Tearing down a wall sounded simple… The last few months I have been undergoing renovations in my house and simultaneously in my life. We moved into this house four years ago but circumstances weren’t right until now. Our personal lives have been undergoing much transition and transformation since we moved in here and it wasn’t until now that we could entertain putting our energy into something outside ourselves. There have been easy decisions and then difficult ones fraught with anxiety and misgivings.

Once the wall was taken out, we had to face the reality of reconstructing the space in a way that balanced the rest of the house. We chose to do as much of the renovations as we could ourselves. Each task of the renovations has appeared deceptively simpler than the reality that eventually unfolds. Inevitably, more time and effort is called upon. At times, I’ve welcomed the work and put my full effort in with intention and mindfulness. Yet other times, I’ve found myself overwhelmed with all the tasks still undone and the energy it takes. I have rode through the emotional roller coaster of sustaining, wanting to quit, and returning again to the task at hand. Egos have been bruised and relocated time and again as we try to come together to create a space that we can live in.

I am reminded that as with our natural cycle at this time of the year, it is the darkest before the light. Our winter solstice of the longest night was the threshold to the turning of days. We are literally turning toward the light as our earthly home turns toward the sun. Longer days are on the horizon with more light. As we embark on the beginning of a new calendar year many of us contemplate the past year and the upcoming one.

When we commit to taking on transformation, we are faced with accepting change and letting go of the old. Fear meets us in unexpected places along the path of the process of shedding and making space for new. We have to truthfully look into what is and past the eyes of expectations and our skewed perceptions. Turning inward to inquire why we become resistant demands a clarity that can be only found beneath the layers of attachment. We cling to what is comfortable, old hat and those habits we know so well. To do things a fresh way, to choose to take a different path from the ingrained rut calls on us to be courageous and patient.

Ahimsa, which translates to non-harming or non-violence, is the first of the yamas. Yamas are the ethical teachings of the Yoga Sutras- teachings to guide in the living of life. To practice ahimsa, one must embrace compassion and love towards oneself and others, in thought and action. In daily life, we inflict violence in subtle ways sometimes without even realizing it. What is the quality of our inner landscape? Are our thoughts encouraging or discouraging? Our relationship with ourselves manifests in our relationships with others. We have to ask what is keeping us from experiencing more peace in our lives. To practice ahimsa, we must honestly renovate ourselves from the inside out. Self-knowledge informs us on where the work must be done and staying true to the inner teacher paves the road to transformation.

Through this process of renovating, I am constantly reminded that this is an exercise in letting go of my hang ups and making space for light in my house but more importantly in my heart. Making an active practice of getting on the mat and mindfully reconnecting with ourselves can support us in this challenging life work. We endeavor toward the light away from the darkness of ignorance. In the light we leave anger and the false sense of separation. We make space for our pure wholeness to live with compassion and love for others which ultimately is inclusive of ourselves.

Begin the year with a commitment to move toward the light and work through renovating from the inside out.

Yoga Fundamentals: Alignment and Philosophy begins Jan 22 for 5 weeks on Monday mornings 8:00-9:00. We will use the Yama teachings as guidance in this introductory level series open to new and experienced yogis alike.

Do not aim low, you will miss the mark. Aim high and you will be on a threshold of bliss.                      

                                                                                                                       B.K.S. Iyengar





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