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There’s No Time like the Present by Margit Bannon

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As we approach the busy season here in Punta Gorda, I can’t help but be obsessed by this idea we call time. We all have a million expressions for it: “Don’t waste your time,” “It’s about time!” “In the interest of saving time,” and so on. I, myself can’t help but feel that I am “pressed for time” in a world where everything is scheduled. I, too, often hear myself say, “I don’t have the time.”

 

This is why I and many others enjoy (not to mention need) the practice of yoga. Unlike many other activities that encourage us to multitask, yoga forces us to stay present or at least attempt to stay in tune with our mind and our body for the duration of the practice. For a few brief moments we can forget about that to-do list and ultimately learn what we really need—that is, if we are able to “take the time” to listen and feel what we are being told from within.

 

Our breath is the vehicle by which we tune in to this inner intelligence. In fact many yogis believe that life is measured by the number of breaths they have left rather than by years. That’s good news for those of us who feel like we are often “living on borrowed time.” As we breathe and as we draw our minds back to our breath (on and off the mat) we get a sense of slowing down this concept of time, and every breath—every moment—becomes important.

 

We often get a sense in these moments that everything is, and will be, okay, and that we are truly happy. While these moments can sometimes be quick and fleeting, it’s important to note that if we stop and smell the roses—when we are willing to slow down and make ourselves and our well-being a priority—these feelings can be accessed.

 

While we often think of our yoga in a classroom setting, the real work is done off the mat when we take what we have learned into everyday situations. Instead of those familiar time-related mantras we have grown accustomed to say and hear, let’s turn it around and instead say that we are “right on time,” and that “there’s a time and place for everything.” Let’s remember that “everything is and will be okay,” and that we are exactly where we need to be in the moment. Just like when your yoga instructor cues your mind back to your breath, reel yourself back in and enjoy and learn from the experience.

Yogi of the Month—Jane Eckles

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This month, we are honoring Jane Eckles, who recently passed away, as our yogi of the month. Jane has been a part of The Yoga Sanctuary for quite some time. She was kind and compassionate, and always interested in others. She loved her family and really enjoyed her time at the lake with her grandchildren. She was always an inspiration, full of joy, and had the spunky energy of someone half her age.

 

“She would wisk into class with her hair done and makeup just right, take some of our most challenging classes, and wisk back out saying, ‘Jenny, that was a gooooood one!’ She is one of the few people, besides little Maya Yonker, who called me Jenny. I will miss hearing her say my name.” —Jennifer French

 

“Jane was part inspiration and part intimidation. Over 70 and petite, she never seemed to break a sweet in Ashtanga.” —Gary French

 

“Jane reminded me about the value of taking life one day at a time. She will be missed at TYS.” —Cathy Getz

 

Our thoughts are with her family at this difficult time. May her spunky spirit live on in the hearts of her loved ones.

Kapha Dosha

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Kapha dosha is the mind-body constitution that is made up of the two elements earth and water. People who have a dominant kapha dosha tend to be passive, peaceful, calm, and consistent. They can also be lethargic and stubborn. They are deliberate in their actions and are very loving.

 

Physically, kapha dosha types tend to be of larger build and may be overweight or have difficulty losing weight. They have big, beautiful features and voluptuous bodies. Of all three doshas, kaphas are most likely to suffer conditions that involve congestion, mucus, and swelling. Kapha types tend to crave sweet foods and can easily overeat. Emotionally, they tend toward depression.

 

When kapha is in excess, a person will feel depressed and possessive. They will be stubborn and can develop greediness. Sinus infections, colds, chest congestion, asthma, and cysts are common when kaphas are out of balance. They will also have difficulty finding motivation.

 

There are a number of practices that can help to balance kapha. A yoga practice that helps cultivate joy is best for kaphas, who are challenged to commit to a regular practice. Particular focus on the end of each asana, or posture, will be helpful. Maintaining the integrity of the pose from beginning to end helps kaphas feel more accomplished in the practice. Maintaining a mindset of devotion, or Bhakti, will help keep kaphas coming back to the mat.

 

An excellent mantra for kapha types is: Asato ma sadgamaya; Tamaso ma jyotirgamaya; Mrtyorma amrtam gamaya (Lead me from untruth to truth; Lead me from darkness to light; Lead me from death to immortality). Repeating this mantra during meditation is a healing practice for kapha imbalance.

 

When it comes to diet, balancing kapha dosha involves eating foods that are bitter and astringent while reducing sweet, salty, and sour foods. Reducing mucus-generating foods, such as dairy and wheat is best. Also, reduction of sweet, heavy fruits and salt is recommended. Increasing consumption of lighter grains, green leafy vegetables, berries, as well as basil, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves (chai tea!), cumin, and ginger will be helpful. Kaphas are the one dosha group that can best tolerate moderate amounts of coffee and alcohol.

 

Whether your dosha is kapha dominant or kapha-pitta dominant, many of the practices that help to balance kapha will be helpful to you at some point. By noticing your own tendencies, you will be better able to do what you can to balance your doshas when you find an imbalance. You will likely find that you understand yourself more because of this practice.

Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind

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As we get more and more familiar with the physical practice of yoga, we find that we can more easily move into and out of the postures without having to think about them so much, or without having to look around at what the postures should look like. We begin to integrate them into our bodies in a way that helps us to deepen the practice. After a while, certain poses become almost second nature. We simply take the posture when its name is called.

 

When we reach this place in the practice, we start to feel, to some extent, like we know what we are doing. As with learning anything new, as we gain proficiency, we feel accomplished. Once we think we have “mastered” a pose, our attitude about it can become rigid. We no longer seek to understand the pose, because we already know it. This phenomenon may not be something you have noticed, but it happens to us all.

 

The best way to see your practice in a new way is to cultivate a beginner’s mind. Be curious about your practice, even if it’s the same practice you have done for many years. Take the time to really listen to your teacher. Follow each cue as though you didn’t already know it. Remember what it was like when you began this practice and you had to really pay attention to understand what you were doing. Then apply that same attention to your practice today.

 

By reconnecting to a beginner’s mind, yet built upon the foundational knowledge you have already gained, you will find that your practice takes on a whole new feel. Try to experience each posture as new. Feel each breath as though you are still “working on it.” Remember that this practice never ends. There is always more to learn, more to incorporate, and more to understand. And as we understand more about the practice, we understand more about ourselves.