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Taking yoga into your daily life?

Recently Varrie and I did an online workshop where we asked everyone to really look at how the current global pandemic has been affecting them. It can be easy to just say that you are coping fine, but often when we try to soldier on, things can come up in different ways. Part of our yoga practice is embodying how we feel - being aware of it, feeling it, experiencing it and taking action from a place of awareness, understanding and compassion.


After the workshop, we asked people to let us know if there were any things they wanted further guidance on and we received some questions. We thought it might be useful to share them, because the likelihood is that some of you might have the same questions.


We are planning another online workshop on Sunday 15 November AT 6pm where we will talk about these things again. You can find our more about it by going to www.vhairislavenyoga.com/workshops.






How do you take your yoga practice into your daily life?

I don't know how much you have looked into yoga philosophy before, or whether your experience of yoga is in going to classes. I believe that a regular physical practice helps you to be more aware of your experience of being here as a human - physically, mentally and emotionally. That I would say, is the first part. The second useful thing I learned is meditation. Meditation is about looking at and noticing what it is your mind is doing. You'll notice your mind has lots of thoughts. Most of these thoughts are patterns that your brain has developed as a child to survive the complexities of being human in an adult world. Many of these are helpful or were helpful, but many of them are unhelpful now. They become unconscious and can cause us to react without knowing why we are reacting that way. So meditating does two things - it lets you see what is going on in your mind and it creates space for you to see and notice thoughts and what are often called triggers. So, something happens that triggers you because it awakens an emotional response probably because of something that happened earlier in life - you instantly react, most likely in a way that if you had the time to sit and think about it, you wouldn't - for example in anger. Meditation allows you to (sometimes) pause and ask yourself why that person might be acting the way they are and to ask yourself why you feel what you feel about their actions before you respond defensively or aggressively or without compassion.

In yoga and Buddhist philosophy, there are lots of teachings about how to look at yourself (the meditation is the looking), and then change the patterns that cause you to suffer (this would be going into the terrain of how to live your life - in yoga - Yamas and Niyamas and in Buddhism the Noble Eightfold Path). These are then things that we would reflect on and try to live out in our lives. Always remember that in Yoga, number 1 before everything else is Ahimsa - that means non-harming in actions, thoughts and words - that means to yourself as well as others. So we class self-criticism as Ahimsa. It's not a case of reading these and then thinking - "Well there's no chance of me sticking to all of these so forget it." Start with Ahimsa and concentrate on that, then the next things.




How do you use yoga to help you develop more realistic expectations of yourself and those around you? Are there resources you could recommend for this?

Having unrealistic expectations will lead to disappointment. You know that - because I imagine that is what your repeated experience of having expectations has been. I know that because that has been my experience. But how do you change that natural tendency? In simple terms when expectation is a problem - you are suffering because you are clinging to a version of life that doesn't exist. Your desire for life to be a certain way is getting in the way of you enjoying life as it is. Everything I have read has taught me that peace and loving life is about accepting life as it as, and accepting yourself as you are, and accepting others as they are. Ram Dass has really helped me with this understanding. You are and everything else is enough as it is - just love it. Loving it doesn't mean you think it's perfect - it means you love it even though it is imperfect - which we do, but we don't acknowledge that that is what we are doing - because we put conditions on things. You would love your kids and your parents no matter what they did - but you suffer because you want them to be some other way. You still love them, but you have added on suffering because they are not how you think they should be. When you take the suffering away, there is just the love - which was there all the time. Love all of your own neurosis and bad habits and crazy thoughts - love them and then with compassion choose which action to take.



My friend is a coach, she wrote a personal development book called Drive-Thru Success which I contributed to (she coaches me), it has a chapter called 'Let it Go' which explains why expectation leads to disappointment. I talk about yoga and Buddhism in it, she is a Catholic but mostly talks about the Universe and Law of Attraction. If you like things like the Secret, you might like this.


How can you use the practice to allow yourself to be vulnerable and yet feel safe and supported?


There are other people out there who talk about similar spiritual things, but are not Buddhist or Yogis, for example, Brene Brown (she is a Christian). She became famous after her TED talk The Power of Vulnerability. She has several books I have read and really love. Particularly when it comes to allowing yourself to be more vulnerable and understanding why that means you will feel more connected.


It takes bravery to be more vulnerable - there is no doubt about that. But it makes you stronger and you will find a few things:

  • You had way more strength and courage than you thought.

  • If you let the right people know that you would like them to help you, most of the time, they will step up and do just that. Find people you can talk to and trust. My experience is that people assume I don't need any help because I give the impression that I can handle it all on my own. So I have had to purposely let people know when I am struggling a bit.


Not everyone, but certain people - like Jenny, my coach and some close friends, yoga teachers and family. Brene talks very wisely about how to start sharing and who with and how to know who is safe to do it with.







We also asked people the following questions that you might want to ask yourself about the coming months and Winter Season:

  • What would a joyful, peaceful Autumn and Winter look like to you? Who would you be with and what would you be doing? Knowing that things might be different this year, write down some things that you know would give you joy that will likely be possible.

  • What things make you feel playful and how can you do more of those?


Some books I would recommend for further reading about meditation, yoga and personal development are:


Meditation


I would recommend that if you do start meditating (assuming you haven't already) that you make sure you are also reading about it and listening about it and ideally talking about it to someone. Just so you know that you are not crazy - your mind can look a bit crazy when you look at it lol! Lots of stuff will come up, some of it will be weird and uncomfortable - but don't read into everything that comes up. Thoughts are random. Starting off with guided meditations and mind exercises is a good idea.


Just start with 10 minutes a day. Do it anywhere you can if you can't sit down in a meditation practice because of a busy house and children. Go to the loo if you have to, do it waiting in a queue, or when you are out walking. For books about meditation, Audible can be good because you can listen to the books while you are doing other things like walking or doing housework.




Yoga


  • Living Your Yoga - a really practical, easy to read book about the Yamas and Niyamas and how to begin to live them.

  • Becoming Nobody by Ram Dass - a series of his lectures. He was a yogi. You would need to either by the CDs or to listen to this on audible. However, there are many lectures of his on Youtube.

  • Scared in the Everday - Ram Dass (Youtube)

  • How to Love Yourself - Ram Dass (Youtube) This might seem like a lot to go through, but I would listen to a few of them on Youtube and see which one resonates with you the most and then try reading their books. Trust your intuition about what you need right now. You may already be doing some of these things and if you are - just keep practising and reading and looking. And just try and be kinder to yourself and others every time something happens. Simply - let yourself off the hook a bit. You are worthy of love, success and peace of mind as you are right now - without having to be Wonder Woman or Superman and with all the crazy shit that comes with being a human. 



For online and studio yoga classes and workshops in Ayrshire go to www.vhairislavenyoga.com

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