Lois Steinberg | iHanuman

iHanuman

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Lois Steinberg

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Journal Post

What a year it is has been! On SO many levels. I have so much to write about and yet so much is still percolating. One item that I do want to mention is that this year marks the 20th year since I started practicing Iyengar Yoga! I lucked into a 5 day workshop during my travels in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A friend recommended the course as I had already been practicing yoga on my own, with books and classes at the Y in college. Even though no one else signed up for the Intermediate course that week, the teacher taught me privately for 5 hours per day! It was such an incredible gift! 
We just passed through the first New Moon of the New Year. New Moons are always potent times to set intentions, but particularly the first New Moon of the New Year. This past year felt particularly destabilizing and I have absolutely cherished my yoga practice, as it keeps me steady, clear and grounded in the present. I pay fairly close attention to what is going on around me, but as a yoga practitioner, one of the disciplines of the practice is to not get pulled into the drama - the ups and downs of everyday human existence.
In the yoga sutras, Patanjali talks about effortless effort - "Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached." - Light on the Yoga Sutras, BKS Iyengar Perfection is connected to the metal element present at the end of this season - the need to be perfect, valuing oneself, the need to have shiny material possessions and conversely, the exact opposite - not valuing oneself or not believing oneself worthy of respect. It is something well worth examining as we close out this year. 
Dear Friends,  As we mentioned last month, we are in the season of the Lungs and Large Intestine. It is the time of year to whittle, to hone, and to refine. These are two of our organs of letting go. I am finding time this week to reflect on what I was able to accomplish this year and letting go of what's left. It is a time of resetting and putting things to rest. 
"Grief, expressed out loud, whether in or out of character, unchoreographed and honest, for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.” - Martin Prectel
I have to admit, I was dragging my feet on sharing a monthly newsletter, which we have done monthly since we launched over a dozen years ago! It happens sometimes, writer's block sets in, and in my experience, I just have to push through it. To be honest to some degree, I have not felt much like sharing on social media at all since the pandemic started. Mostly, because everything feels so uncomfortable, unusual & unsettled during this time.
We have entered my most favorite time of year. Earth is the name that the Chinese give to the energy of late summer. Earth is the time of harvest and gathering. It is the midpoint in the cycle of life. The time when we raise a family, create a body of work, settle down, and begin to reap the rewards of our labors. Our thoughts turn to nurturing, parenting, mentoring and mothering.  Earth governs our bodies, our flesh and our ability to nourish ourselves through the foods that we eat. Earth governs our cycles - sleeping, eating and breathing. Earth energy also helps us on a mental level to digest ideas, process experiences and form thoughts. Out of balance Earth can be obsessive, obstinate and stubborn. 
Most of you know, if you have been subscribed to the iHanuman Newsletter for some time, that we pay a lot of attention to the changes and transitions of the natural world. Every year, we are prompted by traditional healing philosophy to reinvigorate pranayama practice in the fall. The fall is the season of letting go and releasing as well as the organs of the Lungs and Large Intestines.
Dear Friends, As the sun shifts into Virgo and the late summer's earth element, we are enjoying the fruits of our labors along with the slowing & cooling down of summer. The earth element brings us stability and a space to pause and collect ourselves between the seasons. The calm and steadiness of earth helps prepare us for the shifting unsteadiness of the air element which visits us in the fall. I love this time of year! The weather is a perfect mix of warm days and cool nights.  AND September is National Yoga Month! This is a wonderful time of year to get the word out about the benefits of yoga. Reference our resources below on the benefits of yoga as a place to start your conversation with new students.
Today marks the halfway point between the summer solstice and the fall equinox. It's called Lamas and it signals the beginning of the harvest season. We are about to transition into Late Summer as we move beyond the peak of  summer. Before we do, take with you the lessons learned from your growth this year. Take some time to honor what you have accomplished before you begin to reap what you have sewn.
Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of the summer season. Summer ignites the fire element. The warmth of fire has the power to bring us out of the contraction of the cold dark winter into a state of expansion and joy. We have more energy to accomplish our tasks and more hours of light within which to accomplish them. Fire is known for its dynamism, transformation and passion, but also gives us the capacity to feel joy, compassion, empathy as well as deep sadness, because only a strong heart can truly feel deep sadness.
Does this heat make it feel as if the summer could go on forever?  As we start the month of August, we are entering into the late summer period, the fifth season, recognized in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine. BUT before we get ahead of ourselves, I wanted to share some final insights from the end of the summer season. As we mentioned last month, the element associated with summer is fire, which shows up in the external environment, but internally as well.
"In his search he discovers the three noble ways of word (jnana), work (karma), and worship (bhakti), which teach him that his inner light is the only guide leading to mastery over his own life.” - BKS Iyengar, Light on Pranayama
Are we finally on the downswing from the peak of a very firey and fiesty summer heat wave? As tensions and frustrations flair, we are truly called upon to utilize our yoga practice to cool us down. Two of the primary ways you choose to counterbalance the heat depend on your personal temperament. You can sit calmly and quietly, practicing slow deep breathing or pranayamas specific to cooling you down, like Sitali (sheet - ah - lee) pranayama or practice a quieting asana practice focused on forward bends and other cooling poses. The alternative is to get active, move and raise your internal heat .
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