Wednesday, March 20, 2013

YOGA's Yama and Niyama top 10 Tips in Kerala

While many people travel to India (including myself) to study Yoga, to teach Yoga, and to experience the purity of the birth place of yoga, sometimes the ashram is not the only place for enlightenment.  That being said, India the ultimate place for purification, and in my case the birthplace for my parents.  It is my favorite place to teach Yoga, practice yoga, and study.  You have the magical landscapes, and the traditional teaching of Ashtanga, Iyengar, Hatha Yoga, and many other incredible Guru's, Babas, and Ayurveda Teachers.

Prior to booking this trip, I had spent 5 months caring for my beloved Aunty who passed in January.  Many Yogis would consider this an act of Seva (selfless service), for me it was an honor and my duty.  I cancelled some amazing teaching opportunities in Malta, Switzerland and India to stay bedside with her.  Though every morning I maintained my morning yoga (while she would sleep), I quickly learned what the nurses were warning me about....the burnout.

She passed away in January, and I decided to accompany my dad on an emergency trip to India.  We were visiting my Uncle who was also in poor health condition, but I knew it was also necessary for me to get away.

While I was invited to teach yoga in 2 places in Kerala, I chose to truly take time for me and heal my mind-body-spirit.  In the West, yogis get caught up in routines and almost attached to them.  I wanted the most minimalist detox experience possible.

We left Toronto Airport after a beautiful snow storm, only to arrive in Kerala where the weather was comparable to most Bikram studios and was perfect for my morning & afternoon Yoga practice.

The top 10 Yama & Niyama, Minimalist guide to Yoga in India:

  1. AHIMSA - Non Harming to all living things - Visiting a beautiful Elephant Sanctuary where these brilliant animals are trained with kindness & compassion and eventually go on to be working animals in the local Temples.
  2. SATYA - Truthfulness - Being True to myself.  It would have been easy for me to teach yoga, or post daily updates online of my experience, but instead I chose to enjoy time with family and heal any grief or residual stress that may have unconsciously found its way into my being.
  3. ASTEYA - Non Stealing - Often I tell my Yoga Teacher Trainees that as teachers we must respect people's time, privacy, and never misuse the precious classroom moments for our own glory etc.  On this trip I practiced Asteya by realizing I was there on a family trip, so instead of visiting an ashram, I consciously chose to practice every morning at 4 am in solitude so that I can have the remaining time to spend with my loved ones.
  4.  BRAMACHARYA - preserving our sexual energy and redirecting it into our spiritual path - Most girls who take a vacation with their dad are guaranteed to be free from any opportunities or thoughts of romance.
  5.  APARIGRAHA - Non Hoarding - I went to India with a suitcase full of chocolate to give to my relatives and friends, so I did not bother to pack too many personal items.  While there are so many amazing shops, malls and bazaars to buy things in Kerala, including the grand opening of the largest mall in all of India (LULU MALL) right in Kerala - I chose to keep purchases to necessities only.        
  6. SAUCHA - Purity & Cleanliness - After my morning meditation, yoga, I would follow with lime/lemon water (picked straight from the tree) to alkalize my body.  I maintained my regular vegetarian diet, and kept my body clean.
  7.  SANTOSHA - Contentment - While I faced many challenges during the time I cared for my aunty, I focused on contentment.  I reflected on blessings, and gave thanks for the challenges, challenging people, and lessons as they made me a stronger person. This contentment led me to the deeper awareness that all experiences are from ourselves and primarily our reaction.  Soon I was so overwhelmed with the contentment in the beauty of Kerala's tropical landscape, sounds of birds, and the lively orchestra of beeping horns, saree clad pedestrians, and all other things that were a celebration of LIVING IN THE MOMENT, Being right here, right NOW.
  8. TAPAS - Disciplined use of energy - Tapas is bringing heat to the body to burn through all urges and purify.  With daily morning yoga without any fan or air conditioner, in the extreme heat of Kerala I was feeling purified.
  9. SVADHYAYA - Self Study - Daily journaling, drawing, reading, meditating, chanting, singing, and walks all led to a self realization experience.  I made a conscious choice to stay off Facebook, my blog, twitter, and even refrained from email.  While I use Facebook to share/read inspirational quotes, stories of other fellow yogis, or share aspects of my self-discovery, but I chose to be as pure as possible and unplugged from the system. 
  10. ISVARAPRANIDHANA - Celebration of the spiritual - Laying all your actions at the feet of divine.  With daily yoga, daily prayer, and time with loved ones we all can learn to celebrate the Divine.

Like always seeing my family in India is always a beautiful experience.  I am happy to be back.  For those who are interested to study Yoga, Ayurveda or Reiki with me there will be some workshops coming up in Ontario, New York, and a 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training I will offer this July in Ireland, and one in November in India.  Thank you to all those who emailed me after noticing my disappearance on social media.  We all face challenges perhaps in job, family, health, and for those who have the tendency to be care-givers, it is important to take care of our self as well.

Stay Blessed ~ Om Shanti

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