As you walk through city and suburban streets it is common to see yoga studios, people wearing yoga clothes or yogis with a mat in tow.
Most of us don’t think twice about it.
It’s different in rural America. There you’ll more likely see a hunter wearing camouflage with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
On occasion I still hear a comment like, “If you participate in yoga you will go to hell,” or I get the occasional “Jesus Saves” sticker adhered to one of my flyers.
You may find this hard to believe, but there are still residents here that have never heard of yoga. Because of this, I feel compelled to share my story as a “Rural Yogini /Yoga Teacher” and tell the story of yoga in the remote parts of our country.
I have been teaching and practicing yoga for 23 years. My yoga roots began at the Kripalu Center with Yogi Desai. From there I continued steadfast on this wonderful journey of self-realization, sharing it with others as my right livelihood.
My teaching formally began in Florida, where yoga was quite accepted in 1990. In 1996 I felt guided to move to the North Carolina Smoky Mountains, to an area that is barely on the map. Living in the Appalachians has been a 17-year delight, and I have come to love the richness of the local culture and community.
Winter 2012 Practice Tip
Create a Self Care Practice for the New Year
Winter and end of the calendar year can be a great time to reflect upon the past year and the upcoming one. I encourage you to take time to be still and ponder the things that worked for you, the things that didn’t, the changes you’d like to make, the manifestations you’d like to create. After that, I invite you to put a Self Care practice into place for your new year. This exercise takes a little time and should not be rushed. After meditating on these things, I suggest writing them down like you might do for a business plan. I also suggest sharing them with like minded friends to help empower your intentions and to speak them out loud. Lastly, don’t forget to ask Higher Power for support in these efforts. When writing your plan, make three columns. Body. Mind. Spirit. Under each column, write the ways that you feel guided to better care for each aspect of Yourself. We must remember we are three part beings, by taking care of all, we can truly create balance, versus only taking care of one or two aspects, which can leave us imbalanced. Be realistic when setting your goals. By setting the bar too high, we can sometimes set ourselves up for disappointment. Passion for living well and self care is a truly worthwhile investment to make in your New Year. All the best with your practice of Self Care.
Fall 2011 Practice Tip
The Importance of Stillness
Taking time to be still can be one of the most nurturing gifts we can give ourselves, and a true act of self care. There are many good reasons to take time for stillness.
1: Stillness is a counter balance from all the “busy” and “doing” time in our lives, allowing time for “just being”. All the active time is valuable, but too much of that and we can become out of balance.
2: Meditation is the “key” to any spiritual practice. The Bible says, “be still and know that I am God”. Without meditation true knowledge of the Self or Higher Power can not be fully acquired.
3: Wisdom arises. There are 3 distinct stages of meditation, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. In one of these stages, Dhyana, you are in a space of non doing, pointed inward, no object awareness, effortless, absence of activity, no longer in mental activity. You’re relaxing into knowingness, the knowing of that “which knows”. This stage can be a wisdom arising state. “Watch the news that arises out of silence”. You release into what you are, the truth of what consciousness is. It is a knowingness that cannot be comprehended by the mind, thoughts or perceptions.
4: Stillness is the place to pray from, receive guidance from, and answers to all life’s questions as we have the opportunity to tap into the Universal Mind/Energy
5: “As much happens in the non doing as does the doing”. All of the efforts, intentions and manifestations we’ve made now have the chance to transpire as we release them into Sacred Stillness, into the field of pure potentiality.
6: In stillness we have the chance to recharge, by simply “getting out of our own way” and allowing inner wisdom work without our having to be involved.
7: Stillness simply “feels goods, a rest, a respite, a renewal.
In reality, most of us do not live the lives of Monks, and do not have hours a day to meditate. Stillness does not have to be long to be effective, but rather quality, commitment and with intention. I encourage you to set aside a reasonable amount to time each day/week to experience sweet stillness and see how it effects your life, coming to your own conclusions of why it is important. Enjoy Stillness!
Summer 2011 Practice Tip
Be mindful not to “over extend”, on your yoga mat and in your life. I teach that yoga practices are simply metaphors for living. Over extending is obviously one that can apply to both the mat and life in general. Summer can be an easy time to over due, with lots of invitations, plans, yard work and the like. As winter usually lends itself to a quieter, more still time, summer can be just the opposite. Keeping balance in all that we do is one of the keys to “living well” and “the art of living”. As you may know, if we over extend on the mat, that can lead to injury and over exertion, forcing us into slowing down. Best not to be forced into anything. It feels much better to make conscious choices, so choose wisely and keep the balance, taking time for rest, play, work, spiritual life etc… and don’t forget to have fun…after all it is summer!
Spring 2011 Practice Tip
Are you living under “mass hypnosis”?
In yoga practice there is a term called Avidya and here is its definition: Cosmic ignorance; blindness about life and its purpose; unable to distinguish between the permanent and the transitory; regarding the individual as a separate entity instead of a microscopic part of the cosmos. Avidya men/women pursue the wrong ends; pleasures, material things, success, power and all that is ephemeral.
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New Life Journal articles by Cathy Woods