Passover – Traditions which inspire and transcend

Hello to all my favorite yogis.

Sorry, I have not written in a while.  Seems that keeping a proper blog is not in my constitution.  Oh well, I can let that go.

Tonight begins the Jewish Festival of Passover.  Like all good Jewish traditions, this one centers around food.  But it is not just any food, this is a meal, and a week of meals that is designed to remind us that we were once slaves in Egypt, and by the grace of G-d we were able to escape to freedom.

Tonight we will gather around our tables and tell the story of our escape from enslavement.  We will eat foods that will remind us of the tears of our ancestors, the hard work they did building pyramids, and the bread they were unable to finish baking in their rush to leave.

Passover provides us a unique opportunity to remember that we are not the only ones who have suffered slavery.  And more importantly, it encourages us to work to end the slavery that exists in  world today.  Yes, people all over the world are enslaved; children in sweat shops, children in the sex trade, adults in unsafe jobs with unfair/negligible wages, indentured servitude, battered spouses, and unfortunately the list goes on.  We don’t have to dig very deeply to find the ugliness of physical slavery in every corner of the world.

And our enslavement is not only physical. We are trapped by our computers, TVs and cell phones.  We are preyed upon by advertising which makes us think we are incomplete without the newest, latest, greatest whatever.  We suffer hunger, sexism, racism, global warming, etc. We are trapped by our childhood tapes of what it means to be good.   Spiritually and psychologically almost all of us are held by something.

And so here is Passover, and we get a chance to look about and within and choose once again to fight against slavery.  We get to rededicate ourselves to fight for freedom.  Freedom from the shackles of both physical and emotional bondage.

So, here is the work.  Look around and help out.  There are many programs out there that fight against modern-day slavery.  Pitch in, lend a hand  or send a dollar.  To quote  a favorite musician,  “none of us are free if one of use is chained.”

And also look inside, and see what are you willing to let go of this week?  Select something that is holding you back from living fully as your wonderful self.  How are you enslaved, and by what?  I know this is hard work, and it takes a brave heart to begin to let go of those chains.  Even the Israelites were reluctant to leave.    Slavery wasn’t good, but at least they knew it.  Change and freedom is scary, it is the unknown, and in the land of the unknown, we need to reach deep into our hearts for strength.  But isn’t it better that we live lives of wholeness, lives of connectedness, even if it means stepping into the wilderness.

In my classes this week, I will be encouraging my students to use their yoga practice to find the strength to touch their points of constrainment, to use their asanas to open their hearts, to become flexible enough to open the places that were closed within before.  We will be exploring backbends and their counterposes – opening our hearts and stepping into moments of awakening. And then from these moments of awakening, we can connect and be powerful in our openness and our oneness, and walk the path of yoga beyond the mat.

Shalom & Namaste
Diana Bonyhadi
Issaquah, WA

Happy Valentines Day

Valentines Day is still a couple of days away.  That means you still have time to nurture your own inner Valentine.  Let your practice this week be all about love. 

  • Fall in love with yourself
  • Spoil yourself
  • Send yourself love letters 
  • Listen to romantic music
  • Practice devotion 
  • Practice compassion
  • Practice empathy
  • Open yourself to Grace
  • Fall in love with yourself

Here are a view asanas to support your journey into love.  Hip openers and wide-legged stretches to release all that emotional stuff that gets gunked up in the hips.  Mountain and Warrior Poses to reminds us that we are strong and powerful.  Backbends to help us open our hearts.  And svasana fully propped to help nurture the quiet restful spaces within us.

  • Eka Pada Rajakoptanasana – Pigeon
  • Prassarita Podattanasa -Standing wide-legged forward bend
  • Upavista Konasana – Seated wide legged forward bend
  • Mountain – Standing Tall with Arms overhead
  • Virabradrasana I – Warrior I
  • Setu Bhanda  Sarvangasana- Bridge
  • Urdhva Danurasana – wheel
  • Svasana – Queens Pose with bolsters, eye pillows and blankets
  • Chant – Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu – May all beings everywhere be at peace

Now that you have your practice poses and intentions for the week, I offer you this love poem by Rumi.

A lifetime without Love is of no account

Love is the Water of Life

Drink it down with heart and soul!

 

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

Thanksgiving Greetings from your Favorite Yogi

My in-box has been overflowing with reminders of gratitude practices.  It has also been overflowing with opportunities to shop, shop, shop. Personally, I like the former much better.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  Family and friends come together for no other reason than to share gratitude and food.

My family has already begun to arrive.  My children are all now home – which brings me so much joy.  The kitchen cupboards and fridge are full, and the scent of baking fills the air.  Actually my son is making risotto which smells almost as good as hot chocolate chip cookies.  More of my family arrives tomorrow and there will be  21 for dinner on Thanksgiving.  Now that will be a bountiful evening.

Here is the thing about the holidays.  Even if this is your favorite time of year, it is the time you are most likely to overdue and wear yourself out.  So instead of reminding you about all the things you have to be thankful for, I will take this moment to remind you to take care of yourself.

Steps to self-care during the holidays

Take time to be alone: Get up a few minutes early to have some time to yourself.  Perhaps you will meditate, or maybe enjoy that first cup of chai tea/coffee by yourself.  Whatever you do – don’t do anything that is on your to-do list.  Just be.

Do your practice:  Even if you don’t have time to come to the studio for classes, do take time to do a few down dogs and warriors, a baby back bend or two, a couple of twists for your digestion and don’t skip svasana.  You can do this all in 20 minutes or less, and you will feel much better for it. And if you can squeeze in a full practice, it will definitely help you to stay calm and cool and centered in the face of any family dynamics or undercooked turkeys.

Nourish your body:  I know you plan on eating lots of turkey, stuffing and pie, but don’t forget your greens, salads, and even a light soup to refresh your body.  Be sure to start your day with a healthy breakfast, my favorite is yogurt, granola and fresh fruit.  This will give you all the energy you need to face the rest of the day.

That’s it.  Have a great Thanksgiving holiday.  As you sit down with your friends and family, look around and smile.  Let your heart fill with gratitude and let everyone know how happy you are that they are there.  I found this blessing and thought you might like it.  Direct the prayer to whatever the divine means to you.

Thank you for the elements, which compose our bodies, all of nature and this food we will enjoy.
Thank you for our ancestors who sacrificed for us to be where we are today.
Thank you for the earth and its astounding beauty.
Thank you for love, family, friendship and community.

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

Reflections on Yoga & Gardens

Happy Spring/Almost Summer. 

 
Wow! I am amazed at how much growth there has been in my garden this week.  Flower beds that have been dark and empty all winter are now overflowing.  Honest, I haven’t  planted anything. I just get to watch and enjoy.  I guess it’s just that the conditions were perfect for emergence.  The soil had all the nutrients, there was plenty of water, a burst of sun and some careful attention, and plenty of space to allow for expansion and abundance.

 
And that is what we do in yoga, we create conditions which enable us to emerge from the darkness.  We sow the seeds of abundance and create space in which to grow.  We kindle the natural energies of expansion – earth, fire, water, air.

 
And it is from this place of nurturence that we find our deeper selves rising to the surface.  Our bodies begin to shed the densities of the winter months and perhaps even years of dormancy.  As we move slowly, with compassion and integrity, our bodies begin to heal and strengthen.  Injuries and traumas from years past which have remained buried and stuck can be carefully addressed.  Injuries of the spirit and soul which have become stored within the body memory, can also be released.

Plant the seeds of your healing, nourish with healthy food and plenty of water, build some heat, and add some prana, breath deeply and aerate, allow space for growth, and be open to the growth and change that can and will happen.

Have a great week.

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

Even Yogis Procrastinate

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that living the life of a good little yogi does not prevent me from being a procrastinator.  You might have noticed that I didn’t update this blog for three weeks.  Guess what, that is not the only thing I managed to put off.  The list is embarrassingly long; I found the most amazing ways to avoid doing house-cleaning chores, desk work, paper work, and I even put off making my new years resolutions.  But  now I am playing catch-up and I thought I would share some of my New Years resolutions with you:

Resolutions for a Procrastinating Yogi

  • Meditate for 15-45 minutes every morning. (So far so good)
  • Cook a new dish every week  – that would be 52 new dishes this year.  Hopefully I will also teach a few of these to my kids.  Here are the cookbooks and websites from which I will draw inspiration:    Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi (http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/blog/category/recipes/), Natural Cooking Everyday, (http://www.101cookbooks.com/) Eat, Taste Heal – An Ayurvedic Guidebook and Cookbook for Modern Living (http://www.eattasteheal.com/ETH_dosha.htm) , and Terrific Pacific Cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=terrific+pacific+cookbook&tag=googhydr-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=5435336785&ref=pd_sl_39829tmzyo_e).
  • Study more anatomy:   Wow, did you know you can watch human dissections online.  Just type in a body part and the word “dissection,” and you will be amazed at what you can watch and learn.  Yea, I am an anatomy geek.
  • Study with amazing yogis.  I am already signed up for two intensives – I can’t wait till next weekend when I will be studying the anatomy of the neck and shoulders and learning some more thereapeutic yoga approaches for healing common injuries to this region.  Can anyone say rotator cuff?
  • Try out new local activities: We have so much to do here in the Seattle Area, there is no reason I can’t try at least one new adventure per month (hiking, kayaking, canoeing, climbing, museums, wakeboarding, etc).  Really I should make it 2 new activities a month, but if every one is as satisfying as this week’s adventure, I know I will be repeating them.  Friday I went to the Seattle Bouldering Project and did some rockclimbing.  What a blast, and a tremendous work out.
  • Visit a National Park:  Last year I went to Yellowstone, where shall I go this year?
  • Nag Less, Enjoy More:  It is too easy to see what bugs us first, and then try to find that which deserves celebration.  My goal for this year is to spend more time celebrating and enjoying life; my kids, my husband, my friends and my community and less time focusing on the negative.
  • Try not to procrastinate too much…..and then don’t kick myself too hard for being a procrastinator.

Happy New Year,

Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi

Changing Your Lifestyle and Yoga Practice to Match the Season

Balancing the Energies of Autumn

Changing your life style and yoga practice to match the season – does it make sense? Yes it does, and adding a few simple changes to your routine can make a world of difference in how you feel.

So, if you are currently feeling any of the following, here is some good news.

Sluggish?
Joints Creaky?
Skin dry and cracked?
Having trouble sleeping?
Harder to get up this morning?

What is going on?

Don”t worry you are not crazy.  Your body is adjusting to the change in seasons.  Ayurvedically speaking we are moving into the Vata season, known in the western world as Fall.  This is one of those times when you are reminded that, not only are we finely tuned instruments, but also that we are all interconnected beings.  Interconnected with each other, and the planet.

As we move from Summer to Fall, as the weather shifts from hot to cool, and as the air becomes wet and blustery, our bodies begin to adjust as well.  We slow down, and begin to let go of the collected heat of the summer.    And depending on our constitutions (doschas) and the balance of stress in our lives, the transitional period may go very smoothly or it may need a bit of fine tuning.

Here are a couple of things you can do to ease the transition from Summer to Fall.

  • Check-in and listen:  If you are tired get more sleep.  Go t bed earlier and maybe even take a short nap during the day. If  you are thirsty, drink more fluids.  I don’t mean to sound trite, but often the first thing we do is turn off the volume and ignore the signals being sent to us by our bodies.
  • Move the system along:  help your body adjust to the change in the season.  Add some cleansing and nourishing practices to your daily routine.  Here are a few things to help bring your body back into balance with the season.
  • Drink a glass of lemon juice and water to start your morning.
  • Brew yourself some ginger tea and drink it throughout the day.
  • Put more twists and longer holds in your asana practice.
  • Spend a few moments in meditation.
  • Take a long hot bath with salts in the evening before bed.
  •  Get a massage – go ahead, you deserve it and it will feel so good.
  • Add oils to your body – both internally (fish and vitamin E), and on the skin (Coconut & Sesame).

If you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda, your doscha, and more ways to stay in balance with the season, here are a few good links.  Also, I know there are many of you who read this blog that know way more than I do, so please chime in.

http://www.ayur.com/about.html

http://www.holisticonline.com/ayurveda/ayv-basis-harmony.htm

http://ayurvedaseattle.com/index.php?CID=28

Have a great day,

Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi

An Egg-cellent Education

I have a friend who is 14. She wants to go to college. So she is raising hens and selling super fresh, local, organic eggs. Once a week I get 2 dozen eggs for $6.00. Now, if you like fresh organic eggs, you probably know that this is a great deal. I used to pay at least $5.00/dozen. The best thing is that these eggs are incredibly fresh and delicious.

If you want in on this deal, Let me know. You can post your request for eggs as a comment to this post.  I will forward your request on to my friend.   Eggs will be delivered every Saturday morning to Village Green Yoga in Gilman Village, Issaquah.  Thank you Jean for your support.

You can pick them up at your convenience. You can also sign up in person for the eggs while checking out the classes at Village Green Yoga.

Here’s to vision and perseverance and a college fund endowed by farm fresh eggs.

Shalom & Namaste,
Diana