our physical state lends to our mental and emotional responses. The next time you step on your mat please remember what your doing is far more than exercise and if you work with yourself properly you will have accomplished a great deal indeed.

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Week 6: Living Your Yoga with Aparigraha

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This week’s assignment has to do with non-attachment. Also considered non-greed, non-grasping, non-clinging, and non-coveting. This assignment is one I have been working on for a very long time. As a recovering control freak attachment is something I am well versed at.

My teacher once said to me " All attachment leads to suffering.” She said it in passing but I grasped onto the statement and began to work with it. I thought to myself, "Fantastic, I will learn to attach to nothing and then my suffering will diminish." The studios are a great place to practice this principle, loving people while not getting attached to their story's or humanness. Right in the middle of my undertaking, my dog, whom I love so, so much, was let out of my back yard. I will never ever forget the grief that I went through that night!! I was literally down on my knees begging God not to take my Duffy away from me. Yes, I was deeply and happily attached.

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Week 5: Living Your Yoga with Brahmacharya

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This week’s assignment has to do with non-excess. When has a good thing, a fun thing, turned into too much? I have relied on exercise to keep me in balance since I was in my early 20's, ridding my body of excess energy but I have certainly gone overboard throwing my self into a manic state of kinetic energy by overdoing the very thing that acts as good medicine for me to achieve balance.

What about the vacations we take to rest and recover from our busy lifestyles only to come home and want to take a vacation from our vacation as we spent our precious time over-indulging in activity, food, and drink, leaving ourselves lethargic rather than refreshed. Can we slow down and practice "just enough" so we leave the moment feeling calm and refreshed rather than lethargic or aggressive from doing too little or too much?

I learned a great lesson years ago from overspending on clothes. My closets were packed with stuff to wear.

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Week 4: Living Your Yoga with Asteya

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This week's assignment has to do with stealing. Of course none of us would walk into Target, for example, and steal something. That is not the focus this week. This week we focus on the more insidious ways in which we steal from ourselves and others.

How about one-upmanship? Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you are sharing an important experience and before you can finish your story they have stolen from you by telling you how, not only had they already done that, BUT how they did it bigger or better than you did? Or made the conversation about themselves entirely?

How about stealing from the earth? With our current water shortage our community was certainly challenged to only take from the earth what was necessary. I scolded myself more than once for allowing the water to run in the sink while I "quickly" did something else rather than treating running water as a very precious moment indeed. We do not own the earth or its resources! It is on loan from us with the idea that we will cultivate it in preparation for future generations.

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Week 3: Living Your Yoga with Satya

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This week's assignment has to do with truth. Truth is is a very tricky subject. Most of us know when we are telling a white lie--a lie that will protect the feeling of another when it is in their highest good.

What about the lies we tell ourselves that are not in our highest good? These "little" lies might be about a relationship we are in. We know the relationship is not in our best interest but we are afraid to end it for social implications. Or we lie to ourselves about our lifestyle trying to justify a behavior when we know deep down this is not in our highest good. Or what about being nice rather than being real? Sometimes nice is just a cover up because being real is far to difficult or courageous.

Being honest and real takes courage! At the top of that list is not worrying about the opinions of others, about your authenticity, or your unique path. Real, though not always pleasant, is trustworthy. Sometimes when I give people an honest compliment they say "you're so sweet." I always laugh and say "I'm not sweet! I'm honest." This makes the compliment so much better.

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Week 2: Living Your Yoga with Ahimsa

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This week’s assignment has to do with non-violence. Your first reaction might be "What?! I'm not violent". Killing and doing physical harm are grosser forms of violence but non-violence has subtler implications as well. Feeling hurried, competitive, overworked, afraid, and speaking harshly of ourselves or others are also forms of violence. I know, with my own practice of non-violence, anytime I feel angry at someone about something and feel tempted to voice it I get a deep feeling of caution within me. No matter how justified I feel in the moment, most often than not I have no right to speak out about another based on my own anger. This is a very deep practice that I hold near and dear to me. I fail for sure but I practice. Just like on my mat.

Another form of violence is not wishing your "competitor" success or down right working against someone you feel is your competitor because of the fear that it will thwart your own success. These may be things that you don't do but at the same time you might just find a hidden thought or feeling "if they succeed that means I won't". There is plenty to go around.

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