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Five years ago on this day, it is an odd, weird energy day. Drizzly and cooler at dawn, but the morning of our class of choice. I go to Danny’s 6 a.m. gentle, only because I want to witness my previous facilitator in action. He’s simple, thorough, and calming, a perfect leader for an early day. I feel completely refreshed and calm, ready for breakfast and the morning session.

We talk more about our yamas and niyamas, and I realize I have no idea where to be. I’m done with aparigraha, maybe still on santosha, but what about asteya or tapas? Perhaps tapas may be the best choice, cultivating my own discipline, working on my own passions rather than relying on someone else to give them to me.

Posture clinic focuses on bow, dhanurasana. Our second-to-last clinic!

***

During lunch (excellent bean/corn soup), Angela Farmer herself approaches my table and sits right across from me. Thinking of E. and our talk from yesterday, I smile inside and try not to freak out. E. happened to walk by, sees me and Angela, and gives a little wink.

***

Our afternoon session includes our final posture clinic = headstand, which I don’t do because of my terrible congestion. I work with J., who amazes me. She is my mother’s age and gets into sirsasana in a heartbeat, no wall. There are lots of questions about the final practice teach, which seem to get everyone all riled up and anxious.

***

There is currently an Integrative Weight Loss program going on here, and it’s quite obvious, with a whole lot of heavy, overweight guests who have shown up. However, I’m so proud of them for being here. I know this is the place for them to heal and transform. I saw a rather large woman dancing her heart out in DansKinetics class, and I beamed.

***

Practice Teach #3 is tomorrow afternoon. I have a feeling fate will grant me with an outside facilitator, neither Megha nor Rudy, or any of the assistants. It’s going to be up to me to be the judge, the facilitator. I have to learn to see my own talents and flaws and not rely on my “idols” to do the work.

***

Sleep has not been so easy for me lately. Between M., J., and K.’s snoring, I have been having difficulty drifting off. I feel restless when I hit the sack, even though I’m exhausted. I have bags under my eyes that are practically down to my nose. I think I put on weight and look like crap every morning, but I feel great. Good spirits! But sleep is a struggle. Dreams about home. Thoughts about Practice Teach #3 and life in the Real World. Thoughts about leaving. Sleep doesn’t come so easily now, but waking up at 5:30 isn’t so difficult anymore.

I’m in Disney World right now, but as I mentioned in this post, I wanted to share with you the yamas of a yoga practice and how they can be applied to all of life’s experiences, even a weeklong trip to the Mouse House. Read on for a breakdown of the final three!

Yama #3: Asteya

“Asteya, or ‘not stealing,’ refers to the stealing that grows from believing we cannot create what we need. We steal because we misperceive the universe as lacking abundance or we think that there is not enough for everyone and that we will not receive in proportion to our giving.”

Even though you want Stitch all to yourself at the Club 626 dance party, remember to share him with the kiddies.

Chip and Dale need a lesson in asteya: It’s not very nice to steal your fellow chipmunk’s gal.

Although it is flattering to be part of this disagreement!

Fun fact: Stitch is WDW’s the biggest asteya offender. Watch all loose objects; Stitch WILL steal!

Yama #4: Brahmacharya

This is a tough one to grasp, so I’m posting a slightly longer explanation: “Brahmacharya reminds us that our life force is both limited and precious, and sexual activity is one of the quickest ways to deplete it…. We can teach brahmacharya by helping our students learn to use the minimum energy to achieve the maximum result. Teach them not to use small muscles to do the work of large muscles, and to bring their minds into the poses so that their bodies do not become fatigued.”

The concept of brahmacharya is sexually rooted, but, as noted above, it can also mean not letting your body loose control in an effort to enjoy something.

Ever go on a roller coaster and scream your brains out just to be silly? With all that yelling, waving, hooting, and hollering, you may lose out on the true experience of the ride, and it will all go by in a flash.

Stay in the moment and feel the experience of loosing control, while keeping your mind and senses engaged. Enjoy every second of that lift up the hill and breathe in the joy of the final descent.

Yama #5: Aparigraha

“Aparigraha means not coveting what isn’t ours. It is different from asteya, which asks us to avoid stealing that is motivated by a greed springing from a perceived lack of abundance. Aparigraha is the greed that is rooted in jealousy…. Rather than finding who we are, we look at someone else and say, ‘I want to be that.’ Aparigraha, in its essence, helps us discover our own selves so that we no longer feel the need to covet what someone else has, or be what someone else is.”

Don’t compare yourself to others, even if you think Walt Disney should have picked a lobster for his sidekick instead of a freakin’ mouse.

"Man, that darn mouse has it ALL..."

Remember to enjoy the entertainment at Disney World, rather than dwell on the fact that you will never, ever be a Disney dancer, despite your lifelong dream of wanting to be THAT girl.

Remember your own accomplishments instead of trying to stand in someone else’s shoes.

Note: I had every intention of writing up a similar post on the five niyamas before I left, but then I forgot that I needed a proper rain jacket for what looks to be a mildly damp week in Florida, so my jaunt out to L.L. Bean totally sucked up my blogging time!

On that note, I have to remember the niyama of samtosha (contentment) and accept that I’ve done all that I can physically do before heading out. Namaste!

Contentment.

Free Yoga Classes and Event during National Yoga Month September.

I’m in Disney World right now, but I was sure to pack my yamas. (It’s cool, the TSA allows a maximum of five.)

As I wrote about in my previous post, it’s very possible to practice yoga without stepping on a mat. The physical form of yoga we all know and love–asana–is just one limb of eight that comprise the complete practice. Yamas is one of those other limbs, and it refers to measures of  self-restraint. As Aadil Palkhivala states in his wonderfully written article, “the five yamas–kindness, truthfulness, abundance, continence, and self-reliance–are oriented toward our public behavior and allow us to coexist harmoniously with others.” Paired with the niyamas (another limb that includes five elements), the yamas are very much like a Ten Commandments for the yoga world.

Palkhivala’s article (which I’ll quote throughout this post) is very well written for those who are curious how to incorporate the yamas into their physical practice and puts these esoteric Sanskrit terms into everyday context. But how does one appreciate and practice the yamas while standing in line for 30 minutes to ride Space Mountain, like I’m doing now?

Yama #1: Ahimsa

“Ahimsa traditionally meant ‘do not kill or hurt people.’ This can be extrapolated to mean that we should not be violent in feelings, thoughts, words, or actions. At root, ahimsa means maintaining compassion towards yourself and others. It means being kind and treating all things with care.”

Ahimsa means keeping your cool, even when this kid throws a temper tantrum for 45 minutes straight while waiting for the afternoon parade to begin at Hollywood Studios. Ahimsa is what keeps us from flipping out on the parents, who look the other way and laugh as their boy wails loud enough to be heard over at Epcot.

Thou shalt not kill.

Forcing your spouse into drinking the “Beverly” soft drink over at Epcot’s Coca-Cola Club Cool strays from ahimsa. We all know it tastes like sh*t, and it’s not very nice to torture each other for the sake of a funny photo.

On a more serious note, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at Disney World and want to cram everything into the day. When the body asks for some rest, accept it. Besides, that’s what the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, railroad, monorail, and the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch are for.

Take a break!

Lastly, no matter how much fun a ride is, don’t overdo it. Remember self-compassion–ahimsa–and stick to no more than three consecutive rides on the teacups. Two if you’ve just eaten.

Yama #2: Satya

“Satya means ‘truth,’ or ‘not lying.’ Practicing satya means being truthful in our feelings, thoughts, and words, and deeds. It means being honest with ourselves and with others.”

Satya means withholding from telling your mate that the Beverly drink tastes “Awesome! You gotta try it!” (see above).

Satya means it’s OK to not really like the Hall of Presidents, to think Mission: Space is eh, or ::gasp:: to admit that the Carousel of Progress should be next on the chopping block. (The latter was really hard to write, but that’s the point of satya–be true to your feelings, despite the discomfort it may cause.)

Satya: Don't lie. It's OK to admit that Mission: Space doesn't really do anything for you. (And yes, I go on the orange side!)

Satya is being truthful about one’s obsession with Stitch and never playing down her love of the big blue alien, despite being a grown-up.

Don't lie and deny your most rewarding pleasures!

There are three more yamas that should be in your carry-on before any vacation, but you’ll have to wait until Thursday for the full Disney-fied breakdown. Stay tuned, and see ya real soon!

Free Yoga Classes and Event during National Yoga Month September.

**Disclaimer: If this post were to be reincarnated as a food, it would come back to Earth in the form of sour grapes.**

I eat healthy, drink and indulge in desserts in moderation, do some form of yoga almost daily, use dance as my artistic expression of emotion, swim twice per week on average, walk 30 minutes every day during lunch and up to 2 hours on the weekend, ride the stationary bike at the gym, start my days with 100 crunches on the Bosu, can do a fair number of “guy” push-ups, stretch for 20 minutes each morning, use the weights at the gym, and always “take the stairs” when I can.

Despite all of the above, I’m having a hard time accepting myself as a healthy, fit, and active woman, primarily due to one word missing from the previous paragraph: running.

It seems these days that everyone with two feet (and with increasing technology advances, even amputees) has suddenly decided that life is not complete without a 5K under their (Spi)belts. People who openly abhor running still get up at 4:30 every morning to do so. Reader comments on fitness blogs say things like, “I HATE running. I’m starting the Couch-to-5K tomorrow!” Status updates from my Facebook friends have turned into proclamations about mileage and run-walk ratios. Most recently, my mother-in-law, already a fit and toned woman through regular walking, biking, and hula-hooping, has declared that she would like to run a marathon for her 60th birthday. What happened to old-fashioned bucket list goals like visiting the Grand Canyon or taking a month-long European cruise? (Side note: I’m not ragging on my MIL at all; she’s a freakin’ ninja.)

The more I am faced with everyone’s running resolutions, the less I feel like a complete human being. “Anyone can run!” many fitness resources proclaim, as if not doing so makes you a lazy, incompetent Homer Simpson-in-training. “If you can walk, you can run!” (Well, thanks for making my vigorous 6-mile Sunday walks feel completely inferior.) The truth is, I can run…but it would be followed by several months of physical therapy, more ice than the North Pole can offer, and enough ibuprofen to create some serious stomach ulcers.

Before I injured my hip, I had a consistent running routine, averaging 16 to 25 miles per week. When it became clear that surgery was my only key back into running (and after doing the research, I was adamantly against it), I gradually began accepting the fact that my life would have to go on without running. I went through all the stages of grief (twice, after each round of physical therapy), felt like I lost my identity, and dealt with a period of anxiety and depression that had me taking Ativan before bedtime. But through this loss I gained swimming, and my yoga and dance/movement practice became even more sacred.

What’s funny is that when I evaluate myself alone—without comparing myself to others, whether they be real-life friends or 2-D blog-world acquaintances—I’m ridiculously happy and feel pretty darn good about myself. I feel strong when swimming, and sometimes a simple forward bend in yoga class makes me feel as blissed out as a headstand. But then I open my eyes a little wider and see what everyone else is doing—and suddenly I feel like nothing I will ever do will be as praiseworthy as making the commitment to run. It’s not in my nature to post on Facebook, “20 asanas in 30 minutes—whew!”, yet I twinge with jealousy when people get props for declaring they’ve run half a mile. I will never get a medal for dancing my ass off and heart out for 2 hours straight, and walking briskly for 90 minutes while listening to NPR podcasts won’t earn me a ribbon. I’m living in a world where all personal feats are suffixed with either a “K” or a “thon,” not “Ommmmmm.” I don’t run, therefore I am not fit, active, or human. At least that’s what my ego is telling me.

And once again, it all comes back to the principles of yoga. (Oh, those yamas and the papas niyamas.) Most important, Ahimsa/nonviolence: I don’t run because it causes harm to my body. Satya/truth: I have to stay true to myself and value what I love and do. Just because the rest of the world loves Zumba doesn’t mean I have to be a fan. Aparigraha/nonpossessiveness: I have to let go of Running Jen. I didn’t care about people running before I ran, but the moment I couldn’t do it anyone, everyone’s running was in my face. Running Jen was an important part of my life, just like College Jen and Community Newspaper Jen. But I can’t cling to them forever. Santosha/contentment: Honor what I have. How fortunate I am to have access to twice monthly 5Rhythms classes, even more if I commuted to the city. My gym has a pool. A yoga studio exists two minutes from my workplace. These are all wonderful things.

I totally, 100% realize this is MY problem, not others’. My husband only decided to like running after I hurt my hip; yeah, that was a bummer but I’m certainly not mad at him. I do sometimes question people’s motivation for doing something they hate when there are so many other forms of pleasure out there, but I’m not really one to talk: After all, I am the person who will leave a half-read book on my nightstand for months because I just don’t like it yet I’m too stubborn to let it go and start a new book I actually do like.

In the meantime, I will bookmark this link, written by a blogger who runs marathons but does a fine job explaining why endurance events, and even running in general, isn’t for everyone. My husband can keep 5Ks; I have my 5Rhythms. Together, we’re a perfect 10.


About the Author

Name: Jennifer

Location: Greater Philadelphia Area

Blog Mission:
SHARE my practice experience in conscious dance and yoga,

EXPAND my network of like-minded individuals,

FULFILL my desire to work with words in a more creative and community-building capacity;

FLOW and GROW with the world around me!

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