Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yama Pt. 5: Aparigraha

As we finish up the last of the 5 Yamas in Patanjali’s “Eight Limbs of Yoga,” let’s do this quick breathing exercise together:

Keep your shoulders relaxed, sitting with spine in neutral.
Take a deep breath in.
Let the breath out.

Now, breathe in again; but this time,
notice how the breath feels as you fill up your lungs with air.
Then breathe out, letting that breath go.


How did that feel?  Pretty good, I’m sure.  🙂

Aparigraha is sanskrit for Non-Possessiveness.  This covers everything from materialism, hoarding, unhealthy habits… basically, anything that causes attachments outside of God.  Why is practicing Aparigraha so important?  I will break my response into two parts: During and After.

 

During the Practice of Aparigraha

One of the greatest challenges of practicing non-possessiveness during this COVID-19 Pandemic is all the online shopping that is practically being shoved in front of our faces. When I checked my e-mail yesterday afternoon, I had 73 Unread messages, and almost all of them were e-mails from retailers notifying me of a sale, a coupon code, or a new promotional item.  I think I’ve only shopped from maybe 7-8 of those retailers, and I generally delete those e-mails; but once in a while, an e-mail subject line will catch my eye if it mentions a 50%-75% off sale.  I will click on the e-mail and start browsing on their online store, feeling the temptation to buy the leggings or the eyeshadow palette just because they’re on sale.  I may even add them to my cart, but in the end, I delete them out of the cart because I know that I don’t really need another pair of leggings or another palette of eyeshadow.  Part of what helps me is going back to what the logic part of my brain — the frontal lobe — is telling me.

When we’re practicing non-possessiveness, we allow ourselves to receive the enjoyment and the nourishment of the object/people/situations but we don’t become attached and/or addicted to it.  We begin to understand that we can not look at tangible things the same way that we look at non-tangible things.  Tangible things are temporary, whereas non-tangible things are eternal.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthian 4:18

After the Practice of Aparigraha

Another thing I’ve been seeing a lot online is ads for weight-loss and fitness programs.  Most of these ads show the “Before” and “After” photos of people that have successfully lost weight or gained muscle-definition using their program.  Just like how the “After” photos show the benefits of the program, you see the benefits of practicing non-possessiveness after you actually practice it.  By not buying things that you don’t really need, you will have money in your bank account, you won’t have a credit card bill at the end of the month (which would included a monthly interest rate that you will have to pay), you will actually enjoy the things that you already have, and you won’t have to worry about somehow making more room in your home for the things you just bought.  You may even notice that you feel happier from not being ruled by a life of excess.  You’re able to make space in your heart and your soul for more experiences, more freedom, and more joy.  This brings about a sense of empowerment to move forward without dragging a big, heavy load of things that will only slow you down from your ultimate, divine purpose in your life.

In the beginning this blog, I invited you to do a breathing exercise.  The air that you breathed in nourished your body and kept you alive; but what would’ve happened if you held on to that breath and not let it out?   That very breath which was meant to nourish you would have become toxic to your body.  Just like the breath, the tangible things in this world are not necessarily bad; but if we don’t learn to enjoy them and then let them go, they will end up become toxic to our spiritual growths.

Each of the five Yamas that I have spoken in these past five weeks — Ahimsa (Non-Violence), Satya (Truthfulness), Asteya (Non-Stealing), Brahmachaya (Non-Excess), and Aparigraha (Non-Possessiveness) — make up the restraints and moral codes that build on the previous Yama.  Next week, I will begin the topic of the second limb of Yoga which is Niyamas.

With Gratitude,
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CHRISTIAN YOGI’S PERSPECTIVE ON YAMA PT. 4: BRAHMACHARYA

Brahmacharya — loosely translated to non-excess or moderation — is made up of two words, brahman which means “the divine” or “ultimate” and charya which means “the path”.  So put together, brahmacharya means the path of the divine.  When one is on the path of the divine, they live and make choices avoiding selfish motives.  To be on the path of the divine requires us to let go of idolatry in order to continue the journey to the Self, the one that God has created us to be. 

To claim that we all struggle with idolatry may sound harsh, but it does not make it any less true.  The dictionary defines idolatry as, “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.”  The Bible defines idolatry as anything that one puts before God. 

“Do not worship any other gods besides me.” Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god.”
Exodus 20:3-5

(On a side note, when God said that He’s a jealous God, it doesn’t mean a resentful jealousy; He’s referring to a protective, zealous, loving claim on His children.)

As a Christian living in the United States, I’m bombarded with struggles toward materialism, addiction to social media, and over-indulgence of the senses whether it be delicious foods, staying up late, binge-watching Netflix, etc.  Late last year, I started thinking about living a simpler life with less things.  Being that my family and I made a move from North Carolina to Texas in the middle of the pandemic (you can read all about it here), we had the opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff (you don’t realize how much you’ve accumulated until you start packing for a move).  Getting rid of things was a lot harder than I had expected.  It felt like as we sold and gave away furniture, kitchen items, clothes, electronics, etc., we were letting go of the memories that were attached to them.  We live in such a sentimental world with heightened emotions where the media tells us to “listen to your heart” and “YOLO.”  But the problem of living an emotion-based life is that it causes you to put your utmost importance on pleasures of the flesh.  Not that we shouldn’t enjoy a refreshing watermelon or even a delicious piece of chocolate cake, but if our attention is more on these things than on God, they become idols in our lives. 

In the beginning of 2019, I had the privilege of taking a weekend certification workshop from the famous yoga teacher Nikki Myers, who said that co-dependency is also an addiction where “the belief that something outside of ourselves – people, places, things, behaviors or experiences – will bring fulfillment and joy.”  I think this can be said of almost everyone.  One could argue and say that if this is the case, we must get fulfillment and joy from within ourselves (and not from God).  But have you ever tried to make yourself experience fulfillment and joy without anything or anyone?  In my opinion, I don’t think it’s possible to not be co-dependent.  You can either be co-dependent on God, or your can be co-dependent on people, places, things, behaviors or experiences for that fulfillment and joy.  I believe that the latter way of living creates idolatry.  As a Chrisitian who uses yoga philosophy as a tool to enhance her faith and relationship with God, I practice brahmacharya — the way of the divine (aka the way of Jesus Christ) — by choosing to find moderation while living in this world so that I can ensure I don’t become self-indulgent on the pleasures of this world.

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.”
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

With Gratitude,
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CHRISTIAN YOGI’S PERSPECTIVE ON YAMA PT. 3: ASTEYA

The third Yama referenced in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is Asteya, which means Non-stealing.  When I hear word, “non-stealing,” my first thought is theft of an object; but non-stealing covers so many more areas than just a materialistic theft.  The following is just a three of many aspects of non-stealing from a Christian Yogi’s perspective:

Stealing from Others

This one seems pretty obvious, right?  Stealing from others includes possessions, time, energy, and anything else that does not belong to you.  When I was in elementary school, I used to go to my friends’ houses after school quite often because I was a latchkey kid.  One time, my friend was showing me a box full of jewelry that her mom had given her.  I had never seen so many jewelry in one room, in my whole entire life of 10 years.  As we were rummaging through all the jewelry, a pair of colorful earrings caught my eye.  I kept looking at them and admiring them even after we had moved on to playing with her toy kitchen set.  At some point that afternoon, I was alone in her room for about 5 minutes; by then, my admiration for those colorful earrings turned into envy. Within that 5 minutes, my envy turned into the actual act of stealing.  I quickly put the earrings in my pocket and then left her house shortly afterwards.  According to Exodus 20:1-17, the seventh of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not steal.”  Period.  No if’s, and’s or but’s.  I would like to tell you that my guilty conscience forced me to do the right thing by giving the earrings back to her and apologizing for my poor choice… but to my shame, that is not what happened.  I realized that I could never wear those earrings outside of my house because then she would know that I had stolen them from her.  I knew I couldn’t lie and say that my parents bought them for me because they were unique and unlike any other earrings that were being sold at stores (after all, this was before the internet and online shopping).  So instead of coming clean, I just sneaked them back into the drawer the next time I went to her house.  She never knew they were missing, but because I knew, I felt a sense of guilt every time I saw her.

Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.
Proverbs 20:17

The problem with stealing — in addition to the fact that God commands us to not steal — is that we are taking something that does not belong to us.  Stealing violates the spiritual, emotional, and mental (and sometimes physical) connection we have with others.

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
― Martin Luther King Jr. 

We also steal from others in several different ways:

1.  Stealing time by showing up to appointments late or taking up more time than the mutually agreed length. (For example, as a Yoga Teacher, I do my best to start and end my classes on time so that I can respect everyone’s schedules.)

2.  Stealing energy by expecting others to initiate conversations with you or just constantly being negative around others. (I’m sure you have been around a few “energy suckers” in your lifetime; These are the people that after spending time with them, you feel completely drained and wiped out emotionally and mentally.)

When we steal from others, we’re also stealing from ourselves.


Stealing from Ourselves

We live in a world that so desperately desires individuality.  It’s true that we are all unique and special in our own ways, but we as a society have forgotten the importance of community and the concept of oneness.

“In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.”
―  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Whenever we steal from others, we lose a little bit of integrity each time.  God has allowed us to be born with some  wonderful talents, character, and passions.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  It has always been God’s plan to give us hope and a future worth experiencing; but in our limited understanding, we think He should just hand over prosperity, protection, hope and future.  He wants us to have these things, but we must first be ready (in our character and heart) to handle such a life.  When we give into our fleshly desires and temporary pleasures that last only for a moment, we begin to tear down the excellence and beauty of who God has created us to be.  We rob ourselves of the fruits of the Spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23a

Who wouldn’t want to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, forgiving, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled?  These are available to us as long as we’re willing to plant the seeds, nurture them and grow them so that they can produce these fruits of the Spirit.  By taking a short cut, an easy way out or just dismissing that inner voice prompting us to do the right thing, we rob ourselves of God’s promises for our lives.


Stealing from God

This one can be a touchy subject.  The scripture that talks about stealing from God is Malachi 3:8 where God says, “Will a man rob God?  Yet you have robbed Me!  But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.”  (Check out this article on Bible.org for more on this scripture.)  But there are more ways we can be stealing from God.

1.  We can be stealing from God by taking the credit for what He has done.  In Judges 7, the Israelites experienced victory over the Midianites with just 300 fighting men. (The Midianites had 12,000 fighting men.)  Initially, there were 32,000 Israelites, but God told Gideon, the leader of the army,

The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’
Judges 7:2

We steal from God when we take credit for something that was meant for God’s glory.

2.  We can be stealing from God by becoming a hindrance for others in their relationship with God.  In the book Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, the author Francis Chan writes, “From start to finish, this movie is obviously about God. He is the main character. How is is possible that we live as though it is about us?”  The movie that he’s referring to is LIFE.  When we try to be the main character of this movie, we create road blocks and distractions for others to focus on the main character, God.

Throughout the week, I invite you to pause and ask yourself, “Am I practicing Asteya in my heart, mind and actions?”

With Gratitude,
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Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yama Pt. 1: Ahimsa

Ahimsa is Sanskrit which translates to Non-Violence.  This is the first of five Yamas, which is one of the eight limbs of Yoga found in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  You may be thinking, “Wait, I thought you’re a Christian.  Isn’t that book (and other ancient yogic texts) part of the Hindu religion?”  In the famous words of one of my great teachers Nikki Myers, “It depends.”  As I’ve explained in my previous blogs, Yoga itself is not a religion; it’s a tool to help you get closer to meeting your Self, which is the core of your authenticity by God’s design.  If you’re a Hindu and use the Yoga and its texts as part of your belief, then yes, it is a part of the Hindu religion.  But that could be said of any religious beliefs and faiths.  If you’re Buddhist and use the same practices and texts to enhance your Buddhist faith, then it is absolutely a part of the Buddhist religion.  You see where I’m going with this, right?  When I use Yoga and its philosophies as a tool in my walk with God, it becomes a Christian practice because I’m a Christian who is practicing Yoga.  Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get back to the subject for today’s blog.  😉

Ahimsa, aka Non-Violence, refers to actions, thoughts, words, feelings… basically, everything.  Romans 12:17 reads,  “Do not repay evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Ahimsa towards those who you feel like don’t deserve kindness, grace and mercy.  Ahimsa towards that person who cut you off and then flipped you off.  Ahimsa towards that person that backstabbed you or spread rumors about you.  Yoga Philosophy advises the Yogi to practice Ahimsa; The Bible shows you how.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 15:1

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Luke 6:31

Another aspect of Ahimsa is Non-Violence toward yourself.  This goes beyond physical self-harm.  When was the last time you said something negative about yourself out loud or in your mind?  Comments such as, “Ugh, I’m so fat,” “I wish I was as pretty as her,” “I’m so stupid,” create negativity in our hearts and minds… and ultimately, it effects our spirit.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”  We are spiritual beings that have been gifted this human body to reside in while we’re here on earth.  Our bodies are a gift from God, so when we speak negatively about His gift, it breaks His heart.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Psalm 139:13-14
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:16

A Japanese Scientist named Masaru Emoto conducted a research on how the human consciousness and intentions can effect the molecular structure of water.  He did several experiments observing the physical effect of words, prayers, music and environment on the structure of water. He hired photographers to take pictures of water after  exposing them the various words and phrases (some positive like “Thank you” and some negative like, “You make me sick”) and froze them until they formed crystalline structures.  The photos that were taken showed that the water that was exposed to positive words and phrases formed beautiful, symmetrical crystals; however, the water that was exposed to negative words and phrases formed jagged, disturbing, asymmetrical crystals.  An adult human body is made of approximately 60% water; and the heart and the brain is composed of approximately 73% water.  So if Dr. Emoto’s theories are true (which I personally believe they are), the words we speak to ourselves and others have the potential to change the way a person thinks, feels and acts.

I pray that through positive words and displaying unconditional kindness to ourselves and others, we will live out Ahimsa throughout our lives.  Stay tuned for my blog next week on the second Yama, Satya (truthfulness).

 

With Gratitude,
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A Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yoga Philosophy: Introduction

In the past several months, I have been writing mostly about my journey in completing a 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training as well as the lessons I learned along the way.  For the rest of this year, I will be diving deeper into a topic of Yoga Philosophy that every Yoga Teacher learns about in their teacher training: The Eight Limbs of Yoga.  As a Yogi that follows the scriptures written in the Bible, I will be writing about the Eight Limbs from a Christian’s perspective.

Just to tell you more about me beyond what my bio says on this website, I come from a Buddhist lineage.  As a young child in Seoul, South Korea, we used to go to a Buddhist temple a few times a year, and we used to observe “jesa” which is a ceremony to honor and invoke the presence of deceased ancestors spirits on the anniversary of their death.  We weren’t super strict Buddhists, but these things that we did were part of our ancestral tradition that were handed down for many generations.  When we moved to the United States in 1983, I started going to a church with my neighborhood friends for social reasons.  Even though my reason to going to church was purely selfish, the seeds of faith were planted but stayed dormant throughout my teen years.

As a sophomore at California State University in Northridge in 1994, I asked a few of my Christian friends to teach me what I needed to know to become a true, committed disciple of Jesus Christ.  The more I learned about God’s plans for me through the Bible, the more I felt compelled to walk away from everything that was holding me back from living a life full of hope, love and a “peace that transcends all understanding.”

Fast forward to the beginning of 2013: I enrolled in a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training that ended up transforming my life with God completely.  I learned techniques that helped me to become still so that I can hear God’s whispers, and I went through a self-inquiry that helped me to understand my tendencies toward godly things as well as my tendencies toward self-destruction.  I received some push-back from well-intentioned Christians for practicing and teaching Yoga, but surprisingly, these encounters helped me to become more secure in my “unique” methods of connecting with God.  I put the word “unique” in quotations because they’re really not unique at all:  Meditation is mentioned throughout the Bible, and — depending on your intentions — the Yoga poses themselves could mean nothing, or they could mean everything.

Fast forward to 2020:  My family and I have moved back to Texas after living in North Carolina for 4½ years, and I am still learning and growing as a student and a teacher of Yoga and Meditation… and this growth helps me to get closer and closer to the authentic, pure essence of who God has created me to be.  There are some things in Yoga Philosophy that I disagree with; but guess what?  There isn’t one school of thought or philosophy in Yoga!  When I come across any Yoga philosophy that does not align with the Bible, I choose to not let that be part of what I practice.  This does not make me less of a Yogi just like practicing and teaching Yoga does not make me less of a Christian.  Yoga is a tool to help enhance one’s faith and belief system.  Contrary to popular belief, Yoga does not belong to one single religion.  The Eight Limbs of Yoga that I will be elaborating on for the remainder of the year are as follows:

  1. Yama – “Moral Code/Guidelines” toward external environment
  2. Niyama – “Personal Code/Guidelines” toward oneself
  3. Asana – Physical postures
  4. Pranayama – Breath Control
  5. Prathayahara – Sense Withdrawal
  6. Dharana – Concentration
  7. Dhyana – Meditation
  8. Samadhi – Union with God or Complete Integration

Next week, I will begin a deep-dive on the first aspect of Yama, which is Ahimsa (Non-Violence).

With Gratitude,
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I did it!

At 4:30pm on Friday, 8/7/2020, I clicked on the [SUBMIT] button for the very last video exam of my 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) program!  When this journey first began 10 weeks prior (on 6/1/2020), and it definitely has been full of self-discoveries and life lessons!  Of the countless amount of lessons I learned/re-learned, here are the Top 5 Lessons that will stay with me throughout my journey in life and self-realization:


1.  LIFE IS NOT A RACE.

I have a competitive spirit.  I didn’t play competitive sports growing up because I hated losing.  I think that’s why I loved the performing arts so much.  Of course, there is a competitive aspect in performing arts, but I’ve always felt that a performer expressing their art can not be objectively judged (which is also why I am not a big fan of awards shows for movies, music, television series, etc.).  When I was a dancer in Los Angeles, I did strive to be a “better dancer than everyone else,” but when it came down to it, I danced because it made my spirit feel alive.   In the beginning of the AYTT program, I found myself wanting to finish the program faster just because I saw others finishing the program in a month, a month and a half, etc.  But then somewhere along the way (I think in between week 2 and week 3), I reminded myself to enjoy the journey and learn for the pure love of learning and growing instead of trying to finish before someone that started at the same time as I did.



2.  DREAM BIG… AND THEN PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!

I knew I would eventually complete a 300-hour AYTT program, but I didn’t know how or when.  First of all, most AYTT programs cost anywhere from $2,300 to $5,000; secondly, there was an AYTT near me that I felt was a good fit for me.  While I was living in Charlotte, NC, I looked into a program in Asheville which was a little over 2 hours away as well as one in Winstom-Salem which was only slightly over an hour away.  When this pandemic hit the US earlier this year and everyone went into social distancing and quarantine mode, Yoga Alliance decided to temporarily allow Registered Yoga Schools (RYS) to offer their programs virtually.  So after a lot of research, I found a program that was affordable, flexible, and very unique… So I signed up on June 1st to complete my 300 hours with ULU Yoga in Thailand!  I planned out my study schedule for each week, and I made sure I stuck to it with some wiggle room in case of unexpected things happened (check out all 9 blogs from the previous weeks for those “unexpected events”).  I loved checking off each task and seeing myself getting closer and closer to achieving a dream of mine while learning and growing.



3.  ONLY CONTROL THE THINGS THAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO CONTROL, AND LET THE REST WORK ITSELF OUT.

Like I mentioned above,  there were things that happened during the last 10 weeks that I could not control.  In fact, there have always been things in my life that I could not control (can I get an amen?).  I used to get upset that I couldn’t control everything (like changing somebody’s mind, outcome of situations, etc.); but through this AYTT experience, I was reminded to focus on controlling myself and just leave alone the other things outside of my control.  There’s a sense of freedom that comes with surrender and just putting any desire for improvement to be placed on self-improvement.



4.  CHOOSE DELAYED GRATIFICATION OVER INSTANT PLEASURE.

Let’s face it, we live in a world where we expect results right away.  If our Google results don’t pop up within .01 second, we get impatient.  We try to find the quickest way to get things done.  I admit, I’m guilty of choosing the easier and faster way of accomplishing things (like using my sewing machine over hand-sewing my face masks), but it is so good for our hearts and our souls to work hard at something that doesn’t come quickly or easy to us.  James 1:4 reads, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  It takes perseverance to build character, and if we constantly choose the easy way out, we won’t grow in our authenticity.  There were days that I wanted to binge-watch Netflix or just sleep in until Noon (although I don’t think I can physically sleep until Noon); but I knew that in order to finish my AYTT by August, I needed to stay on task and enjoy each moment of the training — which leads us to #5:



5.  BE PRESENT.

Going through the AYTT program allowed me to be a better Yoga Teacher for the virtual classes that I’ve been teaching.  In my book, “Be Still: The Power of Biblical Meditation,” I talked about how in order to be a good teacher, you must be a good student.  I find that I’m a better teacher when I’m going through some type of learning, whether it be a certification course or reading a book on Christian discipleship, self-improvement, yoga, ayurveda, or energy science.  When I’m learning, I fully there physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Lately, I’ve been reminding my yoga students that because we are bound by this thing called “Time,” we can not live in the past or the future; So if we’re constantly focusing on the past or the future — and the only place we can live in is the present — we have to ask ourselves, “Are we truly living?”

Show up.  Every time.  Every moment.

 

With Gratitude,
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300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training – Week Three

The saying, “Third time’s a charm” definitely fits how last week went with the Virtual 300-Hr Advanced Yoga Teacher Training (AYTT) that I started on June 1st.  I was extremely rigid and strict with my study schedule the first week which led to some unnecessary stress, so I decided to go the totally opposite direction on the second week with being unstructured which resulted in barely getting anything done.  I knew I needed to find a balance between the two extreme approaches.  So last week (Week Three), I decided to somehow marry both approaches and here is what happened:

“Sadhana” is the Yoga Practice and Meditation required for this AYTT.

I started the week by creating a schedule but working around some social appointments that I decided to add in (FaceTiming with one of my best friends in North Carolina, having lunch with another best friend here in Texas, etc.).  I made sure that I was getting an average of 5 hours of studying per day, so on the days that I was teaching a class or meeting with clients (all virtually), I did not schedule any social appointments.  I made a checklist on my dry erase board and checked off the tasks as I finished them.  I decided to take Monday off from studying so that I can spend the day with my daughter since I knew she would be gone all day from Tuesday-Friday due to Lifeguard Training and Testing.

My schedule felt more balanced, but I still found myself having to protect my study times; a friend of mine wanted me to meet her and some other friends at the pool on Friday, and part of me felt bad saying no two weeks in a row.  I tried to compromise and agreed to stop by for 30 minutes which ended up not happening anyway because one of my private clients had to reschedule her appointment to Friday morning.  Speaking of clients, I’m always encouraging my private clients to not be apologetic about protecting their schedules, whether it be due to family, school, home business, etc.  Most of us who are homeschool moms, stay-at-home moms, small business owner or working from home can relate with each other on having to protect their schedules.  But the reason why I decided to compromise initially is because it’s also important to know when you’re being too strict or rigid with your schedule (which was my case the first week of my AYTT studies).

LESSON LEARNED DURING WEEK THREE: FAITH & GUNAS

One of the topics from Yoga Philosophy was about gunas.  Gunas are three basic qualities of nature and energy that are present in all things under God’s universe. They are the original elements which are behind all existing beings with life in them.

Tamas represents the element of heaviness and rigidness, Rajas represents hyperactive energy, and Sattva represents harmony and equilibrium.

These elements are available for anyone to harness, although tamas and rajas are not the qualities one would benefit from having.  There are many articles and books that explain the gunas in detail (you can find a great 5-minute read on Yoga International), but for today, I’m going to focus only on how it’s related to one’s faith.

A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13:4-9

Having a tamasic faith causes one to struggle in keeping their faith when obstacles come.  In Matthew 13:20-21 reads, “The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

One with a rajasic faith uses their faith for selfish gains and is motivated by recognition and/or rewards.  In the next verse in Matthew (13:22) it reads, “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

Sattvic faith, which causes one to use their faith selflessly by sharing their faith, hope and contentment with others, is the kind of faith that will last.  In Matthew 13:23, Jesus says, “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

There are various factors that play into raising your sattva element, but one way to create a sattvic state is in your food choices.  If you eat foods that tend to be heavy such as fast foods and processed foods, you will experience more tamasic qualities (stubborness and unwillingness to compromise).  If you eat foods that cause spikes in energy such as caffeine and sugar (even smoking is in this category), you will notice that you struggle more with staying still mentally and physically, and you will find yourself becoming hyperactive and get distracted easily.  In order to experience the sattvic state, it will be beneficial to eat healthy foods that cause lightness such as fresh organic fruits and vegetables as well as non-processed foods.  So grab that organic apple and take a nice bite and smile, knowing that you just did your body, mind and faith a lot of good!  🍏❤️

With Gratitude,
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