Pardon my French – Jiva What?
When asked what yoga is to me, I usually do not have a short answer. It makes it rather complicated to explain, how simple my love for yoga is, however, whilst thinking about this newsletter, I did make a little revelation – yoga makes me feel, that I have my own home within me. What does that mean? To put it in simple words – when I practice yoga daily, I feel more grounded, happier, at ease with myself – to a certain way, I feel complete – with all that is in the package, that is inside of me – I work on it daily, yet feel that each step in the journey of self – I am more at home in myself and less taking a role that society has provided me with. Basically, I have a portable home with all the essentials that make it the safest place to be. So I do not need IKEA or a luxury Italian maker. No, it’s a lie – I do need them, yet it shall not make me happier. I silently choose that comfortable chaise-longue within me, and invite you to a short journey of my yogic path, which is only beginning to look like a path.
I have lived to understand that I have been someone seeking formal accomplishments – a good friend, a driven student, a perfect dancer, a successful designer – was I? I do not know, I cannot know. I know, though, that we always have inner fights within ourselves and keep on silently repeating “I am good enough”, but are we convincing enough? What makes us calm and at ease? This little moment when we let go of it all. One tiny second in that busy day when we simply are. Imagine if that could become two seconds or maybe even three seconds. Being a multi-tasker, I was embarrassed to have that second, since it seemed it does not belong to any of my daily goals. Jivamukti yoga did not come to me because of a burn out. It came to me, because my sister took me to one class – it was one of my daily goals; to be physically active. Yet at the end of the practice, whilst in savasana I had that “one second moment” which was so clear and so full, I simply became addicted. Have you ever had that moment when You are in a place of complete solitude and peace, and for a second you start screaming from all your lungs – after that second, comes this clean, clear moment of purity within (if you have never done that – highly recommend; touching that wild spot within is fantastic). This is what Jivamukti has become – a place of purity.
When my sister took me to my first Jivamukti class, for me it seemed simply as another trendy term to attract customers. “JIVA whatever as long as I sweat”,- I was thinking. Yet it made me feel so much more. JIVA – translated from Sanskrit means individual soul, in simple terms – you, I and everyone around; MUKTA – liberation. When putting these two terms together David and Sharon Gannon, the founders of Jivamukti method, explain it in the following manner: “liberation is possible even while living“ and they continue by saying “For us, creating Jivamukti Yoga was a natural continuation of our own artistic investigation into the mysteries of life. It was a way for us to share our findings. At Jivamukti we use art, music, dance and poetry, much as they were used during the “happenings” of the 1960s, to create an environment that inspires people to break out of their small selves and feel the Divine Self flowing through them.” And so this is what Jivamukti yoga has become to me – a continuation and research of that deeper, inner Self.
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” So simple and yet so fundamental. The mantra all Jivamuktis live by. And yet I always say – do not take yourself too seriously and add a Buddhist advice: “Act as if the future of the universe depends on what you do, while laughing at yourself thinking that your actions make any difference”. Having a lot on our shoulders makes us feel heavy, so I try to remind myself that I can be as important as one little step each day I take – be it a kind word, a beautiful thought or a lesson I receive. By simply being conscious in the decisions we make, we are already making a big journey. Without it being spiritual in any way – remind yourself, how some little acts of good will make you feel. And become gently addicted to that feeling.
Jivamukti method stands by the five main tenets which are taught through asana practice – ahimsa (the non-harming), bhakti (devotion), Dhyana (meditation), shastra (intellectual readings) and nada (sound). To put it simply, it is a vigorous hatha yoga practice which underlines movement, yet each class teaches in one way or another, visible or invisible – to be less harming, towards ourselves or others, to dedicate and devote ourselves to the practice as much as we are capable of, to consciously choose meditation as a part of practice, to be surrounded by sound – the voice of the teacher, the sound of the music or simply your breath and to dedicate our time to intellectual readings i.e. always be a student of getting to know ourselves better, through reading of yogic or other texts that are important to your inner growth. The classes may be more or less physically demanding, yet stepping out of the comfort zone, is something one should seek in order to bring out an unknown sensation and as a consequence understand that there is always more just around the corner.
What I admire about Jivamukti is that I can do it almost anywhere – all schools around the world offer classes taught in English. Even when on holidays – I try to find a studio where there is a Jivamukti teacher, and most of the time, I know it will be taught in English. Also, the familiarity of style and tempo – even when I come to a teacher for the first time, I am familiar with the possible sequence. It is different every single time, yet it has a set of sequences which You know will come up at a certain time. The tempo – oh how I love the evolving tempo of the class. To date – one of my favourite studios are in Barcelona and Berlin – Kreuzberg. But hey, keep on checking Vilnius – maybe something exciting is just around the corner? (:
Supported or free-standing headstand not only strengthens all your body, but also calms your mind – how many times a day do you actually allow your blood to flow the opposite direction. Exactly. Close to never. This asana when practiced correctly could become your favorite one – all you have to do is loose the fear and accept the fall. Funnily enough, by now I first learn to fall out of a difficult asana – it gives me courage to try again and fail better. To see a short video and find out our tips and tricks visit here.