FOOD FOR THOUGHT: SAUCHA

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Saucha is one attitude included in the Niyamas, the self observances “recommended” by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

Nurturing these niyamas can help us live in harmony with our inner self and others.

Within the Niyamas, there are five attitudes to cultivate so that we can work towards emotional stability:

– shauca or purity (more on that topic in the following text),

– santosha or contentment

– tapas or a strong desire to commit to self-transformation (being eager to sweat to purify our inner thoughts and our body for instance!)

– svadhyaya (being eager to know who we are deep inside, reflecting on ourselves)

– Ishvara – pranidhana (surrendering to the universe, trusting life)

All these behaviors and attitude patterns are linked somehow. Observing at least one of them helps us observing another one.

 

 

Saucha can be translated as purification or cleanliness.

We can consider the physical aspect of purification :

  • keeping the body clean inside by eating healthy. We should all become more aware of what we put in our body : Can we really call a coke a drink? Why is this cookie made of more than 50 ingredients (most of them being preservatives, additives and crappy sweeteners)?? Just start by paying attention to the ingredients listed in the food you eat. Avoid eating too many ingredients you cannot pronounce… That’s already a good start!
  • keeping the body clean out as well by taking showers and taking care of oneself (“pampering”, keeping the body fit and strong). It’s the same thing here: The things you put on your body matter! So many cosmetic products are made with hazardous ingredients. Here are some clean and easy tips : What about using pure coconut oil as a body moisturiser or maybe this more sophisticated DIY body cream recipe? Is your face dry? Try this natural honey and aloe vera mask or this DIY carrot and calendula mask. Do you need a body scrub: Mix together powdered coffee, sea salt, coconut or sesame oil and an essential oil… hellooo rejuvenated skin!

Believe me … it matters. We rarely nurture our health until a disease comes and slams us in the face!

 

But we should also consider the cleanliness of our mind.

Let’s strive and work on developing our own positive state of mind:

  • Be kind to yourself and to others. Kind words often lead to a peaceful mind. Small displays of caring goes a long way: So do not hesitate to send a card to your mum, to call a friend, to give a back massage to your partner, to keep the door open for a stranger, to help an old lady go up the stairs, etc.
  • Be optimistic. Stay positive. It’s said that people who have confidence in life and in themselves can really act on their own potential. They dream big and do believe that anything is possible. And you know what… they are often up to magical stuff! I know I have to work on that one… but I’m sure it’s really worth it! What could we achieve if we knew we could not fail?
  • Be patient an enjoy the ride. No need to rush!
  • Strive to keep an equanimous mind.

 

 

A third aspect of Saucha that can be regarded is the cleanliness of our surroundings.

Keeping our home clean and free of clutter. Cluttered surroundings often offer too many distractions! And this often leads to a cluttered mind.

Buying buying buying… vs decluttering… mmm… this is tricky in our consumer society. We should maybe start small: Next time you want to buy a white T-Shirt, ask yourself ‘Do I really need this fifteenth white tee-shirt?’. If the response is ‘well… not really… but…’, do not even bother listening to your ‘but’, just move along and forget about this T-shirt.

Turn off your phone at night. Turn off the wifi when you sleep. Do not charge your phone next to your head. Minimise the exposition to all the waves created by electronic devices. I am even considering investing in an Himalayan Salt lamp for its air purifying properties and as its negative ions are said to neutralise the positive ions created by devices such as TV, phones, computers, etc. (NB : Please notice that I wrote “invest in”… and not “buy”… ahah!).

Try to disconnect from social media (Facebook, Emails, Instagram, etc) from time to time: You will be able to connect with your inner self, tune in with your creativity and better connect with the people next to you as well.

And well… also… be aware of the people you surround yourself with. Don’t let toxic people drag you down. Wait wait! It does not mean that you should disregard friends asking for help or going through a difficult time in your life! No. It means that you should not let anyone tell you that you are worthless. You should not let anyone push you into doing things you do not want to do. Don’t let anyone destroy yourself.

Nurture honest and healthy relationships with your family, friends and partner.

 

To sum up: stay heathy, stay simple and stay happy!

HEAL YOUR HEART

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When your whole world seems to collapse, when you are overwhelmed by doubts and pain, when you feel at a loss… close your eyes.

Go back to your inner child.

Go back to your inner self.

Be amazed by simple things: food, sun and nature.

Breathe there.

Time will do the work.

You will heal.

Your heart will heal as well.

Have faith.

Lessons are to be learned.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: FINDING BALANCE

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Yoga can teach us how to find balance.
Throughout our yoga practice, we ought to find balance between flexibility and strength, between fluidity and stability, between letting go and holding a pose, between being compassionate with ourselves or challenging and pushing ourselves.
These yoga lessons can also be translated into our everyday life so that we experience balance in things we do or say.

Let’s take the example of the edge between compromising and unyielding. Being mindful and putting things into perspective can help us know when to take a step back and make compromises, or when to be firm and take charge of our beliefs and convictions.

If you feel you’ve entered a pattern of complaining about a person or a situation in your life; stop and think twice.Turn your complains around. Have a FLEXIBLE mind. Look at your own behavior and see if you are not to blame or judge as well. Then, start to give the universe or the other person what you “wish to get”.

You wish people were friendlier? Just go ahead, be friendlier yourself first and smile at strangers in the street.

You wish people were more “social”? Stop criticizing them about using their iPhone all the time and be the one to turn off your phone when you are on a date, at a family dinner or with friends.

You wish people were more helpful? Go and help this woman carrying her suitcase up the subway stairs. Positive vibes are contagious!

But, your core values -may that be honesty, integrity and respect eg- are your foundations. They are what make you grounded. Be FIRM and don’t let anybody make you doubt those convictions. You can be unyielding about those fundamental values: Don’t let anybody disrespect you, abuse you, play you, or whatever. Even if the people who are doing this to you are your (so-called) friends, partners, boss. You will forgive them at one point. But first, stand up for yourself and leave them. Don’t let anyone attack or use you in any kind of way. You are worthy of love and respect.

Namaste.

AHIMSA

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In Ashtanga Yoga, we learn that yoga is not only a physical practice but also a way of living in a more conscious manner. In order to unify the body, mind and soul, it is then important to try and work towards a balanced consciousness. To do so, we need to focus on the foundation of yoga that are the “8 limbs of Yoga” (Ashta = eight, Anga = Limb and Yoga = Union):

– Yama (ethical disciplines),

– Niyama (self observation),

– Asana (postures),

– Pranayama (breath control),

– Pratyahara (sense withdrawal),

– Dharana (concentration),

– Dhyana (meditation),

– Samadhi (a state of joyful peace).

2015 starts sadly here in Paris… Last week’s events remind us that violence happens everywhere and every single day in the world… and that it is everybody’s duty to prevent such horrible events to happen. How to? We could start living a kinder life and preventing each one of us from falling into a fearful mindset. Our thoughts and behaviors should be free from hate or anger.

One of the first ethical disciplines (yamas) a yogi should follow is “AHIMSA” (or the principle non-violence and non-harming in thought, word or deed).

So, here is the question: How to bring more non-violence values into our life? Like everything else, we could start small and on our own level …. but always with awareness.  So little pumpkins, let’s mindfully practise #ahimsa:

– on our mats: Being kinder to our bodies during the practice. Avoiding to push ourself too hard when we feel tension or pain for instance.

– with our loved ones: Being genuine and thankful for every single moment we can spend with them.

– with strangers on the street or at the grocery store: Yes! Everybody deserves your smile, your “hi!”, “please” and genuine “thank you”. While being kind to people, you are also bringing light and happiness into their day. So don’t be shy and do it!

– in our words towards ourselves and others: Why calling this person “worthless” or “stupid”? Why? (okok sometimes it can feel good to express our anger… but well… let’s try to do that less… shall we?)

– and even with the surrounding nature: What about recycling those paper? Using less water bottles? Eating less processed food? Or even even less meat? Consuming more sustainable products? Etc. Possibilities are endless!
Like everything else, it won’t be easy. We struggle sometimes with staying calm and not being angry or mean. (yes! because… let’s be honest… we are just human beings! We are not Mother Theresa… Sometimes it feels “good” to be bad!! But… let’s try to be at least a little be more “good” than bad… shall we?)

But like everything else it’s always our own choice to persevere despite our mistakes, impatience and fears. I guess we can always experience our feelings fully, acknowledge them and then try to “analyze” them to find peace later.

Actually, we just have to bring more awareness to our behavior and attitudes towards others and ourself to take Ahimsa into more areas of our life…

We should always keep up and never give up bringing more tolereance and genuine love into our lives.