300 hour YTT

Darkness & Light

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If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

~Mother Theresa

I don’t know what to say.  For all of the writing, contemplating, feeling and thinking I do, I don’t feel like I have anything to contribute to the conversation right now.  Usually writing for me is like starting a lawnmower. It takes a couple of cranks, but once it’s started it is a strong engine with a message as a propellent.  What do you do when your job is to have an opinion and you can’t seem to lift yourself out of the struggle between darkness and trying to feel the light, call the light, be a light yourself.  The simple things seem insurmountably challenging right now. The only things coming easily and with desire are meditating and longing. I am walking around a fog, probably because of my allergies and all of the medication that I am taking to manage them.  I have a full calendar, money is tight, but little blessings come through all the time, as they always do. I feel like I am on the precipice of shift, and I doubt that feeling as I have felt it for so long. Perhaps I am unable to see the shifts in myself.  Like watching your kids grow day after day, it’s hard to see the immensity of the progress until someone who hasn’t seen them in a while remarks on the change. Maybe I’m not really on the threshold of anything, and that is a story I tell myself as a comfort to the continued challenge.

The state of the world is degrading at such a rapid pace, it’s difficult to keep up.  The huge steps backward are rattling the cage of rage and self reflection inside of me, yet in so many ways I feel helpless to change or fight.

This morning I was thinking about Brene Brown’s work, and her new Netflix series that’s getting lots of comment.  She teaches vulnerability, connection, love and belonging. And God, isn’t that what we all want, even the hardened and fearful.  The hatred is simply fueled by disconnection and the frustration about our inability to remedy it, until hatred becomes the common ground that creates a connection and sense of belonging.  Why she doesn’t ever seem to talk about is how to show up open, vulnerable, honest and deeply courageous and NOT be received. That is the state of the world right now. We can do all that we possibly can to show up in our vulnerability, but we cannot at any level, expect to be received with open arms.  Not in our intimate relationships, not in our families, not in our workplaces, or in political venues, not in a restaurant or at the gas station. We, the courageous and willing, who are trying everyday to keep our hearts open and our words honest, we who are doing the work of self reflection, accountability, ownership, we who are “daring greatly” are still standing alone.  Outside of belonging, outside of understanding. In this time when the world is organizing around our divisions, the ones who work with honest vulnerability and work to cultivate understanding are the ones on the OUTSIDE. But, Krishna never promised that doing your duty would feel good. He simply said to stand up and fight.

I wake everyday with a sadness in my heart.  An understanding that to move through the world right now, I have to close myself off to loving. I have to turn away from the overwhelming desire for connection and understanding, keep my head down and my mouth closed.  That my longing to connect, hear, love and understand is the very yearning that will keep me isolated. That my desire to reveal the places of connection rather than anchor in to division IS the very thing that will exile me from any group, relationship, or alliance.  Right now, we are in a time of Ayoga (def.: unconnected with, separation, disjunction, impropriety, incongruity, non-application or mis-application of remedy). We are finding our common ground through our divisions and definitions. We are choosing to turn away from opportunities to bridge the gap of our differences in favor of defining ourselves by them.

I know in my heart that this turning is necessary, but it feels impossible to bear at times.  I am even witnessing this in “YOGA.” We are defining and aligning our allegiances to this style or that studio, we are dividing our opinions, our loyalties.  In yoga, we are no longer seeking Union, and instead we are another expression of the power of devisiveness. Our “yoga teachers” are graduating with low self confidence, desire to be the perfect, terror of making mistakes, and demand for validation and approval.  Even those who are “studying Yoga” seem lost in the mire of delusion. The real practice of Yoga is meant to return us to ourselves.  The real practice of Yoga is not simply to unite the Mind, Body, and Spirit.  They have never been divided, really. The real practice of Yoga is to reunite who you think you are with who you REALLY are. But try telling that to a recent YTT grad who is nervous and unsure about teaching, try telling that to the Yoga teacher who can’t pay their rent, or the student who just wants to move fast enough to make their mind stop for a few minutes. Try finding your Self in the tornado of calamity that defines our lives in these times.  It’s next to impossible to tease out the self created identity from the one that is pure and unchanging. It’s gut wrenching and conflictual to try and understand the current state of things as anything other than disaster and apocalyptic.

How do we find “peace” and “balance” in a divided world? Well, maybe that’s the problem.  Maybe we are looking for the wrong solutions to what we are experiencing. Instead, what if the re-Union of ourselves with our Self actually requires us to feel, first hand, the pain of division. The time for ignoring and numbing, dividing and judging is quickly coming to an end for better or for worse, so like a snowball rolling downhill, it is picking up all of our illusions and slamming them into our faces with break-neck force.  

The real Yoga will begin when we stop trying to make everything “good, peaceful, and balanced” again, and start FEELING the state of chaos and terror that we find ourselves in.  When we stop trying to ignore our heartache, our loneliness, our pain, and truly start feeling it. Then, we can build a bridge to others who are suffering, regardless of the cause of their suffering.  If you truly know your own pain, then and only then, can you hold the pain of others in a space of compassion and love. Our dysfunction is the result of trying to function in a system that no longer works. We are plummeting headlong into our own destruction ONLY because we are so vehemently committed to turning away from it or fixing it.

And maybe I’m totally wrong.  Perhaps I know nothing. Like I said, I don’t feel equipped to contribute to the conversation right now, because I too am struggling. I feel afraid that my struggle will reduce my authority as a teacher, as a business owner, as a lover, a parent and friend. My inability to “turn it all around” with some asana or pranayama might be viewed as a failure of this system.  But maybe that is exactly the point, maybe all I am supposed to do is share that I too feel afraid, feel alone, feel overwhelmed. I too feel deep sadness and despair. That I also long to be understood, and feel like screaming at the top of my lungs in rage and frustration. I too am working hard to meet the demands of life, and find it an impossible race to win at the moment. For me, it seems that there are no answers that will lead us to healing, and we are left only with the opportunity to question our di-ease.  So I will go now and sit, as I do everyday. I will spend time in silence, for as long as my hectic day will allow. I will turn my attention inward, to my breath, to the ache in my chest, to the constriction in my throat and the tears welling up behind my eyelids. I will request of myself surrender. I will allow myself to feel into these sensations, to be guided into deeper understanding of my own suffering, and I will mutter a prayer, “may I understand my own pain so that I can more fully accept and understand the pain of others.”

I will not pray to be liberated from this suffering, as I truly believe that what we are supposed to be learning is encased within it. I will not pray for the liberation of others, as the lessons we are being shown right now are universal and essential for us to grow beyond them.  But I will call in the vibrancy of the light, and request that it fill me, revitalize me, help me to keep moving forward into this dark night.



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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Who is Vira Bhava Yoga?

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In 2010, an idea was born.  The plan was to revolutionize Yoga Teacher Trainings.  I wanted to share the profound practices that my teachers were sharing with me, but with an emphasis on what was real in life. Real life.  Kids, divorce, money struggles, emotional challenges.  I wanted to provide an opportunity for us to share about our experiences in life and in practice.  I wanted these trainings to enable us to assimilate our processes in community, and in doing so, empower each other to learn from others’ experiences, and finally I wanted to support and promote the desire to start living the lives we want to live.

I didn’t want to become an expert at asana or a renunciate who limited the pleasures of life to only the most sattvic.I wanted to honor the doorway of asana and its impact on our spiritual practice.  For me, asana was more than just a physical practice, for years it had been a lifeline. And the practice of asana was the bridge that led me to a deeper understanding of the power of this practice, but it was just a piece.

I was a few years past 30, and was growing less and less interested in demanding my body to fit in to the modern idea of yoga in the west.  I wanted to allow the inner wisdom that we were hearing about in our studies to have a voice. I wanted to try less and feel more, so I did. And everything started to change.  Then I started to share my discoveries with my students, and they started to feel and embody the change too. Something was rumbling, though I didn’t really understand what it was, I decided to trust it implicitly, to take the risk of following this quiet whisper inside me, even if it didn’t work out.  I decided to choose trust over doubt, and it took more courage than anything I’ve ever done.

As a part of this redefinition, I started researching, meditating, and exploring what it meant to be a practitioner of Tantra in the world, and stumbled upon a teaching from the Mahanirvana Tantra (Tantra of the Great Liberation), which taught about the three temperaments of a Tantrika.  

The Tantras speak of three temperaments, dispositions, characters (bhava), or classes of men, namely, the pashu-bhava (animal), vira-bhava (heroic), and divya-bhava (deva-like or divine).

According to the translation of the text by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), the Vira Bhav “works independently towards the production of acts in which sorrow inheres.” Vira Bhava yogis tirelessly work to examine the places within themselves, and therefore the world, that present as challenge.  This means that they are constantly turning toward the discomfort of life. Uncovering the sources of pain and struggle. And they act. Vira Bhav are rajasic, meaning they are active, sometimes daringly, toward what they believe is the highest and best. The Vira Bhava yogis are the heroes of their own lives.  They contain within them the discipline, belief, and power to enact their dharma. They seek to thrive when it seems like an impossible endeavor, and they learn from their defeats, allowing them to become their own source of power.

As a result of this discovery, the yoga school,  Vira Bhava Yoga was born. And we’ve been sharing, training, and empowering others in the world ever since.  So who is Vira Bhava Yoga?

We are a family of yogis exploring, sharing, and supporting the empowerment of our purpose in our lives.  We have a shared belief of the process of discovery, and we value the process as much as the result. We are students of life whose confidence grows through experience.  We are leaders in big ways and small. We TRUST, that we are an important part of the whole, and that our ideas, our dreams, our voices matter. We are understanding, compassionate, fiercely vulnerable, resilient, honest and real.  We are practitioners and teachers of yoga that value the courage it takes to show up for our lives. The easy and the hard. We turn toward life, rather than away from it, and we show up to our practice to enter into our lives more deeply rather than escape from them.  We are people, just like everyone else AND, we make our lives our practice. We struggle, we get frustrated, aggravated, overwhelmed. We snap at our kids, and sometimes stay up too late. Most of all, we are relentless in our belief that everyone is powerful.

I give thanks every day that I am surrounded by Vira Bhava Yogis.   Everyday, I encounter such powerful examples of who we are and how we are showing up in the world.  It makes me feel proud to stand alongside the them all and courageously engage in the world as Warriors in Yoga in life.  Who is Vira Bhava Yoga? You are.

You are a warrior, a hero. You are living with purpose in all that you do. You are doing brave things in your life and in the world. You are finding the lessons in the difficulties. If you’re looking for a community to share your triumphs triumph or  support as you venture towards it… We would love to hear from you. How are you Vira Bhava Yoga in your world? Please share your stories with us! We grow stronger through communication, connection and collaboration.

If you want to deepen your relationship to yourself and cultivate your purpose with a community of others who powerfully hear the call join us. We offer 200, 300, and 500 hour Yoga Alliance certified training across the country. We also offer an advanced apprenticeship to those who graduate from our Advanced Studies Program. If you hear the call, check us out. We are just ordinary people…. Being great.