|Kriyā or ACTION |

 

Kriya can be translated from Sanskrit to mean action, completed action, deed or effort.  Most commonly it's used to mean or refer to 'completed action'.   We all know action.  It's the thing that gets us from point A to point B.  It's the thing that takes something from start to next level and eventually to finish.  It is the doing part of things.

Why are we practicing ACTION?

You know, I have in the past committed class themes and qualities to appropriate holidays and things going on in the world that we are experiencing on a larger scale.   Those of you who come to my class know this really well.  Last November we spent the entire month practicing gratitude in honor of Thanksgiving.  With that said, there happen to be other things going on in the world on a larger scale that I feel are pulling my inspiration and direction.  And it's not to say that I don't think practicing gratitude is worthless now or that we have nothing to be grateful for because of those things going on.  All the things going on are presenting themselves with a level of urgency that has inspired me to practice action.  Sometimes, and especially during overwhelmingly difficult times, we can forget how able we are.  Rather than inspiration we can feel helpless, hopeless or even paralyzed.  Which is why this practice is so important.  Because we need it all the time- during those times when we are paralyzed or just looking to fulfill a simple task.  We remember that we are able, capable, full of effort.  Which is of course something we should definitely be grateful for.  In practice, it then becomes about the remembrance of taking that step to actually act on the things that we are looking to see, feel, achieve, make happen.  

So I found myself stuck in the rabbit hole of the internet (which is a real slippery slope)-  meandering through the news and footage of things happening here and there that are beyond depressing.  Yes, yoga teachers get depressed about the realities of the world too.  A lot.  Again, that said, after experiencing the heartbreak from what I still cannot believe is really going on in our country at this time, I began to feel this strong sense of need.  I felt a deep need to do something.  It's not a new feeling.  Not for me or anyone.  It happens to all of us.  It happens under the worst of circumstances, the best of circumstances, and the most basic.

Action is our ability to do something about whatever it is that inspires us to do something. Kriya is the practice of doing. 

 

On the yoga mat, we are guided through movement that gets us completely into a space of action.  We hear the pose, we understand the cues and we make them happen.  It starts with the idea, then the understanding of how to make the idea real, then in order for there to be a product we effortfully engage in the making of it's reality.  So when we engage, we are doing.  When we turn our breath on in a conscious way, we are doing the breathing.  When we consciously engage our muscles to support or create a movement or pose, we are doing the transition or posture. 

Action is not mindless effort, it is determined or inspired.

 

Our practice is to honor (and yes, appreciate with full gratitude) our ability to act.  Through our ability to act in our yoga practice, we just hope to build a higher sense of that ability.  Ideally, that continually cultivated sense of ability, sense of action, can keep us moving and keep us doing the things that we love, the things that inspire us, the things we are passionate about, and the things that we need to do in order to be our fullest.

PEACE

in light of the current state of affairs, our practice is simply that of peace.  there are so many dynamics of energy at play.  no matter what side we find ourselves on,  it can be taxing on us all.  We are tired, emotional, angry, confused, hurt.  We feel limited in one way or another.  

Yesterday, I made it into a morning yoga class at Urth Yoga somehow, fighting a cold, tears, exhaustion and some strange, unfamiliar sense of hopelessness.  I wasn't too inspired to move and I wasn't to inspired to try.  But I went anyway.  The teacher, Arjuna, opened the practice by acknowledging to all of us students that he felt that very same way and actually secretly wished no one had shown up, because, well, he didn't really know what to teach given the current climate.  He then continued on to remind us that it wasn't too long after students began rolling in that he remembered "why yoga".  He reminded us that yoga is a tool, the tool, that we are lucky enough to have at our disposal to remember how to move through things and cope with things and manage how we deal with times of unrest- whatever form or situation- so that we can create peace.  Even if that peace is small, momentary, and as short as a breath.  He said, "at least there's yoga".  And sometimes, when there isn't too much else we can do, we can practice.  And while it might not seem like much, it is a safe place for us to come back to center and realign with the good, with our spirits.  Our practice is the place where we can remember to problem solve gracefully rather than erratically, so that the good within us is able to align with the way we perceive our outer world, act in it, and weave through it- and even more than that, hopefully spread it like wildfire.  Perhaps, through the small notion of uniting ourselves to a greater source, we can expand peace from those moment to moment instances between poses and into moment to moment instances when, on a larger scale, shit hits the fan in our outer world.   A little peace could become the difference between moving from anger and fear or moving from love and calm.  Finding possibility versus contracting and closing off.  

Let's hold our warriors with strength but also with a slow and steady breath, so we have time to process our thoughts and not make the poses cluttered with them.  Let's attempt our arm balances with courage but also calm so we don't freak ourselves out before the pose has a chance to manifest.  Peace is space.  It's a quiet, accepting, loving, and open space.  We will look to practice exploring that and hopefully we can carry some of it with us as we step back out into reality.   

But remember, even if we leave the yoga studio and can't seem to reconnect to any of this or just feel thrown back into the whirlwind- like Arjuna said, "at least there's yoga".  And that, in essence, is why this is a practice.  We use the practice space to do just that and over time cultivate and breed and grow the peace we hope to carry with us. 

 

| breathe peace |

 

one form of pranayama, or breath work, that I love when incorporated into meditation or asana (physical practice) is the practice of holding the top and bottom of each inhale and exhale

It's incredibly easy to practice no matter where you are and can really draw an awareness to the physical essence of peace just by slowing down the processes of the mind and heart.  With that said, as accessible as this practice is it can also be a challenge to manifest that pause and maintain it.  Take it as slow as you need to, be patient.  It's just breathing ;)

  • begin by breathing deeply in and out through your nose
  • try to even out your in-breaths and out-breaths until they feel like the same length and depth (it can even help to count on the way in and count on the way out until they match in number)
  • now, breathe in your fullest inhale and pause at the top of that breath for a full count
  • exhale your fullest breath out following that pause and at the very bottom of that exhale pause again 
  • continue breathing in balance with a literal pause, no sipping or releasing of air, at the bottom and top of each inhale and exhale until that becomes a graceful process and continue as long as you like
  • you can use this as your tool to meditate and/or add this to your asana, maybe practicing it while holding a pose that challenges you for a longer period of time