Today was a great day — the sun was shining, the subways were all working normally, and with each breath I felt gratitude for all that I get to experience on a daily basis. That was today. Yesterday on the other hand, I felt like the city, my life, and specifically the MTA were all waging a war against me. It was a feeling that, in the moment, I was having trouble letting go of, and it seemed impossible that just the day before I had been so happy and positive. Who was that happy, perky person and why didn’t she want to show up today?
I was just talking to a yoga student about a similar experience she had encountered. She is healing from a major surgery and her recovery is quite intense. She shared with me that she definitely has days when she is frustrated and annoyed, but then she has mornings when she wakes up and is so grateful that she gets to start a new day with what feels like a clean start. On days like this, she can embrace a positive attitude and appreciate all that she is able to do — what a gift!
The interlude of a night of sleep provides us with a break in the continuity of time, and can provide an opportunity to approach each new day, and all of the millions of little moments that compose that day, with a fresh perspective. It can sometimes be easier to let go of what happened the day before, and all of the feelings that arose from those happenings, and start the new day with a positive outlook, open to limitless possibilities. This idea that the end of something (in this instance, a day) allows for the beginning of something else is a theme that runs through yogic philosophy.
In many of the different physical practices of yoga, one common asana that is almost universally included is savasana, corpse pose. This practice of dying, of completely surrendering the physical body, that comes at the end of the practice, encourages us to then reawaken to a fresh new moment. It is the practice of letting go of the past that often inspires us to be present for the now, without expectation of what that should be, but with an openness to what could be.
In Hindu philosophy, this idea is represented by the Trimurti, which translates into “three forms.” These three forms are the Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva which represent the cosmic energies of creation, sustenance, and destruction that are at the foundation of existence. This cosmic triangle is cyclical, and so it is Shiva’s destruction that allows for Brahma’s creation. The sacred sound of Om, also spelled Aum, is the universal and ever-present vibration that exists in all things. It carries these three energies — the A manifesting creation; the U, sustenance; and the M, destruction. Aum is continuous, and so again, it is the end of the sound, the “mmmm,” that allows for the beginning of the sound to once again transpire.
The yoga practice reminds us that each moment has the potential to be experienced as completely unique and unprecedented, that it is your intention that can empower you to live each moment as best as you can. So on the days where there are moments of frustration or difficulty, one may be able, at any point during the day, to decide to turn things around. For me, it is often how I react to the circumstances of my day that can decide whether the day is a “good” day or a “bad” day or just a day that is filled with ups and downs just like any other day. Yoga provides the tools to realize that life is not happening to us, that we are the ones who are living and making each moment happen. So when it feels like the whole world is against me, I can give myself a moment, a cosmic pause, breathe deeply, and start over, letting go of that feeling of defeat and approaching the obstacle as an opportunity to experience something new. This process of letting go and starting new is not always easy, but even just gaining the awareness that this is possible can plant a seed that will eventually change the way you live your life. This is how we grow; this is why life is so interesting; this truly is a gift.
Jen went to her first yoga class in college where she instantly fell in love with yoga! She had so much fun trying to do the different poses and greatly enjoyed the flowing movement of the sequences. She soon discovered some of the wonderful yoga studios in Manhattan, where she was able to not only nourish her physical practice, but was introduced to the philosophy and history of the yoga tradition.
Jen sees the asana practice as a powerful tool to uncover the spiritual self – using the physical body to free the true joy and radiance that lives within! Jen graduated from Laughing Lotus’s College of Yoga where her teachers, Dana Flynn and Jasmine Tarkeshi, inspired her to teach from personal experiences and to see teaching as an offering of the heart. In her classes, Jen encourages the union of movement and breath through the practice of Vinyasa Yoga as a way of unlocking the inner peace and love that signify the true essence of the Self. She has completed a Mamasutra Teacher Training at Laughing Lotus, and is constantly inspired and revitalized by the strong and nurturing prenatal mamas with whom she is so grateful to explore the practice. She has also trained with Karma Kids Yoga, an experience that has helped reinforce her sense of fun and playfulness into her teaching.
The devotion and passion that Jen has for the practice is what has led her to teach – she loves yoga and is eager to share her enthusiasm for this beautiful practice with others. She is forever grateful to all of her teachers who continously inspire her along this journey!