Dharma is the Buddhist term for life’s work. I’ve spent last week studying and practicing yoga therapy for Life’s Work Yoga and Namaste Studios at Won Dharma Retreat Center, in Claverack, NY. WOW! What a privilege to do this work, my Life’s Work in a place dedicated to supporting dharma. I’m so honored to share it with you.
Some of you already know my story of how I came to be a yogi and yoga therapist, at least the official beginning. But honestly, I think I have always been a yogi, even before my first yoga class! If I believed in past lives, maybe that would explain why I feel so deeply connected and in tune with this language and practice. But the truth is, the modern yoga practice is as different from the ancient practice as I am from my ancient ancestors who developed it. Just one example: my life is full of electronic technology which enables me to (over) schedule my day (and outlast the sun!) and fill my refrigerator with food that I can warm and eat in just a few minutes. In other words, modern day conveniences make life easier in many ways… and that was not the case for the ancient yogis. But in making life “easier” these advances also quicken the pace of life. So although I am not occupied by survival tasks, like hunting for food and defending my family from attack, every day can feel like a competition for survival: survival of my personal identity, survival of my values, survival of my business… Our survival instincts predate the yoga practice! But like every other philosophy or life strategy, the yoga practice was designed to help us live better within the conditions of our lives. If our practice doesn’t help us live better, then I venture to say it’s not Yoga. But hear me out… Yoga doesn’t make our life better. Yoga Therapy can’t promise to fix all that ails us. But when practiced consistently with compassion and intention, yoga can make us better able to live our lives. When I say live better, I mean, yoga helps me breathe deeply, move freely, labor lovingly and live vibrantly. What practices help you live better?
Movement has always been a big part of my life, from dance to biking and hiking to yoga, movement has been a key component of my life’s story. I’m happiest when I have movement in my day. It’s no wonder the hardest obstacles I’ve faced were when I was unable to move/dance/bike/etc. But movement is more than positioning the limbs and relocating the body, movement is about appreciating the energy/ prana/life force that enables and allows for movement. It was during times of immobility where I discovered the full power of movement and gained such reverence for the subtlest of movement that is inherent in the breath.
I have come to believe that the language of the body is movement. The body talks through sensations we experience as we move our body. However, we may have to retrain our minds to hear and remember our native tongue, to re-learn how to pay attention to the subtle cautions and sensations whispered throughout our day so we can adjust actions and efforts before the body resorts to screaming or all out quitting. I think I’m getting better at this because my injuries are less frequent and less severe than they used to be and my self-care is richer, more consistent and more intentional.
Whatever is on your agenda today. I hope you make space to enjoy the breathe, move and rest. Find your dharma, what LIGHTS you up and share your LIGHT!
May you breathe deeply, move freely, labor lovingly & live vibrantly.