Friday, April 2, 2010

Ahimsa & Satya, Compassionate Communication

In high school and college, I was always known by my friends as the "brutally honest" one. You didn't ask me a question that you didn't really want to know the answer to, because I'd tell you - and not in a gentle way, usually. Things have changed for me, though. I have been on the receiving end of some tough conversations, and I've delivered them. It is much more challenging to be kind and honest, but I feel much better after!

In yogic philosophy, there are some observances that are outlined that one should follow if seeking a connection to all things. Two of these observances are called ahimsa and satya. Ahimsa means non-harming and is listed first. I don't think that placement is accidental. Non-harming above all other actions is a good one to adopt. In fact, medical students are taught a similar phrase in medical ethics: primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means "First, do no harm." Satya means truth. So, if I adopt a philosophy of non-harming truth, or compassionate honesty in my communications, I grow more connected to all things.

It is definitely more work to communicate this way. I must really think before I speak, and keep the strong emotions at bay, reflecting on my own truth instead of reacting to what is happening. It's a wonderful practice, and a great way to take yoga off your mat. It is like a yoga class for your soul. Namaste.

What we are practicing now...
Ustransana (camel pose) is a strong backbend that brings up a lot of fear in students, myself included! I came across this variation and I love it. It feels safe, supported and still a great opening for the chest, throat, stomach, shoulders. The key is finding the balance between tucking the pelvis to find length in the low back and moving the groins back toward the feet so as not to harden the hip flexors. To come into the pose:
  • Set up at a wall. Bring 2 bolsters (a pillow and a foam roller work, too) and kneel in front of the wall.
  • Put one of the bolsters between you and the wall, the other on top of your calves.
  • Now, slide your buttocks down to feel the pelvic tilt; at the same time, draw your groins in and back toward your feet to protect the hip flexors. Play with that alignment until it feels right.
  • Reach back for your prop on your calves (you may lift it higher by tucking your toes under, if needed). Rotate your arms outward to open your chest and shoulders and breathe here. This is a good ending point, especially if you've had fear in this pose before.
  • To go deeper, lift your chest higher and play with bringing your head back. Don't do this if your breathe becomes challenged. Keep the actions in the legs and hips and peel open your heart as you stay here for as long as it is appropriate.
  • When you come out, sit back on your prop for a few breaths. Check in to see if you would like to do another round, or then move into your counter-pose. I like Child's pose, then Upavistha Konasana. Enjoy!
Schedule updates and events... see Schedule for complete class listing...
  • This Saturday! Yoga enChanting Workshop: Join us for a sequence of chest/shoulder/throat opening postures, followed by chanting and meditation. Class is $40 at Willow Glen Yoga.
  • This Sunday! Om for Peace: Join us at Willow Glen Yoga for an hour of chanting "om" as a meditation on peace. We are joining others all around the planet during the same hour as they chant om for peace, too. We'll meet from 3:00-4:00pm on Easter Sunday. Come for however long you like, chant at your own pace, volume, pitch. Join your voice in this beautiful expression for peace! No fee.
  • Intro to Yoga Series: next 6-week series begins on Thursday, April 22 at 7:45pm. This class meets for 6 weeks as we go through the basic breath, physical actions, postures and sequences of yoga. Appropriate for those new to the practice, or those needing a refresher. See Willow Glen Yoga to register. You must pre-register for this series.