Following my Dharma Feels Like Giving Birth

Guest Post by VBY Grad Sarah Austin:

As a mother of three I have some familiarity with this process. I have spent all of this time creating a support system, feeling overwhelmed with excitement and fear all the while having a profound sense of connection with the divine universe. The kind of excitement that gives you goose bumps all over and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  That is what it feels like to be involved in the creation of something that has so much potential that is guiding you closer and closer to living your Dharma.  All the while knowing that after all of the pain, time, new awareness, feelings of defeat and lifestyle shifts you get the most beautiful gift.

 

I have spent many hours, days, and months looking for my peeps.  Working to surround  myself with the people that challenge me to be my higher self.  That when I start to wonder call me back.  Let’s just say it... they call me out on my shit!  These are the people that help outwardly orient me towards my Dharma.  They are the ones that when you celebrate your victories are more excited than yourself and give lots of love when the going is rough. These people for me are my sangha, family, at Vira Bhava Yoga.

 

When your Dharma and your people lineup anything can happen.  Having a strong foundation on my mat has helped to provide clarity in the process of creating this 200 HR training. There is a feeling of center that is grounded deep in the roots of my core, the place where my Dharma is seeded.  There is a reassuring feeling of purpose that comes with every move that we make.  Where will the training happen?  Who will come? Will anyone come?  There is an overriding sense of knowing that has a way to calm the nerves. When the spin cycle accidentally gets turned on and my thoughts are spinning out of control and the washing machine is starting to move across the floor because all the clothes moved to one side;  I remember that sometimes  you just have to “ho'oponopono” that shit!  Meaning I love you, I am sorry and please forgive me.  

 

Remembering that being vulnerable and surrendering to the process is hard. It requires that I call forth the bhav, the essence, of the vira, warrior spirit. It feels so uncomfortable the feeling of having to be vulnerable to ask for help. Not just asking for help with tasks to move the training forward but also in all aspects of life.  Then having the grace to receive that help is even harder.  There is a worldview that we must be perceived to have it all together and under control all the time. When in reality the struggle to try and maintain this image can be soul crushing.  So how can we pause in the moment, recognize that we need help and then empower ourselves enough to ask?  This process is teaching me how to live this in my life.

 

As I continue on the path towards my Dharma there is an endless unveiling of layers being peeled back.  Some of these layers come with a fast rip.  It could be having to have a conversation that is uncomfortable or it could be resistance to get on my mat.  Some of them have been quite soft and fluffy.  Lingering in a luscious practice or feeling empowered for standing up for what is true to my authentic self.  The layers to the self are abundantly simple and complex. There are some days when all I can connect with is the Annamaya Kosha, the physical body, the most tangible layer to connect with.  Knowing that there is a very interesting conversation happening between all of layers, Koshas, sheaths of the body.  Each informing and shifting continuously.  Allowing me to rise to, to challenge my level of studentship, ownership of knowledge.

 

Digesting each morsel of experience in all the layers of my being making myself, preparing my self, to be present in the process of manifesting this training.  Knowing that this training is a sankulpa (tangible, powerful TRUTH in action) oriented towards my Dharma. The most beautiful gift of all.

 

Sarah Austin, RYT- 500, grew up in Asheville, North Carolina She has ventured far and wide on her quest for spiritual growth and returned to the magical mountains of North Carolina bringing Vira Bhava Yoga 200 HR Teacher Training to Brevard Yoga Center starting in October of 2017.

 

It’s Been A While

It’s been a few months since we’ve sent out a note, but we haven’t gone anywhere.  We have been here the whole time.  Pulling in our resources, refining our vision, strengthening our team.  Vira Bhava Yoga is so much more than what most people see from the outside.  We are a small business with a big vision.  We are a Yoga company, but we are trying to do it differently.  We are not trying to fall into all of the norms of the Yoga Industry: flexibility (61 percent), stress relief (56 percent), general fitness (49 percent), improve overall health (49 percent), and physical fitness (44 percent) from the 2016 Yoga in America Study Conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, instead we are attempting to return to the authenticity of yoga and share that with the world, we are working to empower other people who feel similarly about yoga to share their voices in their communities, and  we are working to make it possible to thrive while following the path and practice of Yoga.

What does this mean?  It means that we are rebellious in our process.  We spend countless hours observing ourselves and our place in the industry and adjusting continually to meet the path of Yoga regardless of the world’s expectations and desires. This looks like disappointment to some, that we unwaveringly follow the path of practice even when it doesn’t fit the popular norms.  We don’t heat up our studio, or dumb down our language, we don’t hide our reverence for the practice’s spiritual roots.  We also create space for everyone’s unique voice to be heard, allowed, and honored in the context of the business vision.

And you know what, it’s hard work.  So many days, in so many situations, it would just be easier to fold.  To reduce our work to the popular common denominator, to let go of the integrity on which we have build this business for the last 5 years. Instead we stand steadfast, often at the expense of being “liked” or “understood.” We are determined to stand in the truth of our vision, transforming the challenges into lessons, and refining our systems by learning from our mistakes.

We have said for years that we want to be the training that people “whisper” about instead of the training that people shout from the rooftops.  Does that mean we don’t want to be seen? Emphatically, NO!  It means that we want to be seen for what is real and true, and are willing to be patient for those who align with what we are offering.  If you are curious about what we do, then reach out.  We are so much more than a Yoga Teacher Training, we are a company that serves to catalyze communities of Authentic Warriors. Vira Bhava Yogis are willing to embody the essence of a warrior, and to live a more fully authentic life. Our teacher training programs are designed not only to teach yoga, but also to support students as they take their practice off their mat and into their lives.

Vira Bhava Yoga also offers opportunities for our Advanced Level graduates to create lucrative businesses in their communities. We offer a turn-key yoga teacher training license program to our graduates, 84% of whom are women. Our licensure provides ongoing revenue to our license holders, so they can make a sustainable living doing what they love.

Learn more at http://www.virabhavayoga.com/vira-bhava-yoga/


So, while it may seem like we’ve been gone, we’ve just been busy supporting Vira Bhava Yogis in the world; The Golden Mandala Donation Yoga Studio in Nevada City, CA, Rishi Yoga in Reno, NV, The Breathing Tree in Canton, IL, Whitetop Yoga in Abingdon, VA, Brevard Yoga Center in Brevard, North Carolina, Pure Motion Yoga in Atlanta, GA and a special shout out to Rochelle Trudo, who will be bringing a Vira Bhava Yoga Teacher Training to Austin, TX in 2018. Each of these studios is an expression of the unique vision of empowerment that Vira Bhava Yoga offers to those who seek us out. We are so thankful to have found you all and to be working together to co-create a vision of the future that we believe in.

Where Do You Go To Come Home?

I travel a lot.  Not as much as the well dressed suits that I constantly share space and time with at the various airports that I pass through, but a lot still.  I catch a flight, hang out at 40,000 feet, then when the wheels touch down, I hit the ground running preparing, supporting, collaborating, and teaching.  I work 12-14 hour days focused on the work I love, connecting with amazing people, and deepening my own understanding of the transformational power of this practice.  Sometimes I am moving around so much, that I feel my life spinning around me without my full attention or investment of time and presence.  Taking a break is required for me to come back to myself.  I do this every day on my meditation cushion and my yoga mat, but from time to time, I need more than just a brief pause in the middle of the whirlwind of my life, sometimes I need to completely recalibrate and reconnect with that little whisper of truth inside.

 

Ironically, I return to myself most fully through travel.  Not the movement from location to location, teaching and sharing, but the process of leaving behind the familiar and journeying to a new landscape, a different culture.  I find that the ability to see my life with greater clarity and perspective often comes as a result of stepping out of the day to day.  When I return from my short excursions, I return more full, more balanced, more settled inside.  It’s a great paradox that the result of this type of movement is stillness, but it’s true.  You can’t force this steadiness, you can’t get to it through the perfect eka pada rajakapotansana, or through the strongest chanturanga dandasana. Steadiness comes with deeper and deeper layers of ease being realized, and for many of us, our Yoga practice is all about effort instead of ease, ultimately pushing us farther and farther away from the essence of what Yoga is meant to be.

 

If what you are seeking through Yoga is a greater connection with yourself, then it’s worth it to look at your approach.  You see, Yoga was never meant to be a workout.  The purpose of Yoga prior to becoming mainstream America’s fitness craze was never to change your body. The purpose of Yoga has always been to become embodied. The origin of the word embody expresses the essence of the “soul or spirit contained within form.” When our spirit is fully alive within the container of our bodies, when we are functioning on all levels of mind, heart, spirit, and form, then Yoga becomes what we are instead of what we practice. For me, this total enlivening of the senses and the body, along with the opening of the heart and mind, comes through the experience of what is outside of the normal grind of my day to day life.  When I travel, there are new sounds, smells, new ways to look at the world and most especially new ways to see myself.  Through this exploration of the world, I become more intimate with my truth.

 

For me, it can be a week away in deep study with my teachers, or just an adventure somewhere in the world.  The opportunity to reconnect doesn’t require a specific formula.  I can fly to Colorado to receive deep teachings on Sri Vidya Tantra, or I can spend my nights with doors open to the sound of the Aegean sea and my days in exploration of form and movement.  I can watch the sunset in the French countryside with a bottle of Rose and a good friend, or I can explore the crowded streets in South America looking for coconut ice cream.  All forms of the exploration bring me home to myself. All of this brings me back to the Yoga that is my natural state of existence, so when I return home to my mat and my cushion, instead of seeking that place inside, I am coming from it.  And my practice and my life are all the better for it.

 

This is my method, and your’s may be completely different, but no matter what, I encourage you to take the time to step out of the grind, and maybe even leave your mat behind for a day or two.  Find the experience of Yoga that is the essence of your soul, and let it inform all aspects of your life.