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Visioning Drifting, without aim or purpose, is the first cause of (perceived) failure.

Without a plan for your life, it is easier to follow the course of least resistance, to go with the flow, to drift with the current with no particular destination in mind. Having a definite plan for your life greatly simplifies the process of making hundreds of daily decisions that affect your ultimate success. When you know where you want to go, you can quickly decide if your actions are moving you toward your goal or away from it. Without definite, precise goals and a plan for their achievement, each decision must be considered in a vacuum. Definiteness of purpose provides context and allows you to relate specific actions to your overall plan. ~ Napoleon Hill

I often speak about our misled society – especially at the onset of the New Year. I speak about how we are too focused on goals, on moving forward, on failure and accomplishment. Yet, as the preceding quote has identified, there is also something unproductive about living without goals. It can make us indecisive, unsettled, unmotivated. Today we are going to celebrate goals – but goals in a new sense of the word. We will instead call them visions. And this doesn’t mean visions in “The Secret” sense. For these visions, we are delving deep into our authentic selves and seeing ourselves how we are meant to be.

Yes, this can be quite hard work.

However, once we can identify the vision of our Selves – with a capital S – we can more easily understand where our actions today, in this moment are leading us. We can see not only WHAT we are striving towards, but WHY we are striving towards it. We can more easily make decisions by asking ourselves, “Is this in line with my vision?”. It does not only help us say “yes”, but also “no” when necessary. It reduces the clutter of thoughts and miscellaneous, unrealistic “goals” that cause us anxiety and a feeling of failure. So, this class, let’s take the time to visualize our selves as we were meant to be.

You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction. ~ Alvin Toffler

I’d like to entice everyone to think about something you’d like to achieve in your yoga practice this year, and how it aligns with your larger goal. For example, if inner and outer strength is what you see in yourself, and you would like to start to show it to the world, perhaps your goal is something like being able to sit for 10 minutes a day in meditation. Or perhaps you see yourself holding bakasana (Crow pose) for 3 breaths.

Dissatisfaction and discouragement are not caused by the absence of things but the absence of vision. ~ Anonymous

Asana of the day: Though class was full of reaching for the stars with challenging poses today, I would challenge everyone to do 5 mental sun salutations – surya namaskar – today. (There are several variations to sun salutations – use the one that you are most familiar with.) (Here is one version, to refresh your memory.) Watch your body as it achieves length and superb strength through each posture in the series. Imagine how it might feel to stretch as long and tall as you can in urdhva hastasana, open heart, feet grounded. See yourself as an image of strength and beauty in high lunge. Imagine your core in a full chaturanga dandasana. So, close your eyes, and get to it! (You can even add in a few real sun salutations if you’d like!)

As we move up past our neck and further into our head chakras, the focus becomes less on grounding and more on liberation. The balance between both– our roots into the Self and the Earth and that which connects us to something greater, something above, and the universe– is the goal that we attempt to achieve through yoga practice.

As our focus shifts to liberation, we see that the upper body becomes more of the focus in these last weeks of our journey. We began class with some meditation: we warmed up our visualization muscles by packaging up all worries and thoughts and schedules in little bubbles, watching them float away to allow for a clear mind for our practice. As the sixth chakra governs our inner visions, we completed this visualization with bringing to view what we saw as a result of our class. We saw ourselves authentically, at peace, and open… and aspired to hold this image throughout class.

As we moved into sun salutations, we kept our eyes closed for a little while to reduce the amount of over-stimulation from our outside world and tune into the inner world of vision and insight. the sixth chakra challenges us to listen to our innate wisdom, our body cues, our intuition and our dreams to understand life. By filling our mind with the images we aspired to through the yoga practice, and by drawing inwards, we hoped to cultivate this trust and insight.

Closing our eyes during high lunge or Crescent Moon Pose (Anjaneyasana) brings some challenge to the pose, but also allows us to view inside what we feel in our bodies. We can view ourselves in the most beautiful posture ever, regardless of what we can physically see. If it feels beautiful and liberating, chances are the pose is perfect for you at the moment. Dropping our back knee to the earth only allows us to root even more securely and gain more freedom in the upper body (Anjaneyasana with knee down). Whether we progress into further opening by bending the back knee, or we stay where we are, it doesn’t matter. The spirit of the pose is always there, provided you are being true to yourself and that you are holding your vision.

The same visualization process applied for each standing pose we warmed up with. In Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle pose), we imagined the perfect line tracing from our fingertips down through the outer edge of our back foot. In Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), we evoke the spirit of that warrior/warrior-esse inside and bring to mind the strength and grace within. Finally, Trikonasana brings to our minds the strength of triangles and the stability that they bring to structures.

We went on to some balance after our initial warmup of standing poses. We embodied that Eagle within, the strong and free, in Garudasana. And then, after further heart opening in Wild Thing (Camatkarasana… yes there is a name! One poetic translation of this pose means “the ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart.”) we proceeded into Dancer’s pose, or Natarajasana (another nice article here), and embodied the Dancer within us. By bringing our attention away from the others in the class and facing outwards, we brought ourselves inwards and expressed the pose to our best ability. Again, whether we are holding the wall or a table for stability or whether our leg is perpendicular to the ground… our vision and the inner feeling of liberation and beauty that this pose brings is the important part.

Before savasana, we balanced our minds and bodies with alternate nostril breathing. Read about it here (this is a pdf that you can print out and use! It shows the hand mudra that was used in class this day.). We continued the theme of visualization through savasana, as we walked through a guided visualization. We stepped into a peaceful, relaxing, “favorite” place and out of our body for a while to see this peace, relaxation, and happiness embodied. We attended to the details of our surroundings to keep our minds full of beautiful images and cultivate detailed perception. And most importantly, as we came back to the room resolved to hold this image of peace and relaxation as we stepped back into the world. If we were all to visualize peace and happiness at all times, imagine what power that may bring.

Just me…

2010 Journey

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