Bringing it back..

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So you go on a five week adventure to experience ‘yoga in practice’. Out in the real world! In Europe, no less.

You cross oceans and skies and mountains. You see cities and new faces and Autumn trees in Spring. Well spring for me down here in the south…

You learn about trains and planes and automobiles. Literally. Over and over…

Yes, indeed! What a good strong practice this is!

You learn about foreign food and other people’s homes and beds. You learn about the way others live and you are interested and overwhelmed with joy and wonder and exhaustion….

And you learn about sore feet and travel blisters and then you learn about travel callus as well.

You learn about feeling safe walking at night and running and cycling in the rain. And you meet travelling musicians, and stare at  profoundly beautiful artwork and buildings until your travel partner gets super annoyed that you are not concentrating on conversation…

You learn to relax and pull up some serious mula banda, yes it REALLY HELPS, in a crowded metropolis like London. You learn… You watch your emotions swirl around and change as you face unfamiliar territory day after day, night after night… Over and over and over…

Oh man! What an authentic yoga experience! True yoga! Union. Union with god, your true self… Union with whatever it is you want to call it.

Face to face with unlimited potential simply by force of being waaaaay out of you comfort zone…

But Asana….?

Oh my god, who has time to practice asana on holiday!

So here I am, back for a half a week. Week one of ‘getting back into it’ is in full flow.

Such as it is…

My arms are weak. My tummy is well covered from all the spoiling I got from wonderful friends and family along the way. My posture has reverted back to my old slouch. My heart is less open! I’ve lost inches of height, I’m sure of it!

I can still reach my toes…. If I bend my knees… deeply.

What a wonderful opportunity!

Now I can experience fully what my new students will experience, starting out. I can learn the tiny bits and pieces of my body all over again. I can find those little intricate muscles and sensations that come with regular practice..

I can learn… About discipline.

What does discipline mean to you?

To me it means… Showing up. Again and again… And trusting that things will work out. While finding humour and joy in the process. Even though the monkey mind has a  LOT to say. Then finding that funny too.

Of course… I am human. The monkey mind is not going away. I am not yet enlightened. And honestly, I don’t think being enlightened works that way anyway…  I have not reached ‘nirvana’. I have not found ultimate bliss.

I cry. I feel pain. I laugh. I feel fear…. So much fear…

I look in the mirror sometimes and I know the thought will come… The thought that most, I think, can well identify with…

‘Oh my god, I’m so FAT!’ I think.

I pull up my shirt and stick out my belly and give it a good stare.

‘Oh my god! I have no muscle! My legs and arms look like pieces of wet spaghetti hanging off a squishy, round ball of fat in the middle! What was I thinking…’

But then I notice that, well. My body is still healthy. And actually.. Well… I love my body. Even though it does not represent the exactly ridiculous high standards I have set for the poor thing after five weeks of almost No asana practice!

What a great body I have. So forgiving! I can learn from it. It forgives me for my treatment of it, so I can forgive myself too.

‘Sorry body, you’re beautiful. Just as you are! Even if I never practice asana ever again! You will always be beautiful, to me!’

So then, I have to smile, and laugh as I get back on my mat for the first time, as I get near the end of my first private Jivamukti practice in just under five weeks. Rolling my legs over my head and supporting my back. I reach my feet to the ceiling… Salamba Sarvangasana! Supported shoulder stand.

There’s my belly. I breathe deeeeply into that belly and watching it grow and then shrink as the air flows in, and then out of my lungs again.

I may not have the strength yet to feel all those tiny little wonders that one can feel from asana practice… But I trust, it will come.

And the journey will be an adventure!

Welcome home, physical body. So good to practice with you again! I missed you so much!

With Love,

-Tammy

 

 

 

 

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I don’t have any personal memories of past life experiences…

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Do you?

Do you know anyone who has had them?

In the rapidly increasing ‘yoga world’, in my experience, in Cape Town, it is often commonly accepted that people have past lives, and therefore will have future lives. Of course this is a gross simplification of the yoga belief system, that is based on ancient Indian texts and religious beliefs about death and what happens to you when you die.

This subject interests me very much. What a beautiful magical idea. There is so much wonder, and love, in the idea that we keep coming back until ‘we get it right’, whatever our ‘it’ may be, meeting loved ones again and again along the way, in a beautiful, perfect ‘dance’ of healing.

So don’t get me wrong.

I don’t ‘disbelieve’ in reincarnation. I think the theory, as a whole, makes beautiful, very neat and satisfying mathematical sense.

The theory of Karma rests extremely heavily on this belief system as well. At least, the most common understandings of the modern concept of the word Karma that I have come across so far.

I don’t ‘disbelieve’ in Karma either.

What I do believe, is that when it comes to any science, the closer you get to becoming one of the people who ‘really know’ stuff, the more you start to realize that anyone who says they ‘really know’ stuff, does not in fact, ‘know stuff’, at all. Because if they did, they would have to admit how limited our scientific methods are, especially when it comes to measuring something as profound as human memory and experience.

My question then would be, how is it useful?

How is it useful to think that we have more lives after this one, and that we have had many before? How is it useful to feel that we have more chances ahead of us maybe… As human beings, who often face unthinkable challenges in life. How, and when, is it useful, to believe in this beautiful idea?

I don’t actually have an answer for that, just more questions.

So here goes:

  • If someone dies, is it useful while mourning, to imagine that person gets a second chance?
  • If you make a big mistake in life, is it useful to think that you will get a second chance, or in fact, many second chances?
  • Since we can’t know for sure, and therefore can’t disprove the theory, does it hurt to imagine… Or ‘make believe’, to use my beautiful teacher’s words, in a world where this is possible. Because who wouldn’t want to live in a world like that…
  • Is there harm in striving to create something beautiful, ever…?

On the other hand:

  • Is one life not enough? Does it not carry enough pain and suffering for just one person…?
  • What if you get doomed in a circle of endless pain and suffering…
  • What if you think that you can get away with anything, because you have a next life to ‘try again’.
  • What if you waste your life, thinking that there is another one to ‘get things right’, and it turns, well, that there isn’t. That this one is all we’ve got… That’s a very big ‘what if’.

And the question that always gets me thinking:

  • What happens when other people’s Karma actions (assuming the theory to be true), affect you, like ripples in a pond, every action has an equal and reaction, right? So other people’s Karma could effect you… For lifetimes.. Hypothetically speaking. You could get stuck in someone else’s horrible Karma loop, by way of being near them, at the time.
  • And every life is supposed to better than the one before, because we are ‘burning through’ our Karmas, or past actions with every breath, without even doing anything, so why even try? Because every time you die it will get better the next time, right?

My beautiful yoga teacher had an answer for that one too. She said it much better, but my understanding is that, if you don’t face ‘your stuff’, it gets more and more painful, over and over, until you eventually HAVE to face your stuff, because the pain is too much.

I like to think of every day as a ‘little lifetime’, when I think of reincarnation and karma concepts and philosophies. Every night (well most nights), we go to sleep, and every day we wake up. A miracle! We don’t know how this happens. It just does. We trust. So if every day was a little mini version of the life time thing, then imagine every day you make ‘bad’ choices. It seems to me… After years of bad choices, people suffer more and more inside, and the more they suffer, and don’t face ‘their stuff’ the more pain they have.  So in a way, we can see proof of my yoga teacher’s explanation in our lives memories and perceptions.

Isn’t that kind of nice? What if this concept was what these ancient yogis were trying to explain?

Dig a little deeper… And every single moment can be perceived as a ‘little lifetime’. In fact, isn’t that more or less what metaphysics says? That there is only one moment, and that all moments are in this moment, and that our perception of duality is the only reasons it seems like there is more than one moment, because of the illusion of time and space…

I can go on and on here…

My point??

Karma, and the wonderful human construct of reincarnation, are WAY too amazing, exciting subjects, to be put into stupid religious, evangelistic yogi boxes!

We should be talking more about how useful and cool these concepts are, that some very clever, deep thinking people have come up with over thousands of years, rather than trying to box then up as a ‘thing’ that we are ‘sure’ of… A thing that is the absolute truth because everyone in the yoga world agrees that it is the absolute truth! So of course it must be!!

Last note.

So far the best answer for my questions about this topic has been that it makes life more fair… What about this life we live in makes anyone think it has to be fair??

Actually I have more to add…

To all those wonderful, special, kind yogis who are out there trying to make the world a better place, and who follow this belief system… It’s working. It really is. Yoga helps. That is clear to me, and I think to anyone who tries it. It really helps. And it is these fundamental theories that form part of this beautiful concept that we have today that we profoundly understate when we use the word ‘yoga’.

And don’t forget…

I don’t disbelieve.

I just want to see more yogi truth seekers in the world.

Oooh oooh, on that note, one more thing…

If the whole point of Yoga practice is to strip down our ignorance and rise above our Karmas, and endless cyclic living… Then why are we yogis the ones most worried about are Karmas effecting our future lives??? Surely we ‘got it covered’ with all the Yoga, right?

Think think evaluate! Test, retest, test it on someone else, get their opinion, then test it on a group, then another group, then prove a million times over that you are wrong, and then start again and think some more!!

Be OPEN.

For the LOVE of Yoga.

❤ Tam

 

 

 Picture credit: https://www.yogiapproved.com/

The Music of Yoga

The Music of Yoga

There’s magic in asana practice. There is magic in the vinyasa flow.

The most important thing I have learned so far on my journey towards understanding that magic…

(And I use the word magic here to describe this incredible feeling I have felt. And also, for lack of a better word…)

The most striking thing I have learned… I learned banging away at my guitar one day. Long before I rolled out a yoga mat for the first time.

It was only when I was practicing for my asana and teaching practical exam, spending hours on the mat, listening to all different types of music, that I realised I was trying to ‘catch the beat’, just like playing a musical instrument or dancing..

I have come to feel now that all these things were yoga practices all along. Strong practices. Practices that among other life experiences, prepared me for being able to feel the music, the magic in a Sun Salutation. Or a Jivamukti, or Vinyasa Flow yoga class.

Once you feel it. You want more. You want to understand it. You find yourself drawn to your mat again and again, not to get a good stretch or to have a good body, although of course those thoughts drift though your mind, at least they do for me. I’m rather conditioned by social norms, although I try to be aware of this.

But when I roll out my mat, and feel out my body. I’m excited. I’m drawn in. What will happen today? It’s not even about ‘how stretchy can this pose be today’, although I have ego! I love to stretch further to feel stronger, healthier, fearless. I want that too.

But somehow some days even that sort of goes away. And I am just experiencing this continuous feeling. Completely present.  Dancing through the moments with intense feelings of content.

Its so smooth.

So beautiful.

In that moment where you feel like your body was made for you, and you were made for it and there is perfect harmony in every cell and every breath.

That’s where the music is, for me.

And I believe this feeling is transferable. Or at least..

It is my belief, from my personal experience as a student and now as a teacher.  That one can be shown the means to reach the music.

The music of yoga.

– ♡Tammy

How to #practice #yoga without a Selfie Stick

How to #practice #yoga without a Selfie Stick

  1. Hike up a mountain
  2. Keep your practice Steady and Joyful (Sthira Sukham Asanam), and follow the EIGHT photographic examples below:

3.1 Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

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3.2 Vajrasana (Rock Pose)

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3.3 South African Lotus Pose (Protea Pose)

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3.4 Ekapadasana ( One foot Pose )

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3.5 Utkatasana (Fierce chair pose)

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3.6 Don’t forget to apply Mula Bandha (Root lock) …

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3.7 …  while attempting Vrikshasana (Tree Pose) ….

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3.8 … or Eka Hasta Ardha Adho Mukha Vrikshasana (One Handed Half Upside-down Tree Pose or rather, One Handed Half Handstand)

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4. Tut tut… Looks like Rain…

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😀 😀 😀

–   ❤ Tammy

Dhyana: Meditation

Dhyana: Meditation

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Today I started on my fifty minute meditation practice again. I have been so caught up in life experiences and discovering what my body can accomplish through yoga asana (posture/ seat or connection to the earth) practice that I have found myself neglecting this practice of the mix of mindfulness, dharana (concentration),  and pratyahara (sense withdrawal), that I refer to as meditation.

I had forgotten how calming it can be to sit down and watch all your thoughts for a full fifty minutes.

Not calming during the fifty minutes necessarily.  Challenges are sure to come up and do for me all the time! Especially when your knees feel like they are pulling out of their sockets and your right foot goes completely numb, and that space between your shoulder blades that you were working so hard in headstead and handstand practice the day before, that had been a nice reminder of a good time spent on the mat, suddenly becomes an urgent physical signal.

And of course every emotional and thought and observation about those thoughts and emotions demand immediate attention too. To the point where you are actually extremely grateful for the physical pain just to distract you from everything you have been pretending you can avoid thinking about for the last who knows… For the last too long a time. At least in my case.

Quite intense.

Did someone say sitting still was easy?? That person has not tried it.

And of course, it being a little while since I attempted a long unguided seated meditation, I stood up too quickly after I was done.

Big mistake.  Big. Huge.

Pins and needles and that feeling in the back of your throat and neck, and tongue that is your body trying to red light you that something is NOT RIGHT in the general leg vicinity, somewhere directly below the knee…

And you have to pull mula bhanda (clenching and lifting the pulvic floor and all the ‘bits’ in the nether regions) just to get through because now you can’t find a way to move your feet which no longer feel like they are attached to you body..  And pain. Lots of pain.

And then it’s suddenly over.

And you thank yourself for your practice.

And the reward is a calm and clarity of heart and mind. And your mind forgets the pain, just in time to try it all again tomorrow. 

Because why?

Is ‘because it helps’ not a good enough answer?

I guess that is a good answer. And certainly it is a truth.

But the real answer is… Because of that need. That searching. Not for something better or different. But rather for something deeper, quieter, slower, and more profound.

And sometimes in my various practices of yoga, the least of which is definitely not dharana practice, if we can quantify these things by comprison to each other. Which we can’t.

But sometimes.

You catch a glimpse of something beautiful.  Something beyond words. Although words are the meduim through which I will continue to endeavour to share this with others. Words, directions. Demostrations. Pulling you into position like a rag doll .. What ever it takes in the moment.

Because yoga is amazing

♡ Tammy

About Me: #yoga #living

Hi, and welcome to my website / blog / info / photos / and all that fun stuff.

A little introduction here.

My name is Tammy, and I came into yoga, mindfulness and meditation, sort of like most people I guess… Naturally.

I started practicing and going to as many classes as I could, trying every style, for example, Iyenyar Yoga (amazing for strength and alignment, balancing out your body), Kundalini Yoga (amazing for gaining awareness of the body and the self), and Vinyasa Yoga (wonderful for improving concentration, that beautiful ‘flow’ feeling, like you’re dancing, and for strength and flexibility).

The more I practiced, the more I wanted to practice.

From a sporting perspective, I have a very strong Martial Arts background, and this made it easier to fall into Yoga practice. I was amazed to find this way to move my body, that satisfied my needs as an avid martial arts lover, but managed to do so without ever hurting anyone! In fact quite the opposite. This healing practice we fondly call Yoga.

From a teaching perspective, I taught Martial Arts for a couple of years when I was younger, but again, I never felt like it was quite the exact right ‘fit’ for me. I LOVED the ‘Kata’, or karate forms, and the art of playing and mentally finding ways to mold with your opponent, but of course, as soon as it got serious, I did not want to hurt anyone!

I am also a qualified teacher (BEd, Intermediate and Senior Phases, UNISA), and among all the usual subjects that go with those phases, I had always enjoyed teaching Physical Education. And Maths. Yes. Maths is a strangely satisfying and challenging phenomenon to teach. Indeed! There is maths in yoga assists, just like there is music in Yoga flow…

Basically. Yoga means a lot to me.

The natural step forward was to do the somewhat scary, and challenging, but also turned out to be at times simply exhilarating, 200hr Vinyasa training course.

And now I have done that, through Air Yoga Cape Town. Which has added a wonderful Jivamukti Yoga bias to my teaching and personal Yoga practice. (Jivamukti, amazing for discovering things about yourself, and for those who want to do ‘something like the vigorous Ashtanga practice’, but don’t have three hours every morning, every single day, to do so. These Jivamuktis have devised a way to get all the benefits of the long Ashtanga practice into an hour, or an hour and a half of Asana (posture/ seat to the earth) practice.

Having also studied undergraduate psychology, my approach to yoga teaching follows a ‘person centered’ path. I love to figure out where people are struggling, and get in there and try my utmost to give them something to ‘lean against’ while they work towards their own healing.

Everyone is healing anyway, but Yoga, from my personal experience, is a very exciting, challenging, profound, amazing… Just a great way to go about it.

Oh and it helps you get strong and bendy, and aids with digestion and pumps toxins out of your body, improves sleep patterns and helps with general well being and health, gives you a chance to run around in yoga pants, if you want, (and yes, guys can wear yoga pants too), and all that stuff, as well. 🙂

More specifically, the style I teach is closely related to ‘Integral Yoga‘. Which basically means I take a synthesis of everything, from my personal experiences, and then I try to find the best ways I can to help others experience all the amazing things I have experienced.

Because Yoga is amazing.

-Tammy