Welcome to a brand new series on Namaste Yoga. When we asked you what your biggest obstacle to practicing yoga, many of you spoke of interruptions and distractions, putting your yoga time first before other demands. Some of you spoke about how your mind is full of other things, a lot of you talked about finding time and motivation among your other commitments and obligations. In short, focus.
Over the next eight weeks we are going to explore the tools of focused living through the yamas and niyamas of yoga. Today we will begin our travel into focused living through yoga by bringing awareness to the violence that exists in our life from lack of focus.
Violence from lack of focus shows up by:
- being stretched too thin
- saying yes without thinking
- rushing from one thing to another
- trying to please everyone
- trying to get it all done
- majoring on the minor
- resenting commitments
- saying yes to please
- saying yes to avoid trouble
- feeling overworked and underutilized
- feeling busy but not productive
- feeling unfulfilled by being pulled in a million directions
- feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by the pressures around you
- feel like you have to do it all
- feel like it is all important
- try to fit it all in
- reacting to what is most pressing
- suffering from taking on too much
- feeling out of control
Without focus, we experience a constant, low level, self-harming and violence as the quality of our lives go down and our stress levels go up. Our culture celebrates being busy as a measurement of importance.
Living in a first-world, country, with privilege comes with first world problems. We have too many choices. Psychologists call this excess of decision making: decision fatigue. The more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates.
Not only are we experiencing information overload these days, but also an incredible increase in social pressure. Technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing. The strength and number of outside influences on our decisions has also increased, so we are also dealing with opinion overload.
The idea that you can have it all and do it all is sold to us in advertising and is part of the mythology of every career, job description and university application. The myth is more damaging than ever today as choices and expectations have increased exponentially.
This week we will bring awareness to the violence that the lack of focus is causing in our lives. As Greg McKeown says, almost everything is noise and there are actually very few things that are adding value to your life. It is worth the time to figure out what is adding value to your life. When you take the time to figure out what is important to you, the effort you put forth in finding that value is a way to express reverence and love to your highest Self. It connects you with the wisdom of your heart.
Saying no to people and things in your life that aren’t adding value means pushing against social expectations. This takes courage and compassion. This is a process of emotional discipline to say no to social pressure. We become free when we choose to live a life that is focused on our own values.
In yoga, the first yama, ahimsa, asks us to live a life where we practice non-harming and nonviolence. It is useful to bring awareness to the ways in which our lack of focus in our world is a source of violence that causes us harm. When we are living from the yama of ahimsa we have reverence and compassion and come to be present with kindness for ourselves. We can learn to respect and treat ourselves with reverence and love by bringing our lives back into focus.
Treating our bodies, emotions and mind with reverence and love takes time and focus. It goes against the grain of our fast paced culture. In order to be present with compassion for others, we must first focus on our own needs. It may feel self indulgent to focus on your own needs in such a direct way, but as you will see in the next eight weeks weeks, it will bring you incredible freedom.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
Yoga Postures/Asanas: Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclined Goddess Pose, Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana, Cat Pose or Marjaryasana, Hero pose or Virasana, Warrior One or Virabhadrasana One, Warrior Three or Virabhadrasana Three, Goddess Victory Squat, Dolphin or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana, upward facing dog or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Open Marichyasana or Open Marichi’s Twist, Baddha Konasana or Butterfly Pose, Savasana or Corpse Pose
Yoga Props: yoga bolster, yoga blocks, meditation cushion, blanket
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If you have received value from this first class in the Focused Living Series, you can show your appreciation by making a donation. You can also contribute through your time by commenting in the comments section.
Question for the comments:
How are you going to show yourself reverence and compassion this week as a way to focus?
Today we focused on courage and compassion and we have a beautiful class on extending your courage and compassion in our membership community called, Warrior’s Heart.
This class was inspired by Jack Kornfield’s concept of the Warrior’s Heart as introduced in his book, A Path with Heart. It is a book we are reading for our book club on the membership site right now. Through this class we explore the various warrior postures: dying warrior, warrior I, warrior II, warrior III, and peaceful warrior. Each represent a different aspect of the warrior’s heart. We also spend some time opening the warrior’s heart and breaking down the armour that builds up around our hearts. I hope you enjoy this class and that it inspires your own definition of what it means for you to live with a warrior’s heart.
Sending you much love from beautiful British Columbia
May you experience the strength of our mountains
May you be as rooted as the trees in our forest
May your joy be as deep as our Pacific Ocean
Yoga with Dr. Melissa West 295 Photos of Yoga Poses