March 24, 2020
Namaste and Welcome
Last time we met we were marking the beginning of the Spring season. Today we join together to mark the beginning of the new cycle. The moon. This cycle begins on a night when the moon is in shadows. It won’t be seen even in the clearest sky. And tomorrow the moon will begin its growing journey. In two weeks the moon will be at its fullest and as it begins to regress and wane again the two weeks after we return to this place again, the dark moon.
We have marked time and cycles by the moon for generations, and that’s why I am drawing our attention to it. To once more connect us to that wild, wise and organic space within each of us.
Many yogic practices are based around the moon. To name a few, this is one of two days a month when yogis who practice in the ashtanga lineage get to sleep in and skip their 2 hour morning Sadhana. Those in the Iyengar methodology might practice only restorative and pranayama this week. And the students of Yogi Bhajan who practice Kundalini might do a special Moon kriya.
Today is a potent time to reflect on the past four weeks and to note the challenges we’ve overcome and the immense strength we’ve called upon. Our growth is very often measured with integrated learning, which includes all that we’ve already accomplished and brought in to be a part of us as wisdom compared to where we were when we began.
I think of the doorway which my parents would put hashmarks on it to helped me acknowledge how far I had grown each month.
These moments of checking in are crucial for us as people, still very childlike in our nature.
This is also a beautiful time to set intentions or goals for the next four weeks to come. I spoke last week on the loss of innocence or freedom many of us are feeling as we are more fully waking up to how uncontrollable our lives truly are. And so as we look to the future with this new lens of uncertainty, what could our goals possibly be? We can have intentions, but we don’t know how certain they are of becoming realized. But do ever? Are we ever 100% certain our intentions will be met?
There is a sense of autonomy required for a yoga practice. It’s quite personal and intimate. I am me and this is all I have influence over. What we do on the cushion and on the mat is very much a solo journey and no one is going to do it for us.
Yet, if this is taken to the extreme, this is where we get the austere practices from where groups have renounced all worldly possessions and have committed to live in the fringe of society, completely disconnecting from the world and anything they can’t influence.
Siddharta Gautama, in his realized state as The Buddha, brought us the wisdom that austerity and extremism is not the path for living towards enlightenment and enrichment in the world. But rather, it is the middle way.
And yoga is practice of non-duality. Rather than living in polar opposites, yoga is a practice of absorption into unity.
So as we sit today, on yet another marked day that is a doorway into a new cycle and season…as we meditate, we pause to reflect on not only where we have come from and where we are going, but where and how we are living now, as one whole vibrant and beautiful being.
Meditation is the purposeful practice of presence. We connect in so that we might tangibly experience where the past and the future meet. And they meet in this moment.
Today before we sit, we will practice Sama Vrtti Pranayam which means “Same” and balanced breath, meaning the inhale is the same length as the exhale.
Take a comfortable seat. Uncross your legs.
You’re welcome to have back support, but let your head be free.
Close your eyes and start to tune into the rhythm of your own breathing.
As we acknowledged last week, our very awareness has the power of transformation. So as you observe your breathing, the length of your breath might change, and that’s ok. But instead of purposefully changing your breathe, at this moment, can you enter the state noticing and observe your breath being slowness and steadiness?
Now allow the rhythm of your breathing to become slightly regulated. Pulling your inhale through your nose, your throat, your sides and eventually your belly, you expand. And as you exhale, let your belly soften back, keeping your chest lifted slightly until all your air is out and your body has softened. Repeat in this manner.
If we steady the pace of our breathing, we can also steady the rhythm of our minds.
Now as you are here sitting in this peaceful and steady awareness, feel your breathe moving through your nostrils, filling your sinuses and cooling down the inside of your head. Let muscles of your eyes soften.
Envision the canal of your ears, receiving the vibration and sound of my voice reverberate through you. Feel your tongue in the cave of your mouth. Continue to soften that great muscle which extends down your throat to the top of your chest.
Once more connect with your breath. Steady and soft. Loosen your shoulders, arms and hands which rest heavily. Continuing downward notice your soft abdomen and waist. Feel the bowl of your pelvis and you might even rock forward and back slightly to feel the tilt of your