Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy (Almost Halloween)!

This morning, I taught Yoga at a YMCA where both children and adults were parading in and out in a variety of colorful costumes, cheery and exuberant.

Whether we dress up as a superhero or a villain, our greatest dream, someone’s horrifying nightmare, our alter ego or just another version of ourselves, Halloween gives us permission to look in the mirror with a slightly different view.

The practice of Yoga continually asks us to examine ourselves. Svadhyaya, self-study, is the fifth of the niyamas, the observances outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Self-study helps us to see how we are placing our feet on the Earth, how we are showing up for our day, how we pay attention, how we commit, where we flail and fail and need to pick ourselves back up again.

Whether we wearing a mask, have painted our face so it is unrecognizable or are simply meeting the world as ourselves, our self (both public and private) is composed of many layers, paradoxes, conundrums. Each day that we meditate, get on the mat, become more aware of our breath and dive into the yamas and niyamas, the restraints and observances that are part of the yogic path, we sift through the many-layered manifestation of this body, this breath, this life. And no matter what day of the year we are practicing, may we uncover our self with the joyful abandonment of a trick-or-treater inviting the neighborhood to shower them with sweets.

May we be sweet in our self-study.

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