yoga immersions

How We Are Different

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Hey Yogis,

Sometimes writing a blog post is hard.  I want to say something meaningful and impactful.  I want to offer something that is worth taking the time to read, and though my mind and intellect constantly churn ideas, capturing one to bring to you is sometimes like trying to catch the wind on paper. So, this month I’ve been thinking a lot about where we started. Vira Bhava Yoga was born out of a desire to revolutionize our study of Yoga to be relevant, modern, and most importantly applicable to the lives we desire to live without watering down the enormous power of the spiritual roots and practices that make up this immensely powerful life path.

We didn’t want to teach yoga as fitness, we wanted to teach yoga as a path to embodying our innate power and potential.  We didn’t want to teach a script, we wanted to teach yogis to PRACTICE and share the insights they discovered in the process.  We didn’t want yogis to all sound the same, we wanted yogis that were cultivating their own unique voice through experience. We didn’t want to strive for perfection in anything, we wanted to create a safe space for everyone to be right where they were in their practice and their lives, and know that where you are is OK.  After participating in the Yoga industry for over a decade, we knew back then that we wanted to do it differently, and we were guided by our hearts through countless mistakes and redirections to find the path that was uniquely ours, and to this day, this is the path we continue to walk and to refine.  Each experience, each interaction, each training helps us to understand ourselves and the needs and desires of our students more and more.

We are, and will always be a work in progress.  We are learning our lessons moment to moment, making adjustments, refining our processes, adapting our procedures.  Vira Bhava Yoga is not a static system. We DON’T have all the answers, and we don’t have it all figured out, but we DO feel great about what we’ve discovered and we LOVE sharing it with people who are ready.  We hold fast to our own foundational principles of catalyzing Authentic Yogi Warriors, by continuously challenging ourselves to WAKE UP in our lives.  To be in alignment with our deepest truths, we will move toward discomfort in our lives and our practice.  These discomforts are the source of friction for sure, but this friction lights the fire that burns away our confusion, that catalyzes our determination, our will, and courage.  

We know that Yoga can sometimes feel like another goal to achieve, another thing on the ever growing list of things.  We want Vira Bhava Yoga to feel like a homecoming rather than a striving.  We want to encapsulate the truth that one of my teachers, Angelea Farmer, shared so eloquently, “Yoga isn’t something you do, it is WHO YOU ARE.”  We want to come back to the place where Yoga feels like arriving home rather than working to succeed.  And, we want to teach how to share that experience with others. The striving to achieve levels of excellence in our Yoga practice can often leave us feeling disconnected or isolated.  These feelings become enhanced when the common yoga vernacular speaks of the oneness, the love, the connection that we desire to feel, yet at the end of our classes we feel guarded and alone. Maybe through our practice we get a glimpse of something more, but no one can seem to explain what we saw or how to get back there.  At Vira Bhava Yoga, we walk beside you on the path.  We know that Yoga is a solo journey, but we cannot do it alone, so we work to bring the personal back into the universal.  Making our etheric experiences tangible, giving them voice, and sharing them with others.

It’s been almost 8 years since Vira Bhava Yoga went from a dream to reality, and we are still dreaming it into being.  We are committed to the work we do, and we are so very excited to share it with you. And we want to know about YOU. What are your feelings about Yoga, your connections, your challenges?  What do you want out of your Yoga practice, and how can we work with you to make these desires accessible? Our evolution is guided by you. We want to listen and stay connected. We want to grow with you in your yoga journey.  If you haven’t checked out one of our programs yet, take a few minutes of your day to explore this practice (link), and check out one of our upcoming workshops or Trainings in your area.

Vira Bhava Yoga is not just for Yoga Teachers, we are a company committed to practicing our LIVES as YOGA.  If you want to explore these possibilities yourself, then join us. There is still space in our upcoming programs in ATL, our advanced studies program beginning in NOVEMBER and our intro level program starting in January 2019.  We also have only a few spots left for our Advanced Studies Program in Sacramento, CA starting in January 2019. We also have opportunities to join the Vira Bhava Yoga family by running programs in your area. Contact us directly for more details.

Finally, you can join our Director in Costa Rica in April 2019 for an exploration of Deep Ecology and Wellness with Yogatrade.com.

Blessings,

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The Practice of LIVING and not simply Surviving

Dear Yogis,

I recently sent out a letter to some of my students from over the years talking about my journey as a Yogi and yoga teacher in the world.  I am going to share a piece of that letter here, as an invitation to understanding and committing to the power of your own practice.

As our world changes rapidly around us and the structures that were meant to support and sustain us are crumbling and transforming, I want to share how many times and how many ways Yoga has SAVED me, and opened the door to my future.  I'm often asked how I can be so piercing in my approach, and how I can so confidently move into uncomfortable places with my students.  All I can say is that I can only do this work with others because I have done it relentlessly with myself for years, and in these uncertain times, I urge you to stay true to your practice and true to yourself.  Here is a piece of the letter I shared:

“A hundred times I thought about walking away, acquiescing to the the idea of what I was "supposed" to do, and giving up.  But no matter how much doubt and fear I would swim through everyday, I never stopped practicing, and I never stopped believing that this was my path. As I deepened my study, I began to integrate my practice into my life, instead of make time to step out of my life for it.  I have practiced while I parent my two amazing daughters, I practiced when my marriage was falling apart, I practiced while I relocated my family to not one, but two different states, I practiced through my mother's life threatening illness, I practiced through the heartache of divorce, I practiced through the pain of healing.  I practiced as I began to rediscover myself. And I practice now, in this time of transformative change.

Every year that has passed, I TRUST this path more and more. I deepen more and more into my practice, and learn over and over again that the tiny whisper in my heart always leads me in the direction of what was highest and best.  At some point on my journey, Yoga stopped being my lifeline and became my life. It wasn't something that I did, it was who I WAS.  I'm not exactly sure when that transition happened, but I am certain that the shift has made all of the difference in my willingness to LIVE my life and not simply survive it.  I am no longer looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, and instead I am being guided by the ever present, unwavering light inside.  This knowing hasn't liberated me from pain and suffering, from doubt and fear, but it has polished me and led me to a sense of freedom and love even in the midst of chaos.  

I tell you all of this NOW because it's more important than ever before to find that light for yourself.  If the world is feeling like too much, turn toward your practice and the tools that you've learned to AWAKEN to the guidance of YOUR truth. NOW is the time to find the unwavering courage and determination that is the essence of your spirit. NOW is the time to do the inner work of becoming clear, knowing yourSELF, walking YOUR path in service to the world.  NOW is the time to find your VIRA BHAVA, the essence of a warrior that exists inside each and every one of you.  

This is not the time to project our fears, our pain, our disappointment outward. This is the time to turn inside of ourselves, find our tribe to support us in our work, to dive into our shadows and begin the process of healing, love, and self acceptance.

I want you to know that if Vira Bhava Yoga ever was or ever could be the tribe that you were looking for, we are still here.  And we aren't going away.  We are fully committed to catalyzing communities of Spiritual Warriors in the world. Through tools, support, and community, we are committed to moving in the direction of what is the highest and best for ALL.”  

Bless,

Kelly

 

Call your Heart back

How do we deal with the fragmentation that comes with complexity? No one can argue, we live in trying times; politically, socially, environmentally, technologically, and personally. We are navigating through a continually changing arena of questions and challenges. As we move through this complexity, a feeling of completeness can be enough to keep us going. It’s time to call your heart back.  In the midst of heartbreak and disappointment, it’s essential to put your Self in the center.  We MUST realize that the continual output of our energy into other people’s problems, into judgements and blame, into resistance and fear, is draining us of our vital force.

 

We must realize that this outward commitment, though honorable in theory, is actually the prime dysfunction in our world today.  We have broken our own hearts and tossed them out into the world as a way to show our love.  We have placed expectations upon others whose hearts are fragmented to bring us to wholeness. We are giving away our heart in so many directions and so many different ways that we are internally shattered.

 

We must STOP looking outside for our deliverance, to Yoga, to religion, to our politicians, our spouses, our community.  We MUST start turning inward and owning what we find. We MUST start arriving into our communities whole and offering our wholeness.  It’s time for us all to call our hearts back.  To return to the state of wholeness and completion that allow us to show up fully in all aspects of our lives.  We must cultivate a strong relationship with ourSelves. Then and only then, will the change that we so deeply desire start to take root.

 

I bet you know what I am going to say.  Practice right? But maybe there is more to it than that.  If our practice is simply another opportunity to fragment the sweet wisdom and guidance of our heart by trying to do something “right,” or achieve an outcome, then maybe Practice alone isn’t the answer. If we are using our practice as yet another opportunity to doubt, criticize, fall short, or condemn ourselves, then our practice isn’t supporting our growth.  At least not by itself.  The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali says that the highest level of Practice is Abyasa and Vairagya, Practice and Detachment.  See, according to this revered Sage of Yoga, we can’t really have one without the other.  We can experience the heights of Samadhi unless we are unattached to them.  

 

Our culture gets all wound up about the word detachment.  They think it means lack of caring, or coldness.  They think it means renouncing all that they love and value.  Detachment in the west is synonymous with rejection.  So let’s provide some clarity about detachment before we move on.

 

Detachment is feeling without an object.  We can feel love, but not attach that love to a specific person, experience, or expectation.  We can be “in” love, macerating in the beauty, joy, and sweetness of the moment without attaching that feeling to an object.  We can do the same with anger, fear, joy, excitement.  You name it.  And what happens when we can fully and completely experience the feeling without dependency on the object of it?  The feeling grows.  The feeling becomes more impassioned, more expansive.  We can make clear commitments, because our commitments are no longer made out of fear or clinging. We no longer try to manipulate situations in any favor, because the experience becomes more important that the outcome. We can work through our disagreements because we are unafraid of loss.  We can fully step into our power, because we realize that the source of all feelings is within, not without.  We step toward possibility instead of shrink from it, because there is no dependency on outcome, and in it’s place we find an innate and unwavering trust in experience itself.

 

When we practice Vairagya, we empower ourselves.  We become Self contained, Self centered, full of ourSelves.  It’s from this place that we can reach outward with the greatest effect.  We stop inhibiting and start inhabiting.  And inevitably we forget, and get swept up by life again and again. This is when Abyasa becomes essential.  We practice to continually remember.  Who we are, why we are here, what we can do to most fully align with what is good for all.  We practice to recalibrate, to reset,  to allow, and to accept.  Our practice provides a training ground for our challenge.  Whether contrived in the form of asana, or experienced as a deep emotional unfolding, we practice because it sharpens the tool of detachment.  If we could exist fully within Vairagya in all moments, then we would practice to give thanks for the opportunity to experience all of the feelings, processes, relationships, battles, and ecstasies that the simple act of living provides..

 

How do we call back the fragments of our hearts and begin to heal?  We continually seek the moments of wholeness and land in them: the mat, the cushion, the rock, the trail, the dance, the soil, the sunset.  In those moments, feel the recognition of your infinitely expanding capacity, and yield to it.  Start to grow those fleeting recognitions. Inhabit them.  Remember you are real, that you are purposeful, that you deserve to be whole. Practice loving yourSelf, in all of its brokenness and imperfection.  Forgive yourSelf for the mistakes you have made, and give thanks for the lessons you have learned.  Stay inside the challenges that you want to run away from until they have resolved into growth. Be unwaveringly honest with yourSelf.  Value yourSelf, your existence, your experience, your wisdom. Honor that knowing, every day.  Find the path of practice that tunes you into what you need..  Do it. Every day.  Yes, every damn day.  Your practice will not make your life easy.  It won’t deliver a new existence to your doorstep.  But it can light you up inside, help you remember your innate wholeness, support your innate purpose, and orient you toward LOVE every day.  Your practice can call your heart back, and it’s only with a whole heart that we can truly make a difference.