By Bethany Huffman, AYP student
When looking back on a calendar year, it’s a mental return to the rhythmic feel of time. In Ashtanga, we move through the lunar calendar. Every two weeks in either a full or new moon we are afforded one day of rest (no asanas) and to use the time for fine-tuning intentions for the future or reflecting on the once hoped for manifestations of the past moon cycle. When moving through January, we have been tying up all that occurred in the last year and how all that was done guides us into our intentions or goals for the coming year. This is a vital part of the 8 Limbs of Yoga – Svadhyaya, that teaches us to dive inward and reveal our inner consciousness to continue personal growth.
Some of the dedicated members, teachers, and students of Ashtanga Yoga Phoenix gathered their answers in response to the following questions as we move from the transition that was New Year of 2022.
First up, Kris is in her yoga teacher training and gave responses reflecting the deeper work yoga brought to her life in 2021 and her visions for 2022:
Yoga in 2021 taught me that it's okay to feel emotional when we are not in an easy life situation, because in our yoga circle we can feel safe to express all kinds of emotions (for example during yin yoga classes). It helped me to remember that with an inhale we can be more self-aware of our future actions.
John, a long-time student at AYP had succinct and straightforward answers:
In 2021, I learned to be more patient with myself and everyone one else.
Hanseul is another yoga teacher training student who is passionate about her asana practice and has enriched her life in ways that you can sense in her words:
After 3 and a half years, yoga is life for me. The beginning was insufficient, but now it is my vitality and indispensable being. I started to want to be healthy mentally, but now I can be confident that I have become stronger and stronger not only mentally but also physically.
Reign is a long-time AYP student and soon to embark on a YTT journey! Like John, Reign kept the answers succinct:
In 2021, yoga taught me about sacrifice and how it can be used as a tool for growth.
Tom has been practicing for almost a year with AYP and is considered an important member of the AYP family. He took a more pragmatic approach with his response, focusing on the physical aspects of yoga (asana and pranayama):
In 2021, yoga taught me about breathing - it’s ebb & flow - enables the body to relax and stretch.
Lastly is one of our dear teachers, Ive, who has been practicing for many years and teaches our full-led primary class as well as some Mysore. With lots of years of yoga behind her, she has some straightforward goals:
In 2021, yoga taught me to have fun and patience with the process of improving.
While each person who responded to the prompts had a unique outlook on last year’s practice and goals for the current year, it illustrates the ideology that one spirit strengthens another. Over the last year, the AYP family has built each other up physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. When we find guidance through others, we honor another part of the 8 limbs of yoga–Satya, which is bringing the truest version of yourself to others. When we all bring our authentic selves to one another each day and practice contentment (Santosha), we build up the best versions of ourselves.
Here is to growing through the art and practice of Ashtanga in 2022!
hello AYP Family!
This is a friendly reminder that Monday, Sept. 2nd, we will be following our holiday schedule for Labor Day. Fun Fact: Labor day historically honors the American work-ethic in recognition of our labor rights. When it was created, a typical work schedule consisted of 12-hour work days/6 days a week. (Yikes!)
Evidently, we are a society of hard-workers, dreamers and motivators! However, in reflection of this holiday - let us remember the importance of balance in this 'busy-bee' mentality and flow. It is easy to get caught up in the momentum of "Go! Go! Go! So much to be done!" However, when it comes to sustainable & healthy growth, it is just as important to gift yourself with some time to slow down and pause. Pause to honor yourself; pause to spend time with loved ones and community; pause to reflect on your practice and growth.
Wherever you may be in this journey, we honor that light in you!
Sending lots of love,
Ashtanga Yoga Phoenix
Libra is symbolized by the scales. Balance.
The new moon is like a breath of fresh air. It is the beginning of a new cycle, whereas the full moon represents clearing and releasing. The new moon is a time for new beginnings and setting of intentions. It is said to be the time of growth. Farmers would plant seeds on the new moon and start seeing new life/growth weeks later on the full moon. Just as the farmers, plant your seeds of intention. Be sure to care for and work towards those goals, just as the farmer waters his seeds.
How to set intention or create a new moon ritual.
On any moon day, remember to be kind to yourself. Enjoy your day of rest.
I was teaching a group of busy executives the morning before their conference last week and the first group came into the room set aside for meditation tentative, but excited to try something new. All participants were brand new to meditation and one asked “so are we going to sit crossed legged this whole time and hum OM?” This is a very common question and often many folks think this is the only way to mediate. While this is certainly one way to meditate there is literally an infinite amount of ways to enjoy this ancient practice.
You don’t need to be a monk in order to reap the numerous medical, physical and emotional benefits of meditation. In fact you can close your office door at work for 10 minutes a day and start down the magnificent journey of increased awareness, focus, happiness and relaxation right now.
My favorite definition of meditation is from Levey, J. & Levey, M.’s book Mindfulness, Mediation and Mind Fitness. They define mediation as “Classically referring to a broad spectrum of methods, disciplines, and practices for training our minds and reducing our neurotic tendencies and misconceptions while cultivating or strengthening our capacity for living with great wisdom, compassion, patience, balance, mastery of attention and other virtuous qualities of mind.”
Let’s now debunk some common myths around meditation!
Your breath can be used as a powerful tool to anchor you into the present moment. Focusing on your breathing can also be used to take your attention away from a stressful moment, fearful thought or anxious event. Bringing your awareness to your breath has the ability to calm the mind, center the body and alleviate your stress.
Enjoy this breath meditation first thing in the morning to start your day off right, as a relaxing break throughout the day or at night to help the body decompress and prepare for sleep.
Catching ~ Feelings
If you follow me or AYP, you probably have seen a post about me catching my heels for the first time.
One of my favorite things about practicing the same sequence six days a week is the obvious progress and the relationship you develop with the poses. Through these experiences you take a closer look into how your body and your mind react.
The first time I tried to catch my heels from my drop back was scary. I had to trust my body and my teacher in a way that I had not done yet. For some reason when you are upside down, your brain doesn’t work or think the same way.
Joining an Ashtanga yoga class for the first time can be a bit intimidating. Especially so, if you choose to start with a Mysore session. Here’s what it was like for me, my first time at Ashtanga Yoga Phoenix, and why I'm hooked! Along with some tips on what to expect during your first visit.
Hopefully, I am not alone in my love for Ashtanga. I really do adore it and I know it has changed my life in so many ways. Each year, on Febrary 23rd, I celebrate my ashtangaversary. It is, of course, the anniversary of my first ashtanga class. Thanks to Facebook, I have a short record of my 6 years of ashtanga and today I thought I'd share a bit of my journey.
The Popliteus Muscle and its Role in Yoga Postures and Movement
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