Archive for June, 2011

Pleasure in Practice

Perennial joy or passing pleasure? This is the choice one is to make always. The wise recognize these two, but not the ignorant. The first welcome what leads to abiding joy, though painful at the time. The latter run, goaded by their senses, after what seems immediate pleasure.

– Katha Upanishad

It is clear that in order to have a practice of yoga, we must at times encounter difficulty, and embrace it as part of the journey; we can be humbled by our limitations, we may be aware of thoughts and feelings while in the depths of yoga’s inwardness, that we were attempting to bury. Of course there is the joy and sense of accomplishment as well, as we become more awake and whole in ourselves and our bodies. But my main point for the week, related to practice, is that we need to find a balance of pleasure and effort in our practices. If we attempt only what is difficult in our home practices, we will find ourselves resisting rather than embracing yoga. Simple acts, like lighting a candle and incense, having an inspirational reading or even music during our practice time can call us into a nourishing relationship with ourselves and yoga. Try including whatever other prayer or meditation practice you may have as part of your time with your yoga practice, and see what helps each to flourish.

In this second week of Summer Session, I am delving again into the subject of developing your own practice of yoga. Often this topic provokes guilt or disappointment, as students recognize their lack of initiative in practicing at home. If we can witness these reactions, and explore more openly, we may find just the right insight to help inspire a more fulfilling practice, especially if we are motivated by clear intention in WHY we do yoga! One important element in practice, is in its offering of relief, sanctuary and healing in our lives. In order to experience this, it is essential that we decide on our expectation of how much time we will spend that is reasonable within the context of all our other tasks and pleasures! I have recognized that many students receive benefit from just 10 or 15 minutes of practice, several times a week. As it turns out, major medical research studies bear out the truth that even practice short in duration can creat measureable change for an individual. Record your practice sessions in your calendar and conduct your own study to see  what difference your practice makes, physically, mentally and emotionally, as well as in your spirit!


“When five local women heard a talk by a nun who has been compared to Mother Teresa, they felt the need to find a way to help with her work in India.”

See the rest of this Bellingham Herald article out just moments ago on the Bellingham Herald website, here.

Above, see a picture of Elizabeth along with Jillian Froebe, Paula Brown, Shirley Osterhaus and Krista Hunter – as they celebrate with Maher’s founder and head, Sister Lucy Kurien during a recent visit.



Intention in Practice

In considering how to help students practice at home, a strong challenge for many, I will be offering suggestions and support through the summer session; if one establishes a practice, however modest when it is warmer and lighter, it is easier to continue practicing when the season may take us towards less natural inclination to move our bodies! The first step in establishing a home practice, is in clarifying your own intention in practicing; ask yourself why you would like a practice– is it for flexibility? strength? general physical well-being? self-inquiry? deeper relaxation? As you narrow the intention to specifics within that arena of practice, it will become clearer how and what to practice. If you are focussed and INTENTIONAL in your practice, you will have the most obvious and satisfying results.  If you have a sense of clarity of purpose in the foreground, when the inevitable resistance to a specific moment of practice arises, you will be buoyed by your intention. Take a few moments to write your intentions in practicing yoga on a card or piece of paper, and leave it near where you keep props for practice, or someplace where you will remind yourself of your intention.

If you would like to help us organize at Presence Studio for the benefit Kirtan on Friday, we could use some helping hands for the setting up of the space, and then reorganizing again, at the end of the evening. If you wanted to come, but are not able to afford a ticket at this time, one option would be to volunteer and request a discounted or if needed, free ticket. Our time with Sister Lucy Kurien, who started Maher, was inspiring and delightful— she has a wondrous sense of humor and is a great storyteller! To those who were present for Sister Lucy’s talk, thanks for welcoming her to Bellingham. On Wednesday morning the 8th, Friends of Maher hosted a breakfast meeting with people who came from Lydia Place, Whatcom Counseling and Psychiatric Clinic, Womencare Shelter, the Interfaith Council, and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom County (DVSAS) to share with Sister Lucy aspects of services offered locally, to those offered to parallel populations through Maher in India. It was a fascinating and heart warming experience, holding mutual inspiration and ideas of new possibility for all who attended.

A local filght attendant, who had coincidentally met Sister Lucy on a flight two years ago, and was completely drawn to her, had introduced herself, and received the book about Maher Ashram directly on that flight from Sister Lucy, HAPPENED to be friends with one of the women at the breakfast gathering. Sister Lucy had “prayed to God” for the last two years to somehow again meet the woman who had been her flight attendant, going from Seattle to Copenhagen. It was a glorious moment when that same woman “interrupted” our meeting at the Congregational Church to find her long lost friend— the two hugged and kissed as we all basked in the mystery and synchronicity of our human lives. The only challenge was in getting us back on track for our original intent in meeting— which I can report DID happen!

Hoping to see many of you in summer classes…it is always a delightful and relaxed practice time.