All posts by christanyc

Christa Avampato makes her living in the field of innovation and product development. She makes a life as a freelance writer. She writes about creativity and hope at Christa In New York, http://christainnewyork.com, and about entrepreneurship for Examiner, http://examiner.com/x-2901-NY-Business-Strategies-Examiner. She will be studying for her yoga teacher certification at Sonic Yoga in New York City.

The Yoga Sutras – Book 1 & 2

Book 1, Sutra 4: At other times [the Self appears to] assume the forms of the mental modifications.

Book 1, Sutra 30: Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained Ė these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.

Iíve been thinking about obstacles. New York is full of them. About a month ago I went to the kirtan at Sonic and one of the song we did was a chant to Ganesha. One of the cantors talked about Ganesha as the remover of obstacles, or the one who carefully places obstacles in our way when we need them. I didnít understand this later explanation and itís been nagging at the back of my mind.

In Book 1, Sutra 30, Patanjali talks about the nature of obstacles, and their residence in the mind. Despite that I consider my biggest obstacles to live outside of my own body, Patanjali reminds me that the true obstacles are within, in the mind. Linking this to Book 1, Sutra 4, I realized that the most effective way to remove obstacles, internal or external, is to change my mind about them.

I thought some more about the cantor’s description of Ganesha. The Prana has a sense of humor and a sense of deep compassion. There are obstacles within me that I have been turning away from for too long. I deal with them by avoiding them. So Ganesha, in his wisdom, forces me to deal with my obstacles by placing other obstacles in my way that I must respond to, ones that I cannot turn away from. And in dealing with those obstacles, I am being forced to deal with the bigger obstacles within.

I need to slow down, to learn how to make and stick to boundaries, to find my edge and live there Ė mentally and physically Ė so he handed me a yoga practice so intense that I have a sore bum and the need for far more sleep than usual. I have no choice but to slow down and consider what it is that Iím really trying to do with this life. For too long, Iíve been so worried that if I slow down, Iíll miss out. Iíll lose an opportunity or a lucky break.

Since I was a child, I have struggled with insomnia. My mind and my body literally couldnít calm down and go to sleep. Now almost 2/3 of the way through this yoga teacher training, I am sleeping better than I ever have in my life. For 18 minutes a day, I think about these two Sutras. I think about changing my mind, and I wait. And the opportunities, better than ever, are showing up. I donít need to keep looking around for a better life. The one I have is amazing; nowís the time to slow down and appreciate every moment.

Reflections on the Bhagavad Gita

Guest post by Christa Avampato

ďAs a man adorns worn-out clothes and acquires new ones, so when the body is worn out a new one is acquired by the Self, who lives within.Ē ~ 2:22

On Labor Day weekend in 2009, my apartment building caught fire. I was almost trapped inside and only by following my intuition was I able to get out in time. Almost all of my belongings were lost to extensive smoke damage. September 5, 2009 was a kind of death date for me; a date when stripped of almost all my material possessions, I realized that none of it mattered at all. I stood outside in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, holding nothing but my keys, watching my apartment building burn. Looking back, I think of that day as a day when I stepped out of my old, worn-out Self, and into a new frame. I still donít know what the art inside this new frame will look like just yet. Iím a work-in-progress.

Verse 2:22 in the Bhagavad Gita, one of the texts I had to read for my yoga teacher training, resonated with me, as does that image of Shiva, the Destroyer, dancing in a ring of fire. Sometimes we get in the way of our own personal development. We get bogged down with belongings, material and emotional. We need not stand on a burning platform, literally nor figuratively, to recognize that change is needed. Yoga can be the practice that helps us recognize our truth, our purpose, our dharma.

Continue reading

Learning to Fly

“If you make a rule [or tell yourself a story], be prepared to stand by it with conviction. Also be prepared to change it at any moment.” ~ Will Duprey

My brain is growing exponentially. I’ve been practicing yoga, mostly at home, for 11 years. I read about it, write about it, talk about it, practice it almost daily, and yet this teacher training is growing my practice and consciousness by leaps and bounds, and we’re only two weeks in to a 12 week program. Today Will Duprey, one of my teachers, taught us to fly by grounding us. Continue reading

On the Mat and in the World

I began my vinyasa yoga teacher training last Saturday. My head’s been swimming with Sanskrit, ancient Hindu texts, and physiology. I had a moment, or rather many moments, of panic. Maybe I’m in over my head. Maybe this process was a very bad idea given the vertical learning curve I’m clearly on, with no end in sight. It was all a bit overwhelming until one of my instructors, Johanna, made a very simple statement that put the entire teacher training process in perspective for me. “As you are in the mat so you are in the world.” And for that matter, vice versa. Continue reading

Yoga and the Olympics

208In Yoga Journal last month, there was an article about three Olympic athletes are use yoga as a serious component of their training: Chandra Crawford (cross-country skier), Emily Brydon (alpine skier), and Shannon Deanne Bahrke (freestyle skier). As someone who is considering how to build a love of yoga into a career, this is another reminder that there are so many ways this can play out.
Continue reading

Recharging

On Saturday, I took a break from all the screens, cursors, and endless tidbits of information that filter through to our various in-boxes. I was exhausted and worn out, and my creativity was taking a serious nose dive. I closed my Mac, turned off my phone, and collapsed in a heap on my yoga mat. My brain was so full that I couldn’t even think clearly. Everything around me seemed fuzzy.

Continue reading

Find a Sacred Place

wp000119“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” ~ Joseph Campbell

At the suggestion of a friend, I’ve been reading a lot of Joseph Campbell lately. I recently watched his DVD interviews with Bill Moyers around the idea of myth and the hero’s journey. A piece of the interviews that really caught my attention is their discussion about the importance of having a sacred place in our lives.
Continue reading

A Rested Mind

ďFor those just coming back from vacation, think carefully about what you are going to put your fresh, valuable mind to in your first few days. Value this resource highly. It may be your only chance to see the mountain you are on, to decide if you’re taking the right path up, or even if it’s the right mountain to be climbing at all.Ē ~ David Rock in Psychology Today

For the past few weeks, Iíve been working on clearing my mind more often during the day. The natural tendency for a busy mind is to work ever-harder to crack a problem or find an innovative solution. The yogic belief is that a clear, unburdened, relaxed mind is actually a more creative, efficient problem solver. And now that belief has a boost from hardcore science.

Continue reading