tantric yoga

Exploration & Discovery

VBY-Bishop.jpg

Do you consider yourself an explorer?  Are you curious about life and it’s details?  Are you compelled to seek an understanding of the big picture?  Are you turned on by the mystery? Then you may be an explorer, just like me.  Over time I’ve learned that exploring is a path of seeking without searching. That to truly explore, we must be lead by curiosity and not goals. When we explore, we know that our destinations are places to begin, not end.  Exploration requires us to let go of the plans and expected outcomes, which can be scary and disorienting. As explorers, we are called to experience what IS rather than change what isn’t to meet our expectations of safety and control. This is a place of unknowns, of questions without answers, of absence of security. And it takes a lot of courage.

Most of us are too uncomfortable with the unknowns to enjoy the exploration.  The irony of this being that nothing is truly known, and change is inevitable.  We invest all of our time and energy into creating stable, rigid outcomes, yet the nature of the universe is change, ask Steve Jobs.  You achieve the success, you have the wealth and security you desire, then bam! the game is over. No time left to enjoy the spoils of your victory. Our whole lives are built around the false edifice of accomplishment.  We truly believe that once we have enough ____________ (time, money, love, support, energy, you fill in the blank), then everything will be perfect. We work so hard to get to this place of enoughness that we forget to live the life we are creating.  We invest all of our energy in outcomes, and we forget that the point is to live our moments fully. We forget that WE are the point, not what we can do or achieve.

Because of our discomfort with the unknown, we build boxes of protection around ourselves. We construct walls of routines of security, stability, and protection. We seek to make our lives manageable, often sacrificing the JOY of living in the process. Our boxes become so small, tight and controlled that they limit our life expression.  We don’t have wiggle room, we can’t stretch ourselves beyond the container we’ve created, then rather than changing the box, we work to wrestle the vast possibilities of life into our little cage of existence. We learn to live with the discomfort of our limitations, and choose to focus all of our energy on maintaining and strengthening the walls we build around ourselves.  The irony is that the energy you try to fit, stuff, contain inside the box of safety is by its very nature unlimited and expansive. Rather than expand ourselves to hold it, we try to condense it into pieces that over time become dull or volatile, and then...things fall apart. Because you see, the divine's play is to liberate us...to burn our boxes of safety to the ground. THE DIVINE PLAN IS TO SET US FREE!

So, you wanna get on board? Do you want to align with the divine rather than work against it? It’s easy.  Explore your LIFE! What do you want to explore? How can you allow the unknowns to be the destination? Energy is constantly moving, flowing, creating, and permeating all things we do.  We can try to contain it, reduce it, control it from a place of fear and resistance, OR we can work with energy to shape our path, to propel us in the direction of alignment and ease. This is the practice of TANTRA!

When we reframe our understanding of our lives, we create the space for new possibilities and we heal old resistances. When we develop an acute awareness of how we feel and work to create a relationship with that feeling we understand more about ourselves. The intensity of our emotions, yearnings, and fears is the call of our Self. Can you hear it?  Our work is to commune with energy for the greatest outcome.

So what do you desire right now?  What does your heart whisper only to you that no one else can hear?  Are you feeling the nudge of something bigger in your life, something more innately YOU?  If you are reading this, maybe it’s time for you to step into a deeper level of discovery.  Maybe it’s time to get to know yourself better, to commit to your practice in a new way, to refine your offerings as a teacher.  If you are ready to stretch beyond your self created limitations, then we invite you to join us at any of our upcoming trainings. Learn more here. 

Pose of the Month: Virabhadrasana III

Life seems to be an endless game of trying to figure it out.  If you are walking on the path of soul discovery, then what you are trying to figure out is how to live every day in alignment with your highest purpose (or Dharma).  To live in this way is INTEGRITY.  Sounds easy enough in theory.  Why would you want to live out of alignment with your highest purpose?  It would be like trying to fit into clothes that are too small.  “Man, that outfit is cute, I must wear it even though I can barely breathe or walk.”  The outcome is restricted life process, and to the observer, well let’s be honest, probably a bit of humor at the absurdity of the attempt.  

So what does Integrity look like and feel like? The word has connotations of grandeur, like something that is unattainable.  But, In + to + gritty = Integrity.  When we live in integrity things are rough, gritty, sometimes abrasive.  We are so committed to staying true to our highest purpose that we stand in the middle of the sandstorm while the force of friction rubs us raw.  We move in ways that might seem strange or slow or circuitous, because we are always trying to engage from a stable foundation, if the ground is shaky, we question the motivation.  So, often that which seems easy is disregarded for that which is RIGHT.  Refinement (however minutely) is the endeavor until the solid ground of Dharma becomes the foundation, and the stillness becomes wholeness.  

People of integrity often question the world around them (trying on lots of outfits and analyzing the finest details), not because they doubt it, but because a solid foundation requires perfect alignment.  The questioning uncovers true alignment (in self and others).    Integrity is defined as “the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished,” in essence unified, the definition of Yoga.  

In practicing asana, there are many poses that allow us to explore the experience of Integrity.  Virabhadrasana III, Warrior III, is an asana that is at once expansive and fully integrated in a way that allows the feeling of Integrity to be fully embodied.  In this pose, you are called to establish a firm foundation and continually refine and readjust until the pose becomes whole. When practicing and teaching Vira III,  it is important to pay attention to the ways that we undermine our wholeness.  To stand in Integrity means to stand in the fullness and strength of essential Self,  undivided, tenacious, solid.  The definition of Integrity is the synonymous with the definition of a Warrior.  You can’t fake it. You can fake flexibility, you can even grip to create the illusion of strength, but the fullest expression of integrity is one of total openness.  Raw, vulnerable, and committed to the path of truth.

When practicing Warrior III, it is best to approach it from a place where the strength of the core and openness in the shoulders, hips and legs are well established.  The role of the feet in Virabhadrasana III is also essential to fully arriving with Integrity into the form. The more time that is spent preparing the body, the more Vira III will feel like an experience of completeness rather than disintegration.  The journey of the pose begins with the ways you discover your own strength, poses like Navasana and Chaturanga Dandasana are powerful to unfold the path to deep strength without gripping or bracing against the effort.  You can establish the foundation through the feet in poses as basic as Tadasana, or you can combine the emphasis of rooting with an opening in the legs in many of the standing asanas (Parsvottonasana is one of my favorites to prepare for Vira III). The intent of your preparatory poses is to coax strength and flexibility out from a deep place within, so that when it’s needed for Warrior III, it’s accessed willingly and with a sense of profound ease.  

When the body is responsive and open, then you can move toward accessing the full expression of Virabhadrasana III.  When you step into this asana in Integrity, you will feel plugged-in, strong, balanced, unwavering, courageous, expanded, open and free.  All at once.  Completely.  

The experience of Integrity is one of pure recognition.  When the individual pieces unite, the feeling of completeness is undeniable, and radiantly beautiful. To be whole is the ultimate alignment of your life with your highest purpose.  Even though you may still encounter challenge, you feel equipped and capable of meeting it from a fully unified space and you shine.