What is your relationship to TRUST? ?

inverted vinyasa yoga pose

TRUST /trəst/ A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

Trust has always been a hard one for me. I trust myself, my decisions, my instinct. What I don’t trust easily is other people, their theories, their actions or words.

When I was 12 years old, my father signed me up for a coming of age program. On the first day we did a bunch of “trust” games. The last one involved us falling backwards and being caught by the rest of the group. Uhhhhh, I don’t think so. It took me 20 minutes to finally do it.

I had never thought about trust and never reflected on my relationship to other people. Everyone had fallen backwards without a second thought, but not me. I had to talk myself into it.

I spent the next 10 years learning how to let my guard down and trust people….who am I kidding? I’m still working on it. I’ve also learned to be patient with myself and soften in the process.

What is your relationship to TRUST?
Where does it come easily?
Where do you have to work on it?

This talk by Brene Brown (I love her!) gave me a better perspective on my relationship with trust   https://brenebrown.com/videos/anatomy-trust-video/

Here is a free yoga nidra meditation I recorded – its a great relaxation practice
https://soundcloud.com/clara-roberts-oss/yoganidra

Until next time friends

 

 

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Allow the world to touch you deeply

A path with heart Jack Kornfield

Depending upon the lineage you follow or study, the practice is either to move away from or towards your strong emotions. As someone who lives in the world, meaning not in an ashram or hermitage, I find that working with and embracing the many aspects of myself has created a more integrated me. I have found that when I shy away from my strong emotions (which I can have many of), I tend to leave my body, to check out. As Jack Kornfield says so eloquently below, the practice of staying present to the feelings/emotions/sensations takes courage and compassion; to be honest with what is arising and to truly feel it. When we can be in the feeling, there comes what he calls “wise understanding”, that pain, grief and sorrow are inevitable. From this understanding, we can find peace with those feelings, with those parts of ourselves and from there the self-inflicted war can stop. This can be a life long process so be patient with yourself but continue to stay present and observe the inevitable shift within you.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt as much as I do. Much love. xo

“The purpose of a spiritual discipline is to give us a way to stop the war, not by our force of will, but organically, through understanding and gradual training. Ongoing spiritual practice can help us cultivate a new way of relating to life in which we let go of our battles.

When we step out of the battle, we see anew, as the Tao Te Ching says, ‘with eyes unclouded by longing’. We see how each of us creates conflict. We see our constant likes and dislikes, the fight to resist all that frightens us. We see our own prejudice, greed, and territoriality. All this is hard for us to look at, but it is really there. Then underneath these ongoing battles, we see pervasive feelings of incompleteness and fear. We see how much our struggle with life has kept our hearts closed.

When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. Only in this moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek. Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy. Only in reality of the present can we love, can we awaken, can we find peace and understanding and connection with ourselves and the world.

A sign in a Las Vegas casino aptly says, ‘You Must Be Present to Win’. Stopping the war and becoming present are two sides of the same activity. To come into the present is to stop the war. To come into the present means to experience whatever is here and now. Most of us have spent our lives caught up in plans, expectations, ambitions for the future, in regrets, guilt, or shame about the past. When we come into the present, we begin to feel the life around us again, but we also encounter whatever we have been avoiding. We must have the courage to face whatever is present–or pain, our desires, our grief, our loss, our secret hopes, our love–everything that moves us most deeply. As we stop the war, each of us will find something from which we have been running–our loneliness, our unworthiness, our boredom, our shame, our unfulfilled desires. We must face these parts of ourselves as well.

You have may have heard of ‘out of body experience’, full of lights and visions. A true spiritual path demands something more challenging, what could be called an ‘in the body experience’. We must connect to our body, to our feelings, to our life just now, if we are to awaken.

To live in the present demands an ongoing and unwavering commitment. As we follow a spiritual path, we are required to stop the war not once but many times. Over and over we feel the familiar tug of thoughts and reactions that takes us away from the present moment. When we stop and listen, we can feel how each thing that we fear or crave (really two sides of the same dissatisfaction) propels us out of our hearts into false idea of how we would like life to be. If we listen even more closely, we can feel how we have learned to sense ourselves as limited by fear and identified with that craving. From this small sense of ourselves, we often believe that our own happiness can come only from possessing something or can be only at someone else’s expense.

To stop the war and come into the present is to discover a greatness of our own heart that can include the happiness of all beings as inseparable from our own. When we let ourselves feel the fear, the discontent, the difficulties we have always avoided, our heart softens. Just as it is a courageous act to face all the difficulties from which we have always run, it is also an act of compassion. According to Buddhist scriptures, compassion is the ‘quivering of the pure heart’ when we have allowed ourselves to be touched by the pain of life. The knowledge that we can do this and survive helps us awaken the greatness of our heart. With greatness of heart, we can sustain a presence in the midst of life’s suffering, in the midst of life’s fleeting impermanence. We can open to the world–it’s ten thousands joys and ten thousand sorrows.

As we allow the world to touch us deeply, we recognize that just as there is pain in our lives, so there is  pain in everyone’s life. This is the birth of wise understanding. Wise understanding sees that suffering is inevitable, that all things that are born die. Wise understanding sees and accepts life as a whole. With wise understanding we allow ourselves to contain all things, both dark and light, and we come to a sense of peace. This is not the peace of denial or running away, but the peace we find in the heart that has rejected nothing, that touches all things with compassion.”

Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart

 

 

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Take Care of Your Mind First

equal vision quote

Take Care of Your Mind First.

The greatest gift meditation has ever taught me is that a much larger percentage than I thought of the world around me is self created. All the stories I make up about what’s going on around is exactly that, stories. So sit still Clara and really see what’s going on around you.

A great excerpt that nails it:

“Sri Ramakrishna Parahamsa told this fine story: A few people were walking along the road early in the morning, and they saw a man lying on the side of the road. The first one said, ‘He must have spent the whole night gambling and couldn’t reach home, so he fell asleep here. Gamblers are like that. The don’t reach home safely.’ Then he walked away.

The next one spoke, ‘Poor man, he must be very ill. We shouldn’t disturb a sick man. Let him rest there.’ Then he walked away.

The third one came and said to the man on the roadside, ‘You’re a bum. You don’t know how to drink. Don’t you know one or two is enough? Probably they gave you free drinks, and now you’re down.’ He treated him as a drunkard.

The first fellow thought the man had been gambling and was sleeping. The second thought he was sick, and the third thought he was drunk. Then the fourth man spoke: ‘A saint doesn’t care where he is. Probably he’s in higher consciousness, samadhi. A saint can be anywhere…This man is probably above physical consciousness. Let’s not disturb him.’ Then he bowed and walked away.

We don’t know who was right. All four may have been wrong. They all saw the same person differently because they projected themselves. A drinker thinks the other is a drunk. A saint sees a saint. The world as you perceive it is nothing but your own projection. If there is hell in your mind, you won’t see heaven anywhere. If there is heaven in your mind, you can’t see hell anywhere. That’s why it’s said, ‘Correct your vision, and you will see the truth.’ Self -reformation will bring the right view…The teaching given here is: Take care of your own mind first.”

Sri Swami Satchindanada, The Living Gita

 

 

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Equal Vision

equal vision quote

“Having equal vision means you don’t see anybody as low or high. To you both thief and police officer are equal. You don’t see the superficial. The Self of the thief is the same as that of the police officer. Something is playing the part of the thief, and that same something is playing the part of the police officer. Because the sage is rooted in the Self, they see both as Self. So, for the sage, they are equal.

This explains the Biblical commandment, “Love your neighbor as your Self.” It doesn’t say, “Love only your good neighbor as your Self,” or “Love your neighbor who has the same label. If he’s Catholic, love him. If she’s Protestant, throw stones at her.” No. It simply says, “your neighbor.” And who is your neighbor? The one sitting next to you now, or in the next room, the next house, or the next town. Everyone close to you is your neighbor.

But how to love your neighbor as your own Self? You have to see your Self in that person. Otherwise, you can’t love them as your own Self. How can you see your Self in another if you don’t know your Self? Suppose I say, “Here’s a banana. Please see the banana that you had yesterday in this banana.” To do that you should have had a banana yesterday in order to know what a banana is. Only then will you recognize one and the other as the same. If I don’t know what a banana is, I can’t say this one is the same as the other, and I love his as I loved the other banana.

The clue here is to know your Self and then see your Self in your neighbour. Then love them as you love your Self. That’s why someone who has realized Self will always have equal vision based on that Self or that spirit. A Divine-realized person will see nothing but Divinity everywhere, even though that Divinity may be clothed in different forms and using different names. That’s why Lord Krishna says that whether it’s a dog or an outcast or a great spiritual person, it’s all the same to a person of wisdom.

How can we truly come together? Only with this spiritual knowledge—not by mental, physical or financial knowledge. We can never find oneness in any of these areas, no in the name of a country, race, creed, community, money or education. They only way to see everybody equally is in that divine vision. The we see the same truth coloured different ways.

I’m stressing the point here because we often talk about unity, oneness and harmony. But true harmony can be experienced only by realizing spirit and seeing that spirit in everybody. In all other areas we see differences. Such harmony won’t last long. When people dress the same way or speak the same language, they in a sort of harmony. But if somebody speaks a different language, they are seen as different. It’s not universal harmony then. There ’s only one universal truth. That’s the great advantage of realizing one’s own true Self.”

Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Living Gita

 

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The Tension of Opposites

The tension of opposites

There has been a big debate as to whether or not someone on the spiritual path can also be a householder. Can someone who is devoted to gaining a deeper awareness/understanding of the internal landscape also be in charge of getting the groceries?

Tantric philosophy believes that we can do both. Sally Kempton articulates it so well here in Shakti Awakening.

Note: Think of Parvati and Shiva as different aspects of yourself. Shiva being the seeker and Parvati being the householder.

“Parvati and Shiva hold a creative tension of opposites. He represents the eternal drive for freedom, the yogi’s need to disentangle himself from the world; she represents the feminine drive toward expressive fullness–emotion, rhythm, even the creative flow of thoughts.

When Shiva–who stands for everything that is antithetical to society–unites with Parvati and creates a household life, they are making an enormous statement. Their partnership resolves one of the most embedded dualities in culture: the duality between life in the world and life of the spirit. In Indian life as well as in the Christian mysticism there has always been an opposition between the ascetic yogi, who withdraws from the world in order to realize his nature as spirit, and the householder, entangled in domesticity. Traditionally, the demands of the world, epitomized by family life, are diametrically opposed…

In the Tantric path, however, this dichotomy is transcended. World life and spiritual life, spirit and flesh, are recognized not as duality, but as manifestations of the same power, which is Shakti. The Vijnana Bhairava describes a practice where you discover the ecstasy of the ultimate reality by going into the throbbing heart of pleasure, inside the joy of sex, of song, of delicious food, then meditating on the ‘perfect condition of that joy’ until the supreme bliss reveals itself…

Tantra is the Goddess’s path, which means that it is for people who know how to use the physical and imagined worlds as doorways into the ultimate, as well as for world delight. The Goddess is the mistress of these worlds as she is of the physical world, which is why at the heart of Tantric practices there is a deep respect for the feminine as spiritual authority. In Tantric Quest [one of my favorite books of all time!], Daniel Odier’s teacher tells a story about how a group of hermits debated all day about whether the ultimate truth is a self or a non-self. Finally, one of the ascetics says that the argument can only be resolved by a dakini, a women practitioner. The yogini then goes into meditation on the nondual oneness between self and non-self, and in the space of presence that opens up in the circle, all agree that the discussion has been resolved. They recognize that spirit is not higher than matter, nor is matter devoid of self. Instead, it is the nature of spirit to creatively express itself in form, just as it is the nature of silence to express itself in sound.

The is the recognition that arises out of the union of Shiva and Parvati. Parvati is Shiva’s capacity to express himself in action.Without her, he is simply inactive, iner. Parvati, in scholar David Kinsley’s words, ‘not only compliments Shiva, she completes him.’

 

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Widen the pot and let the universe spill in

Daniel Odier's Tantric Quest

Happy Autumn Equinox!

This is my favorite time of year because we move from being very externally focused to the internal. As I wrote my intentions for the coming season, I came upon this passage and felt it was only fitting. In joy!

More good words from Daniel Odier’s Tantric Quest…..

 

“You see, ecstasy is the natural human state, and the obstacles we create to ecstasy are part of a dictatorial state our thought makes us live in. Ecstasy is simpler than suffering. It smells good. It is present throughout. It is with us always. There is nothing to do and nothing to look for. It’s enough to stay totally open and let things occur without worrying about changing their nature. By our being really present, continuously present, all reality becomes a source of joy and happiness.

You know that the moment for us to take leave of each other has come, and you won’t suffer because the bond that unites us doesn’t unite us to each other but simply passes through us to extend to the whole universe. You don’t belong to me; I don’t belong to you. We belong to the world, to the divine, and at this moment we know what with our whole being. Our bond isn’t subject to time or space. I will be everywhere you look. You have planted yourself firmly in the heart of the goddess, in my heart, just as the goddess remains in yours, as I remain in yours. We are a divine waterfall for each other where we can bathe ourselves in light and quench our absolute thirst.

The universe is a great pot that we never stop shaping with our flesh, our hearts, our thought–with all those little things that we love to separate from one another by artifice. But a good potter sinks their hands into the divine and lets the divine take varied forms. They know that the earth contains the thirty-six modalities of consciousness, and they don’t spend time analyzing them.

While man thinks, the tantrika [practioner] makes a pot. While man confines his consciousness, the tantrika widens the opening of the pot and lets their consciousness experience the void. Distinguishing between what’s insides the pot and what’s outside is possible only if you forget that a pot needs an opening, without which there is seclusion, darkness, rot, and decay.

The tantrika widens their pot. They enjoy letting the universe spill in and penetrate it. When they meditate, they experience a single space. When they undergo change, they experience a single space. When they dream, they experience a single space, and when they die, they experience nothing other than a single space. So for them, there is no difference between meditation, living, dreaming, and dying. To experience a single space–that’s absolute love.”

What I love about Tantric philosophy is that everything is an opportunity to get you closer/discover/remember divinity. Why shy away from adversity or uncomfortable situations that make their way onto our paths? It’s all an opportunity to go deeper into ourselves and let go of more stories/shit that we think we need to hold on to. Widen your pot, watch with wonder as the universe spills into.

Wishing you an awe-inspiring autumn!

 

PS.

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Personal Cuirasses – armour

Personal Cuirasses

I’m rereading one of my favorite books of all time, Tantric Quest. In it, the author goes on a spiritual quest to learn about Kashmir Shivaism. He meets a tantrika who teaches him the philosophy. This passage makes my bones sing. I truly believe that this is a great illusion we’re feeding ourselves. If we just stay open and willing, the armor (curiasses) will crack and the light of our true nature will be seen.

Hari Aum.

 

“The play of purusha [spirit] and prakriti [matter] is limited by the action of these six tattvas called the six cuirasses. They are time, space, lack, limited knowledge, limited creativity and overall illusion.

This is extremely important point of Shivaism, since the consciousness is founded on and set free by these cuirasses, and that’s enlightenment or awakening. These cuirasses are like veils that prevent a spontaneous view of the self. Without them there would be no practice, no search. Everything would appear to us in its absolute nature.

The first cuirass is that of being subject to the illusion that time exists and that we are bound by it. This illusion fixes us within a limited time frame. It gives us the impression that time passes. After awakening, one discovers with wonder a new terrain where nothing is subject to time. It’s like waking up after a bad dream and realizing that this restriction was artificially imposed upon consciousness…That’s the first breath of awakening. It gives back a vitality, a color, and a clarity to everything seen outside of time.

The second cuirass is that which makes us believe we are subject to the illusion of space and that we are located there…After awakening, we realize suddenly that we are omnipresent…We are everywhere. There’s no point in space that is not our center…Once the boundaries of the ego shatter, the divine returns to the divine, energy to energy, space to space, the heart to the heart. Then anything is possible but nothing is certain…The highest Tantric teachings say that fundamentally there is no birth and no death, only the illusion…The debate over annihilation or eternal life is something adepts transcend as soon as they recognize the nature of their own minds.

The third cuirass is the illusion of believing that we lack something, that we are not whole. This is the illusion that pushes us to always be searching for a way, a teaching, a practice, one realization after another. It’s the one that pushes us beyond the Self. It’s the one that makes us unhappy, that makes us keep looking for new ways to be complete…Knowing this, the master invites the disciple to stop all external searching. No route leads to the Self. The true Tantric teacher is not me, nor some other; it’s the Self. There’s nothing to find out there. Everything divine that we look for out there is in us. To realize that is to find freedom.

The fourth cuirass is the illusion of believing that what we can know, what we apprehend of the absolute, is limited. We torture ourselves. We want to experience awakening…We are like a maharaja who owns unlimited land and walks along the wall that surrounds his palaces, mistaking himself for a beggar. No on would give him anything to eat for fear of insulting him or being punished. We have such thirst for knowledge that we are fooled by our power to know. It focuses on the exterior and deceives us with the illusion that we are going to find what we lack. Divine knowledge doesn’t grow by accumulation. The more you try to pile knowledge and experience, the more you paralyze your consciousness. Let’s abandon this knowledge. It inflates pride. When I say intelligence is not the way, I don’t mean to say intelligence must be rejected. I am simply saying that intelligence which accomplishes anything appears unsolicited. In tranquility it shines like a diamond. Let us return simply to the source of our consciousness and find there the treasure we sought on the outside. It’s enough to sit down, to forget books and discussion, to direct our attention toward the heart. There the divine is found. There is the place of respiration where our breath mingles naturally. The infinite is no more than that harmonious breathing, free of all thought.

The fifth cuirass is the illusion we harbor in believing our creativity is limited, sometimes even doubting that we possess the least trace of it. That’s what pushes us to revere what others produce. To have beauty flow past us isn’t enough. This urge, which can open us up to our unlimited creativity, is restrained by the idea that we aren’t capable of such splendor. We remain without a voice, the ribcage is constricted, overwhelmed by the beauty of the world. If we truly breathed, this cuirass would explode, and the object of our admiration would no longer be found in duality. The beauty of the world would then be ours. Mystical ecstasy is just this sudden explosion of the small me, which recognizes the divine Self. Everything gathered up in the consciousness is then projected into the infinite, and one can cry out in joy because in this moment all the beauty of world becomes part of the Self.

The five cuirasses are surrounded by a supreme cuirass, which is that of maya, illusion, in its own nature, which welds these different protective plates together and insures their artificial cohesion. We are decorated like fighting elephants, forever goaded by their driver. We advance with all our weight to get through life, never ceasing to battle. But one day, the battle takes a turn that leaves us covered with poisoned arrows. A young girl brings us something to drink…She bathes us in the river, and suddenly we find our grace, our lightness, our beauty again. So nothing stops us from spontaneously grasping the divine in ourselves. What we don’t know is that the smallest experience can be just this miraculous meeting with the small girl. So little can suffice. The scent of a flower, an open look, a breeze brushing against us–and suddenly the most solid of the cuirasses cracks, and through this gap all reality penetrates us, freeing us forever from gravity and separation.”

Daniel Odier, Tantric Quest

 

 

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I Belong Here

I belong here

To create balance and calmness in your life, you have to go towards yoga as meditating allows you to just calm down for some time and get in touch with yourself. There are many teachers around the world who instil this calmness in their student through yoga. Lorin Roche is a teacher of this living tradition. According to Shiva Rea, he is a champion at this as he helps awaken consciousness in his students. Even though yoga is an Eastern concept, Roche brought it to the Western world. If you have found a connection with the world of Rumi and Hafiz, you will be fond of Roche’s words too.

Lorin Roche’s Writings

He writes about everything that you need to look for in yourself. As human beings, we often forget that we are a representation of his whole universe. There is a universe inside every single one of us and Roche’s profound verses help you in looking for these parts of you. His poetry is filled with an insight into the divine things and the importance of meditation for personal development.

Lorin started his journey when he was just 18 years of age. He worked alongside people who were doing a research project on meditation and its physiology. Being the control group of this research, he had to sit and do nothing. For many weeks, his brain waves were studies. During this time, he entered a state that is called intense alertness. Later, he read a book 112 Meditation Practices and he was delighted to find out that he had similar experiences in the lab. The same book also introduced him to yoga text from centuries ago.

Lorin Roche’s ‘Belong’

Roche talks about the importance of your heart. It is the centre of your body where everything comes together. If you want to look for a person, his heart is where you would find his. This is where the senses, mind and soul come together. Even though so much is happening in the heart, this is where you will find a spot to rest. If you are looking for a sense of regal steadiness, it is in your heart. Once you find the way to your heart, you will be called towards it again and again because that is where you Belong.

The One Who Is at Play Everywhere says,

There is a space in the heart
Where everything meets.
Come here if you want to find me.
Mind, senses, soul, eternity–all are here.
Are you here?

Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart.
Listen to the sound that is always resonating.
Give yourself to it with total abandon.
Quiet ecstasy is here–

And a steady, regal sense
Of resting in a perfect spot.

You who are the embodiment of blessing,
Once you know the way,
The nature of attention will call you to return.
Again and again, answer that call,
And be saturated with knowing,
“I belong here, I am at home.”

 

Read the full book here:

 

PS.

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Breadcrumbs in Dark Times

Breadcrumbs in dark times

A great article I came across thanks to the lovely Julia McCabe…..

Breadcrumbs in Dark Times: any minute now, everything will change.

By Shavawn M. Berry

“Allow dark times to season you.” ~ Hafiz

When the Going Gets Tough…

These days, the rough patch we’re navigating has turned into a very long haul. I believe we’ll weather the changes. I believe we’re strong enough to do so. Still, it’s easy to fall into despair and wish that our journey wasn’t so rife with trouble.

Right now, we’re in a thick soup of changes that rival any changes we’ve weathered in human history. The shit’s hitting the fan — environmentally, economically, emotionally — and everywhere we look, people are losing it. Shooting up the joint. Setting themselves on fire. Totaling their cars. Blowing up their personal lives.

Now Entering Transformation Station.

Transformation is not optional right now. It is required. We cannot continue to fumble blindly in the darkness, unaware of the light we possess. We must solve the problems we’ve created.

And although this awakening is painful — like road rash, or a broken bone that hasn’t been set yet — we can’t wait for rescue. Not this time. We are the people we are waiting for. We must step up and take the reins. There is no one else. Just us.

What has always worked, no longer works.

It’s been heartening to hear that Marianne Williamson is running for congress. She told Larry King that we cannot make decisions for humanity based upon economics alone.

I agree. Capitalists are pragmatic by nature. They will never look at the long term consequences of their policies. They look at the bottom line, the current returns, the profit margins — without ever considering whether their approach is actually sustainable. In a world of limited resources, it is not.

As a result, we’re now tasked with learning to live more softly, reverently, and carefully.

Be here now, even if the thought absolutely terrifies you.

Continue reading here:

http://www.rebellesociety.com/2014/01/24/breadcrumbs-in-dark-times/

{Can you feel it?}

 

 

Choosing the right yoga class

Vinyasa yoga teacher training

Choosing the right yoga class

So, you’ve decided to try yoga. 

You proceed to check out studios in your neighborhood and if you live in a big city, chances are, there are many options. Which option is right for you?

One of the most common comments that I hear from new students is that they are overwhelmed by the choices. They wonder, what are the differences in styles?  Which one is best for me?

Most classes are ‘open’ level which means there is an assumption that you know the basics. If you can, take a basic/beginner class prior to going to an open level class.

One thing to know about yoga is that no matter the style, you will get a good stretch. Most practices focus on opening the muscles around the pelvis, i.e. hips, hamstrings and quadriceps.

Picking a style has more to do with, how would you like your stretch packaged?

Here are some of the more popular styles, with their pros and cons respectively. Bear in mind, classes can range depending upon the teacher. I recommend trying a few different teachers out before making a decision on whether or not the style works for you.

Hatha Yoga
This is the least consistent style in that it can differ from teacher to teacher. Generally, it’s a slow moving class that incorporates breath work (pranayama), poses (asanas) and meditation. Classes start with breath work then go into the physical part, ending with meditation. Most classes take the time to open all major parts of the body, hips, back, shoulders, legs and arms.
This is a yin (mellow) style.

Pros:
For beginners: It moves slower than any of the other more yang (high energy) styles, so it can be easier to follow along.
For those suffering from lower back pain: Because this is a slow moving class, you can take the time to be aware of how each pose is affecting the lower back region.
For Type A personalities and those suffering from stress related disease: Hatha yoga focuses on creating an quiet, contemplative atmosphere. This helps relieve tension, relaxes the body and quiets the mind.
For ‘older’ people (50s & 60s): Since it’s a slower paced class you can stay more mindful of your how you’re body is moving through space so the likelihood of injury is smaller.

Cons:
Since it’s slower paced, some people get ‘bored’.

Hot/Bikram
This a practice done in a heated room, usually at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. In Bikram, it’s a set series of 26 poses that focuses on back bends and hamstring opening. In hot, the sequence can vary.
They both incorporate breath work at the beginning and end of each class. This is a yang (high energy) practice.

Pros:
For beginners: Since Bikram is a set series, you can measure your progress from class to class, which is encouraging for beginners.The transitions from pose to pose are slow, so people can follow along easily.  
For Type B personalities: Since it’s very heating, it can be very energizing.
For those with wrist injuries: Most of the series is done standing so there is little to no weight on the wrists.
For those looking to cardio: Since it’s so warm, your heart rate increases.
It’s great in the winter because it warms your body for the whole day.

Cons:
People with low blood pressure have been known to faint from the heat.
Dehydration occurs often. Hydrate prior to and as soon as you leave. You can loose a lot of electrolytes when you sweat that much.
Since you’re looking in the mirror the whole practice, I find people are much more competitive and are less likely to listen to what their body needs. This is when injury can occur.
*If you suffer from hamstring injuries avoid this practice, a lot of the practice is geared towards hamstring lengthening.
I find that set series practices generates an attachment to the series and a rigidity that ‘this is the only way’. Be hip to this mindset, it can limit your spiritual practice.

Ashtanga
Like Bikram, this style is based off a set series. All classes start with sun salutations. It goes through a standing series, forward folds, back bends, twists and inversions. It’s a very yang (high energy) practice that can move quite quickly. Ashtanga incorporates the use of bandhas (locks/engagement of the pelvic floor and lower abdomen) and breath work (pranayama) throughout the whole practice.

Pros:
For Type B personalities: Since the practice is constantly moving, it is a very energizing class.
For those suffering from stress related disease: Ashtanga is a set series, repetition can be very meditative. If you know where you’re going, you don’t have to focus as much on the external shapes and some people feel it takes them deeper into a meditative state.
For those looking to build strength: Ashtanga focuses on engaging the pelvic floor and lower abdomen throughout the whole practice, cultivating a strong core. There are many half vinyasas (plank, chaturanga, up dog), this helps build biceps and triceps.  
For those looking for cardio: Since these practices are continually moving, the heart rate increases.
There’s a lot of movement at the beginning of the class but the last half is usually slower and contemplative so it give students a taste of two both kinds of meditative states (moving and stillness).

Cons:
The practice generally moves at a faster pace, so if you have a hard time learning new things I would recommend taking a Hatha class or beginner workshop prior.
If you are dealing with lower back pain and are new to the practice, I don’t recommend this style. Since it is more fast paced, you cannot move with as much integration.
This practice is very hamstring lengthening focused, if you are looking to for more quadriceps and outer hips openers, so this may not be a beneficial practice.
I find that set series practices generates an attachment to the series and a rigid mentality that ‘this is the only way’. Be hip to this mindset, it can limit your spiritual practice.

Vinyasa/Power
These two styles were born out of Ashtanga. They flow through poses as Ashtanga does but the sequence varies depending upon the lineage of teacher. Most classes create sequences based on a peak pose that is done at the end of the standing series. Power tends to be a more fiery style since it usually has you holding intense poses while vinyasa flows through poses more. These are both yang (high energy) practices.

Pros:
For those looking to build strength and cardio: As it’s predecessor Ashtanga, these two focus on using the bandhas throughout the practice building core strength. There are also many half vinyasas (plank, chaturanga, up dog), helping to build biceps and triceps.  Since these practices are continually moving, the heart rate increases.
For Type B personalities: Since the practice is constantly moving, it is a very energizing class.
For those with tight hips, lower back and hamstrings and no pain: The standing series focuses on opening and strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings while weight bearing. The floor sequences usually have hip openers, twists and hamstring openers that are a bit more passive.
There’s a lot of movement at the beginning of the class but the last half is usually slower and contemplative so it give students a taste of two both kinds of meditative states (moving and stillness).

Cons:
The practice generally moves at a faster pace, so if you have a hard time learning new things I would recommend taking a Hatha class or beginner workshop prior.
If you are dealing with lower back pain and are new to the practice, I don’t recommend this style. Since it is more fast paced, you cannot move with as much integration

Yin/Restorative Yoga
This practices differs from most other styles in that it focuses on stimulating the connective tissue (ligaments, bones and joints) versus muscles. The poses are held for 5 minutes each and the point is to soften into each pose, which takes time. The whole practice is done on the floor, sometimes with the help of props. Yin differs from Restorative which uses props throughout the whole practice. The idea of restorative is to be supported in each pose so there is no ‘work’ being done. This has a very calming effect.

Pros:
For Type A personalities and those suffering from stress related disease: Generally it’s taught later in the day and it’s a great way to unwind from the day and prepare for sleep. The slow movements are great for those who are new to body mind practices as well as for those who are used to moving very quickly. It also creates a more meditative state for the mind since there isn’t too much physical activity.
For those suffering from lower back pain: Most people who suffer from lower back pain have tight hamstrings, hips and a weak core. Yin yoga focuses on opening the the pelvis and strengthening the core.
For those with shoulder and wrist injuries: Most of the poses are done on the ground so there’s generally very little pressure upper body.

Cons:
This is not a great practice for those who are very flexible, they need less stretching and more strengthening of their muscles. If you are flexible and take a Yin class, focus on drawing in and up versus down and out.
Since it’s slower paced, some people get ‘bored’.

A few things to keep in mind when you go to class:
1)Let your teacher know of any injuries you may be working with
2)Let your teacher know if you are pregnant and what trimester you’re in
3)Sit in the middle of the room. We don’t always face forward and if you’re sitting in the back you won’t be able to see the transition or how to do the the next pose. Sit in the middle so you have people on all sides of you.
4)Keep an open mind and be patient with yourself.
5)Rest whenever you need to. Never feel pressured to do anything that you think may hurt your body.
6)If a teacher physically adjusts you and it hurts, let the teacher know. If you’re uncomfortable, write an email to the studio. Feedback is so important.

 

 

PS.

Practice yoga online with me or catch me at my next yoga event