Friday, January 29, 2021

Bringing Yoga to Life - Chapter 8 - Embodied Awareness


Bringing Yoga to Life - Chapter 8 

I do realize that I started some of the posts on this book pretty much mid-book. I apologize as I got back into blogging after our book club started reading the book.  It is a book that has a lot of depth to each chapter and could be read many times to really catch all the wisdom Donna is sharing. 
Despite the mid-book beginning here I still think there is much to glean from this chapter entitled Embodied Awareness.

I like to look up the definition of words. 
Embodied is defined as: be an expression of or give a tangible or visible form to (an idea, quality, or feeling) and Awareness is defined as: knowledge or perception of a situation or fact, a state of being conscious of something. 

Chapter 8 focuses on becoming more in tune and in touch with our inner selves than enamored with how the body looks on the outside.  
Donna writes, "When we live in exile from the sensate reality of the body, we live in exile from the source of our aliveness. The only place that we can reconnect with this aliveness is in the body."   
In a conference I attended in 2012 the aha moment of "Make friends with your body, before it turns on you" struck home in a deep way.  Making more sense then just being physically fit, but also in mental, emotional and spiritual connections.  Donna writes on how many of us have become divorced from our own "feelings, sensations, intuitions, and instincts" and that by not being at home in our body, we divest ourselves of our somatic reality.  Some strategies she says people use to do this are disassociation with the body, negative attention to the body or ignoring and deflecting feelings that arise which only serve to distance us from life itself.  

It can take a lot of work as we can easily become "accustomed to ignoring or overriding our inner instincts", but Donna says, "When we being to live in the body again, we discover that we have an internal environment that is as rich as that of any country and in a constant state of flux and change."  Prashant Iyengar once expressed this at an intensive in Pune by saying,"Inside us there is a universe. Outside there is just a world."

Yoga tradition helps us to "recognize the importance of the body and mind living in harmonious relationship to each other" and that the "physical manifestation of the body was but a form animated by something greater than itself."
There is a quote by B.K.S. Iyengar - "The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in."  I can't remember which book I read this in and may not be remembering the details correctly, but from what I remember, traditionally an idol was kept in the temple and only brought out on special occasions, but the temple was swept and cleaned daily for the idol to reside in. We need to do that for ourselves.  The physical body does need to be cleaned, exercised, etc. daily for the benefit of the soul..not the body itself.
Donna writes about the life force as being the animating principle behind all the organs of perception: hearing, touch, taste, smell and sight that influences the shape and form of our structure.  She says, "Through rejoining the body, we learn to become internally literate once again."

Donna says we can begin to do this by "practicing the asana from an interior perspective" and "bring our minds back into our bodies."  Prashant Iyengar writes in the Alpha & Omega of Trikonasana that "Yogasanas are to be done by the body but for the mind, for the psyche, for the consciousness and for the culturing and refinement of a human being."  He states that asanas are not postures but a unified state.  

As you continue reading the chapter Donna writes, "When our primary imperative shifts from attaining a form to developing an intimate connection with the life force moving though that form, we are reclaiming the only part of the practice that ultimately can have any relevance for us - finding out who we really are."
Prashant says this also in his book, Alpha & Omega of Trikonasana, "when the internal condition is brought to a unified state, one starts worshiping through the asana and not worshiping the asana itself."
Another one of my favorite quotes that was a mantra when I was homeschooling my kids was from Erich Schiffman that has the same theme, "Earth is school, and the main thing to learn is who you are. You do this by experiencing who you are. You will know what you need to know when you need to know it."

As we practice an asana Donna writes that we can cycle through different stages, with each stage providing a platform for the support of the next. She suggests Feeling What Is, Feeling Where We Are Stuck, Joining With The Breath, Refining Our Relationship With The Life Force and Moving Into Stillness.
To feel what is we must observe the body-mind from a neutral viewpoint, then we can begin to feel all the places where we hold tension and as we breathe we start to feel the phases of each breath.  Over time we can refine our postures for the life force to move within with more ease and clarify our relationship to the elements. With more and more refinement, "we redirect our awareness to the stillness that is in between, inside and throughout all movement."

I know this is a very short blog on a very in depth topic but I hope you find with a practice full of "curiosity, innocence and playfulness" a greater sense of embodied awareness.

Om Shanti, shanti, shanti,


Thursday, January 28, 2021

This week's Weekly Wake-up is about 18 minutes long. Some feet and ankle..and legs and core :) in a supine position. You can use a variety of props to play around here from the bolster to different size and weights of blocks.

 Weekly Wake -up - January 27th, 2021:

~ Pam

CIYT, Level 3

Friday, January 22, 2021

Bringing Yoga to Life - Chapter 7 - The Freedom of Discipline


In Chapter 7 of Bringing Yoga to Life, Donna writes about the freedom of discipline.  Discipline is often defined as a controlled or imposed behavior from a certain kind of training.  One definition on the internet was: 
the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience:
So, it is often seen as unattainable and "a denial of pleasure", but Donna says that the original Latin word means "to impart knowledge" and "to enlighten".  So discipline is meant to be a practice that contains "our thoughts, energy and actions so that we can use ourselves in a potent ways". 

When I first started my practice I was pretty here and there and didn't have a consistent practice.  Even though I knew yoga was good for me I did feel it was a bit of a constraint to try and add one more thing to my day. But, even my more sporadic practice left an impression that there was a lot more to yoga then mere stretches and strengthening poses.  I began setting my alarm to get up and soon was able to get up without needing any push. For me the discipline of yoga has been a freedom.  At first I was adding yoga as something to tick off the list and if I didn't do a practice everyday then I had failed completely.  This discipline though has allowed me to see that even if I miss a day I have not failed because yoga is more then the time on the mat and it has also allowed other things that I thought I had to do fall away.  It is easy to get distracted by the many new things out there, but I had faith in my practice and knew that sticking with it was best, even when shinier things came out.  I like how Donna puts it as, "An important part of learning to channel our energies is increasing our tolerance for staying in the pause between desire and satisfaction."

Donna asks us to consider what happens in the pause between the longing for a feeling of freedom and how we respond to that longing, because she says that is when we make a choice.  
It takes breaking out of our normal habit pattern, and "training ourselves to stay with rather than run from all that we experience".  Donna also talks about our biggest obstacle in perceiving reality as it is is our habit of identifying with and participating in the stuff that fills our mind.

I was reading a few other books and articles at the same time as this chapter and read a similar point in Anthony De Mello's book, The Way to Love, where he writes that how each person responds to events really depends on their programming, which to me means their habits. Someone in the same situation may react completely differently.  "Therefore the problem lies not with reality outside of you but with you, in your programming."  He writes that when feeling insecure one should say to themselves,"If there is anything I can do about the future, right now, I shall do it.  Then I am going to just leave it alone and settle down to enjoy the present moment, because all the experience of my life has shown me that I can only cope with things when they are present not before they occur."

Birjoo Metha, at the 2018 AGM in Ottawa, Ontario that I attended also talked about this.
He called it your epistemic bubble.  He used this word as he explained that "episteme" is about knowledge.  He said that we as humans really cannot remain in a state of doubt, because it causes dissonance.  We learn from that which surrounds us, so if our knowledge is restricted to the same people, websites, newspapers, etc. then the knowledge is coming only from certain sources.  This is happening right from birth. Our five senses are conditioning us to believe the world as we see it. Birjoo said that when you have a world view not solely dependent on the senses, you have victory, or jaya over your senses or indriyas.  That when you understand the restrictive role of the senses in the creation of the asmita or the world around you then you have the ability to go beyond the restrictive limitations or epistemic bubble of the senses, and it results in being able to perceive reality as it is.

So our upbringing and thoughts and habits throughout our life have lead us to this point.  If we are willing to pause and be present we may start to see, feel and react in different ways and find that a disciplined practice can lead us to freedom within.
Donna does mention that resistance to practice occurs when we have not yet formed a clear intention and that until we form a clear intention we cannot rally our energy to align it with our goal.  She eloquently writes that, "once we find the core of our intention, this intention acts like a laser to cut through the endless excuses and evasions."

Years ago I trained for a marathon. Two thoughts helped get me to the end..

1. The story of the Tortoise and the Hare

2. The Little Engine that Could

Some days I just come back to this..
Slow and steady and I think I can.

Peace, Health and Happiness to you,
Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, Level 3

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Weekly Wake -up - January 20th, 2021

This week on the Weekly Wake-up!
In this short video we explore walking and hand-eye coordination for balance and better stability.
The video is about 20 minutes long and ends with a relaxing variation of Viparita Karani (legs up the wall).
The movements help to reset the nervous system and bring a calm and balanced state to the body, breath and mind.

This weeks Weekly Wake-up:

Thank you,



Saturday, January 16, 2021

Bringing Yoga to Life - Chapter 6 - The Four Brahmavihara

Bringing Yoga to Life - Chapter 6 - Cleaning Up Our Act: The Four Brahmavihara

In our online Yogi Book Club we have been reading Donna Farhi's book, Bringing Yoga to Life: The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living.  We have been meeting for an hour or more after reading a chapter to discuss our thoughts and how we feel it relates to us, our lives and yoga.

This week while reading and preparing for our meeting it lead me to reading from some of Mr. Iyengar's books - The Core of the Yoga Sutras, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Light on Life.  I also found myself reading Prashant Iyengar's book Fundamentals of Patanajali's Philosophy (Theory of Klesha and Karma) and Anthony De Mello's book The Way of Love  and Edwin Bryant's, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

I'll write a bit about this journey :), but first give a bit about what Chapter 6 is about.  

Donna Farhi describes brahmavihara as attitudes, which are friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference. Patanjali writes of this in Yoga-Sutra 1.33 - maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatah cittaprasadanam. 
Practicing the brahmavihara brings the mind to a tranquil and steady state.

Mr. Iyengar's translation of sutra 1.33 is: Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy, and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favorably disposed, serene and benevolent.

Edwin Bryant writes of sutra 1.33, "By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind.

In Light on Life, B.K.S. Iyengar writes of these as the  Healthy Vrttis and that one needs to change their approach toward the external world.  He writes,"If you are happy, pleasant, and unselfish in your behavior towards others, obstacles will shrink.  If you are miserly, with your emotions and judgmental in your mind, obstacles will grow."

Donna writes about the obstacles, or kleshas, which according to Patanajali are:
Avidya - ignorance of our external nature
Asmita - seeing oneself as separate and the divided from the rest of the world
Raga - attraction and attachment to impermanent things
Dvesha - aversion to the unpleasant
Abhiniesha - clinging to Life
From the first klesha - Avidya - ignorance, all other obstacles arise.  

Reading that line made me remember reading this first from Prashant's book, Fundamentals of Patanjali's Philosophy.  I went back to that book and read a few chapters.  It is a book I will have to go back to again (and again), but a few points from Prashant are: 
First of the Kleshas is Avidya. The other Kleshas are Asmita, Raaga, Dvesha, and Abhinivesha. However, these are not five Kleshas but these are actually five-phased Kleshas called Pancha-Parva Kleshas.
Avidya is the only Klesha whose augmentation and escalation actualizes the other four phases.  Essentially it is only Avidya, but when it enlarges to its second phase, it is called Asmita and progressively, Raaga, Dvesha and Abhinivesha arrive. 

Not only are there 5 Afflictions, called obstacles above, but Patanjali lists 9 obstacles to mental clarity.
These are:
lack of effort, fatigue or disease, dullness or inertia, doubt, carelessness, laziness or sloth, inability to turn attention inward, perverted or distorted seeing, inability to establish a firm ground for practice (lack of perseverance), and inability to sustain a firm ground for practice (regression).

Donna doesn't get into these more in this chapter, but mentions them to show why we need to develop these four attitudes - friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference.  

She writes that Patanjali suggests we develop these four attitudes "to life's challenges and apply these to all our relationships and in all situations. These qualities of the heart are conducive to peace of mind and thus can enable us to overcome the distractions that already exist in the mind and to prevent the production of more psychological distress."

In the rest of the chapter Donna gives many great examples of applying each attitude in daily life. 
I won't write all about that as you will get a better understanding reading her words over mine.

Reading the rest of the chapter though did lead me to reading from B.K.S. Iyengar's book, Core of the Yoga Sutras.  I found it helped clarify some things for me, which I'll maybe write about in another blog.

I'll end with one other trail reading about the fourth attitude led me on.

Donna writes on the fourth attitude that we need to develop tolerance toward others.  I had just finished reading in Anthony De Mello's book, The Way of Love, a chapter where he writes, "We think the world would be saved if only we could generate larger quantities of goodwill and tolerance. That's false. What will save the world is not goodwill and tolerance but clear thinking. Of what use is it to be tolerant of others if you are convinced you are right and everyone who disagrees with you is wrong? That isn't tolerance but condescension. That leads not to union of hearts but to division, because you are one up and the other is one down."
I had to pause as these writers seemed to be saying opposite things from each other on tolerance. Anthony then wrote that TRUE tolerance only arises from keen awareness and a clear mind, which in a sense is also what Donna is saying, that practicing the brahmavihara brings the mind to a tranquil and steady state. Another main fact that both authors state is that we are linked to everyone and everything and that our practice is to bring us to that understanding.

There is a lot more I could have written and explored..and maybe I will another day, but if you have any of these books and have a chance to read from them please share with me your thoughts and where your journey leds.

Good luck with your practice of the four brahmavihara.

Thanks for reading..


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Weekly Wake - up - Week 2


Last week I introduced Weekly Wake-up..a weekly short video to focus on one area or another.  It was an idea I had to start 2021 with something a little different for me.

We started with the feet...and this week is a bit more feet, ankle..and balance work.  Do what you can..stay near a wall or something stable and let me know how you feel after.

Thank you!

Weekly Wake - UP - week 2:

Here is another little video I made using no belts, 1 belt and 2 belts..
Let me know what differences you felt?

One Belt, Two Belts...three belts..4 :)

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Thankful Thursday's - Gentle/Restorative Yoga


I really do love helping others... and through yoga I try to offer as many meaningful yoga classes that not only benefit the participant, but also various charities.  
When lock down started due to the pandemic I offered many classes last year for different charities, most of them local.  We raised well over $2000. I am not sure the exact amount as some people donated directly to the charities, or charities of their choice.

So far this year, 2021 we donated over $200 to the P.A. Food bank and with my week of Sounds of Silence donations will be made to the P.A. Mental Health Association.

Below is a list of a 3 more Gentle/Restorative classes you can take part in for charity.
Even if you are not able to donate at this time and would like to join, please email me as I would like to make yoga as accessible for all as possible.

Thank you! 
Om Shanti, shanti, shanti,

Please visit my website:

or email me at:

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Weekly Wake-up


I have a notebook I keep to write ideas that come to me.  Some come to fruition and some have been on the list for awhile.  

As most humans is hard to do all you want to do, but I feel if the ideas keep flowing that is half of it.  After 25 or more years I am not bored at all.  Really I think where has the time gone.  I have so much left to learn.  

With the pandemic and much going online one idea I had was recording a few short videos to highlight an area. So that is what I have started. Weekly Wake-up...will be a short video each week to wake up a certain area or bring awareness to it.  

I'll be posting to my YouTube channel and my Facebook page (@plnyoga).



January 6th - Weekly Wake-up:Jan.6 Weekly Wake-up

Monday, January 4, 2021

Happy New Year - 2021 REjoice


Hello and Happy New Year!

It has been awhile..really quite awhile. With so many other social media outlets I kind of let my blog slip.

I created a new website where I host most of my information ( and also post regularly to Facebook and Instagram (@plnyoga), but I felt I was missing the blogging aspect. 

So 2021 is a time to REvamp my blog.

I thought I'd share a bit about what I've been up to since last April, but that would take awhile since my last post was putting my classes online due to the pandemic.  Almost 10 months later we are still in a state of uncertainty with restrictions changing often.

Over the months there is a lot of online options, so I have been very grateful to be able to continue teaching online a few times a week. I have also been able to take part in quite a few online workshops with senior teachers from around the world. Something I would probably not have been able to do otherwise.

So instead I thought I'd share a thought (and feeling) I had quite a few months ago.  For a short while, after 7 months of lock down, we were able to have some in person classes.  It was so nice to see everyone again and share a physical space and energy that I used a word I don't think I ever have used in a yoga class before.  Everyone was in savasana and I felt such a nice and happy feeling that I said, "Let us rejoice in this moment." me has always been associated with a sacredness.  

But it was truly how I felt at that moment.. A happy, peaceful feeling that all was just as was meant to be at that moment.

After I reflected for awhile that I used the word rejoice I looked up the meanings of the words rejoice, joy and Re as a prefix and meaning of Re I came to the conclusion that I was feeling joy again. feel or show great joy or delight.

Joy..a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

Re..regarding, about, concerning, referencing

Re as a prefix ...again

Over the many months of restrictions I feel over all that I went will the flow of what was happening, trying to stay as present and open as I could.  But, I didn't realize how much I was missing seeing everyone and being together.  That feeling of Joy again was very great and I am so fortunate to have been in the presence of those that created that space and feeling.

So, let us rejoice in all that we are, all that we have and all that is too come.

I hope you will join me this year, through my blog, facebook, instagram or in online classes.

I have many offerings coming your way. I'll share some of the posters below!

In peace,