Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Steadiness in the midst of change

One of the hardest things for a lot of people to fully accept and comprehend is that life is change.  Everything changes all the time.  Whether it be struggling to accept the change brought by a loved one's death, by the ending of a job, a relationship, or even something as simple as a favorite brand of food being discontinued, it's hard to roll with change.  Even positive change can be a source of stress, worry, and fear.

The concept of resiliency, therefore, is something that really appeals to me.  Even more appealing?  My wonderful, wonderful teacher and friend, Joe Somodi, creating and leading a workshop based upon building more resiliency in your everyday life.

A couple Sundays ago I journeyed with Marc and a dear friend Jamie (also a former student of Joe's) to Pure West to participate in his workshop.  It was about two hours, and the time absolutely flew.  It began with a discussion of the Yoga Sutras and how they relate to the concept of resiliency, and then Joe led us through an asana and meditation practice.  His calm, centered nature, his kind energy, and his extensive knowledge of yoga makes him the perfect person to deliver this message to stressed out New Yorkers (yogis, yes, but stressed out New Yorkers too!).

Joe Somodi
Joe has been studying with Rod Stryker, founder of Para Yoga, author of The Four Desires and one of the preeminent yoga teachers in the world, for several years now.  His teachings are firmly rooted in the ancient texts of yoga, particularly the Sutras.  Defining Resiliency as being steady in the midst of change, Joe draws upon three particular Sutras that concern asana, or our posture (also known as yoga poses, seat, pose...the physical element, essentially) that help illustrate how we can build resiliency in our practice and therefore our lives.  He also discusses the power of pranayama (breath control, or control of the life force energy) to help redirect our momentum and energy.

For example, if you're having a bad day, you can let yourself go with that flow, letting little annoyances build upon each other and creating more stress for yourself.  Or, as Joe teaches, you can just literally stop for a moment, steady your breath and your body, and you'll find your physical energy has changed - which then naturally translates to your mind and emotions.  We have the power to hit our "reset" button at any time, regaining a sense of control and power, therefore making decisions (or even just decisions about our attitude) from a more aware place instead of a reactive place.  It's funny that after this workshop the phrase "go with the flow" means something totally different now - I now see the value in making the flow work for you as well.
Jamie & I at the workshop (Pure West)

What I've written just barely scratches the surface of what I learned in this workshop, and of the concepts that my mind has been turning over and contemplating ever since.  After the workshop, Joe emailed each of us a 10 page handout further illustrating the concepts and an audio recording of both the discussion and the yoga practice for us to revisit on our own.  He's going to be traveling around the country with this workshop, returning to New York's Pure West for a different workshop in March, and then with this resiliency workshop at NYC's Reflections Yoga in May.  Click here to learn more about the workshop and about Joe.  I can't recommend it or him highly enough.  You know when you meet him and share is presence what a kind, rare, and unique soul he is.

The workshop was a really great reminder of why I practice yoga, and what "off the mat," which is a term thrown around a lot in yoga classes, truly means.  Bringing the ancient teachings of yoga to your everyday life to increase your mindfulness, strength, and peace is a major concept this workshop helped me to reconnect with.

1 comment:

  1. Annie - Thanks so much for sharing your impressions of the workshop with your blog readers. I am so deeply moved that this wisdom lives on through your words. I am here to support you on your journey in whatever way I can. All my love, JOE


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