Misunderstanding the Language of Yoga
When I first began practicing Yoga I could have cared less about the use of Sanskrit and struggled to understand the words being used to describe the names of postures or philosophies within the practice. I had struggled enough to understand Spanish and, as a college student, wasn't interested in adding another item to study to my list.
Now, almost two decades later, I have found myself correcting my practitioners and guiding new instructors in the proper application of Sanskrit words as they apply to the practice. I have become increasingly aware of the value of using the proper word while teaching. I spend hours practicing proper pronouciation and seeking out the most correct word to describe what I want to say (both in English and Sanskrit). I have become a language nerd. This doesn't surprise me; one of my favorite classes in college was Psycholinguistics. I probably would have continued studying had I not been drawn toward counseling.
Mantra comes from the root words "Man" meaning "mind" and "tra" or "trana" meaning "to train." The word Mantra is often translated to mean a tool for training, or driving, the mind.
Motto is defined as: a short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals guiding an individual, family, or institution.
The two are very different things. Mantra requires that the mind become focused, directed and, often there is a desire to change the quality of energy and intention. Whereas a motto is a summary or explanation of a belief or idea.
The two have come to be interchanged in our culture. It is our task to change this.
Speak Clearly to be Understood
Language is a truly valuable form of communication. Accurate expression can encourage connection and understanding. As a Yoga Teacher I use language to explain postures, concepts, philosophy and more. I state and restate until it appears as though my practitioners understand. As a counselor I reflect and restate to encourage understanding, accuracy and awareness. To speak clearly is to be understood and does not require a lot of words.
Yoga was originally taught in Sanskrit. This ancient language is no longer used in conversation, but the words that live on are those that continue to be studies, taught and heard in many Yoga studios. There is a reason Sanskrit has survived; the words mean more than we can translate. There is energy within the sounds and the words have more meaning than we could ever describe. For example; the word Prana is translated to mean breath, life force, energy and more.
Let's Work Together to Remove Ignorance
As practitioners, instructors, teachers and guides of Yoga it is our duty to retain the goodness (Su) that exists within the traditions of the practice.
Become an observer of the world around you and do what you can to correct the wrongs, to encourage righteousness by educating those who have ignorance (Avidya) to the value of proper application of the practice of Yoga and language of Sanskrit.
Listen for the moments when you can truly be a teacher and help to spread the knowledge (Jnana) of the language of Yoga so that the roots of this ancient practice can remain solid.
Let's not lose sight of what Yoga is: both the practice and the result.
Yoga vs yoga
During a recent video stream, the difference between capital "Y" Yoga and lowercase "y" yoga was described. The first being the traditional practice as described by the Yoga Sutra and Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The latter, being the practices commonly engaged in by modern Americans. What is the difference? INTENTION: Yoga practitioners are seeking betterment, contentment, enlightenment, while yoga practitioners are seeking a better body, group affiliation and fun. The traditional practice of Yoga has been copied, cut, split, divided and sectioned out. There are hundreds of styles that focus on just a few of the aspects of the practice. As a yoga practitioner, you are only getting a tiny taste of a very big pie.
Be Willing to Listen
To truly practice Yoga you have to be able to honor the traditions outlined in texts from over 5000 years ago while still existing and functioning as a human living in today's society. This is not easy. Many Yogis are perceived as weirdos who are out of touch with the rest of the world. Look at Jim Carey; he understands Yoga, but his words are falling upon deaf ears. Many of those with whom he speaks are not practicing Yoga. What he has to say is difficult to grasp, therefore, it can sound as though he has lost his mind. Yoga practitioners are willing to listen, even if we don't quite understand. We are ready to learn, to experience, to gain wisdom.
Be Willing to Compromise
You perceive the world based upon your upbringing and experiences. You see the world through your own eyes. You will never be able to see it as your brother, best friend, grandfather, or aunt does. At all times, we must do our best to attempt to see the world in another way, even though it will always be shaded by our own perspective. We can compromise. We can reach out to others and meet them where they are. At Lake Tahoe Yoga we do this by offering our weekly Vinyasa & Vino practice.
We are seeking yoga practitioners who are willing to attempt to see the world differently. We want to meet you and hear about how you see the world. We have opened our door to invite you in to learn about the traditional practice of Yoga and to encourage you to try it out.
We want you to feel good, to look good and to have fun as well as to listen, learn and discover your Self.
Join us on Friday evenings for Vinyasa; a sequence of interconnected movements that encourage grace. Then stay for a glass of wine and Satsang; a conversation among like-minded people.
We all know that the only way to truly prepare for Winter sports is to get out there and do them. Whether you are heading to Heavenly or Kirkwood, Squaw or Sierra at Tahoe, Yoga Asana and Pranayama as well as mindful practices can help you to feel strong, safe and aware while out on the snow. Try out these simple practices to help you enjoy this year's season. You won't regret it.
1) Asana (Poses)
There are many Yoga asana (poses) that can help you to strengthen as well as recover from your day out on the slopes. An experienced and knowledgeable instructor will be able to guide you through theses poses and teach you how to use them in a way that helps you prepare for your day out, then release afterward.
Yudrasana (Lunge) - raising and lowering between high and low lunges.
Deviasana (Goddess) - holding, and also shifting your upper body from side-to-side.
Virabhadrasana Dvi (Warrior Two) - holding, as well as rotating.
Parsvottanasana - intense side stretch.
Supta Virasana - reclined hero
Svastikasana - auspicious pose/reclined twist variation
2) Pranayama (Conscious Breath)
If you’re heading out to the resort you are unlikely to be the only one doing so. You can prepare for and remain relaxed while sharing the mountain by applying a simple breathing techniques. Not only will they help you to remain calm and patient in lift lines. Pranayama practices can also help you to reduce stress levels while you are out and about traveling and visiting the area.
Victorious/Powerful Breathing (Ujjayi):
Breathe in and out of your nose only.
Constrict the back of your throat slightly so that your breath is audible to you, only.
Feel your breath as it moves in and out of your throat.
Slow your breathing down so that each inhale and exhale is as long as you can make it.
3) Dharana (Mindful Practice)
We can easily become caught up in the cycle of activity and buzz around us while we are out on the slopes. There are people moving everywhere and in every direction. It’s a good idea to step out of the way, look around, and observe our circumstances every once in a while.
Be sure to follow these simple mountain rules to keep yourself and others safe:
-Move to the side of the trail if you need to stop for any reason. While waiting for friends, fixing your gear or taking a break, move out of the way of those who are riding.
-Be considerate of others by keeping your backpack, poles and gear close to your body while moving around or riding the lift. Wear headphones if you like to listen to music and keep the volume at a level that still allows you to hear the liftee and those around you in the case that someone is trying to get your attention.
-Stay in control of yourself, even if your friends are bombing down the slope ahead of you. Most of us don’t get to ski every day. Honor your abilities and be honest about how much control you really have over your board or skis. Everyone, including that 5-year-old grom crushing it on the bumps will have more fun when staying in control.
Find a spot on the side of the trail, pull up a chair, or head into the lodge and relax for a few minutes. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Enjoy the crisp air and the swish of others sliding by.
To learn more about the poses, breath work and mindfulness practices that keep Jenay peaceful during Tahoe Winter visit LakeTahoeYoga.com.
On October 27th, my pitch for Lake Tahoe Yoga was shown on the Vistaprint Facebook page as part of a live feed during which they provided feedback to business owners.
As I watched the feed with one of my practitioners she commented; "Talk about being vulnerable." I was more overcome with excitement to have Lake Tahoe Yoga reach thousands of people rather than concerned about the fact that I was putting myself out to be critiqued.
I have always seen LTY as a reflection of who I am and what I want for our community. When the studio doesn't do well, I feel like I am failing. When it succeeds, I am encouraged. Regardless of success or failure, I will continue to strive for change and growth both for myself and LTY.
The feedback I received was valuable and will guide me as I move forward in promoting what we offer. I should note that this is not the only feedback I have ever received and certainly not the only contest I have entered. I belong to multiple business groups both locally and online and am often asking for guidance and honest feedback from others. In fact, when we remodeled in 2015, the funding came partially from a contest that I won through a business group created by Quickbooks.
As a business owner, I know that the best guidance comes from those who are in the same boat; people who own or have owned businesses in a variety of locations and fields. Their guidance helps me to learn lessons without going through the struggle and to take consideration of things that may have never occurred to me.
As a yoga practitioner and instructor, I know that there is much to be learned from teachers outside of my local area. I strive to bring traditional, new, and unique practices and ideas to our studio and hope to spread them throughout the basin. My husband often comments that Lake Tahoe Yoga is "where good ideas come from" and that we "populate Tahoe with high quality teachers." I would never assume that I am the only one who is drawing from outside of the area, or that I am the best in Tahoe, but I hope that which I am teaching is having an influence on the yoga community in Tahoe.
In the story of the Bhagavad Gita the main character, Arjuna, faces his family and friends upon a battlefield. The reason for the battle is ignorance; they are blind of the Truth.
Humans are often limited in their ability to view the world truthfully. We are limited in our capacity to see things without the shade of our own perspective. Everything we experience is based upon our past experiences, expectations and desires. We struggle to shift our perspectives and to accept other viewpoints.
We practice yoga in order to shift the dynamic; to invert our perspectives. Every movement, breath and focused practice gives us new tools for seeing the Truth.
We live our lives on shifting battlefields. We may be fighting for our job, our family, our beliefs, our morals. Every day we choose the battles to fight and the ones from which we must walk away. Every day the world is changing around us. Even the Earth is shifting at every moment and through every season.
Look around you. Things are never the same as they were. Every snowflake and raindrop causes change. The sun, the wind, rivers and lakes mold the Earth around you. What is molding you?
When you head out onto your battlefields you can choose what to bring. Do you carry with you anger, aggression and violence? Do you approach each battle defensively?
Practice yoga. Learn to carry different tools with you when you head out to battle. Use knowledge, wisdom, patience, devotion and love. Approach these battles differently. Shift your perspective.
Next time you come to your mat, consider the battle you are about to face. Consider the approach you usually take. Breathe, pause and shift your focus. Take a different approach. Perhaps you will be the one who begins the change.