Wednesday, February 29, 2012

yoga tools

   Yoga is not religion and really yoga isn't even spiritual. What crazy talk is this froma faith based yoga teacher? I believe yoga is a neutral set of tools that we can use to connect to our inner silence and therefore our faith. Connecting to our inner silence has spiritual potential for sure. Nothing can fill this space, no extravagance, no discipline, no indulgence and no philosophy. This space must be filled by spirit alone and when we do not take the time to be still and allow this space to fill then we find ourselves desperately working to fill this space with other things. Food, sex, drugs,rock and get the picture! Sometimes this "thing" we use to fill the hole can be our yoga practice.

   Yoga is neutral until we begin to shape our practice. Then it can either magnify our neurosis or lead us to that beautiful space of stillness and healing.The huge irony is that the roots of yoga are that we practice asana (the postures) to come to a place where our bodies are capable of being still long enough to meditate, quiet the mind, and find that inner silence that will lead us to integrate our body, mind & spirit. When we practice yoga in a neurotic, obsessive, bossy, unhealthy way we move farther away from this still place.

    This is when potential for injury arises both in body and spirit. In practicing every breath, every asana we must ask are we moving towards or away from our best self? The self that will fearlessly approach our physical boundaries but not recklessly crash through them. The self that will be still and rest and yet shed all remnants of laziness and sloth. Be industrious. Be present. Be still. And that is yoga. A wondrous tool box for your body, mind and spirit. A tool box for people of faith and people searching for fullness. But as we practice we shape our yoga at the same time it shapes us. So many stories in the news lately about yoga injuring so many people. Yoga is us, we injure ourselves as we shut down that still small voice inside. Yogis call it Inner Teacher, Christians know it as the Holy Spirit. It is separate from your personality and you thoughts...present in both but bigger than the sum of our parts. It is in discounting this Voice that we shape our yoga into a dangerous beast that shears our SI joints and twists us into broken piles.Let's not be those yogis. Step on the mat with presence. Mindfulness in your body awareness in your breath. Let's have 2012 be the year we occupy our bodies and practice with integrity.

Quiet Intention

We are all born with what some call "a God shaped hole" inside of us. Yogis know it to be the space occupied by our Inner Teacher. Perhaps this is the home of the Holy Spirit. As a Messianic Jew yoga teach and owner of Quiet a faith based yoga studio in Austin, Texas I believe that across the board people of every faith benefit by taking steps toward internal living. When we live from the center our universe expands into limitless possibility but when we live in the externals ignoring our inner voice our world tends to contract, most often into fear.
   My intention for this blog and for my fledgling studio opening this Saturday is first and foremost to grow in faith and hopefully along the path I will find teachers and students often in the same soul I imagine. So, here's the thing. I  have my faith and you have yours and neither of us benefits from proselytizing, evengelizing, or making our own voices ring so loudly we shut down dialogue. All of us benefit from working to see one another beyond the labels to hear one another behind the story. It is my belief that when we bring ourselves to our own internal quiet that we allow others to shine in their truth. I endevor to use my body on the mat, self awarenss in my daily walk, meditation and constant practice to inch towards this goal of unity with my Inner Teacher. Because it is, I believe the voice of our Inner Teacher that sings in unison with God. And what a beautiful song our lives can become as inch by inch day by day we use whatever means necessary to cultivate our quiet. Always persevering never giving up. 

   Quiet is cumulative and today you may be aware of one breath as time stands still. Then tomorrow two breaths anchor you to the here and now. Culitviating quietness is not an easy journey but at times exhilarating, tedious, joyful, fearful, true and alive.Mostly alive and for here and for now that is enough.