Elevating the world with Yoga Aid

Can you remember why you first started practicing yoga? Trying to touch your toes perhaps? Wanted a cute butt to put in those stretchy lululemon pants? Maybe your mind was racing a million miles an hour and you just needed to slow down. All in all though, you started your yoga practice for you, right? I sure did, depressed, anxious, unmotivated and tired, I needed something for me, to nurture and nourish my spirit. I got that and a whole lot more, and along the way I learned about karma yoga. Karma yoga is the yoga of action, without attachment to the outcome. Ultimately what that means is that we act for the good of all beings, without defining our worth based on how perceivably successful or unsuccessful our action is. One way to bring this concept to our yoga practice is to dedicate our efforts to someone who needs a yoga practice, but is unable to come to the mat for one reason or another.

This year I will be leading a section of the Yoga Aid Challenge, here in Brisbane’s Roma Street Parklands on Saturday, the 12th of November. The challenge raises funds to support a number of charities, mine is the Nelune Foundation supporting public health system cancer patients, bringing them emotional, psychological and physical support. At this event hundreds of yogis come together to dedicate their practice to something bigger than themselves, to offer the beauty of their practice to inspire and support others.

Register for the Yoga Aid Challenge here: www.yogaaid.com. Remember to join the Ten Toes Yoga & Natural Health team!

If you are unable to join us please support the Ten Toes Yoga & Natural Health team, our goal is to raise $1000. You can sponsor us by clicking here: http://yogaaid.com/alisonsykes

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Gita Talk

I love Facebook. There’s just no denying it. I know many people believe our relationships become disconnected through social media, but I believe the opposite. I’ve maintained connections with friends all over the globe through simple ‘likes’, wall posts and photo tags. There’s no way I would have written all these friends letters or emails, and some of them I’ve not seen for years. Social media has also provided me with an avenue to explore yoga philosophy in a whole new way. Recently Elephant Journal posted in my news feed ‘Gita Talk’ – exploring Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita, the central text of Hindu and yoga philosophy. Many times before I had wanted to explore this text and discuss it with like minded yogi/ni friends, but honestly, there was always something else to do.

Elephant Journal’s discussion is broken up into weekly bites of two chapters per week, totally manageable for a time poor yoga teacher. I thought I might post my comments on chapters 2&3 below, as well as the response from our group leader.

My comment:
“I have never read Mitchell’s translation before, and I have been so pleasantly surprised to find it written in simple English prose that doesn’t require me to have the dictionary sitting beside me the entire time. Having read Weiss’ “Many Lives, Many Masters” it’s been reassuring for me to hear Krishna speak of eternal Spirit and reincarnation. The more Spirit presents this message to me the more willingly I listen. In “Many Lives” the author speaks of souls being reincarnated in groups, and an example of that for me was remembering my son the moment I saw him at birth, as though we were long lost friends or family members.

I can’t say I hated anything, I find hate quite a strong word that I use very rarely. Certainly the singularly masculine language does alienate the female reader somewhat, but I really do feel we need to just let that go people. I am quite challenged though by the concept of renouncing the fruits of my actions. As someone who enjoys goal-setting I find it difficult to consider acting for action’s sake. I understand Krishna’s meaning, no desire for outcome = no opportunity for sufferance of disappointment or anger when the outcome is less wonderful than we expected.

So I terms of how this applies to my life right now, I have to say I’m just not sure. Right now I have very distinct goals and desires, and no intention at all of surrendering them. The thought of failing however, is not very palatable, so perhaps my goals give me direction for my actions, but ultimately my actions should be performed simply with goodness in my heart and strong intention, but with an openness to the outcome.

Looking forward to Chapters 3&4 (and that’s saying something)!”

And Bob’s reply:
“The big breakthrough for me was when I realized the Gita is not telling us not to strive for results, but not to be too attached to the results. These are two very different things.

Obviously Arjuna is going to go out and try to win that battle. Krishna is urging him to do so. And we should all go out and try to achieve whatever we want to achieve.

But just don’t be so attached to winning or losing that it’s all that matters. The action itself, and in fact, just BEING HERE, is far more important than the results.

I’ve been watching a lot of U.S. Open tennis this week. If Krishna were advising one of the players, he would not say, “Forget about trying to win this tournament, don’t bother striving to achieve your dreams.”

In contrast he would say, “Knock yourself out trying to win this tournament, just don’t value yourself or your life based on the results.”

You can see that the Bhagavad Gita is the ancient source of all modern sports psychology, and all modern notions of mental health.”

Elephant Journal Gita Talk

Shorts, sun, salutations…….oh yes it’s Spring!!!!

Spring is here!!!!!! Yeeeeeehaaaaaaa! Friends of mine know it’s no secret, I am definitely solar powered and my energy levels go through the roof once those short shorts are wearable again. Every spring I am reminded of a story my teacher Julie shared at one of the first classes of hers I attended. I’m going to do my best to recount it to you here, so sorry if I embellish anything Julie!

I was flying into Sydney and I noticed all these beautiful purple flowers on the trees. I asked my husband what they were (Julie is American) and he told me they were Jacarandas. All winter they had been these barren bare grey sticks, and all of a sudden, one day, boom! Purple magnificence. It occurred to me that these trees had spent the winter waiting for this moment, when the sun’s warm rays signal that it’s time to bloom. Everything comes from darkness. Babies wait in their mother’s womb for the moment of birth, tiny seeds huddle in the ground waiting to sprout and stretch for the sky. In the practice of Anusara yoga we call this “Root to Rise” (never translates well in Oz, but get over your sniggering guys, you know what she means). The strength of your foundation informs the freedom of your ability to stretch, grow, reach and expand. When you trust Earth, she gives you the stability to experience your freedom at its fullest. 

Admittedly Jacarandas tend to bloom in November, but the principle always rings true for me when the world explodes with enthusiasm, transforming from a period of introspection.

So that’s it in a nutshell, paraphrased to the best of my ability. Julie’s teaching has helped me to tune into the flow, the rhythm of nature, to realise that winter isn’t bad, it’s just winter. Darkness is just as important as light, it helps us to develop the strength we need to share our radiance with the world in all its glory.

Find out more about Julie’s classes here: http://www.shriyoga.com.au

Brisbane's Jacaranda Trees

The beautiful purple flowers that inspired my teacher Julie