I wanted to provide an introduction to my interpretation of the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga (which is a funny sentence if you think about it). First though, why are the eight limbs a useful tool in a modern context? In a post-modern culture we don't tend to have elder wisdom, we don't tend to mark developmental milestones in life (except birth, coupling, and death and even then only nominally). I think one of the reasons people in the west are more and more drawn to eastern -originating philosophy is because we are left without a framework to structure how we understand the passage of our lives, and we also have no idea how to determine what makes our interactions with the rest of the world appropriate. We are all using a different yardstick to measure the quality of our lives and yet we are looking to be as uniform and part of our community as possible in order to validate the choices we make. The eight limbs offer an approach to determining the way that we view our position in the world, in relation to the rest of the world. And even though it is an old system, it is simple enough and also non-dogmatic enough to be just as relevant today, regardless of your belief system (or lack of adherence to one).
1. Relationship to the exterior world:
Do your best to not think violent thoughts, use words as weapons, or harm yourself or others with your actions. Let your words and your actions be true and of good intention. Don't steal. Remember that you are energy and so is everyone else around you. Interact with them accordingly and respect where you spend your energy and what you give and take from others. Do not identify with your material possessions, or your intellectual and emotional possessions, either. Do not hoard.
2. Relationship to the interior world:
Know the intentions behind your thoughts, speech and actions and be sure that you can stand behind them. Honestly accept where you are in the moment and remember that we show up with the resources that are available to us in that moment. You can't get where you want to go without knowing where you are now. Apply discipline and commitment to what matters to you in life, even when it is hard to get out of bed. Do your best every day. Develop and sustain a practice of self-knowledge. Surround yourself with others who are committed to the same. Remember that you are a part of something much bigger, and that the choices that you make have an impact on the greater whole. Do what you believe is right and don't worry about the outcomes.
3. Your Rightful Seat:
Respect your body as a particle state of energy and move it accordingly in order to prevent pain and illness, and to diminish the effects of illness, pain and distraction that are already there.
4. The life-changing magic of taking a proper breath:
You are energy embodied and your best measure of well-being is your breath. Treat each breath as sacred and use them to pay deeper attention to what is going on internally. You can use your breath to alter your physical as well as your energetic state if you know how to pay attention.
5. The Felt Sense:
Learning to pay attention to the internal messages can change the way that you behave in the world. Stop ignoring or overriding the messages that your body is expressing. Ignoring them is a form of violence against yourself. Shut out the noise of the exterior world and listen to your inner voice to help you determine what is right for you. This is a profound way to make good decisions.
Learn to concentrate on the task at hand. You probably don't need that MBSR class. Practice listening fully and attentively as a form of mindfulness and stop making someone else's story about your own.
7. Understanding connection through absorbtion:
When you can complete number 6, you will begin to understand that the seemingly dual nature of the world is only partly true, and in fact you are connected to everything else in the world. Stop treating others as separate and stop acting as if your actions don't matter. In other words, why are you not composting yet?
8. Everything is Everything (to borrow from Miss Lauryn Hill):
You matter. And you are also infinitely small in the greater picture. Both of these things are true and you can hold both of them in your awareness at the same time. Paying greater attention to the smaller things is a way of paying attention to the bigger picture. Taking care of yourself and your community is also an act of greatness. You are connected to everything.
Parting of the veils, thinning of the veils and seeing the unseen as clearly as the seen; the time between eclipses is quite magical. We have super keen insight that allows us to be more in tune to the ancient wisdom of our ancestors…
So what does that mean in practical language? Well, essentially, our Spidey senses become crystal clear. All the problems or decisions we were struggling with before suddenly become blatantly obvious. How do you receive messages? Are you aware of how your body speaks to you? How do you know when your heart is leading you versus your mind? In order to use this energy wisely, we need to understand what our own integration looks like, feels like, tastes like…We are being called to wake up and smell the roses! To allow our bodies and hearts to lead the way. To give permission for our minds to take a break and follow, rather than lead.
All the previous belief systems you carried have helped you get to this point. They allowed you to feel secure enough to stretch and grow into this current state. They protected you like a scab protects our healing tissue as it rebuilds itself. It is time to let the old belief systems fully integrate and allow the next wave to flow into your life. There comes a time when the scab has served its purpose. To carry you to the next phase of this journey, we need to release what is no longer serving us. The fresh new skin beneath the surface needs to be able to breathe and grow on its own, without boundaries or limitations. We are being called to open up to a new perspective. One that blows your mind right into love and helps you to finally feel fear as a change agent, rather than an inhibitor. Allow the fear that once was to shatter into a billion tiny pieces. Call on the power within you, your supportive forces outside of you and invite all of these broken pieces to reintegrate from a place of love and wisdom. The clutter that once clogged, will become the agent that infuses and accelerates transformation.
This world is changing and so are we. Until February 26, we have all the time and space necessary to see where we need to make adjustments to prepare for the shift that the new moon and annular solar eclipse brings… How will you make space to listen? What do you need to heal and reveal?
With love and gratitude,
Marie-Louise de Boyrie
Your body, your meatsuit, that density that carries around the vital stuff, like your brain and your heart – how exactly does it even know what to do? How do I know what the limitations to what I can do are? Honestly, most of us only pay attention to our physiology when something has gone wrong, or when we do suddenly and disappointingly bump into our own limitations. I think that learning about our body with the reverence and curiosity that it is rightfully due is our responsibility as beings who are working towards being awake in the world and being present. Does it need to be intimidating to learn about the body? How come we tend to abdicate responsibility and knowledge to so-called authorities? I don’t think it needs to be scary, and I think it can be beautiful and liberating to get to know ourselves in this meaningful way.
Here are some of my favourite gateway resources into getting to know our incredible bodies:
Gil Hedley: The Heart Dance. Dr. Hedley wears his eccentricity proudly. This video clip shows his interpretive dance of the vascular system. It is memorable, informative, passionate and will make you more curious. This isn't the most famous of his clips, but I love it.
Atlas of Human Anatomy - Frank Netter (ISBN 978-1416059516):
Netter's atlas is a work of incredibly detailed drawings of our interior selves. Showing the different regulatory systems of the body (nerves, circulation, connective tissues), organs, muscular and skeleton arrangements, this book is an endless source of visual information about how we inhabit our inner space.
Alignment Monkey - Barbara Loomis:
Barbara is a highly experienced body worker in Portland Oregon. She practices a number of different disciplines and is a crusader for educating people about how bodies work. Her emphasis is on moving in intelligent ways in our every day lives in order to restore and maintain healthy alignment in our bodies. Her blog has funny videos, provocative information and "alignment snacks", which are homework for people who are looking to help themselves.
Key Muscles of Yoga - Ray Long (ISBN 978-1607432388)
This book was written by an orthopedic surgeon/Iyengar yoga instructor. The detailed visuals are accompanied by written context so that you can see the physical experience and consequences of common yoga postures. It's a great way to help tailor your yoga practice to certain physical goals by helping you see what's going on.
The Liberated Body Podcast - Brooke Thomas
Brooke Thomas is a Rolfer (a type of body work) and this podcast is about sharing her curiosities about the body by interviewing different "body nerds" across different disciplines. Her interviews tend to centre around people who have a belief about the body systems as being a unified whole, and how the more embodied we are, the healthier we have the potential to be. Highlights for me include Joanne Avison, Judith Hanson Lasater, James Earls and Jaap Van Der Wal.
Eclipse season is nearly upon us, earlier than usual. The full moon, lunar eclipse magnifies the usual power that this phase of the lunar cycle affords us; the deepest, darkest purge you can imagine! February 10th lunar eclipse energy invites you to dig deep and really FEEL your oldest wounds in order to HEAL them. Eclipses allow us to see through the vales. The unseen and the seen merge with ease. This helps us to see more clearly what needs to change to help us move forward with our journey.
We are invited to step out of the realm of the mind. To allow our bodies to take the lead. This is a time for reflection, introversion, stillness and openness. To release expectations, control and desire. To allow our sensations and feelings to guide our choices intuitively. This fiery Leo energy calls out your courage to be yourself from the centre out. To really let yourself find out WHO you are. To listen…to be…
Creativity, inspiration and the muse!
Delight in the spirit of the month of LOVE. Allow the magic of this season to infuse you with inner strength. Aquarius is the genius (our fearless leader included!) As an air sign, it represents communication, specifically for the benefit of the greater community. Air feeds fire. How will your communication IGNITE your courage this month? How can you allow yourself to express your truth? What creative possibilities await you?
With love and gratitude,
Marie-Louise de Boyrie
…2017 is blazing in!
Welcome the Red Fire Rooster
Cock-a-doodle-doo, says it best…the rooster is loud! It wakes EVERYONE up. There’s no hiding from its piercing call. This year, it is a call to action. We have been thinking about our dreams (what needs to change) and finding ways to manifest them. One of my teachers said it best, "the universe is not your b*tch!" We need to take action and seek out opportunities. The rooster is reliable, always the first to rise. This is the key to manifesting your dreams in rapid motion. Be bold, let your true self shine through. The rooster knows no shame. Quite frankly, he’s known to strut his stuff. How can you strut your creative stuff to get your imagination flowing this year? What is it that needs to change? Puff out your chest and let your heart lead your way to joy and abundance.
A fresh start with all the pearls of wisdom from the ruthless purification of 2016!
2017, a universal 1 year, welcomes new beginnings and this one marks the year of truth. The end of illusions… the marred beliefs we carry because somehow, somewhere, our ego thought it made enough sense that it plugged our emotional wound and we were able to move on… Those limiting beliefs that keep us feeling small, competing for part of the puzzle, unsure of how we even fit in to the bigger picture. Maybe even oblivious to the fact that there is a bigger picture.
This is the time to create new systems, mindsets, structures and communities. To shift our thinking into action and building strong foundations to set the stage. Remember the childlike innocence of wonderment. Dare to wish upon a star! Open yourself to the magic of endless possibilities.
Treat yourself well to see rapid results!
Just as seeds need water, light, nurturing, love and all the necessities to grow, it is essential that we are nourishing our body, mind and spirit daily. Balance and forgiveness are keys to unlocking more ease and flow in 2017.
With love and gratitude,
Marie-Louise de Boyrie