The Urban Yoga Den

…where it's all yoga.

Not Love: Anger, Pt. 2 February 15, 2013

Filed under: Inspiration,Life,mental health,Spirituality — Holly Meyers @ 2:11 am
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LOVE: Brief (and maybe not so brief) explorations for our February class focus.  (Or maybe not.)

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Corazon27LargeFirst I just want to wish everyone a beautiful Valentine’s Day.  Truly, from my heart.  I’m sorry that I am posting something difficult today.  But this is where I process and come to solutions.

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My only income right now comes from teaching yoga.  I don’t make enough money to pay for my very simple life.  I borrow and I use a credit card.

Today I found that someone had taken down every single workshop flier I had posted at several businesses near the hosting studio.  This brought up several reactions, in this order:
– I am hated.
– This is unfair.
– Thank god the studio owner made more fliers.  I’m replacing the fliers.
– I am livid.
– Is this a message from god, that I am not supposed to teach in studios anymore, and that I should only offer yoga in service?
– If this bullsh** continues, with people taking down my fliers or refusing to put them up (see my last post, “Not Love: Anger”), I am never going to earn enough to eat.
– I am terrified that I will end up alone, dead, in a gutter because I can’t get a full-time job and bullsh** like this will keep me from making any money at all.
– I am sick of mean, lying, harmful people.  I can’t take it anymore.
– I am a piece of sh**.  If I had not screwed up my life for so many years, I would not be in the position of having to rely on yoga teaching for earnings.
– I have never taken anyone’s fliers down.  I would never do something so malicious.
– My workshops are my best work, they come from my heart, I work so hard on them.  I love this work more than anything on earth (see “Love: The Privilege of Teaching Yoga”).
– Who the f*** took down my f**ing fliers?  (Then I tripped up some cafe steps and seriously harmed my back, neck and ankle.  And I blamed the person who took down my fliers for my injury, because I would not have been going into that cafe if I didn’t need to replace fliers.)
– Why would anyone want to come to my workshop?  I am a bad person.  I am hated.
– I am a good person.  I strive to be of service and helpful.  I work hard to right my wrongs.  People are mean and unforgiving.
– I have committed too many harmful mistakes and I will continue to be harmed in various ways.  This is my Karma.
– I don’t have it in me to endure anymore harm.  If this keeps up, I’ll have no energy, esteem or motivation to continue looking for sustainable work.  I feel like I am being beaten down.
– I am really, really hurting.  I don’t think I can stand hurting anymore.  I’ve had enough.  I want to crawl under the covers and never come out.

Again, like my last post, so many mixed emotions.  I am swinging between feeling like a bad person who will never surpass some horrible Karmic cycle of being harmed and causing harm, and, feeling like a good person who is a victim of bad people.  Or maybe those are the same things.

I posted a vague message on Facebook: “the day started off well. going steadily downhill. thoughts, prayers, calls and visits much appreciated. love to y’all. (nothing to hide.)”

Someone wrote me a message.  And although she is very, very far away, we both sat to meditate “together.”  I chanted 108 Asato Ma and 108 Lokah Samasta.  I cried and cried and cried.  Although the pain softened some, after making a smoothie (haven’t eaten much all day) and doing the dishes (there was a pile), I’m still crying.  And to be totally revealing, I am craving for someone to swoop in and comfort me.  But guess what, there is no one.  So I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I have done a few of the next right things.  I reached out.  I chanted.  I ate a little bit.  I lit candles, I burned sweet jasmine incense, I created my own comfort.  I made an appointment with my chiropractor (my body hurts like hell).  Earlier I met with a friend and vented my frustrations, my fears, my anger.  And just now, I checked back in with my long-distance friend and let her know that I just need to get through tonight; a new day usually feels better.

Through all of this turmoil today, I was still able to witness, celebrate and feel sincerely happy for others.  For some reason, this has been one of those days where many friends were sharing great news about their lives.  I am fortunate to be without envy.  I guess because their good news give me faith for myself; and envy erases any notion of hope – which, for some ludicrous reason, I still have.

Still, right now, I am stuck.  And I am going under.  The covers.  Good night.

OM Shanti.

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How do we recognize and trust our hearts’ desires?  How can we harness the impulses tugging at our hearts, and shape them into a deeper purpose?  Join me on Saturday, February 23rd, 3-5:30pm at Quiet Mind Yoga in Washington, DC for “Follow Your Heart.”  In this Sankalpa Vinyasa practice, Holly facilitates heart-centered Asana, self-inquiry and journeying, so students can tap into the flow of their deepest intentions. Re-ignite your 2013 resolutions – or, discover a completely new direction.


Karma & The Big Blue Moon August 31, 2012

I’m not sure how I’m going to flow with this today.  I just know that today and tomorrow are my last days teaching upon this month’s “Karma & Karma Yoga” focus, it’s a Blue Moon, and I need to write the Monthly Class Focus blog.

During August I did three things consistently: I practiced Crow Pose aka Bakasana; I studied the “Karma: Causality” chapter from Michael Stone’s “Yoga for a World out of Balance;” and I witnessed how my actions cause certain outcomes.

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The Bakasana practice I took on as a literal exploration of karma’s rule of cause and effect.  For example: I practice certain mechanics, alignment and strengthening over a period of time (cause) in order to improve my Crow Pose (effect).  Sometimes I need very tangible manifestations of ideology in order to truly embody those ideas.  And the Bakasana workshopping definitely brought it home.

On my own, I am not a consistent “student” who studies/practices in order to build knowledge and expertise.  I can be (i.e. preparing for a job) and I have been (i.e. completing Yoga Teacher Training).  But I need specific motivation.  For instance, if I get asked to play percussion on a tour or if I am nearing my summer camp percussion teaching stint, I practice and rehearse and fine-tune.  I am lucky like this.  Very lucky.  I typically don’t have to practice daily in order to perform well.

The question is: Are my skills improving; is my talent developing; am I learning anything new?

I have been popping into Crow Pose for years.  Most arm-strength poses come easily for me.  But this year, my Crow Pose started to feel very heavy – and it looked heavy, compared to photos of my peers and master teachers.  So for the month of August, as a way to dig into physical karma, I practiced Crow.  I asked instructors for suggestions (they generously gave them!) and I took those recommendations to heart.  I practiced daily, and, I taught these same tips to my classes.

The outcome?  My Crow is starting to fly.

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“Karma…is a tool designed to help us see the intimate nature of all relationship.  How I talk with you affects the quality of our communication, affecting how I feel, how you feel, and how others who come into contact with us feel about our contact in that moment.  Karma is not some kind of spiritual air-mile system with merit and demerit added by some divine teller.  Rather, karma points out the importance of purifying our actions of body, speech, and mind, so that the way we live our life benefits all with whom we are in relationship.” – Michael Stone

I want this.  I want to live my life in this way.  I want to feed into beneficial intimate relationships in this world.  And Yoga and Buddhism teacher Michael Stone lays out the “how-to” simply and clearly – purify my actions of body, speech and mind.

Some yogis and teachers might argue that the act of serving others comes first, and is the gateway to my own healing and purification.  And I might agree that this works for me, sometimes.  Yet, more often than not, what really works for me?  Starting each day with a strong yoga practice – including Asana, Pranayama, meditation, chanting and praying for others (Ah!  There it is!) – which unfailingly removes disturbances from my mind, and prepares my heart, my soul and my entire being to treat others well.

Morning Sadhana (routine) is like taking out insurance for a good day.  And note – I did not say a “great” day.  A good day – where I enhance my well-being, where I wish well for others, where I take responsibility for my actions, where I am honest, and where I aim to sustain my own peace and therefore support the peacefulness of others – is sufficient for this yogini!

Also, taking yoga’s 1st limb – the five Yama – seriously and aiming to practice those principles in all my affairs undoubtedly sets a tone for positive, healthy actions.  The 1st limb recommends five actions that we might cease in order to live more constructively.  Michael Stone describes them simply as: “nonharming, honesty, nonstealing, wise use of energy, and nonacquisitiveness.”

I am infinitely grateful for teachers who 1st brought yoga’s Eight Limbs to my attention way back when, and who continue to prioritize them in their teachings.  Focusing 1st on letting go of unhealthy actions before processing through the remaining seven limbs has definitely liberated me from unhealthy patterns which harmed both others and me, making room for both a yoga practice and a life which encourages positive action.

That brings to mind the theme of Abundance, and today’s Blue Moon.  A Blue Moon is not blue in color at all; it simply signifies a 2nd Full Moon within one month’s time.

Focusing on what I have also adjusts my brain toward an attitude of gratitude.  This exercise, much in the spirit of Pratipaksha Bhavana (replacing negative with positive thoughts), erases my very valid fears about what I don’t have.  I say “very valid” because there are times that I wonder where my rent, food and living money will come from, because I have been without full-time work for quite some time; there are times that I imagine myself dying alone in a gutter, because my past mistakes have left me without savings for a secure aging process and without family to take care of me; and there are times that I yearn for a loving life partnership, but due to being a late bloomer in the relationship world, worry it might never happen.

So how do I replace these fears with a positive attitude, insuring that I then treat others well throughout my day and my life?  By making a Gratitude List.

My Facebook status before bed last night read: “On past Full Moons, I might have meditated on Manifesting Abundance, or something similarly demanding.  Tonight, as the waxing rare ‘blue’ sphere floats overhead and invites me to ‘do what’s seldom done,’ I will instead meditate on Recognizing Abundance, and then dream overnight of all that I have.  Big fat Gratitude List in the works…  Good night, y’all.”

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I watched myself this month.  I witnessed as those fearful thoughts took over at times.  I observed how wallowing in that self-pity negatively affected my behaviors with those around me.

But I also want to give myself some credit.  More often than not, I caught myself – I used my yoga and other tools and stopped the negativity dead in its tracks.  I took things at face value.  I reminded myself, “This too shall pass.”  I focused intently on, embraced warmly and inhaled deeply the positive sides of my worries and woes.  I found that a lot of the time, my negative stories were bigger than they needed to be, or just plain made up!

And guess what else…when I was in a positive mind (cause), I treated others quite well (effect).

C’mon, I should know by now – I’ve survived through and thrived after many years of pretty tough realities in life.  There is always – ALWAYS – a light at the end of the tunnel.  I might have to wait for it!  Still, one thing’s for certain: if I choose to live in, exude and spread positive vibes (cause), there will be more positive energy in the world (effect).  And it’s likely to make its way back to me at some point.  And I can continue to share that healthy mind, heart and soul with all.

And that feels like a cycle of good karma to me.  OM Shanti Shanti Shanti.


Falling Off The Yoga Wagon July 22, 2011

Why does it take a sick day for me to realize I have totally abandoned my yoga practice?

For the past two days, I’ve been battling a sinus infection.  This morning, after sleeping 11 hours, I woke up, chanted mantras, said prayers, wrote in my journal, practiced breathing exercises and sat to meditate.  All of the fear, anger, distrust and resentment of recent weeks (due to a mugging and other trauma triggers) melted into pure, big-picture, heartfelt acceptance.  Everything made sense.  I felt peaceful and whole.

This collection of rituals is a simple 30-minute Sadhana (routine) that I like to practice every morning.  Today I realized that it’s been months since I’ve committed to these efforts on a daily basis.

In my experience, I can count on a daily reprieve from all kinds of “dis-ease” as long as I maintain my spiritual condition.  For someone like me – a trauma survivor who drowned pain and reality with alcohol for 25 years, and who has been undoing old patterns for the last eight years – that maintenance is essential to my ongoing growth away from my past and toward a healthy future.  Daily Sadhana guarantees that I will be liberated of self-centeredness, grounded in peacefulness and therefore available to serve others.

Yoga is the umbrella for all of my maintenance efforts.  During my yoga teacher training, we studied the six branches of Integral Yoga – Hatha (primarily poses, breathing, cleansing), Raja (philosophy, ethics, mindfulness), Jnana (reflection, self-inquiry, analysis), Karma (selfless service), Japa (mantra repetition) and Bhakti (devotion to and worship of a higher power).  In the Yoga Sutras, we hear, “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodhah” – yoga negates disturbances of the mind.  Therefore,  the goal of yoga is to cultivate a peaceful mind.  IY founder Swami Satchidananda believes, “There are many ways to reach the same goal. Whatever you call it, it is called Yoga.”

Indeed, it’s all yoga.

When I say that I have abandoned my yoga practice, I don’t just mean that I haven’t been going to class or practicing poses. I mean that I have not been greeting the day with chants, prayers, reflection, breath work, meditation.  I have not been ending the day by reading positive literature, making a gratitude list, praying for others.  In between rising and bedtime, I have not been serving as I could.  I have not been well enough to show up for others.  And I most certainly have not been surrendering to a higher power.

And so, right here, right now, I take the first step toward a solution and admit – I have fallen off the wagon.

“The origins of this phrase lie in the 1800s, with the temperance movement. During this era, many people felt that alcohol was an extremely harmful substance, and they abstained from alcohol while encouraging others to do the same. The term references the water wagons which were once drawn by horses to water down dirt roads so that they did not become dusty. Members of the temperance movement said that they would sooner drink from a water wagon than touch a drop of alcohol, so when someone failed to keep a temperance pledge, people would say that he or she had fallen from the wagon.”  –

For me, daily Sadhana is the “water wagon” that keeps me from falling back into all sorts of unhealthy habits.  And I intend to jump back on that wagon the moment I press “Publish” on this Post.  Because, with You as my witness, a publicly stated intention will be hard to break.

Wish me luck.  OM Shanti.