Archives for posts with tag: duality

Life is a cycle of taking and giving… The more we give, the more we take. I have always believed that we should first give in order to take. We should give so that we open a space in our lives and then we fill that space with the new one. Just like the movie “Pay it forward”… Do you remember the movie? A boy named Trevor with a problematic family life creates an ideal word in a homework given by his new  teacher. In that ideal world, Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward–repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. In the meantime, some changes occur in lives of every one Trevor knows, particularly his teacher. Every favor paid forward is repaid somehow.

When I decided to focus on giving-taking cycle in the yoga classes this week, I remembered this movie. To give before taking and to open a new space for the new comer. To wish to get rid of emotional and physical problems in our lives and to open a new space for something new and better for us. Is it possible to open a space for something new and better without getting rid of the old one?

Therefore, I focused on stretching the chest with backbends in all yoga classes this week. The peak pose was “urdhva dhanurasana” (wheel) which is the most feared but the most desired pose of all students. All students feel so happy when they see they can really get in the pose. I asked the students to try the “asana” (pose) by getting rid of the emotional and physical burden which prevent them from getting in the pose. Who knows what kind of burden we had in our minds and hearts those days that prevented us from getting into this pose? First of all, I asked the students to focus on their minds and emotions. To realize their mental and emotional burden and then to realize that this burden was no useful to them, to get rid of the burden and to rise in the pose. First give, purify and get rid of and then to welcome the new one… Cycle of taking and giving… The law of circulation…

Some of us are just givers. They like to help every one without expecting anything in return. They prefer to make others happy by giving without expecting anything in return. They become happy when others are happy.

Some of us are just takers. They always want to play the leading role in life. They want every one to love them, like them, be kind to them, be appreciated and loved so much. They always want to draw all the interest and attention. They want to attract all love, material and moral everything on themselves. However, they do not think of paying attention to others and making others happy in return.

In my opinion, to be always a giver or always a taker is not a right thing. If life consists of dualities and if there is “yin-yang” (female and male) energy in life, then we should not just be a taker or a giver. We should somethimes take and sometimes give so that we can live the life in full balance.

What was I thinking at the end of the class? We should first give in order to take. We should get rid of things that give us pain and trouble and open a space for the new comers that might be better for us. We could not take if we do not give. If we do not open a space for the new things, nothing could get into our lives. It was this simple. We could not get a new shirt if we do not give the old one to someone in need. The law of circulation was this simple. We could apply the law to moral and material things, i.e. everything in life. We should open a space for the new comers. This was what I was thinking at the end of class, To live without piling up, to first give in order to take and to open a new space for the new comers.

A special day comes again. February 14 Valentine’s Day is being celebrated all around the world as well as Turkey. Unfortunately we have become such consuming societies that these days are just be regarded as days to earn more and lose the real intention behind. Do we love our spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father or friends only one day? Why is this day different from other days? Isn’t love the real meaning of our lives? Isn’t love the life itself?

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Love is such an energy that people grow and progress with love. Love is the most special and important of all emotions. Only love can challenge hatred in the world. Only love joins everyone all around, progresses and enhances people. Just imagine what happens in case of lack of love in your life? How do you feel? How do you live? When you are deprived of love, don’t you feel as if you are dry up like a leaf? I myself feel so. As if I lack water and food. I dry up and fade away. In just one second, I start seeing negative emotions all around me. Particularly fear and hatred. When I am deprived of love, I fear everything. Fear of losing, fear of falling and fear of not being able to stand up after I fall down.
What about hatred? We always talk about duality of life. Hatred is also the opposite emotion of love. When we lack love in our lives, hatred comes and settles. When we lose the emotion of love, we start to hate everything, life, people, our surrounding, environment, world, animals and everything you may think of.
It is so easy to lose love… When you hesitate for a moment, when you fear for a moment, when you hate for a moment… You can lose love and be surrendered by negative emotions.
So can we say that we can avoid hatred and fear by multiplying energy of love in the world as love is the antidote of fear and hatred? Of course. When love increases in the world and universe and it is spread, hatred and fear will diminish.
How can we achieve this? First by loving ourselves, understanding ourselves and forgiving ourselves. As we forgive and love ourselves, love in our hearts will start to grow up, our hearts will be opened up more, and as we open up our heart more, we will feel ourselves freer, our perspective on the world will broaden and change. That is, we will change our own life by first loving ourselves. Then what? By loving and sympathizing a person who treats us badly. By forgiving them, leaving everything in the past, putting a blanket on all negative thoughts, feelings and energies, only living in the moment, loving everything around us, and showing sympathy to everyone.
We, humans, come to life innocent and full of love. There is no hatred or fear when we are child. We are just “pure love” when we are a child. All these emotions show up as we grow up and become polluted with the rules of the society. After the society puts rules and asks us to obey them, we start to pretend and become someone we are not. We lose our innocence and freedom and become more and more polluted.
When we do not lose our childhood and protect our innocence, when we behave just as we are and we live freely, we try to apply all these criteria in our relations. When we are free and when we feed our souls with love instead of hatred and anger, there will be no fears and expectations in our lives. We set free and respect our boyfriend, girlfriend, friend or parents. We love that person just the way s/he is and without trying to change him/her.
Just imagine children. I taught kids yoga for some time. In those classes, I had the opportunity to see the difference between kids and the grown-up. Children were not wearing masks. They were behaving just the way they were. Sincerely… They was not thinking of shames. They could tell you, “teacher you look so ugly today” or “teacher you look so old today”. Things that we may not like to hear. But they were saying them abruptly. As a person with short hair-cut, one of the kids once asked me, “teacher are you a boy?” They do not think of “shames” or “sin.” We are implanting all these emotions and thoughts in their minds in time and we are polluting them. “Kid, you should not say so, it’s a shame” or “kid, you should not say so, it’s a sin.” And the society turns individuals who are once “love” into individuals of “fear” and “hatred.”
Therefore, we should be just like kids. Fearless, without expectations and we should love just the way someone is. When we love someone, we should respect at the same time. Whoever we are facing, we should be aware that a relationship consists of at least two people and both people are equally responsible. Everyone is responsible for his/herself in love. First we should love and accept ourselves and then we should love and accept the other person just the way s/he is and without trying to change. We should first open our hearts and give our love to that person generously. We should love our spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers, fathers and friends unconditionally and without waiting for a response. We should love without any expectations. We should love just for ourselves, not because the person we love loves us in return.
Love, Valentine’s Day. Everyday is love and valentine’s day for me. Love is an indispensable part of us because we are all “love.” The biggest energy in the world is “pure love.” If we can live more from the heart instead of minds, and if we let our heart speak instead of our minds, if we can show and make our love be felt by everyone, there will be no need to add meaning to days and remember the loved ones only on one day. If we leave aside emotions lived as we grow up like aggression, fear, selfishness, we can spread the energy of love to the entire world. If we can leave aside all the negative emotions we are made to learn, we can see how much we are full of love. The only thing we should do is to love and be able to love everyday. Wishing every day to be full of love, compassion, understanding and sympathy… Wishing you to be “love” every day. Wishing that you can feel and make someone feel “pure love”…

“To be one and whole”… “The unity and integrity of the body, mind and soul”… The meaning of “yoga”… “To be yoga”… I have been teaching yoga for three years. Are my classes just a physical workout or can I touch the souls and minds? Are my classes bring bodily relief and progress or do they change the perspective on life and make spiritual and mental progress? Can I make a change even it is a minor change? Can my classes go beyond physical exercise and enable bodily, spiritual and mental unity and integrity? Could I make a difference in the perspective, approach and stance of my students on life?

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You may have thought why I am talking about all these. I have been often thinking about it recently. Are my classes just physical exercise? Do my classes consist of a series of asanas joined to each other and a peak pose that “is tried to be done” at the end of the class? Can I make a change in approaches and stance? Or in energetical sense? Does male or female energy prevail my classes? And I am thinking about life when I am thinking all these. The country we are living and the world. The recent incidents. And a question comes to my life: Why do we let the male energy prevail the world and dominate us? Why this much violence? Why this much anger? Why this much battle, row, argument, war and terror? Why and why?

In these days when violence prevails, i.e. the male energy, prevails… In these days this cruelty, this anger and this terror is more violent than ever, I am heading towards a yoga class and I am about to write a blog. Just watch yourself when you fell this much tense. Go over your body. For example beware of your shoulders. Maybe you have lifted your shoulders up and brought them close to your ears. Thus, you have squeezed the shoulder girdle and neck and become more tense? Are you squeezing your teeth? What about the area between the eyebrows? As you may have realized, our body gets tense when we feel tense and stressed and certain parts of the body gets tense. Therefore relaxation and relief start from the body. When we relax the body and the face, internally we can feel more relaxed and relieved.

Yes, I was feeling tense and first of all I tried to relieve and relax my own body. My shoulders were up and my face was really serious. I had also squeezed my teeth. First I relaxed myself and I suggested the students the same thing. “Soften your face, watch your shoulders. Roll your shouders back and push your shoulder blades towards your coccyx. Shoulders away from ears.”

That day we focused on “yin yoga” in order to reduce male energy and boost female energy. In my earlier posts, I had written that “yin” and “yang” were adjectives that were explaining “the duality” of life. “Yin” was the female energy and associated with “cold, winter, dark and passive” whereas “yang” was male energy and associated with “hot, light, summer and active.” Yin energy represented acceptance, surrender, let go, softening, tolerance and patience. Yang energy was “being the doer” and “active” whereas yin was “acceptance” and “being inactive and passive.” Similarly “yang” or “the male energy” was being aggressive but “yin” energy was tolerance and patience.

Unfortunately, the male energy prevails the world for centuries and therefore there are still conflicts, rows, battles, wars and terror in the world. According to yoga master Osho, the world is prevailed by male energy by 99 percent and the female energy is very limited. The only remedy is to release the female energy. Wars and terrorism cannot be prevented by demonstrations or anti-war protests because this is also a male energy.

According to the yoga master, the protestors are as aggressive as anybody and peace protests could turn into a revolt. Sooner or later buses are burnt, police are attacked by stones, police use tear gas and attack protestors by truncheons. Even for a good intention, peace cannot be ensured as male energy prevails. Osho says: “we are going to war in order to gain peace. What a conflict! We are going to war this way for centuries but we have not brought peace yet. Humanity has got into 5,000 wars in 3,000 years but it was no use because ideologies are male. (Therefore) female energy should be released. This is how balance is ensured.”

That day all these words of Osho wandered in my mind throughout the class. Do not focus on the goal, just enjoy the journey. If you focus on the goal, you become aggressive. You become greedy and male energy prevails. However if you let go with the flow, you only “be the flow yoursel”, “a state of acceptance” and “a surrender.”

And the end of class… We should equalize both energies to maintain balance. Not only bodily but also in our lives, our stance and approaches… We should give importance to female energy in the world, we should adopt female energy and try to boost female energy. More flexible, more tolerant, more acceptive, softer, more flowing, more passive, more receptive and more humane… When the female energy is boosted, violence will be less. Violence is destructive and creative energy, i.e. the energy of love, turn into a destructive energy if not used. Therefore, for better and more peaceful days in our country and the world lacking violence, we should boost female energy and become more flexible, more tolerant, more acceptive, softer, more flowing, more passive, more receptive, more creative and more humane… Not only men but also women…

 

 

Where have I been for the last two weeks? I have been having the most difficult time of my life. I was on vacation. I was kilometers away from my hometown. You may call it retreat. I was having good time. I could spend time on my own. I was writing blogs. I was reading. Sometimes I was walking on the beach sometimes I was riding a bike. I was swimming and surfing. I really needed such a holiday, without going out at nights. A good rest and a time to turn inward. Until two weeks ago.

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My old dog was sick two weeks ago. I wrote about this matter before in one of my previous posts. (This blog is available at https://burcuyircaliblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/why-are-we-afraid-of-losing)  As I have said I was kilometers away from my hometown and I could not ride my dog to our vet in our hometown. I found a vet in the town we were spending our holiday and started to take him to this veterinarian. My dog was so old and therefore his body was wearing out. We were correcting one part of his body but harming another part. Surely we did not give up.
Everything began as he refused to eat his diet food. Those days were so hot in that town. Besides it was so humid. When he stopped eating, he started to suffer from liver and kidney problems. The vet started to feed him with serum. The vet also thought me how to inoculate him. “Do not give this old dog a drive every day. It is simple. You will do it this way”, he told me and showed how to inoculate. Ten-day process began this way.
I was waking up early every morning and inoculating my dog. I was walking him after the inoculation. In the meantime, I started to feed him with his favorite food. And a miracle. He started to recover. He started to drink water and eat his favorite food. I was saying, “cheater doggy. You refuse to eat diet food but you eat chicken, meat and pastry.”
However this was a temporary recovery. My dog stopped drinking water and I started to inoculate him every morning and evening. Since he could not eat his food from his plate, I was putting it on aluminum folio and put it in front of his nose. This way he could eat it. Sometimes I fed him by myself.
Days were passing by. One day, I came home and found him collapsed on his abdomen. All four legs and paws opened to sides. He was crying. I was so afraid and sad that I started to cry with him. I hugged him, I patted him, I caressed him, I kissed him and spoke to him. I tried to calm him. He continued to eat but he was not drinking any water. Since his liver and kidney values were high, he had to drink a lot of water. I was forcing him to drink. In the meantime, I called my husband. He had returned to our hometown some time ago. I could see how this course would end. Therefore I wanted my husband to be beside me. He would come five days later.
Last two days were too hard. I came home and found my dog fainted. I could not make him drink or eat. I immediately rushed to the vet. He had high fever and was suffering from infection in his body. He was unconscious. We tried to relieve him with inoculation and some medicine. The vet anesthetized him in order for us to spend the night in peace. When I came home, my dog was awake. Maybe he was not awake but he was crying and did not stop. I guessed he was in pain. I patted him, loved him, kissed him, caressed him all night. He woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to eat. I fed him and forced him to drink some water.
The following morning we went to the vet. My dog was crying without any interruption. He was crying, I was crying. I was feeling so bad and so sad. If I had known that the last days would be like this, would I ever have owned a dog? As I cried, the vet told me: “Actually, why don’t you use some sedatives?” I knew these were the last days of the dog. But my husband was to come in three days. I asked the vet to make the dog live for three more days. Our dog loved my husband more than he did me. There was a special link between them. Therefore my husband had to be with us. The vet gave sedatives to the dog in order to keep him sleeping. Because he was aware that the dog did not have any life symptoms. I fed him a little bit more when he was being inoculated that morning. I patted and caressed him.
When we got home, he was not breathing good. He was having difficulty in breathing. I was torturing him just to make him live for three more days. I could not stand it. I talked to my husband. That was the most difficult decision of my life. My cousin helped me at that moment. He was calmer than me and he talked to my husband. He told him that we were torturing the dog and the dog needed some rest and peace. My husband accepted.
I kissed, smelled, hugged, loved, patted, caressed him. I told him goodbye. And his soul was in peace and rest. That body did not have that soul anymore. The soul had to fly and become free. And we freed his soul, just like in “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting position).
When I am writing this blog, I wonder why I had to be alone in all this process. Why did I have to undertake all the responsibility by myself? I think I had to grow and get mature. Experience death this close. Realize the duality of life. Accept death as I accept life. If there is life, there is death. Even though I talk about these things in my classes and blogs, the real life is different. You cannot accept that easy. Whatever happens, one is connected to that body and soul and wanted that body and soul to be with him/her all the time. Thinking that body and soul would be beside him/her all the time. What have all this experience taught me? That I have to cut my ties, that I should not be dependent on others. That I have to review my ties and that I have to free myself. Even though I thought that I have cut my ties and saved myself from my addictions and that I am no more addicted and dependent, I actually was dependent and addicted. What did I do that day? I freed the soul of my dog. I cut my ties with him even though it was so hard and sad. Now it is time to save myself from my own addictions, cut my ties and free myself as much as I can.

“Do not resist. Relax your body and relax it more and more with each exhale. Inhale and surrender your body to the force of gravity more and more with each exhale.”

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I have told you in my previous post that I focused on yin and yang energies last week. Yin and yang… The balance of life… Duality… The sine qua non conditions of a yoga class… As there are yang elements in a yin class, you can find yin elements in a yang class. Every yin includes yang elements and every yang includes yin elements. Even you can try to visualize the yin-yang symbol. A white point in black half and a black point in white half… That is, one cannot exist without the other or both can only co-exist. (You can get further information about this post if you click the link: https://burcuyircaliblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/yin-and-yang/)

I focused on my both group and private classes and tried to balance yin and yang energies. Tried to bring forth yin energies in our bodies and to calm down. Why? Because the weather is hot due to summer and I thought it would be good for every one to slow down and relax. The word “yin” was associated with “feminine energy” and included the adjective “cold.” I thought it would be a good idea to accept oneself more and more and to surrender the body and mind in those hot days.

Actually, I had not practiced “yin yoga” with my student for a long time. We had focused on “vinyasa” (flow yoga) and “yoga sculpt” (a type of yoga aiming to shape the body up). We dwelled upon “gaining”, “achieving” and “winning” in our last two-month classes instead of “letting go”, “surrendering” and “accepting.”

When I arrived, I saw the student very tired. She was undergoing check-up those days and she did not like to practice “vinyasa.” I thought “yin yoga” would be fine and shared my view with her. Ok, we would focus on yin yoga but we would work as we did in my group class a few days ago. A yin flow with a yang peak pose. The peak pose would be “padmasana” (lotus pose) because I knew that this pose was a challenging asana for my student. We had tried lotus in our previous “yang” flows but we had not made any significant progress. This time we would try it with a “yin” flow. It would be an interesting experience.

Which parts of the body did we have to stretch for “padmasana?” We had to relax and stretch the hip external rotators and hip internal rotators. We would practice “sleeping swan”, “square”, “shoelace” and “eye of the needle” to stretch hip external rotators and “dragonfly” and “butterfly” to stretch hip internal rotators. We would wait in all poses for at least four minutes to stretch muscles, connective tissues and fascia.

The student was having difficulty in hip opening poses. Her legs were too high in “butterfly.” She was fine in one side of the body but she was having difficulties in the other side of the body in “sleeping swan.” I was wondering if we could get closer to “padmasana” after these yin poses.

I helped the student to deepen in asanas when working the hip external rotators. I asked her to place her sole of the feet on the wall and do “eye of the needle” that way. When she was staying in this pose, I helped her stretch the upper leg more and more. The student said, “I have not felt this pose this intense so far and this is the first time I have stretched this much.” This was what I wanted to heart hat day. I guessed “lotus” would not be that much impossible.

After relaxing hip external rotators, it was time to stretch hip internal rotators. We externally and internally rotated the ankles in “dragonfly” and then got into “butterfly”. Her legs were too high in butterfly as usual. I asked the student to let go and surrender the body with each exhale more and more with my verbal directives. However, nothing changed. We needed some “manipulation.” I stood behind the student. I placed my hands over her legs. I caught up her breath flow and “inhale exhale, inhale exhale, inhale exhale. Now relax your body a bit more with your exhale.” At that moment, I started to push her legs down each time she exhaled. I was loosening her legs with each inhale and pushing them down and trying to bring her knees down each time she exhaled.

What happened then? I realized that she was resisting. It was not the body, it was the mind. The mind was not letting go. The legs were reacting and pushing my hands upward when I tried to push them down with each exhale. I had to find another way out. I told her clearly: “The problem is not in your body. It is your mind. Now we will relax your mind. Remember the opening meditation. Inhale and when exhaling, let go all tension in your body and mind. Inhale and exhale. With each exhale, relax your body and mind more and more. Exhale, exhale and exhale.” In the meantime, my voice was lower and I closed my eyes. I kept the pace of her breath. “Inhale and exhaling, relax more. Relax your shoulders, round your spine. Relax your face, open your mouth a little bit. Do not squeeze your teeth. Cheeks relaxed. Eyebrows relaxed. Now with each exhale, let your body downward and downward. Do not resist to gravity, let yourself down more with the help of gravity. Loosen your hands on your feet. Is it possible to do something as if you are not exerting any effort? Do not pull your feet . Relax more and more with each exhale.”

What do you think had happened? Her body started to respond. Or should I say the mind? She relaxed herself more. Her hands loosened and her spine rounded more and more with each exhale. Her soles were away from each other and they opened to side to side like a “book.” The knees were closer to the ground. We had been practicing yoga together for over one and a half years but we had not seen such a relaxation and stretch in the “butterfly” pose so far.

I told the student to open her eyes and look at her legs. She could not believe. “My legs have fully opened. My knees are almost touching the ground. This is the first time I have seen them this much closer to the ground. They were always too high.” My answer: “I guess your mind should relax more, accept, let go and surrender. This means that it was destined for today.”

Before the peak pose, we practiced “rock the baby”, “akarna dhanurasana” (archer pose), internally and externally rotated the hip joint, and placed the ankle close to the groin and pushed the leg down and up. After all came “ardha padmasana” (half lotus) and “padmasana” (lotus).

Lotus was still away from us but “ardha padmasana” was no more a dream for us. She placed her upper ankle close to her groin. Seeing the happiness in her face that moment was worth everything.

“Teacher, I cannot believe that I am in half lotus. I think we need to work more. We should try this pose in every class. We cannot achieve anything without working. We should work more. We should try this pose in every class as how we try handstand or headstand. I want to open and stretch my hips more. We can do it. What I have experienced in butterfly today showed me that this is possible.”

My answer: “Then sit in butterfly pose when watching tv or reading a book at home every night. Try to bring your knees closer to the ground with each exhale. If your legs are too high, place pillows under your knees and thus your legs will not resist to gravity but let themselves down. You have seen what has happened when we stop resisting and move with the flow. Do not resist. Let go and surrender.”

I got the same lesson from this class. It was the “yin” or the “yang” stance. When we resisted, “yang” energy prevailed. We could not surrendered. We just focused on doing, achieving and winning. However, when we surrendered with “yin” energy and let go with the flow, when we focused on the breath and calmed down by watching the breath, the body and mind were relaxing more.

Another lesson for me. Nothing was impossible. “It could be hard but not impossible.” This was a sentence said by one of my teachers who helped me progress on the path of yoga so far. He used to say it to encourage me each time I lost my courage, hope and confidence. With this sentence, he was re-directing me to my path of yoga. “Hard but not impossible.” There was nothing that we could not achieve when we worked hard, practiced more, did not give up and had confidence in ourselves.

Yin and yang…  The balance of life… The sine-qua non conditions of a yoga class… As a yin class contains elements of yang, a yang class contains yin elements… Every yin has a yang element or a yang has a yin element. And try to visualize yin-yang symbol. There is a white point in the black part and a black point in the white half, meaning one cannot exist without the other or they can exist with each other. What am I talking about? I have been talking nonsense, haven’t I? Or has it made any sense?

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One of my yoga classes last week. I was so tired that day. I had four classes. I was so exhausted that I did not know how I could teach in the last class. It was hot that day and plus I was on my period. All on the same day. Had it been a regular day, I wouldn’t have been so affected.
I had a few different flows on my mind when I stepped in the gym class but I had not decided on which one to practice that day. I would decide according to the participants. If the frequently-comers were more than the new-comers, I would focus on a flowing yoga class and if the new-comers were more than the frequently-comers, I was planning to practice a calmer class. The new-comers were more than the others.
I went beside one of the frequently-comers and asked what kind of a class she wanted and whether she wanted to focus on backbends or forwardbends or maybe inversions. The answer: “What if we focus on hip openers?” What could I want more? Such a class would be calm and slow and it was so good for my situation that day.
We began the class with meditation. At that moment, I remembered my self-practice that morning. Why wasn’t I practicing the same flow in that class? A yin flow with a yang peak pose. Has it made any sense?
One of my yoga instructors used to say, “if you do not self-practice, your classes will be monotonous and all of them will be the same. If you do not practice on your own, you cannot create new classes and flows.” That moment, I once more respected my teacher because that flow was something I created during my self-practice. It was something that came up when I was listening to my favorite music and when that music took me to this flow. Then I thought “how nice flow it had become.”
I decided to stretch hip external rotator muscles, connective tissues and fascia and make students try “padmasana” (lotus pose). After this pose, we would again do some yin poses to open the inner thighs, groins, quadriceps and hamstring muscles and try “hanumanasana” (monkey pose). I was trying to say this when I said yin and yang. We would stay in yin poses for at least four minutes to open the muscles, connective tissues and fascia and try “padmasana”, which was an intense hip-opener. We had tried this pose before after yang flows in that gym class. Would it be possible to do stretch the bodies more with yin poses and get into “padmasana”?
For “padmasana”, we need to open especially the hip external rotators. Which yin poses could I use? “Sleeping swan”, “square”, “shoelace” and “eye of the needle.” We also needed to open the hip internal rotators because when these muscles were tight, it would negatively affect external rotation. For this reason, turning the ankles inward and outward in “dragonfly” could be a good preparation. A few steps before padmasana” came “rock the baby”, “akarna dhanurasana” (archer pose). And immediately before the peak pose, turning the hip joint internally and externally and putting the ankle close to the groins and trying to bring the knee closer to the ground… Then came “ardha padmasana” (half lotus) and “padmasana” (lotus).
After trying lotus, I asked my students: “We had prepared our bodies for the same pose with a yang flow a few weeks ago. This time, we tried it with opening the bodies more with yin poses. Have you seen any difference?” The frequently-comers said they could do “ardha padmasana” more easily even if they couldn’t get into “padmasana” with the help of yin poses. So comes another question: Was it because of “yin” or “yang” flow or “yin” and “yang” stance?
I would try to find the answer with another yin flow. The next peak pose was “hanumanasana” (monkey pose). Which parts of the bodies had to be opened for “hanumanasana”? The groins, inner thighs, quadriceps and hamstrings. Then the yin poses I chose had to stretch those parts of our bodies. “Dragon” to stretch groins and inner thighs, “half saddle” for quadriceps muscles, “triang mukha eka pada paschimottanasana” (a forward bend in Ashtanga Yoga series) and in the end extending and flexing the front leg in “dragon.” Another question: “Can you flow from one asana to another in a yin class?” Think flowing from “dragon” to “half saddle” by lying on your back, from “half saddle” to “triang mukha eka pada paschimottanasana” by lifting your body up and then bending forward and then rising to “dragon.”
Trying “hanumanasana” after this flow… How was the “monkey pose” after opening the muscles with yin poses? Could it be easier and deeper? I can say “yes” depending on my own experience. Believe me, “padmasana” was a dream for me but now I could get into “lotus” pose this or that way (not perfect though). Or my legs were closer to the ground in “hanumanasana” even though I could not stretch my quadriceps as much as I had to in the past one and a half years.
Now comes the answer to one of the questions above. Was it because of “yin” or “yang” flow or “yin” and “yang” stance? I think it was because of stance. I had wrote in my previous posts. If we could focus on breath and do the asanas in a more “yin-like” stance in a “vinyasa” flow, we could do all poses. Let me elaborate. Think of an asana which is hard for you. Can’t you do it more easily when you focus on your breath and calm down with your breath? For instance, I am still so excited when I try “adho mukha vrksasana” (handstand). When I cannot calm down my excitement with my breath, focus on my breath and calm down my mind and approach the asana with a “yin” stance, I “fail.” I jump to the wall but I cannot reach. My mind obstructs me. But when I focus on my breath and calm down my mind and make my stance “yin”, I can reach the wall even in my first try and I see that I can take my legs off the wall and stay in the pose for five breaths. Could I give the answer to the question?
Let me make it more simple. “Virabhadrasana II” (warrior II) in a “vinyasa” class… Is it possible to round the shoulders, push the scapula towards the hips, soften the face, ease the mouth and teeth and the eyebrows? That is, can we make our stance more “yin-like” when doing a “yang” asana in a “yang” class and relax more?
“Yin” and “yang”… Duality of life… Intermingled… Unseparable… Can we think of black without white, or a day without night? Or a summer without winter? How nonsense it would be, wouldn’t it? Always hot or always cold. We could not appreciate what we have. The only thing we should do is to accept “yin” and “yang” as “complementary” adjectives instead of thinking them as opposite aspects.

“Savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose)… The end of one of my private classes… I was giving verbal directives to relax the student. “Let your feet fall to either side of the mat. Relax your legs and hips. If hips are still tense, then squeeze your hips and now let it relax and spread on the ground. Relax your abdomen and back. Relax your shoulders and chest. Palms facing up, relax your arms. Relax your neck. Lips half-open, tongue rests on the lower palate. Relax your cheek, eyes, top and back of your head… Let your body melt with the gravity from the toes to the top of the head. Relax whole body. Let the energy of the earth to take your body in. Make your body heavy on the ground. Surrender to the energy of the earth. Focus on your breath. Watch your inhales and exhales and ground your body more firmly on the ground as you focus on your breath. Try to see that the body is only a sheath. You can focus between your eyebrows or just watch your breaths.”
These were my sentences at the end of a tiring vinyasa class. I was preparing the student for deep relaxation. We were practicing together for over one and a half years. The student was relaxing at that moment but she was talking to me at the same time. Something that made me so happy: “I am focusing on my belly button and I think I feel some kind of energy there. As if I am living there. As if I have another hearth there.”

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What could I want more? These words took me back to years ago. To a yoga class in which I almost felt the same things. I was so obsessed with meditation those days. There were issues I needed to solve and my yoga instructor advised that I do a lot of inversions and meditation. Every morning, I was waking up and meditating between five to fifteen minutes after practicing “sirsasana” (headstand), “sarvangasana” (shoulderstand), “halasana” (plow), “karnapidasana” (ear pressure pose) and “matsyasana” (fish pose).
How long the meditation would last changed according to my schedule that day. Every evening, I also meditated for at least 15 minutes. I was relaxing and easing my mind with inversions and turning inside with meditation. Cleaning myself up and purifying. Days were passing by.
That morning, we practiced a ten-minute “savasana.” We had not had such a long relaxation in our class before. When lying down in “savasana”, I realized that my body and soul were two different and separate things. My body was heavy on the ground and surrendered to the earth while my soul was “flying”, “really feeling enthusiastic and peaceful.” I felt my body lying down and my soul “flying” in real sense. I remember thinking if dying was something like that. It was so peaceful that I was not afraid. I could hear the words of the teacher, who had started to wake us up from “savasana” with directives. “Deepen your breaths. Wake the body up with deeper breaths. Circle your ankles and wrists and interlace your hands over your head. Stretch your body. Hug your knees to the chest and drop your body to the right. Get into a sitting pose.”
I could hear all these but I could not move. My soul liked what it was like “to fly” and did not want to be hampered. My body was calling the soul but nothing happened. The class was over. Everybody was leaving the class when I decided to return to the real life by leaving “those amazing moments.” But, I was not the “person I used to be.” Something had changed. I could not understand what had happened but my life had changed.
I wanted to talk to the teacher and told her about the experience. The only thing she said was “it happens. Don’t be afraid. Nothing important.” These words urged me to do more research on my experience through the internet of course. I googled, googled and googled. In the end, I found: “Astral travel.” I read the experiences of others and found similarities with mine. I made the diagnose. “The mind wanted to know and learn.” This is what the mind is.
So, what was “astral travel?” In simple, it happens when astral body (etheric/subtile body), i.e. the soul leaves the physical body and travels around. The soul is linked to the body with an astral cord like a baby’s connection with his/her mother through the umbilical cord. This astral cord is situated in the belly button and a soul could leave the body through this cord and re-enter the body again through it.
That day, what the student felt was this deep cord and link. I could not realize how we made this much progress in meditation. In our previous classes, we had talked about what she felt during “savasana.” Seeing different colors, different colors turning around in circles… All these were indicators that meditation was so close. However, I could not realize that we were this much close to “samadhi” (bliss).
“Samadhi” is a spiritual state of consciousness in which the body, soul and mind are a whole, there is no more duality, high consciousness is reached and you are beyond time and space.
I thought I had to share my own experiences with my student at that moment. I had not talked about this to anyone before. This meant that I needed to express myself too. “When you have such an experience, you see that your body is just a cloth and the real actor is your soul. When you are more conscious, when the body, soul and mind are a whole, when duality ends, when everything is a whole, when there is no more time and space, one starts to think and feel differently. Whatever was important in the past are no more important. You look at life from a different perspective. This must be ‘dying before you die.’ We start to see that how much we waste, how unsatisfied we are, how much and how unnecessary things we buy, how unnecessary we are hurt and become so sad. We start to live more simply. We become happy with smaller things. We simplify our lives. We narrow our surrounding. We clean out unnecessary things and people. We are more satisfied to be alone. We do not hoard. We do not meet people if we do not want to. We do not go anywhere if we do not want to. We do not join and parties, weddings or meetings if we do not want to and just because we are obliged to. In short, we free our souls. We give the right to live and choose to our souls and thus we become so happy and peaceful than any time before.”
A sitting pose after “savasana.” Palms joined in front of the heard in “anjali mudra.” Chin to the chest, meaning ego bends forward before the heart. A class that began with just physical intentions ended in a philosophical way. “Actually, we are responsible for being happy or not. When we are under the influence of the mind and act with the mind’s will, happiness is getting far away from us each moment. However, when we listen to the soul, happiness is just beside us. Hoping to make decisions from heart and soul and live that way instead of listening to the mind or ego…”

I witnessed an interesting dialogue in a place where I went for yoga classes last week. I always say, “yoga does not only consist of asanas. Asanas are the part of yoga seen and known by everybody. Yoga is actually the life itself.” The conversation that day made me think about this issue once again.
If you keep reading my posts, you know that I am practicing yoga with kids for some time. Believe me, it is a very interesting experience for me. I learn new things every class. Kids! Their horizons and imagination is so wide that I sometimes find myself thinking, “only if we could stay at childhood and never grew up.”

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I got to the preschool almost half an hour before the class. When I was waiting for my class, I was chatting with some of the teachers. The mother of one of the kids was also at the preschool that day. That week was their first week at the preschool and they were facing adaptation problem. The kid was hugging his mother and did not want to be separated from her. Teachers were trying to convince the kid one after the other. They were trying to promote the preschool but the boy was not listening to them. I witnesse a conversation between the mother and one of the teachers and suddenly I joined the conversation too. The mother said that she would stop taking the kid to the preschool if the boy did not like the school that day and she would give up taking her son to the preschool for that year. She said, “we have not made our son cry until today. I feel so sad. If he is crying this much even though I am still here, what will happen and how will he cry when I leave him here alone a few days later?”
At this stage of the conversation, I felt myself obligated to join the conversation. “I am sorry but your kid has get accustomed to make you do everything he wants and uses his tears as a weapon. If you give up and take your son from school, then you will do what he wants. He knows that you cannot stand his crying. But life is not always so amazing. There are dualities in life like summer and winter, cold and hot, crying and laughing. For how long can you keep on protecting your son? Everything will be more difficult when he begins the elementary school in a few years. Crying is also a part of this life. Your son should also learn this. And for your respect, a little bit more patience. See what happens when you stay calm and patient. Just stand a bit. I know you are so sorry and sad about his crying but just a little bit patience.”
The mother was confused. At that moment, one of the teachers said the kid had no problems when he was alone with the teachers but he did not like joining a group and he started to cry when he was asked to join a group. You have seen the point, haven’t you? The mother is a housewife and she is alone with his son all the time. The kid does not see anybody but his mother and therefore he does not know how he should behave in a social atmosphere. Going to a preschool is a very good step for his personal development. The teacher said all these to the mother and the mother was more confused. In the meantime, the kid was walking around the preschool with a teacher.

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My class was about to begin and I entered the class with a big ovation. I intermingled with my students in a month. I am not only happy when I am with them but also I see that I am progressing more each day. Why? Because I am working with children and they lose concentration very easily. For this reason, I have to keep their concentration and attention all the time. I usually practice the same “yoga tale” for two classes in order to make them learn the sequence more. The kids know the tale and asanas in the second class but sometimes they lose attention in that second time. When they lose attention, I make them stand up, run or jump and then sit again and go on with the asanas.
I was so concentrated on the class that I did not realize that the adapting kid was watching us with his teachers. We came across with each other at the door of the class when I was leaving the class. I told him, “we had so much fun today. We went to the seaside, we swam, we became friends with fish and sharks. We got on a hot balloon and we flew. Then I was a bridge. Everybody were cars and they passed through the bridge. We are having so much fun. Come to the next class, won’t you?” The kid was not like he was an hour ago. He was calmer. Maybe he started to stand on his feet. Who knows?
The point of this post? We are living in a jar most of the time. A secure and profitable job, parents supporting and encouraging us, spouses who always stand by us, our families, relatives and friends who we may resort to when we are in trouble. As if life is always amazing. We are trying to see only the good sides of life. When something negative happens, we immediately forget it. We are not patient. We want everything we want to happen at that moment. We always want to be spoiled and made happy. However, life is not like that. Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not a pessimist person or I am not drawing a pessimist picture. I only advise you to be aware of the dualities of life. I am telling you that if you accept life as it is, with its positive and negative sides, then you will have a happier life. I am telling you that when we are patient, life can be full of surprises. Only if we accept the life with all its dualities, positive and negative sides, and we act more patiently.

I am on vacation. Maybe you have noticed. I am posting fewer articles these days. I also have to have a holiday, boost my energy and get ready for the winter, which I do not like so much. So, I am writing less and my posts on twitter and facebook are less than usual. This is holiday! I have to charge myself up and welcome winter more fruitfully.

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When we become a yoga instructor, our business is with energy. Many people join yoga classes to feel better. Both bodily and spiritualy. Therefore, we, yoga instructors, should have high spirits and energy so that we could please our students. For this reason, summer is a time to charge ourselves up, particularly for a person like me who lives just for summer. This is who I am. Even though I am a yoga instructor, I am not a saint or a guru. I accept the duality of life in many areas but it is not true when it comes to summer and winter. For all these reasons, summer is a season in which I live my own way and be just myself. Being yourself and living the life your own way and as you like it? Has it made sense to you? Believe me, it meant nothing to me five or six years ago. When someone told me “living your own way and as you like it” before I met yoga, I would just ask “what does it mean?” However, I have a different perspective now.

I am on vacation. I am not supposed to live the same life I am living in my hometown. It is called vacation. However, one cannot give up his/her habits so easily. Like what? Like waking up early in the morning. I am a yoga instructor but I have wrote about it in my earlier posts. I like to drink in social occasions. When I am with my friends or at a meeting, I do not say, “no I am a yoga instructor and I never drink.” For a couple of nights, I am drinking because of some social events and it can be wise not to wake up early in the morning and have some rest. But unfortunately, my biological clock is working and I wake up early in the morning. Really early. So that I have waken up, I walk the dog and then I either ride my bike or have a walk around the area. It is my habit to do cardiovascular workout every day. My body wants it. After that, I do one-hour yoga to stretch my body. Sometimes “vinyasa” yoga and sometimes “yin” yoga. Then, I have a good breakfast and go to the seaside and spend the day there. My days were like this until today. I can see you ask what has happened today. Again I woke up early thanks to my biological clock but my body did not want to leave the bed. First the evil in my body, which I call “my ego” poked me. “Come on, get up and ride your bike. Burn some calories.” Then my soul said, “no, I am feeling tired today and I will go on resting. What if I do not do cardiovascular workout today? Nothing happens. Just enjoy your holiday.” And I listened to my soul. It was a good idea to listen to my soul and behave as I like it. I slept well till 8 a.m. This was the first time that I had slept until 8 a.m. For a long time. Then I walked the dog. I made tea and have a good breakfast. I drank Turkish coffee and I felt so well. Later, I went to the seaside. The sea was wavy. Not a problem. It was hot and without the wind, it was impossible to stay on the shore throughout the day. Thanks to the breeze, I spent the whole day by the shore. I swam and rest on the sunbed, I swam again, I swam again and again. I do not know how many times I swam that day. In the afternoon, the waves were bigger than the morning. Therefore I could not swim so much. It was ok. I do not have to think swimming as a cardiovascular workout all the time. I behaved as I like it. I would have been sorry not to do cardiovascular workout and burn calories five or six years ogo.

Don’t we just live our lives as others instruct us? Don’t we always do things that we do not want to but just because we have to? We meet some people just because we have to. We smile to people whom we do not like just because we have to. We go to a dinner or a wedding just because we have to. Among all these “have to” things, where do we stand and don’t we have a responsibility to please ourselves?

In my opinion, pleasing ourselves is more important than anything. It is better not to do something instead of doing it just because we have to. When we do something because we are obliged to do it, people understand it from our face and stance and they do not show that they understand it because of their own obligations and grace. Don’t you think we live a fake life that way? Don’t we violate the principle of “satya” (truth), one of the fundamental ethical values of Ashtanga Yoga. Fake meetings, fake smiles and fake lives… What if we live just as we like it? We say things that we like to say but without hurting others… Saying what you think and as you like it does not mean being rude or hurting others. What if we see people just because we want to see them… What if we do sportive activities and yoga, go to work or write just because we want to… Or more simply, what if we eat and sleep when we want it, i.e. To live the most fundamental aspects of life as we like it… Hugging a person if we want to… Kissing our loved one if we want to… Without spending a second. Without thinking if it is a shame or not right for that moment. Doing it just because we want to do so at that very moment because we may not have another moment. The only true moment is the moment we are living right now. Therefore, won’t we feel better if we live the way we want? Won’t the principle of “satya” be a part of our life and won’t we live a real life? What is your idea?

Balance has always had an important place in my life. As a Libra, a balanced life is my sine qua non condition. But can I maintain my balance all the time? What if I am out of balance? I was thinking about all these issues when I focused on balance and balancing poses in my yoga class the previous night. Balance? What kind of a balance? Does our balance change day by day? How can we maintain our balance?

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We are still experiencing spring. One day, it is hot, the sun is shining and warming us up. That day, we take off our socks and wear summir clothes and sandals. The other day, it is cloudy and rain is expected. We feel cold if we go out with our summer clothes. Yoga classes are also changing day by day in such a season. Sometimes we prefer an active yoga class or sometimes a calmer class in hot days. In cooler days, we prefer a yoga class that can warm us up. Therefore, our yoga practice changes day by day under these circumstances.
That day, it was very hot in Ankara. I was feeling sleepy because of the sun that made me hot when I was driving to the pilates studio. I drank a cup of coffee once I arrived at the studio just to feel more energetic. It was a nice day to test our balance.
Students came and the class began with a short meditation. We then got into balancing poses in table pose because I had planned a balance-based yoga class for that night. Then we tested our balance by standing on a single hand and by lifting a single leg at one time in “adho mukha svanasana” (downward facing dog). Then we stood up and warmed our bodies up with “surya namaskara” (sun salutation) series. Now, it was time to focus on balancing asanas. Among them were  “vrksasana” (tree), “natarajasana” (danscer), single-legged “utkatasana” (chair), “ardha chandrasana” (half moon), “vasisthasana” (side plank/Sage Vasistha pose). Thee peak pose of the day was  “utthita hasta padangusthasana” (extended hand to toe pose) variations.
We were supported by a block or by the wall in somee asanas and we just watched our balance. We saw that the balance in the right and left parts of our bodies might be different. We realized that we might do one asana successfully in one day but might fail in it the other day. So, what was the point of that class? Why did we focus on balancing asanas? To know that our balance may change from day to day and accept this fact.
This was the point of that class. Most importantly, to accept that the balance in the right and left sides of our bodies might be different. Maybe we were more balanced in our right side, maybe we were more balanced in the left side. Or maybe we were balanced in both the right and left sides. But most importantly, what mattered was to accept our balance or imbalance, in other words our strong sides and infirmity, and love ourselves this way. The entire class was about this motto. All the class aimed to bring our awareness to this issue.
I am a Libra. My life has to be in balance all the time. I have to maintain my balance. What if I cannot maintain the balance? I will be physically and emotionally exhausted. How can I maintain this balance?
First of all, all of us has to accept that the life is built on “dualities.” We have to realize that there cannot be a man without a woman, a winter without summer, a day without night, brightness without darkness. In other words, we have to accept that night, summer, woman or darkness is meaningless without the presence of the opposite poles. Everything is meaningful with its opposite pole. So, we can build a balance in our life by accepting the presence of these opposite angles. We can establish balance only this way. Neither too much activity nor too much calmness, neither eating too much meat nor eating no meat, neither too much sportive activity nor too much stillness, neither too much love nor too much hatred… Only moderate behavior and only balance of all aspects. This is the order of our lives…