Virya: Right effort in Yoga

I have been curious this week in my practice about the yogic principle of virya. The sanskrit word virya is often translated as 'effort' but can also be translated as 'energy', 'diligence' or 'enthusiasm'. 

While it seems a simple concept that we of course should apply some effort in our practice, I found it interesting when I really started to look at the idea of 'right effort'.

Do we really apply as much effort as we could or should in some areas of our practice? Or perhaps do we sometimes apply too much effort?

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Journal: The External Practice Of Saucha

Saucha JournalThis week as we explore the external practice of Saucha/cleanliness our journal reflections encourage you to explore how the state of the space around you affects your inner state. Make a cup of tea (or something similarly delicious) and take some time to journal and contemplate the following questions:

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Saucha: How to Clean Your Yoga Mat

In our saucha practice I'm not going to tell you how to clean your house or how to take a shower, however it's not always clear how to care for our yoga mats!

Jade mats banner

If you bought your mat from our Jasper studio, it's a Jade yoga mat. These are amazing grippy mats, but some yoga mat cleaners could do more harm than good if they contain essential oils. Essential oils clog up Jade mat's 'pores' which over time will make it slippery and ineffective. Cleaners that contain alcohol and petroleum based solvents can also damage the mat and break it down. Remember to keep your mat out of direct sunlight when storing or drying as these eco-friendly mats will start to break down in sunlight.

Thankfully keeping your Jade mat clean is super easy! 

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An Introduction to Saucha

sauchaYogic texts are a yogi's guide to peace, freedom and contentment. In the 8 limbed path of yoga, alongside the physical practice, breath practice and meditation there are suggested guides and restraints (non harming, non stealing, being truthful, conserving vital energy and non grasping) called the yamas. There are also some personal observances or 'niyamas' that can help us along the path to peace. The first of these niyamas is called 'saucha' which translates as purity or cleanliness.

As with many of the yogic practices, the words we use to translate from sanskrit to English can affect how we approach the practice:

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Aparigraha: Freedom!

When I dig into the yamas it's always quite humbling. I've been studying for years, but the breadth and depth of yoga is such that sometimes some areas slip until you bring them back into focus. This is the case for aparigraha.

When I'm planning yoga classes I brainstorm for a while. This process includes sprawling diagrams of ideas and quotes that are eventually rounded up together in ways that can be woven into our physical practice. Interestingly, a couple of things happened when I dug into aparigraha. Firstly, before I even started to organise the ideas, I was inspired to have a good old closet clean out. Secondly, I couldn't help but write in capital letters in the center of my plan 'FREEDOM'.

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Aparigraha: A Real Life Lesson

One of the best things about being a yoga teacher is that I will forever be a student of yoga. I'm always learning, and I'm not immune to the many ways that we can resist the physical and/or internal practices! Today I thought I'd share somewhere that I got stuck;

As we traveled through the yamas together over the last few months I came to a sudden stop with aparigraha. I understand many of the meanings and applications of this yama and I do my best to practice it on and off the mat, but unsure of how to perfectly share the meaning and application of aparigraha I became paralyzed by indecision and perfectionism. I told myself that I couldn't cover all that there is to cover in this subject in the time I had allotted myself, and my impossibly high expectations made me stop rather than making any attempt.

Aparigraha can be translated as non hoarding, non grasping, non attachment or non clinging.
But what was I subconsciously doing? I was attached to what people might think of my personal interpretation of this yama. I was attached to the results of my efforts, and grasping for perfectionism. Don't think I haven't noticed the irony in that situation!

So let's have another go. What we do on the mat is a preparation for what we do off the mat; we practice - imperfections and all. Let's dig into the practice of aparigraha and prepare to let go…

An Introduction to Aparigraha

This month (albeit beginning a little belatedly!) we’re focusing on the next yama - aparigraha. Firstly, let’s explore the translation:

Aparigraha

A - as a prefix in sanskrit negates the word(s) following it i.e ‘non’

Pari - translates as ‘on all sides’ 

Graha - means ‘to take’, ‘to seize’ or ‘to grab’

For the practice of yoga, this yama is translated in many different ways; some of the interpretations include non hoarding, non grasping, non attachment, non greed and non coveting.

When we explore these different translations it’s interesting to note that they have very different connotations - non greed and non coveting relate to wanting and taking more than we need, whereas non attachment and non hoarding may refer to things that we already have and need to let go of.

For that reason we’ll be exploring this yama from two different perspectives. We’ll share some journaling questions and affirmations to help explore this yogic practice both on and off the mat.

Bramacharya: Stress, Fear and Fight or Flight

The fourth yama 'Bramacharya' in yoga refers to the right use of energy, both on the mat and in our daily lives. While it traditionally referred to the sexual energy of young men on the spiritual path, in the modern day householder yoga tradition it is important to look at 'right use of energy' as a broader concept.

This week we're looking at how much energy we spend on stress, and the physical response to stress and fear.

Fight or Flight

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5 Ways To Practice Attention and Presence

If your focus on asteya and attention have you aware that you're often distracted or lost in an online world, here are 5 easy ways to start bringing your attention back to the present moment. 

Pause and breathe:
If you get to the end of each day (or week) and wonder where it went, add some breath breaks into your day. Simply stop what you're doing and focus on taking three slow breaths. This will help you relax both body and mind, and allow you to be present and appreciate what's around you.

Do one thing at a time:
We often believe we're getting everything done by multitasking, however the truth may be that we are really just distracted and bouncing around feeling busy but not achieving much! Pay attention to completing one task at a time.

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