Fitness Goals and Yoga Contentment

Do you have fitness goals?  What are they?

Acknowledging, affirming and sharing those goals with your teacher and community are an important step in becoming accountable and taking health into your own hands.  Fitness is a way to keep ourselves healthy and beyond that to live a happier and more fulfilled life.

There's another side to the coin though which has more to do with yoga.  Yoga is a way of developing contentment, which is after all one of the five Niyamas or principles by which yogis attempt to live their lives.  

So our challenge as people who want to be fit and achieve our goals is to also find a way to be content in the moment, just as we are.  Sound impossible?  Maybe it is or maybe it just seems that way from a certain point of view.  A limited point of view that doesn't embrace that we are complex, multifaceted beings.

In our Philadelphia yoga studio we try to dance between these two perspectives.  Knowing when to push and knowing when to rest, knowing when to criticize and knowing when to congratulate.  It is the balance between the two that leads to a deeper success.  Deeper than just achieving goals yet more substantive than simply being content with things as they are.

Our West Girard Home

At The Yoga and Movement Sanctuary we are always present to our context of West Girard Avenue in Brewerytown.  It is a very happening, diverse area which never fails to challenge one's expectations and preconceptions.  One day a few children will come and ask to watch one of our yoga classes, the next a neighbor will offer to clean our front windows once a week.  Our student base is diverse, some who have lived in Brewerytown their entire lives, some for whom it is a new home and some who commute from Center City and even the Philadelphia suburbs in order to practice yoga here.  To us the important task is to offer a practice that is relatable to as wide a population as possible while stay staying true to the deeper meaning and integrity of what we believe yoga really is.  What is that deeper meaning?  Though it is impossible to define, to us at YMS it has something to do with feeling strong and whole within one's body.  What is integrity in that process?  It has to do with the honest and clear communication of what we teach and how it can be beneficial to health and overall happiness.  


One reason why it is easy to believe in what we do is that those qualities are universal.  Can you think of anyone who wouldn't want to feel stronger and more whole in their body and to know that those teaching them had deep respect for what they do?  At YMS we take things very seriously when it comes to how we relate with the people in our neighborhood because of one other core belief which is that in order for these qualities to develop, a loving and supportive community is essential.

Inspirations and Reflections for the week of 9/12

Second full week of September

Moon approaching Full (Saturday, 9/17)

Themes: Organization, Motivation and Clarity

Preparing to enter the second full week of September we come near to the end of the summer season.  The temperature is fluctuating between days in the high 90’s and nights in the low 60’s and our awareness is on the shift towards Autumn.  The evening falls sooner, the nights are starting to bring in a chill and those of us who wake up early are noticing less and less light accompanying us as we begin our day.  School has started for those who are in education and even for those who are not the point in the cycle in which we return to structure has arrived.  


The tasks of Autumn can be daunting when looked at from the perspective of summer which is wild, disorganized and passionate.  So one role of practice for us is to begin to shift our state of mind to one that is able to see step by step, stage by stage and maintain focus on the immediate challenges ahead.  Part of clarifying those steps is also to establish a sense of destination so that a map can be drawn.


In our lives outside of practice there are many potential destinations.  Earning a certain amount of money, developing relationships, manifesting a living situation, taking care of unfinished business and the list goes on.  One one level, the techniques to accomplish these types of tasks are required by the specifics tasks themselves. On another level however there is a fundamental motivation, patience and focus required of us if we wish to step forward.


It is those fundamental qualities that we can begin to elicit in our practice this week.  We will transition towards more progressions in repetition, foundational strength and in so doing develop a clear sense of where work needs to be put.  Whether we are incredibly strong in the lower body yet have not yet developed facility bringing weight into the hands, incredibly mobile yet have not found control or are connected to a strong source of energy that we are not yet able to channel, the necessary work ahead will reveal itself.


Our movement practice will consist of repetition of basic patterns that emphasize efficiency, balance and one pointed focus.  We will maintain these repetitions until it has become clear that they have been integrated and are like a second nature.  At that point it will become possible to investigate more complex patterns that challenge our spatial awareness, coordination and ability to integrate physical effort with mobility and balance.  


Our meditation practice will mirror the movement practice in that we will emphasize the fundamental action of returning to presence.  The supports of the physical posture, the breath and the energetic midline will become more accessible as we reconnect to them again and again.  Once that connection has become fortified it will allow us, from the vantage point of clear presence, to observe the patterns of the mind.

I look forward to walking with you along this path.




Movement: Yoga Asana for A New Aeon

Movement grows from learning from experts in their respective fields, pooling the information and utilizing it. We as an institution are responsible for communicating this information and fostering a supportive environment where the infinite well of movement information can be experienced and expressed.

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