"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
I recently learned this lesson when taking the whole family on a weekend excursion. My husband had a soccer tournament and "I" had yet to tag along for what was described as a fun and social weekend. So we packed up the boys and headed off to Saskatoon.
Part of me was thinking, no problem, we can do this. The media, social media, friends and family questions how to travel with two children under the age of three and I kinda felt like, what's the big deal. I'm going to have fun and a social weekend.
This is not what happened...
Now, don't get me wrong, there were wonderful aspects of the weekend (sushi in North Battleford, swimming at the hotel pool) but the not so great parts were spending time in a dark hotel room during the day (naps, anyone?), not sleeping myself at night with the noisy neighbour next door the first night and the anticipation of a noisy baby waking up my quiet neighbours the second night. We didn't even attend one soccer game!
So my learning was...
"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
How does this apply to yoga?
In many ways but particularly to this week's practice of baby wearing yoga.
It is with all good intentions this type of practice. Our teacher is wonderful. Yet, baby boy isn't too keen on being strapped to me, facing inward for a whole hour. Can't blame him, can you? We gave it a try and about ten minutes in, I called an audible. Time for him to come out even though we were the first to do so. Quite frankly, we were both uncomfortable (read: a 20 pound baby strapped to my front is not a friend of my back nor pelvic floor).
I was the odd (wo)man out in class but who cares. I had learned my lesson before and didn't bother pushing myself into something that was not enjoyable. Why bother bonding with my son or try a yoga practice if it is uncomfortable?
In the end, we will continue to attend the class but will likely be separated by some space...because we can.
Where do you need to step back in your yoga practice or life for some space? And stop doing something just because you can.
More yoga (life) adventures to come,
It's one thing to learn all the physical poses in yoga, how they are "performed" and their Sanskrit name but there is a whole other side of yoga - the philosophy of practice.
Over the last couple weeks, I've come across the word "tapas" in my reading and while participating in various yoga DVDs. It stopped me in my tracks because I thought "tapas" meant food, appetizers to be exact. What does that have to do with yoga?
Well, like many words, there are multiple meanings and definitions for one single word. So in fact it can be used on a restaurant menu but also in the context of yoga philosophy.
I had to know more...
And in drops Patanjali again as Tapas is found in his writings. It is under his second limb of the eight limbed yoga system otherwise known as the Niyamas, or suggested observances. Tapas is referred to as austerity.
Okay, so sounds like non-indulgence. I've found others write about tapas as discipline or the means of doing the work. The word "tapas" in Sanskrit means "heat" and has been referred to the "fire within".
So how does this all fit?
Judith Hanson Lasater wrote it well on her website:
"This is the spirit of tapas: the willingness to follow through with difficult decisions while maintaining compassion for all the effects that those decisions might have for self and others. Tapas is ultimately measured in the consistent willingness to begin practice again and again, over and over again to bring awareness to this very moment. Ultimately nothing is more difficult than consistency. "
My many weeks of working on downward facing dog may be an example of tapas for me. In Yoga as Medicine book, Timothy McCall writes that downward facing dog is a good pose to build tapas.
Also, for me, pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) this week and quite frankly, every time I practice this pose, it takes not only physical energy but mental toughness to get through holding the static hip stretch.
But others argue that it isn't about being pushed in a pose that works on tapas.
Regardless, the presence of this word popping up over and over the last while fits into others areas of my life. It has me thinking that I've been building tapas as a parent and as an individual wanting to contribute in this world.
Lots of single parenting lately due to circumstance beyond our control and what.I.hope.will.have.huge.impact-type project (not yet revealed!) that has been taking up a place (and space) in my mind and heart for a while. Both have pushed me and being consistent in vision and awareness has been key.
As with anything that is worth it, being consistent and enjoying the process (even when it sucks - ya pigeon pose, I'm talking to you!) is essential.
So, bring it on! How are you building tapas?
With it being Thanksgiving this weekend, it was time to reflect on what we
have in our worlds and what we are most grateful for.
How often do you reflect on what you are thankful for? More than once a year?
I find that my yoga practice is the time where I reflect the most. It quiets the mind and allows for a focus on what is important (no multitasking allowed!) I
particularly love the yoga teachers who ask questions and allow for inner
reflection at the beginning, middle and end of class. It's almost like the yoga
practice is then more of a mental challenge versus a physical challenge.
What resonates a lot during my individual practice is the power, grace and beauty of the human body. I am grateful that my body allows me to move and breathe, which nourishes the mind, body, and soul.
In the writings of Patañjali, an ancient yoga scholar, he writes of the Eight
Limbs of Yoga. I know the very basics of his writing from my academic yoga class but I thought to myself there must be somewhere in his writings where he references gratitude. I went searching and found that under the second limb, Niyamas, or the "rules" or "laws" of personal observance, he highlights a similar idea with Santosha. Santosha might align well with gratitude. It is being satisfied with what one has. Maybe in other words, thankful for what we have?
I will leave the readings of Patañjali for another day but practicing yoga daily,
weekly, monthly sure allows me to reflect on what I am thankful for more than once a year!
And I'd be remiss if I didn't reflect on what I am thankful for beyond my yoga practice.
It is in these moments that I am most grateful...the wonderful people I
have in my life (the newest edition exploring the world!)
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.