Thursday, July 18, 2013

This Marvelous Gift: Part II

Greetings from Satchidanda Ashram-Yogaville!

For the past two and a half weeks I have been living in a tent, attending the Integral Yoga Intermediate Teacher Training program, which is a residential course. At this very moment it is extremely hot and muggy in the hills of Buckingham, Virginia, which is actually a welcomed respite from the continuous torrential downpours I have experienced just about the entire time I've been here. Seriously, out of the first 14 days I was here, it rained 12. I was actually run out of my tent one particularly soggy night, taking refuge in the dorm for three days until things dried out. It has been quite the experience: intense, enriching, fulfilling, frustrating at times, enlightening, and exhausting. And hopefully I've gotten used to it because I'm signed up for the Advanced TT that starts on August 11. When I tell people that here they either look at me with wonder or concern. But this is me, all or nothing. I knew that once I made the decision to pursue an advanced certification, that it couldn't be a one weekend a month deal. I had to take the biggest bite I could, and jump into the hottest fire. So I know at the end of the summer I will be full and well cooked!

But being away has a cost (literally, as a yoga teacher with no benefits, I don't get paid vacations), and I've been on the go since 5/22. Austin, Charlotte, New York, and DC. Now here. It's a strain on my family, the people who help me to run Project Yoga Richmond and have to pick up my slack, and especially my students, who grow into a routine only to have it change each time I'm called away. It's a challenge to stay connected, while at the same time continuing to evolve, grow and experience new things in life. But I won't say its a sacrifice. In fact, since I've been doing this spiritual work over the past few weeks I've eliminated the "s" word from my vocabulary. What I'm doing is not sacrifice. I'm not giving up anything, and gaining everything. Whether its traveling to teach workshops and connecting with Yogis across the map, or diving headfirst into a residential program, everything that's being done now is preparing me for a more prosperous future and a greater ability fulfill all the duties and roles I've been given. The connections push me forward, and this immersion is what I needed in my life. And its all about the yoga, the teaching and the path. Whatever I do or have done since I've started this journey has been for the sake of yoga. I work to become a better student to improve upon my ability to teach. I teach because it is what I love to do and it so happens to be my chosen career path. And sometimes it takes me away from the very people who have supported me and enabled to utilize this gift.

But the going away isn't always so dramatic. Sometimes its just an issue of changing class times, or giving up a particular class to focus elsewhere. Sometimes class themes are modified to fit students have advanced in their practice. Change, change, change. The one constant in this life. And yoga teachers and their students are not isolated from it. I have gotten messages often "J, how come you know longer teach the so and so class?" One student said to me once "J, you said you would never leave the gym, and now they have cancelled the class entirely". This really breaks my heart, because the main role of a yoga teacher is service. I am here to serve, and when I feel as though I'm not doing my job, it makes me sad. But what am I to do? Before becoming a yoga teacher I was a person who had a "job". And if the job wasn't serving me I left and found another one. And no one cared. This is what separates a mind/body professional from all other means of employment. It is the connection, the bond that is formed when you are able to witness transformation first hand, and know that you had a part to play in it. Its the evolving experience of practicing yoga. As our yoga practice evolves, we begin to seek out instructors that can move us deeper. And not just physically. We begin to notice that the physical postures and sensations serve the purpose of waking us up to the possibilities of a more awakened and authentic existence. We want to know, "who can touch my spirit?" We look for those who are able to bring out the best that is hidden within us. Those who can help us to find our highest potential. A good teacher will help you to open the physical body and all it's potential. A great teacher will help you to open your heart. I hope that one day I will become such an instructor. This is my desire, if I should have such a thing. To help open the hearts of my students to be able to give and receive more love. This is my cherished gift, the role I seem to be growing into. And for that, I give thanks.

One Love, Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi

Monday, June 10, 2013

This Marvelous Gift - Part 1

Some time ago I entered a yoga photo contest that required that you submit two photos, and answer a specific question. The question was, "why do you do yoga?" I paused on this because I never really consider my on journey too much any more, intuitively I know that I'm still "on" my journey, and I've been much more concerned about the journey of my students more so than my path. But of course, I have my reasons to and this is how I tried to sum it up:

 I came to yoga because I was looking for something. I needed more hands on spirituality than orthodox theology could ever give me. I realized that "yoga" is simply a quest for the true self, and it takes many forms. Because I practice yoga I know I control my own destiny.  I practiced martial arts for discipline and physicality, but I studied the wisdom of the east to answer some of the questions that whispering at my heart. I found answers in the Bhagavad Gita, which only strengthened what I learned in the Bible. I was so excited to receive my stack of philosophy and anatomy textbooks in my first teacher training that I mostly ignored the asanas until close to the end and I realized I was going to have to actually "teach" yoga classes. I wasn't aware yet of the power of the asana practice. Now, when I practice Hatha there is a certain exhilaration that comes with the heighten awareness of one's self. I have that same awareness when I teach yoga as well. When I instruct the class, it is a true and genuine outpouring of love from my soul. I really feel and try to visualize my offering to the students, and I end each class thanking them for the opportunity to serve. There is a connection there that no other "job" could have ever given me. I do yoga because yoga has been life saving, life altering and a life blessing. I like to think that I was born to do yoga. Namaste

Of course there's more to this story, and I try my best to stay present as it unfolds. I have been very fortunate that yoga has become a part of my life, it's benefits to numerous to name. Through yoga I have made important connections, and lifelong friends. Through yoga, I've been given the ability to help reshape our world, by contributing to peace by finding it within my own heart. I have many wonderful people in my life who support me in my endeavors as I do theirs. I am so blessed to be able to share my gift, which is what allows us to express what is truly wonderful and awesome about ourselves. Indeed, teaching has become a form of meditation for me. True, as teachers our job is to help facilitate the heightened experience, but each time we sit down to teach, we have to bring ourselves into a heightened state in order to transmit the teaching. As the class proceeds, we move deeper into this state, and it's normally during the juicy parts of the class when we feel the most connected to the students. There is a sense of oneness, where effort and intention join forces with the ebb and flow of breath to create a harmonious dance of mind, bodies, and spirit. At some point during this process I sometimes realize that I'm not actually doing anything, it's happening and I'm simply observing. The doer and the doing become the same thing. These are the profound moments when my reason for doing yoga become crystal clear.

One Love and Namaste!

J Miles

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Where's The Love?

Hello Friends!

Today is as good a day as any to start blogging again. Love is in the air. The anticipation, the feel of it, the smell of it, even the taste of it, as evidenced by the sudden upswing of chocolate sales. I happen to be in love with my life, my friends, my children and family, and my community. I love that I've been given the responsibility of helping to guide people toward the path of health and happiness, even as I learn and grow. So with that, here's something from the archives. Hopefully on the day of love, which should be everyday, we'll see a bigger picture. Be well, Be blessed.....

Yogi J

WHAT IS LOVE? By Yogi J. Miles

What is love?
The unanswered question
The question that receives the most answers
Love is the ancient magical spell with the unpronounceable words
Love is that secret recipe
An exotic blend of passion fruit and perspiration
Sugar Cane and cayenne
It stimulate all five senses and awakens the sixth
It is the music that soothes the savage beast and is the key that unlocks the cage containing the beast within
Love is sought after with the same vigor that it is rejected
Love is the energy that drives us each day
Love is the light we try so hard to find in others, ignoring the fierce glow inside
Love resurrects us each morning
And keeps us warm at night
Easily recognized, it is hidden by invisible camouflage
Only seen with the soul
It often clouds the mind
Love is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal for good
The unwitting tool of evil
Love is seen in the slanted eyes of my Queen when I find her
Given back ten-fold with every touch
Love will make you expect the unexpected
Forget what you've learned
And believe the impossible
Led by Love, the voiceless sing like angels, and the sightless see unending patters of beauty and color
I could explain Love a thousand times over, filling page after page, each line an expression from my soul
But would you understand?
Love is toil and strife, the endless 8-hour day, the most difficult task
The ultimate goal
Love is what the blessed share with each person they meet
Love is the fantasy that turns dreams into nightmares when its denied
Love is the sacrifice made and the miracle given in return
Love is the holy grail of the broken hearted
Love will cause a preacher to doubt, make a non-believer worship the Divine
Love is the knight is shining armor and the damsel in distress fighting the enemy together
Love is the greatest gift, a microscopic view of what paradise really was
Love is the loudest whisper ever heard
And the silent scream of pure bliss
Love is the full expression of Self
Love is our spirits way of outwardly projecting the inner
Love is the manifestation of universal compassion and truth
Love is the vehicle we use to travel the path of liberation
Love is peace and understanding, wisdom personified in an expression of feeling
But so much more...
A feeling, a thought, an action, satisfaction:
Love is what is, the same as what it has been
Love is what is