World Kindness Day
By Nancy Weshkoff
Today is world kindness day. Sanksrit, which is the ancient language of India and the language of yoga, describes kindness as “ahimsa”. Ahimsa is the very first doctrine of yoga – first before you start moving (asana) or meditate. Why is this? You need to be kind and patient with yourself, moving in a way that is right for your body on that date. For me, as a yoga teacher, I practice ahimsa – kindness – to the students who take yoga classes through Moonflower Yoga. I offer encouragement, not criticism, as a student learns how to move in a certain way.
On a bigger scale, I am saddened by so much of the division and hatred that seems to exist in our world today. We are all inhabitants of this planet. Yes, we may have different beliefs, and that’s okay. We can still be kind to each other and respect those differences. When we practice ahimsa, it makes it easier to solve issues, and we can learn to live in harmony.
We also need to practice kindness to our planet. Earth is our home. Be kind to it Recycle items instead of adding to landfills. Use less-toxic products that harm the environment. Plant a tree or some greenery. There are many ways to extend kindness and help our planet.
I hope you will take some time today to just one small act of kindness. Maybe you will call someone who is feeling a little sad or lonely. Maybe it’s doing some outside clean up. Maybe it is doing a random act of kindness for a stranger. Maybe it’s being kind to YOU by changing negative thoughts to positive ones, such as saying “I love myself” instead of “I hate myself”. Maybe it is joining me or one of the other great yoga teachers at Moonflower Yoga for a great upcoming online yoga or meditation class to take care of YOU, so you will feel better and can spread that good feeling to others in your life.
Let’s all practice some ahimsa – kindness – and make the world a happier place!
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.
Helping Those in Need
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
As the weather starts to turn cooler, I begin to realize that the holiday season is just around the corner. And as the holidays approach, I am reminded of those who sadly are in need. One of the most important things we study as yoga teachers is “ahimsa” which means to be kind. We must be kind to ourselves but we also must be kind to others.
Moonflower Yoga is based in Bellmore, Long Island, New York. Many think of Long Island as a wealthy area. It is true that Long Island has some affluent towns such as the Hamptons where celebrities and high-salaried executives and professionals flock in the summer. But not every town on Long Island is the Hamptons.
In doing some research, it came to my attention that each day over 300,000 people on Long Island do not have enough food to eat. This is a very sad statistic. There is something that we can do to help this situation and that is to donate some non-perishable food items to those in need. Moonflower Yoga is committed to help our Long Island community, and this is why we are sponsoring a food drive for Long Island Cares the Harry Chapin Food Bank. Long Island Cares needs non-perishable foods to distribute on Long Island. But they also need things for children such as diapers, formula, baby cereal, and school supplies. And there are cats and dogs that need food as well.
There are children who will not know the joy of opening a toy at Christmas time. Christmas is a magical time, and all children should receive something special to help remember the holiday. It is with this intention in mind that Moonflower Yoga is also sponsoring the US Marine Corp’s Toys for Tots program. Under that program, unwrapped and new toys are collected and distributed by the US Marines to children in families that cannot afford to purchase holiday gifts.
If you live in the area of Bellmore, you can drop off donations at the Moonflower Yoga studio for Long Island Cares and/or the Toys for Tots program. We have boxes at the Moonflower Yoga studio to collect the items for those in need. You can also make donations directly by visiting the websites of these wonderful charities: www.licares.org and www.toysfortots.org.
And remember that kindness begins with just one small step. If each person donated a small amount of food, we could drastically reduce the number of people who do not have enough food to eat. By donating a new toy to a needy child for the holidays, you are bringing joy and a happy memory to that child and their families. That is ahimsa in action.
“Thoughts on Kindness”
By Nancy Weshkoff
Patanjali, often considered the father of yoga, designed the 8-part system on which yoga is practiced. The first of these 8 parts are entitled “Yamas”, and the very first “Yama” is called “Ahimsa”. Ahimsa teaches us to practice non-violence and be kind to ourselves and others. It is noteworthy that Ahimsa is first, well before “Asana” which is the practice of movement that many of us associate with attending a yoga class. Why is ahimsa so important that it comes first?
As a teacher, as well as the owner of Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, NY, I see students every day as they come to the studio to learn and practice. As students enter the studio, I sometimes hear negative comments such as “I’m not flexible”, “I’m not strong”, “I’m too overweight”, “I’m too old”, etc. I always address these when I hear them. Where is our kindness to ourselves? It is sad that we often compare ourselves to touched-up, airbrushed images of the perfect body and try to emulate this.
It is so important that we be “present” and be the very best that we can be in that particular moment. It doesn’t matter that you are size 14 instead of size 2 or that you haven’t developed enough flexibility to touch your toes. The fact that you are in a yoga class and working towards being stronger and more flexible, learning how to breathe more fully and deeply, and sharing in a practice with others is a wonderful thing. Be kind to yourself as you practice and focus on positive things.
And a funny thing happens when we start to be kind to ourselves. When we are kind to ourselves, we can then be kind to others. Just think of the possibilities if the world experienced a little more kindness each day…