Sometimes, it’s hard to speak your truth

Read at your own risk:

Some people might find the contents of this message disturbing.

But, I can no longer can sit in silence.  I can no longer ignore the elephant in the room. Or the cognitive dissonance in my life.

Up till now, I have not wanted to risk making people uncomfortable. I have tried very hard not to offend folks in my classes or through my writing.  Why?  Because I grew up in a home where it was important to keep everybody happy, not to make waves, and to avoid personal, religious, or political conversations all together.  I have carried this into my professional life. After all, my politics are my politics, not yours, and your yoga practice should be a sanctuary.  Yoga is a practice of finding strength, flexibility and inner peace, who am I to disrupt your practice?

Well, that’s just it, isn’t?  I teach yoga not just because it is good for your body, but because I truly believe it is a clear, effective and authentic path to peace.  And I am a dedicated peace activist – always have been and always will be.  I teach yoga, because I know that if we can’t find peace within, we will never be able to build lasting peace for all beings on this planet.  And I want that, not just for me and my children, but for you, your children, and their friends and their parents and their parents friends and for all beings every where.

So…

How do I manage the feelings I experience when waking up to the morning news?  They range from anger, to fear, to frustration. And to a deep sadness.

I feel as though there is nothing I can do and yet I must do something.

What can I do?

What do I know?

I know that I care deeply for these people in my life; my husband, my children, my extended family, my friends, my colleagues.

And I care deeply about people I haven’t even met yet.  I know that every life is sacred.

I know that I love the mountains, the oceans, woods and rivers.

I know that there are animals on the planets I want to see – alive and free, not just in a museum of natural history.

I know there are places I want to visit that at risk  due to global warming, pollution and careless/selfish acts of humans.

I know that while I haven’t always been a patriotic American, I love this country and many of the values and ideals that it stands for.

At least until now.

Yes, I was one of those who didn’t believe Trump would be elected. How could America elect somebody who manifestly lied half of the time, stretched the truth the other half of the time, and hid behind hyperbole and redundancies?  Who threatened, bullied and incited violence.  I just didn’t see it coming.

I get it, there are many in our country who felt that he was offering them something new, a new way of getting things done in Washington and for this country.  Who seriously believed that he was going to be able to get them jobs and make America “great again.”  I get it, for too many Americans, hunger, poverty, lack of health care and bad education is a reality.  And I am so very sad about that.  I want it to be different too.

But not at the expense of Democracy and human rights.  Not at the expense of the environment and the health of the animals and humans living up or down stream of here.  Not at the expense of international relations and planetary safety.

I am overwhelmed almost every minute of every day by the decisions being made by Trump.  It seems he really is going to do some of those things he said he was going to do.  Amidst all the shadowing of the truth, he is in fact going to gut health care, remove environmental restrictions, promote business (particularly those of his friends), reduce/stop funding of the arts, put up a wall on the US/Mexico Boarder, and stop anybody who might be fleeing from a land destroyed by violent extremism from ever finding any safety or sanctuary here in America.

I can no longer remain quiet.  I commit to myself and to you, that every day I will do something, at least one thing, to let my voice be heard for freedom, honesty, integrity, health and wellness, and the environment.  I will walk, march, write letters, make phone calls, help in schools, help in prisons, help immigrants and refugees, help environmental organizations, help health care organizations.  I will do whatever I can think of.  I will do something every day.  I will allow myself to cry and I will hugs my friends when they need a hug.  And I will get back up and do it all over again.  Why? Because I believe this is my Dharma.

And I will continue to teach yoga.  I will help all of you to look inside and find what values you hold most sacred.  I will help you find strength to defend those values.  I will help you remain grounded and strong so you can speak out for the things you believe. I will work with you to keep you healthy, and to help you find peace inside. I will work to keep our yoga spaces places of safety, for all of us.  I will continue to provide yoga to people who don’t normally have access to yoga.  I will hold strongly to the fundamental tenets of yoga: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), bramacharya (respecting and maintaining the body) and aparigraha (non-coveting).

I will continue to use this newsletter to talk about yoga.  The former by-line for this blog was “Living Yoga Beyond the Mat”  I still seek to do that.  Let’s begin with inner peace and seek to make that a reality for everyone.  Let’s stand up for the environment and for one another.  Let’s be kind, honest, only take what we need, treat our bodies and our souls well, and let us not wish for or take that which does not belong to us.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year Yogis

2017 is already set up to be a year of dramatic change.   Not only will we be shifting gears in the geo-political arena, but we will also be seeing many shifts in our own personal space.  And for most of us, change is something we tend to approach with trepidation. Its unsettling. We don’t know where we will be going and what it will look like.  What we know, the current situation, while possibility uncomfortable and painful, is at least familiar.  So how do we prepare ourselves to step into change with an open heart and internal vitality?

One way, is to take time to know what our own internal landscape looks like and feels like. Once we know where we are, it is easier to move forward. This is most easily accomplished through meditation.  Taking time each day, to sit quietly with ourselves and simply observe.  Its best to do this first thing in the morning, before the busyness of life takes over.  But of course you can do it at any time.  Just set a timer (I like to use the app Insight Meditation Timer) and sit.  It doesn’t have to be for very long, 5-10 minutes will give you plenty of time to observe your breath, thoughts and feelings.  Don’t make it complicated, just be with yourself as you would be if you were sitting listening to your best friend.

Sometimes, its hard to just sit.  That’s where yoga comes in.  Moving our bodies, stretching our muscles, aligning our spine; all of these help to make it easier to sit in comfort. Take your time, again it doesn’t have to be very long, to move, strengthen and flex your body.  If you don’t have time to take a yoga class, there are a ton of options online.  A few times a week, and you will feel amazing results.

Also, it is very helpful to challenge yourself.  Do something you haven’t done before. Be it taking a class, volunteering for a cause about which you feel passionately, or pushing yourself in your yoga practice to explore a new pose or taking your postures a little further than you have done before.

I particularly like inversions.  They really do turn your world upside down.  Not only is there is that element of going upside down, but there is also the opportunity to see your world from a whole new perspective.  Not to mention a moment or two of fear. Will I get this?  Am I going to fall? And the moment of exultation.  I did it!  Maybe just a little bit, but I actually got a foot off the ground, or both feet, who knew?

So, whatever changes you may be facing, whatever challenges you are stepping into, I wish you  ease and comfort as you approach them.  Go gently on yourselves.  Give your self time.  Cut yourself some slack.  And at the same time, believe in yourself and your ability to move through change with strength and flexibility and love.

I will be offering a workshop on Inversions at River Tree Yoga.

February  12th, 2:00-5:00pm

Class size is limited, so we will have plenty of space and time to explore, ask questions and move.  The workshop will help you strengthen your inversion practice (headstands, handstands & arm balances) if you already have one, and help you get ready to start exploring inversions if you have never been upside down. Do sign up early if you are interested through the River Tree Yoga Website.

Also, many of you have been asking when will I ever start teaching on the West Side.  Wait no longer, as I will be launching a Mid-Day Bliss class at BendnMove in West Seattle.  This will be a gentle therapeutic yoga class appropriate for all ages and bodies.

12:00-1:15pm, Wednesdays, BendnMove

All my regular classes are back on schedule.  Its good to be back.

See you on the mat or out & about.

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

December News

Greetings Yogis,

After a tumultuous last 6 months, which included among other things; 3 weddings, 1 funeral, and many trips to take care of my father, I find myself once again needing to take a block of time off.  So, in an effort to make everything smoother for Village Green Yoga and all of my wonderful and dedicated students there, I have decided to take the entire month December off.  Making this decision has enabled me to select a single sub sub for each my classes, and thereby allow them to plan accordingly.  I will however be back to teach at River Tree Yoga in December , so do check the website Rivertreeyoga.com  to see when I am there.

I hope December brings you great joy and an abundance of light.  It is a month of celebrations and parties, so go out and play, make some music and kick up your heels. Be it trees, bonfires or candles, let the light fill your heart and remind you of all the good that exists in the world.

I know it has been a difficult couple months for many of you.  Personal challenges and tests of faith and perseverance surround us. And all I can say is, “keep on keeping on.”

Now I know that sounds trite, but it has actually been a great source of support to me of late.

I wake up to a world that keeps doing really weird and uncomfortable things to me, and all I can do is keep up my yoga & meditation practice. I try to remember the importance of all eight of the limbs of yoga, and try to take care of my body, my mind, my breath, my relationships, and my community.

So, as I sit here on a plane that is 3 hours late and filled with a couple hundred frustrated people who have been shuffled through 3 gates and missed innumerable connecting flights, I remember to breathe, do few shoulder rolls and hip stretches and try to stay calm and present.  Because in fact, there is really nothing that I can do to change this situation.  And this, is not that bad in the big scheme of things.  I remind myself that the only thing I have control of, is my own response to the situation.  So…headphones and a smile.  That’s it, hopefully it will help others to stay calm.

Oh, and sorry for the radio silence of the last few months.  As I said earlier, its been kinda crazy around here of late.  I find myself a poster child for the sandwich generation, and I am not sure I like it.  I am learning about community resources I didn’t know existed and struggling to develop skills I’m not sure I really wanted to master.  Oh well, it makes for good stories.

Have a happy Holiday Season.  Share it with folks you love.  See you in January.

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

Tropical Yoga Retreat

Good Morning Yogis,

Just Announcements today

 

 

playa yogaIts a go!  Inga and I have found the perfect location for our Tropical Yoga Retreat, and we are so excited.  Mark your calendars for April 8-15, 2017 and be prepared for a week of deep relaxation, play and nourishment at the Playa Bay Resort in Roatan, Honduras.  I bet you didn’t know that this magical island 40 miles off the coast of Honduras was even on your visit list.  Well it is now.  Imagine:

 

  • Yoga – twice a day, blend of yin and yang practices in the most beautiful yoga studio ever.
  • Meditation – why not sit quietly and let your mind settle to the sounds of birds and surf
  • Secluded white sand beaches
  • Snorkeling on the second largest reef system in the world
  • Kite Boarding for the beginner and the expert
  • Fishing – its a big deal there
  • Meals featuring the freshest fruits, vegetables and local seafood
  • Beach parties
  • Deluxe accommodations
  • Warm weather and water

You get the idea.  We’ve book the entire resort, which being respectful to the ecosystem only sleeps roughly 20, so you will have to sign up early to reserve your spot.  Click here for the full brochure.

DW-SingingBowlsThe other big announcement is that our Soundbaths with Daniella White at  River Tree Yoga continue to be a sold-out success.  Must be something about settling in for a deep svasana in the Pond Room while Daniella refreshes your brainwaves with the resonance of her crystal bowls, incredible voice and powerful gong.  I know that sounds super woo-woo, but seriously it is an inspiring and healing experience. Last night was the last one for the summer, but our next Soundbath is scheduled for September 21 – the Fall Equinox, so note that on your calendar as well.

Have a great weekend,

 

Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi

 

Attachment and Letting Go

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I’m sad to announce, that this is my last week teaching at Village Green Yoga and River Tree Yoga until June. Truly, I will miss teaching and my community. You guys bring such light to my life through your dedication, compassion and humor. But it is only a month and I will be back to my regular schedule very soon. In the interim, I have arranged for some excellent subs. So keep doing your yoga and your practice will grow from the wisdom of others.

As I prepare to spend the next month in Berkeley helping my father downsize to a small apartment in a continuing care community, I reflect on what this might mean for him, as well as for myself.

Moving is difficult for everyone. I have read that it is one of the top five stressors in life. I can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like for my father who is 95 and has lived in his current home for the majority of his adult life. He has not only lived in this house for over 50 years, he also designed it himself. It is perhaps his finest work as an architect and is truly a masterpiece of contemporary architecture. It sits on a wooded lot in the Berkeley hills with sweeping views across the San Francisco Bay. Floor to ceiling windows and doors on all sides, beautifully decorated with antiques from Europe and Asia; it is simultaneously inspiring and comforting. He is deeply attached to his home and the separation will be difficult for him. I think perhaps it is part of his identity, and so the stress of moving will be compounded by the separation from a part of his self.

I must also recognize that this is the home in which I grew up, so I am not only dealing with his loss, but I am also dealing with my own. Once he is moved, I will need to sell most of his/our belongings and let go of the security of having a place to land in the Bay Area; a place to share with family and friends, a place which I have always referred to as home. It is a home that is much loved and will be deeply missed.

And yet I am reminded of the yoga teachings concerning attachment. Our attachment to the past, to things being as they were; our attachment to the desire for things to be different from how they are now; and our attachment to material things in general can all lead to pain and suffering as well as distracting us from our ability to reside in the direct experience of the present moment. At this point I will spare you a full dissertation on all of Patanjali’s Sutras which discuss non-attachment, and only lead you in their direction.

  • Sutras I.12,I.15, I.16 – explains that through non-attachment we consciously realize that attachment can create short and long term negative effects.
  • Sutra II.3 – notes that the causes of suffering include ignorance, egoism, attachment, repulsion and  fear.
  • Sutra II.7, II.8 – suggests that attachment is the consequence of pleasure as aversion is the consequence of pain.
  • Sutra II.39 – reminds us that persevering on the path non-covetousness leads to a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.

So, as I get myself ready for this seemingly Herculean task, I will hold fast to my yoga, the practice and the principles. I will remind myself that this too shall all pass. And that this is simply another step in the trajectory of my life. I am grateful to have lived in such a lovely home, grateful that my father has lived such a long and healthy life, and grateful that I have the flexibility to be able to help him in this difficult time.

I thank you in advance for your support and understanding. I look forward to seeing many of you this week, and send you wishes for a happy May.

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

Karma Bella

Happy Friday Yogis

I write this while sitting in the sun on a remarkably warm Spring day in April.  I can’t remember it ever being this warm here this time of year, but I’m definitely not complaining.

Todays topic is Kharma Bella Yoga  – The Yoga of Beautiful Authentic Energy.

I named Kharma Bella Yoga after my dog, Kharma Bella.  And  we named her for her beautiful energy and spirit.

Well, Kharma Bella passed away last night.  She has been a such a bright light in our family for 15 years, and her passing has left me deeply saddened. She has always been the inspiration for my yoga practice, and so I thought I would share  with you my thoughts on  the ways in which our doggie friends remind us how to live our yoga beyond the mat.

Dogs – the living manifestation of yoga.

  • They are both inscrutable and forthright.  Inscrutable because we never quite know what they are thinking. Are they meditating? Are they relaxing into the moment?  I kinda think so.
  • Forthright because they always share their unbridled passion for living with us.  Forthright because they always show exactly what they are feeling; fear, anger, sadness, but mostly joy, a deep and unbounded joy in being alive and in relationship with us.
  • Honesty, we always know when they are hungry – they eat and drink with such gusto.
  • We know when they are tired; they find the right spot circle around a few times to make it theirs and then they lie down and sleep deeply.  When the time is right they wake up and stretch – up dog, down dog and a great big shake.
  • They take care of their space and their bodies, bringing what they need to their favorite spot and settling in for a good bath.
  • They really know the definition of friendship.  They greet us with love – always. They listen to us as we ramble on, and we have no idea if they understand a thing we say, but still they listen. They rest their heads in our laps when we are sad, and they happily go for long walks with us, following our lead with complete trust.
  • They will also stand their ground when necessary.  They can be stubborn, fierce, and sometimes even downright obnoxious in their desire to pursue their own ends. But they know what they want and are honest about it.
  • They can be playful and mischievous, making us laugh at their antics and shake our heads in bewilderment as we find them in some ridiculous  position.

My list goes on and on.  But the main thing that stands out for me now and always, is that if we allow ourselves to truly abide in the present as much as our dear sweet doggies do, we will find that we naturally are living our yoga.  We will listen to the needs of our bodies, and eat, bath, sleep and exercise when we need to.  We will spend time every day meditating and communing with nature.We will take care of our homes and our communities.  We will allow ourselves to be so open to our feelings and those of others that we become the best of friends – to the people that matter most in our lives and to ourselves.

So in memory of our beautiful Kharma Bella, I encourage you to step more fully into your authentic self.  Eat, play and love with the fullness of your being and you will Live Your Yoga Beyond The Mat.

 

Shalom & Namaste,
Diana Bonyhadi

 

Thoughts on Yoga, Meditation & Blogging

 

Dear Yogis and Friends,

I’ve spent the past few months immersed in the exploration of communication.  Or you might say non-communication.  I haven’t posted to Facebook, I haven’t made many phone calls, or written letters  and I certainly haven’t written any new entries in my blog. But you probably noticed that.  The important question is why.

Well, the truth is, I’ve been digging into my interior landscape.  Questioning what is indeed important to say and what is merely filler.  The reality is that I’ve become stuck in this space, looking for the authenticity and necessity of articulation.  Simply put, I’ve been trying to decide what is worth sharing and why.

When one sits down to meditate, the real work is not to shut down the thoughts but rather to become of aware of the thoughts and to notice them, as well as the  moments of stillness between thoughts.  The same is true for emotions.  We don’t try to shut down the emotions, but rather to honor them and to see them for what they are.  We also do this with sensations e.g. my knee itches – does it really itch?  Do I need to scratch it?  Is this simply my mind search for stimulation? Wait, what’s that feeling in my back? my neck?, etc. And so we sit and breathe and observe.

And I guess in a sense this is what I have been doing with my blog; observing the thoughts I could put down in print and deciding which if any of them would be worth sharing.  Throughout my days, I frequently find myself mentally drafting entries to this blog.  Instead of quickly typing up those thoughts and hitting the send button, I pause and observe the possibilities.  Here is a sample of some of those entries:

  • Don’t forget to mention the upcoming Soundbaths at River Tree Yoga (March 16 and April 18th) – the power of sound vibrations to bring about healing.  Everything is energy and energy moves in waves and sound waves moves through our bodies and energy is released.  Super cool if you ask me.
  • Yoga is like parenting – No matter how many books you read or classes you take, it still comes back to being present in the moment, and dang that is hard.  In fact it is so hard, you frequently find yourself on the one hand tired, angry, sad and frustrated, only to find that in the next moment you are inspired, elated and filled with joy.  How is it that one can run the gamut of these emotions in such a short period of time?
  • Yoga Behind Bars – I have begun teaching yoga to inmates in a local prison. This has been one of the most inspiring teaching experiences of my life.  Why?  Because it reaffirms my belief in the nourishing and healing power of yoga to create peace within, as well as providing me the opportunity to yet again recognize the  seed of goodness in every person.
  • Facebook – I like catching glimpses of my distant friends and family.  So many folks are doing so many wonderful projects and traveling to such interesting places.  Thanks for inspiring me. But I also wonder how people can spend so much time posting and reposting their every thought and action.
  • Yoga – Why are people in such a hurry to do so many poses in their practice?  Why has yoga become obsessed with speed and power?  Is music a distraction to our practice?
  • Yoga – Has yoga become an escape for the privileged white woman? What’s wrong with that?  How can we make yoga more accessible?  To more people? Across a broader spectrum of society?
  • Yoga – How do I best describe what I teach?  How can I reach out to more people?  How can I continue to deepen my own studies.  Am I pushing my students too hard?  Or too little? How do I share the wisdom I have gleaned through reading ancient texts and modern writers without sounding pedantic or perhaps worse, distracting my students from their own experiences of themselves in the moment?
  • The Divine – What is my relationship to the cosmic and beautiful ordering of the universe? Do other people spend as much time exploring their relationship to the eternal?  How is the eternal manifest in my life? In yours?  Am I following my dharma?
  • Breath – I breath in and I breathe out.  Sometimes I’m aware of it, most of the time I’m not.  But when I do settle down and watch, I notice that I can direct my breath anywhere in my body.  I can focus my breath along one side of the body and then the other.  I can wash my body with breath, I can heal my body with breath.  Expansion, contraction, extension, attention. Om
  • Blogging – Does anybody even read my blog?  How can my blog actually be of service.  How are my thoughts and observations relevant to the lives of others?  How can I use my blog to connect more fully with my students and to my friends?

Okay, so there you have it.  A limited window into the wanderings of my mind. Any one of these and many other thoughts could be more fully expanded. And they have, but not on paper.    But I am now open to dialogue.   If any of you out there reading this, and are interested in further explorations of these and other topics, let me know.  Let’s go down that road of infinite inquiry together.  Let’s deepen the dialogue of what it means to be awake and alive in this moment, on this planet, with this breath.

Thank you for your continued support,

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

P.S:  The Soundbath on March 16th is already full, if you want to sign up for the April 18th Soundbath, click here.