*Take only what we need vs greed* Aparigraha in the Yoga Biz?

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Aparigraha is such a very important limb of yoga, and the last of the five yamas or moral guidelines or codes by which to live with regard to our relationship with ourselves, and the world around us.

The precept of Aparigraha is a self-restraint (temperance) from the type of greed and avarice where one’s own material gain or happiness comes by hurting, killing or destroying other human beings, life forms or nature. Aparigraha (Sanskrit: अपरिग्रहा), which often translates as ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment’. The word ‘graha’ means to take, to seize, or to grab, ‘pari’ means ‘on all sides’, and the prefix ‘a’ negates the word itself  – basically, it means ‘non’. This important moral guideline teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right. Have we forgotten that this is yoga?

I feel this is such an important part of not only the path of yoga, but if more of us applied and practiced Aparigraha in all aspects of our lives, there would be less suffering and less greed, which is an unfortunate driving force in our world and very much so in our culture. Yes, even our *yoga culture*, and the desire for MORE only leads to MORE suffering. And I am not saying that making a decent living, which is really difficult for most yoga teachers is the wrong path. Not at all!

I keep recalling something my very first yoga teacher said in class one time. “In our culture, we are conditioned to complicate our lives. We are conditioned think we want more.This complicates things. Think about it. We fill our lives with more stuff, more money, more cars, objects, things and then we want better stuff.” Or something along those lines, and I will never forget it. He also went on about how he will never try to *sell* yoga crud to us or to anyone. He is also really funny. This teacher still owns this one small, local yoga studio in Los Angeles. This same studio that also encouraged me to teach after many years of dedicated practice. And not by selling their brand or their brand of yoga teacher training to me, but by referring me to another teacher, a neighbor of theirs, who they felt I would connect with and best learn from. This teacher was my first yoga role model. The teacher they sent me to train with I respect more than I can possibly explain. They both taught me to see clearly on this path. They taught me yoga.

I am at a point where yoga culture and the the business of yoga here in the west is continuing to shake me up and turn me off. The desire for more, more, more is a sickness and goes against the very teachings of yoga. Competition is rampant and fear based. Control, distrust etc. all fear. Good people are being treated like throw away employees by those with money. And sometimes these people own yoga studios. It’s heartbreaking and follows the pattern of social conditioning that needs to be broken in order to be healed. We all need to be healed.

Yoga is Community. Not separate communities, studios or even teachers working against one another, in competition of one another. That is the reverse, in opposition and a complete misunderstanding of the whole damn thing in the first place.

We ALL are deserving of abundance, success and Love. Every last one of us.

Greed is the undoing of humanity and will be the end lesson.

I write this because I am experiencing this in my community. A community that claims to be about connection, relationship and love. Let’s stop talking the talk and start walking the damn yoga walk.

With Unwavering Love and a Sometimes Wavering Belief in Goodness,

Melina

The Seat of the Teacher

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When I was first trained to teach, I was told to take and remain in “the seat of the teacher”. I wasn’t 100% sure what that meant back then, other than always remaining professional, kind and following the Yamas and Niyamas. Looking back, I also thought I needed to mask my vulnerability and be some sort of example of something I am not. I am sensitive, vulnerable, sometimes moody and broken. But, yes strong too. Perfectly imperfect.

Today, I know where that seat is. It’s right there next to everyone, and sharing every other seat in the room.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
― Brené Brown

From Pain and Humility to Connection and Community

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Today, I met up with a friend at Sweedeedee in North Portland. It had been a while since we had a chance to really connect. This woman always amazed me with her dedication to yoga. Always showing up for class, and being *all in*. She used to come to my yoga classes several times weekly, and back then, I never knew she was dealing with RA. It wasn’t until after my diagnosis, that I found out. Now that I know what I know, by direct experience with RA, I am even more impressed by her will to keep moving. Quite *literally*.

The idea of moving your body is easy when you’re not experiencing the severe, joint crushing, joy zapping pain that is Rheumatoid Arthritis. I mean, I thought I knew what pain was before. I did not. Dang, I had no idea. Many people aren’t too familiar with RA, and think it’s just a type of arthritis. Well, the word arthritis simply refers to joint involvement. RA is a severe, systemic, chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease that attacks the joints, tendons, tissue and often organs and more.

As someone who’s body is what they used for work, to live and to enjoy an active life, RA was a brutal blow. I was always an athlete. Strong. Powerful. It’s how I related to my physical form. It’s what I knew about this host I call, my body. As a yoga practitioner and teacher, I loved a deep, strong asana practice. It helped me to feel the aliveness of my being. It got me to *be* in my body. Finding out my own body was attacking and damaging itself was something that caused me to take a serious pause. Although, I resisted at first. We all how well resistance works, right? When I got to the point where I could not get up and down off the floor, or demonstrate most asanas, I had to stop.

Pain has a messed-up way of getting us to pause. It can get you into a choke hold and take you down onto your knees, showing no mercy. What you do, and where you go from there, is up to you.

I was on my knees. Well, not really because my knees were the worst affected. But, I was at the point where I felt like begging for mercy. I was unable to walk much, or get up and down from sitting without wincing, gritting my teeth and often times howling. My fingers curled, my neck froze and every joint in my body felt like hot lava and broken glass.

When I was no longer able to move much, I surrendered and decided that the stillness pain had led me to, was there to show me something. Not the pain as the teacher, but the stillness. Then stillness, showed me softness, and softness taught me more about humility.

Today, I am softer, slower and show myself forgiveness and more kindness.

For right now, I am experiencing less pain. This has not come by some miracle, but by my choice to start aggressive treatment for RA, as well as learning energy medicine and using it to help manage my symptoms. It’s takes work, and It’s working. I am grateful for this. Every day I wake up and do something called the Daily Energy Routine, which is something I learned in Eden Energy Medicine. These simple exercises keep my energies balanced, unscrambled and moving forward.. This became my asana practice while I was hurting. Because it’s easy, gentle and so powerful. I also take herbs, and only eat healthy, organic foods and mostly cook at home. In addition to these natural treatments, I inject myself twice a week with two different medications. Both of these medications are strong immunosuppressants, and work to keep my immune system from attacking my body. I was reluctant to take any medications or embrace a western approach to treating my body. But, being open to what really works for my body, has proven to be beneficial. For now. This will be an ongoing practice and requires me to be aware, open and adaptable. Every once in a while, I will skip an injection, to see if maybe just maybe, my immune system has chilled out. It only takes a day or two, before I am reminded to be patient. But, I am hopeful. This disease causes me to be undeniably present.

Chronic pain can cause feelings of loneliness, disconnection, blame and yeah, depression. Watching your body change, become weaker, damaged, softer, less capable of doing everyday things we take for granted, is surreal and a strangely ruminative experience. Too often we blame ourselves. Did I eat the right things? Did I eat the wrong things? Was I kind enough? Healthy enough? Loving enough?

Disease is dis-ease, right? Oh man, was I not easeful enough?

I was. I was. As much as anyone who makes health a priority and kindness a practice could be . But being easeful, peaceful or even yogic is NOT a full time state, as much as we are often led to believe that is *the path*. We are human and we experience and move through the full spectrum of emotions. It’s how we respond which determines how easeful we are. Sometimes we do all we can, and we still experience pain and illness. Blaming ourselves doesn’t help the healing. Being loving toward ourselves does.

Meeting up with my friend today, was healing. Sharing, laughing, tearing up and yeah, connecting. She continues to inspire me by her will and dedication.

I invite anyone who is suffering to connect with me. Reach out, ask questions, share your story.

Love,

Melina

Summertime Special! Private Yoga or Energy Medicine Sessions for only $25 all of July!

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All through the month of July, I am offering one hour private yoga or energy medicine sessions for only $25!!!

Yes. this is a crazy deal, and a fraction of my usual pricing. I’m just so excited to be able to offer this work, and I want to make it as accessible as possible.

Can be scheduled at the Float Shoppe in NW, or get in touch if you need other arrangements. Days and times are fairly flexible.

email: mndyoga@gmail.com

phone: 503-432-0521

Much Love,

Melina

Offering Energy Medicine Sessions by Donation – Limited Time!

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I am currently offering Energy Medicine Sessions by donation. This is only for a limited time while I am completing my Eden Energy Medicine Certification, EEM-CP (Eden Energy Medicine Certified Practitioner).

Sessions are held in the yoga room at the Float Shoppe in NW Portland. Parking is free and there is a parking lot you are welcome to use. Sessions usually last 60-90 minutes.

For more detailed information, see my Energy Medicine Menu at the top of this page, and contact me directly to schedule a session.

Love,

Melina