All Posts from December, 2010

Step by step

December 29th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The holidays have just passed, the New Year is nearly upon us and here we are, once again, being thankful for what has happened and making resolutions for the year to come. When I was a kid, my Mom and I would write our resolutions and sometimes, year after year, they would still be there, the same resolutions. We started thinking, what’s the point, why make resolutions if they aren’t going to be fulfilled and now, after having some experience, and through my practice of yoga, I realize that resolutions are a lot like asanas. There’s nothing dramatic that happens, no big, huge changes in your life (at least not often). The resolutions we make are meant to be a step by step process, incremental, slow, steady, much like the practice of yoga. And then there are moments, big moments, where suddenly everything comes together (after eight years of trying, you can do handstand) but it’s important to remember that things don’t happen all at once and that it’s ok. An adjustment here, a learning there.

So this year, as I am writing up my resolutions, or thinking about them, I am also going to be thinking of Bernal Yoga and the teachings I have received there: Don’t push too hard, but allow the breath to take you places you may not have known, remember that things take time and that it’s ok that things take time, that a huge part of doing something is being in the process of that thing and that the best thing anyone can do is to remain centered and be aware of what is going on, moment by moment, step by step.

Happy Birthday BKS Iyengar!

December 15th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

It was BKS Iyengar’s birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday Mr. Iyengar!…So in class, we practiced inspired by the teachings of Iyengar and let me say, boy does my body hurt, in that good, I didn’t know I had muscles there, kind of way. If I understood correctly, one thing about practicing like Mr. Iyengar is that you have to hold poses for longer than we seem used to doing. In effect, if I think of all the poses we did yesterday, not including Vinyasas, I think I can count them all on one hand (maybe a little more). But that was great, because we went deep, we truly felt the pose and we were reminded of the magic of Iyengar and his teachings.

One of his core philosophies is to be in the present moment and that isn’t just about being in the present mentally, but really being present physically. A great way to illustrate this is through warrior two. Being present in warrior two means really finding your center. Not jutting forward to the future, not pulling back to the past but being right here, present, centered, like the line of time is running through your body, you know what I mean? Present, present.

Again, this is especially potent these days where all kinds of things are coming out about the past year: we’re reflecting on what we did, how it went, what we liked, what happened. And then we’re projecting onto the future: what we want for 2011, what our goals are, what we hope to have. So the reminder to be present in our minds and in our bodies is a vital one, a potent one, a necessary one, and something we can be thankful for to BKS Iyengar for teaching that to thousands of men, women and children around the world. So here’s a toast to BKS Iyengar and a toast to the present.

Opening your heart

December 15th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | No Comments »

If there is one thing that is consistent in almost every asana, it’s opening your heart. I think, even when we’re invited to curl our back inwards, our heart is open, because of the breath. Tadasana, heart open, warrior one, heart open, upward facing dog, heart open, chatarunga, heart open, pigeon, you start with your heart open. And if you really think about this practice, the constant unfurling of the layers we hold on to around our heart and the opening we offer up, to ourselves, to our fellow yoga practitioners, to the people on the street, to the sky, to the world, it’s a pretty extraordinary practice. It gets to the heart, dare I say, of what we’re all striving for, connection. Because when your heart is open, you are allowing the world in and thus connecting with it.

This can be particularly potent around the holidays. We are running around, we are filled with so many social engagements, we are seeing family members we haven’t seen for some time, we are celebrating, we’re working to finish up projects and we may even feel a little distracted and disjointed because of all of this. So what can we do when that happens. Open the heart. Breathe in. Open again. Breathe in.

Opening the heart isn’t as complicated as it sounds. It really means getting those shoulders back, feeling your chest open up, raising your chin, maybe even smiling and just unfurling. Try it, and see what happens. And then try it at a party or at a dinner, and see what happens. And then definitely try it on the mat, and see what happens. And then maybe turn to someone and share it with them. And connect.

Standing, I feel my feet on the ground

December 7th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Amazing how standing, just standing, something we do every day, is an asana. Okay, I know, so is breathing, but in this post we’ll just be speaking about standing. And what allows us to stand? Our feet.

Our feet are one of the most important parts of our body, they support everything, they allow us to move, and jump and dance. They keep us balanced and they are a key part to practicing yoga. Even when we’re upside down, we think of our feet.

I love finding new ways to stand and new aspects of how it feels. I never knew how many different parts of my feet there really were until my teachers at Bernal pointed it out. They suggest that we check in and see what parts of our feet we are using when we’re standing, and then suggest we balance those out. Feel the front and feel the back, feel the sides and feel the middle. Feel the entire foot and with that, join your body with the ground below it.

Sometimes when I do that, I feel like a tree. And then once again, I am amazed at how magical yoga can be, that it can actually make me feel like something other than a human being.

So next time you’re standing, really feel your feet. See what parts are keeping you upright. Feel how your feet connect with your ankles and legs and back and shoulders and neck and head and just stand there. And remember to thank your feet for always being there to hold you high.

A very fine, but potent, line

December 7th, 2010 | By Tania Ketenjian in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Yoga is challenging. It is challenging in all the most wonderful of ways. It challenges the limits of the body, it challenges the judgments of the mind and it challenges the habits of the spirit. It forces us to take responsibility and act accordingly. And it allows us to become stronger, more empowered human beings.

Then why is it that when we’re in a pose that feels extra challenging, we want to give up. If we’re getting so strong, how can we just bow out?

Well the truth of the matter is that we’re not bowing out, we’re not giving up, we are surrendering. Therein lies a very fine but potent distinction and one that relinquishes judgment and embraces strength.

To give up is to abnegate control, but to surrender is to listen and, by listening, to trust your body and to surrender your ego to its needs. There is a tremendous amount of strength in listening, really listening to what your body is saying and choosing to respect its voice. And that is what the whole act of yoga is, a listening, paying close attention, being true to what’s at hand and trusting that.

So often in class, we are given a choice as to just how far we want to go and each day is new one—one day we may be able to do Tree and another day we may be falling all over the place. And instead of saying, “oh, forget it, I give up, let me just stand here, or leave class, or leave yoga altogether! (yes, that does happen)…”, say, “ok body, I hear you, and to this I am surrendering and trusting that your limits today can be my guide.”