Taking a stand: Bringing purpose to your practice

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Are you bored with the same old routine? Have you been going through the motions but still don't "get" all the hype around yoga and what the whole "feel good feeling" is? The focus of today's segment is getting into the "groove" and bringing purpose to your practice. The art of expansion, or surrender to grace is only a breath away...the question is...how does what you think about bring about changes in your body, your being, and your life? What I'm saying is, are you ready to take a stand for what you would like to see? Are you planting the seeds of what you'd like to see grow in your “garden” and the garden of life?

The art of unfolding and uniting (yoga) may seem like a scary place at first. As a new student you may not know what to expect. You go to a local yoga class and they ask you to remove your shoes before entering the room. "Huh” you ask, “what is this some sort of ritualistic "religious" practice?" (It may be simply a matter of keeping the room clean for the next class who also will have their faces close to the floor.) The teacher walks in, you wonder what they are going to teach today, where they got their training, you hope to enjoy their “style,” all of these thoughts are passing through you and this moment reveals what is behind the "curtain of the mind" trying to analyze and figure it out. The question is, what is your intention? Have you taken a stand for your own experience or are you waiting for it to be brought to you? You may come to lengthen your hamstrings because you are a runner and leave feeling as though you didn’t get enough out of it. The teacher never corrected your form and you still cannot touch your toes after ten sessions. Your intention was one pointed and you decided yoga wasn’t for you. Now what?
We must be as willing to expand our mind as we are to expand our bodies or we will stay in a state of struggle; constantly chasing after another result outside of our experience.
Though lengthening the hamstrings may be a very important part of your journey, surrendering our minds need to fixate on a specific result will bring us back to the playfulness grace brings along with it. We can practice struggle or we can practice ease, we can choose fear, or we can choose love. Whichever you choose, your state of being is contingent upon this.  The beauty is, if you find yourself in a state of struggle, there’s always a new day, to get up and get into the groove again, for practice makes patient…and patience breeds contentment. Peace and contentment are brother and sister. What word, thought or image empowers you to be here in the moment fully alive and present?

Each and everyday, we succeed at something on some level. We succeed in thoughts that bring about actions and or emotions that direct the course of carrying out a specific measurable result. Staying aligned with words that energize and empower brings life to your practice. When we place our intention on what empowers and energizes our being, we say, “yes!” to the experience we are having even when we meet up against the rough edges.  Often times people say to me, "Wow, you make that look so easy, I can't do that" or  "My body just doesn't move that way, I'm not flexible like you," or "I have this issue with my wrists, or my knees, or my back." Well, I am here to take a deep breath and blow back the proverbial curtain.
The thought behind the action reveals the integrity within the form.
One of the statements made by many well known teachers throughout the ages as well as something my mother told me growing up, “What you think about, you bring about," has had a strong influence on my peace of mind. I can testify from personal experience, the more I master my mind, the more I begin to see changes elsewhere.  How does what you think effect how you come to what you do? When we breathe, we allow, we unfold, we “blow back the curtain” of our minds and see the “stuff” that gets in the way from experiencing where we are and taking a stand for who and where we choose to be.
Yoga empowers you to take the right action at the right time and to see clearly what is on the surface of your heart and mind. Yoga is not a competition with yourself or a practice of getting somewhere. As your yoga practice unfolds moment to moment, all it takes is mindfulness, practice and a little persistence, before you start to see the playground it has the potential to be. Your yoga practice is a way of taking a stand for your own greatness inside of wherever you may be at this moment in time. For example, if you were to come and take a class with me and say, I am not flexible, I can barely touch my toes, how long before I can touch the ground, how long before I feel inner peace and tranquility?" My answer..."When you begin to play."
It seems that we have been a culture driven by our attachments to measurements of success, status symbols and ego identification. As children we run, play, laugh joyfully without holding back our feelings. If we feel sad, we cry, if we feel happy we smile. This expression is our nature...and before we are taught to want anything outside of being who we are, we share our love, our expression, and our life energy with a sense of purpose just by being alive. This feeling of having a purpose just by being in the world is what yoga brings to all of us. There is no measuring stick for this, for it is infinite and available to all. When we move, play, and laugh, we cannot help but feel more energized and at peace, for our cells are being fed prana(life force), our blood oxygen rich, and our body/mind is brought into balance.

One must tap the tree to taste the nectar. Yoga can be practiced by anyone who can breathe consciously and deliberately.
Pranayama is the practice of “expansion of life force.” The practice of lengthening the breath brings ones conscious attention and mindfulness to the practice, freeing the mind of distractions and disturbances. The question is are you ready, willing, and able? Are you ready today to take a stand and show up inside of the practice on and off the mat...rough edges, smooth edges, rounded edges, sharp edges, no matter what it looks like? Are you willing to be a stand for your own evolution, your own personal development and unfolding and face how that feels, feel it and release it? Are you able to practice loving yourself today, and know that you are on a journey of self-discovery and growth with compassion? Compassion is the mother instinct of the divine mind. Practice kindness…with yourself and others and watch your compassionate nature grow.

Consider the power of one person's smile and the ripple effect that brings to the population of your town, Phoenix, AZ. This then continues to travel across to neighboring cities, then states, then countries...do you see where I am headed? This yoga practice is more than just fancy moves or a way to slim down your waistline. It is a practice that wakes us up to who we are being and brings mindfulness to how we approach our roles in our families, our communities, and our impact worldwide. The practice that often starts with bending and strengthening the body and stilling the mind, broadens our perspective and literally bridges the gap. As we thread ourselves together and open our hearts and minds. We begin to see that we (all people everywhere) are a part of the same fabric of creation and love is the glue that holds us all together. That my friends, is what yoga is all about! I don't know about you, but today I am taking a stand for LOVE. My stand is, “I am Love.” May my thoughts with myself and others be loving, may my actions be loving, may my voice be loving, may my words be loving. If I can do this, you can too...today...I ask you...what are you taking a stand for? Who knows, maybe it's simply smiling at a stranger. One thing I'm certain of, you...and I...we are the ripple effect. Take a stand for what you choose to be today and write it down on a small sticky note, place it on your mirror where you wash your hands and repeat it throughout the day and during your yoga/exercise. Be on purpose...be courageous...and you too will soon see, that touching your toes may be the beginning of a whole lot more than you ever could have imagined! Be well.
Love and Light,

Kali Ray Torres