Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fascial Work, Somatics, Yoga and Ease

I'm in my 20th year of teaching and believe me, I've had my ups and downs,  It's really important to me that I'm enthusiastic about what I'm doing, so I'm always mixing it up, following my passions and bringing them to class.  There have been times, though, when I considered quitting;  when I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm.  But now is certainly not one of those times!   I've found a renewed intrigue in combining fascial work and Somatics with my yoga sequences.  I focus on one main part of the body for the class (and the week).   So even though we may be doing a wide range of postures, I'll choose the poses that most address that area or even modify the pose to address it more.   First we open it gently with fascial work and Somatics, and then we go deeper into it through the postures.  The prep work helps the muscles release so they respond better to the stretching.  (And of course, our style of stretching in Anusara Yoga is safer because it's active instead of passive).

I'm loving the heightened awareness that I'm bringing to one main area of the body;  how it feels, how it breathes, how it responds to attention and deeper opening.  I think the students are learning a lot about their bodies this way, even those who've been coming for several years.   Each class is a whole new exploration, with different poses for the different levels, even when it's the same level class a few days later.   It seems like we're working deeper and smarter and the students are really enjoying it. 

It's funny because even though I've focused on one body area quite a bit in my classes before, and have integrated Somatics and creative sequencing lots as well,  this experience seems really different to me.   And it's not just the addition of fascial work.  I think it's my own familiarity with the body and teaching, as well as a deeper sense of ease within myself.  I find that I hardly prepare the details of the class anymore.  I consider the level I'm teaching and the students who show up and I can effortlessly follow a trajectory for where I want to head in each class:  the poses just show themselves to me with more play than ever before.

I look forward to sharing more about this new sense of ease I'm experiencing and how it's showing up in my life in very cool ways.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Self Esteem and Commitment

I think having a dedicated spiritual practice can generate self-esteem.
Here's how:
Self-esteem is a feeling of confidence in oneself.  And to me, it's related to commitment.  The more I make commitments to myself and then follow through on them, the more I generate a feeling of trust in myself.  It's this trust, generated over repeated experiences of following through on my commitments, that builds a sense of confidence, and therefore, bolsters my self-esteem. 
I'm thinking of my meditation practice here:  I have a commitment to myself to meditate every day for at least 30 minutes.  The more I follow through with this, the better I feel about myself.  And it's not just about what happens on the cushion and after, which is of course why I choose to meditate, but it's the actual act of following through; making it to the cushion day after day.  When I do, I feel a sense of ease and knowing in my body.  There is something that softens in me, like I've just received a hug.  I know I'm "for" myself.   When I don't, I feel a niggling in my body, like a kind of tension that reminds me of somebody poking at my side.  It's like a subtle angst saying, "I have not honored myself today."  (And relating to spiritual practice, this is in addition to the little voice that says, "I have not connected to my Self today.")

Our commitments may be about getting to the gym or yoga class, studying, writing, practicing an instrument, or eating healthy food, and I think it's all the same:  any regular actions that fulfill our personal commitments are going to foster trust in ourselves and increase our self-esteem.

In my February newsletter, I wrote about how taking consistent action in spiritual practice over a long period of time is called abhyasa in Yoga.  It's related to discipline and the idea that to see results from our spiritual practices, we must practice consistently over the long-term.  So I'm appreciating how not only can we experience spiritual results from consistent spiritual practice, which would probably be the goal for most who practice, but we can also generate self-esteem, simply by showing up for ourselves again and again.  So this is a great side-benefit of abhyasa.

More on how yoga and self-esteem are related in my upcoming book!