Ever wondered why we picked a studio name that is difficult for some to pronounce?
The word Abhyaasa (ahb-YAH-sah), from the yogic aphorisms (sutras) compiled by the sage Patanjali, means dedicated practice; an earnest and consistent effort. In our busy lives, often the hardest part of maintaining a consistent practice is to simply show up on the mat, and each day we find ourselves at a different point along our journeys. At Abhyaasa Yoga, we offer many types of classes so that each student can choose those that resonate most with them at any given moment. Regardless of the level of physical challenge or particular style, all of our classes are united by the wisdom of traditional yogic teachings, as we holistically embrace yoga as a union of mind, body and spirit. Our studio strives to give each student the tools to develop or deepen a personal practice, as well as to create a community to share these beautiful practices.
Yoga is so much more than the learning of and working through the physical poses (asanas). Asanas are a powerful tool to help one approach a state of observer of the mind, and its fluctuations from one thought to another, rather than identifying with these thoughts. What we are really practicing, therefore, is to dwell in a place of stillness and equanimity, whether or not we "nail" a pose. We are developing one-pointed focus, concentration, and with the breath, merging each movement with awareness.
This is where the other component of attaining balance comes to play in yoga; once we make the effort in our steady practice, we then send expectations to the wind and let go of any attachment to the results- Vairagya (vai-RAHG-yah). It is through this wisdom that we have created a space at Abhyaasa that offers challenge and growth, yet provides the nurturing, safe support to allow each student to embrace all outcomes with contentment. Abhyaasa and Vairagya are often compared to the two wings of a bird; it takes both to move from the constant mental multi-tasking to a place of stillness and send your practice, on and off the mat, into smooth, weightless flight.
Regardless of whether the name Abhyaasa gets you tongue-tied, the studio name acts as a reminder that establishing a sincere, selfless intention, putting in earnest effort, and being content with whatever comes to be is the heart of yoga. As we practice these principles, whether in our studies, jobs, through our relationships, or on our mats in the studio, eventually we arrive from "doing yoga" to being yoga.
On January 1, 2014 from 12-3:00 p.m. we had a wonderful community gathering at Abhyaasa yoga studio. We are thankful for our teachers, our students and the community of yogis. The event concluded with a delicious vegetarian potluck!
We talked about Sankalpa as the combination of San and Kalpa.
San being the inner truth that rests within your core.
Kalpa being the summative central thought or idea.
Sankalpa essentially being one's vow or commitment to support one's highest truth.
As can be easily seen, the Sankalpa does not change as we move from one year to the next and just does not depend on our ego desires. As we develop within our life and our yoga practice the Sankalpa becomes clearer and clearer and takes on a life of its own. This Sankalpa is always there deep inside of us, waiting patiently. It is simply ignored by our monkey mind and ego and is passed over for some ridiculous and worldly promise of permanency.
The Sankalpa acts as the light of the sun to unfold the petals of the flower of life. Sankalpa is but one ingredient and there are several others that need to be respected as well. Just as a flower blooms with exposure to the light of the sun, the roots of the flower and plant simultaneously need water, soil, micronutrients, air etc. in order to bloom. The conditions must be correct for the flower to bloom. Without the correct conditions, there is simply stagnation. And no growth can occur in an environment of stagnation.
What are the other ingredients that are necessary for the realization of your true nature? The inner force or Shakti is needed. Shakti is the power of being and becoming. Just as air is the medium for the expression of sound, so too does Shakti act as the medium for our own expression.
The three facets of Shakti are as follow:
Iccha Shakti: the subtle force of thought, desire and will.
Jnana Shakti: The force of Grace that reveals Self-knowledge. This is experienced selflessly and intuitively.
Kriya Shakti: The subtle force that puts motion into action.
With regard to Sankalpa, start with the premise that you already are what you need to be to fulfill your life's purpose. Sankalpa does not come from an intellectual mind, but rather informs the intellectual mind by its presence of the direction that one 'needs' to take to fulfill one’s life.
Again, Sankalpa is already and always there deep within you, unchanged. Our job is to quiet the monkey mind so that the Sankalpa can come to the surface and be uncovered/ discovered.
In the New Year's class and meditation that followed, we did a Yoga Nidra practice. The purpose of the Yoga Nidra was to help in uncovering your Sankalpa. With the above-mentioned ingredients and a means of uncovering the Sankalpa, what else is needed to help?
Sravana- A willingness to hear and listen to the message of one's heartfelt desire, and the courage to provide a clear, calm and tranquil mind so that you can heed the innermost call. Meditation (dhyana) helps to settle the mind.
Manana- Welcoming the messenger within. Sitting with this messenger, feeling it, deeply reflecting (pratyahara-sense withdrawal and dharana-concentration) upon it and letting it reflect upon you.
Nididhyasana-And finally, a willingness to do what the heartfelt desire, innermost call requires of you.
Once the Sankalpa is discovered/uncovered we must prepare the other ingredients and practice! We have provided the audio clip of the Yoga Nidra exercise to assist you in your practice. (This will be provided as soon as we work out some technical difficulties.)
“Intention is the core of all conscious life. Conscious intention
colors and moves everything.”
-Master Hsing Yun
What is your Sankalpa? Though this word means resolution in sanskrit, it is actually not synonymous with a resolution that is adopted before the new year.
"The purpose of a sankalpa is not to fulfill desires but to create strength in the structures of the mind. The purpose of a sankalpa is to transform the whole life pattern (the vasanas), not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually." (Svami Satyananda Sarasvati -1923-2009)
It takes time for a sankalpa to take root in your being and so it is very important to re-engage the sankalpa often and ernestly over a long period of time. This is a thought that is not an after-thought but one which is continuously in the forefront of the mind...the resolve, aim and purpose of your life here in this manifest reality. Pick your intention and hold it at your heart center.
As you begin each yoga practice, anoint your heart center and your sankalpa with your internal drsti... giving yourself an auto-adjustment when necessary throughout the practice, maintaining your awareness on the sankalpa at your heart center.
As you move off of the mat, maintaining the sankalpa in your heart to guide your actions throughout each day, you empower a resolve that lasts well beyond the good intentions of January.
A space that nurtures connection, spiritual growth and physical well-being.