Monday, January 30, 2012

Santosha, contentment and your path

Book Two - verse 32.

"Sauca Samtosa Tapah svadhya Yesvarapanidhanani Niyamah"

Saucha - Purity
Samtosha (or santosha) - contentment
Tapah - Accepting pain and not causing pain
Svadhyaya - study of spiritual books
Isvarapranidhanana - self-surrender, "Let God and Let Go"
Niyamah - observances 

In yoga we are taught the Yamas (abstinence) & the Ni-yamas (observances). Ten essential elements that help us travel down our path, allowing us to be the yogis we strive to be. Some of the yamas and ni-yamas we see more of than others. Non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing - isvarapranidhana... but every one of these observances and abstinence are important.

The other day I had a brief conversation about "Santosha" or Samtosha - the ni-yama that is contentment.  To know satisfaction in life, is to be at peace. When we deny ourselves the right to be here - the first right of our chakras and then deny our right to feel, the second chakra, we set ourselves on a wobbly path filled with fear, confusion, resentment and regret.

What is your path? What is your purpose? WHY are you here? WHAT is your santosha.

We live in questionable times. Our economy is reflective of one 78 years ago, people are losing their jobs and not finding new ones. Abuse is on the rise, as is divorce, drug use and anger on every level. We find ourselves locked into certain relationships - with jobs, with spouses, friends, ideas - that were are afraid to break out of because of this chaos. We allow it to project an image on our personal lives and then close our eyes to that voice deep down inside of us that is singing a whole different song.

We begin to think we don't belong here, we don't deserve to be happy, to be successful in life and love, and we commit to the idea that this is the best it can get. But that's not true. If you're alive you belong here. If you are on this planet, you have purpose - and that voice you're ignoring because it's just "easier" to stay put - that's your path.
Being honest, caring, loving - self-sacrificing. Holding the door for someone you don't know, regardless of their age or class. Buying a coworker a cup of coffee, just because. These are all nobel things - but what's your path? Why are you here? Are you living your santosha?

To love yourself purely and greatly is a beautiful thing. To find your passion and your love is what life is about.
My conversation was brief, probably less than five minutes, but it made me think. Is this what I want? Is this life the one I deserve - and I can honestly answer that its getting there. It's scary, but change can be like that.
Tonight take five minutes to yourself and meditate on your santosha. Journey inside yourself and most of all be honest. It's okay to be scare. It's okay. And when you find your path know that soon you will find your voice and then all that's left to do is sing.

~Namaste Shanti Om

Monday, January 23, 2012


In the great story of Peter Pan it is explained that the way to kill a fairy is to not believe in them, but if you do believe in fairies...  if you believe in them deep down to the center of your whole true self- your faith can save their lives.

Maybe we don't live in Neverland, but the reality is we all have a version of Captain Hook chasing after us, most days he looks like insecurities, fear and low self-esteem. And Tinkerbell looks like  our dreams; some days they're the  smallest hint of light off in the distance and others they're waking you up early for no reason other than to play.

Believing in ourselves and in our dreams can be the hardest job we have, but faith is the one thing we need to always hold on to and if you believe in miracles it opens you to them actually happening.

When Tinkerbell realized that Captain Hook is going to poison her beloved Peter Pan, she drinks the medicin and falls to the ground.

How many times have we thought our dreams died because our planning didn't work out EXACTLY as we planned it? How many times did we think, "Maybe I should give up."

But then Peter and Wendy chanted "I do believe in Fairies. I do. I do." With tears and sweat and pain they brought her back to life.

Failure is giving up on your dreams. Knowing the road may be bumpy but accepting the fact it'll be worth it in the end because one thing is for sure, we're all going to die - so we may as well live when we have the chance.
There are no certainties in this life, but there is faith, there is love, there is hope and there is hard work. Yes, Captain Hook may have you ready to walk the plank, but do you believe in miracles? I do. I do. Do you have faith in you? I do. I do.

You have control over your life than you know, so accept you for what you are. Recognize that our demons can be conquered, have faith and believe. Believe in your dream, believe in fairies, believe in miracles and most of all believe in yourself.

Be honest, be free, be love, believe in miracles and most of all believe in yourself, because everything you need will come to you in time as long as you are patient, you work hard and remember to smile.

The light in me honors and respects the light in you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Face your fears...

I teach yoga, but when it comes to my own asana practice, I find that there are definite walls that I have put up when it comes to certain poses. My teacher always says, "You have to be willing to fall on your face." This mantra is one that I often repeat to my students now. It always gets a laugh and usually helps people forget their fears, somewhat, and give it a try. As much as I've said this and heard this, I feel like I am not willing. I have tried to face those fears.

In practicing forearm stand, I have collapsed into my shoulder more than once because of my elbow starting to wing out, causing me to have some shoulder issues on and off. For this reason, I definitely tend to stay away from this pose in more recent days.

Well, that is, until a couple weeks ago.

Some students in class one morning wanted some help working on forearm stand and handstand. I showed them step by step instructions on how to practice getting into these poses and encouraged them to try. While they were resettling on their mats, excited and invigorated from being upside down, one of my students asked if we could work on those types of things more in the new year.

That was when it hit me. My own fears had led me to skip over teaching these types of poses that make ME feel uncomfortable, even though my students may be eager to try them out!

That's no good. So, this week, I wrapped a strap around my arms just above the elbows to help keep my elbows and shoulders in line (which I should have been doing the whole time), and worked on forearm stand.

It felt good.

I tried getting up several times and when my shoulder started to ache, I stopped. But, I tried. That belt really helped.

I tried!!

That wall of fear is still there, but it's starting to crumble and it feels good.

I would like to thank all of my students who always inspire me and teach me every single time they come to class.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Planting Change

At times in our lives it's easy to forget to be grateful, humble, forgiving and compassionate. We may use these words in our every day life, but still at the end of the day find it's easier to hide away from the world that seems to be crumbling around our ears.

It's overwhelming. Disaster after disaster - from natural to manmade, since 2005 it almost feels like we're living in Old Testament Biblical times as Fire and Brimstone rises around us. What can we do? How can we help?
You've heard it before, it only takes one person to change the world - and while this world seems almost unbearable and smothering - the statement is very much true. Nothing is born out of ease and cessation - change is created through hard work, sacrifice and commitment - but the moment you choose to change, you've already won.

In yoga we speak of intentions. Planting a seed inside ourselves and using our practice to help nourish and encourage it to grow into a full-blown idea and taking us with it. Transforming us into the person we've always wanted to be.

Anyone can change. Anyone can help. Anyone can save the world of another human being, all you have to do is being willing to try. We convince ourselves we aren't smart enough, or rich enough, or clever enough to accomplish superhuman feats - but every human being has that capability inside them. We just need to find the courage to allow it to manifest and grow.

It's easy to play the "what about me" card, it's hard to realize that it's not about you at all. It's bigger than that.
Compassion, forgiveness, being humble and grateful for what blessing we have are easy ways to remember and to embrace yourself without seeking self-pity. They are ways to look past the selfishness that is in our human nature and realize we are more than that - we are compassionate animals that have the resources and ability to help change the world.

Giving back is the only way to move forward. Please take a moment to look over one of these many resources seeking your help to change the world. And have a blessed, blessed day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Find Happiness Within...

Well, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday.

Whenever I feel this crabby, I actually feel a little bit guilty about it~so non-yogic of me! I tried to tell myself all of the things that I say to my students about finding happiness within.

Wasn't working. In my own stubbornness, I convinced myself that I was being more "real" by being crabby and owning it.

Then a friend of mine shared famous yoga teacher/writer, Max Strom's Facebook status on her page. It read, "No matter how many chaturangas we do, no matter how much wheat grass juice we drink, no matter how many kirtans we attend, we will not have a happy life if we are carrying inside us resentment and hate. 'It's not what you eat, but what's eating you.' Our yoga will take us quite far down the road, healing past wounds, purging us of ghosts, but at some point down the road we have to do some work on ourselves which is also part of spiritual tradition; self-enquiry, and in that work, one of our greatest tools is the power of forgiveness."

Thanks Max. Okay, I will try. I will look inside and find out what is eating at me. I will, at the very least, try to forgive myself this mood even if I can't find the cause to forgive.

I continued my funk, putzing around the house, ending up in the kitchen. It is here that I found a fortune cookie fortune sitting underneath some items in a bowl.

"Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change."

Okay universe! I get it. I'm trying.

I went and sat down and started thinking about it. I came to one of my favorite yoga sutras that I love to teach in class.

Duhkhanusavi Dvesah: Aversion is that which follows identification with painful experiences.

Sri Swami Satchidananda goes on to explain that "We attach ourselves to pleasure because we expect happiness from it, forgetting that happiness is always in us as the true Self."

After stewing over that and getting a good night's sleep~I know that all of these statements I ran into are true. My mood, who knows, sometimes we just have good ones, sometimes bad ones. No need to attach to it in the end. No need to long for happiness or a better mood if that is the case that day, just know that if you let go from attaching yourself to your anger or resentments and do forgive whoever or whatever it is that is bothering you, you will find that happiness, that peace & that joy within. I know that I am trying...every single day.

Om Shanti~Marcia

Monday, January 9, 2012


Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.
~George Orwell

For every ying there is a yang - for every good deed there is one that may not be so great. Life is balance and balance it life. Having a life filled with happiness and joy is possible, but knowing and understanding that happiness is something worth fighting for.

Yes - at times it can be hard - but that is balance. Each trial we have will teach us a new way to be happy. When you are feeling low always remember the lowest low is only a precursor to something great and that in the darkest moment is when we find how important faith is and when we see a new level of clarity. Clarity that shows us what we're really made of.

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.
~Thomas Merton

"I am balance. I am centered. I am grounded."

Come to a comfortable seat, adjusting the flesh from your sitting bones and find yourself grounded where you are. Breathing in deeply all the way down to your belly and exhale completely. With each breath begin to count back from ten all the way down to the number one - each time you find a though enter your mind, allow it to slip away and in stead offer up your own mantra.

Today I choose, "I am balanced. I am centered. I am grounded."

Know that your mind is a working machine, so do not become angry with yourself if outside life keeps gnawing at you. Just simply breathe and bring your attention back to your mantra. Wether you sit for five minutes - which is a very reasonable time for a beginner - or an hour, follow the cadence of your breath and your voice filling in the spaces between your breaths until you fill the room with you.

Breathe and let go.

The light and spirit inside of me, honors the light and spirit inside of you.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Living life limitless

"Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless."
Jamie Paolinetti

As children it's easy to see 1000 different ways to spend our day. When the sky gives us rain, we splash in the puddles. When the air turns cold and snow piles up we build forts and have snow ball fights.
Children look at this difficult weather and make it into a joyous occasion and then they grow and we see it as a burden. We limit the world around us.

It's easy to get caught up in the humdrum of life and become so focused on one pinpoint spot in time we lose sight of all the wonders around us, and all the wonders that are inside of us. There is no right and wrong - there are only mistakes that teach us how to do it better the next time. Life is filled with fascinating lessons that we go through each day and what we get out of them should help us to see that the possibilities really are limitless.

All you really need is faith in yourself, the will to work harder than you ever have and embrace the passion that flows through you - and then you will see the glass ceiling wasn't really there at all.

"We all have possibilities we don't know about. We can do things we don't even dream we can do"
~Dale Carnegie


"I am free to be the person I want to be. The possibilities in my life are limitless."

Find a quiet spot to lie down - if the weather permits it, outside would be perfect. Lie on your back in savasana with your shoulder blades rolled onto your back, allow your feet to fall open naturally and your hands to rest on the ground next to you, palms open to the sky.

Allow your eyes to soften. Allow your jaw to relax. Feel your body sink into the ground below you. Notice each point of your body that is connecting with the earth and realize that you are safe, you are grounded, you can let go. Then begin to chant either in your mind our out into the air that surrounds you - "I am free to be the person I want to be. The possibilities in my life are limitless."

Breathe in and out the millions and millions of possibilities that surround you and the opportunities you can have it you simply ask. You are free to be the person you want to be. Your life is limitless.

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Come to stand in tadasana (mountain pose) with your feet hip width distance apart. Stacking your knees over your ankles, hips over your knees and shoulders over your hips - inhale - swan dive upwards, drawing your arms out to the side all the way above your head. Keeping your fingers wide and your hands active, gently bring your gaze to your hands.

On your next exhale, draw your hands together at your heart in Anjali Mudra (prayer mudra) and slightly bow your head.

The light and spirit in me, honors the light and spirit in you

Monday, January 2, 2012

Compassion & Self Love

"It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion towards others. If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearths and minds to others"
Sometimes its easy to confuse self-love with conceit. We feel that by saying, "I love me for who I truly am" we are conveying to others we somehow feel superior to them.

First we must understand that when we rely solely on others opinions of our lives, we become slaves to that society. By refusing to trust ourselves or to love ourselves we lose who we really are and morph into a hodge podge of others personalities and beliefs

Through all of our personal strengths and weaknesses we become our own perfect and special being. There is no single perfect person in this world, it is the specific parts of us that allow us to be special.

Second, once we accept ourselves, and love ourselves for the person we are we can than turn our compassion to those around us. We can spread our compassion throughout the world one person at a time.
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
- Dalai Lama

If you don't all ready have a regular place to practice meditation, find a quiet spot in your house, and if your home is much like mine - let your family know that you will be meditating for the next half hour to hour.
(*Note: If this is your first time meditating, begin with a five minute session, and then each day add one minute to your practice until you reach the amount of time you would like to meditate.)

Begin by finding a comfortable seat, you will be in this position for a longer period of time, so be sure the position you choose is one that won't be cutting the circulation off to your legs in (and if your legs do fall asleep - don't worry - finish the meditation and you'll be just fine. Promise.)

Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing upwards - open to receive as well as give the compassion we all so desire. Then draw your attention to your breathing. Counting from one to ten. Each number for one full inhalation and exhalation. Letting each breath to carry away your thoughts and worries.  Allowing your mind to clear until it is quiet.

Once you feel you're ready begin, with each breath, stating thinking or chanting aloud - "I am compassion. I am self-love."

You are compassion, you are self-love and you are a special being just like all others around you.

Humble Warrior

Begin by making your way into Warrior One, lower your hands behind your back clasping the fingers together. Roll your shoulders onto your back as you straighten your arms and then - exhale - folding forward bowing humbly to the world around you and bringing yourself closer together.

To bow down and come inside yourself, or to bow down to those who are around is we can find a new path in life. A path filled with truth and honesty. A path that allows our true and special self to shine through into this world.
Compassion is not a flaw, just as being human is not a flaw - it is a gift. Life is a gift, and one we only have for a short time. So chose to spend that time in a way that will help those around your, and at the same time help yourself.

I bring my hands together at my heart and say to you namaste. The spirit and the light that is in you, which is also in me.
"At the end of the day, love and compassion will win. "
-Terry Waite