Heartwood

The heart of your yoga is guided by principles of practice…

 

“You are what your deep, driving desire is.

As your desire is, so is your will.

As your will is, so is your deed.

As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

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When you practice yoga be the Lover.

For each detail of movement and breath vitalizes

in the attendance of passionate, tender devotion.

-Jennifer Dhyana Nucci

 

Guiding Principles of Practice:

Here are a few essential  principles of a dedicated, effective yoga practice.  This is certainly not all of them, but these are for all practices, all traditions.  All of these will help you to begin a yoga practice and deepen a yoga practice. 

 

Breath:

Breathe fully and feel.  Breathe naturally.  Invite your breath to grow.  Explore the boundaries of your inhale and exhale.  Explore the living emptiness at the end of your exhale and the moment when your inhale crests and drops into your exhale.

Consciously, deeply, value your breath as an enlightening guide and indicator of how you are.

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Sthira:

gathering into your center, into that which is steady, stable, enduring, changeless:

..physically this can mean your center as your belly, your energetic center as your heart space at the center of your chest, your spiritual center as the quiet unwavering soul space of you.

Here, in the quality of being called sthira, there is no waivering, no doubt, no second guessing.

This is an inner space of steadfastness that your body responds to: physically, emotionally, mentally…  Try to feel into something within yourself that is unchanging yet alive.  Unchanging not in the way of stagnant, but in the way of always present no matter what the outward circumstances may be.  Inwardly inquire about this everlastingness within and gently and quietly wait for the response, from within.  There is a living stillness; a fullness that when tapped into  loses nothing of its original nature.

When you practice your postures, breathe into these physical, energetic and spiritual aspects.  Let them intermingle, informing your body-mind.

Sukha:

enjoyable, comfortable, filled with ease… 

As you practice yoga and you find your center, invite yourself to be comfortable…   to be at ease within the poses.  This kind of ease is a cooperation of all the parts of you.  Physically it’s every part of your body, your limbs, your organs, your senses.. all your cells, all the space and light of you seeing, sensing, toward your physical center;  feeling your belly and into your connection with earth through your legs and feet.  Emotionally this is the expanding heart of you, capable of honoring and giving space to all the emotions that come and go during your practice.  Mentally this is your ability to relax with any thought that comes your way.  Drop away from giving energy to every thought and just relax into the presence of your breath.  Use your mental energy to follow your breath and in this way harmonize your mental body with your physical presence in the pose.  In your spiritual body (and please call this whatever you wish to call this; use your own language for the subtle experiences of energy and/or spirit), allow yourself to be at ease in your subtle, mystical center of being; try to allow a trusting openness into the deep mysteries of your being.. experiencing without having to give words to the mystery of you in an internal atmosphere of loving.

In these ways you are allowing all the parts of you to grow, create, and rest in coordination with your center.  Contradictory aspects of you achieve a heavenly balance as they are drawn with mutual movement toward your center.. informed by each other, valued in their contrast, gently and passionately refining each other as they touch your center serene.

Opposition: 

Dichotomy, opposing forces, duality.. these play an important role in you as a creature with a body.   Opposition is useful as it creates openings that arrive through the interplay between gravity and the buoyancy of breath, grounding and the flight of lift.  Energizing your effort in opposite directions in your body frees joints into spacious mobility and lengthens muscles.  Feel the combined effects of prana as ascending energy, and apana as descending energy, which create the tidal flow of life within you.

In your practice unflinchingly seek out opposing forces in your body experience and in your insights.  Let contrast point the way to wholeness.

Now:

The infinite, ever flowing now is simply inevitable: it is happening, always and now.  Live the conviction that it is supremely, profoundly valuable to experience the moment you’re in.  After all, the experience of life happens ONLY in the now.  Everything else is conjecture and memory.  So…  Feel fully.  Breathe fully.   Now.

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Intention:

You have an energetic imprint – a presence and pulse – that is constantly alive and constantly responsive to your thoughts and feelings.  We all have surface intentions, and layers of deeper intention that we’re living.. often unconsciously.  Your conscious and unconscious intentions shape your words and actions.  Investigate your intentions just by asking yourself about them..  what are your intentions as you begin your day?  what are your intentions as you speak to the people in your life?  what are your intentions as you choose one activity over another? one life passage over another?   What are your intentions in your intimate relationships and your friendships?

 

Seek out your deepest motivations; notice what drives you.  Discover your needs, desires, your ways of thinking and patterns of living..

What matters most to you???

Intention is something that we usually unconsciously live.  This is so.  However, because we can be actually be aware of ourselves we can attune ourselves energetically through the means of intention, like tuning a piano.  For instance: you know how you can carry your anger with you and live in a lashing out way… or carry your love with you and live in a listening way…  if you are determined not only to pray (for instance), but to BE PRAYER, it is an important distinction.  As Gandhi taught: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  BECOME what you value most.  This is intentional attunement.  It is very powerful because it’s not wishy washy.  There’s no air excessively whipped into it; it’s pure essence.  You can use intention to fully live the values you treasure most.  BECOME Love.  BECOME patience.  BECOME joy.  BECOME forgiveness.

This is a sort of present moment activism.  I AM…  rather than ‘I wish,’  rather than ‘I will be.’

Foundation:

In every pose there is connection with the ground in some way, either on the mat or floor, or in a chair.  Feel the parts of your body that connect you to Earth. Build your pose from there. Build your presence from there.  The touch of your fingertip to the Earth upon which you find your sustenance is the very pulse of being alive.  Keep some awareness in your foundation as your body lifts upward.  Let the character of your poses extend with steadiness, centeredness and strength, from your foundation upward into the air around you.

When you become unsteady, which will definitely happen sometimes, return to your foundation.

Surrender

Release your body, your thoughts, your ideas, your identity, your roles… a little at a time.

Just for a moment at least, let go.  Surrender blossoms from the seeds of small moments of release. You can find trust when you practice small surrenders. Surrender your shoulders into relaxation, your jaw, your forehead.  Surrender an idea, or part of an idea, by opening yourself to someone else’s perspective. Surrender the weight you put on your own thoughts by feeling the simple beauty and life giving feeling of a deep breath…

Surrender is a practice that leads to flexibility of being and living. It opens the way for your best life.

Small step by small step, or in great big leaps…  Relax and Let Go.

 


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