With each turn of the seasons, we have new demands on our schedule, claiming our precious time and encouraging us to shift, adjust and be malleable. We never want to give up those aspects of our lives that are nourishing but all too often, something has to give. As new challenges stir, from the start of the school year and the beginning of the winter holiday season to the start of summer and increased travel plans, we are met with the obstacle of how to fortify our yoga practice as a constant in our lives while everything around is changing.
Each and every one of us gives in to the occasional missed practice. Taking our best friends to dinner on their birthday, helping our children with their homework, or a work obligation that we just can’t get out of – these things happen.
The key to preserving our practice throughout the seasons comes with remembering a few key components to practice.
More specifically In Seasonal Yoga™, we take inspiration from nature. Though there is no ‘perfect’ in yoga or perfect style we believe that yoga is about practice, about betterment, and about growth. We have a strong commitment to accepting ourselves where we are at with practice and life as well as others and use the lessons of nature to help us understand this tender balance. We can use the seasonal shifts to remind us of that. Just as in winter, the plants pull back and become dormant, this too is part of their growth, making it possible for their bodies to be stronger and become heartier. Sometimes we need to accept the laws of nature in our own lives. Those days or weeks in which we are struggling to bring ourselves to the mat have a purpose in our lives, just as winter is a season that looks dreary, but is making way for the allowance of new growth. Spring is right around the corner offering growth and birth making way for the energy, vibrancy, and abundance of summer and fall. we see this repetition and know that this is nature’s cycle and patterning. Each cycle giving way to growth. We worship cosmic patterns because repetition provides safety, boundaries, and predictability. Once you understand patterning in nature and through the elements you can use it to devise a better understanding of what happens next.
Repetition makes way for insights and better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
Just as nature has an alchemy for dealing with change so has she given us the recipe. The ancients called the ingredients 5 elements- this is the groundwork for Seasonal Yoga™ establishes transformation – a universal elixir if you will.
The Five Elements: Understanding our world and ourselves.
Though numerous cultures throughout time have used 5 elements from Babylonia, Ancient Greece, Tibet, China. The five elements we work with are of the classic Hindu 5 elements system or the “pancha mahabhutas” – air, fire, space, water, and earth. These elements are the touchstone of Ayurvedic science. More than that, these physical elements, represent everything that happens in nature and matter. They are building blocks of all material existence. Knowledge of these elements opens the doorway for us to understand nature’s laws, patterning, and cycles. This knowledge helps us attain greater insights, clarity into ourselves and the world around us. No longer seeing division but unity in the greater and inner worlds.
The Elements in the Body: Relationship between the Five Elements and Yoga
Some may see these elements as representing the first 5 chakras (wheels of light or energy centers), ascending from the root chakra to the throat chakra. Some may relate them to seasons, our physical and physiological nature, even times of day. Perhaps as we have started developing yoga classes the influence of sound in a class, temperature, scent all add to the increase of experience through these elements. Once you have awareness and understanding you may see how the cycles of nature influence all parts of our lives.
We are the magic, we hold the chemistry to turn ourselves into gold and find a universal elixir for this world through our practice.
This is part one of a 4 part series of notes, ideas, and understandings of Seasonal Yoga™ through the five-element concepts and ayurvedic doshas. I am hoping this serves as a deeper insight as to what brings us alive and gives greater clarity on our individual human journeys. If you are looking for greater understanding into the 5 elements, we hope you can join us January 2020 at Inlet Yoga where we will explore the 5 elements through the framework of our Seasonal Yoga™ 200 RYT teacher training program or perhaps join us on a lovely retreat to Costa Rica where we will be returning in April of 2020.
Jennifer Vafakos began practicing yoga regularly in 2008 in NYC. Though Jennifer started years earlier it wasn’t until she met a a group of yoga instructors that changed her life and where she become a serious yoga practitioner and student. Registered with Yoga Alliance at the ERYT500 level and YACEP, Jennifer currently runs a yoga studio, leads weekly classes, yoga teacher trainings, workshops and international retreats. In 2016 Jennifer left a 20 year career in Fashion Design and purchased Inlet Yoga from Emma Clagett in Manasquan, NJ. In 2019 Jennifer founded a podcast with New Jersey Yoga Collective’s Bridget Riepl called “Here for Savasana.”
In her weekly classes you will notice a strong influence of Jennifer’s Laughing Lotus training (Dana Trixie Flynn), with layers and influence of Katonah Yoga (as taught by Nevine Michaan) and Seasonal Yoga. Jennifer will reference and inform on alignment, healthy transitioning between shapes, themes of seasons, cycles discovering and uncovering human existence and of layering in music, poetry and laughter in her classes, trainings, and workshops.
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