motivation

Ohhhhh That Monkey Mind

Do you ever feel like things are out of control? Your mind is racing with the things you have to get done. Perhaps the left over task you didn’t accomplish the previous day. There are so many thoughts rushing through your head that you cannot concentrate on one specific thing. Add into the mix the judgement we place on ourselves for not accomplishing everything we wanted to do in a particular day. The little negative thoughts that do not help but somehow slip in.

That’s the Monkey Mind; the devious little monkey that chatters away until we cannot think straight. It happens to all of us. I am sure it even happened to the Buddha at least once. Or maybe not, but to us mere humans it is a constant affliction that we try again and again to overcome.

I sometimes find that even on my mat I am surrounded by a cloud of thoughts that swirls out of control.

I try my hardest to bring myself back to the present moment so that I may enjoy my practice. It is a challenge, but eventually I just focus on one thing – my breath.

I try to see the breath flowing from each part of my body.

I try to feel the texture of my breath as it slips through my nostrils; slightly cool on the inhale and a little warmer on the exhale having come from my lungs.

I take myself to my lungs and see if I can image them expanding with each breath; the rib cage accommodating that needed expansion.

I feel my shoulders slowly relax as I exhale – encouraging my body to release and let go.

I feel my heart beat, with each breath it slows down.

I then travel to my belly and try to squeeze it closer to my spine in order to press out any remaining breath.

Then I start over, but perhaps this time I start with my toes – can my toes breathe? Why not?
You can imagine anything; there are no limits to the imagination. Have fun!

The mind may still wonder – again that monkey mind, but I try to imagine those thoughts as clouds in a beautiful blue sky. I acknowledge them and then I let them pass. I place no judgement on them, or value, I just let them go.

Of course, this in on your mat, but I believe that the same principles can be applied no matter where you are. Just bring yourself back to your body and your breath. Allow yourself to focus on something as lovely as the sky – even if it is grey. There are textures to that grey. There are rabbits in those clouds. Or anything else you can imagine. Isn’t this fun? Try not to be so serious, let everything go.

Allow yourself a moment or two to just breathe and remember that your mind doesn’t control you, you are in charge. You can slow everything down by taking yourself to your breath.

And remember to always be kind – the world is harsh with judgements. Try to believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

You are perfect in your imperfections.

Namaste(source: dfareviews.com)

Vancouver Pride

What an amazing weekend in our beautiful city!  The Celebration of Light and Gay Pride.  It got me to thinking?  If we are to recognize the light in others, we must first accept ourselves:  gay, straight, short, tall, fat, skinny.  If we are able to accept ourselves, we are free to accept others.  We are able to come from a more authentic place.  A place of love.  This is where yoga comes in because it takes us on a journey of self realization.

A friend came to me with a problem this week because of a person in his life who chooses to see him in the past.  Life is constantly changing.  It is important for us to move forward and grow without being shadowed by past regrets or judgements.  We wouldn’t be in the place we are today if it wasn’t for our past experiences.  For example, I recently became a vegan.  I had a friend tell someone that was inquiring about my dietary choices, “I’ve seen her chow down on a burger.”  Yes, that is true.  It is because I used to eat meat that I choose not to now.  Does that make my current decision any less valid?

By no means am I perfect.  What is perfection?  Yoga helps me to recognize the good in myself and others.  I am truly grateful to live in a place where we have access to yoga and the freedom to express our pride.

Lead by example.  Be proud of who you are!  Celebrate who you are because you are unique.  As long as your intentions are not to hurt, you will change those around you for the better.  This is the energy that moves mountains.

Namaste.

Chataranga Dandasana

My subject today is the dreaded chatarunga (dreaded by me, anyway).

Source: yogaflavoredlife.com

We all have poses that teach us about our limitations. For many people these are poses like paschimottanasana or other hamstring zingers. But there is the other side– the upper body strength poses– like chataranga. I have been blessed with flexible, long hamstring muscles, which makes yoga much “easier” for me. So my challenges are different. I can find full hanumanasana on some days, but I cannot do a sun salutation!

Chataranga continues to elude me.

I do yoga because of how it makes me feel, because of how it allows me to be in the world– the freedom I get from my practice both in my life and in my body. But there is a part of me that would like to be able to do a vinyasa properly. So I get up every morning and do my yoga and muddle through my vinyasas. My difficulty with chatarunga teaches me to be humble and to continue to experiment in my own body.

Strength and ease in chatarunga is different for me than it is in other postures, but just as worthwhile to explore. Every vinyasa is an opportunity to laugh at myself and let go of any expectations that I have. I aspire to do the pose like this guy:

Source: blog.ricecracker.net

PLAY. BUILD. REACH. LEARN! How do you practice sustainability in the real world?

Ideas Worth Spreading.  Riveting Talks By Remarkable People, Free The World!

Does this sound familiar? If you guessed Ted.com, then Namaste to you!

Over the course of the last decade through the art and science of Yoga I have sought out Dharana (inner conceptualization and compassionate awareness). Through the service to others and much like Yoga intends – found a place of union with something larger then myself; which we know to be the basic fundamentals of the yamas and niyamas of Yoga teachings. Yet, it is no easy task as the landscape of the global revolution changes daily.

At a cross roads I continually find myself asking, how do we practice sustainability in real life?  Today I ask all those who embody the Yoga way to take their practice off the mat and consider this opportunity…

Imagine for one moment, if we could harness that potential as kids? Imagine for one moment the potential if we START with our kids? And lastly, imagine for one moment we could return and re connect with that child-like potential as adults?

It takes a community to raise a village, therefore empowering kids’ means they don’t even have to be your own! We live in a generation where; yoga, get your green on and sustainability are part of our evolutionary process, WE are passing these teachings onto the next generation! Humanity’s framework is always under construction.

This is what [email protected] is preparing to achieve on Sept 17 2011.  Vancouver will host the conference’s first home. [email protected] is a platform for facilitating opportunities to empower kids and support authentic learning. A gathering of remarkable people with young hearts will aim to share their captivating stories borne from genuine curiosity and bold ideas. Much like Ted.com conference, except with the color and vibrancy of play, build, reach and learn and as adults, I say we embrace our inner kids!

In a recent Ted.com video with Jacqueline Norvogratz, called “Living a Life of Immersion,” she coined this closing statement, and I ask each of you to meditate on it for a moment during your next Dharana practice…

Robert Kennedy once said, “few of us have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and it is in the total of all those acts that the history of this generation will be written.”

If you know a speaker, nominate them! If you have a story to tell please apply @[email protected] Story telling, this is one way we create sustainability in the real world!

Sources:

Ted.com: www.ted.com

[email protected]: www.tedxkidsbc.com/

KARMA YOGA: DO YOGA, DO GOOD

Yoga for Social Change! 

Karma (meaning to do or action) Yoga (meaning union):  in its simplest meaning literally translates to selfless service, the discipline of action or the union through action; which ultimately brings us closer to dharma.

A growing trend in the West, Karma Classes have been gaining momentum at a steady Vinyasa. More importantly, karma classes are finding their own place amongst social change makers and the Sports Philanthropy Movement; harnessing the Ying to the Yang in the therapeutic sense. This movement is designed to engage industry leaders and professional teachers in a dialogue about the value of sports/therapeutic philanthropy and aims to connect them with social change tools and causes that best fit their passions, recognizing their efforts to inspire others.

About a month ago I posted an article on Yoga & Activism, and karma class, my Yogic friends is the vehicle from which the compassionate-asana is driven! Karma classes also allows for a unique space, where the energy from inside a class is solely dedicated to a greater purpose!

From a business perspective the Yoga Industry can leverage their business in a socially responsible manner and showcase great grassroots initiatives/causes that can have a deep impact towards sustainable, positive change; both locally and internationally. More over; foster social change from a place of hope, opportunity and positive prana on a larger scale.

You can find a karma class at almost any Yoga studio these days, but if you are looking for a larger unified front, this has recently come across my radar and I felt compelled to share…

“Why stretch when you can reach?”  – The Engage Network

…is their tagline. Founded by Sean Crone, Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling” Off the Mat, Into the World ® (OTM),” is a non-profit program of The Engage Network, and is dedicated to bridging yoga and activism and is geared towards communities around the world who collaborate for social change. Understanding the idea that we are stronger and more powerful together then we are apart, making a difference starts from the foundation, our roots.

As Yoga teachers and advocates for compassion, a karma class is an incredible tool in our toolkit to bring awanress to social change and connection to our global community!

Sources:

 The Engage Network: http://www.offthematintotheworld.org/community.html

 Charter for Compassion: http://charterforcompassion.org/site/

 SAVE THE DATE: Camp Moomba Yogathon & Blissfest, July 24th Vancouver BC.

6 Tips to Deal with the Elephant in the Room

Okay so I’m just going to say it! Many of us our ruled by our emotions! 

{Source: http://www.function1.com}

 There’s the over emotional, unemotional or those who deny emotion. There are the people that react or overreact or just act, or the people who are boisterous, quiet or confident all of which are tied to our emotions. Sure our emotions encompass our personalities, but they shouldn’t have to define us. Our patterns, actions and behaviours, that result from our emotions, can be “trained” without changing our personalities, but for some reason we seem to grow up with this disconnect. 

What are emotions exactly? Well, according to the dictionary; 

Emotion is the complex psychophysiological experience of an individuals state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves “physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience.”Emotion is associated with mood, temperament, personality and disposition, and motivation. Motivations direct and energize behavior, while emotions provide the affective component to motivation, positive or negative. 

Therefore, those individuals who say they aren’t “emotional” are wrong. They are, they just don’t see their anger or aloofness as an emotion. So what are we supposed to do with all of these emotions in our lives?

Well, here are 6 tips to begin dealing with the elephant in the room; 

  • Be Aware– Start to take notice of how you interact with the world. Notice when you are acting or reacting or even overreacting. While in the moment your emotions may not let you see this, take a moment after a conversation or any social interaction and review how it went. Were you polite, interruptive, reactive to their thoughts, beliefs or opinions, this affects you and them!
  • Practice Patience –  While a fairly simple concept, be patient with yourself and others around you. Remember that everybody has to deal with their own emotions and while you may not like the way somebody interacts with you, remember you don’t know where they were or what happened to them 5 minutes before they saw you. Take a deep breath and let it go, maybe they are dealing with something really hard, don’t take it personally.
  • Keep a Journal – Keeping a journal is a great tool to “get it all out” or make sense of the clutter in your head. It is a great resource to say the things you wish you could say but feel you can’t, and to “let go” of everything that weighs you down.
  • Do One Thing a Day That You Love – Whether its yoga, or a hike or a run, or something a simple as reading a chapter of a book. Take that 10 minutes or 2 hours to do something for you! Your emotions and your soul will thank you and your presence will show that happiness to all.
  • Be Authentic –  There is a way to express your feelings, desires and emotions to those that surround you without causing them any ill emotions in return. Don’t do the things you don’t want to do if it doesn’t serve you, but let people know why. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ~ Dr. Suess.
  • Breathe – You know in the heat of the moment that you are either angry or upset, take a moment to breathe before reacting. Remember that everybody has problems, challenges and obstacles in their lives and we can interact and still be our own person without being ruled by our emotions.

Our emotions shouldn’t define who we are, and while they can make all the difference in our lives by building lasting emotions of love and happiness, they can also make us live a life of bitterness or sadness. Remember, when you wake up in the morning you have a choice; choose to smile!

Bridging the Gap Between Yoga and Functional Movement Part 2

 

YOGA & BACK CARE

The functional movement of Yoga is integral to our health and wellness, but did you know that Yoga can also benefit the health of your spine! Therapeutic movement and alignment based postures have been used to improve the integrity of the spine, as well as overall mobility of the spinal segments, all by nurturing your spine and caring for your back.

Your spine consists of several parts. Each segment has about 2 degrees rotation when turning. Your lumbar spine has 5 vertebrae and  is designed for stability, as well as load distribution through the hips to the lower limbs. Your cervical spine or neck counts 7 vertebrae. Your thoracic spine counts 12 vertebrae and is designed for mobility.

Our thoracic spine plays an integral role in our overall movement and ability to move freely. Lack of thoracic mobility is as common as lack of hip mobility. Lack of thoracic mobility forces your body to function in ways it was not designed for.

While participating in a class, or teaching your own class keep these anatomical and movement principles in mind:

 Breathe:  When we hold our breath, we hold onto tension. Quiet, introspective breathing, allows for relaxation and increased circulation to tissues whose vessels are constricted during times of stress

 Create Movement of the Spine With Flexion and Extension:  The spine needs movement to lubricate the joints and provide nutrition to the spongy disks between the vertebrae.  During movement, the disks soak up nutrients., therefore it’s necessary to reverse the curvatures for brief periods of time.

Balance Flexibility with Strength: Developing strong yet flexible muscles is perhaps the most crucial principle in back care. It is important to lengthen contracted muscles before working on strength. When lengthening the spine, its natural curves should be maintained, keeping the low back in its concave curve. The back’s curves are designed to absorb shock throughout the spinal column.

 The Importance of Yoga Sequencing: Sequencing yoga poses from basic to more advanced is very important. Start with postures that bring our attention to releasing the fascia first and establishing movement in the thoracic spine.

So the next time you find yourself saying….”awww my aching back”…. Stop, drop and roll out that Yoga Mat!

3 Ways to Pamper Your Soul!

{Source: http://www.portalmico.com/?p=244}

Who doesn’t love a relaxing massage or a stroll on a beautiful spring sunny day, but how can we continuously pamper our soul? How do we make the time to make our soul and or our heart feel good? We may get these feelings from the above, but generally they are only temporary solutions.

Our lives are made up of a bunch of moments, and while every moment may not be the best experience it makes an impact on our soul and our subconscious.

Here’s 3 Ways for Long Term Soul Pampering;

  • KARMA
    Seems to be pretty self explanatory, especially with the old adages “what goes around comes around” or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”Derived from the Sanskrit word “kri,” karma literally means “to do.” Then if we take the meaning of yoga as “union”; karma yoga translates to the path of union through action. In some philosophies the word karmanot only means action but the effects that your actions have and can be further described as a way of acting, thinking and willing by which someone acts in accordance to their dharma (one’s duty) without personal self-centred desires, like or dislikes.In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says:

Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty, for by working without attachment one attains the Supreme.

           Take into consideration how your actions influence life around you and your life.

  • SEVA
    Otherwise known as Selfless Service, Seva is the action of giving back, it is a sincere sharing of wealth (money, talents, service).  Our community is nurtured through voluntary gatherings, where teachers and students can connect with each other while, at the same time, doing something that makes the world a better place.Swami Niranjan, a modern master of yoga, explains the word Seva is made up of two words, ‘saha’ (with that) and ‘eva’ (to). Therefore, the word Seva means ‘together with’ and is describing actions that is an expression of compassion, of the desire to uplift and assist people and can be a strong practice for self-purification.How do you do this? Start small, maybe helping a senior citizen with their groceries or offering to run an errand for a friend. Or take a look at www.govolunteer.ca which lists countless of opportunities to volunteer from bringing your dog to visit the local care home or teaching yoga.

Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.
Anthony Robbins

  • DHARMA
    Buddhists believe in the Law of “Dharma,” which means, the purpose in life. This law says that we have taken manifestation in physical form to fulfill a purpose. You have a unique talent and a unique way of expressing it meaning there is something that you can do better than anyone else in the world. By understanding your purpose and special qualities, you will be able to reach your goals and get closer to your dreams.Is what you are doing in life your dharma, are you not sure? Write down all your biggest hopes and desires and work to live by them!

Souls have different journeys. The best thing to know is, not what everybody else does, but what you do. Self-discovery essentially is finding your own dharma, your own rhythm.
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While all of these items are life skills and or lifelong ways of interacting with the world, they can lead to healthier, happier you and a pampered soul!

BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN YOGA AND FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT PART 1

What do Yoga and Functional Movement (FM) have in common?

In Sanskrit the word Yoga is derived from the root “yul” meaning “to control,” ” to unite,” and “to join;” meaning whole. There are many paths in yoga, all of which lead us to the same ultimate destination; which is optimal health and wellness in body and mind and a connection with something greater then ourselves. Functional movement aims to achieve the same destination, but does so through a more scientific modality. One rooted in understanding the approach to freedom in movement through the application of transformational biomechanics.

 Let’s take a closer look at the fundamentals of both Yoga & Functional Movement (FM):

  • Yoga: Anamayakosha – the physical body and its systems.
  • FM: biomechanics, anatomy & physiology of the human body
  • Yoga: Pranamayakosha – the energy body and breath
  • FM: deep diaphragmatic breathing & energy flow distribution
  • Yoga: Manomayakosha – the psychoemotional body
  • FM: sports psychology & emotional mechanics
  • Yoga: Vijnyanamayakosha – the watcher state or higher mind
  • FM: visualization & skill attainment
  • Yoga: Anandamayakosha – the bliss body, higher consciousness and the enlightened state
  • FM: homeostasis & equilibrium, in mind, body  & spirit

As a health practitioner of movement coaching we focus on aligning the body, and controlling movement through the use of transforming negative restrictions or “bio mechanical breakdowns” into symmetrical movement patterns. These movements are based on real-life situational biomechanics that affect us daily. They usually involve gross motor movement involving multi-joint movements that prepare the body for real life developments; which also place a high demand on the body’s core, segmental stabilizers and innervation of the body processes.

Yoga and Yoga therapeutics have been a growing niche market of the Western Yoga World for many years and with more teachers becoming more educated on human anatomy and physiology and more health practitioners understanding the benefits that Yoga modalities can have both mentally and physically on their clients, it’s easy to see the direct connection between the two disciplines. Both aim to teach on-going adaptation; which is required for people to remain injury free, and to maintain freedom of movement and peace of mind.

Join us next week as we look at the role of Yoga therapeutics and transformational biomechanics in rehabilitating back pain, a common issue in today’s society. Your spine will thank you! Namaste!

YIN & YANG: A RUNNERS GUIDE TO YIN YOGA

With the Sun Run and the BMO half/full marathon just around the corner adding a little Yin to your Yang could be your best preventative approach towards staying injury free this season.

As an ultra marathoner and Yoga teacher I realize that stretching is a crucial part of any athletes repertoire. Over time, as we age, and especially in competitive athletics when load is applied continuously our structural frame our connective tissue and joints are ultimately the most affected. This creates stiffness, limited mobility and sometimes injury.

 So how does Yin and Yang relate to human physiology?

Yang tissue make up muscles, are more fluid-filled, soft, and elastic.  Yin tissue make upconnective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and fascia) and bones are dryer, harder, and stiffer.  By extension, exercise that focuses on musculoskeletal tissue is yang; exercise that focuses on connective tissue is yin.

Through dynamic movement and the linear mechanics of running, we place 8 times our body weight with every gait cycle; which generates a large amount of heat within working tissue. So it’s no wonder so many athletes gravitate towards adding a little Yin to their Yang practice.

Yin Yoga provides a slower, calmer method of yogic stretching that targets the joints, ligaments and fascia/connective tissue in the body. When combined with deep diaphragmatic breathing; the vagus nerve is stimulated and the relaxation response within tissue is activated, releasing new depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or an increased flow of energy can be achieved by focusing on the deeper tissues of the body through this practice.

Moreover, a yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as nonmalleable, especially the hips, pelvis, and lower spine, all areas that runners need to be mindful of during their peak training leading up to race day.

As you approach the Sun Run and BMO half /full marathon create space for Yin Yoga, it’s a great addition to your taper. Try YogaFORM on Saturday mornings on the North Shore, or if you are an evening Yogi; one of my favorite spots is YogaPod, also on the North Shore, Friday afternoons and Saturday evening bliss!

 Happy Yin, to all your Yang!

MOVIE REVIEW: FIERCE LIGHT, WHEN SPIRIT MEETS ACTION

What does Yoga and Activism have in common?   COMMUNITY!

Last night I watched the ground breaking documentary, “Fierce Light, When Spirit Meets Action” an in-depth look at the power that is released when our spirituality/belief and activism meet.

Sparked by the movements of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu,  Thich Nhat Hanh, and Mandela, by igniting a global movement of positive, compassionate action. It is a global journey of social change motivated by love, and the necessity to save our world through ethical action.

When asked by students what my message is, I say I am an Activist for Compassion, thus my message is to be an activist for compassion.

It is here, where we see a direct correlation between Yoga and Activism; both deeply rooted in community. The growing popularity of yoga at this time of global transformation and shift of inward search for our own humanity is not a coincidence.

If we look at the definition of a Yogi it is someone who strives to live in harmony with the earth, our environment and embracing the connection with another; which is at the heart of belonging.

A yogi seeks self-realization through the practice of action to become a more centered and rounded partner of society. By living in an other-centered way rather than a self-centered way, the yogi lives harmoniously with the earth, with all beings and things, and ultimately with oneself. This is the very way of life that is reflected in our leaders who have taken compassionate action towards a better world.

The practice of yoga on the mat can provide us with very practical skills to enable us to dismantle our present negative culture, a culture of dis-ease, based upon the exploitation of the earth and injustice of our fellow human and to act with non-violence to shift the paradigm towards social change.

So the next time you are on your mat, think about how you can transfer the loving, compassionate traits evoked from your practice and take them off the mat.  Imagine individuals and organizations connected by a shared commitment to compassionate, positive action….that’s most definitely Fierce Action!

Transform.  Inspire.  Enable

Coming Back to You

Among the many benefits of yoga, I believe the most important is it has allowed me to be more present in my life; to be more present within me.

From the moment I step into the studio I feel myself connect more fully to my body. I feel my shoulders relax.  I concentrate more on my breath. I start to notice the tenseness in areas I didn’t realize until I took a moment to listen.

All throughout our busy day we shut the voice of our body down; we don’t have time to listen to what it is telling us; the slight twinge of an achy hip, the tense area between the shoulders, the pull of the muscles down the back, the knee that continues to slightly throb. All these tiny voices of the body are being drowned out by the mind. I have to get this done; I need to pick up groceries, what am I going to make for dinner? When will I have time for me???

Within the yoga studio, I am there only for me. I am there to feel my body move. I am there to listen to what it tells me I can and can’t do. The instructor at the head of the class is only making suggestions; only I know what my body needs.

But listening to the body takes practice; it takes time. The mind has huge expectations of us. It criticizes, it judges, it sets goals from out of nowhere. If you take the time to listen and believe in what your body tells you, you will find a sense of peace; a calmness that allows you to believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Your body is perfect in its imperfection.

Sometimes when I come out of a yoga class, I am more aware of that wonderful body. The placement of my foot upon the sidewalk; how the ball of the foot takes the weight transferring it through the arch and on to the heel. As I shift the weight from one foot to the other, I feel my body sway from side to side.  The expansion of my lungs as I take in a full deep breathe, the rise and fall of my chest, the long deep exhale. The slight soreness coupled with the deep heavy relaxation, the calmness of the mind.

I exist here and now.

It doesn’t matter that I have laundry to do or that I need to get groceries. That my taxes are waiting to be done.

For those precious moments after a class I can feel a deep sense of connection to the earth as I take in the lush green grass, the profusion of new buds on the cherry trees, the magnolia that are blossoming.

I find myself looking at the quality of light; how different it can be from dawn to sunset. The cool blues of the morning, the deep golden oranges of the afternoon into the sunset; the golden hour, and finally the magenta blues coming just after the sun has set.

What the rain sounds like as it hits the leaves of a tree. How the earth smells different after a light rain.

All the senses of my body are alive with the beauty of life.

The world is a plethora of sights, sounds and smells which I find myself so grateful to be a part of.

Even if I can’t find the time to practice I know that just a small walk out my door allows me to be present in my life. From the knowledge I gathered throughout my practice, I can take a few precious moments a day to breathe; to come back to me.

What does yoga bring into your life? What do you do to bring yourself back to you?

(source: realliferealyoga.blogspot.com)

Uncovering the Patterns

I went and saw the movie “Limitless” this weekend and I got to thinking about the “subconscious mind”. The idea behind the film is that as humans we only utilize approximately 20% of our brain power, but imagine if were able to use 100% and what we could accomplish. The movie briefly touches on the patterns that are embedded into our subconscious mind and how they can govern our lives. We also refer to the subconscious mind in yoga and meditation and how these practices can help us to uncover the patterns and thoughts that lie there.

Source: http://www.subliminalgateway.com

This idea of the subconscious mind is not a new thing, nor strictly linked to yoga, and has been brought up and researched by the likes of many scholars throughout history. If you google, “Subconscious Mind”, you will find many articles on how uncovering these patterns can help us to be more successful and happier.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalytic theory, divided the mind into multiple categories, including the conscious, subconscious, ego and super ego minds. But for our sake, we will just look at the subconscious mind; also referred to as the unconscious mind. The subconscious mind contains all of our feelings, urges, memories or our thoughts that are outside of our awareness, all of which can influence our behaviours and experiences even though we are unaware of their influence.

The images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man. Failure to understand them, or a shirking of ethical responsibility, deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life. – Carl Jung

As yogis, we know that by practicing yoga and meditation we can begin to train our subconscious mind and discover the patterns that lie there and perhaps do a little “housekeeping.” Many of you may have discovered, through an intense practice or a meditation practice, you feel lighter “more free”, shed a tear or two, or find anger boiling you to the point that you want to scream. These are elements of our subconscious that we have ultimately “stirred up” and can begin the process of dealing with, cleaning out and then moving on!

The patterns that lie in the subconscious, have been there since the day we were born. These feelings and thoughts have influenced our decisions and have played an important roll in who we are, however they may have also steered us away from things that we want, due to fear and anxiety that “we cannot” do something for risk of failing.  Take for example an example from the book Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power;

“Think about an elephant. They say elephants never forget (neither do people). Have you ever wondered why a huge two thousand pound elephant will stand so obediently in one place, tied to a short stake in the ground, held only by a thin chain around its ankle? The elephant doesn’t try to move, because he has been programmed to believe he can’t. How? Simple. The baby elephant is tied to the stake when he is very young. Whenever he tries to move, the chain bites into his leg. He can’t get away, because he’s not strong enough. Every time he tries to move, he gets hurt – a lot. The elephant very quickly catches on to the fact that moving is painful. In order to avoid getting hurt, he gives up trying. Even after he has grown to full size, and could easily tear out the chain, along with the post, and probably the whole circus tent, this gigantic, powerful elephant doesn’t even try to get free, because he believes he can’t.”

When the book The Secret was released, it focused on the fact that we can access our subconscious mind utilizing the Law of Attraction. The Law of attraction briefly states that; like attracts like! You attract yourself to whatever you give your focus, attention or energy to whether wanted or unwanted. While this isn’t a new philosophy and tends to be pretty self explanatory, it makes us see how our thoughts and beliefs can manifest our lives.

The subconscious mind makes no distinction between constructive and destructive thought impulses. It works with the material we feed it, through our thought impulses. The subconscious mind will translate into reality a thought driven by fear, just as readily as it will translate into reality a thought driven by courage or faith. ~ Napoleon Hill

If we look at both the scenario of the elephant and the Law of Attraction and back at our lives, we may notice similar “ideas” or “perceptions” we may have about our own reality. Our yoga and meditation practice helps us to battle our stresses and to “unlock” the ideas of our subconscious mind and by doing so we become more aware of our “self” and begin our journey to the ultimate goal of yoga; enlightenment!

Back to the movie, while it has nothing to do with yoga & would certainly not be the best way of discovering the patterns in your subconscious, it shows you that by unlocking your potential you can become everything you want to be and so much more. The power of thought, and the power of believing in our true selves can help to make us bountiful, beautiful and blissful and live the life that we have always imagined!

What patterns have you unlocked in your subconscious mind through your yoga and meditation practice?

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