Friday, February 26, 2021

Bringing Yoga to Life - Chapter 11 - Effort and Surrender


Bringing Yoga to Life: The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living 
By: Donna Farhi

Chapter 11: Effort and Surrender 

In this chapter Donna gives many great examples of the balance of effort and surrender. Life in itself is a balance...A fine balance..our bodies, our families, our ecosystems, etc.
A life lived in balance is not an easy endeavor and starting a yoga practice, or anything new will at first throw off whatever sort of balance we thought was there as it will take an effort. 

According to Patanjali (translation from Edwin  Bryant's -The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)
Sutra 1.2: Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of mind
Sutra 1.3: When that is accomplished, the seer abides in its own true nature.
Seems easy:)
but sometimes
Sutra 1.4: the seer is absorbed in the changing states of the mind.
Sutra 1.5: There are 5 kinds of changing states of mind, and they are either detrimental or non detrimental (to the practice of yoga).
Sutra 1.12: The vrtti states of mind are stilled by practice and dispassion.  
To me this means Effort and Surrender
Sutra 1.13: Practice is the effort to be fixed in concentrating the mind.
Sutra: 1.14: Practice becomes firmly established when it has been cultivated uninterruptedly and with devotion over a prolonged period of time.
Sutra 1.15: Dispassion is the controlled consciousness of one who is without craving for sense objects, whether these are actually perceived, or described.

So right off we know that the path of yoga will take not only Effortful effort, also a large amount and willingness to let go. Donna writes,"No matter how clever we are, we cannot leapfrog over this initial period in which we may be all fingers and toes. In the long term view of life practice we must still use effort, but our effort will be of a different kind." After that initial period of effort, "we can accomplish nothing more through effort. Through effort we come to step into a stream that can carry us.When we begin to let this current carry us, gradually the person who is making the effort needs to take a backseat. At this juncture we spontaneously shift from an 'effort to be' to effortless being."

In Anthony DeMello's book, The Way To Love, he writes on effort.  He writes,"Effort can change behavior, it can not change you.  Think of this: Effort can put food in your mouth, it cannot produce an appetite;it can keep you in bed, it cannot produce sleep; effort can perform acts of service, it is powerless to produce love or holiness." Change is only brought about by awareness and understanding.

I don't like to just re write what the author has written much better then I can. I highly recommend reading this book.  I'll end with one last bit..that I think sums up effort and surrender for those that know the asana Savasana. "Now look back at the times when your practice of Savasana was deep and refreshing. If you have ever carefully made note of this, you may have seen a connection to the effort during the practice that preceded Savasana."  "If the mind has been exercised through one-pointed concentration throughout the practice, the mind then readily welcomes the opportunity to take a backseat." "Here we can see that effort and surrender are mutually dependent states."

Wishing you that effortless effort that yoga can bring to our lives.
CIYT, Level 3 

Weekly Wake-up's


I think I have missed posting the last few Weekly Wake-ups so thought I would put the links for all the Weekly Wake-ups so far in this post.

If you have tried any let me know if you felt any different after. 

W.W. 1:

W.W. 2:

W.W. 3:

W.W. 4:

W.W. 5:

W.W. 6:

W.W. 7:

W.W. 8:

Thank you!

CIYT, Level 3

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Bringing Yoga to Life - Ch.10 - The Inner Teacher


"Become a student of the subject. Do not look only for what you "get" from the practice. 
Be motivated to learn the subject so that the practice transforms you." 
Prashant Iyengar

Chapter 10 of Bringing Yoga to Life, by Donna Farhi, delves into the importance of finding our inner teacher through our own self-study and practice. 

At the AGM and Conference in Ottawa in 2018 Birjoo Mehta talked about a state of flow. That feeling when things just seem to happen and there is no sense of time or effort. In yogic terms, Birjoo said this is Isvara pranidhana. When you lose the sense of "I-ness", ego is restrained and you are transformed into universality.  There are no dualities and these are states we have to feel to understand. To get into these states of flow, you first need the skill, a challenge to get to skillful action which takes self-study (svadhyaya) and tapas(practice).  In the yoga sutras, Patanjali says this is kriya yoga - tapas, svashayaya and isvara pranidhana.  Birjoo said, "That is why you have often heard Guruji saying you should practice. It is not just coming to class, because in coming to class you are only in svadhyaya. In your home practice you will be able to transform yourself.  Transformation comes through practice."

In an article in the 2014 Yoga Rahasya, Prashant Iyengar wrote Yoga is not a Consumer Product.  He is so brilliant in his analogies and used the idea of 'packages' and how we tend to get stuck in a consumer package and we should be going for a student's package.  We may feel good after a class and as a consumer keep going back, but if the state is temporary, we are stuck in that consumer state.  Prashant says, "Become a student of the subject. Do not look only for what you "get" from the practice. Be motivated to learn the subject so that the practice transforms you."

As a teacher of yoga in the Iyengar lineage it was always imparted on us to do our own practice and self-study for how can we teach what we don't know in our own bodies. This has really been told and by the quality of teachers I have learnt from shown that they have brought the knowledge into their own bodies before teaching it to others and I try to do the same myself. In our Basic Guidelines for Teachers of Yoga it says, "Teaching is an emotional, ethical and moral responsibility.", "The teacher needs to improve himself morally, emotionally, intellectually and socially." and that "It is very important for the teacher to do her/her own self-study.  He/she has to create his own questions in order to find the right answers, so that the understanding of yoga becomes clearer."  We are to do our own homework after classes to understand why a student may not be getting an asana. B.K.S. Iyengar said "To become a teacher, be a learner first.

Donna explores the importance of a self-practice in this chapter. I like how she wrote that she would "imagine each practice session was a time when she was meeting with someone special.  Dressing appropriately, cleaning the space, being on time, etc. and eventually that special someone we invite into our practice becomes us: we start to value ourselves so much that we want to treat ourselves in the best possible way."  I think often the demands of others can take over.  Until I realized how much my practice was not only benefiting myself, but also my family I didn't make myself as much of a priority as I should have.  I would feel selfish for taking the time for myself when others needed me. Now I know I am doing this not only for myself, but for the benefit of others as the effects do ripple out off of our mat.

I could give many, many more examples of the importance of getting to know your inner teacher..but don't listen to Donna writes,"When we practice on our own, we create the conditions in which we are more likely to see that our happiness does not depend on something outside ourselves."

B.K.S. Iyengar said "To become a teacher, be a learner first." 

Pamela Nelson - CIYT, Level 3

Monday, February 15, 2021

Spring Session I

 This is a copied version of the upcoming session so links will not work. 

Please use this link to open this in your browser:

PLN Yoga
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Website - PLN Yoga

Can we make it to March?

Spring Session I 

Spring is just around the least that is what the Groundhog predictions are saying.  A bit hard to believe after 2 weeks in the deep freeze, but with more daylight hours it is hard not to be hopeful.

The Winter session is almost over.  Just one week of session classes left.  I have taken some of this week off as it is Winter break.  Since we are staying home I thought it would be the best time to send out the schedule for the next session.  Spring I Session will run for 8 weeks over the months of March and April.  I hope you will join me as we continue to explore the many benefits of yoga to the body, breath and mind.

There are some remaining events in February that I would also like to invite you to join.
All the classes are online.
Please email me for more information or to join. 
February 18th - Freedom and Flexibility with Feeling - A Happy Heart Class 6-8 p.m.
February 20th - Fun & Fluid - 8:30-10:30a.m.
February 21st - Sunday Morning Peace Practice 8:30-9:30 a.m.
February 21st & 28th - Open Studio - 10-11 a.m.
February 25th - Thankful Thursday - donations to P.A. Mental Heath - 7-8:1 5p.m.
Email Pam
Overview of all classes in the Spring I Session.  More Open Studio classes may be added if interest.  Please pre-register for all classes so links can be sent. 
Find Out More - Website

If you have any questions regarding the upcoming classes, please contact me. 
If you would like to register please email me or you can visit my website and pay on the website under the Store section.

Weekly Wake-up  - videos on my YouTube channel.
Weekly Wake-up - February 10th, 2021

Some wise words to ponder from Prashant Iyengar on Practice (abhyasa)

  • Postures are not an end in yoga, they are a means in yoga.
  • In yoga your own body and mind are the instruments.  They are not like other instruments - they change every now and then.
  • Abhyasa is a study not in the sense of studying the texts of yoga, but studying one's own body as a text - there is much to observe, much to study, much to experiment with, much to try and much to understand.
  • If you don't study yourself then you become a study material for somebody else and their impressions matter to you.  If you have studied yourself then the imprints and impressions of others do not matter to you. 
Find Out More - Website
Open Studio :

March 7th & 21st - 10-11 a.m.
April 25th - 10-11 a.m.

*more dates may be added if there is interest
Open studio is a great opportunity for embracing and enhancing your own practice.
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