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Posts By: Lauren Christian

Our Five Peaks’ Tribe is kicking off the month of March with a sense of triumph and inspiration as we complete our 40-Days to Personal Revolution Journey. Of course, as many of you have already discovered, this is only the beginning. Whether you participated in the program or have been sowing your own karmic seeds through steady practice and study, you have set major shifts into motion. I’m full of hope and wonder as to how our community will grow from here. 

In this spirit, we step from Tapas (fire and drive) into the practice of the fourth Yama: Brahmacharya, or, right use of energy.

Brene Brown says, “Discovering, developing and sharing our gift is a spiritual practice; its one way for us to grow stronger in our faith.”

 

Many of us are stepping into Spring with a heightened sense of clarity and urgency around our purpose. Brahmacharya, which translates as “behavior which leads to Brahman (the divine),” points to our immense power of choice. Sometimes large (moving to a new city or getting married) and most often small (what we eat and what we say yes/no to), the choices we make each day are what lead us toward or away from our divine path. To practice Brahmacharya is to bring the mindfulness you cultivate in your meditation and asana practice to even the smallest choices in your day.

At Five Peaks, we practice Brahmacharya by measuring every business opportunity that arises against our mission. We are here to build a heart center in Loudoun County; a community of healthy, connected and empowered human beings eager to share their light. Before making any decision, we ask ourselves first, “How will this opportunity strengthen the pulse of our heart center?”, and if the answer is unclear, we set it aside as unneeded distraction, and create space for a better opportunity.

In my personal life, I use my meditation practice and daily planner to keep my Brahmacharya game on point. I begin every day with a meditation to quiet distracting thoughts. In my planner, I write down my intention for the year, and set monthly goals to move me forward. Every day of the week, I organize my tasks each day based on how well they will support me in my intention.

Michael Hyatt says, You lose your way when you lose your why.”

Life is rich with opportunity and obligation. Sometimes it is hard to discern the two! It can be tempting for me to say yes, yes, yes, until I find myself overwhelmed and paralyzed by what I have taken on. There was a time when I closed my eyes and saw my life as this intractably knotted ball of yarn – no give or space available for the experience I wanted to invite. That is not a very skillful way to live or feel! I knew that I wanted to live a life full of connection and meaning – and that yoga was a powerful access point to me for both. I started going to class at 6:00 a.m. three times a week until I was able to sneak into the noon classes on my lunch hour. I kept carving time and carving time until one day my experience of time for self care felt abundant – even in the midst of a full-time job, two babies, and teaching yoga. I continue to be amazed by the ELASTICITY of time when I am engaged in right action. 

 

Anchoring my personal and professional commitments to my intention enables me to prioritize and stress less about the tasks I choose to pass by. I find rest and connection land much higher on my priority list than they might otherwise. In the practice of Brahmacharya, I see clearly how IMPORTANT it is for me to practice what I preach. I know that in order to teach and share stillness in flow, I have to live it. I must make time to be still and to connect to the source that nurtures and sustains me for divine inspiration and direction.

This month, I invite you to be in the practice of Brahmacharya alongside Colure, Megan, Barb and I. We will be theming “Right Action” in our classes and offering opportunities for you to share in and refine your Brahmacharya practice in the coming weeks.

Signing off with my favorite (and apropos!) blessing:

May our efforts today, and every day, be to the benefit of every living thing.

Namaste,

Lauren

“Mise en Place”

“A Chef’s Kitchen,” is one of my favorite series on Netflix. Each hour long series explores the mind, habits and cultural influences that shape the body of work of Michelin star chefs around the globe. I watch an episode when I am in search of inspiration or to re-awaken my eye to the beauty of small things all around.

Any chef worth their salt is familiar with the French term, “mise en place,” or, “everything in its place.” Have you ever gotten cooking on a fun new recipe at home only to notice several steps in that you needed to marinate the fish or blanch the vegetables before adding it to the pot? Now you have to hustle to address those details (usually all the difference between an out-of-this-world or so-so dish), skip them entirely or risk burning what you’ve currently got sizzling. Your symphony of taste and texture suddenly morphs into a haphazard mess.

Fortune favors the prepared.

As in the kitchen – so on your yoga mat. As we close our month-long practice of Saucha in the studio, take a look at these common guidelines for yoga etiquette, are there areas for your practice to improve?

Arrive early. The first 5 – 7 minutes of class are called Integration and critical to connecting to your body and breath.

“OM” is sacred. If you are a few minutes late, enter the studio as quietly and respectfully as you can. If you hear the class chanting, “om” wait until they are complete before you enter the room.

Check your bags at the door. The studio space is sacred. Leave your bags, shoes, cell phones, extra layers of clothing in the locker room. Arrive through the back door.

Keep a clean space around your mat. Arrange your block, strap and water to one side of your mat. A cluttered practice area can easily translate to a cluttered head space. On the functional side, keeping your props neatly grouped ensures the teacher won’t trip (well at least not on your stuff) and that you can find what you need easily.

Stay in the room. Stay in the practice. Yoga is a moving meditation, any break from the practice takes you out of the present moment – and everyone else around you, too. Even something as innocuous as standing up and walking to the back of your mat for water can be distracting. In those moments when you absolutely cannot resist your water bottle, take child’s pose and sip discreetly.

You create the energy in the room. Yoga is meant to be a contemplative and meditative journey of movement. Fill the room with your breath, your energy and not your words. The teachers are on hand after class to answer any questions you have or you can quietly flag them over to assist you. Conversation should be limited to before and after class.

Acknowledge Your Growth. We clap at the end of class to acknowledge ourselves and our fellow practitioners – not to applaud the teacher. Honor your work and the contribution of those around you by giving a hearty round of applause once class has come to a close.

There’s an old adage, “Take your practice seriously and yourself lightly,” smiles, sighs and gentle laughter are always encouraged. This week, as you step on your mat, try putting these pointers in place and watch how your practice transforms.

See you on the mat, yogis!

Lauren Christian

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