Embrace it all

There’s no way out.
But through.
Let energy in and through.
The the only purpose of emotion is to let this streaming beauty flow through you. All emotions, negative, positive. 
Live pulsating.

Spiritual and physical practice

yatra yatra mano yāti bāhye vābhyantare ‘pi vā |

tatra tatra śivāvāsthā vyāpakatvāt kva yāsyati || 116 ||

Wherever the mind goes, externally or even internally, it [discovers] nothing but the state of Śiva. Since [that state] is all-pervasive, where else could the mind go?

(verse 116 from the VBT, the Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra, which is a Shaiva Tantra, of the Kaula Trika tradition of Kashmir Shaivism)

What, you might ask, is the relationship to asana practices? Nothing and everything. When going back to the early times when all these beautiful scriptures were written, they mainly refer to yoga postures as sitting in padmasana for meditation. Or the term yoga just meant meditation. These days we incorporate yoga postures in our spiritual journey as embodiment practice, making direct connections to certain teachings and eventually place them in the body, express or feel them.

Ok, enough, this is not me! I’m following the teachings of Abhinavagupta, the Kaula Trika tradition of Shaiva Tantra, while also looking to the right and left, as there’s so much to learn, understand and consider! Bloody interesting and honestly, not just that, but it’s life changing. I started to understand a bit more of what this whole thing we call life is, what it is that I call “I”. I’m slightly overwhelmed with the amount of teachings and readings in front of me and same time very excited and curious.

My asana practice is still Ashtanga yoga, and even though I sometimes like to just flow or do some Yin yoga, Ashtanga is where my heart is. This too is – next to it being a challenging physical practice – a spiritual path. It’s a very focussed practice, no distractions, no music, no chi chi.

Two different things, that match so beautifully together. I feel there’s no need to have any additional constructs on how we can implement the spiritual teachings into the physical practice – it’s all there already! There are many practices in Tantra, mainly meditations, so moving the body helps a lot. How you move, well, do whatever feels right! I stick with Ashtanga 🙂

Relax darling

Stop the rush. What’s the point? You can’t overrule time. Time doesn’t even exist. Relax! Slow down. Breathe. Feel your body. Everything – your muscles, tendon, the skeleton, your organs, yes, even your fascia. Feel.

Get intimate with your body. And same time relax. Breathe deeper. Carefully stretch. Mmmmmmhhhhhh….. that feels so good…

Meditation and the mind

Have you ever wondered how to stop thoughts in meditation?

The simple answer is, you don’t. You can’t stop them, so let them come and just don’t give them any attention and eventually they will pass.

It made a big difference for me once I understood what the mind actually is. The mind is a function of the body, of the brain and through thoughts, it creates our self image. 

All aspects of the mind are verbs, not nouns. The mind is not your enemy, as it’s not even an entity! It’s a believed thought that the mind is a problem. All conflict is due to believed thoughts, while thoughts are mental constructs, that we tend to identify with.

In meditation we aim to connect with our true self and not with one of our body functions. So let the mind do its job, but don’t jump in and let it take over.

If there’s too much going on in your mind, ask yourself, who is talking to whom? It’s the mind talking to the mind. It’s not YOU talking! It’s one of many functions in the body, and it loves to talk non-stop. With itself. While we are listening, believing, and identifying ourselves with these thoughts. Get the roles right. The mind is important, thoughts are, but you are not your mind and you can step away from all these talks and focus on YOU.

If you find your mind disturbing, it might be the mind finding itself disturbing! Consciousness is undisturbed and unmoved, mind is just part of the contents of consciousness.

Meditation is a state of simple basic awareness, dropping into moments of quiet presence. Just be. Accept what is, without reacting or judging. Only the conditioned mind judges.

Too old for yoga?

Never. Get this out of your mind. It might be a challenge to go to a class where everyone else it 20 or 30 years younger, some might be flexible as f***, some do arm balances as if they never did anything else in their life. And there are others, young and stiff like a tree.

Yoga is something you do for yourself, for your body and your mind. It’s not a fitness regime, no space for comparison, nor judgement. Be happy for those who can do things easily, be compassionate for those who have to work more on it. And be with yourself. Grateful that you showed up, doing what’s possible that day. There’s no room for the ego in a yoga class.

Some years ago I was really disappointed when I heard that we should step back from a certain age. Why? I want to continue learning, improving, growing. I want to access at least some of the super challenging postures. And I can. Daily practice does a lot, and I’m not talking about working on a certain posture like crazy, no, just do your practice regularly and your body will change.

I proved it, you can learn headstand, forearmstand, you name it, no matter the age. The key is not only regular practice, but also listen to your body. Never do something while your body says no, not today. Accept. Same here, no matter the age. The only difference when it comes to age is, that the older we get, the longer it takes. Not just physically, also the mind kicks in. All of a sudden there is fear. Don’t fight it, don’t ignore, but embrace it and it will slowly melt. Yes slowly. Be patient. I know, patience is nothing I was born with!

However, the last 2 years I experienced some push backs. I had to pause my practice a few times due to injuries (not yoga related!) and it was so difficult to come back to my daily Ashtanga practice. Age? Maybe, maybe not. I accept it and go slower. Reminding myself, it’s for me, there’s no competition. Not even with myself.

I allow my practice to change. It’s not about this doesn’t work anymore, I can’t do what was possible a few weeks ago, it’s about change. Allow your practice to change. Some asanas might get more difficult all of a sudden, while others become accessible.

There’s another level – while working physically, yoga is also a spiritual practice. Ageing is a great teacher to embrace who you are and continue your journey, even if it looks different.

Spiritual practice

Do you have a spiritual practice? What even does that mean?

I have to admit, this is a term I always tried to avoid. When I was young, we associated spirituality either with religious people or those we thought are kind of “kuku”. Many years later I found myself on this path… It’s such a complex topic! It can have different meanings, relations and practices for everyone and for sure it’s not a box to put someone in.

I found these statements about what spiritual practice is and I can really relate:

Spiritual practice is any conscious personal action or experience, motivated by the intention of understanding and integrating the whole of you physically and spiritually, body, mind, heart, and soul.

Spiritual practice is also the individual effort to internalize and experience that which seems beyond and separate as not only connected but also as an integral authentic expression of self.

We are all spiritual beings, the question is, are we aware of it? And do we use it? Well, you can just live your life, trying to make the most out of what is given and that’s it, what else can you do?

One other option is to understand who we are and what our purpose, our dharma is. Learning about the energies within and around and work with them.

I felt called to the latter. Eventually I was forced into it, when I had a bad accident, long time ago. I was pretty clear, there’s something in my mind that has to change. I didn’t know what and how, but looking back, this was the moment it all started.

My path so far wasn’t using the highway, but rather going in curves through the mountains. I learned many different things, and the beauty was, that always one led to the other. Often I wasn’t even clear why I learned something, but I never had any doubts that whatever showed up was right. Or important for me.

Right now I’m head over toes about Tantra, Saiva Tantra. I’m reading books, attended an academic studies course and I’m in the midst of a 3 months immersion. I feel like everything I ever learned all of a sudden integrates, immersed in me. I’m kind of un-peeling myself. Same time getting new tools, new doors to open, new practices – new experiences. I feel more connected to myself, my energy levels on a never known high, which is so beautiful to notice. Yes, I’m still on my way, awareness, awareness, awareness…. but the frequency changed.

It’s when duality starts to become oneness, the energies collaborate. The moment when we can be loose and natural, expressing awareness, authentically in its absoluteness, then we start flowing with the river, merging into the ocean. 

Pigeon oh pigeon!

The king of the so called hip openers. A pose that shows me clearly the difference of both sides of my body. My right, the yang, the masculine side is very open, while the left, the yin, the feminine tends to be bitchy. Yup, I know. There’s work to do! 

A pose made for Yin Yoga, where we stay 3 to 5 minutes (or even longer) in a pose. This way we can reach the deeper layers in the body, the connective tissue and the fascia. Excellent to unclench where they stick together and release tension.

What I love about staying long in this posture is the power of working with the breath. Breathing into certain places can create space there, literally cleaning up, like a broom. And all of a sudden you notice that you became soft. Floating. Accepting. Releasing. Exhale all the stuff out, that has manifested in your body without you noticing. Leaving with the flow of your exhales.

And to come back to the physical part of it, pigeon pose increases external range of motion of the femur in the hip socket and same time it lengthens the hip flexors.

It’s out! The registration is open – check all the details here.

ANNOUNCEMENT!

I’ve got something in the pipeline for YOU! A beautiful course inviting you to come home. Home to your self. We get soft, we connect, we go deep.

If you’re looking for some tools and practices that help to be more connected to yourself, so you can put yourself in the driver seat of your life, instead of just running behind your tasks, this is for you. No yoga experience required.

The secret will be disclosed next week. Mark your calendar! Registration opens next week and the course itself will start 1st March.

Stay tuned!

Struggles

This year is a challenge for many and it is for me. No, this isn’t another covid post, my challenge is a different one. It’s seems to be the year of pain for me. It all started when I broke my ribs in February. After months of recovery, the other side of the ribs made trouble. Not broken, but bad pain. Recovery again. And a third time. It’s end September and I’m still not fully through it. Exhausting. 

Additionally my leg plays games with me, that bad, that some days even walking becomes a problem. I had a bad accident about 25 years ago and my leg likes to remind me here and there, but not as bad as it does now.

How does this affect my yoga practice? A lot! I had to step back from a 5-6 days Ashtanga practice to „let’s see what I can do“. From absolutely nothing, followed by a bit of yin yoga to a modified Ashtanga practice, and backwards and forwards. A mix which is difficult when used to a rather strong Ashtanga regime. I always liked yin, it’s a beautiful change and add on to the Ashtanga world, however, being forced into something isn’t the same.

I’m suffering on the mat. 

Physically due to the pain and trying to gently figure out where to stop and not overdo, but also find the right level of challenge. To not forget the mental dimension, thoughts such as „I will never make it to where I was“, „I can’t do it“, „my body get’s weaker and weaker“, you name it. Same time, I also feel grateful that I still can practice! Unfortunately this doesn’t stop those slamming thoughts. 

There are these days, when I practice, even with modifications, and just feel happy. Yes, I’ll be back soon. It’s a damn rollercoaster.

I’m suffering off the mat. 

Physically due to a lack of strong practice, all of a sudden my hamstrings complain a lot, guess they thought, great, let’s go on holidays forever! Well, many muscles, tendons and joints tell me, you should have relaxed on the sofa, let’s get rid of that mat!

At the end, this makes me rather laugh, this is the „sweet“ pain. It’s my mind bothering me more. „Give it up, you just can’t do it anymore“, „at your age, go find something matching“. But also thoughts like „you don’t have any discipline anymore“, „you don’t have any will, you’re just weak“, „you should have done this“, „you’re so lazy“….

All my challenges show me how important my practice is, physically and mentally, and yes, I will continue, no matter how difficult it is, as giving up has never been an option.

Upavista Konasana

Upavista Konasana was a long journey for me and I thought I will never reach the ground with my upper body. Even if not flat yet, I‘m down! It was never a posture that had too much of my attention, as I know it’s a matter of open hips and long hamstrings and it’s an intense stretch of the insides of the legs. Nothing to force, but slowly develop. It’s all about patience. Haha, my strength! Not. At. All.

This posture is a fabulous teacher. Everything is possible and comes when the time is right. When we are ready. The body open, the mind without the intent to push. Allowing the body to immerse into the asana and eventually one day we’re in. And if not? Well, I don‘t worry anymore, I just practice.