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Oo-ee-oo-aa-aa-ching-chang yama-yama ding dong!

YAMAS

REVIEWING the 5 “SUGGESTIONS” from the yoga master on how to function properly in society…

Living life as best we can is important. So. Live LIFE as BEST we can.    PLEASE. Lets stop faff-ing around and making excuses for why we can’t put a little more effort into our daily lives to make changes. We can all use some more change. Have you reached your absolute potential? Hmmmm… I know I  haven’t.  It is true that we are exactly where we are supposed to be today. However if we don’t set the intention to be our better selves and put it out in the universe while making a deliberate effort… it isn’t going to happen. We need to reach for it ourselves. We can’t become better though osmosis, not on planet EARTH at least.   BE the good. Create it. You can be the beginning!  Little steps at a time. This is why I am here, on this blog… to a) remind myself of this simple truth and b)remind you of this simple truth. We can all be better people one step at a time.

This is why we have been discussing Patanjali. He is the yoga man. He wrote down all the “highlights” from HUGE volumes of Vedic texts and oral verses that had been passed down generation to generation for centuries. He did this so we could all benefit from what the ancient Brahmins were told by the cosmos on how to live the life most fulfilling. The composition he put together, the Yoga Sutra is GOLD. It doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist or Agnostic, there are so many valuable things to be taken (and SHARED) out of the sutras. He clearly outlines eight steps to enlightenment (the discovery of our own true nature). Eight. The first branch of action steps are called “the YAMAS”. Moral restraints, they explain how to live in harmony with society. We have already discussed them in detail, and now we will review and re-iterate.

1. Ahmisa: Non-Violence

Don’t hurt any living things, including yourself. Try being NICE to yourself. Also, avoid eating poorly treated animals. Or animals at all, up to you to think about it and to practice, please at least think about your relationship with meat… no good avoiding an issue because it is uncomfortable for you.

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LINKS TO AHIMSA:

http://taozitreeyoga.com/2013/01/04/start-talking-to-yourself-nicely

http://taozitreeyoga.com/2013/01/06/dont-eat-me-i-love-you

http://taozitreeyoga.com/2013/01/13/meet-your-meat

2. Satya: Truthfulness

Don’t lie to others. But also, don’t hurt them. That means, don’t go around “being honest” if it is going to hurt others. Unless you are a reporter for an entertainment magazine, avoid telling “truths” that are going to cause pain. Ahimsa trumps satya. At the same time, don’t run around lying to people to make them feel  good about themselves, a nice gesture, but wrong none the less… also don’t fib to make yourself look better then you are. Be right sized. Honest. Satya.

satya

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LINKS TO SATYA:

http://taozitreeyoga.com/2013/01/25/does-my-butt-look-big-a-yogi-responds

3. Asteya: Non-Stealing

Non-Stealing seems pretty obvious but we might be thieves without knowing it. Just because we aren’t “bad” people, doesnt’ mean we are the best we can be, thus robbing others of our own best selves… this can be changed by 4 simple actions…

1)not taking advantage of people, at all

2) really listening to people when they are talking to you and giving well thought out, helpful feedback (or just a genuine pair of ears)

3) SMILE at those around you in life, the people on the street, the road, the train, the grocery store… where ever. And lastly…

4) Stop comparing yourself to others and be NICE to yourself. Use the voice in your head to create joy, not to kill it.

asteya

LINKS TO ASTEYA:

http://taozitreeyoga.com/2013/02/05/thieves-arnt-we-all

4: Brahmacharya: Harness your Desires

It’s not ALL about sex, but sex is a large part of it. Brahmacharya is about resisting in a spiritual genuine fashion, all things that we may lust over. Brahmacharya can be practiced around anything we may be overly attached to in the physical realm. These things all take away our potential energy to achieve the INCREDIBLE.

brahmacharia

LINKS TO BRAHMACHARYA:

http://taozitreeyoga.com/2013/02/10/sex-money-gandhi/

5: Aparigraha: Non-Hoarding…or LET GO

Let it go, let it go, let it go. Live life with open palms so all things enter and exist effortlessly. The post “Live with Open Palms” is a must read, and a must DO to really live a fulfilling, happy, life…

aparigraha

LINKS TO APRIGRAHA:

http://taozitreeyoga.com/2013/02/22/live-with-open-palms

*All photos came from Pinterest 🙂

So, those are the yamas. 5 behaviors suggested by Patanjali to maintain a balanced society. 5 concepts that make sense and can create magic in our lives, and our relationships when practiced diligently. The good news is its only the beginning. Only the 1st of 8 steps! For now, be the best that you can be (forgive the cheesy-ness, but please…do it!) Next up… the Niyamas…

be your best

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Thieves! Arn’t we all?

robber2

According to Webster joy is: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight. 

Do you know how we kill joy? By stealing. Who is the thief? Sadly, I am a thief. And so are you. Probably. Hear me out…

ASTEYA. Non-Stealing. The 3rd Yama of Patanjali…

Don’t steal.

Yeah yeah yeah… we all know stealing is wrong. I am not a thief per  se… At least I haven’t been since my younger years when I may or may not have gotten cheap thrills from petty theft. Like the time I shoplifted stud earrings off of the cardboard backings and stuffed them by the handfuls into my little overall pockets (I was a toddler and my mom made me take them back)… since then theft hasn’t really been a problem. Or has it?

Upon a deeper examination of my behavior I have found that I DO steal. How? Here my confessional begins…. 4 ways that I am a  thief and a “joy killer”.

#1: When I stay over at a friend’s house and they let me take a shower and there is really nice yummy shampoo and conditioner lining the basin, I might over indulge. It’s true. I LOVE shampoo and conditioner and I love trying new ones. I think I may use too much when I am at my friend’s homes? (insert embarrassed cringe here) This is stealing. I am offered it to use, but I probably take advantage. Taking advantage is stealing. I should never take advantage of people or opportunities placed in my life.  Have you ever decided to finish off the orange juice in the fridge knowing that someone else might want it? THIEF! 😉 How is my “thievery” a joy killer? When my friend runs out of shampoo or finds the juice container empty because someone over indulged… she is probably not happy…

and it goes on…

#2: When I am sitting at dinner with a group of people and there is a conversation going on between myself and another person and I am not present, I am stealing. They  talk away and I begin to drift into another place and I shake my head as if I am hearing them and I pretend to be engaged,but I am not. Then when they stop talking I scramble to find something wise to say related to the subject (I heard something about horses and I am from Colorado, Colorado has horses… so I blandly say this) but my heart isn’t in it and my input isn’t beneficial or important because I wasn’t really present… this is stealing. I am taking away the opportunity to be heard from the other person. REALLY heard. So often people pretend they are listening, the look like they are listening, but really… they aren’t. Sometimes when I am tired or there is a lot going on in my head, I fake it. Faking it is stealing.  I should always listen with my heart and also speak from my heart.  Joy Killer? Not necessarily, but not BRINGING Joy is a greater evil?

robber1

#3: When I am walking down the street in my own world and I miss the little old lady sitting in her chair facing the sidewalk, she is siting there quietly and she could really use a simple smile and wave from a passer by. Sadly, because I am too caught up in the mission of my journey, I ignore her. This is stealing also. I am taking away her opportunity for love. I should always share my heart with those around me.  Again… not bringing the joy I am capable of to any encounter is similar to stealing.

old lady

#4 When I look around the room in a yoga class during upavista konasa (seated forward fold) and I see that his head and chest are all the way down and mine.. well… isn’t… and I think to myself some sort of negative criticism and I push and struggle to inch forward…I am a) comparing myself to someone else (stealing my own joy) and b) missing the entire point of my practice, to be with myself, self realization, thus once again… stealing a rare opportunity for peace in my body…because I clutter my mind with unnecessary negative chatter. Joy Killer!

upavistha-konasana

Sure it may seem dramatic but once we walk “the path” the road gets narrower. It is always a good idea to re-evalaute our own behaviors so that we can continue to become better people. Just because we aren’t “bad” people, doesnt’ mean we are the best we can be, and this can be changed by simply 1)not taking advantage of people, at all…2) really listening to people when they are talking to you and giving well thought out, helpful feedback (or just a genuine pair of ears)…3) SMILE at those around you in life, the people on the street, the road, the train, the grocery store… where ever. And lastly… 4) Stop comparing yourself to others and be NICE to yourself. Use the voice in your head to create joy, not to kill it.

No more Joy Killers… only Joy BRINGERS! 😉

comparison-in-the-thief-of-joy1


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“Does my butt look big?” A yogi responds.

big butt

TRUTHFULNESS. According to Patanjali (the author of the Yoga Sutras) truthfulness, or satya,  is the second most important attribute to maintain in society. It is well known that telling the truth is common sense. However, the line gets foggy when the truth could potentially hurt someone, going against Patanjali’s first and most important attribute, ahimsa/non-harming.  These attributes, otherwise known as yamas, are in order for a reason and it is always most important to uphold any yama coming before the other. Thus… non-harming is always the priority over truth. So, do we always need to tell the truth? Yes. UNLESS  it is going to hurt someone.

This leads us to the age-old scenario of the uncomfortable question…  “Does my butt look big?”  (substitute any of the following questions here…“Do I look fat?” Do you like/did you notice… my hair cut?” “How do you feel about my parents?” “Is she/he prettier then me?” (DONT EVER ASK THIS) “Is this delicious?” add infinitum…)

funny-wife-trap-do-i-look-fat

Donna Farhi* says:

The yamas are broken down into five “wise characteristics.” Rather than a list of dos and don’ts, “they tell us that our fundamental nature is compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful.” 

Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness 
Satya means “to speak the truth,” yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa. This precept is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the bedrock of any healthy relationship, community, or government, and that deliberate deception, exaggerations, and mistruths harm others. 

Hmmmm…..    Really? While studying in India with Rishikesh Yog Peeth, my class was flabbergasted when we heard this come seriously from Bhaskar’s (our philosophy teacher’s) mouth. He said, “Don’t tell the truth if it is going to hurt someone… ever.” We all looked around quizzically… puzzled by our gurus meaning.

“Soooo, you want us…to lie?”  This obviously seemed like a huge no-no in yogic tradition.

No. You don’t lie. You say this….”My eyes cannot speak, my ears cannot see, my lips cannot hear.”                  Got it? One more time. The correct answer to the question “Do I look fat in this dress?” Is either…. “NO. You do NOT look fat. You look BEAUTIFUL!” Unless of course, she doesn’t.

If it is after the holidays and she has put on a few pounds and you DON’T think she looks beautiful, you should not tell her this… because that would hurt her feelings (duh).  SO what you say is….

satya

“My eyes cannot speak, my ears cannot see, my lips cannot hear.”

If this brings on a surge of questions, simply reply the same awkward sentence again and perhaps again until she backs off. THIS approach is the most yogic. 😉

After fully believing most of my life that honesty is the best approach, no matter what… I find this hard to believe. I’d like to say that as a women, I want to hear the truth. On the other hand I want the truth to be that my man thinks I look beautiful. How do you want to be treated? With the truth no matter what? With a little white lie? Or would silence or the response “My eyes cannot speak, my ears cannot see, my lips cannot hear “ suffice?

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*Donna Farhi. Yoga Mind, Body, Spirit.  pg 7, 9