Sunday Morning Salutations

Tomorrow is Earth Day.

Time for Sun Salutations to celebrate and honor our beautiful, amazing, inspiring, and nourishing mother earth.

Class will start at 9:45 in the Down Stairs studio at Village Green Yoga.

Join us for a very special class designed to celebrate our connections to the earth, each other and our deepest wisdom.

Shalom & Namaste

Diana Bonyhadi

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

Facebook – What’s the Point?


Warning this may not seem to have anything to do with yoga.  And then again, if yoga is all about being present and aware of everything we do, and how we do it, and if we are trying to live on the eightfold path…. then this has everything to do with yoga.

Did you notice that I have not been on Facebook for a while?  It’s true, sometime back in July, I decided to give a give Facebook a wide berth.

Perhaps it was due to spending some time with my friend Gail Hand, author of the recently published guidebook to Facebook entitled: Are You SURE You Want to Post That? This is a great little book, providing essential guidelines on what is appropriate to post on line.

Her book got me thinking about what I was posting on Facebook and why.  I had begun to notice that Facebook had become a repository for self-marketing, self-aggrandizement, basic to-do lists and/or manifestations of discontent:  “Buy my product, pat my back, I did so many errands today, I won X, or my work is killing me and politics are crazy.”

And before I knew it, I couldn’t think of a single reason to post anything to Facebook.  I mean, did folks really want to see my pictures of summer hikes, my gorgeous children, or the 22 pounds of berries I picked and made into jam? Was it necessary for me to clog up the pages of Facebook with announcements of my upcoming classes and workshops.  Or was anyone really interested in knowing where I went or reading my thoughts on reality, consciousness or esoteric musings on the nature of the planet?

And so I gave up Facebook.  Didn’t even open that tab for close to two months.  And I am sorry to say I didn’t miss it.  Nope, no withdrawals symptoms here. Periodically it did cross my mind to anti-up and use the FB to do a bit of marketing (self-aggrandizement), but that seemed selfish, so I kept the tab closed.  And then there were those moments when I wanted to know how my kids were doing, but that struck me as voyeuristic, so I picked up the phone and called them instead.

Did I save time? Probably, because once you check your status, and all your friends’ statuses and look at everyone’s pictures, an hour (or two) can easily pass you by.  I did notice that the amount of time I spent in front of my computer screen decreased, which I think is a good thing. Did I miss reading everyone’s posts?  Surprisingly, I did not.  I don’t know if I missed anything really important, but the world seems to have gone on just fine without me. Did I feel better/more superior for not “doing” Facebook?  Thankfully, No. Did anyone notice that I wasn’t posting or responding to post on FB? – I don’t know, and I kinda sorta doubt it.

So not only could I not find a reason to post, I also could not find a reason to read, scan, peruse, or sleuth about in the bowels of Facebook.  The longer I stayed away, the harder it was to consider going back. But as you can see, this is all written in past tense, so go back, I must have.

It was at the beginning of this week.  I don’t know how it happened.  But somehow, the tab popped open and I stayed to look.  The good news, the fantastic news, is that the first thing I saw was a lovely comment on the beauty of the planet, then an inspirational picture of my good friend and fellow yogi, followed by an announcement/invitation to a cause I really care about. Facebook showed me beauty, gave me inspiration and made me smile.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a reason to contribute a post that would not fall into the category of bragging, marketing or kevetching.  I still can’t answer the question “why post?” without the answer boiling down to “come see the cool things I am doing or thinking about” and that still sounds like showing off or bragging to me.  But maybe that is ok.

In this busy busy world where computers and cell phones are a way of life, Facebook is now an important marketing tool and a social connector.  Yes, it can be a vehicle for simply sharing the tedium of one’s life, or it can be a vehicle of inspiration and change.  As with all things, the choice will be our own.  And it will be up to each of us to answer the question: what am I posting and why does it matter?

I welcome your thoughts on this.  How do you “use” Facebook?  Why do you use Facebook? How much time do you spend on Facebook?  And anything else you think is important to consider when choosing to go to or post to the big FB.

Have a great week

Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi

Yoga Practice for Memorial Day

Thoughts on a Memorial Day Practice

Honoring those who continue to inspire and guide us

Class today was supported by inviting in and celebrating the energies of those whom we hold sacred in our lives.  We chose to remember people whose very existence has deepened our own experience on this planet.  It didn’t matter whom we chose to bring with us into our practice.  Some may have chosen their mothers, or grandmothers, or friends, or maybe they invited Lao Tsu, or Rumi, or Leonardo DaVinci, or Ramakrishna, or Abinhavagupta or Gandhi.

We didn’t discuss who was inviting whom to class, or why.  We simply chose in our hearts, one or two people to celebrate during our practice.  And what a magnificent practice it was.  Heads bowed to open hearts, warriors were courageous and strong, mountain poses were the embodiment of strength and endurance, and forward bends – poses of stillness and embrace were soft and nurturing.

I am grateful to my wonderful students today who chose to honor Memorial Day through their yoga practice, and in doing so, honored their heroes, ancestors, and sacred teachers as they celebrated and nourished themselves.

Shalom & Namaste,

Diana Bonyhadi

2 Weeks with Anna Forrest

Breathe, Go Deeper, Breathe

I heard Anna Forrest was coming to town.  One of my favorite teachers has been one of Anna’s Teaching Assistants. I have heard about Anna Forrest for years, and have always wanted to study with her.  Not often she comes to Seattle.   I couldn’t miss this opportunity. I got on the phone and signed up.

I signed up for a series of early morning intensives; 6:00am to 9:00am.  That the studio was 45 minutes away, and that I would have to get up at 4:30 every morning to get there, didn’t register at the time I signed up.

Intensive is the perfect word to describe the series.  On my first day, there were over 80 people in the room and the room was at least 80 degrees.  In no time we were all pouring sweat.  We kept working harder and harder, getting ever closer to the core of our beings.  When that first session was over, I truly wondered what I had gotten myself into.  I was exhausted, sore, sweaty, shaking, tired, and I wondered how I would be able to keep this up, in addition to teaching my usual classes and remain a sane parent.

I guess I wasn’t the only one  that felt that they were being pushed to their limits.  The next day at least 15 people had dropped out.  As each day passed, the class size diminished.  It picked up again on the weekends, but never returned to ridiculously filled class of the first day.  Did I mention that our mats were only two inches apart from each other on all sides.  Yesterday was my last class, and I think there were only 35 of us left.

I am so glad that I took the series and stuck it out.  Anna is an amazing teacher.  Now I won’t recommend this series for everyone, but if you are the least bit interested in pushing your practice to the next level, challenging yourself to go deeper and deeper still, then definitely sign up.  But remember to check your ego at the door, take a break when you need one and have a strong foundation and understandings of alignment before you enter.

Anna Forest uses a sweat lodge mentality and Native American traditions to set the space.  She emphasizes Ujjayi breathing , and the breathing  room often sounds like  the wind were blowing through the trees.  Students are asked to set an intention for each class, an intention to bring healing to some part of their body or spirit.  As students move ever deeper in their practice, they are reminded to return to the place that needs healing and breath into it.  The intensity and pacing of the class calls to mind the EST seminars of the 70’s.  No time for a break, no time wipe the sweat from your bod or tears from your eyes,  keep going, dig deeper, release your inner demons.

Eka pada Koundinyasana I - but not me this time

I truly appreciate having had opportunity to study with Anna.  She brings an authenticity and vibrancy to her teaching.  She keeps the students on track and focused.  She is a master at helping people to go the extra step, and master asanas that may not have ever been available to them in the past.  I caught a very cool twisted, extended arm balance (Parsva Eka Pada Koundinyasana I)  and as well as a handstand with splits variation (Eka Pada Vrschikasana).  I loved the focus on breathing, and the heart opening that accompanies it.  I walked away from each session feeling stretched, strengthened and inspired.  And amazingly enough, those 4:30 mornings did not wear me out – in fact I was invigorated.

And for you my favorite students, I realized that  Anna and I share many similar approaches in our teaching methodology.  When she reminded us to set intentions, I thought of you When she reminded us to breathe, I thought of you. I think we both share an understanding of the healing benefits of yoga.  However,w I think we come at it from different places.  Don’t worry, my classes won’t turn into sweat lodges, and I won’t stand you on your head till your ready.  But seeing as this was a teacher training, I may slip one or two new things in for your next class.  Hint, Anna loves core work as much as I do.