May Newsletter – Brahmacharya – Nonexcess or Abstinence
May Newsletter – Brahmacharya – Nonexcess or Abstinence
Apologies for writing this late.
This month we look at the practice of Brahmacharya. The word Brahmacharya is Sanskrit and can be translated as meaning the following. – God Like, ethical conduct like God, Relating to another with unconditional love and integrity, without selfishness or manipulation, celibacy, chastity, complete and total abstinence from all sensual pleasures.
Brahmacharya is the practice of abstinence in hopes the practitioner will foster relationships based on the spiritual nature. It means that we act with responsible behavior with respect of our goal in moving towards truth. Practicing brahmacharya can be channeling excess energy to regenerate our connection to our spiritual self. It also means that we don’t use this energy to harm others and that we relate to others with unconditional love & integrity. Brahmacharya is the practice of sexual abstinence, restrain from sexual misconduct towards ourselves and others and avoidance of any type of lustful behavior. Brahmacharya also encompasses overindulgence, food, drink, luxurious comforts, etc…This does not mean that these things should not be appreciated, it means self-restraint in these matters so that sensual pleasures do not become predominant.
In the Light of Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar – Brahmacharya means life of celibacy, religious study and self-restraint. The concept of brahmacharya is not one of negation, forced austerity and prohibition. A brahmachari (one who observes brahmacharya) is a man who is engrossed in the study of the sacred Vedic lore, constantly moves in Brahman – God, and knows that all exists in Brahman. In other words, one who sees divinity in all is a brahmachari. Patanjali, however, lays stress on continence of the body, speech and mind. This does not mean that the philosophy of yoga is meant only for celibates. Brahmacharya has little to do with whether one is a bachelor or married and living the life of a householder. One has to translate the higher aspects of Brahmacharya in one’s daily living. It is not necessary for one’s salvation to stay unmarried and without a house. Without experiencing human love and happiness, it is not possible to know divine love. He should not renounce the duties of his profession, caste or rank; but let him perform these as an instrument of the Lord, without any thoughts of the results. When one is established in brahmacharya, one develops a fund of vitality and energy, a courageous mind and a powerful intellect so that one can fight any type of injustice. The brahmachari will use the forces he generate wisely: he will utilize the physical ones for doing the work of the Lord, the mental for the spread of culture and the intellectual for the growth of spiritual Life. Brahmacharya is the battery that sparks the torch of wisdom.
This month we can explore the following questions in our physical practice:
- During physical asana, are we capable of withdrawing the senses that promotes pratyhara and Brahmacharya?
- How does the physical state I am currently in relate to brahmacharya?
- Can one person in a couple live in moderation without his or her partner agreeing to it or sharing it?
- Are you capable of practicing pleasure without excess?
- Do your beliefs and judgements limit your ability to see God or experience God in things?
- Are you capable of seeing God in the ordinary?
- Are you willing to be sacred? What are practices that connect you to sacredness?
- Are you able to balance and bring moderation to; eating, television, physical pleasure, work?
Everything in moderation. I feel like I’ve been burning the candle at both ends as of lately. I’m doing a little soul searching as to why I’ve taken on so much. And in the interim I am letting some things go. I’ve been through some life changes, normal stuff, but still a little to rough for me. No growth can occur with out challenges. And as we are faced with the day to day challenges of life, can we hold fast to our beliefs and our practices? Will we turn towards the things that help us numb the pain of growth? Will we try to shut out change and override the pain that’s involved? Will we ignore the call of our soul for change? Can we turn towards our sacred beliefs and practices to help guide us to the source of the pain? Change is happening whether we want it or not. Change is the only constant in life. The soul aspires to grow. In order to grow we need that change.
“A grand adventure is about to begin.” – Winnie the Pooh
I’ve made some changes to my schedule and have let go of some classes. Below is my teaching schedule for the rest of the month:
- Tuesday May 5th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM Yoga Class
- Thursday May 7th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM Yoga Class
- Saturday May 9th Sun Salutations 7:30 AM Joy Yoga Washington Ave. Heights
- Saturday May 9th 9:00 AM Basics Joy Yoga Washington Ave. Heights
- Saturday May 9th Beginner’s Workshop 12 Noon – 2:00 PM –Joy Yoga Location – TBD
- Sunday May 10th Sun Salutations 7:30 AM Joy Yoga Voss Rd-West Houston
- Sunday May 10th 9:30 AM Basics Joy Yoga Washington Ave. Heights
- Saturday May 16th 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM JYU-VOSS (Closed Training)
- Sunday May 17th 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM JYU-VOSS (Closed Training)
- Tuesday May 19th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM Yoga Class
- Thursday May 21st Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM Yoga Class
- Saturday May 23rd Sun Salutations 7:30 AM Joy Yoga Washington Ave. Heights
- Saturday May 23rd 9:00 AM Basics Joy Yoga Washington Ave. Heights
- Saturday May 23rd Beginner’s Workshop 12 Noon – 2:00 PM –Joy Yoga Location – TBD
- Sunday May 24th Sun Salutations 7:30 AM Joy Yoga Voss Rd-West Houston
- Sunday May 24th 9:30 AM Basics Joy Yoga Washington Ave. Heights
- Tuesday May 26th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM Yoga Class
- Thursday May 28th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM Yoga Class
- Friday May 29th 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM JYU-VOSS (Closed Training)
- Saturday May 30th 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM JYU-VOSS (Closed Training)
- Sunday May 31st 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM JYU-VOSS (Closed Training)
April Newsletter –Asteya-Non-stealing
This month we look at the first limb of yoga from the Yamas. The Yamas are the foundation of yoga practice. The Sanskrit word Asteya translates to not taking what is not yours…..money, goods, credit or the non-desire for another’s possession, qualities, or status.
The word steya means “to steal”; asteya is the opposite of that. It means not taking something that does not belong to you. It also means that if we are entrusted with information, possessions…etc, that we do not take advantage of the situation. Not robbing people of their own experiences and freedoms. Not stealing someone else’s “thunder”. Non-stealing includes not taking what belongs to another, but it also means not taking something and using it for a different purpose than intended. This practice of non-stealing implies not taking anything that has not been freely given. This also includes other’s time. Another way to define asteya is that inconsiderate behavior that demands another’s attention when it is not freely given is , in effect, stealing. Any type of breach of trust, misuse of others property, embezzlement, misappropriation, taking credit for another’s work all includes stealing. Asteya also means not to covet or desire another’s possessions. The belief that this desire of what another has will lead to unsavory behavior. The practice of asteya also frees up the yogi to concentrate on loving and adoring the lord only.
There are many questions we can contemplate in relation to asteya. Such as….How would gossip or rumors steal away from self and others? Could you be stealing time and attention away from others? Does giving to charity support the concept of asteya? Could being generous to others somehow go against the practice of asteya? Do you take and not return? Have you given freely of yourself? Are there things in this world that are given freely to you every day? Does competition and judging go against asteya?
For our physical practice of yoga we can incorporate poses that cultivates being present and giving to our physical bodies. We can participate in dynamic flows that force us to be fully engaged. We can give asana practice our all. We can make time for ourselves by taking time to have an asana practice. And while practicing poses we can be present in our breath and concentration. Giving our full and complete attention to ourselves in all aspects of physical, mental and spiritual practices can be one of many ways we can practice asteya this month.
For my regular students that have participated in my homework project with sending me a personal experience in my class, thank you. Your kindness in helping me is very much appreciated! As well my schedule this month does not leave many options for you to attend regularly.
My April schedule:
Thursday April 2nd Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM
Saturday April 4th Joy Yoga Washington Ave 7:30 AM Sun Salutations
Saturday April 4th Joy Yoga Washington Ave 9:00 AM Basics
Sunday April 5th Joy Yoga Voss RD 7:30 AM Sun Salutations
Tuesday April 7th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM
Thursday April 9th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM
Thursday April 16th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM
Saturday April 18th Joy Yoga Washington Ave 7:30 AM Sun Salutations
Saturday April 18th Joy Yoga Washington Ave 9:00 AM Basics
Sunday April 19th Joy Yoga Voss RD 7:30 AM Sun Salutations
Tuesday April 21st Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM
Thursday April 23rd Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM
Saturday April 25th Joy Yoga Washington Ave 7:30 AM Sun Salutations
Saturday April 25th Joy Yoga Washington Ave 9:00 AM Basics
Sunday April 26th Joy Yoga Voss RD 7:30 AM Sun Salutations
Sunday April 26th Joy Yoga Washington Ave 9:30 AM Basics
Sunday April 26th Joy Yoga Washington Ave 12 noon Joy Flow
Sunday April 26th Joy Yoga Washington Ave 1:15 PM Slow Flow
Tuesday April 28th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM
Thursday April 30th Dynamic Fitness 7:30 PM
The last 5 days of March I attended my third in a series of 7 intensives for my 300 HR Teacher Training Certification with the San Marcos School of Yoga. This Yoga Intensive was titled Contemplative Arts and led by Teacher Gioconda Parker from Austin, TX. We looked at symbolism, in particular the Lotus Flower and it’s representation of transformation and growth. We discussed differences of gut level intelligence, emotional intelligence and the power of insight. We learned and sang mantras. Had conversations about Ganesh and obstacles, and how obstacles can be placed in your way to teach you something or how obstacles can be moved out of your way to help you. We created our own Sankalpa – an intention stated in “I am” present tense. We practiced fluid flows, that helped me tap back into my inner dancer. We practiced yin yoga, restorative yoga, Thai Yoga Massage and Yoga Nidra. We had a nature walk and wrote about what we allow to come up for us. We had long conversations about Spiritual Teachers and the contemplation of Peace. We looked at ourselves, and turned inward to see how we create, sustain and end things in our lives.
There are several big take aways for me from this intensive. One is the part I play when it comes to shadow work and archetypes. I experienced a big shift in energy receiving final closure on a past experience and from that I now have a desire to construct for me what I think the model of a spiritual teacher is. For myself I would like to define the difference between Yoga Instructor, Yoga Teacher and Spiritual Teacher. As well as that what these types of leaders have in their similarities. I am also feeling very satisfied with answers I’ve received from within and from outside sources.
I’m feeling like I have stepped out of a void and into the creation of something new for myself. I have a new sense of trust for myself in how I am able to discern spiritual teachings that are right for me. There had been a very long pause for quite some time. And even though I have been delving into a spiritual practice, and regular ritual practices, I feel like I am no longer blindly feeling around in the darkness. There is light that has been shed and it is this light that is leading me into a new path of spirituality. The power and tools have been there all along, and by sitting at the foot of a teacher they have taken the darkness away and shed light upon the path that I had been searching for all along.
May your April, Spring Equinox, Ostara and Easter be filled with newness, resurgence, rebirth, transformation, fertility, creation and all the other things that spring brings!
I can’t wait to share more with you all as this newsletter is being sent to you only 8 days before my next intensive, and then I will be off again on another adventure at the San Marcos School of Yoga. I will be studying Sanskrit in this next go around, and I can not wait to come back to you all with new knowledge.
The light in me honors the light in each and every one of you!
March Newsletter: Satya-Truthfulness
“As fire burns impurities and refines gold, so the fire of truth cleanses the yogi and burns up the dross (waste, refuse) in him.” – Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar
This month we look at Satya or Truthfulness of our practice. How can we stay true to ourselves all the while remaining compassionate and non-harming? Can we “to speak the truth”, but stay in the ability to speak the truth when necessary as well as without harming others? Or self? Can thinking before you speak move you in the positive direction of the truth? Do you have the ability to remind yourself before you speak the following: Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind? Having a reverence for the truth encompasses all modes of communication-words, gestures and writings.
In the Light on Yoga, Iyengar writes that – there are four sins of speech: abuse and obscenity, dealing in falsehoods, calumny or telling tales and lastly ridiculing what others hold to be sacred. The tale bearer is more poisonous than a snake. The control of speech leads to the rooting out of malice. When the mind bears malice towards none, it is filled with charity towards all. He who has learnt to control his tongue has attained self control in a great measure. When such a person speaks he will be heard with respect and attention. His words will be remembered, for they will be good and true.
This month we will be looking at Satya through our physical practice. I am still processing many things from my recent Asana Intensive, but a big take away are the direct comments made to me from my teacher. Facing the truth square in my face, my day of reckoning had arrived. “…take time in the pose, do the pose and then be exuberant….”, that one made me laugh because it’s true. Referring back to the above paragraph – “He who has learnt to control his tongue has attained self control in a great measure.” Learning to control my excitement in speech and concentrate on the job at hand would help me a great deal. And the truth is I get excited and allow the excitement to carry me in the pose, I should let the pose carry me into excitement. Do the pose, do it right and with thoughtful concentration, and then once I have the pose and am finished allow myself to fill up with gratitude, happiness, excitement, exuberant exclamations. I understand that the excitement can take away from the thoughtfulness and concentration of the work we do in that physical plane. Truth.
The other reality that I faced during my asana intensive was my lack of strength. I have stamina, and I have learned how to pace myself in order to try to keep up. I purposely chose to be at this Asana Intensive, because I wanted to be challenged. I knew that I would be putting myself in the middle of greatness. The people that surrounded me are at the top of their game. Both physically and intellectually. I felt in-over-my-head, and I wanted it that way. But I was in no way prepared for the truth of how this would make me feel emotionally and spiritually.
The Asana Intensive was called Break Through –Don’t’ Breakdown, and I had my Breakthrough within the first two days. I just wasn’t prepared for my little private breakdown, truth. The reality of not preparing myself for the physical in the way I should have prepared was a little more than I could bare. I couldn’t do the physically challenging stuff, truth. I could have prepared better, truth. I could have done better, truth. No one to blame, no more excuses, I’m right in front of my teacher and everyone can see where I am in my practice, truth. It was intermediate to most, and this was advanced for me, truth.
I could tell stories about my bad back, my car accident, my busy schedule, the reason why I’m over weight-hormone/thyroid, blah, blah, blah………., truth. I don’t want to tell those stories anymore, true or not, and I don’t want to feed those excuses anymore, truth. The truth is that my Day of Reckoning is here – https://www.livethelightofyoga.com/on-living-the-light-of-yoga/day-of-reckoning
I am being called upon to be accountable and responsible for the state I have allowed myself be in. Will I step up to the plate and fulfill my obligation as a student, teacher, human? Can I speak my truth without being detrimental to my psyche, spirit or emotional self? Will I continue to make excuses in hopes that everyone around will make allowances for me…..is this fair to me and to others?
I’ve admitted the truth and I am o.k.
I could feel ashamed about it, but the Breakthrough would be to admit and be truthful in a way that does not shame or blame. I can make the corrections to my course to move me in the direction that I really want to be in. I am making peace with where I am now. I will exercise all of my power in looking for that which I am wanting to see in myself. Truth.
A reading by my Teacher-Christina Sell by Pema Chodron: “Moving into a place of no hand holds, no foot holds, and no mind holds is daring.” Truth. There is no one to hold my hand through my own personal journey. Truth. There is no one to blame or accuse for my personal lack in anything. I am once again ready to be daring and release myself from the thoughts and attitudes that keep me from my desired abundance. No safety nets, no guarantees, no one thing constant but endings and beginnings, truth.
I didn’t want to leave out the best parts of my experience. There was singing and chanting every day. I actually walked out of the studio singing in the style of Julie Andrews….”My heart will be filled with the sound of music……” My heart has truly been blessed by the sound of music. I am so grateful for this experience. This was my absolute favorite part. The vibrations that I felt bubbled up inside of me. It was an effervescent joy that brought tears streaming down my face. I really can’t wait to share some of these mantras with you all.
My major breakthrough was Drop Back/Urdhva Dhanurasana. I don’t think that I fear this pose as much as I now am just tired of it. Truth. I often remind students in their Anuvitasana that this is the beginnings to a drop back. I, being ambitious and thinking of this, carelessly threw this out when asked, “What pose would you like to work on?” And instead of being conservative and maybe requesting a forward fold, I mentioned my fears surrounding Urdhva Dhanurasana and my thinking about moving into that pose from a drop back as opposed to coming up into it from the floor. I also quickly followed up this announcement with – but this is not something that I wanted to work on this week.
I think I spent 25% of my asana practice upside down in a backbend. And I feel very very confident about dropping back into a chair that is braced against a wall. Breakthrough!
The Asana Intensive was intense. I love my teacher. I think she is a genius. I want to be better for myself first and foremost, but I also want to be better for her because I think she deserves better than what I am currently offering. (I think on some level we all want to be loved and adored by our teachers. I know that I want to be.) In fact the people around me deserve better too. They deserve it, I deserve it and I owe it to myself to walk in next time feeling more confident about my practice and what I am bringing to the table.
This month we look at Ahimsa. Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word meaning– Nonviolence, compassion, non-harming, abstaining from evil, respect for life. It is common that this translates to compassion. Compassion can be seen as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes for others. We can see the meaning and understand through words, but how do we show compassion?
Compassion means to show passion for the well-being of something. To be passionate about the welfare of people, animals, self and nature is the umbrella in which all other limbs of yoga fall under. This means when we are truthful, our truthfulness stays within the boundaries of compassion and being non-hurtful. When we practice the art of letting go like in Aparigraha, we practice a kindness in letting go. Practicing abstinence, as in Brahmacharya, we do so with a kindness that will allow us room for growth.
We can practice compassion for ourselves, others, animals and the Earth. We can practice compassion when we write, when we think , when we eat and drink. Ahimsa turns us from harming self and others to kindness and compassion for self and others. It is the love and compassion for the entirety of creation and all components of the Universe. It can be loving kindness to everything we are surrounded by.
In this month’s practice we will work on how we show ourselves compassion physically. Can we be kind to ourselves as we work hard? Can we grow stronger as we stay compassionate in our growth? Are we loving towards ourselves as we move into the future?
Some of us have recently experienced some hard knocks during this period of Mercury Retrograde, (January 21 – February 11) and we are now on our way to renewing and growing from our learned experiences. I’m sending love and light to all of you who may have received more than your fair share of Mercury Retrograde this go around.
January Newsletter – Control
This month we will take a look at the Yamas. All the classes I provide for this month will have the theme of control over form and alignment – my passion!
The word Yama means restraint or constraint, restriction or control. The Yamas consist of Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha. In the most simplistic of terms, the Yamas are instructions to move in a certain direction. The Yamas address social behaviors. These type of restraints invite us to move as an adult in relationships with our world. It urges us to see past our personal needs for the greater good of our entire world. Yamas help guide us towards positive contribution to the collective good, the highest good for our communities. The Yamas are social disciplines. The Yamas are an outward focus on how we as individuals act in a world filled with others and the recognition that we share space, time, work, play with other humans, animals , water, air, earth and spirits. What we do as an individual counts and how we choose to participate in this world affects others.
Yamas-Light on Yoga, B.K.S.Iyengar
The first of the Eight Limbs of Yoga as described by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is Yama –ethical disciplines or great commandments transcending creed, country, age and time. These commandments are the rules of morality for society and the individual. If individuals choose not to obey then chaos, violence, untruth, stealing, dissipation and covetousness is brought into society. The roots of these evils are the emotions of greed, desire, and attachment, which may be mild, medium or excessive. They only bring pain and ignorance. Practicing the Yamas strikes at the very root of these evils by changing the direction of the individual’s thinking.
Ahimsa – Translates to Non-Violence. Being compassionate towards self and others.
Satya – Truthfulness. Being truthful without causing harm to self/others.
Asteya – Non-stealing. Not taking what does not belong to you/not misusing things, people, information.
Brahmacharya – Translates to God-Sense. Being God-Like and abstaining from worldly pleasures.
Aparigraha – Translates to Non-Hoarding. Letting go and having faith that God will provide.
I am wishing all of you a very happy New Year’s!
Melanie Comegys – Yoga
I’m excited for the month of so many celebrations! This is a time of creating Unity within our community! Please come join me in class this month as we explore Full Spectrum and Heart Opening practices!
Focus for all classes will be to bring complete and total balance to ourselves as well as a sense of well being, unity, brotherhood and Love. Being compassionate with ourselves and others and taking the time we need to create peace and stillness.
I’m now at VOSS Sunday Mornings for Sun Salutations!
Please see my current schedule:
Day Class Start End Location
Tue Yoga-Class 7:30 pm 8:30 pm Pearland-Dynamic Fitness
Wed Slow Flow 4:30pm 5:45pm 1415 VOSS
Thur Yoga-Class 7:30 pm 8:30 pm Pearland-Dynamic Fitness
Sat Wake Up 7:30 AM 8:30 AM 4500 WASHINGTON
Sat BASICS 9:00 AM 10:15 AM 4500 WASHINGTON
Sat Beginners 12:00 2:00 1415 Alternating locations
Sun Wake Up 7:30 AM 8:30 AM 1415 VOSS
Sun Basics 9:30 AM 10:45 AM 4500 WASHINGTON
Sun Joy Flow 12:00 1:00 PM 4500 WASHINGTON
Sun Slow Flow 1:15 PM 2:15 PM 4500 WASHINGTON