To all of my amazing friends, family and students...
Thank you all for the generous outpouring of love that I have received over the past few months. You will notice some changes (my name and my teaching schedule), but many things will remain the same (my passion, commitment and love for teaching yoga, being a constant student and my thirst for knowledge).
As I journey down my new path, I have so many exciting things to look forward to. And that's exactly what I've been doing, looking forward. In the same breath however, I am reminded of the importance of staying present especially when I'm experiencing a situation that elicits a strong emotional reaction. As yogis we are called to practice staying with this "discomfort" and observe it without attachment to the outcome of the situation.
Do we react, or do we respond? In our asana practice, we have the unique opportunity to observe our habits without judgment. What is the practical application of this? We learn to discard the habits that no longer serve us (the Sanskrit of this is called "vairagya" or non-attachment), and strengthen the ones that do (in Sanskrit this is "abhyasa" or practice).
Sometimes we struggle with a particular pose, and every time we come to this pose we lose focus or we don't "perform" the pose how we wanted to. Often we will immediately slip into harsh judgment of our own ability (or lack there of) and spiral into any number of negative thoughts. This is the experience of attachment to the outcome. A good example is Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon Pose. This challenging balancing pose is one that many students struggle with. Some will get frustrated and angry, and the pose can quickly become their "enemy" pose. Often just the thought of the pose can start the spiral of reaction. In my experience these "challenging" poses often become our favorites once we have learned to master our reaction to the pose (with abhyasa or practice).
One of my students recently told me of her experience during class. When the time came to take Half Moon, instead of immediately reacting with a negative thought she told herself "If I don't get it this time, there is always next time." In that moment she used abhyasa to respond to Half Moon by setting aside her attachment to getting the pose "right".
Her disclosure had a profound effect on me, as I realized that this could be true for any situation in life.
This is how we become better people.
The asana practice becomes so much more. It becomes the place where we re-train our brain to respond and not react, through our abhyasa (practice). We being to move towards vairagya (non-attachment) which will then allow us become more independent of that which doesn't serve us.
Thank you for your kind attention, please contact me directly with any questions.
Dear Family and Friends,
On Saturday, November 14, 2015 I am participating in the Yoga Reaches Out Albany Yogathon at Siena College MAC, Loudonvile, NY. I will be joining over five hundred yogis to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region, Baptiste Foundation, and Africa Yoga Project. Please visit www.yogareachesout.org to learn more about the event and these wonderful charities. I am so excited to participate in this event, because I know it will help make a difference in the lives of so many children.
It is faster and easier than ever to support this great cause by making your tax-deductible donation online using the link below. If you would prefer, you can send your contribution to the address listed below.
Whatever you can give will help - it all adds up! I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.
To make a donation online, visit my personal page.
Please make check out to: Yoga Reaches Out
Yoga Reaches Out
P.O. Box 5352
Wayland, MA 01778
*Please include your email address so you will receive an email receipt confirmation.
P.S. I would love it if you would join me on November 14, 2015. To register please go to the website above and spread the word! It's going to be a day to remember, a day to make a difference.
This is an all level donation based class taught by Rebecca Breslin to raise funds for the dogs of Karma K-9 Rescue.
Karma K-9 is 100% volunteer run, foster based dog rescue. Fosters reside in the Capital Region.
We are an approved 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and responsibly re-homing dogs in need. We are an all breed rescue but specialize in Pit Bulls. Some of our dogs are rescued from high kill shelters located in the southern states, others are rescued from local shelters as well as from owners that are no longer willing or able to care for them.
Some facts about the rescue:
◾The average amount invested by the rescue per dog is $365 for males and $395 for females
◾All of our dogs live in a home with a foster family.
◾While in foster care, the dogs are socialized and taught basic manners.
◾All dogs are up to date with the shots.
◾All dogs are spayed or neutered.
Please visit Karmak9.org for information about the dogs in our program, for foster and adoption applications. Also follow us on facebook for updates and events.
Here is a description of the workshop I will be offering in March and April.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi
As humans we construct psychological walls barring the discomfort and pain we have experienced or anticipate experiencing. A constant state of anxiety causes tightening emotionally and physically. We’ve learned to push ourselves but forcefulness does not invite opening. This workshop will focus on easing into the subtle movements of a particular core muscle: the psoas.
The psoas (pronounced so-as) is the most interesting and least understood muscle in the human body. Located deep in our body's midsection it is "...the source of overall stability and mobility in... the body as a whole.” -Mark Stevens
Winding through our core, the psoas--when supple and well nourished--relays messages of safety and integrity to our nervous system. However when it is in a state of neglect the psoas will cause problems within the body. Lower back discomfort, knee pain, and digestive ailments can be caused and exacerbated by a chronically contracted psoas.
This workshop focuses on the psoas, tying together the physical and emotional repercussions of neglecting this sensory muscle. We will discuss barriers that the psoas creates that block our ability to cultivate courage, will power, and self actualization- all of which are linked to the core musculature.
We will strengthen our physical and emotional bodies through activating our core center. Beginning with soft awakening, this practice will move into a strong flow with a focus on asanas (postures) that reveal personal integrity and finish with restorative ease to round out the workshop. Join Rebecca for this unique opportunity to explore the many layers of the psoas muscle. All levels welcome.
The word yoga means to "yoke", or to form a union. As is common in Vinyasa yoga, I use this idea to bring students' awareness to their breath, asking them to use it as a tool to unite the body and the mind. This concept sounds fantastic - to yoke the ever turbulent mind to the body, which can be seemingly static. It is much harder, however, to put into practice especially as we begin to move the body through our poses or "asanas" during class.
People often say to me, "I can't do yoga, I can't even touch my toes," or "I don't have time to do yoga". In reality these statements are incorrect. Anyone CAN practice yoga, not everyone WANTS to practice yoga. As for the time aspect, that bring us to what the state of yoga is. Yoga is the "restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff," according to the Yoga Sutras. Or, as one of my teachers related last week, "It is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind." Therefore, if you are willing to take a deep breath and focus your mind on that single breath in that single moment, you have practiced yoga.
Many Westerners, including myself, have mistaken the physical "asana" practice for the entirety of yoga, and this is most unfortunate. I came to yoga because of the perceived physical effects, I wished to lose weight for my wedding. I realize now I was craving much more than physical release from my fibromyalgia pain and my body image issues (neither of which have completely disappeared with my yoga practice, but more on that another time), I was searching for meaning. I was searching for my "why."
I encourage my students to place their focus on one of two options during class: breath or sensation. This ties back to why it is so difficult to yoke the mind to the body. If the body is uncomfortable, if it is in a state of dis-ease, why would the mind attach itself to the body?
We, as a culture, pride ourselves on being multi-taskers (when in fact we are just masters of distracting ourselves to the point of numbness), so why wouldn't we sit in the discomfort of the present thought or pose? It's not because we CAN'T , it's because we don't WANT to. Instead we withdraw. We use mind-less tactics to escape any discomfort we encounter each day with a host of automatic distractions; a type of day dream, fantasy, to-do list, electronic device or maybe frustrated thoughts towards your demanding yoga teacher.
If we are so comfortable bouncing around in our constant distraction, being mind-less instead of mindful, then why change anything? More specifically, why allow yoga to change anything?
The answer to this is: because we must be stronger than the dopamine driven, instant-feedback, constantly stimulating, ego-driven world that we have created for ourselves.
Yoga will give you much more than you bargain for, if you allow it to. I can't begin to tell you what that is, because it is impossible for me to do so. It is your life, your journey, your yoga. As Krishna explains in the epic song that is the Bhagavad Gita; "It is better to do your own calling imperfectly, than someone else's calling perfectly." That is all well and good, but first you must begin by sitting in your own mind, with your discomfort, with your dis-ease, and figure out what that calling is. Figure out your "why."
*Special thanks to my amazingly mindful & brilliant brother Joey who spent precious time helping me edit this post.