Discovering Your Dharma

Written on September 10, 2015, in the midst of presenting my 3-part Yoga for Healing workshop.

On Tuesday, I taught the 2nd yoga workshop in my 3-part Yoga for Healing series at the Provo City Library. The 1st workshop in the series caught me a little off guard, as in, there were a few more people than I expected. Which was wonderful! But I felt a little flustered. This week, from the get-go, it just felt better. I was ready. And it flowed. It was beautiful. I shared some of my favorite things about yoga, the things that I use regularly, the things that, when I first learned them, enlivened my soul.

I had planned a sequence to do with the class, but as soon as I started teaching, I knew it would change. I followed my intuition. The words flowed, the practice flowed. It just felt really wonderful being there, sharing that practice with a full room of eager yogis. I had my friend Chelsey snap the above picture after class, outside of the room I taught in at the Provo City Library. I didn’t want to forget that feeling of peace, fulfillment, and contentment. I’ve been thinking about dharma— “the way of higher truths.” Each person has a dharma. It is, essentially, the path you were born to live. It is yours to discover, yours to choose to live. There are 7 dharmic paths:

1. Path of Labor — General occupations. Most people fall in this category.

2. Path of Military — Military, law enforcement, etc.

3. Path of Government — Political leaders.

4. Path of Science — Medical researchers, scientists, etc.

5. Path of Philosophy — Church leaders, philosophers, etc.

6. Path of Creativity — Artists, writers, musicians, etc.

7. Path of Humanitarianism — Religious workers, medical workers, welfare and social service workers, holistic health practitioners, etc.

There is more to it, but that is the basic basic version. I know that I have spent time in different paths so far in my life. I know that I still have a lot to learn, and that my path will continue to develop and refine itself as I continue to follow that pull of my spirit. Tuesday night, I felt that pull. I appreciate learning different aspects of yoga philosophy, like the idea of dharma. It helps me understand my own life in a different way, and makes my path a little clearer.

Living Movement

I originally wrote this post on May 26, 2015 during a time of grief and heartache. As I note in the post, the body and spirit are very connected. This week I’ve been thinking about working toward increasing flexibility in my hips, and I remembered this time—just a year ago—when doing any sort of hip opener or stretch would cause a flood of emotions, so much so that I ceased my yoga practice for weeks. Let me tell you, though—yoga can heal both body and soul. This is how I began practicing yoga again.

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I stopped doing yoga for over a month.

Every time I tried to practice, the tears would begin to swell. The grief would become too much. My physical body is so connected to my spirit that as one ached, so did the other. Moving my body in certain ways worked certain chakras that were terribly off balance, and I felt it. And since I was already grieving everyday, I simply was not willing to do anything else that would set off that grief again, even if it could be the means to helping me find healing and balance once more. So, I stopped doing yoga for over a month.

Here is what I wish I had done instead: Sat down on my mat.

There is a practice I have recently learned about called Living Movement. It’s like a glorified morning stretch. It’s a practice in body awareness and gentle healing. I lie down on my mat and slowly move my body in whatever way feels right. I usually begin at my hips, maybe shift them from side to side, do a simple twist, stretch my legs, then move up my body, to my waist, shoulders, neck… moving my body slowly and intentionally, in whatever way it wants to go.

I am vocal when I practice. While there are certain sounds you can make to emphasize healing (like a buzzing noise, or a “zgee zgoo”). I usually just let myself sigh, yawn, or moan—whatever feels good. This, combined with the unstructured, slow movements, moves energy in the body. Last week my personal Living Movement practice was 10 minutes. Today it was 30 minutes. Time doesn’t necessarily matter, because my body needs different things at different times.

Today, in the middle of my practice, I broke down in tears, just for a moment, and I let myself be there. Personal yoga practice, especially a Living Movement practice, is about listening to your body and sitting with it, just as it is. And if my body needs to grieve just a little bit more, I will let it. So regardless of how I am feeling, I will aim to sit down on my mat. Maybe, if my body feels like doing so, it will begin to move and maybe, when the time is right, it will begin to heal. That is what yoga is all about.

* I learned about Living Movement at Bodhi Yoga in Provo, UT, where I trained to be a yoga instructor. Visit gobodhiyoga.com to see the class schedule. I highly recommend it.