Our final look at Patanjali's five Yamas include the concepts of non-stealing and non-attachment. At first glance they seem similar in that they both relate to our relationship to material possessions. From this standpoint, think about how much emotional and mental energy we use wanting things we do not have and once we get them, we start wanting the next thing. It is an extraordinarily hard habit to break.
If we look at the deeper meaning of Asteya, we see that it encompases a natural integrity and fairness in all of our dealings, whether it be what we buy at the store, how much we are paid for the word we do, or how much we get our of our relationships, even our yoga practice. We aim to have an even energetic exchange in all of our dealings.
The subtleties of Aparigraha go beyond the simple meanings of non-hoarding or non-grasping. Yes, we reduce our suffering if we can release our need for material goods that go beyond our basic needs, but what about our attachment to other people, or even to the stories we constantly tell ourselves? Can we strive to be unattached in every level of our being so that we hold life more gently and compassionately?
This week in class we are working on a simple variation of Surya Namaskar, or the sun salutation using a chair as support for the hands. In keeping with Asteya, we will examine how the asana practice, when practiced mindfully, gives us just as much energy as is required to practice. Take a moment also to think on why we come back to the mat again and again, what are we getting out of our yoga practice? Bring Aparigraha into your practice by letting go of the results of each posture and focus on each precious moment while practicing, releasing attachment to any pre-conceived outcome.
Hold hands palms facing upwards in front of the solar plexus. The hand should be separated with the thumbs touching the side of the index fingers.
This mudra encourages awareness of the natural fairness of the give and take of life.
Benefits: This open-handed mudra brings breath and awareness to the upper abdomen. It also brings awareness to the ebb and flow of energy through the hands.
Cup hands with little and ring fingertips together creating a bowl shape.
Benefits: Compassion, generosity, giving
Chair Sun Salutation
1. Mountain Pose - Stand in front of chair with feet hips width apart, inhale and raise arms overhead
2. Forward Bend - Exhale and bend forward grasping sides of chair with hands, bend knees as much as you need to release tension in backs of legs and lower back.
3. Left Lunge - Inhale and step right foot back to a lunge. Right heel stays lifted and extend strongly through back leg as you bend right knee
toward chair seat. Keep arms straight and raise torso upward.
4. Downward Facing Dog - Exhale and step left foot back beside right foot and press heels down into floor as you press hips back over heels. Keep arms straight as you extend them overhead, keep belly pulled in.
5. Plank - Inhale and lift heels off floor, bring shoulders over wrists and keep body and legs in the same plane, like a plank of wood. Exhale and hold this posture.
6. Upward Facing Dog - Inhale and lower hips slightly toward chair as you keep the arms straight and keep pressing back through the legs.
7. Downward Facing Dog - Exhale and press hips back over heels. Keep arms straight as you extend them overhead, keep belly pulled in.
8. Right Lunge - Inhale and step right foot forward, bend right knee toward chair seat. Lift left heel off floor but press strongly back into left leg, arms are straight and torso raises upward.
9. Forward Bend - Exhale and step left foot forward beside right, bend knees and lower head towards seat of chair.
10. Mountain Pose - Inhale, bend knees deeply and use your leg strength to stand up with a neutral spine raising arms overhead touching palms together. Exhale and bring palms over heart.
11. Repeat to other side leading with the left leg.
Chair Cross-leg Twist
Cross right thigh over left. Inhale and sit up tall. Exhale bring left arm outside of right knee, right arm under chair back. Try to twist navel, ribs and chest allowing head to follow. (Hold 10 breaths each side).
Benefits: Squeezes muscles of torso and detoxifies organs.
Chair Forward Bend
Hold onto chair seat and inhale to sit up tall. Exhale and lean forward over legs. You may rest elbows on knees or come all the way forward allowing arms and head to dangle. Hold 10 breaths. Inhale and draw navel in as you come up.
Benefits: Stretches muscles of low back and all along spine, encourages a calm state of mind.
Legs in the Chair
Lie on back with legs in the seat of a chair, or in this case the ottoman. Place arms away from sides and palms up. Rest 15 minutes. This is less of an inversion than Instant Maui but has many of the same benefits.
Benefits: Induces relaxation response, reduces swelling of feet and legs, relaxes lower back
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.