Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn
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Sutra 1.4 Tada drastuh svarupe’vasthanam
Tada=then; drastuh= the Seer; sva = own; rupe=in (Itself)color, in (itself) nature; avasthanam = abides.
Translation: Then the Seer (Self) abides in Its own nature.
Everyday human translation: Sometimes, after everything, that shit (Sutra 1, 1.2, 1.3) does not work and we think what we want to think. The vrittis, the mental modifications take over and we identify with them. We cannot be our true selves.
This sutra very quickly lets us realize that we let our mind easily control us and that it is very important for us to gain control.
So what then?
The idea is to let go of those ever changing, constantly fluctuating thoughts. The idea is to calm the mind. Why? Because behind a calm mind, we are all the same.
This idea is hard for me to grasp. If we are not what we are thinking – what makes up our being? If we cannot identify with what are we are – I am a woman, I like to cook – who are we? If our thoughts are not a basis for who we are instinctually, then WHO ARE WE?
That’s where I have to let go of that thought. I think back to the first three sutras and remember that our thoughts change constantly. How can we base who we are on something that is always altering? We cannot. And once we let go. Once we all let go – what do we have?
“We will have happy and harmonious lives. Only then can we love our neighbors as our own Self. Otherwise, how is it possible?…That’s why yoga is based on self-reformation, self-control and self adjustment. When this reformation is accomplished we will see a new world, a harmonious and happy world.”
If that’s not reason enough to keep a clear mind, I don’t know what is.
Happy Friday all.
Sutra 1.2 – Yogas cittas vritti nirodhah
Translated – The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.
In Sutra 1.2 Pantajali tells us the definition of the yoga and the goal. Yoga is the quieting of the mind – it is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind stuff. If our mind was a lake – sometimes it has so many ripples it looks like a thousand rocks were just throw into it. Now imagine that lake clear, calm, peaceful with no ripples – that is your brain on yoga ☺ Sorry I had too.
It is said that if we master this sutra – we are able to master yoga.
Within the goals of yoga, changing the outside world is not one of them. It is not the world, or the things or the people within it that liberate or bind us. It is only our attitudes towards them that constrict us. So, to change our world, we must change our thoughts. If we are able to control our mind…our possibilities are endless and nothing will be able to bind us.
“The entire world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude. The entire world is your projections. Your values may change within a fraction of a second…. If we remember that, we won’t put so much stress on outward things.”
So that’s great and all, but how do I control my mind? Well a good start is the breath. You have certainly noticed at some point or another that when you work on deepening your breath or slowing it down, you immediately calm down? You are focusing on you, your breath and nothing else. Yoga is built on this. When you start to get stressed out on the mat, focus on your breath. You will begin to see things clearer – the ripples will smoothen.
Bit by bit we work on this, on the mat. The nice thing about the sutras is that is shows us that what happens on the mat, also happens off of it. It is a constant, continual practice. Eventually we will be able to control our thoughts so matter where we move.
This is especially a nice thought in New York where just walking out the front door is a constant battle. It is my hope that one day I walk out the door and feel a clear, blue lake with bright skies instead of being assaulted by the smell of garbage and a searing humidity. Everyday is a practice…
What do you do to help clear your mind?
Yoga Teacher training was an intense twelve weeks filled with asana (poses), anatomy, philosophy and practice teaching. At my times, my body and brain felt as though they were combust. One of my unexpected favorite parts of the class was the philosophy lectures when we talked about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
The word sutras can simply defined as ‘threads’ and teachers use these threads to add their own “beads” of experience for the sake of their students and themselves.
It was Patanjali who expounded yoga thought throughout these scriptures and is often considered the father of yoga. It is unknown when he lived exactly but the Sutras can be dated to range from 5,000BC to 300AD. There are 200 of them. So much for the Ten Commandments huh? As Patanjali talked, his students jotted the Sutras down shorthand. Most of the sutras are just words or thoughts barely reaching a fully formed sentence.
The science of yoga is defined within the Sutras — It’s purpose, the practice, the obstacles you meet, how to remove said obstacles and finally the results. Each sutra flow into the next. The Sutras are split into four chapters or “Padas”. 1.Portion on Contemplation 2.Portion on Practice 3. Portion on Accomplishments 4. Portion on Absoluteness.
Spiritually, studying the sutras has given me what I have always craved and it has only just begun. I look forward to dissecting the sutras here as I move forward in my studies. It is my goal to start at the beginning and go Sutra by Sutra. I hope you enjoy them as much as me.
Sutra 1.1 in the Portion of Contemplation reads first reads: Hatha yoga anusasanana
Translated – Now the exposition of Yoga is being made.
Simply read – Yoga is now. Every single moment of every single day is yoga.
What does this mean? Yoga is only when on my mat for one-hour maybe one hour and thirty minutes! No. Here Patanjali says that our yoga practice goes beyond the physical and must be practiced all day every day for “without practice, nothing can be achieved.”
The physical yoga, which we all practice today, was designed to help us get to the real Yoga which is completely mastering your mind. And that is something that must be worked on when we are brushing our teeth, making breakfast, riding the train, etc.
More next Friday in Sutra 1.2.
As I sit down to write for the first time in a year, I feel myself becoming itchy.
Facebook – open – close – open – CLOSE. Do I need coffee? Yes. Is that hunger? Should I make my smoothie now or later? It’s hot. Let me rearrange the fan. Do I need to pee? Without a doubt.
And on and on and on and ON.
It’s been a YEAR.
What exactly have I been doing for a year that would take me from the one thing I have always claimed to love?
Asking yourself questions is hard. The mind interrupts with thoughts of more coffee and I’m hungry and running water, etc and more often than not those questions never get answered.
But today, now that the time is quiet and I’ve calmed my itchy-ness, I’m answering those questions because really, the answers are easy and they are nothing to be afraid of.
I got busy and then well, I fell in love – twice.
I can see now, very specifically the time I stopped writing this blog and it coincides with when my boyfriend and I started talking about moving in together. How typical right? Girl falls in love, girl forgets blog… but it was then that the world started spinning and I wondering what exactly I had gotten myself into. It was also then when I started to admit I was falling head over heels.
Love is scary y’all.
The world didn’t stop spinning until January. It was after a December of moving, a Christmas with both of our families (together – YIKES) and a January of silence and unpacking that things finally stopped moving. At dinner one night, I looked at this man, across our kitchen table and plates that I’m sure were filled with fresh pasta and realized that I felt at peace. I felt silence and love and I was ok with staying like that forever.
And because our love is the encouraging type, he wasn’t deterred when I said I wanted to sign up to do my 200 hour teacher training at YogaWorks and in turn losing every weekend for 3 months straight. He took it as a coup to have a yoga teacher girlfriend and went with it.
It was then that I fell in love a second time – with yoga. As someone who has been practicing for almost 10 years, I had doubts about what this training could do for me. My hips were just too big and my butt was just too wide to get into some positions. That was that.
No – it turn out that was not that. It turns out, yes I can hold plank for that long (which, in teacher training, is forever – FYI) and it is possible (sometimes) for me to do this (which I thought for be never ever, ever).
The training was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and I look forward to sharing my continuing education here on this blog.
So here I am. Still in love, but back. Awake. The fog is lifted and I’m ready to have my weekends back along with a cake or two here and there.
The focus here will be shifting a bit. I’ll be delving more into yoga and yoga philosophy. I’ll of course cooking and baking more with a focus on delving into my forgotten cookbooks. P and I also have a project in the works – coming soon!
I had every intention to write about my 30 days of Bikram yoga but sadly, I found that just adding yoga to my schedule this time of year was enough to cause me a heart attack. Never mind setting aside the time for blogging.
But now, as I (finally) find myself in the midst of a quiet Sunday morning, with no urgency, I am slowly but surely contemplating my 31st day of Bikram. I am also realizing why most who do blog about their 30-day challenge only periodically check-in. It takes up a lot of your freaking time! Between a 9-10 hour work day, 90 minutes of class, trying to feed yourself something that won’t make you nauseous, seeing your loved ones and making sure you have dry CLEAN clothes for the next day you are barely left with a minute to breathe.
Regardless, here I am. Breathing.
To sum up my entire experience, I can break the 30-day challenge into 4 different parts.
The first 10 days were a piece of cake. I got this, I thought.
Part 2 Days 10-20
It was somewhere between day 10 and day 13 where I started to feel as though my body was falling apart from the inside out. I am very flexible but it was in this time period where I felt like every class was my first. It hurt to touch my toes. Every day between day 10 and day 20 was something different. One day my toes hurt. Another, my shoulders. And another my wrists. Day by day the yoga worked through me – healing, detoxing, aligning. Or at least that’s what I was telling myself. This lasted up until about day 20, which is right on par with what the teacher estimated.
Part 3 Days 20-26
Around day 19 or 20, the pain stopped, but mentally I was a mess and I wanted it to stop. I needed to not wake up at 5:45 for once. I needed to not carry a 10 pound bag filled with soaking towels to work. I needed to not have to wash my hair, for once. But I kept going. Work is driving me insane and the only thing I kept thinking was “Imagine what I would be like if I wasn’t doing 90 minute of yoga in a 110 degree room every morning…”
This is also when the amount I was sweating doubled. I found it impossible that I could sweat MORE but it turns out, it happens. The heat allows you to work deeper which means your body is constantly working harder which means…you got it…more sweat.
Part 4 day 26-30 (31?)
Thing started to come together at the end. My body is sore, like after a good workout, and not in pain. My balance got better, my body more aligned, and my postures steady. I began to realize that this is something I can regularly put into my weekly routine…more than twice a week. I begun to not to want to punch my very fit boyfriend every time he jokingly said I just don’t understand why you don’t do it all time time and why you need a ‘challenge’. All positive steps!
Overall I can’t say that I got exactly what I wanted out of the 30 days. But, my initial goals were a bit shallow I suppose. I had certain hopes for certain postures and that was about it. I wasn’t expecting to learn better weight distribution. I also wasn’t expecting my skin to clear up so much – issues that I usually have to take medication for are gone. I also wasn’t expecting my body to tone up as much as it has. And day-by-day, I wasn’t expecting to renew my love for yoga as much as I had. I had forgotten what initially drew me to Bikram but now, after a 30-day love fest, the realization of why I go has become clearer and stronger than ever.
So that’s that.
My busy, BUSY work season is almost at a close so I’ll be back in that kitchen soon enough. Stayed tuned!
As of today I am officially half way done with my 30 Day Bikram Yoga challenge. I hadn’t thought to write about it. I also hadn’t thought about the onslaught of physical and emotional turmoil my body would encounter as I delved deeper and deeper into my yoga practice. So here I am.
The 15 days have been difficult. The last five more so than any of the days that came before it. I woke up Monday fine but class left me fatigued and dehydrated from a bit of Sunday afternoon beverage fun. The class left me weepy. Panicky. Questioning. I didn’t know what to do with it.
So I drank some water.
And then I drank more water.
Rinse and repeat.
Friday. Day 15 gave me confidence I could finish the last 15. I was a bit distracted throughout the class, but I worked strong. And when the backbends came up, I finished stable and not weepy. The panicky component of Monday – Thursday left me and I left…lighter. Thank you Bikram.
I decided to do the 30-day challenge quickly. I needed some balance. I needed structure to my diet as I entered a particular harrowing work month. I wanted to get better at standing head to knee. Most of all, I needed…time. And if Bikram gives you anything, it gives you time. It gives you 90, sweaty minutes of it. Ninety, sweaty minutes of you staring yourself in the face asking “why god why?”
I joke, but the Bikram practice; my Bikram practice has become my church. It’s given me patience, solitude, and a peace of mind. It’s given me confidence in the bigger picture, confidence in others around me and most of all it’s made me more confident.
And yes, all this led me to dedicating myself to 30 days of 90 minutes in a 105+ degree room. Join me while I finish the journey?