126 S. River Road, Bedford, NH 03110
Phone: (603)935-7295 | Email: zinzenyoga@outlook.com

 

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Zin-Zen Yoga

Yoga and Niyamas - PT2 Santosa


In past newsletters we looked at yoga beyond the Asana, or physical practice; noting that the Asana is only one element of the 8 limb path outlined in the yoga sutras; a path that has the potential to lead us to Samadhi - a state in which we uncover our true nature and discover our true self, beyond our ego; finding our true essence. So although the Asana practice is one limb of the path to Samadhi, it is not the first, or even the second.  The first limb of our path is the Yamas, the foundation of our ethical behavior. The Yamas help bring us closer to truth by teaching us through our relationships with others. To learn more about the Yamas, visit the Blog on our website for past editions.  In the coming months I will be exploring the Niyamas, the second limb, five internal practices or observances that help provide self-discipline and inner strength to further our journey on the yogic path on an individual level.

This newsletter focuses on the second Niyama, Santosa  - Contentment.
 con·tent·ment
/kənˈtentmənt/
noun
1. a state of happiness and satisfaction
 
A short, succinct definition from the dictionary - a state of being; no long winded explanations given -- just six simple words. Yet for so many of us, Santosa, or contentment, feels so complicated and difficult to achieve!  We find ourselves thinking  "If only!"  "If only I had... a bigger house," "...a different job," "...more time," "...a skinnier body," "...a smaller nose," "...fewer wrinkles," "...a more fulfilling life."  The potential for the list is endless, and is different for each person.  We all have things we love about our life, our self, our current situation, but we also all have that pesky ego!  It is said that our true nature is one of contentment, peacefulness, perhaps even termed blissful and fulfilled. 

In his book Teaching Yoga, Marc Stephens says, "Santosa opens us to happiness with who we are and what we presently have. When we recognize and accept life is an ongoing process for learning, growing, and evolving, we are more inclined to self-acceptance.”  Complete self-acceptance - how beautiful would that be?!  Is it possible to find peace within and become content with one's life, even while experiencing life’s difficulties?  Life IS a process.  Every day is going to be different.  Some days we wake up feeling amazing, and other days not so much.  Can we work to accept where we are here, now, in this moment? 

Personally I struggle with Santosa.  For me it is less about the material things, less about the person I am and more about my physical being.  Having had rheumatoid arthritis for almost 30 years now, every day is very different for me. Working to heal myself in the most holistic way possible, I struggle to find the right diet, the time for self care, the discipline needed to stay on track.  I judge my physical appearance, and question why my body is in the physical state it is in, when I am continually making efforts to change.  At times there is little self-love, limited peacefulness, fleeting contentment, no Santosa!  It's a struggle -- one I work through daily.  And though I do not have answers, I do know this...when I commit myself to my yoga practice I feel so much better.  If only for a few moments each day, I let go of judgement, I let go of ego, I let go of stress. I acknowledge the journey, I observe and accept the moment. I find that self-love, that compassion, that peace...and even a sparkle of contentment!  There is so much beauty surrounding us, so much sweetness in life, so much love.  If we can learn to live less in our head and more in our heart, reflect on something good when confronted with something bad, let go of our ego and embrace the bliss, perhaps Santosa will be that much closer...maybe even in reach!  Both on and off the mat we can work to focus on gratitude, release judgement and expectations of ourselves and others, find happiness in what we have and be present.  For in each moment, if you look around you, something will arrive for you; whether it is a smile, an embrace, a belly laugh, a blooming flower, a sunrise, the sound of birds chirping, contentment in the eyes of someone else... stepping out of our head, away from our ego, bliss and fulfillment surround us, opening us up to our natural state -- ego-less -- Santosa!

Jai Bhagwan,
Michelle

Zin-Zen Yoga

Yogi Spotlight - Mary Delay


Meet Mary! Mary has been part of the ZZY community since opening week back in 2014! There is a saying that "We can only see things within others that we see within ourselves." And that "Everyone you meet is your mirror." We should all be so lucky to be around Mary, as she offers a true reflection of kind spirit, loving energy, along with laughter and light! Keep reading to learn more about Mary and her yoga journey...

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing Hatha and Vinyasa yoga at Zin Zen studio since it first opened, so I have practiced for about two and a half years. Prior to Zin Zen, I practiced Bikram yoga twice a week for four years.

What brought you to start practicing?
I was a serious competitive gymnast from age eight through high school. I competed for fun in a college gymnastics club. After I graduated college I worked out in the gym but I started to lose flexibility. I took up yoga to stretch my muscles and improve my balance. I began with taking classes once a week, then I started going twice a week. Now I try to practice yoga four or five times each week.

What changes have you seen since you started practicing yoga?
My posture has improved a lot! I always walk a little taller after a yoga class. I think this is not only because I stretched my muscles but also because I was able to de-stress and find a little time for myself after a long day.

Favorite posture? Why?
I love all the balancing series of postures. I look forward to trying new poses each class to test my strength, flexibility, and focus.

Least favorite posture? Why?
I have tight shoulders and hips, so shoulder opening poses and pigeon pose are a struggle for me. Even though I find these poses uncomfortable, I know that my body probably needs them the most.

When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?
I am a second grade teacher, so weekdays I am in an elementary school classroom. After school hours and on weekends I spend my free time reading, practicing indoor rock climbing, and I spend as much time as I can relaxing with my family and friends.

What do you love most about being a student at Zin-Zen Yoga?
I feel like every class I learn a new posture or find a new way to enter into a posture I have done many times. The teachers at Zin Zen do such an amazing job catering each class to fit the needs of the students in the room. No matter what your yoga experience is, or how flexible you are, or how strong you are, you can gain something from each session of yoga class.

Any advice you would give to someone new to yoga or to our studio?
I would say start with a "Yoga for Every Body" class or perhaps a "Hatha" class to learn about some common yoga poses. If there is a "Beginner Series" class that is the perfect place to learn about alignment in the basic poses. Enter the studio with a positive attitude and just try your best. You will always leave class feeling a bit better about yourself.

Zin-Zen Yoga

Yoga and Niyamas - Pt 1 Saucha



In past newsletters we looked at yoga beyond the Asana, or physical practice; noting that the Asana is only one element of the 8 limb path outlined in the yoga sutras; a path that has the potential to lead us to Samadhi - a state in which we uncover our true nature and discover our true self, beyond our ego; finding our true essence. So although the Asana practice is one limb of the path to Samadhi, it is not the first, or even the second. The first limb of our path is the Yamas, the foundation of our ethical behavior. The Yamas help bring us closer to truth by teaching us through our relationships with others. To learn more about the Yamas, visit the Blog on our website for past editions. In the coming months I will be exploring the Niyamas, the second limb, five internal practices or observances that help provide self-discipline and inner strength to further our journey on the yogic path on an individual level.

This month we will focus on the first Niyama, Saucha - Purity or Cleanliness. Purity of the mind, the body and of expression. What you say, how you act, your intentions, how you treat yourself and others. We practice cleanliness of the body through our daily rituals of showering, flossing and brushing our teeth. Perhaps you scrape your tongue, use a Neti Pot, practice kapalabhati (a form of detoxifying breath work), fast or perform a nutritional cleanse several times a year?

Beyond the body we delve deeper into our thoughts, intentions and actions. Negative thoughts or actions towards others or towards ourselves are impurities of the mind. Impurities of the mind can be cleared up through being more mindful of one's feelings, words and actions. Knowing and understanding that our thoughts are not always going to be pleasant; we will feel anger, we will judge, we will fear, and that is okay. But be mindful of the feelings, observe, even examine what brings them on. Rest with them and in time we will find clarity and acceptance. Putting ourselves down for having feelings that naturally arise doesn't do us any good. Instead see if you can get in touch with what is driving these feelings and actions, how you are reflecting them out into the world, and then sit with how you feel. "Purity is the consistent and loving intention to accept our inherent goodness.” And that goodness is there!

Additionally Saucha can relate to the cleanliness of the physical space around you. How you care for your home and your belongings can affect your personal energy. For most living among clutter or coming home to a pile of dirty dishes does not instill a sense of relaxation and peace; however arriving home to a sense of order and cleanliness can alleviate stress and foster a sense of comfort and ease.

So how can we bring Saucha onto our mat and into our practice space? Cultivating awareness and being mindful of your space and those around you is a great place to start. Taking care not to step on other people's mats is a form of practicing Saucha on both a level of cleanliness and hygiene as well as respecting the person's personal space and energy field. For many yogis their yoga mat is a very personal space, which deserves to be observed and respected.

Another way to incorporate Saucha into your practice space, whether it is personal space at home or at the studio, is to take the time and care to put away mats, props and blankets in a tidy, orderly manner. You can ask any of our instructors, as the studio owner, this is one area I am a stickler for! When the instructor leaves at the end of class, all props are in order; edges of the blankets aligned, blocks stacked evenly and symmetrically, bolsters evenly distributed among the shelves. As a student, taking the mindfulness from your Asana practice off of the mat and cultivating the same awareness to your surroundings demonstrates both respect for yourself, to the space where you practice and to those who practice alongside you.

I have to say, many of the students at ZZY really enjoy their Savasana, finding that deep relaxation, hoping it will never end! But for some Savasana can be the most difficult part of the practice. Even after a 60 -75 minute practice, it can be hard to "simply let go." Perhaps you find the Tingsha ring and that sets you into a mode of fidgeting, your mind races to where you are off to next, and you anxiously await for the instructor to get through the "Aum" so you can get on with your day or night; but maybe next time you can pause, sit in stillness a moment longer, gently make your way back to your breath and your body. Honor your fellow yogis, and mindfully, with care -- the same care and attention you put into your practice -- step off your mat, fold your blanket, and thoughtfully return the props to the shelf... and then float out the door; for honoring Saucha is part of the practice, and when done mindfully can feel like a meditation in and of itself! I promise you, I am not asking you to try this to take the burden off of us, but to simply see how you feel. And then see if you can take this feeling with you, off the mat and into your life. And smile!

Jai Bhagwan,
Michelle




Zin-Zen Yoga

Yogi Spotlight - Pauline Landrigan

Meet Pauline!

A long-time yogi committed to her Vinyasa Flow practice, we have been blessed to have Pauline flowing on her mat at Zin-Zen since we first opened in 2014! We asked Pauline some questions about her practice and this is what she shared...

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing yoga for about 20 years. I wanted to find an outlet for relaxation and exercise. I began at a time when I had some health issues and was able to get through them without extra medications/treatments because of yoga, meditation and naturopathy.

What brought you to start practicing?
I am a teacher and have taught special education on all levels (children & adults). For a large part of my career, I taught 8th grade English. Attending yoga classes and practicing at home were critical to my mental health as well as physical. Having tried so many forms of exercise, yoga is what has been most beneficial and longest lasting!

What changes have you seen since you started practicing yoga?
When I spent a year volunteering in Africa, Yoga was my companion when I missed home, felt frustrated, or disconnected. I love that I am able to take yoga with me wherever I go. Just like my job now...I teach virtually!

Favorite posture? Why?
I think my favorite posture is tree pose as I find it both grounding and calming.

Least favorite posture? Why?
The one posture that I am bound and determined to master is chaturanga.

When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?
I love being outdoors hiking, biking, gardening and then preserving the food I grow so my family may eat healthily year round. I am an avid reader and theater-goer and used to run a youth theater group My Act in Merrimack for 25 years.

What do you love most about being a student at Zin-Zen Yoga?
What I love about Zin-Zen is the consistency of classes offered daily and the calm nature of instructors. I find the studio welcoming and innovative

Any advice you would give to someone new to yoga or to our studio?
Anyone seeking an up to date, innovative yoga studio should definitely check Zin-Zen out.

Namaste to you Pauline ~ and thank you for sharing!

Zin-Zen Yoga

Yogi Spotlight - Anat Myers


Meet Anat! Anat is one of those students who shows up to her mat with a glowing smile and excitement for the practice. Originally coming to ZZY never having practiced yoga before, we have all enjoyed seeing her practice blossom and strengthen! Oh the places you go (with yoga)!

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing yoga for over a year now, since September 2015.

What brought you to start practicing?
I met a friend who has been practicing yoga for 5 years now. He is a very spiritual guy and he immediately connected to the idea of working with your physical body in the way yoga teaches, in a relaxed environment using mind and body connection. He felt I would benefit as well, and when I listed my usual excuses of why I can’t, he found Zin-Zen for me and asked me to call. I was so grateful he helped me find a good studio that offers different classes, so I called.

What changes have you seen since you started practicing yoga?
Exercising was part of my life since I came to the US 18 years ago. However, yoga has been the only form of exercise that I haven’t needed a push to do! On the contrary, it has a positive effect on my well being overall so I make the time to go to yoga. I feel stronger physically, especially when working on balancing poses, which were hard for me in the past. I also feel an un-knotting mentally; I have the tools to deal with any situations that might have caused stress in the past.

Favorite posture? Why? Least favorite posture? Why?
I don’t think I have favorite and least favorite postures. I simply have postures that I need more practice to do, like wheel pose, and postures that I am just wrapping my mind around, like handstand and headstand.

When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?
In Milford with my children, Zachary, a sophomore at MHS, and Talia, a 7th grader at MMS. When they are busy at school, I work on building my Real Estate career, which I started recently. I found doing volunteer work is extremely important and healing, so I try to dip in it throughout the years. In the past few years, I’ve been visiting a friend in The Elm Center, lonely with no one to care for him other than a few friends and a brother who lives in NY. In my free time, I travel to Boston often to see a good concert or to sit with friends in a nice restaurant (Barcelona…you should try this place!) When at home, I enjoy reading, playing the piano, and having friends over for Israeli good food and conversation.

What do you love most about being a student at Zin-Zen Yoga?
Zin-Zen has welcomed me warmly and made me feel comfortable from the start. I love that teachers at the studio are always teaching! I go home with an abundance of information and reminders of how to work on a pose, how to breathe, and how to respect where we are at the moment today, as yesterday has gone and tomorrow is a new day.

Any advice you would give to someone new to yoga or to our studio?
Respect where you are today, without judging and comparing yourself to others who may be more experienced or more flexible; work on your own practice and enjoy!

Zin-Zen Yoga

Yogi Spotlight - Sue Paris


Get to know your fellow yogis! Each newsletter we'll be "spotlighting" a member of the Zin-Zen Yoga Community.

Meet Sue! Sue began with our new member special back in August of 2015, and from the looks of it never looked back! Since the day she first stepped on her mat she has spent 227 hours practicing here at the studio. At ZZY we all know Sue for her welcoming presence, dedicated practice and always being up for taking on the challenge of new classes, new poses and was (of course) one of the dedicated yogis that took on and completed the 30 day yoga challenge in September. We decided to ask Sue a few questions, and here is what she had to say...

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing yoga only 14 months.

What brought you to start practicing?
I was looking for some form of exercise, stretching, strength training program that I would enjoy. I found I was forcing myself to go to the gym to work out. It was never going to be a lifelong activity for me if I did not enjoy doing it.

What changes have you seen since you started practicing yoga?
I do not have the little aches and pains in my body that I had before. Stretching and strengthening during yoga helps me use areas that were often neglected. I am definitely stronger and more flexible, and as an added bonus, I have lost inches!! Also, now that I have been doing yoga for a year and not concentrating as hard on learning the yoga positions, I have been able to open myself up more to the meditative and restorative benefits.

Favorite posture? Why?
I enjoy pigeon and cannot really tell you why.

Least favorite posture? Why?
Anything to do with balance. Ugh!!! My balance is getting better however. Who knew one side is definitely more balanced than the other?

When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?
Usually traveling, spending time with my seven grandchildren, gardening and reading.

What do you love most about being a student at Zin-Zen Yoga?
From the very first day, Michelle welcomed me into her class and studio. As a newcomer to Yoga, I had really no idea how to do anything. All the instructors spent time to show me the correct posture and help me through. I have learned to "listen to my body" and "breathe through it", along with the rest of the class. Most of all, I feel so comfortable on my own level, even if there are people that have more advanced postures. Zin-Zen has always stressed to do what is comfortable on that day. The students who regularly attend the yoga classes are very friendly and encouraging. I enjoy seeing the friendly faces.

Any advice you would give to someone new to yoga or to our studio?
Try to attend yoga classes on a regular basis. You will get stronger and more flexible. Things you could not or would not even attempt before will become possible over time. Yoga has a physical side as well as a spiritual one, and it will help you accept and cope with the stresses in your life without you even realizing it at first.

Thank you, Sue! We love hearing your story and love even more having you as a part of our community!

Zin-Zen Yoga

Grateful and Blessed


Welcome November (Posting on website blog a month late - so hello December)! And where in the world did October go?? It seems like just yesterday that here at Zin-Zen Yoga we were putting stickers on our chart as we arrived to class during our 30 day yoga challenge in the month of September...and here we are in November. Time can escape us as we get caught up in our work, our children, our spouses, household chores, yard work, schoolwork, yoga class, working out, doctor's appointments, planning our next adventure, catching up with friends, trying to find time to get everything done, let alone finding time for some quiet and rest. As we say hello to November, it is a good time to pause and reflect, especially before we get caught up in the the hubbub of the holiday season that is fast approaching! So take a moment (maybe close the eyes) -- a deep inhale...pause...and deep exhale. Sip in the silence. Breathe in the air. Feel the heart lift and then soften. Welcome a sense of letting go. And then reflect. Because amid the chaos that we call life, there is so much that we pass over every day. So much we push aside. So much left unsaid. Take another breath in...pause...another breath out. Think of someone (or two) or something (or a few) that exists in your life that brings you joy, wonderment, peace, relief, draws a smile on your face, a giggle to the belly, gratefulness to your heart. And take just one more moment to say thank you. Through your words, an email, a phone call, or "tea"; through your actions, a gesture, or maybe a simple prayer. We all have our own way of expressing our thanks, it is just a matter of finding and taking the time to do so.

As I sit here at the studio reflecting back on the past two years I can truly say I am blessed and grateful for our community! For every student that walks through the door, whether it is to attend one class or many; each person brings a story, an energy, a reflection, an expression of themselves. Whether it is a "good day" or a "bad day" we all show up to our mats for a reason. And as an instructor, the greatest gift we receive is received through the reflection of the students. Hearing a student explain that they are a better wife/husband/partner or friend; a better parent, more present with their students, more accepting of their co-workers, more tolerant of their boss -- all reasons to be here. So when a student approached me after class this past Thursday to thank me for class and let me know how much he loves the studio and the space to practice I felt truly blessed and grateful! When he went on to say that coming to Zin-Zen Yoga helps to "feed his soul", I could only hold back the subtle tears forming in the corner of my eyes and the swelling in my heart and ask, "can I give you a hug?"!

As we enter this month of "thanks" and "giving" we here at ZZY want to thank each of you for being a part of our community. A student, a friend, a customer, a client...however you perceive yourself, to us you are an amazing, beautiful presence for which we are truly grateful!

Jai Bhagwan,
Michelle

Zin-Zen Yoga

Yogi Spotlight - Kim Castelo


Get to know your fellow yogis! Each newsletter we'll be "spotlighting" a member of the Zin-Zen Yoga Community.

About Kim! Kim has been practicing at ZZY since January of 2015 -- just a few short months after we opened our doors. And whenever she walks through those doors she brings a graceful, thoughtful, kind presence with her. With a beautiful, authentic yoga practice, and a full life outside the studio, Kim is an inspiration as to how one can find balance both on and off the mat! We decided to ask Kim a few questions, and here is what she had to say...

How long have you been practicing yoga?
Prior to becoming a mother, I used to practice 3-4 times a week in Los Angeles & New York for a few years. After my son was born, I didn't have the time to fit yoga into my hectic schedule. In New York I owned my own business and having a baby left little time for mom! I moved to NH and I got back in to yoga a year and a half ago. I forced myself to make the time and I am so happy that I did. I can't go without now...

What brought you to start practicing?
I've always been drawn to yoga vs Zumba or some other cardio workout. The benefits that go along with yoga are life changing. Owning my own business in NH and being a single mother can bring on a ton of stress and yoga always brings me back down to earth, feeds my energy and loosens up all the tense muscles that stress creates. It helps with anxiety, depression, stress, weight loss, spirituality, digestive issues, sciatic pain, and so much more.

What changes have you seen since you started practicing yoga?
There are so many....my mind is clearer, my posture amazes me at times (lol), lean muscle tone and my butt is actually higher! Love that! I can breathe better; I am a shallow breather and have been my entire life, so it is a calming caveat to be able to breathe deep even when I am off the mat. I am more flexible than I was a year and a half ago. Yoga for me is my savior...for my body, mind & spirit. If I have to skip a class because of work I notice a HUGE difference in my overall well being, it's almost scary because the benefits of yoga effect my life immensely.

Favorite posture? Why?
Gosh, there isn't just one, but I would have to say Eagle Pose. Why? Because I can do it for one and because it takes strength, flexibility, endurance and unwavering concentration.

Least favorite posture? Why?
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose. Why? Because I can't do it - yet! :)

When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?
At work, Edward Jones in Bedford, NH, home with my son our dog and two cats, traveling - we love the water so beach-bound or the lake, in the winter we tend to stay at home more often. We love a good movie. Biking, hiking, and we love walking our dog in the early evening.

What do you love most about being a student at Zin-Zen Yoga?
Michelle Fabbrini, my teacher, my friend...she is so inspiring and makes everybody feel so comfortable. The atmosphere at Zin-Zen is awesome, I love my fellow yogis. There is also the amazing boutique where you can find unique gifts and the best yoga clothes. And the wine racks!

Any advice you would give to someone new to yoga or to our studio?
If you can't get into to a pose, don't fret...you WILL get there as long as you continue your practice. Also, if you're new to yoga or thinking about taking some classes, stop thinking about it and come on in. The benefits of yoga are AMAZING. Life is better, more energy, focus, strength, peace of mind, compassion, I could go on and on. Be present and experience your growth within yourself. You'll be glad you did.

Thanks Zin-Zen community. Love you! ~Kim

Thank you for sharing with us, Kim!

Zin-Zen Yoga

Yogi Spotlight - Patty Reigstad


Get to know your fellow yogis! Each newsletter we'll be "spotlighting" a member of the Zin-Zen Yoga Community.

Meet Patty! Patty has been a quiet presence at Zin-Zen Yoga since just 2 weeks after we opened our doors in 2014. Those who attend weekday morning classes know her for her dedication to the practice, her kind, gentle demeanor and her welcoming smile! Here is what Patty had to say when asked about herself and her yoga experience...

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I’ve been practicing since Zin-Zen Yoga opened, so almost two years. It was the first time I’d ever tried yoga and I loved it right from the start. In those early days, when Zin-Zen Yoga was new, there weren’t as many people in class as there are now. Sometimes there were only two or three of us on our mats. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a great opportunity for hands-on instruction. I have to give Michelle credit for everything I can do today, and will do tomorrow. She’s been the guiding light in my practice right from the start.

What brought you to start practicing?
I’ve worked out at the gym for years, and I lift weights, but I wanted to add to my strength training and gain flexibility. I’d thought about trying yoga for a long time, but I wasn’t sure where to go and that led to procrastination. When Zin-Zen Yoga opened, two minutes from my house, I took it as a sign. It was time to stop thinking about it and do it.

What changes have you seen since you started practicing yoga?
I love how yoga compliments my gym workouts and weight lifting. I’ve seen real changes in my strength and balance. Learning to breath and relax has been a big bonus. I tend to have a “noisy” mind, always thinking and worrying about what I have to do next. Yoga has helped me learn to focus, pace myself, and live in the present.

Favorite posture? Why?
I love anything with a twist! I’ve had back problems in the past, and holding a twist pose feels so good.

Least favorite posture? Why?
Anything that bothers my back! Ha! I won’t be doing wheel any day soon.

When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?
I wish I could say I was traveling, because I love to travel with my husband! But I’m an author, and my hubby only gets so much time off from his work, so I can usually be found sitting behind my computer. I write under the pen name Parker Riggs. My mystery novel, Finding Jessica, is for sale at the Zin-Zen Yoga boutique, and on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and just about anywhere else. I’ve also written two books for New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams for her Antiques and Collectibles mystery series. Book #4 of the series is A Treacherous Trader, and Book #5 is A Devious Lot. Currently, I’m working on Book #6, as yet untitled. I have an October 1 st deadline for the manuscript (which will be here before I know it) so I need to breath, breath, breath!

What do you love most about being a student at Zin-Zen Yoga?
Zin-Zen Yoga is so welcoming. Everyone is friendly, from the instructors to the students. It’s a place where no one judges you. I’m grateful that my first experience with yoga has been at Zin-Zen Yoga, where Yoga really is for everybody. There’s also a beautiful boutique with clothes, accessories, wine, and books. What’s not to love about that?

Any advice you would give to someone new to yoga?
Don’t be intimidated by what you can’t do, and don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not. When you’re new to yoga, don’t expect to keep up with people who have been practicing for years. It’s perfectly okay, and no one cares! You start out doing what you can, and little by little, you will notice your legs aren’t trembling all the time, you can hold poses longer, and something you couldn’t do a few months ago is now possible. Yay! (That’s not to say there aren’t many times in my mind I’m still begging Michelle to let us out of a pose before I collapse!) As time goes by, you’ll see healthy changes in your body. Your muscles are getting bigger and stronger. Your posture is straighter. You’re thinking about your breathing when you’re feeling stressed, and you’re able to slow it down, look inward, and relax. Make time for you. Yoga is a great workout, a time for prayer and meditation, to stretch your muscles and your mind. You won’t regret it.

Zin-Zen Yoga

Yoga and Yamas - Part 5

This month we will focus on the fifth Yama, Aparigraha - Freedom from Greed and Desire. So often we find ourselves wanting for more. Thinking if I only had this one more thing, THAT is when I will be happy! And then perhaps you get it...and you are happy, for an hour, a day or two, a month, or perhaps even a year...but I am guessing by year's end there is something else out there, something, perhaps someone, who you want or feel you need in your life to make you happy. If you only had THAT one more thing, THEN you will be happy! And so on it goes, the cycle of the ego; the root cause of greed and desire. The ego fears, the ego wants, the ego protects and the ego craves -- affirmation, external objects, money, fame, security. Anytime you feel a want (perhaps to travel), a desire (maybe for a bigger house), covet (a relationship similar to your best friend and his or her spouse), lust after (that guy/girl you pass by on your way to work every day), dream about (a better job, new clothes, retirement), it is all stemming from the ego. But are we ever satisfied? Once the desire is fulfilled, are we then happy and content? Or do we over time begin to take that for granted and become desirous of something more? What we need to realize, and what practicing Aparigraha will help us understand, is that nothing outside ourselves will ever make us happy for more than just a few fleeting moments. Living our life in pursuit of accumulating all that we desire leads to a life of excess. With so many people on the planet with little food to eat, struggling to make ends meet, working themselves to the bones to provide for their family, perhaps we can use our yoga to help us awaken to the fact that we are not our ego. We are a part of a Whole, a Universal Consciousness, a Oneness among many. With that knowing, we can acknowledge our cravings, our feelings of dissatisfaction and choose to move past them, to forgo the pursuit of them in favor of practicing gratitude, generosity and charity.

The ego has no end. It is up to us to be more mindful, more conscious and aware of our decisions and our life actions. Showing up on our mat for our physical yoga practice can be a great tool in nurturing and honoring the yama, Aparigraha. Each time we step on our mat (and the more regularly and more consistently we do so, the better - for sure!), but each time we step onto our mat we 1) give ourselves the time and space to let go of thoughts, actions, desires, 2) allow ourselves the time and space to breathe - fully and deeply, 3) practice self-care, self-love and compassion; building up strength and security in our body, mind and soul, 4) bring positive focus from the outside in, and in turn from the inside outward and 5) nurture, nurture, nurture! It is amazing what we will find when we instill this practice of yoga in our life. We will cling less, have the need to control less, nurture more and be more centered, strong and forgiving. We will live a more harmonious life with ourselves as well as with others. We will move past the painful and be open to forgiveness and freedom from suffering which is so often brought on by the ego. And most relevant to Aparigraha, we will stretch ourselves beyond imaginable as we share our energy, our attention,our gratitude, our ONENESS with the Universe! With the individual next to you in class, with the person behind the register at the grocery store, with the pilot on the plane, with the tourists on top of the Eiffel Tower -- we are all ONE! And when at the end of class, as we place our hands at heart center, bow forward and say Namaste, we silently state, "May the light in me honor and shine upon the light in you!" So as we close class and I encourage you to take the time to acknowledge those around you with the gesture of Namaste, know that it is so much more than a simple gesture. It is a moment in which you are saying thank you to them for sharing their energy and their practice with you, and honoring the unity of all - ONENESS! Look them in the eyes, see into their heart, honor them, send them a small gesture of love. For although we are each only one among many, if I feel it in my heart and you feel it in yours, if we let go of the ego, be a little vulnerable, cling less, share more...maybe, perhaps maybe we will make a difference.

Jai Bhagwan,
Michelle

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