Yoga, love and motherhood.

There were three major events in my adult life that directed me to the spiritual path and shaped my personality and life. First was yoga. It has slowly and gradually transformed my body – relieving physical pain and ailments, then my mind – removing emotional garbage and revealing the bliss of mental peace under the constant chatter, and eventually, my soul – allowing for deep connection to the purpose of my life and my higher self. I’m, of course, not talking about yoga as only practice of poses but yoga in its deepest meaning of Union with its meditative experiences, the feeling of the energetic body and its currents, and ultimately as a conscious way of life.
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The second transformation has started when I fell in love – a true love that has been removing the edges of my ego and opening countless opportunities for self-reflection and self-growth. This real love has been showing like in a mirror my ugliest angles in order to remake them through presence and awareness. Becoming ONE with my husband has been a truly transformational experience as it gives no choice but to allow, embrace, forgive, and savour each moment whether it’s bitter or sweet.

The last and the most recent biggest change was brought to me through the amazing journey of motherhood: calling for a soul, embodying it, giving birth to it and now taking care of the new human being I call “my son”. To know by experience what unconditional love means, one must become a sage or a parent. The latter could be easier but for me it’s connected to a huge responsibility to be the best person I’ve ever could. What can be a better opportunity for self-improvement then knowing that the little person you love the most in your life will copy everything in you including your worst unconscious patterns? Along my teaching and coaching past I’ve met way too many people with pains and problems all rooted in their childhood. Will I exaggerate saying that 99% of all problems are related to our relationship to our parents? The desire to bring up a healthy and wholesome being simply forces a loving parent to become a better person. It’s still a very new adventure for me but my son Veda has been the greatest teacher I’ve ever had. The spiritual potential that parenthood withholds is amazing. And I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming on the next page of my story.
Life is beautiful! I’m so grateful for it all!

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Merry Christmas, or Do you feel nurtured this Holiday Season?

Tomorrow (Dec 22nd) is the winter solstice! Here comes the longest night of the year! That’s the time when we must be most introspective and allow plenty of rest to the body and mind. And what do we find in reality? Paradoxically, these days can be the most hectic and least peaceful time of the year…

How are YOU feeling this holiday season? Are you excited by all these gatherings with family and friends, and feel satisfied and content with your holidays? Or do you feel overwhelmed by trying to please your loved ones and to manage all this shopping, decorating, mailing, baking, travelling… (You name it!)?Why don’t we take a break to feel? Yes, to really FEEL. Right now. Let’s just find 5 minutes to simply switch from thinking to feeling. Start by paying attention to your breath: how do I breathe at the moment? Is my breath deep or shallow? Slow or fast? Smooth or harsh? Now try to notice what is happening inside of your body: do I feel relaxed or tensed? Which parts of the body carry the tension? And lastly – what’s happening inside of my heart: what emotions are prevailing at the moment – peace, contentment, joy or frustration, irritation,sadness?If you are satisfied with your answers, carry on with whatever you do! Your holiday is a happy one and your body and mind are in tune! However, the majority of us might find ourselves ungrounded, stressed and far from being peaceful (and that’s when we are «expected» to be most joyful!).

So what can we do? There is no other way but to respect the Nature and our body-mind system, and try to slow down.  We can attend only the MOST important activities reminding ourselves that before we can honour others, we must first honour ourselves.  We can look for ways to save ourselves time and effort, maybe buying our holiday pies from the local bakery rather than baking them or simply asking others to help us? It’s essential to get plenty of sleep, and eat well. Don’t attempt trying every food you’ll be offered!

For me personally, my saviour is my commitment to yoga. I think maintaining my yoga practice is essential to get the best from my holidays.  I felt so good this morning after just a short asana practice! (Cutting the time in half is better than skipping it altogether). And practicing sitting meditation is my sanctuary from all holiday pressures.

Winter solstice energy applies to all life and all beings, and whether we like it or not it effects us too! Honor the energy of the Mother Earth and spend today and tomorrow as quiet as possible, in self-reflection, going within your self and cultivating feminine, passive energy of Yin or Tha.It could be any type of exercise program or energy practice for you, but if you do hatha yoga consider including more contemplative postures, like forward bends and long-held Yin-style asanas (click on the words to get an example). These poses reverse the frenetic stress that builds up around the holidays. And don’t forget some digestion-aiding asanas. Add more twists into your practice—they’re a good counterbalance to indulgence in food and drink!

If we stay tuned into Nature we’ll feel nurtured and maintain balance. And that can help us to enjoy the season’s indulgences even more and recover from them more quickly:)) hopefully, we’ll stay mindful enough not to indulge, and manage to enjoy everything in moderation:)).

If you are on a yoga (or any other spiritual) path, the holiday times is a test on just how well you have learned and embodied our yoga practice. Remember that yoga is a way of life. If it is to be truly useful, yoga should be available to us anytime anywhere.

I’d like to wish you all the holidays full of joy, love and happiness.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Lovingly,

Zoya

www.zoyayoga.com

21st of Dec, 2011

Love and the Ego

Love… this word has been used (and misused) for so long, and people define it in so many different ways, including into the definition a wide range of emotions that includes anything from pleasure and bliss to pain and suffering.

I think it’s interesting to look at how the same idea is expressed in different languages. I like referring to Sanskrit as it presents greater depth of meaning and precision. In Sanskrit there are three different words that we can translate as «love»: kama, prema and bhakti. Kama is love that is based on sexual attraction and lust, and associates with physical craving. Prema is conventional love, which is pure enough not to be counted as kama but yet not selfless to get to the next stage, it will involve emotional craving. Bhakti is the highest form of love, unconditional and infinite, and it is commonly linked to devotion and surrender to the Divine.

It’s important to understand on what type/stage of love a relationship is being based. If we talk about kama, then obviously there is no way the ego can be out of the game. It’s all about satisfying one’s desire. In this type of relationship one can’t find peace and contentment, the ego just won’t let it happen.

In case of Prema, there is deep emotional connection, to the degree when one’s heart sings «I can’t live without you». However, it also operates from the ego platform. That «I can’t live without you» usually is followed with «You can never leave me» or «Don’t you dare treat me like this» (read «you must satisfy ME»). Even if one decides to be loving and compassionate, and to do all possible to serve her/his partner, it’s often just a trick of the ego to get pumped up with «I’m so selfless, I’m so good», and it eventually (if not at once) will get followed by «and you… how could you…» (again, «you must satisfy ME»). This type of relationship also brings lots of suffering as the ego can never get enough, and nothing is permanent, all is bound to constant change and the final ending at one point.

Now, Bhakti… What is this unconditional love that can last forever? As the only thing that never dies is our Soul, Bhakti is love at the Soul level. To get THIS high, we must start seeing our partner as the Soul, the Divine Self, the Cosmic Consciousness (put any other name for the Highest Self to suit your cultural background and beliefs). If there was GOD (again, use any other word if this doesn’t appeal) in front of you, would you make that negative remark, would you not find time to help out, wouldn’t you serve him/her well?…   I hope you got the point. Never expecting anything in return, yet giving the whole of your Self. Without holding back. Constantly. With devotion. With joy. Maybe then we can have an experience similar to Mother Teresa’s who said once: « I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love».

I know we are all far from being saints, yet we can bring more Bhakti into the Prema relationship by learning to surrender our ego in devotion and humility (not humiliation), and treating our partner as a Divine Self (which he/she is anyway, as we all are!). A relationship is the best opportunity for self-development and spiritual growth. Take it!

Zoya Lu

http://www.zoyayoga.com

19th of Dec 2011

The Way to a Happy Marriage

Celebration time – it’s been 7 years since I’m married! I am certainly not an expert on a man-woman relationship. After all, it’s only 7 years. But somehow I feel that if we’ve made it through these 7 years of marriage, and came out even more in love and in tune with each other than before we tied the knot, maybe it’s worth sharing a few points with those who are in love and want to keep it up.
I have to admit that for the first years of our life together (which coincided with the first years of our marriage, as we jumped into it barely knowing each other) we constantly argued and fought our way to happiness. Now when I look back, I don’t even understand how we survived through these intense times filled with blame, guilt, anger, grievance and hurt. But look at us now! People often think we are just dating, or have married recently. No one believes we’ve been together for so long. So what’s the secret of keeping it gentle and perky?

Other than loving each other, it’s primarily important to have determination to stay together, no matter what. I am lucky to have an example of my parents who are still together after 40 (!) years of their married life. So from childhood I’ve always thought I’ll be married once and forever. If one enters marriage with the mood of trying it out, «to see if it works», the divorce is guaranteed. Every couple goes through many troubles and hard times, and that’s where determination makes a huge difference.

Not less important than determination is our willingness to change, to constantly work on ourselves. And this starts with learning about yourself through your loved one. That’s why we come together, I believe, a life after life, we use our partner as a mirror that perfectly (and permanently!) reflects all we have to show. And if we might know of our pleasant sides, or love to find more of them at any time, we commonly find it difficult to accept our shortcomings, especially when this awareness comes through someone who is so dear to us. However, the moment we get closed for self-improvement, we jeopardise our marriage. Accept where you are, and do your best to become a better husband/wife.

The rest is just common sense but many of us are far from doing it. (Excuse me writing only about the way you should treat HIM, it works the same way in relation to HER (in case you are a man and reading it))

  1. Try to please you loved one! Don’t you love him? If the answer is yes, the truth is – you can only be happy when he is happy.  So make him happy, it equals to making yourself happy!
  2. Don’t expect him to make you happy. In fact, just don’t expect anything. Period. When there are expectations, there are disappointments. Wouldn’t you rather be surprised with something nice, than expect it and didn’t get it?
  3. Find joy in your family responsibilities. Transform it into your love meditation in action. May everything you do for your partner remind you of your mutual love. Serving him equals making him happy, which equals…? If you didn’t get the answer, look at point 1.
  4. Make him your best friend. Trust is crucial in any relationship, especially in such intimate one as with your life partner. Talk about what matters to you (any thoughts, desires, dreams) and ask your partner advice on all you do. Also listen closely when your partner shares with you his heart, and never betray him by talking about it with others (unless he advised otherwise).
  5. Never complain about your loved one to anyone except those people who can help to see the solution. Judging your loved one behind his back never brought anyone happiness. Instead why not try and see positive things in your relationship? Then talk about those things and make them bloom!
  6. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: «Loving is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction». Dream your future together, make time (and mood) to talk about things that make you both thrive so you can choose and agree on direction that you are moving towards.

I didn’t realize I’ve got so many points, and I could have continued:) But that’s all for now.

Well, just one more point – if at any time you’ve got a desire to do something opposite to recommended above, please stop and ask yourself:  Is at this moment the amount of ego in me is overpowering the amount of love?

That’s what love is all about. Loving someone as yourself. Or even more! To be able to truly love (yourself or someone else), you must put aside your ego. (How to? that’s a long topic for another post). But dealing with the ego is absolutely essential to finding your true self and your true love which lasts «happily ever after».