Posts Tagged ‘yoga practice’

Desire vs. Craving

Desire occurs naturally in our lives. It is an expression of our infinite creativity and energy. When we relax and let go, we can be swept along by this desire, and life feels effortless. Every day we move about our lives like this. We sleep when we are tired—we pause for a minute to stretch to release tension in a muscle—we find ourselves hungry and therefore we eat.

We move into craving when we fight or pervert our natural state—instead of letting go and doing what comes naturally to us. We ignore our desire to go to bed because a craving has arisen to stay up—despite the fact that there is no reason to stay up. We may find it hard to “motivate” to do yoga practice, but as we relax and fully engage into the present moment, the natural desire emerges to release tension in our bodies. Food cravings send us to the store to buy chips we don’t even enjoy, when our desire is to eat simple foods that we enjoy—or perhaps our desire is to not be alone.

Yoga is designed to help us release into our natural state so that our desires become obvious. To practice is to follow the flow of these desires without confusing them with cravings. We know our yoga practice is going well when we feel that our life requires less effort. Flowing with our desires expands our energy, while cravings seem to exhaust us.

We all have limited amounts of craving and unlimited desire. Keep your practice simple and joyful. This will allow desire to flow through you, and cravings to begin to diminish. May our food cravings fall away effortlessly and our true paths open up before us.

Thinking Holistically

As human beings with brains, we have the tendency to be reductionist. “This chocolate will make me fat” or “I ate too much today—I’m going to gain weight” or “Carbs go right to my thighs.”

While pinpointing individual aspects of our behavior can sometimes be useful, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture is more likely to yield an “Aha!” moment.

Yoga practice encourages us to back away from these reductionist thoughts and relax our mind—from this place wisdom emerges, showing us our larger patterns of disharmony, so that we may allow them to correct themselves.

The practice of regular asana with relaxed full breathing creates a shift in consciousness. A mental spaciousness is allowed—these larger patterns begin to become obvious.

Obsessing on what not to eat gives way to holistic insights? Possibly—you realize the real issue is that you don’t give yourself enough time to sleep—you’re always tired. Or the oatmeal you’ve been eating every day for breakfast just doesn’t keep you full throughout the morning. Or your job drives you crazy and all your weight issue stem from there.

So participate fully in your daily practice and allow yourself to “step back” from your scattered thoughts. From this place insight will occur naturally—and change wil soon follow.

May we all be nourished so that we may nourish others.

Spring Cleaning

The desire to cleanse increases in the spring. We also naturally grow more active. The trick is to manage this natural spring “push.” Keeping a balanced yet heightened energy for the next few months will allow you to purge what is not needed and take in the new, fresh energy.

Focus on practice
Reassess your schedule and make a little more time for your yoga practice. It may mean getting up earlier, or signing up for that class you’ve been meaning to take. Your practice is the base from which everything else grows. Spring is a good time to pick up the pace. Be open to your practice taking a new shape. Your practice is there for you to expand awareness and heighten your sensitivity. Shaking things up for the new season may help with this.

Clean up your kitchen
In order to make way for dietary changes, set the stage by purifying your physical environment.
– Clean your food preparation space
– Clean your eating area

Clean up your diet
The winter was a time to move inward and eat heavier foods. Spring asks us to turn our energy outward again. Foods that are less spiced and have more naturally occuring flavor will help with this. Your heightened practice will naturally lead you to a diet that is lighter and contains more live foods.
– Re-evaluate grocery store choices
– Find fresher food
– Buy more fresh produce and herbs
– Drop salty, heavy foods that aren’t that interesting to you
– Eat regularly, eating smaller meals

Don’t fast!
I’m often asked about fasting. Fasting can be useful, but not for weight loss. Strict fasting is too much for most people who are holding weight, and it ends up producing the opposite effect.

Instead, clean up your diet and watch the timing of your eating. Don’t eat at least two hours (preferably more) before you sleep. Fast from feeling “heavy” or too full after meals. The cleanup will have a gentle cleansing effect on your whole system. You will be able to maintain it throughout the spring and gain more benefits. If you must fast, remember that fasting is actually obstaining from any aspect of what you usually do. I suggest fasting from meat and/or dairy for a few weeks, and seeing how that affects you.

So enjoy retooling for the new season. May your practice open your heart to new possibilities. May we all have the good fortune to fully experience every day.

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