Kundalini ParaYoga training at Prana Del Mar in Mexico
Every yoga person eventually talks about practice. "We need to practice every day." "It doesn't matter how much you practice as long as you practice consistently." "The Yoga Sutras say to practice regularly, it's called abhyasa."
Well, they're right. We do need to practice yoga every day and I frustrate myself about this. I put pressure on myself to practice enough every day and this means all kinds of yoga. Not just the poses, but pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, jnana (mental, academic), etc.
I continually struggle with balancing between feeling like I'm practicing "enough" with practicing consistently. As a yoga teacher, especially in the ParaYoga lineage, meditation is an anchor of what I need to practice. And when I don't meditate as long as I want to, I feel crunky and not smooth. So I have to sit longer. It's like there's no choice if I want to feel good inside and out...it's like going all day without brushing my teeth.
Absorbing a daily yoga practice is hard at first, but when I realize that connecting to god, to the best part of myself, to that which is beyond this material world, is the most important thing I can do, ot's more important than blogging, gardening, and talking to my loved ones on the phone. The greatest loved one is spirit and I need to talk to her every single day. We all do! Remember who you are! Talk to god, talk to the real you. Every day.
Mala event at Montrose Beach, 2007
There's a process we use in ParaYoga called vichara. In our lineage, it's a process to get to the root of our suffering, our dukha, which means "bad space". Then we have two choices to end the suffering - to either change something or accept what's bugging you. Truly, this is more difficult than it seems.
I'm irritated at someone because they said they'd call me and not only didn't call, but is apologizing in a way that doesn't seem like they're taking responsibility. They're saying, "I'm sorry that you were worried that I didn't call" and "sorry that there was a miscommunication about calling", as opposed to, "I'm sorry that I didn't call you."
Is this splitting hairs? Probably. Is it still irritating? Totally. Why? Why does this small disappointment become a living irritation? Here's where getting to the root of why I'm pissy comes in.
I have to find out the root of why not being called and not being "properly" apologized to is bugging me. Then, I need to accept or change. Good, I have my work cut out for me today. It's the small things that teach us, sometimes.
Sa Rak San mountain in South Korea, 2003
I'm currently blogging from King Spa Sauna in the burbs of Chicago. The ritual of bathing and purifying is an ancient right of passage for many cultures. Modern Korean bath houses are out of control. There's free Wifi (I'm bloggin'!), a 24 hour restaurant, 9 sauna igloos, a movie theater, a TV lounge, and all the hot tubs, filtered water to drink and matching uniforms you'd ever, ever want.
As a Korean yogini, I come here with reverence for the ritual of cleansing. In Korea, whole families bathe as a way to bond and as a way to clean off old, unlucky skin. Yogically, cleansing techniques are called shat kriyas. There are 6 major ways to cleanse the body and although I'm not going to swallow cloth to pull out of my bunghole any time soon, I follow some of these yoga cleansing techniques at the Korean bath house.
Korean and yoga cleansing techniques aren't far off! I cleansed my nasal cavity with a neti pot. Koreans love hocking loogees, right from the back of the throat. To treat my skin, I do an oil rub, abhyanga, before I enter the sauna to drive the oil into my skin. Koreans have aunties wearing black bras and panties scrubbing off every level of skin until you almost bleed.
So, I can easily feel culturally Korean while using Ayurvedic/yogic cleansing techniques, here. Bonus: the place is practically empty, so I can go upstairs to the meditation room and actually meditate. Go King Spa and yoga!
Below I am in trikonasana, or triangle pose with my best friend, Janet Walkoe, also a yoga teacher in Chicago. We have a very good friendship - we ultimately trust each other with everything, we respect and support each other and we love to eat and drink gobs of the good stuff.
Janet and I co-teach the yoga workshop, Autumn Fire Practice in November.
We practice and teach different yoga systems and it's great that we respect each other's systems even if we don't understand them completely. Ashtanga yoga just isn't for me - it's too rajasic (agitating, over exerting), but Janet loves it. That's the great thing about yoga - there are many systems to appeal to many people and our practices are experiential. We must explore on our own to know what's best for us.
Angles are direct and linear like each of us being dedicated to our practices. Curves are soft and flexible, like each of us accepting our respective approaches to this masterful science of yoga. Go-ga, yoga!
Prana del Mar, Mexico
Wow, that's frustrating. I just spend 15 mintues writing a blog entry & it didn't publish. Ah well, patience is a virtue I can certainly apply more often. I'll just have to repost this entry later. Hold onto your hats, it has to do with setting a monster on fire in my belly! RARRR!
This is my 3rd attempt at keeping a blog and the most focused attempt. I'm going to frame my blog entries around yoga since, really, it's yoga that frames my life. I'm excited to share my yoga thoughts with you on a regular basis. More soon. Hooray, first entry!
Mia Park is a ParaYoga teacher in Chicago, IL, specializing in teaching Basic Yoga for Advanced Misfits, as well as teaching people how to cut through the junk to shine on.