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The Uggly, Bad, Good and Great of 2011, And What They Taught Me About Yoga

The UGGLY was Being Sick

Definitely unexpected, and with a malady that is so mischievous in its workings as Lyme disease is. I was lucky to meet a Chinese Doctor that helped me with the most important thing of all which was  knowing, trusting that I could heal.  Hearing him go “don’t tell me about bacteria, there is bacteria everywhere!” was  just what I needed to hear at that moment of despair.

He healed me by restoring all organs to health, and taught me a very important lesson that applies to yoga, a strong immune system will be resistant to any bacteria.  We must keep our bodies in balance and treat them well!

A Chinese medicine practitioner (not Dr H) at work

Another lesson came when I really thought I was dying (before I met Dr H). It  put me in touch with that feeling, with letting go of everything, surrendering, and praying, preparing for passing.  I was scared, but in the midst of drugs and spurs of clarity here and there it showed me that the moment of passing will come, at some point it will, and what is important then is to be clear about passing peacefully.

I started practicing the Divine Light invocation, something that would only work for aspiring yogis who are inclined towards devotion rather than only rational thought (90% of the people say many books).  Swami Radha, a direct disciple of Sivananda promises that 40 days of reciting the prayer will bring about a miracle.  For me it brought peace, and considering the circumstances that was pretty timely.

I also remembered the work I had started way back in 2003 with dreams, and to see them as subconscious messages (and potential samskaras?) that are better brought into the light. Here are the five steps I used to interpret them.

The BAD was Trying to Return from Lyme With NO SuccessThe biggest lesson was gratitude.  Nothing like being sick to appreciate in full the love of James, of my family, of my readers, of all the people who wanted to help.  To see how much good there is. It humbled me and taught me about compassion.
I tried once while still in antibiotics and it did not work, then again while on Chinese medicine, and it did not stick.  Then after somewhat recovery only one thing worked, taking it very slowly, as slow as 20 minutes only.

This taught me patience and surrendering in a brand new way. I did NOT want to practice for only 20 minutes, I hated it.  But, I knew -on third try- that it might be the only thing that would work, and it did.
I credit James for sticking to a plan and asking me every day “how long today?” and then making sure it was no more than 5 or 10 more minutes than the day before, or asking me to wait until I had a week of no symptoms to move forward. He was a strong pillar in focusing my weak energy towards strength. That was pure love. Thank you James!

The GOOD Was Rediscovering the Practice, When It Came Back
Finally, on November 2nd I started on a journey of returning on which I am still working.  Little by little I recovered primary series.  20 minutes at the time at first, then 25 and so on. It took a while but it did come back.  So much so that John suggested I continue onto intermediate, but then thought it was wise that I would only practice primary for a while -what I am still doing- until I feel strong and completely healthy again.

What this taught me was surprising. I was getting lazy!  Had forgotten all about going a little beyond the physicial limits (within reason), I was just paying lip service to it!  Great notice because it now has me working hard at those back bends (where I am currently AT) and even using a block to engage those psoas, as well as working very hard at the jump backs and troughs.  I am determined to clean up primary now.
The GREAT Was Learning more about the Yoga Sutras, Going to Mysore and Publishing my First Book
The good and the great are easy to remember, the happy memories tend to stick!

Going to Mysore in early January/February was a highlight (See here for posts from the second trip early this year). I find that the journey to command central (as is known) focused the practice, as it always does. It is difficult not to try harder at everything while surrounded with practitioners who are very dedicated, focused on their breath, chanting a unique melody with their ujjaji breath.  There is a special power in that full room, in the humidity of the sweat of what? at least 80 practitioners going at it at once, making the effort.

Learning about the Yoga Sutras directly from Ramaswami in a 20 hour course opened a door somewhere in the basement and towards a deeper understanding of yoga. Yoga for what it really is, sitting straight with a healthy body that breathes well to concentrate and aim for samadhi! I am eternally grateful to him and hope to study further under his tutelage in 2012. What a teacher!  All in all I do understand, the more I read, that practice is what makes yoga yoga, no amount of reading would ever teach us anything, it will just direct us.

Here is Ramaswami Schedule for 2012

Finally, publishing my book in May was a work of love. Ever since 2008 on my first trip to Mysore I felt I wanted to share what I gathered along the path, I wished I had a book exactly like the one I wrote.  That is what they say, if you know there is a book you want to read then you must write it, so I did.  It is a highlight of my day when I hear that someone got a bit that helped, a tip, an opening or a desire to go deeper or start the practice. What a blessing to be able to share!

The best parts of the year had me learning about giving, thinking about what it means to teach, and understanding how it is vital to have a personal and deep practice of our own in order to be able to help. 

So all in all in 2011 I re-learned:

  1. Letting Go and Surrendering
  2. The importance of a strong Immune System
  3. Chinese Medicine works!
  4. Preparations for passing
  5. Gratitude
  6. Devotion
  7. Dream Work
  8. Patience
  9. Love
  10. Trying harder at the practice
  11. Specifically jump-back and through and drop-back/back-bending
  12. Enjoying the practice among deeply invested practitioners
  13. Writing a book and self-publishing
  14. Sharing
  15. Giving and Receiving
  16. Noticing blessings
  17. The Yoga Sutras and the importance of practice

And so, for 2012 I am looking forward to cleaning up primary series, practicing practicing practicing and for every experience that may pop up, try to come from center, wisdom and peace.

I wonder what did you learn? And what do you wish for 2012?

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7 Responses to The Uggly, Bad, Good and Great of 2011, And What They Taught Me About Yoga

  1. lilasvb December 27, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    i learn a lot by reading and practising, also i know now that when i reduce or stop practise because i work too much it is not good for me.<br />the bad i stop smoking 3 times and start again 3 times…<br />the good : i am still learning and growing

  2. Claudia December 27, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    🙂 yes I hear you, stopping is not good at all. AND you are on a journey! like, right now, so happy for you! 😉

  3. Suzanne December 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    What a wonderful post!<br /><br />I learned life is very short (due to my Fathers passing)<br /><br />2012 I hope to slow down and change myself for the better.

  4. JayaKrishna December 27, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Great post Claudia, thank you for the book, I loved it:) I dog-eared the Mysore bit as I plan sometime to go:) I learned how to &quot;Chant &amp; Be Happy&quot; with the Maha Mantra:)Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, it really does work. I learned to just let people go and be who they&#39;re gonna be if I do not react, it will work

  5. Claudia December 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Suzanne, sorry to hear about your dad, pretty intense that is, and a big lesson indeed. Slowing down is a very nice intent, love it, might take it myself too! :-)<br /><br />JayaK cool that you are playing with the idea of going to Mysore. Nice that you found this mantra to cheer you up, that is sweet! happy 2012 to you too 🙂

  6. Lupe Lopez December 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    Claudia, I learned in 2011 that taking care of our bodies and believing we can be healthy is the first step. I am happy to have connected to you and your blog. I look forward to your postings, they inspire me and teach me new things (like dry brushing). Yoga is something I love, but I was not familiar with Ashtanga. I am looking forward to continuing this journey … thanks for a beautiful post.

  7. Claudia December 28, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Lupe, that is a lesson I learned as well! health is very important! Thank you for your kind words about the blog, makes me happy that it inspires. I am also dry brushing daily, loving it! Would love to hear from you Lupe, how you do, what path you go into, hope you stay in touch