Ever feel anxiety that you’re not doing enough? In my first few months adapting to volunteer life teaching in Costa Rica, my host family’s most common word to me was, “tranquila,” or relax. In their eyes, I seemed to constantly be seeking something, so often doing and trying to get somewhere and get things done. I mentally kicked and screamed, resisting their slower pace of life that seemed to trust ambiguity and even embrace the unknown through the Costa Rican philosophy of pura vida, or “pure life,” meaning “it’s all good.”
Through plenty of alone time with my inner critic and daily yoga and journaling, I gradually realized that at the root of my relentless pulse to keep busy sat a deep feeling of unworthiness and constant need to feel more useful. Also, I longed for a sense of control to appease my fear and lack of trust in life and myself. Becoming aware of these root causes, I starting giving myself permission to play more, be okay with uncertainty and find a balance between work, rest, play, creating, solitude and socializing. I spoke to myself more kindly and cultivated self-trust. I learned about quality of presence over quantity of achievements.
Slowly I was un-gripping life and letting it flow. Oh, is that what pura vida meant?!
So much changed in the months after, as if layers of tension had melted and I could see and enjoy simple things more intimately. Ultimately, this led to wanting to share the practices that awakened me to inner joy by training to become a yoga teacher.
With gratitude I’ll be sharing these introspective yoga tools that gifted me such grace this Thursday at Integrative Yoga Night focusing on Living in Balance. We’ll calm the nervous system and open the body through gentle Yin Yoga, breathe more deeply using yogic techniques, cultivate nonjudgmental self-awareness through guided meditation, trust our inner guidance through self-inquiry journaling and share insight and support through conversation. This nurturing space is for you to redefine what a balanced life means for you. You might think of it as a mini-retreat at home.
Join us for this donation-based Zoom gathering on 1/28 6-7pm PT. Click the image below to RSVP:
Nina Arhipov began practicing yoga around 2015, almost dismissing it after her first try until she discovered Vinyasa Flow. Her love for movement contributes to her youthful energy and adventurous spirit. Learn more about the spirit behind this vibrant smile, by watching our interview below.
Connect with Nina in our weekly Zoom yoga classes or community events. Or, you just may spot her enjoying the views on her hike along Los Angeles' local trails.
Nina practices yoga overlooking Costa Rica's countryside during our retreat in 2019.
Whether you're new to yoga or have been practicing a while, the 8 Limbs of Yoga are the 8-fold path explained in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and combine to form a well-rounded practice for mind, body and spirit. Beginning January 4, 2021, I'll be adding to this article each week for a total of 16 weeks exploring these foundations. Consider joining our yoga community live online on Zoom for yoga classes that further this exploration through direct experience simultaneously.
The 1st Limb of Yoga, the Yamas
There are 8 Limbs of Yoga and these are the aspects that make up the practice of yoga, which means union. The first limb, called the Yamas in Sanskrit, are a list of five ethical behaviors that guide our actions in the world to align with our yogic path to Self-realization, or uniting with our true nature, that of pure love.
The 1st Yama, Ahimsa (Nonviolence)
The first Yama is nonviolence, or ahimsa in Sanskrit. There are many ways we can consciously and unconsciously inflict pain and suffering on ourselves, others and our planet. To practice non-harm, I believe it’s essential to observe our thoughts, words and actions and the effects they have on ourselves and the world around us. What is the tone of your inner voice as you move about your day? How do you relate to the feelings and needs of others? How are your daily actions affecting the well being of your body, spirit, mind, household, loved ones, neighbors, communities, cities and all life around you? In our interconnectedness what you think, say and do matters and its energy ripples; Ahimsa is the practice of rippling kindness, compassion and love.
The Yoga Sutras state that as one fully embodies non-violence, their presence of peace emanates an energy field of peace around them, so that lower frequencies of hate, violence or destruction dissolve within that field. There is power in kindness!
The 2nd Yama, Satya (Truthfulness)
Our thoughts and words have creative power. When they are misaligned to what we do and say, we feel (and others may feel) the state of imbalance and confusion. Just as we consciously align our bodies in yoga poses, yoga includes aligning our minds, bodies and spirits so that our actions in our outer world match our inner intentions. Living with such clarity and integrity we can live wholehe