Monthly Archives: May 2015

ATHA

Cindy Lusk- ATHA

Atha yoganusasanam
NOW WE COMMENCE THE STUDY OF YOGA.

This is the aphorism with which Patanjali begins his teachings in the definitive text of Classical Yoga, the Yoga Sutras.  On one level it simply announces that the subject of the text is yoga.

Traditionally, the first word of a text carries great significance, and here the first word is “atha,” which means now.

With the word “now,” there’s a sense of all times, of the past, the present, and the future.  Now we’re going to learn about yoga. Historically the teachings had not been coherently codified, and Patanjali did just that.  But for us as a student of yoga, there can also be a sense that  now is our time.  Now is the time to delve into this text.  Our past studies have led us to this moment to begin a serious contemplation of these teachings.

From a broader perspective, there’s a sense of the “present moment,” of “be here now.”  I find these ideas a bit overused, and I cringe at using them, because I don’t find them very useful. What does it mean to be here now, and how does one actually come into the present moment?  Well, that’s what the whole text of the Yoga Sutras is about: yoga. Our practice of yoga teaches us how to become present.

And as yoga practitioners, this aphorism reminds us: now, at any and every time, is time for yoga.  And I’m not talking about getting on your mat and cranking out some asana, or even getting to the meditation cushion, though for most people practice is the prerequisite. When we regularly do the practices that connect us to what Patanjali calls the seer, a deeper core presence that is the essence of who we are, we are able to meet each moment  with that presence.

Through our practice of yoga, we learn to connect with the ground of our being, a place of wisdom inside ourselves that then guides us in the present moment. With this process we inevitably begin to confront all of our habitual patterns from our past, which we tend to allow to pull us out of the present moment.  Our practice helps us clear out, identify, and shift these patterns. And THEN, as we go about our lives as we all must, we are better able to be in the present moment.

In each moment, with the help of the connection we have established to our deeper awareness through our practice, we become able to see more clearly what is actually present, and what is an old pattern, or our own clouded perception.  This is our yoga happening in the present moment.  And it allows us, when things are particularly challenging, to take it as an opportunity for yoga. Now we do our yoga, in the most challenging moments. Having established the connection, we draw on the deepest source to work with whatever is unfolding in this present moment, to guide us through that moment and into the future.

If you would like to learn more about Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, check out my self-paced course here

Mother’s Day

Like many holidays, Mother’s Day brings up mixed feelings. Many of us dislike or resent so many holidays that have become commercialized obligations. Yet there is something delightful about celebrating good ol’ mom.

And it can be challenging for many people.  Many of us have lost our moms, or never knew our moms, or had moms who were not the best of moms.  They’re human, after all.

And for women that are not moms, and will never be moms in the conventional sense, it can be a hard reminder.

As for myself, I loved my mom, and dad, dearly. I cherish the love I received from them. And I learned positive things from them both, and, as well, I learned a few negative things.  I learned from both of them some ways I did not want to be.  Yes, after all, they are human.

For Mother’s Day I choose the celebrate the love I shared with my mom, celebrate the fact that she birthed me, and gave me this precious life.  So for me, Mother’s Day is a celebration of the mother energy, the creative life force that we see so active in spring, and that innate mothering instinct that so many creatures share.  I celebrate caring, and I celebrate birthing and nurturing in its many forms.

I celebrate the feminine. Which is something this world needs a lot more of.

Cindy Lusk- Mother’s Day

That could be the end of the essay, but I must say that personally this holiday reminds me of how much I miss my mom. So much. I miss that person that was a steady light in my life, someone I knew I could depend on. That’s what is hard for me on Mother’s Day, that feeling of being alone.

So I celebrate community and connection, for moms are our earliest connection to the heartbeat of life, the pulse that runs through us all, the pulse of life and love that connects us all.

I celebrate yoga because yoga means connecting and joining, turning inwardly to my pulsing heart, and outwardly to embrace life as it is: childless, motherless me. And yet a life full of possibility.

I embrace the sadness, I embrace the joy.

I celebrate the embrace of all of those who have supported and nurtured me, my relatives, teachers and loved ones who have stood steady with me over the years with hugs and words of encouragement.

I celebrate you, for all you have nurtured in yourself and others.

May we all celebrate that nurturing sustaining life force energy from which we manifest.  And may we spread that energy through our love and nurturing of all beings.

Happy Mother’s Day.