Practicing Aparigraha and Giving to Others
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
The holiday season is quickly approaching. We are bombarded with messages about things we should purchase and special sales. As I listen to all of this, I think about the principles outlined in the yoga sutras, the basis on which our yoga system is built. In the “yamas” portion of the yoga sutras, one of the sutras refers to “aparigraha” which means being content with what we have and abstinence from greed. Do we really need another handbag, tv set, game, etc., or can we be happy with what we have?
It was a little over a year ago that Superstorm Sandy hit the Long Island area. We lost lives on that terrible day. Many people lost their homes and possessions. One of the lessons of Sandy is that it gave us an appreciation of what is really important – being safe and having our friends and families. Earlier this month, a horrible typhoon hit the Philippines killing thousands of people and causing unbearable destruction. We watch in horror at the reality that so many families have lost loved ones.
And back here in New York, there are families who do not have enough food to eat each day or people who are homeless with no place to sleep and no food. With the holidays coming, I also think about children and what a joyous time the holidays can be. Yet for some, their families cannot afford food and there is no money for a small holiday gift for a child.
At Moonflower Yoga, we want to do our part to bring some joy to families in our area this year. We have been part of an ongoing food drive, working with two of Moonflower’s students, Veronica and Luther, to collect food for the hungry. Last year the food drive yielded food for 600 hungry families. This year the goal is to feed 800 families. I’m proud that we have filled three large boxes with non-perishable food to help this cause. At the same time, we are working with the US Marine’s Toys for Tots program to bring a toy to a needy child this holiday season who might not receive one. Last year we collected 50 toys for Toys for Tots, and we are looking to exceed that number this year.
Any help that you can give to a food drive, Toys for Tots, or a charity of your choice is always welcome. I go back to the yoga philosophy of aparigraha. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself: “Do I really need this thing I’m buying or do I already have enough?” If you have enough, could you instead donate a portion of that money to a worthwhile charity to help someone who is need? The reward from knowing that you helped someone can be amazing!
From all of us at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, in Long Island’s Nassau County, we thank you for your generosity.
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
This week brings us Valentine’s Day where we acknowledge the special people in our lives and share our love with them. However before we can truly share love with someone else we need to always love ourselves first.
Loving ourselves is not so easy. We may look in the mirror and see imperfections. And then there could be regrets from the past: the “should haves” or “what if” moments. What we need to realize is that NO ONE is perfect. The pictures of super models in glamorous magazines are touched up, and even super models have imperfections. And life is a journey. We may do something crazy along the way but we need to forgive ourselves and move on. You cannot change the past.
So what does this have to do with yoga? Yoga teaches us several things to help us love ourselves more:
– Ahimsa: Ahimsa or kindness is paramount under the Yoga Sutras. This means kindness to others and also kindness to yourself. Look at the positive things in life and stop judging yourself and others in a negative way. When you start to see things in a more positive way, self-love can grow.
– Being present: As we move in a yoga class at Moonflower Yoga, we stress to our students to concentrate on the present moment. Let go of the past. Enjoy the present moment and what it brings.
– Movement: As you practice and move in a yoga class, you become stronger and more flexible. This creates a positive self-image.
To everyone, I wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day! Share love with the special people in your life. Remember to take positive steps to love yourself first. It is when we love ourselves that we can truly share love with others. If you’re in the area of Bellmore, New York, in Long Island’s Nassau County, come try a yoga class at Moonflower Yoga where we always stress the importance of love.
What is Yoga?
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
When people think of yoga their first image is often of someone doing a yoga asana pose such as a downward facing dog or a headstand. Patanjali, considered the father of yoga and the author of the Yoga Sutras, described yoga as “yogas citta vrtti nirodhah” which translates to “yoga is the calming of the changing fluctuations of the mind”. So what does that mean?
Many of the things that we do in our yoga practice including the movement in a yoga class, as well as meditation, are all designed to get us to the point where we can be blissful in the present moment. Our mind is often like a TV set with 1,000 channels. The mind is sending us images about things from our past that are done and we can’t change. So why are we worrying about something we can’t change? Our mind is also sending us messages about things that are causing us to worry, such as a task at home or our office that we need to do, maybe it is an upcoming event in our lives, and so many other things. When we fill our minds with all these images from the past that we can’t change or from the future that isn’t here yet, we cannot find peace and calmness. We must always be in the present moment because it is the present moment that we can control. It is in the present moment where we can reach peace.
It is not easy to turn off that TV set in our heads with many messages. Meditation and asana practice does help. At Moonflower Yoga, our great instructors often remind our students to be in the present moment and enjoy their present practice. An example of a wonderful yoga class that helps you accomplish this is our candlelight restorative class. In these candlelight restorative classes, students spend several minutes deeply relaxing in various postures with the help of bolsters, blankets, and other props. These long, relaxing postures in a very supported restorative manner enable you to relax and let go of the TV set images in your mind. Students often walk into the Moonflower Yoga studio feeling stressed from the daily pressures of life. When they leave after a great yoga class, the transformation can be amazing. It is incredible what can happen when we let go of those TV set images from the past and future and just breathe deeply and live in the present moment.
If you are in the area of Bellmore in Long Island’s Nassau County, I encourage to stop by the Moonflower Yoga studio to try one of the great yoga classes where we practice being joyful and present. You will be amazed at the transformation that can happen when you calm the changing fluctuations in your mind!