One of my classes this summer term is Mind and Body Yoga. Jane, the instructor, has magic. I'm in love with her contagious attitude with all that is positive and radiant. She can turn that smelly community college gym floor into a relaxing meadow, or an ashram somewhere in India, or a beach in Mexico, with just a few smooth words, a good breathing technique, and a couple Enya or reggae notes. I bike there to feel the accomplishment of a good sweat before a painful stretch. It's hard and gets monotonous mid-week. But I do it because she smiles at us in a way that makes me feel like showing up deserves a blue star (the sticker kind). Last night we sat knee to knee in a quickly-constructed circle, and read out the "Niyamas", or energy harnesses for self -regulation. I realize that we did not have a clue how to pronounce these exotic mantras, or even if we could fully digest the meaning inside of our 21st century bubbleheads...
But I did ride home with Jack Johnson on my playlist, a few new resolutions, and a smile that cut the wind and pollen through the air so fast I felt infinite. I even went "no-hands" for a few seconds...
Shacha-Purity of body, cleanliness, environment. Practice evenness of mind, body, and speech.
Santosha-Be content. Practice gratitude and internal joy. Remain calm with success or failure. Let go of expectations.
Tapas-Commitment. Pursue daily practices with determination. Have enthusiasm for the path.
Swadhyaya- Expand knowledge through reading, NOT accepting without question, pondering to understand the scriptures' underlying wisdom. Practice reflection, and wanting to know the Truth.
Ishwara-Pranidhana- Surrender to God/Light/Energy of Universe Practice faith, dedication, sincerity, and patience to transcend the ego.
Amy Poehler's commencement speech to Harvard's graduating class of 2011;
"Be open to collaboration. Other people and other people's ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you. Spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life..."