yoga asana

A Case for Space

It wasn’t too long ago that we honored the importance of space in our lives.  We planned family vacations focused on lolling around rather than experiencing every adventure money could buy.  We knew how to sit quietly together and enjoy the silence, lost in our own thoughts as they say. We knew how to be present in the space, because it was our only option.


Now, we have an abundance of choices.  We NEVER have to be “trapped” in silence, or alone with our thoughts.  We have a plethora of options on which to focus which can allow us to be either productive or numb, and we never have to feel lost in our thoughts and feelings ever again. So do we feel any less lost?  My hypothesis is “No.” Instead, we are driven to fill every gap with action or distraction. We are desperate for more knowledge, but run like hell from wisdom. Why??? I think we have forgotten where our true wisdom and understanding are sourced.  We now seek continuously and constantly outside of ourselves for all of the answers, the support, the strategies, and even for proof of what is “right & wrong.” We have lost our connection to our inner compass, our guiding wisdom that is ours and ours alone.


When anything arises from within us, be it inspiration or question, we immediately doubt it, analyze it, and ultimately override it with our well-honed tools of categorization, logic, and analyzation.  The case for following your heart is closed, being judged as frivolous, too risky, or naive. And we wonder why we need to be taught how to take care of ourselves (a knowing that is so unique to each individual that truly only YOU can know). We are bombarded with “opportunities” to be better in 15 steps, to be more efficient, more successful.  We even have lists for self care, boundaries, communication, and rest. Our wisdom has gone underground, and we refuse to create the space to find it. Stepping into the possibilities of feeling, trusting our gut rather than the “how to lists,” is lost. We feel shaky and afraid to move in the direction of our desires all the time. But, in truth, ALL that you need to know is already present, all you have to do is make the space to hear it.

I want to make a case for front porch swings and fireflies, for staring off into space, for lingering in bed on a Sunday morning listening to the rain. I want to allow the time to get lost in our thoughts, even if they don’t feel good. I want to fight for the spaces on our list that live between the check boxes, for the cracks in the plan, for the gaps in the strategy.  What if, and I know this flies in the face of all things “right and sane,” but what if we just stopped and did nothing. What if we took a walk in the middle of the day, didn’t check a damn thing off our list, or allowed ourselves to watch the clouds or the stars passing across the sky? Would our worlds fall apart? Really?


Now, to be clear, I’m not saying we should stop acting.  What I am saying is we should try acting on the impulse and inspiration that arises from the gap (regardless of circumstance or evidence), instead of requiring a plan, a strategy, or an external affirmation.  What if we turned inside to the rarely recognized whisper of knowing and trusted that no matter what it tells us to do, it knows best. That no matter how crazy it sounds, or how impossible it appears right now, it is the right thing, and doors will open to make it possible. Is it conceivable that the voice within us knows better than our parents, our bosses, our colleagues, our partners? What if we trusted that “best” doesn’t have to be synonymous with easiest, most efficient, most productive, or most profitable? What if we started trusting ourselves again?


I know this idea is revolutionary, and disregards EVERYTHING we are taught and told. I know we hang our hats on accomplishment and our heads at the thought that we cannot do it all. I know there is a desperation driving the need to be doing all of the time, but isn’t our achievement only making the desperation stronger? Isn’t our doing leading us deeper into distraction, and farther away from the possibilities that arise from knowing ourselves?  


I’ve been teaching Yoga a LONG time, and resoundingly people say that they cannot sit still, they cannot move slowly, their mind’s are NEVER quiet.  They need to move fast, to work hard and distract the mind in order to rest. And this perpetuation of the push, the perpetual doing, the harder, faster, louder approach is taking us farther and farther away from our innate wisdom. This absence of stillness and quiet is simply a call to conversation.  A conversation that needs no outside input, no additional opinion or critique.  This conversation is not meant to be shared with others. This conversation happens when we move away from action and distraction, and make the space and time to be with ourselves. If we continually fill the space in our actions (or our inactions), the gap from which our wisdom arises grows into a chasm.  To peer over the edge of that abyss initially feels like terror. Not because it is dangerous, but because of what might effervesce up from it’s depths. 


We are innately wise.  We contain the entire universe within the boundaries of our skin.  The intelligence of the whole is encoded in every individual part. We cannot learn the wisdom we seek, we can only listen and be guided into action.  This is the ONLY path that will lead to “peace,” a dynamically shifting state of change in which you infinitely trust the process. 


For those of you who say, “How do you know what is your inner guidance and what is your mind?” I say, MIND THE GAP.  Put your mind in the gap between strategy and plan.  LAND in the space between action and distraction and LISTEN. All you need to know is right there. And it will guide you, if you let it.


Stay in the erratic movements of the mind until they allow a passage through.  Move inward to feel what lies beneath the vacillation and doubt. It might not come in the way that you would like to hear it, but please, listen anyway. YOU know what you need more than anyone, more than any outside evidence. Move with care and attention in your actions.  Take an hour to do one sun salute, experience the feeling of your own breath for an indeterminate amount of time, stare off into space and meet yourself in the cracks between your thoughts and actions. Pay attention to the discomfort that arises. Whatever you choses, please, don’t push yourself away again. Chose to be present. Allow the guidance to arise from within you, and act based on what you receive instead for what you hope to gain.  Watch how your relationship with the world changes. There is a place in you that knows, that has always known, and will always know, all it needs is some space to grow.


Honor the Discomfort

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There is little that can be done to change uncomfortable situations, especially the ones outside of ourselves. Though we try with all of our might to control or avoid them, still they come. To deal with it, some of us fight while others flight. We spend a lot of energy looking externally for something or someone to relieve  the discomfort.

The wisdom of Yoga says something about this… When Discomfort shows up, it is delivering an important message from our intuitive, wise, and true Self. If avoided, ignored, or neglected Discomfort will grow, the suffering will increase, and a medley of other equally uncomfortable or unfortunate events can come together to amplify it. All of this is Discomfort saying,  “Turn towards me, I need you. I have direction for you”

This message is subtle and may seem insignificant compared to the loud repetitive messages of the Ego oriented consumeristic world. Be thin, wear this, youth is God, flexibility is the point, have the right car, be the perfect family, smile, be happy, etc.

I learned how to really endure and listen when I was asked to sit in chair pose, Utkatasana for 5 minutes. Try it yourself real quick. Unclench your jaw, keep your breath flowing and easeful (no power Ujjiyi breathing here), tailbone tucked, chin draw in and spine extended…. Fingertips and crown of your head to the ceiling, tailbone down.. Your breath keeping you erect and supported.  Just relax and witness.

Witnessing the discomfort that I felt in those 5 minutes enraged me. My mind went into a frenzy. I felt victimized because I didn’t deserve that, and I felt angry at the teacher for making me feel  that way how dare her.

Once it was over and I fell  into Savasana. I cried, I felt a huge release of tension and the surrendering of discomfort. I had never gone through discomfort before, all the way to the other side. I had never held my mind accountable to that degree. And when I did, what flowed through me after all the rigid thoughts and judgements about the discomfort, was the support of Prana (energy) that was waiting on the other side.

It felt like relief;  like everything was going to be okay. I had built a bridge. Beyond the guardian we call discomfort is sweet relief. That is what is on the other side of the bridge. Our aversion to move through discomfort, victimization, anger, etc. is what keeps flow, safety, trust, relief out beyond our recall.

Discomfort often creeps in, hits hard (if we oppress it) then demands, “Sit down with me,  breath, and support me. Do not neglect me, don’t turn away or numb yourself into forgetting… Sit with me.”  We often do not hear the message that way. Often that moment looks like all hell has broken loose in our lives, our health, our families and friendships. Like a beautiful disaster has been orchestrated so we can have a minute for ourselves.

Why is it that we can only find these moments from hardship? I hate to say this but that is the design.  Yoga is a practice designed for us to observe the patterns of “imperfection” and “distress” in our lives. The objective or dedication is to continue turning towards discomfort when it crops up rather than away from it.

The more we show up, the more willingness we will find, the easier it will be to hear the message. If you practice this Yoga earnestly and with dedication, you will discover that support will show up naturally.

I am not saying it’s easy or enjoyable or that it happens over night. It’s a lifetime practice. First, decide that you will turn towards discomfort because the  more we turn towards our discomfort, the more we turn towards ourselves. Then resolve yourself to sit with it. You will find that this practice can be your homecoming rather than the source of your suffering.

As we learn to be steady and easeful in our asana the gift we are offered is a trust that relief follows. As we practice enduring discomfort and listening to its message, we will experience relief. We might even learn to Honor the Discomfort and thank it for being our Guide.


Give Your Power a Voice

I knew as a child I had a great power inside of me.  When I became brave enough to glimpse its marvelous magic I felt as if it’s magnitude could swallow me whole. I knew that my voice and my power were uniquely mine. A synonym for power is magic and this power is inside all of us.  For most of my life I have been in the process of discovering and hiding my magic power all at the same time.

My teacher says if it isn’t a paradox it isn’t divine. From a young age we’re taught to keep our  “power” in a small box to fit the mold and expectations of others. When we are young, it seems as though we can’t hide our power. Over time we adapt to our circumstances, learning how to let just enough of our magic show to keep us interesting but certainly not enough to make us different, unique, or stand out.

When I started my 200 Hour Vira Bhava Yoga Teacher Training I knew walking into our first practice that I was about to take the top off my perfect small box. I was terrified, trembling with anticipation, fear and excitement. Through my yoga practice I could feel the layers peeling away to show the innate, golden authentic-self that had been patiently waiting to emerge. This was a profound embodied experience that cultivated yoga in the core of my heart.  Through this practice with Vira Bhava Yoga. trust and respect were formed; I restored my power in its most lustrous, immense grandeur.

We all have a unique power inside, we have just forgotten.  In these times it is our job to remember. It is our job to ask questions. Our world in its current state of discomfort, fatigue and grief needs NOW more than EVER our unique power. That is why its time for each of us to give our power a voice.

It is our job as yogis to cultivate trust in purpose. When we come to the mat, we work to create and build energy as purpose. To notice each moment when we show up for ourselves on or off our mat has powerful purpose.

This doesn’t mean that you have to go out and quit your job because your purpose doesn’t match up with your profession… I mean maybe it does.  For most of us this isn’t the case. What we learn in the Vira Bhava Yoga 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training is how our purpose and power can express itself in many different areas of life.  We bring our power to every moment. We learn to use the strength of our power to continually guide us on our path.

One definition of power is to move or travel with great speed or force; this is a power of a Vira Bhava Yogi.  We are warriors. We are courageous. We are unapologetic in our greatness and we walk together in community. We know that by boldly expressing our power we are inviting others to do the same. Seeing ourselves in others, knowing that by first healing ourselves we can then heal as a whole.

I want to live in a world where every person has the opportunity to live more authentically while empowering others to find and share their unique voice. If this sounds like something you too seek… Join us! Vira Bhava Yoga is coming to a town and studio near you. We are excited, whole hearted individuals striving to support each other in being great! Learn more and Register for our programs here!