Sunday, March 16, 2014

Teaching the Yamas and Niyamas

I felt fully recovered enough to begin teaching yoga again in mid-January, and have now taught eight classes. I am truly enjoying teaching again.  I have been giving a series of classes centered on the Yamas and Niyamas, the ethical principles of yoga. The Yamas are ethical restraints: non-harming, non-stealing, non-lying, moderation, and non-greed. The Niyamas are personal practices to cultivate: purity, contentment, discipline, self-knowledge, and surrender to ultimate reality.

Last week’s class centered on Tapas, or self-discipline. Tapas is the will and discipline to do what it takes to achieve a goal. In the process, the heat of Tapas (Tapas can be translated as “heat”) burns off impurities. Everyone who has committed to a consistent yoga practice can feel the benefits of that commitment. It doesn’t even take that many classes before the changes in the body begin to be felt. We may also find that we feel calmer, more relaxed, and better able to focus in our daily lives, as well.
My students and I have braved record-breaking cold, snow, and ice for these classes. I think we have all enjoyed exploring the ethical principles of yoga together. My students continually impress me with the growth they show in their practice. I am deeply grateful for their presence, dedication, and openness to asking for clarification and direction. The continue to teach my as I teach them.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Facing fear

This has been a year for facing fears: fear of cancer, fear of the unknown, fear of needles, fear of surgery. Last weekend I faced another fear: the fear of riding a bicycle.

I have been afraid of riding wheeled vehicles longer than I can remember, starting with my Tyke Bike tricycle when I was three. When later I learned to ride a bicycle, I didn't take the training wheels off until I was twelve. TWELVE! 

I did eventually learn to ride without training wheels, and even rode it to high school for a year. But I stopped riding it once I went to college. I haven't ridden a bike since I was 19 or 20.

Until last weekend.

Earlier this year my husband and I moved to an area of town near a very nice bike path. He has a bike, and enjoys riding it on the weekends in nice weather.  I would like to find a form of exercise that my husband and I can enjoy together, and since we live so close to the bike path now, I no longer had an excuse not to learn to ride again. I had been planning to look into getting a new bike this year, but then...cancer, and the bicycle was postponed (along with so many other things).  

A few weeks ago, I told a friend of mine that I was looking for a comfort fit bike. Last week she tipped me off to a used one that showed up at a local Trek bicycle store. I went to check it out on Christmas Eve day. The used bike ended up being much too big for me, but I told the salesman what I was looking for and he sold me a new bike that actually fits me quite well. It's a Trek Verve 1, a hybrid style bike with a straight, mountain bike style handle bar.

Saturday was warm enough to take it out to try. I was terrified, but determined to learn to ride that bike! To make sure I didn't back out, I told all of my Facebook contacts, as well as several of my coworkers, I was going to learn to ride this weekend. 

I practiced on our street for a bit, until I was comfortable getting on and off the bike, steering, shifting (sort of), and stopping. I did not fall over. Whew! Next step: the bike path. Lots of other riders, walkers and runners were out also enjoying the fine warmer mid-40's weather on the bike path. I had some difficulty navigating around the other bikers and pedestrians, but I did not fall or hit anyone! Go me!

I'm really proud of myself for overcoming my fear.  I'm still a bit unsteady and unsure of myself, but I'm sure biking will get easier with a little practice, and it's great exercise.