A Morning Yoga practice

September 19, 2014

Byron Yoga Teacher TrainingYesterday one of my students reposted a video from DoYouYoga.com about morning rituals. It depicted a scantily clad yogini littered with tattoos making a simple cup of herbal chai which progressed to a not so simple morning yoga sequence in a dimly lit apartment. The music was engaging and the yogini’s execution flawless. It’s hard not to aspire to that when you start your practice. But I am here to tell you that no matter how beautiful the lens and how dedicated the student the way we look in our everyday practice is far from perfect.

In response to the post I put together this little piece on what has become of Yoga.

Yes its true I am an early riser and absolutely love my yoga practice- but I definitely don’t bother to dress up or have a cup of tea and I actually have to make myself do the practice. Once I am on the mat and I start I’m fine and then when I finish I’m like ” What was all the fuss about?” Part of the reason I am able to hit that mat every day is the consistency of the sequence. I practice  Ishta Mala. It is nourishing for the tissues and has a beautiful seated sequence that literally detoxifies the body while building Ojas ( immunity). I was introduced to the practice by South African Yogi John Weddepohl and I haven’t looked back. I no longer injure myself, have incredible strength and stamina and when I choose to do a different sequence ( like the one in the video) I have all the flexibility and vigour needed. I am so passionate about daily practice and a practice that can be repeated and memorised that we now teach it on our retreats and trainings.

I hope you enjoy the view into my morning practice and If you feel like inspiring your yoga practice, gaining new skills which will enable you to teach yourself and find out the true and real meaning of yoga without the branded hype- we still have some space in our upcoming Teachers Training October 13- November 21, 2014.

Poem from ” Morning Pranam”

its not about the clothes i wear or the tattoos i have its life itself flowing through this body

Its not about the breath the mind or some notion I have of what yoga is

Its not about how many poses I can strike, how much I can push my body

Its about being with what is as it is

no more

no less

so what is this practice?

Divine worship

an offering of love

without expectation of reward or gain

everything is already gained

at birth it is so

the practice is a dance and a flowering

the breath glides in and out and if I falter

it is not me who falls

only the body seems as though

moving  through contrasting layers

none really knows anymore what yoga is

because everyone has their own idea

even this yoga has become a conditioning

we have forgotten ourselves in the practice

lost to ourselves all the while experiencing ourselves

thinking the yoga is necessary for stilling the mind

The mind will never be still

just as I as an individual am never still

thats why the movement is so potent

its is my nature to move

in the presence of what?

that is the question that begs an answer

From little things BIG things Grow

August 28, 2014

Byron Yoga Teacher Training in the Ishta System“From little things big things grow.” I used to love that song especially when my son was little. If you’ve ever raised a child you know how intense it is at the start. How every second of your time is consumed with feeding, burping, diaper changing and trying to get some bit of rest in somewhere. As the baby grows time has a way of stretching out and a symbiotic relationship unfolds where you take the time you have and use it wisely. Before you know it your baby is a child, teenager and then an adult and BOOM you have all the time in the world. Those childrearing years are a time of in breathing; you take as much air in as you can, learning all the way and then when its all over you breathe out. Some women try to fill the gap by keeping busy but the wise ones stop and go quiet, taking time to reflect and savour the 17 or 18 years of devotion and dedication. There is  a pause and a reconciliation and it’s enough.

Byron Yoga Training in the Ishta SystemWhen someone decides they want to do a yoga teacher training it’s a little like being pregnant. They are incredibly excited about whats about to take birth. They look for a course they feel suits them best and once enrolled do all the necessary things to prepare themselves. Like taking extra classes, reading lots of books, buying all the gear and so on. Once on the course they go for it. Like child rearing there is no time to stop, there are requirements to be fulfilled, asanas to learn, philosophical concepts  to be swallowed and all sorts of personal realisation to be had. Whether the course is 4 weeks, 6 weeks or 14 days its seems as if time has swallowed them whole and at the end in the final circle they feel just like that empty nester. Now what? 

Byron Yoga Training in the Ishta systemIn most cases a newly graduated teacher forgets to breath out. They forget to stop and integrate what they have learned. In my own life as a teacher I knew the value in stopping and took my time to teach. I started slowly with one class a week. Knowing when to ask a more senior teacher for help if I was confused about a posture. When I was starting out almost 30 years ago there weren’t the opportunities there are now to keep training. We didn’t have weekend intensives, or week long immersions or even advanced trainings in exotic locations.

There’s so much pressure now from accreditation bodies like Yoga Alliance and Yoga Australia to keep upping our credentials. We’ve been conditioned in the last ten years to think that after our first Teacher Training we are under qualified and that unless we do more we won’t know what we are doing. We have made yoga so complicated when actually its the simplest of the simplest. In any yoga class a teacher shares what they know and the student happily follows. A beginner doesn’t expect their teacher to be a fancy high flyer who knows the ins and outs of chakra weaving, tantra breathing and hula twirling. They simple want to be led through a sequence have a nice relaxation and get on with their day. So why do we feel so inadequate as teachers if we don’t have 1008 hrs of training under our belt? And why do we think doing yoga on some island is better then studying with our mentors in our hometown? 

Byron Yoga Training in the Ishta SystemBecause we have forgotten to pause and take in everything we have learned. We think that self improvement is equal to doing more when actually the whole purpose of learning yoga and doing yoga hopefully leads to the understanding that there is nothing you NEED to do to be your SELF. By no means am I saying don’t do further training, and of course seek out teachers that inspire you and help you grow. The message here is to take your time. Give yourself a year or two to let the little things grow. To see what the real questions are if any. Develop your own practice, be with yourself on the mat without outside stimulation. Practice and practice some more and understand what it means to truly listen and be still. And then when there is no pressure dive deeper.

To find out more about our upcoming Level 1- 350 hr Yoga Alliance and Yoga Australia accredited training visit www.rachelzinmanyoga.com

 

The Absolute Beauty of Knowledge and Ignorance

August 18, 2014

On our recent travels to South Africa we made this little film sharing a bit of what John Weddepohl is all about. Big thanks to Ryan Beifus and Nora Wendel for all their media expertise.

to find out more about our upcoming Retreat and Teachers Training visit www.rachelzinmanyoga.com

Ten things you may not know about me

July 28, 2014

Rachel Zinman Yoga

The following post is inspired by Brook McCarthy’s recent blog on Yoga Reach I thought it was so cool to find out more about Brook and thought it would be a fun exercise for me to go outside the box and expose myself a little more. Let me know what you think and don’t be shy I’d love to hear something new about you too.

I am a real Dutch girl
I was born and spent the first 7 years of my life in Holland and yes I speak dutch – the equivalent of a seven year old. Another fun fact from my dutch days; apparently in kindergarten on the Queen’s birthday I swallowed a small whistle.

I’m kinda sporty
In my formative years I played tennis, was on the gymnastics team, loved cross country skiing, the odd downhill ski, was an obsessive biker and used to jog daily.

I trained to be a Waldorf Educator
While my son was young I enrolled in a foundation year at our local Waldorf school and really enjoyed learning about the process of education. For my practical I taught in all the grades and honed my skills in story telling, craft and singing. I was actually considering applying for a job at the school but Yoga won out in the end.

I built my own Loo
When I bought my first property in Goonengerry, NSW my boyfriend insisted that the most important item to have was a composting loo. In those days you had to build one. So that’s what I did. I got mighty handy with a hammer, saw, wood and nails and built my loo next to a spectacular view.

I ran a sweat lodge for a Women’s retreat
Back in my 30’s I was employed as an activities coordinator at the Cape Retreat in Byron Bay. I introduced the women to ritual through the cleansing effects of a Native American Sweat Lodge ceremony. I spent most of the time shovelling rocks and generally sweating to death but it was pretty fun all the same.

I had a home birth in the water
I still can’t believe how lucky I was to have a lay midwife with 1000 births under her belt and the encouragement to birth at home in the water. It took me 36 hrs, I had no medical intervention and was able to pull my son out of the water and watch him take his first breath.

I really don’t like amusement parks
When I was little my parents took me to Disneyland. Everything was going swell until we went on the “ Tomorrowland” ride. I happened to see a model of tiny people emerging from the tunnel we were about to enter and was convinced I would shrink too. I had a tantrum right there and then and refused to get on the cart and have avoided amusement parks ever since.

I’m a freak for water
I’ve never particularly craved hot drinks and can’t make a good cup of tea or coffee. Juice is too sweet and soft drinks make me burp. If I come over for a visit I am happy with a glass of water but if you think I’m easy to please forget it.  I’m as fussy as an expert tea drinker. I like my water filtered or enjoy spring water’s many top name brands.

My Ballet career peaked at age 10
Most people know I was a professional modern dancer and choreographer. However Ballet was my first love. I was lucky enough to star as Clara in the Nutcracker with the Boston Ballet at the age of ten. My parents still wax lyrical about the moment I sat on the shoulders of the transformed Nutcracker and commanded the christmas tree to rise to towering heights.

I’m pretty spontaneous when it come to creativity
Whether its writing, dancing, singing, painting, photography or amateur film making, I like to dive in quick and get the job done. Some people like to nut out every word in a sentence or work through a painting with incredible detail. I don’t really have the patience or the tenacity. I like to be spontaneous when I create and don’t really bother about it being perfect. If I like it thats good enough for me

So now its your turn tell me something new about you :).

 

 

Rachel Zinman Yoga’s top 10 Facebook Pages

June 28, 2014

Rachel Zinman Yoga

With the onslaught of invites to like pages on Facebook I thought it might be fun to share with you the pages I visit the most for all sorts of tips on yoga and wellbeing. This list includes dear friends who I feel really share the best of themselves and brilliant resources for teaching and nourishing yourself.

Urb@n Vedanta
Do you remember when you loved to push yourself to the edge in your yoga practice? Well this Facebook page takes you to the edge and asks you to dive off. Far from an intellectual exercise Urb@n Vedanta explores the TRUTH of who you are as a human being challenging everyone of your beliefs taking you to the true and real meaning of yoga hidden in the ancient texts. Edgy and provocative its a great place to look at how you approach every aspect of your practice and life.


Bella and Bhakti
I love this page for its colourful pictures, great recipes and inspirational quotes. Kelly Fielding is a  writer, yogi and raw food expert. You will love her whimsical and sweet approach to health and wellbeing.


Love Yoga Anatomy
Created by my friend Stu Girling this page is an awesome resource for interviews and articles on all things to do with the physical components of yoga. safe alignment, adjusting, interviews with senior teachers and so much more


The Holistic Chef Australia
Another great page for Foodies and lovers of good health. Shakti has created a  Super Food Blend. I just love Shaktis’ positive attitude, raw honesty and good vibes which overflows from this page


Sacred Women’s Business
A great page for motivation and inspiration for women. Lisa Fitzpatrick has a way of helping women to see their gifts and talents and shares effective tools for placing themselves in today’s marketplace


Mind Body Green
As far as I’m concerned most articles from these guys rock. Short clear and honest messages from people working on their health and wellbeing. A great resource when you need to go deeper into any subject related to health


Eat Live Life
Another special spot to find out more about Yoga, Heath and Wellbeing. Merwyn Davies adds his personal touch sharing his own experiences with yoga and explores relevant topics for todays modern Yogi

The Global Yogi
Want to travel the world and share Yoga? Looking for a great Teacher’s Training, Retreat, or more info on your passion for Yoga? You’ll love this page.

Inhale life by Romina
Romina is such a lovely teacher and really gives back to the community. She’s spearheaded several projects and somehow manages to teach, parent and update her page with positive messages  each and every day.

Dr. Lauren Tober
Founder of Capturing Gratitude, Lauren is always offering and sharing more ways for us to relax, commune and enjoy the little things in life

Who wants to be a Yogi?

June 16, 2014

 

Rachel Zinman YogaIt’s frantic out there in the Yoga world. Just recently, while teaching a dedicated group in Zurich, one of the participants shared that there are more yoga teachers in Zurich than any other city in Europe. It seems everyone wants to do a teacher training to get to know more about yoga.

I remember a time not too long ago where undertaking Yoga Teacher Training was a novel idea. Our first group at Be Yoga (Alan Finger’s Ishta Yoga Studio) was comprised of twenty-five eager students – each one personally vetted and encouraged to join. We were pioneering a new program and these guys were our guinea pigs. People came from all walks of life and were drawn to the course because yoga had hit them so hard they wanted more. They were hungry for it, and as teachers we couldn’t wait to feed them. Nine months later our fledgling group took flight. That first training spawned subsequent groups with trainees who now lead major trainings worldwide.  In just 14 years Yoga has boomed, but sometimes the baby does run away with the bath water, and the senior teachers who spawned the movement get left behind. 

I was shockeRachel Zinman Yoga, Byron Yoga teacher Trainingd when one long time yogi and wonderful teacher told me she was thinking of changing vocations, and not because she didn’t love yoga, but because no one seemed to have the interest in seniority or tradition anymore.

I never wanted to make a career out of yoga. I wanted to be a Yogi and all that I thought that meant. I imagined myself meditating in caves, practicing on mountain tops and generally attaining a state of perfection. Well here I am far from my “ idea ” of perfect, with the understanding that perfection is not a state to be attained, rather it’s something right here right now – “already gained” as they say in the Upanishadic texts.

What revolutionised my thinking? Why am I still passionate regardless of the twists and turns that have happened in the yoga community? Why do I keep plugging the importance of finding the roots of yoga rather then skimming the surface? 

Rachel Zinman Yoga, Byron Yoga Teacher TrainingBecause Yoga literally saved my life, and more importantly the TRADITION of yoga saved my life. I wanted to go deep, but it seemed like the harder I looked – the more I questioned, and the shallower everything became.  I was convinced that yoga existed in an “out there vibrating phenomenon ” that could only be tamed through endless practices. I was trying to placate something to find myself, all the while losing myself in practices. I didn’t know any better. No one does. Authentic teachers are hard to find, even rarer are authentic teachings. We think we can get stuff from a book but the truth is the books exist because truth exists. Yoga is an unbroken oral tradition.http://www.rachelzinmanyoga.com/BYRON-YOGA-TRAINING

So where does a sincere seeker find something authentic? An ashram in India? I wish it was that simple. These days it seems like the ashrams are rife with as much sexual scandal and corruption as politicians.  The Indian Gurus have found western followers and have grown fat on the lamb of popularity. Looking good on the outside, saying all the right things while harbouring a few Daikinis in the bedroom. I don’t think sex or money is really something to gawk at. We all do it and get away with it. Yet somehow we expect our spiritual teachers to be twice removed from something intrinsically human.

DSC02551And where is this tradition? Way before Patanjali put his name to the sutras, the revivalist Adi Shankara used sound logic and reasoning in his debates to defeat and remove Buddhism from India, re-establishing Aidvaita Vedanta. These days its hip to know all about Tantra, but the purest Tantra is Vedanta. Vedanta means the end of knowledge. And where does knowledge end? In the Knowledge of the knower. Tantra expounds the tenet that everything is divine – Vedanta goes one step further and explains through a timeless methodology what Self (divinity) is. There are many teachers sharing Vedanta but a rare few are in the lineage of Adi Shankara. 

Recently on a field trip in India I visited the spot where Shankara did his sadhana. The atmosphere at the temple moved me to tears, not because of any particular vibration, but more in the simplicity of its existence. It was my first experience of something that has been around for over 3000 years. A place where people offered themselves and their hearts on the altar of knowledge.

SHIVA PARVATI AND GANESH IN GOA

I used to think I didn’t need a teacher and that I could figure it all out by myself, be my own guru so to speak. But the truth is no matter how hard I practiced, no matter how many paths I explored, I still felt like I was stumbling in the dark. I was still emotional, confused, full of crisis and conflict and nowhere nearer to the state of perfection I associated with Yoga. Sound familiar? 

It was in my deepest crisis that I found the teachings of Adi Shankara. Through words and a learned teacher versed in shastra (scripture) my rebellious mind was led step by step to the truth. Each argument presented with irrefutable logic until there was nowhere to hide.

The technique subtly takes away every idea one has of one’s self until SELF is revealed.

Knowing Self is no big deal, just like eating pizza is no big deal. Once you taste pizza, you have knowledge of pizza. 

Just before I finished my course I had a private meeting with my teacher. After some small talk he said “Soon people will be as hungry for traditional teachings as they are for yoga now.”

Goa Shoot (10 of 18)Since my immersion in India my teaching and practice has been stripped down to the barebones. Once having been exposed to the teachings one can never go back. It’s like being exposed to the sun – once you lay back and bask in the light you’re whole being feels nourished and replenished. It’s the same with Tradition. Once you have been exposed to the knowledge you bask in the eternal nature of your Self.Knowing yourself as that Presence in which everything is present means you can never be absent to yourself again.

So who wants to be a Yogi? I do! 

Want to immerse yourself in the tradition of Yoga? Why not join John Weddepohl and Rachel Zinman in Workshops Retreats and Trainings in 2014

 

 

7 Ways To Keep Your Yoga Practice Alive

May 18, 2014

 

This postRachel Zinman Yoga was originally published on eatlivelife.com

When I was in high school my english teacher insisted that if if we were bored in class it was because we were boring. “A creative mind is never bored”, he emphasised, “it’s always stretching and reaching into unchartered territory.” As a long time practitioner, Yoga is still fresh and endlessly inspiring, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had slip ups and challenges along the way. It’s never easy to hit the mat day after day, but I can honestly say I’ve never been bored. So what’s the secret to keeping a yoga practice alive ?

1. Think of it like chocolate, ice cream or a spa visit. It’s a treat to take time for yourself. Every breath in each posture is a delicious massage ironing out the tension. Take your time and hold the postures, let your thoughts flow without needing to identify with them. Don’t rush through any aspect of your practice and give yourself a nice long relaxation. Slowing down and seeing your practice as a gift rather then a thing on your “ to do ” list engenders a feeling of harmony and balance. Remember how you feel after a really good massage and how you look forward to the next one? If you approach your practice with the right attitude you’ll be longing to hit the mat each and every day.

2.Have a simple daily home practice that is repetitive and easy to do. We can easily come up with a million excuses at to why this is not an option. We might have young children, a small apartment, a lack of confidence without a teacher, or even find it hard to get motivated. No matter what the excuse a home practice should be akin to brushing your teeth or having your daily cup of tea. We thrive on routine and our bodies crave it.  Where would we be with out our 7 hours of sleep and 3 square meals a day. As much as we might think that repetition is boring. It’s how creation works. Think of a sunrise, even though it’s the same sun rising each day, the sky, the colours and the clouds go through a kaleidoscope of changes. It’s the same with a simple daily practice. Each time you approach Down Dog, your breath, body and mental state are different. Learn to tune to the subtleties and enjoy watching the play of movement and stillness.

Rachelzinmanyoga in Goa3. Mix and Match your postures. I’m definitely a bit of a fashionista when it comes to taste in clothes. I’ve never liked one colour ensembles, or a conventional cut. Instead I like to mix and match in wild colours and floral patterns. It’s the same with practice. Throwing in a wild card, like a handstand during sun salutations, a series of backbends or legs behind the head in an unexpected place in a sequence takes the body out of its complacency. Breaking the rhythm reminds the body it’s not a fixed system and that variety is the spice of life.

4.Get inspired! Attend a workshop, retreat or class with a new teacher. You most likely can’t wait for your weekly fix with your beloved teacher. You know them so well that you can preempt their next move in class. As students we feel a loyalty to the teachers that inspired us forgetting that a different teacher may have a tip to get up into that tricky arm balance or inspire a way to stay in a forward bend. Attending a workshop with a visiting senior teacher or even diving into a week long retreat in a beautiful place can bring so much to your regular classes. New horizons and new teachers widen your sense of possibility and community in yoga.

Rachel Zinman Yoga writes for eatlivelife5. Go Outside and Get Natural. Take your practice to the park, beach or forest. Workout in bare feet and leave your mat at home. Feel the ground, the soft earth in your hands. Let the sand tickle your toes and the sound of the surf sooth your being. Breathe in the forest smells and let the birdsong be your music. Our bodies are inseparably part of nature. It’s easy to forget that when we do our practice in an air-conditioned studio in a fast paced city. Studies show that even a short walk in natural surroundings enhances brain function. Imagine what an hour of Yoga in nature will do.

6. Break All the Rules. If you’ve had a really good teacher you will have a clear set of parameters for how, where and when you should practice. Safety is important as is the order in which you practice. But sometimes you just have to break yourself out of Jail. Imagine approaching Down Dog in a different way, start with a posture that’s completely new or even dance through your routine. If you usually use a zen yoga playlist try practicing to heavy metal. Switch up your practice space. Take it to the roof top terrace or your breakfast room. Practice at an odd time of the day. Allowing yourself to be spontaneous and unconventional gives you permission to come alive again in your practice.

Rachel zinman yoga

7. When in Doubt Dive Deeper. We might be shy to explore breathing practices or meditation. Diving deep is not a spiritual or esoteric exercise. Breathing in our asana practice helps us to open and stretch further in the postures. Learning to work the breath on its own through pranayama actually manages the energy system that is the body. The goal in a breathing practice is to refine the breath, the more subtle the breath, the more relaxed the mind. The mind craves a focus taking it out of its preoccupation with thought. We think our thoughts rule us but actually it’s the opposite. We choose to get wrapped up in a thought. A yogi learns to concentrate the mind through practices like pranayama, this in turn tranquillises the mind. We often confuse meditation with concentration. The first step in meditation is learning how to concentrate. Once you can hold your mind on a point for an extended period of time you move into a phase of effortless concentration. Meditation is not a practice, it’s who you are. We complicate yoga by thinking of it as a spiritual practice.  Put simply, Yoga and its deeper practices are there to lead you to the effortlessness that is your Self. It doesn’t get any deeper than that.

 

We’re on the road again

April 20, 2014

It’s been such a joy for me to create the above film reflecting the feelings and inspirations gained from participants on our workshops, retreats and trainings. We feel so fortunate to be able to share yoga in so many beautiful places and share with some incredible beings.

In the coming weeks and months we’ll be in Brisbane at One family Yoga and Fitness, Darwin at Mukti Yoga and then head to Europe for workshops in Switzerland, Holland, Italy and Germany. It’s also the first year we will be offering an 8 day Yoga Retreat in Australia. We have chosen the Sanctuary Retreat in Mission Beach which we feel is the perfect place to immerse oneself in the teachings of Yoga and Self Knowledge.  We  absolutely love what we do and know you will too. Why not take the leap and deepen your practice with us in 2013

Rachel Zinman Yoga

The Rise of the ECO Yogi

April 12, 2014

 

Rachel Zinman YogaIt’s been building for a while now. This feeling that something needs to be done. I can’t ignore the signposts. My friends are camping out at CSG blockades, marching against outrageous political policies or heading off to save endangered Orangutang’s in Borneo. 

I’ve liked a whole bunch of vegan, environmentally, socially minded pages, signed numerous petitions and donated funds to enable others to stand at the front lines. AND still I feel there’s more to do. 

I’ve been carrying that thought around for a while now. Its a habit. I come from a  family of doers, donators and progressive thinkers. My grandmothers were communists and pantheists. My grandfathers bankers and merchants. While half of me is socially minded and a nature lover the other half wants to offer products in the marketplace that facilitate change.

ecowarriors rise filmLast night we went to see THE RISE OF THE ECO WARRIORS. The director and writer of the film Cathy Henkel, a dear friend, spied us in the audience and insisted we get a decent seat. “This is an important film and I want you guys to be able to see it,” She was right. This is a film everybody should see.

From the outset I was drawn into the subject because the characters-eco warriors from all over the world-are absolutely determined to make a difference to the eco system of the planet. They’re colourful young people, who care and are willing to go into the jungle, face fears and work hard to bring awareness to issues that affect each and every one of us. 

And what are the issues? The deforestation of indigenous forests, the endangerment of a way of life for native cultures and the plight of Orangutang’s who have nowhere to live once their forests are destroyed.

Orangutang's in BorneoThe film exposes how insanely fast our forests are disappearing, how hard it is to raise awareness and get funding, and how hard the native people are fighting for their land. 

And why ? So I can keep my house clean, wash my body and eat my snacks. I had no idea how many things contain palm oil. And I’m supposed to be a socially minded eco conscious yogi.

We passed Cathy on the way out congratulating her on the film. “ I made this film to raise awareness, if even 10 people call their local Coles or Woolworth’s and ask them to stop stocking a particular product containing palm oil. they will listen.”  It was a heartening thought

Later that night a the years of living dangerouslypost from 350.0rg came on my Facebook feed. The first episode of a new series on Showtime was being released “ The Years of Living Dangerously” In the series, produced by Arnold Schwarzanegger, socially minded actors like Harrison Ford and Don Cheadle head out into the world to speak with leading scientists and local communities to see the effect that Climate Change is having on their every day lives. It’s easy for us to see it as happening over there rather then right here. 

But none of us can really turn a blind eye as over there is definitely encroaching on right here by the second.

Instead of watching another Pharrel Williams cover for “Happy” on YouTube I’ve decided to turn my Facebook scrolling into a conscious practice-clicking through to the suggested websites at the end of both films and raising my awareness of the products that don’t really help me to be cleaner fresher and happier. 

There’s a saying out there; “Happiness is an inside job.” But really it’s so much more then that. Happiness is who we are. It’s not something we can get or have. If anything was the source of happiness we’d all be lining up around the planet for it. We’ve been lead to believe that happiness is personal. What appears to make me happy can’t make you happy and visa versa, thats why we feel the need for so many different things.

Rachy-107Happiness isn’t complicated and neither are we. We are given the gift of awareness. If you practice yoga you would have had it drummed into you by now to become aware of your thoughts. To focus and harness the mind which in turn relieves stress. We might not understand exactly how this formula works, but we definitely feel the benefits. 

In the same way social awareness needs to become a finely crafted tool.

What do you do with a tool once its perfected? Do you stick it in the garage and forget about it? Absolutely not. You use it to shape and craft beautiful things. And you and me and our planet and its eco systems with its life giving water and air are creation’s masterpiece. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all used our awareness to keep it so.

To find out more about what you can do to inform yourself visit the following sites

Off the Mat into the World

March 18, 2014

rachelzinmanyoga

The first time I really felt strongly about something was just after 9/11. I was living in NYC at the time and will never forget the terror I felt at finding out that the trade towers had been hit. In the weeks that followed the government took the opportunity to go to war, curb our civil liberties and establish, “ homeland security.” Even though I wanted to turn a blind eye and just do my Yoga I felt I had to take a stand. I’ll never forget my teacher Alan Finger sharing that we shouldn’t hate the people who had done this. It would be like hating your own arm.

As part of a global peace demonstration I was moved to write a piece for The Nation, an online and in print magazine that offered alternative and meaningful news. 

peacevigil too

“My husband and I met [author and prayer leader] James Twyman and joined his e-mail list. He wrote that he was going to be doing a major peace vigil on the 9th of February with a mix of Israelis and Palestinians. He wrote, “Rather than pushing for peace, we’re going to bepeace. We’re going to bend the world toward peace.” He asked for everyone to gather, so I started, two months before, sending e-mails: “If you’d like to join me in spirit or physically, please do.” On the day, I had invited a lot of people to be with me. I said, “At 12 noon, I’m going to lead this meditation.” There were forty-five of us there. A lot of people sat with us, and a lot of people joined us in spirit. They e-mailed me afterward and said, “We could feel it.” I had felt ineffective. I had thought, “How can my voice be heard?” For me, to be able to share this is a way to take action. We were being grateful for the peace that already exists on this earth.”

Back then I felt that joining together and demonstrating peace was enough. Now, 11 years later I have learned that there is no need to “ demonstrate peace” all that is needed is to know oneself then we discover that in the creation there is never anything but peace.  

Rachel Zinman YogaMoving off the mat, being open to dialogue and taking a stand for what you feel is right is important. At the same time the real issues run deeper then climate change and collapsed economies. Do we ever stop to question ourselves? Do we ask who is creating the mess in the first place? and what does this messer upper hope to gain? In the end it all comes down to thinking we have to do something to get something. Why can’t we just get that being is enough. In fact we can’t help being- it’s happening effortlessly whether we know it or not.

As a society we think that someone or something has the power to bring us happiness? Why? Because through our conditioning; our education and up-bringing has made us feel powerless, empty, wrong, incomplete in some way and that there is some hole that we have to fill and when we fill it we will feel complete. We have all become excellent hole diggers. We dig the hole and we get in.

Rachel Zinman YogaOf course this is a yoga blog, a blog that people read to find out more about yoga, its not a place to talk about politics. Or is it? If you practice yoga then there’s something you want to change in your life. Maybe you want to be fitter, able to stand stress better or perhaps as a yoga teacher you want to help others change their lives. When I was a kid growing up in America we were taught all about our founding forefathers and how they wanted to make a difference “ freedom, justice and liberty for all” was their catch cry. Isn’t that also why we do Yoga? To be free?

In philosophy the understanding is that we all strive towards “ Moksha” (Freedom) But see how crazy this is; already free, already whole and complete-we just don’t know it. The only thing standing in our way is conditioning born of ignorance. It is conditioning and ignorance that prevents us from knowing who we truly are. And this is not the fault of the society. If we were not born ignorant and knew everything then what fun would it be? But if only our politicians and leaders, heads of corporations could start questioning themselves, and see past their own conditioning and ignorance and know the truth of who they are, then the world we live in would be a far safer and better place.

rachelzinmanyoga

Seeing things as they are and yourself as you are is to step to freedom. Eliminating our own self ignorance fills us with absolute empathy and compassion for one another. Knowing that we are inseparably part of the Whole – That Consciousness – which alone exists, makes even death and dying a joke. The practices of yoga by lifting our conditioning momentarily of course bring us peace, happiness, and completeness BECAUSE THIS IS ALL THERE IS. Yoga helps prepare us for this understanding momentarily removing our normal and habitual preoccupations. But yoga too can become another form of conditioning. So watch out! 

But if for a split second – we are able remember ourselves as the yoga-the Consciousness itself-then what happens as you step off the mat can only be filled with Love and Compassion. Empathy-spreading Joy, Happiness, Peace, Love.  

So what does it mean to step off the mat and into the world? 

I’ll let you decide.

Want to hear more ? Join Rachel Zinman and John Weddepohl for Intensives in Sydney, Berry, Wollongong, Byron Bay, Brisbane and Darwin throughout March , April and May 2014

Thanks to John Weddepohl for contributing  to this blog


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