It Pays To Speak Your Mind

Thank You Everyone.

The response to my post and newsletter two weeks ago was incredibly supportive and affirming.  I guess I am not the only one who has been trying to figure out how to navigate these challenging times.  Thanks to all of you, I not only feel comforted but also inspired to continue to teach yoga from my space of satya (truth).  Now when I listen to the news, I realize that there is something more that I can do other than make phone calls, sign petitions and march.  And I have been doing it all along – teaching yoga and helping people to find a space of inner peace and strength to follow their own path of Dharma.

Announcements:
We have made a slight change to the schedule at River Tree Yoga.  On Wednesday evenings I will only be teaching one class at 6:30pm.  It will be a Hatha-Yin Fusion class.  We will go slowly and deeply into our poses, look to alignment and strength, and finish with some long luscious yin holds to restore and rebalance our energy.

Other news at River Tree Yoga, we have a Yoga Sound Bath with Daniella White scheduled for Tuesday February 28th at 7:30pm.  If you haven’t gone to a Sound bath yet, you really should.  Imagine a gentle yoga practice followed by a nice, long svasana and being lulled into a deep state of meditation by crystal singing bowls, vocal harmonics and gongs. Participants are bathed in powerful vibrations that help entrain their brain waves into Theta. It is in this deeply relaxed state that physical / mental / spiritual healing can take place, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, cellular regeneration, stress release, and emotional/physical healing. Click here to register.

All my other classes are on schedule as planned:

River Tree Yoga, Fall City

  • Wednesday, 6:30 – 8:00pm:                             Hatha/Yin Fusion
  • Saturday, 9:00 – 10:30am (alternating):              Hatha Flow

Village Green Yoga, Issaquah

  • Tuesday & Thursday, Noon – 1:00pm:          Mid-Day Bliss/Gentle
  • Sunday, 9:45-11:15am:                                       Hatha Vinyasa Flow

BendnMove, Seattle

  • Wednesday, Noon – 1:00pm:                           Mid-Day Bliss/Gentle

 

Thank you again for your continued support.

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

 

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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

Ahimsa – Taking Care of Yourself & Others

Ahimsa

The first leaf on the first limb of the 8 limbed tree of Yoga is ahimsa.
Ahimsa roughly translated means to “do no harm”.

When Patanjali set out the eight limbed path of yoga sometime between 100 BCE and 100 AD, it appears that his intent was to tersely codify the previous 4000 years of yoga wisdom.  He did a very fine job of it.  Laying out in short simple verses (sutras), the wisdom of yoga as it had been taught until that point.  He stated that there are 8 limbs on the tree of yoga; yamas (personal practices), niyamas (community practices), asanas (postures), pranayama (breathwork), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) & Samadhi (ultimate enlightenment).  

So, ahimsa – do no harm – is the very first thing we must strive to do as yogis.  It makes sense.  Every spiritual/philosophical path I know embraces this philosophy.  But in yoga, the goal is not only to save random spiders from their doom and avoid taking swords up against our neighbors, but we are also encouraged not to commit harm against ourselves.

This is difficult.  We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with messages about how thin we should be, what cars we should drive, what knowledge we should have, what clothes we should wear, etc. All this in order to be happy.  So it is no surprise that many of us beat ourselves up trying to fit ourselves to this commercial image of what we are supposed to be, all with varying degrees of success.

This dissatisfaction with how we look or feel, may be what got us to yoga in the first place.  “If I just take that class, I will loose weight, get better muscles and maybe that nagging ache in my back/neck will go away.”

In mind my, there is nothing wrong with this.  Whatever gets you in the door and on the mat is good.  But I do worry about negative self speak, and not listening to the cues our bodies are sending us. Practice Ahimsa – do no harm – to others or yourself, through your actions or through your speech.

I read somewhere that we process over 60,000 thoughts a day. Unfortunately, the majority of these thoughts are less than complementary.  It turns out that we are experts at self criticism.  I know from experience that while I am pretty good at being kind to others, I am pretty rotten at being kind to myself.  I frequently hear all those would’ves should’ves.

Thus the trick really is to practice ahimsa with our selves.  When you go to yoga, listen to what your body needs.  Don’t push yourself too hard just to get that firm butt and those strong biceps. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those, but not at the sake of physical or spiritual injury.  Don’t try to do some else’s practice.  Don’t try to do more than you are ready for in the moment.  Yes, push your boundaries, but don’t hurt yourself.  Be kind and compassionate and loving with yourself.  And then from that foundation, you will find yourself expanding and reaching farther than you ever could from a place of self-criticism.


Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi

Great News at Kharma Bella Yoga

Great News at Kharma Bella Yoga

Yoga Wall: Come check out the new addition to the Kharma Bella Studio.  We have installed a yoga wall.  Book a private session and experience the amazing benefits of working with a rope and wall system for enhancing your asanas and healing your body. Just drop me an email, or give me a call, and we’ll get you set up for your introduction to the wonders of the yoga wall.

Speaking of Privates:  I highly recommend them.  They are great for tuning up your practice, exploring poses deeper, or working at a more therapeutic level, that can only be achieved when working individually with your teacher.  Privates are also great as an introduction to yoga.  If you know of someone who has been hankering to try yoga, but is worried about going to a class of Gumby bodies and feeling left out, this is a great and safe way to discover yoga.

Radio:  I have signed on to co-host a radio show on Mondays at 1:00pm on 1150AM  KKNW.  (I know, this is big news. It took a real leap of faith for me.)  I am joining the wonderful Ajayan Borys of Effortless Mind Mediation on Mind Matters Radio.  Together we will be exploring the intersections of yoga and meditation and all things glorious about your mind, spirit and body.  Tune in next Monday to hear about the first yama, Ahimsa (non-violence) as I discuss the many (obvious and not so obvious ways) this weaves through our lives and our practice.

Music:  Here is a treat: The Toure-Raichel Collective: Wonderful acoustic music. Check out this link, and maybe even attend their show April 28th at the Triple Door.  Thank my son Ben for the link.

Classes continue to fill and expand. Be sure to arrive with enough time to get signed in and settled in, so you can fully enjoy your wonderful self in class.

Happy Spring,
Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi

Practicing Yoga and Forgiveness

In the Jewish Tradition, this past week and weekend were the holiest of Holy Days – the Days of Awe.  For 8 days, Jews the world over, participated in a period of reckoning. In preparation for the Jewish New Year, we have spent a week looking back over the year and doing a little personal housekeeping.  We our paid off our debts, reconciled our promises, and made amends.

We spend quite a bit of time focused on the following phrases.  They are simple and profound.  Just a couple of sentences which encompass just about everything.

For all the things I have said or done consciously or unconsciously which may have caused pain and suffering to others, I am sorry, please accept my apology.
For all the things I have said or done consciously or unconsciously which may have caused pain or suffering to myself, I am sorry, please accept my apology.

There you have it.  An acknowledgment that even when we don’t mean to, we can do things or says things that are hurtful.  I know this one pretty well.  I have a tendency to open mouth – insert foot.  I have the best of intentions, but sometimes things just don’t come out the way I envisioned and people get hurt.  I am sorry, I really didn’t mean to.  Or sometimes my commitment to honesty gets in the way.  I know, not everyone needs to know how I really feel or think about something.  I am sorry.

Then there are those time when I fail to speak up about the things that are really important – politics, the environment, community issues, etc.  Sometimes, I fail to say or do what needs doing/saying.  For those moments of omission, I am sorry.

Now for the big one.  For all those times when I hurled unjust judgments and recriminations at myself, I am sorry.  I know I must be willing to give myself a chance to be human, and therefor fallible.  I must let go of all those “would’ves and should’ves” and just let the past be the past.  This is so hard, I really want to be a better person. I hate screwing up.  But I have to be willing to forgive myself.  We all do.

In yoga, we strive to stay in the present moment and connect with the interconnectedness that we are.  We move and breath, hopefully linking our breath with the movement, to assist the brain in settling in to the present  We practice asana and pranayama so we can sit in mediation, focusing and releasing the thoughts, slipping into the eternity of the here and now.  And it is a challenge.  That is why Patanjali in Sutra 1:14 states that “the practice becomes fully grounded with we attend to it over time, without a break and with earnestness.”  In other words, keep trying, don’t give up, and do this practice with care, and effort.  Be serious about it.

So, yea, I know I make mistakes, we all make mistakes.  We are human.  The trick is to keep trying and  to pay attention to our thoughts and deeds.  Try to not to hurt others or ourselves.  This is the essential practice of Ahimsa.  And next year when Yom Kippur rolls around, maybe the sorry-list will be shorter, and maybe it won’t, but if we will keep trying to attend and be earnest in the effort, the world will be a better place.  And that’s what its all about, isn’t it?

Shalom & Namaste,
Diana Bonyhadi

Skiing, Sunday Salutatuions and Interfaith

Now there is a title.  Really, I just wanted to let you know that this entry is all about everything, and that everything is connected.

So, I went skiing on Saturday.  Haven’t been in 3 years, and I admit that I was a bit concerned about my ability to stay upright on those skis.  I was afraid of getting hurt (no time for that), and at not being as good as I used to be.  And the good news is, the skiing was wonderful.  It took a couple of runs, but I found my rhythm and I let go into the  joy and beauty of the moment.  I realized that I had let my attachments to the past and my fear of the future keep me from doing something I truly enjoy.  I had also let the business of my life get in the way of my living of life.

On Sunday morning I was back at Village Green Yoga for my Sunday Salutations Class.  This class combines yoga asana with philosophy and spirit.  My day of skiing had left me neither sore nor tired.  In fact, I was stronger and more revitalized than I had expected.  Taking time off from my routine had restored my energy.  I was reminded once again of the importance of staying present and living in the moment.  And I was reminded that our connections to the divine are invigorated by our joyful participation in life.  Class was amazing, and all of us were renewed and inspired by our practice together.

In the afternoon, I attended an Interfaith Gathering called Tending Adam’s Garden.  Jews, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists came together to discuss what we can do together to help repair the world. This is a monthly meeting that brings members of different faith communities together to address the critical issues that are confronting our world today.  At the heart of it, is the understanding that while our faith traditions may be different, our hopes and dreams for a life of full-fill-ment, wholeness and connectedness are shared.  Here are just some of the responses that were given to the question  “What are the essential qualities that are needed to repair the world?”:

  • Open-heartedness, commitment, courage, education, self-awareness, recognition of our interconnectedness, respect for one another and ourselves, compassion, the willingness to listen, patience, belief in our capacity to do good, and a connection to the divine.

As I listened to the group discussion, I was brought back to yoga.  Not only are all of these qualities identified in the 8-fold path, but many of them are also specifically identified in the yamas and the niyamas.  And as I think about our practice of yoga, I am reminded that on the mat we are encouraged to practice with compassion, to study ourselves and the teachings, to listen with an open heart, to practice with ashimsa, and at times we need both courage and patience to find the next pose.  And certainly we must practice with compassion.  If all goes right, and we stay very present, we can’t help but feel our deep and abiding connection to the eternal divine wisdom that lives within all of us.

So, skiing, yoga and interfaith.  It is all connected.  Have a great week.  Do something you love.  Share it with someone who nurtures your spirit.  Practice your yoga with an open hear, both on the mat and beyond.  Look  at the world and pitch in to make a bit better.  And rejoice in our interconnectedness – with each other and the Divine.

 

Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi

Living Yoga – Living Green

Happy Earth Day

Living Yoga – Living Green

Once again it is Earth Day.  Do any of you remember when we first started celebrating Earth Day?  It was such a big deal – tree plantings, school activities, huge community wide events.  Now, it seems as though we have gotten habituated to the idea.  I mean I have to actually look for events and celebrations.  Where are the big banners and posters for local get-involved events?

And then I remembered one of the primary principles of our yoga practice.  The first of Patanjali’s yamas is Ahimsa – roughly translated to “do no harm.”  On the mat, we take this to mean that we respect our bodies and we don’t push beyond our limits.  But what does it mean beyond the mat?  Well the first step is to treat all beings, including ourselves with compassion and respect.  Avoid those harmful words, thoughts and actions.   Practice Kindness and compassion in all you do.

And from here, “being/living green” is a logical extension of Ahimsa.  If we are to avoid harmful actions to all beings everywhere, wouldn’t that also include our own lovely planet?  Practicing beyond the mat when it comes to the earth means living Ahimsa and treating the earth in ways that nourish her and don’t hurt or  deplete her fine resources.  There are so many simple steps we can take to support  our earth, and as a result support and nourish ourselves.  I offer just a few here, and welcome your suggestions to expand this list for all of us.

Walk gently and leave no tread

  • Take a hike or walk.  Enjoy the great outdoors and when you see any litter, pick it up and put it in the trash/recycling.  I admit I carry an extra bag for the litter on my walks.  I even get in the deep knee bends picking all that stuff up.
  • Avoid using bottled water – those plastic water bottles are filling up our landfills and most often the water is no different from that which comes out of your tap.  Check out this great video to learn more.
  • Reduce your energetic footprint – turn out the lights, turn down the heat, turn off your computer when you are not using it.
  • Reduce your gas consumption, drive less, walk/bike more, ride with a friend.
  • Save a tree – bring your own bags to the grocery store.
  • Recycle – see if you can make your recycle bin fuller than your garbage bin.
  • Clean green – most household cleaning projects can be done with some combination of vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and water, and a bit of elbow grease.  Think of it this way – less toxins down the drain and a cleaner healthier home for you.
  • Use less water – I know here in Seattle it is hard to imagine a water shortage, but the less we use here, the more there is for others in greater need elsewhere.
  • Eat local & organic –the food won’t have to travel so far, the energy footprint will be less, and the food will be fresher and better for you, and you will be supporting your local farmer.
  • Use a yoga mat made of sustainable products – I love my Jade Harmony mat.

There are so many more things we can do to practice Ahimsa beyond the mat.  Adding just one of the things to your daily practice will not only benefit the planet, but it will also deepen your yoga practice.

Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi