First Street Yoga Community News and Blog

turning inward: the final frontier

In sutra II.10, Patanjali tells us that the misunderstandings and sufferings of life will be ended through pratiprasava, a word Mr. Iyengar translates as involution. Prati means in opposition to. The root, prasava, means generation and refers to the blossoming that is characteristic of the natural world (think about how life multiplies to fill all ecological niches, think of the astonishing variety of individuals). Our universe is expanding in many ways.

The spiritual path, then, is one of pruning. The ability to choose to turn away even from good things (more food! more entertainment!) is what makes us human, and our lives begin to take on meaning when we choose restraint in order to pursue some higher ideal.

This Sunday, June 24, Gretchen Newmark will visit to teach a workshop on beginning meditation. We’ll use these three hours to explore methods to turn our energies inward, to involute, or turn away from the fabulous display of the world to begin the process of discovering who we are at our core. If you feel stressed or driven by the circumstances of your life, this workshop is for you. I hope to see you soon.

learning from easy

This week (2/20), I’ll be teaching restorative poses in all my classes, and Alison will teach restoratives next week. For those of you who are new to the practice, restorative poses are the passive poses of relaxation. Depending on the position, they might offer a lot of stretch, but they require minimal physical effort.

When I was a beginner, they weren’t my favorite poses. If I did get stuck in a restorative practice I felt restless and impatient. Restorative poses were easy to do; why bother practicing them? One day, struggling with this, a voice in my head finally asked me: “if these poses are too easy, why are they so hard to practice?” I’ve been exploring that interesting question ever since.

It takes at least 10 minutes of release for the body to really relax. My bossy mind was so convinced of its own importance that it could not, at first, see the value in any pursuit that didn’t actively require its skills. Patience was my first lesson. When my mind finally began to settle down, I got to experience the physical benefits of restorative poses. When we relax deeply, we support all those things we do without thinking about them – digestion, respiration and circulation, fighting disease, cleansing the body. This support balances the nervous system and clears away the many negative effects of stress.

We invite you to come in and unwind. Whatever else is going on in your life, give yourself an hour and a half to set your burdens down. Come in and see what happens when easy is your teacher.

having (yoga) fun with the family
through the busy holidays

This holiday season, give a gift to loved ones and a meditation for you. Into the excitement and noise and activity of the holidays, carry this yoga wisdom and observe the results:

Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy, and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively,
the consciousness becomes favorably disposed, serene and benevolent.
( I.33, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, trans. BKS Iyengar)

Try it. It can be your secret practice.
Friendliness, compassion, and joy.