Opening to All of Life with Yoga, Heart Stabilization Series, Yoga with Melissa 389

by Melissa West on June 23, 2017

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Opening to All of Life with Yoga


Often we come to our spiritual practice as a way out of our troubles, as an escape from our mental anxiety or our physical pain altogether. Spirituality can often be presented as a way to escape from our lives. This kind of teaching actually strengthens the aversion and fear of our lives and leads us further from freedom. We can use our yoga and meditation practices to retreat and escape our life.

When we connect with what is happening in our bodies, both our suffering and our awakened nature, we find freedom. When we get stuck within the polarity of good and bad we fail to accept our wholeness.

We wall off aspects of our life that we feel are not spiritual or yogic, or maybe they are just too plain overwhelming to us; things like our personal pain. We create alignments and enemies with with people through clinging, control and fear. We feel separate from others as if they are different from us. We compare what we have to what others have and see who has more, less or the same as us. Or we withdraw and feel altogether indifferent, losing the capacity to care at all, a kind of protective mechanism and resignation in order to not let life affect you.

When we practice yoga without boundaries we can love without attachment, loving ourselves and others without as we and they are, without any expectations or demands. We can experience compassion for our fellow human beings knowing that together we experience the same suffering and sorrows of life. With sympathetic joy we experience genuine happiness for the delight of others. We allow oursevles to be open to the 10, 000 sorrows and the 10, 000 joys.

Our culture teaches us that we are strong and independent. We are taught to have a stiff upper lip, a strong spine and a thick skin. We think we are shielding ourselves from the pain and yet we are also cutting ourselves off from the wonder of interconnection. I’m reminded of something that my teacher Neil McKinlay often recounts. A student once asked Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Are we trying to have a thin skin?” Apparently Rinpoche answered, “Not a thin skin, no skin.” True practice is not a defense against uncertainty, pain and danger in life. As Joseph Campbell says, it is not a “vaccination”

Yoga without boundaries means we let go of the belief that we are going to be protected from the difficulties and conflicts of life. No amount of yoga will save us from the inevitability of suffering and confusion that is part of being a human. Even the greatest yoga teachers will not avoid the troubles of their bodies, sickness, old age or death. Each one of us will face the messiness of emotions and human relationships. Yoga without boundaries invites us to embrace all of our life.

How do we practice yoga without boundaries? There is no special training. We open to the mystery of life. It is not about fixing ourselves, there is nothing to fix.

This class was inspired by the writings of Jack Kornfield in A Path with Heart and as always by my teachers Neil McKinlay, Reggie Ray and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Yoga Postures/Asanas: Supported Fish Pose or Salamba Matsyasana, Bridge Pose or Setu Bandhasana, Pigeon Pose or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana, Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, Standing Twist, Breath of Joy, Goddess Victory Squat or Utkata Konasana, Wide Legged Standing Forward Fold or Prasarita Padottanasana, Downdog to Updog, Adho Mukha Svanasana to Urdva Mukha Svanasana, Dying Warrior, Wide Legged Seated Forward Fold or Upavista Konasana, Savasana or Corpse Pose, Anahata Chakra Mudra

Weekly Yoga with Melissa 389 Photos of Yoga Poses

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  • Donna Stone

    Opening to ALL of life. Ahhhh. Two of my favorite poses: Goddess Victory Squat, which empowers me with strength and independence, followed by Dying Warrior. The first time I did this pose with Melissa and most overtime since, I wept. Such an opening and surrender. These poses epitomize what it is to open to all that goes right in my world and the rest of it. Like you said, Melissa, “There is no problem.” Nothing is wrong. Ahhhh . . .

    • Dear Donna, sounds like you experienced a lot of opening with this class, thank you for your practice. Namaste, Melissa

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