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.


Transitions, New Chapters, Epic Journeys

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Dear Yogis,

This year, although still brand new, has already brought so many changes, and I want to take a few moments to share and reflect on them with you.  I began this year in a new home, with a radically new life in many ways, and a yearning to live more to the root of my being. My family and I have moved from California, where we have lived for the past 7 years, back to the soft, ancient mountains of WNC, only an hour from where I was born and where my family still lives.

I won’t lie, the transition has been intense, especially for my children, and I had extreme moments of doubt.  Doubt in myself, in my decision, even doubt about my life path. Through it all, I have continued to lean in to the trust that I have spent 20 years of practice developing, and return day after day to the techniques that keep me connected to my soul.  

We have embarked upon a new chapter of our epic journey.  One that has us stepping into the future, and simultaneously re-establishing our connection to our history, our legacy, and our roots.  It’s a homecoming, in the truest sense. I’ve been contemplating how to bring this journey into my work life, and into my practice. What I’ve discovered is simple.  A return to relationship and connection.

You see, I’ve spent the past ten years building my dream.  Creating programing that expresses a human approach to YogaStudying and practicing the philosophies of Tantra and Yoga, and interpreting them through the truth of the life that I was living, and that I believe we all live.  One where we recognize and accept challenge, not as failure to thrive, but as the fertilizer for our continued evolution. And I have strived to bring these teachings to YOU.  For the last three years, I’ve traversed tens of thousands of miles, spent countless hours in airplanes, and days upon days away from my children and my family. I’ve focused on bringing our approach to you where you live, in your neighborhood studios, your communities.  I’ve spent time supporting our amazing team of Vira Bhava Yogis in bringing the heart of our approach to you, and traveled to their communities to meet you. Through all of this movement and sharing, I haven’t had the time and ability to connect with you one-on-one. To spend time getting to know you, and understanding your path of practice, and the unique challenges and triumphs you have experienced.

So, we are changing things.  Creating a new platform through which to deliver our unique and very human approach to Yoga and Life in a way that will be mindful of our time and energy, and open up new opportunities to connect and grow.  We have refined our 230 Hour program, and are offering it to any RYT graduate of our 230 Hour program who would like to offer Teacher Trainings in their communities.If you feel ready to teach the teachers and share these practices in a bigger way, then contact us directly for more information about the 230 Hour License Program.

We are also taking our 300 Hour Advanced Studies Training online. This program will consist of 4 modules of live recorded lecture, supplemental materials, mentor support, live online classes, and a community of practitioners all over the country. With this approach, you will have the choice of diving deeper into study without any of the requirements of teacher certification and all of the juice. OR you can pursue your RYT-500 by completing the online modules and joining us for 2 Live and In Person weekends (offered both on the West Coast and the East Coast), and enhanced mentorship and support from our team and from yours truly.  To support you in joining us for this inaugural program, we have reduced the cost of the certification program. You can now join our 300 Hour Advanced Studies program for over $1000 off the regular price. This will only be offered once, and next year the program will return to it’s original cost. If you have been wanting to join us, to deepen your study, to explore the connection to soul, Self and practice through the tools of Vira Bhava Yoga, but your time or budget has kept you from it, we hope that our new approach will allow you to meet that desire, and help you to come back to what the practices of Yoga and Tantra have to offer.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO REGISTER.

We are very excited about this evolution, and though it might seem like a paradox, we are taking our programs online so that we may have more time to connect directly with you!  We will be adding much more content to our website (classes, meditations, talks, etc.), as well as offer more specialized LIVE content, AND we will be returning to the adventure of leading retreats!!
Click here for more information on Upcoming Retreats.

Our goal is to gain more time to develop meaningful relationships with YOU.  We are striving to bring the human connection back to Yoga, and we know that living it is the best opportunity to teach it.  

Lastly, you don’t have to register for a training to dive deeper into relationship and study with me.  I am offering a private client program designed in collaboration with YOU to meet the needs of support and guidance you desire for your practice and life.  If you are interested in working directly with me in this way, check out the Apprenticeship Program link here. Space is limited, but spots open up every month, so apply if you are interested.

I hope that 2019 finds you coming home to yourself as well, uncovering your values, and investing in the soulful work of depth, humanness, and connection. If you’ve been longing to return to your roots of practice and support, Vira Bhava Yoga would love to have you join us. We hope to be connecting with you soon.


Many blessings,

Kelly

Is it Yoga if it Ignores Injustice?

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I’ve had the privilege of practicing Yoga since I was nineteen years old. At thirty-one, I’ve explored, experimented, and internalized as much as I can. I am full of Yoga. I’ve cultivated a “safe” practice for myself that now feels stifling. I’m stepping out of the incubation of my practice and weaving my practice into my life. And I’m doing that because I can see and feel Yoga’s opposite so resolutely.

Divisiveness; I’m talking about the nature of hate, racism, and othering that we are experiencing ripping through our country, communities, media, and social constructs. I cannot ignore the violence, mass murders, poverty, and helplessness any more. The level of dichotomy in our world calls for my practice to evolve and be inclusive of these realities too.

There is a popular Sanskrit mantra that goes “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” it means “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” How though, if we are only using our practice to perpetuate our own safety and wellbeing do we cultivate thoughts, words, and actions that contribute to the happiness and freedom of others?

Over time my practice has matured me beyond the need for only safety and has propelled me into the Yoga of Action, into Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga states that one should act, but not be attached to the fruits of your labor. One of the powers cultivated in this practice is the ability to witness how the mind reacts to external forces.

Once we understand the impact the mind’s reactions have on our willingness to engage, we can begin to investigate how and why we avoid, shy away from, and detest certain people, circumstances, and feelings. When we move through our resistance, we can identify and overcome the illusionary fears that keep us in avoidance.

As I act and educate myself of the injustices in our world, I am learning that they get stronger the more I (we) avoid and reject them as truth. I am seeing and feeling the dichotomy, the violence, the hate, the racism, the systems that oppress and it hurts.  

As I embrace these realities my worldview is challenged and my “safety” feels threatened. What I’ve been able to understand through strong practice, educating myself, and action is that right now it IS unsafe, violent, and dangerous and it isn’t my safety that feels threatened it’s my privilege.


If you are feeling safe it is because you have the privilege to be unaffected by the violence, the hate, and the racism that are thrashing about in our world. I believe that a practice that only cultivates the ability to tolerate the good, the ease, the righteous creates a fragility within us. The need for only good means we turn away and avoid the bad this action perpetuates and emboldens privilege.


When we ignore the hate, judgement, and fear inside of ourselves it is easy to avoid it out in the world. This kind of avoidance stunts our growth, endangers the future of inclusive progress, emboldens violence, hate, and racism and is out of integrity with the purpose of Yoga which is to create union. There’s a word for this tendency it’s called  Spiritual Bypassing.


I encourage each of us to investigate the practices we cultivate. Are our practices only perpetuating our privilege and our relationship with that which is comfortable, safe, stable, and easeful? Or are our practices also fortifying and preparing us to sit with, tolerate, and welcome the realities that are uncomfortable, violent, hateful, racist, and oppressive?

To the spiritual white women reading this: It is time for us to begin practicing Yoga as action rather than using it as a tool to further isolate. We can only really do this if we can sit with our own shadows, our hate, our racism, our violence, our rage, and the oppression we experience and internalize, and witness, welcome, and weather whatever confrontation it brings.

You may feel like this action will tear you apart, impact your mental stability, or break you. I ask you to take that belief into your practice and test it. Karma Yoga states that we find ourselves in these times (Karma) and should act in line with the tenants of Yoga for the sake of Union, but not be attached to the fruits of our labor or let our attachments guide our actions.

The Sanskrit mantra “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” means “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all”; it really does mean FOR ALL PEOPLE. If we are only practicing love and light and celebrating the beauty in the world we are doing an injustice to the practice, to our Self, and to others; we are Spiritually Bypassing.

I challenge you to call in the other half of life, the violence, the hate, the racism, the systems that oppress and the shadows. If we do not start to take accountability for the internalized shadows that are part of our nature; we will only prolong the hate, racism, and othering happening in the world. If we cannot dismantle our aversion I am not sure our Yoga practice or mantras like “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” can benefit all.

If you call what you are practicing Yoga, yet you’re ignoring the injustices happening outside of yourself, I ask you to reconsider what it is that you’re practicing and teaching others. Is it Yoga, if it ignores injustice or is it Spiritual Bypassing.

I would like to hear your reaction to this blog, please email me at Rachel@ViraBhavaYoga.com.


The article linked about has several foundational citations within it so that you can educate yourself further on topics touched on in this piece. I also recommend you follow Reverend Angel Kyodo Williams, Rusia Mohiuddin, Kerri Kelly (CTZNWELL), Rachel Cargle and Layla F. Saad for profound inclusivity work around racism, spirituality, Yoga, feminism, inclusion, and the revolution.



Rachel Tuck is the Associate Director and Operations Officer of Vira Bhava Yoga. She spends her time internally within the Vira Bhava Yoga Company supporting and co-creating the offerings, cultivating thought capitol, and intermingling with the forces greater than her to call in what’s next. You can also find her teaching in various weekends of Vira Bhava Yoga teacher trainings around the country and soon to be leading her own programs within the Vira Bhava Yoga School. Rachel is a 500 RYT who has been teaching Yoga for 8 years. She lives in Nevada City, California and can be found on social media as Rachelle Luck.