Home Yoga Practice

Do you have a home yoga practice? Have you developed a regular yoga practice for yourself? Maybe your regular practice is to go to your favorite yoga classes every week as consistently as possible. And your home yoga practice might be to take a few minutes to move and stretch each day.

I started thinking about home yoga practices for my students. Sometimes I have to cancel a class. When I’m away from our classes together, I hope my continued encouragement to do yoga at home gains traction. As a yoga teacher, I want students to learn yoga and eventually develop their own home yoga practice. A person makes the most progress when yoga becomes a part of their everyday lives. So, let’s consider the merits of both a yoga studio practice and a home yoga practice.

Home Yoga Practice vs Yoga Studio Practice

Most of us would agree that practicing yoga with others helps to keep us in class, and on the mat from start to finish. It may make us more motivated to put in a strong yoga practice. We stay with each pose, attempt each move, and participate more actively. Yoga is not a competitive sport but it can feel like a team sport. A “team of yogis” moving through asanas and breathing together in pranayama can inspire you go that extra mile. It is uplifting to watch as others move together with you in a yoga studio class.

The home yoga practice can make yoga easy. For starters, you’re at home! You don’t have to find a class, get dressed, comb your hair, drive your car, or go online to schedule or pay for class. The downside is you don’t have to commit to… well, anything. The home yoga practice can make yoga hard, because it is easy to get distracted with home tasks. Like some many areas of our life, we bemoan: “The mind is wonderful servant but a terrible master.” But let’s decide that your heart is in it. You know it will be a good and positive habit to develop. Even the servants of your logical mind must yield to the obvious pros and cons.

Merits of a Home Yoga Practice

  • Developing intentional awareness – many yoga studio teachers (like me!) will give the queue to become more aware, to notice sensation, to scan the body, to go inside and check in with how you are feeling. The teacher may be talking through this at just the moment when you need quiet and stillness! In a home yoga practice, develop a keener awareness by suggesting these queues to yourself by yourself. You set the intention when you say to yourself, “now, go deep inside and feel your body from the inside out.” 
  • Giving your body exactly what it needs – you’re the expert on your own body! You know the difference between a twist that feels oh-so-good versus one that is unpleasant and is moving in the direction of painfulness. Ask your body what it needs. Offer yourself movement suggestions, “how does this feel? oh, well, how about this, then?” Move in ways that help you release and relax, and strengthen and balance.
  • Working on advanced poses – So you want to do headstands? Gear your home yoga practice to poses that prepare your body for headstands. For example, warm up and spend the rest of your time going up and coming down (gracefully! and against a wall!) from headstand and child’s pose with strength and control.
  • Choosing more meditation or more pranayama – Have you ever been in a studio yoga class doing alternate nostril breathing and reluctantly had to stop before you were ready? I have! Several more rounds would have been oh-so delicious. A few minutes more (or less!) of mindfulness meditation or savasana would have been just right. Experiment with yourself. You choose!
  • Working with personal preferences – In a home yoga practice you may find yourself doing the same poses and sequences every session. What’s up with that? A home yoga practice gives you the opportunity, indeed the intention to examine your own choices. Like eating habits, what we most avoid doing in yoga class may be exactly the thing we need most! Working with personal preferences help us to notice and choose a practice (a habit, a meal, a pose) that creates more balance in our lives.
  • Going long or going short – What’s the ideal yoga practice time. An hour? An hour and 15 minutes? Ninety minutes? Two hours? With a home yoga practice you decide. Some days it may be exactly 23 minutes using your phone timer. Other days it may be outside, in the park, in between walking, skipping or running. Go long or go short. Just go and do it!

Planning a Home Yoga Practice

Deciding to develop a home yoga practice is the first step. Once you set the intention to begin, you’ve already started! Yoga Journal offers a few keys to a successful home practice:

  • Make a date with your mat – use the time you have, even if that means 15 minutes
  • Find inspiration – books, videos, or using your favorite sequence from your studio class
  • Choose a focus – standing poses, inversions, twists, forward folds
  • Beginning and ending – develop quiet and calm for the start and the finish
  • Just do it – get past your mind stuff and “experience yourself more clearly”

Beginning a Home Yoga Practice

There are all sorts of videos online for yoga, pranayama, meditation, mudras, chanting, and yoga philosophy. The following are links that give me inspiration in teaching yoga and in doing my own home yoga practice. You may recognize some of the postures, queues, and language that I use when I teach classes at Take Me To The River Yoga studio. You can always come to Take Me To The River yoga studio to practice these same styles in a studio yoga class with me. I encourage you to also try a few of these online classes, get inspired and develop your own most meaningful home yoga practice. 

Somatics and Yoga – James Knight’s youtube channel “Gentle Somatic Yoga” lays out several different somatic practices by topic. For variety and for addressing specific issues, this is a good primer on the topic of Somatics and Yoga.

Mindful Hatha Yoga – Mindful Hatha Yoga tends to be a more gentle practice with focus on slow movement and concentration on the breath. Yoga with Adrienne is a popular yoga channel with different styles. I like Adrienne because she’s approachable, has a sense of humor, and gives great direction and options. This is her Gentle Yoga – 25 Minute Gentle Yoga Sequence

Chair Yoga – The Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa has posted several chair yoga videos. This “Gentle Yoga in the Chair” is one of the best I have found.

Kripalu Vinyasa Flow – One of my teachers at Kripalu, Coby Kozlowski teaches this Moderate Kripalu Vinyasa Flow class. 

Mindfulness Meditation – Tara Brach is my go-to meditation teacher. Her videos and podcasts are so inspiring! Here’s her youtube channel. Most all her talks begin with a discussion and end with a short, guided meditation. She is easy to relate to, offering poignant, compassionate quotes from Rumi, Rilke, and telling stories to give texture and deep meaning.

Kirtan Kriya – The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation explains the steps, benefits and results they’ve seen with the practice of Kirtan Kriya. Read up on the technique using the fingers, then go to this link to practice with music and timing. The youtube video has are no words or instruction but just provides the framework of music, chanting and timing for this practice. I’ve written on Mudras and Homunculus Man to explore the physiology behind the effectiveness of hand gesture practices.

 

Chair Yoga is still YOGA

Chair yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga
Getting ready for Chair Yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga

Chair Yoga is still YOGA. Still, meaning in the future, as in the past (an adverb). I’m not talking about “still” as an adjective (not moving)! It’s the real deal. When you do yoga in a chair you are STILL doing yoga. You do yoga with all the benefits of movement, breath, and mindfulness. Even if you swear by your uber-active Ashtanga or your hot flow Vinyasa, Chair Yoga may STILL have something to offer you.

We’re still doing Chair Yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga studio in the Wednesday morning 10 am class. It started out with one of my students needing a few more options to the poses in our regular Hatha Yoga practice. She was uncomfortable in our reclined poses. So I combined our favorite yoga poses with Chair Yoga for seated poses, and several options for standing variations using the chair.

As an aside here… people often ask what its like in a typical studio class. My usual response is that it depends on who shows up! My classes do have brief descriptions and titles like Kripalu Yoga, Kripalu Vinyasa Flow, Mindful Yoga, HRV Yoga, Energy Body Yoga, etc. But “It is all Hatha to Me” (I need a t-shirt with this slogan). Hatha Tantric Yoga. Traditional Yoga. Classic Yoga. I teach YOGA to the class. I check in with the students who show up, and adjust the class accordingly. That often means offering several options to the poses, depending on the ease and preference to the anatomy and the energy in the room!

Chair Yoga combines all the elements of a typical Yoga class using the chair as a “prop.” Props like blankets, blocks and straps will be familiar to those students who have practiced yoga. The chair is just another prop. The special prop-erties of the chair are support and comfort for weight, balance and mobility.

Students wary of sitting on the floor, or getting up off the floor come to appreciate the support of a chair in their yoga practice. People with conditions such as ankle, knee or hip pain, low back pain, lack of flexibility, fatigue, shortness of breath may find greater ease by practicing yoga in a chair.

One of the first Chair Yoga practices I experienced was in a 2012 youtube video posted by the Moffitt Cancer Center here in Tampa, Florida. It’s called Gentle Yoga in the Chair. The practice is wonderful and the comments below the video post tell the true story of what this kind of practice can mean for many, many people. I have gone to Chair Yoga school on this video and with many online Chair Yoga videos. Even with a long running personal practice, I find Chair Yoga is still YOGA!

If you relate to the popular yoga meme, “I just came for the Savasana,” you simply must experience Savasana in Chair Yoga. It’s still Savasana!

Mudra and Homunculus Man

Hand positions used in the practice of yoga are called mudras. Like the breathing practices of pranayama, there are many different mudras for evoking certain physiological responses. The mudras have wide ranging effects on the sensory functions within the body. What is behind this experience?

Homunculus Sculpture by Sharon Price-Jame
Homunculus Sculpture by Sharon Price-James

 

Enter Homunculus man! Images of the “little man” or homunculus show body parts scaled to their relative sensory function in the brain. The sculpture pictured above is a graphic representation by Sharon Price-James. It is one of three of her Homunculus man sculptures (the other two are motor and sexual versions). This is the sensory version showing those parts that make the greatest contribution in our cortical functioning. Look at those hands! Hmm… could this be a scientific basis for mudra effectiveness?

Let’s continue. The fastest and most detailed information we can gather for our nervous system is through the rate of our breathing and our sense of touch with the hands. In yoga our controlled connection to that nervous system is through the breath in pranayama and with the hands in mudra. These two yogic practices are our direct connection between the relationship between the body and the mind, in their combined relationship to our environment.

The concept of mudras has its detractors and its supporters. Some discount mudras as simply ritualistic or symbolic. The experiential evidence (that’s real people doing real activity) shows a number of related techniques using the hands and fingers as having similar effectiveness. Think tapping, Super Brain Yoga, Kirtan kriya yoga advocated by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation using SA-TA- NA-MA mantra with finger movements. Other yogic techniques such as meditation and mediation of the body have been studied using technology to measure and evaluate the mystery of the practice. Don’t get me started.

So back to Homunculus man and mudra. How does a topographical map of the body’s sensory areas inform our practice? Would that we could ask Dr. Wilder Graves Penefield, a pioneer in mapping the regions of the brain. Not a guy satisfied with the amazing feat of describing the cortical homunculus, he really was interested in the science behind consciousness and the soul. Wow. His early work on brain stimulation gives us many threads to follow. After all, he branched out into the study of hallucination, out-of-body-experience, deja vu – seamlessly and without hesitation. We should be such doubters.

Bottomline. Hands are innervated in a way that has huge significance to dedicated brain activity (can we call that activation?). Hand gestures and mudras communicate outwardly and inwardly. The brain and body has developed in a way to collect loads of data from the hands. Find a mudra that works for you.

Now, how about the lips and tongue on Homunculus man? Kiss someone today and let me know if its love or pseudoscience!

Kleshas and the Yoga Sutras

Chapter Two of the Yoga Sutras, the Sadhana Pada are instructions to our practice. They give us the road map to liberation. The mental practices of the Sadhana Pada are used to remove kleshas (the mental obstacles) that hold us back.

The explanations of the kleshas begins in Book Two, or Chapter Two, the Sadhana Pada. In this part of the Yoga Sutras the actual practice of yoga is spelled out clearly. Section 2.1 tells us the practice of yoga includes plans to purify, study spiritual books, and surrender to God. In Section 2.2 we learn why yoga should be practiced: to remove obstacles and attain Samadhi.

“The goal of yoga is not to obtain something that is lacking: it is a realization of an already present reality.”

The practice of asana and pranayama (yoga postures and yogic breathing) are the physical practices that we use to teach the body self awareness and control. Asana like backbends can be used in overcoming kleshas.

Understanding mental practices, such as removing kleshas is the cornerstone to yogic philosophy. Removing kleshas, or obstacles to liberation, peace and freedom is the start of the practice outlined in Book Two of the Yoga Sutras.

In 2.3 of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali lays out the five Kleshas:

    1. Ignorance
    2. Egotism
    3. Attachment
    4. Hatred or Aversion
    5. Clinging to Life

The kleshas are described as obstacles at the root of human suffering. Following 2.3 in the Yoga Sutras are a description of each of the five kleshas in detail.  Sri Swami Satchidananda in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali explains the significance of the order. He points out that each klesha tends to build on the next. With ignorance of the self comes egotism. Because of egotism there is attachment to things enjoyed by the ego. When the things we are attached to are taken away, or if they do not get something we become angry and experience hatred or aversion for those who get in our way.

The following are three different translations of the 2.3 Sutra:

Avidyasmita raga dvesabhinivesah klesah

  • Ignorance, egotism, attachment, hatred and clinging to bodily life are the five obstacles. -translation Satchidananda in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • The causes of suffering are not seeing things as they are, the sense of “I,” attachment, aversion, and clinging to life. -translation Chip Hartranft in The Wisdom of Yoga, Stephen Cope, Appendix B The Yoga-Sutra in English
  • These are ignorance (avidya), ego or pride, which acts as an imposter of the seer (ahamkara-asmita), attachment (rarga), aversion (dvesa), and anxiety or fear of death (abhinivesa), as if life were eternal. -translation B.K.S. Iyengar in Core of the Yoga Sutras

B.K.S. Iyengar’s statement that ego or pride acts as “an imposter of the seer” speaks to the idea that the ego is a mirror to the seer. It is a copy of the real thing. The ego and the seer and separate. The ego is related to an identity that we choose for ourselves. The seer looks on with dispassion and detachment, being unidentified with the self or ego. We are not who we think we are. Our true nature is not the same as the identity we have taken on as a representation of ourselves. The difference here between seer or true self and the ego is an important distinction.

Chip Hartranft makes the point that ignorance is “not seeing things as they are.” This suggests the true self might know the difference! How do we discern how things truly are? How does ignorance development a faulty sense of “I”? How does egotism promote our ignorance? How does egotism blind us to what is true and real?

Sri Swami Satchadananda breaks down the Sanskrit for us:

Avidya = ignorance; asmita = ego sense, egoism, I-ness;

raga = attachment; dvesa = hatred

abhinivesah = clinging to bodily life; klesah = obstacles, afflictions

Kleshas are referred to as obstacles. They are also considered “afflictions” or what we might call character flaws. The Yoga Sutras explain that kleshas keep us from experiencing peace and enlightenment, Samadhi. Without yoga we cannot overcome the kleshas.

An Eclipse: Hatha Yoga, Sun & Moon

Hatha means sun and moon.
Photo credit: August 21, 2017, original eclipse photo by Lindsey Blum, Farmington, Missouri, as profiled by SkyandTelescope.com

The Great American Eclipse viewable from Oregon to South Carolina happened on Monday, August 21, 2017. I was fortunate to view the path of totality in Madisonville, TN. The sun caught up with the moon and became eclipsed. I was reminded of “Hatha” and the sanskrit meaning of Hatha Yoga.

Several interpretations exist for the word Hatha. Yoganand (Michael Carroll) the dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga explains that the ancient meaning had a forceful or violent connotation. Not the act of yoga, but the effect of yoga. In ancient India where yoga originated, the sun and moon represented a cycle. The hot, dry season of the sun withered the plants. The lunar cycle of the moon ushered in the monsoon season.The belief was the moon brought the rain, a replenishing and rejuvenation force.

Here in Tampa we’ve definitely felt the effects of THA in Hatha. Rain falls daily. And therefore we yearn for cool, dry days in fall. It’s been very HA HA HOT! Like watching the weather, we often watch for signs of change. Change comes with the lunar cycle of a full moon and a new moon, and planetary cycles such as Mercury in retrograde.

The 2017 eclipse was a reminder of traditional Hatha yoga. Hatha is the balance of earth and moon. Yoga “yokes” sun and moon together. The eclipse was a dramatic example of the sun and moon cycle. We are “yoked” in a universe of social, political and psychological cycles. Hatha Yoga asks us to stand in balance of opposing forces.

As for Hatha Yoga, Yoganand speaks of the other interpretation of yoga. The other sanskrit translation describes the forceful nature of yoga. Yoganand asks what kind of force would it take to pull the sun and the moon apart? In this interpretation Hatha is used to define a process so radical, so forceful, and so profound. Hatha Yoga is a force of nature known to balance the obstacles of the past with building blocks for the future. It is the sun and the moon, and the powerful relationship with us here on earth.

In this season between HA and THA, it is time to examine the cycles of our own lives. The cycles that we create for ourselves and others, and those we get drawn into. The eight limbs of yoga provide the powerful force needed to correct that trajectory. Practicing Hatha Yoga is a journey around the sun, under the watchful eye of the moon. The eight limbs of yoga are the roadmap and the road, the direction and the destination. Namaste.

 

Ahimsa in an aggressive world

The Yamas are five moral codes and the first guides of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Ahimsa is the first of the five Yamas. The word Himsa is translated as violence. The addition of an “A” changes himsa (violence) to no violence or non-violence. So the short meaning of Ahimsa is non-violence, an instruction to live in a non-violent manner.

Ahimsa may be the most important of the Yamas. This is because the other four Yamas hinge on this first guide. After all, if we practice Ahimsa the result is a smoother journey with the other Yamas. It may make us more truthful (Satya), avoid stealing (Asetya), reduce excess (Brahmacharya), and be less possessive (Aparigraha).

Ahimsa is never Going all Jack Nicholson on your fellow driver
Is “going all Jack Nicholson” with a golf club in a road rage more violent than other harmful actions?

Today we live in a very aggressive world. Being a little forceful here or acting out a little road rage there probably would not be seen as violent. It is easy to claim that we are not violent and that we practice Ahimsa because violence is such a strong word. Laying on the horn because someone cut us off doesn’t seem as “violent” as going all Jack Nicholson on someone’s windshield in a road rage with a golf club.

The lines become more blurred when we examine the concept of Ahimsa. What our society considers a “normal reaction to stress” becomes indistinguishable from true anger, violence and aversion. Anger, rudeness, disrespect and personal attacks become commonplace. Our harmful words and actions become normalized.

When we examine the aggressive nature of our culture it is harder to parse out simple ugliness and full blown violence. The “I win and you lose” is a tenet of everything from sports to capitalism. We end up in the danger zone of harm to others, as well harm to ourselves.

Ahimsa in a larger, social context asks us to do no harm. That automatically broadens the definition to include others, ourselves, and everything in our world. Non-violence becomes less tolerant of all harm. Ahimsa asks us to consider others and ourselves before taking any action that might cause harm. Ahimsa sheds light on how we individually create an increasingly violent, aggressive world. Practicing Ahimsa helps us change it.

Asteya and the many ways to steal

Do you steal? If you don’t steal, what does stealing mean to you? If you do steal, is there any difference between stealing something big and valuable (like a car) versus stealing something small and seemingly inconsequential (like paperclips at work)? What is ownership and are there moral rights around ownership? What can be “owned?”

Let’s explore the idea of taking something that does not belong to you from the perspective of yoga and the yogic path. Asteya, or non-stealing is the third of five Yamas. The Yamas are the moral codes set down as part of the yogic path. The path of yoga is spelled out in the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Asteya, or the idea that you should not steal from others is a moral cornerstone found in many major religions. For Christians it shows up as either the 7th or the 8th commandment, appropriately sandwiched between adultery and bearing false witness.

Asteya or steal this bookThere are many cultural examples of rule making among humans for defining socially acceptable, honorable ways of living. Rules for right living often address a specific need that is tied to a social context within a historical time and place. For example many Jewish traditions around food selection and food preparation have a rich historical context for healthy living.

Asteya is not bound by time and place. It is a direct, clearly translated order that can be found in cultures the world over. Do not take something that does not belong to you. And, of course there is a flip side. Here’s a discussion around acceptable and even honorable stealing to accomplish diversity, peace and other social goals.

The idea of stealing also shares wide and nebulous boundaries with i’s closely related cousin: lying. Ask a group of people to discuss what constitutes stealing or to debate the merits of lying to help someone versus telling the honest-to-God-truth, and you’re guaranteed to generate a heated discussion! Stealing and lying fall into the foggy zone of “it depends.”

Back to Asteya! Asteya, non-stealing. Or defined further as “the abstinence, in one’s deeds or words or thoughts, from unauthorized appropriation of things of value from another human being”. From the depths of the foggy zone of “it depends,” arises a broad definition to include the idea of value. Value might be in the eye of the beholder or in the eye of the possessor. How do we decide what has value enough for the individual?

What do you find valuable? Is it your possessions? Your home? Your time? Knowledge you have gained that others may “spirit away” in a manner that makes you feel cheated, violated or stolen from? Maybe Asteya should be viewed from the other person’s perspective. Stealing might be decided as the taking of something that another person perceives as valuable. It may not be something that you perceive as valuable. The recognition of how someone else feels could be a guiding factor.

Maybe we should be “unauthorized” to appropriate things of value from another person. This idea certainly takes the “me” out of the equation. Stealing is not about “me.” Stealing is about the other person’s value system. Stealing is about taking something viewed as valuable from someone else. Otherwise, we could just ask permission . . . could I please have a cutting off your beautiful plumeria plant?

Many of the Yama’s pose important questions of morality that we can use as a starting point of inquiry.

Svadhyaya and Swami Kripalu 

The first time I heard the word “Svadhyaya” I immediately thought of “The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood,” the 1996 book by Rebecca Wells that was turned into a movie in 2002. It seemed a natural leap, a reasonable thought progression . . . Svad-h-ya-ya. It was that YaYa part that swept over me like a wild banshee cry.

But of course, Svadhyaya has next to nothing to do with the YaYa Sisterhood. Unless you consider the book’s plot line that “the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for,”  ties into the self-study that is Svahyaya. That’s a lot of self-examination for a southern tale, and may not be that far off for the YaYa Sisterhood!

In yoga, Svadhyaya is one of the five Niyamas (there’s a YA in there!), along with Saucha, Santosha, Tapas and Ishvara-Pranidhana. And the Niyamas are one of the eight limbs of yoga. I hope you’re keeping count of all these numbered items for which yoga and many oral traditions are famous! A lot of YAs being laid down too.

The short description for the yogic practice of Svadhyaya is that of self-study. A book that is better suited to the “YaYa’s” of yoga, and one that is all about self-study is “Pilgrim of Love, The Life and Teachings of Swami Kripalu,” compiled and edited by Atma Jo Ann Levitt. It begins with the epigraph, “To pilgrims of every path, and especially those willing to be fools for love.” This path to love is very serious and is far from foolish.

Pilgrim of Love. The Life and Teachings of Swami KripaluPilgrim of Love teaches us much about Swami Kripalu, whose name was given to the Kripalu Ashrams in Pennyslvania where he taught yoga from 1977 to 1981. (In 1983 the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health continued the legacy in Stockbridge, MA, its current location). Swami Kripalu followed the path of Kundalini yoga, a branch of yoga sometimes referred to as the yoga of awareness.

In this book’s deep dive into the life and teaching of Swami Kripalu, there are many lessons for the study of yoga and yogic philosophy. The chapter on “My Guidance to Disciples,” he shares the message given to him by his teacher Gurudev. It is a series of 14 guidelines meant as a summary for yoga Sadhana. As with many of Swami Kripalu’s teachings, the guidelines are not for casual yoga participants, is intended for serious yoga practitioners, and goes well beyond the yoga postures that dominate western yoga.

The guidelines start with something common to most spiritual practices, “#1. Love all living beings, do not hate anyone.” And end with #14. Read this guide every Thursday. Guides 2-13 range from the pleasant to extremely difficult. Like #7. If possible, take cold baths three times a day (… to maintain purity and piety of the body. Never sleep during the day, and so on), to the much more difficult #5. Initiates should have one pure and moderate meal a day with milk in the morning and evening. Do not eat meat. Do note use liquor, marijuana, tobacco, coffee, tea, or other stimulants. Ok. Cold shower. No coffee. I got this. Not. Even. Close.

One must stand in complete deference to a gifted teacher guiding us to “cross the ocean of samskaras and attain the supreme love of God.” We should not expect that a commodified life of sloth and torpor to usher us to the gates of Heaven, or to send us into immediate Samadhi!

Swami Kripalu’s guide relating to Svadhyaya is #12. As a source of self-study, contemplate the meaning of Shri Gnaneshvar’s Bhagavad Gita. Memorize lines 54 to 72 of the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. Chapters 12, 15, and 16 should also be memorized and recited every day. Recite Brahmacharya Bhavani (treatise on celibacy) every morning. Practice bhajans, and read and contemplate good books everyday. Never stop listening to the messages of pious saints.”

The second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is about the Practice of Yoga and lines 54-72 are all about giving up attachments and investments in both craving and aversion. And the other Chapters 12, 15 and 16 respectively are titled in various translations as The Yoga of Devotion, The Ultimate Person, and Three Kinds of Faith. Memorizing and reading these passages everyday would certainly give one food for thought. Turning the spotlight inward with these passages is a lesson in self-study to examine our behavior in greater detail.

For all you Yogic YaYas out there, the following are a few links to other blogs discussing the Niyamas and Svadhyaya!

https://kripalu.org/resources/yoga-s-ethical-guide-living-yamas-and-niyamas
https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/the-niyamas-svadhyaya-or-self-study
http://www.expressionsofspirit.com/yoga/eight-limbs.htm

 

International Day of Yoga – Wednesday, June 21

June 21
International Day of Yoga, June 21

What will you be doing on Wednesday, June 21, 2017?
Since June 21 is the International Day of Yoga, take a yoga class. Or participate in a yoga-inspired event. It seems like the best idea is to check out the local yoga studios in Tampa. So that definitely includes yoga classes at Take Me To The River Yoga Studio! Celebrate International Day of Yoga with us. We will have our regular Wednesday classes (10:00-11:15 am and 7:00-8:15 pm).

Which Mudra for this day?
On International Yoga Day we will be practicing Prithivi Mudra, gesture of the Earth. There are several reasons for the choice for this mudra, aside from the obvious! Prithivi means “Earth.” This mudra directs our breath and awareness down through the body for a feeling of being more grounded. Grounding to our Earth in yoga and mudra practice helps us feel stable, secure and safe. It sends the message to our body that we are grounded.

When we are grounded we are better able to inhabit our bodies and connect with our natural world. It is important to love, honor and ground into the Earth right now. It is important to remember how our beautiful Earth supports us. We thrive because our Earth creates a most awesome experience for all Earthlings. We must protect our Earth and tie ourselves closer to its power. We must share in protecting our planet to preserve our own existence. It’s that important!

More about I Day of Yoga
The UN General Assembly declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga in 2014. The idea began at the suggestion of the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi. He addressed the assembly saying, “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

 

Two Beautiful Candle Poses

Candle PoseThis is a strange yoga alignment story. The image above may seem like an odd conjunction. But for me, it seemed a perfect match. Two candles. Both posing. Maybe I should back up and explain!

Earlier this week I was walking my dog and came upon a Night Blooming Cactus in a pose of full expression. I’ve seen these flowers many times. They grow on the large oak tree trunks in my Tampa neighborhood in Florida. Curious and wanting to know more that day, I looked it up. Listen to this: it blooms once a year on one night only! Its botanical name is Selenicereus Grandiflora. Let’s break down that Latin like Sanskrit: Greek Moon Goddess (Selene), Latin word for candle (Cereus), large flower (Grandiflora). My mind takes a yogic leap. It’s a Candle. A Candle Pose.

Maybe I’ve found my edge and this Grandiflora alignment is really over stretching! Who would would expect to answer this analogy correctly on an exam: Iyengar in candle pose is to Night Blooming Cactus as down dog is to cat stretch. Anyway, the idea was sticky as a yoga mat to me!

Now, when I go into shoulder stand, I’ll start thinking about candles. Then as I lower down into plow I’ll begin to feel some odd resemblance to a melting candle. Some moments later I’ll realize that my mind has started to wander. I’ll bring myself back to the present moment, focus on my breathing, inhale deeply and exhale slowly …. as I blow the candle out!

 

Prithivi mudra – Gesture of the Earth

Prithivi MudraThe word Prithivi (or Prithvi) means “Earth.” And Prithivi mudra is related to the Earth elements. When we work with the Earth elements it helps us to reduce the influence of Agni, the Fire elements. More balanced energies restore equilibrium to the physical body. Prithivi mudra supports this balance and promotes a sense of being more grounded.

When we are grounded we calm down and can begin to feel more in touch with our bodies. Being grounded allows us to feel safe, secure, and stable. The Prithivi mudra is practiced to bring us into a greater connection with our physical bodies. So, in seated postures for Prithivi Mudra we send attention to our breath and to our seat. Grounding into the Earth, sending attention to our breath and root chakra, gives us the experience of greater harmony. With this harmony comes strong support to the physical structure of the body.

There are many claims made about the benefits of Prithivi mudra. Probably the best way to prove this out is to DO Prithivi mudra. Suggestions vary as to how long and how frequently one should practice a mudra. Like most things, it depends! And it depends on you. When practiced regularly, this mudra can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve eliminatory health.

Here’s how

Like meditation, mudras are best practiced for several minutes every day in a comfortable seated position. In fact, mudras and meditation go together like a hand in a glove! Find a comfortable seated position. Position your hands in Prithivi mudra. Sit up tall. Roll your shoulders back and down. Begin to focus on your breath, inhaling deeply, exhaling slowly. Bring your attention to the base of your spine. Visual rooting yourself into the Earth. If your mind wanders bring its attention back to how your body is breathing. Quiet down. Go inside.

Practice in class and at home

In yoga class at Take Me To The River Yoga Studio we practice different types of mudras. Unfortunately most yoga classes are not long enough to give special attention to any one mudra. So the best approach is to come to class and learn different mudras. Then, go home and try them out!

 

June 21 – International Day of Yoga

InternationalDayOfYogaLogoIn 2014 the prime minster of India, Shri Narendra Modi spoke before the United Nations and called for setting aside a day as “International Day of Yoga.” The date is June 21 and is celebrated all over the world with inspired yoga studios and yoga teachers everywhere celebrating the practice of yoga. Many studios offer free yoga classes and other special events to mark the importance of the practice of yoga in their communities.

Resources to learn more about yoga and International Day of Yoga can be found on the government of India’s page on International Day of Yoga. Particularly helpful is the 44 page pdf document “Common Yoga Protocol” that can also be viewed online as an interactive “flip book.”  The document gives extensive explanations on what yoga is, several pages on asanas, details on pranayama, references to the eight limbs of yoga, health benefits and more.

“Yoga is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with ourselves, the world and Nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us to deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” – Shri Narendra Modi

InternationalDayOfYogaAsanaRead through the Common Yoga Protocol document and check out the section on asanas. Each asana is clickable to a window that pops us listing the steps of the posture and a  link to a video on how to practice the posture. It is interesting that each asana video comes from a different source. The different videos truly represent yoga in the modern world where we experience a wide range of yoga styles and many different teachers that use both traditional and unique approaches to the postures and to the sharing the practice in a yoga class.

This is why we plank

In the 2014 Guinness Book of World Records Mao Weidong from China took home the proverbial gold for holding plank. He held a four hour and 26 minute planking amazing posture that surpassed the previous record by more than an hour. Sometimes in yoga class the heavy breathing and groaning starts a mere 30 seconds into a plank hold. This is why we plank: to build core strength. Holding plank is an effective way to build core strength because it requires engaging several muscles to hold the pose.

plank-muscles-worked2

A relative few have considered the 30 day plank challenge, posting only a half gazillion photos on the web and an equal number of 30 day plank challenge charts to help either track progress or possibly instill a 30 day guilt trip. The 30 day plank challenge doesn’t make the top 5 in the 30 day google search, being surpassed by squats, abs, the generic 30 day challenge (lumping butts, chest, arm, cardio and even Christmas), squat challenge results and the fitness challenge.

30DayChallengesMany asanas in yoga require a strong core to properly get into and hold the pose long enough to realize benefit. A weak core can result in injury and soreness in yoga practitioners who push beyond their core strength. This why we plank: to have enough strength to progress in our yoga practice. The yogi must engage the abdominal muscles to get in the pose. Holding  plank pose properly begins to have an immediate strength improvement pay off, unlike some of the more passive asanas that do not require much strength. The muscles in the shoulder must engage to hold the torso in place. Dr. Ray Long from Bandha Yoga uses the term “co-activation” to describe similar muscle engagement of the gluts and abs in chaturanga dandasana. He goes on to describe the benefits of co-activation, or engaging the gluts and abs as a way strengthen the core.

“As we evolved from quadrupeds (walking on all fours) to erect bipeds, the spine has transitioned from a suspension bridge type of structure, using tension/compression relationships, to a weight-bearing column. This change exposes the various structures of the spine to different potential stresses. For example, the “sway back” position results from a weak abdominal core. For this reason, back rehabilitation programs always incorporate abdominal strengthening exercises. In other words, conditioning the front helps to protect the back.” – Dr. Ray Long, The Daily Bandha blog and Bandha Yoga: Scientific Keys to Unlock Yoga Practice.

This is why we plank: the front helps to protect the back. The combination of a strong back and a strong core helps to reduce the stress placed on our spine. Strengthening the core is a key element to improving our yoga practice. Yoga asks us to dive into our energy body, to become focused and knowledgeable on ways to improve strength, balance and flexibility. This is why we plank.

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga for shoulders

Working with the shoulders is important because we hold a lot of tension in our shoulders. We may also experience pain in the shoulders and down the fronts of the arms due to improperly engaging the shoulder and surrounding muscles in postures such as chaturanga dandasana.

In yoga class we are often given the queue for dandasana (mountain pose) to lift the shoulders, roll them onto the back and keep them slightly back and slightly down. For chaturanga dandasana different instructions are needed to provide more support to the shoulders and the body using the arms and hands.

Repetitive action in other physical activities can cause or add to muscle soreness in the shoulders or along the fronts of the arms. If we add improper shoulder alignment during our yoga practice we may compound the problem. Rotator cuff injuries, upper back soreness and tightness of the shoulders all may benefit from engaging the shoulders using the correct technique.

In this article, “How to Avoid Shoulder Injuries in Chaturanga and Plank” by Doug Keller on the Yoga International website, the author explains how we often draw the shoulders forward too much and strain the pectoral muscles in chaturanga. A few well-illustrated exercises are provided that guide the yoga practitioner to activate the muscles around the shoulders and upper body.

Chaturanga Dandasana image from the article by Yoga International, How to Avoid Shoulder Injuries in Chaturanga and Plank
Chaturanga Dandasana image from the article by Yoga International, How to Avoid Shoulder Injuries in Chaturanga and Plank

Many yoga teachers who work with correct asana form will often remind us that we tend to bring our bad posture habits to our yoga mats. We may suffer pain and sometimes injury by continuing to shift load improperly to muscles and muscle groups. Remember to bring body awareness to your yoga practice, watch for signs of pain and discomfort and learn what adjustments you need to make in your own, individual body. Your physique is unique! And your spine is divine. Namaste!

Shh, you know all you need to know

LaylaAlbumCoverThe Jewish myth of Lailah, the angel of night is an ancient story that captures the essence of the idea that we already know everything we need to know. It describes how we obtain infinite knowledge before birth and how we start down the path of forgetting that wisdom at the time of birth. It is the tale of how we leave the womb, enter the world and begin learning lessons that are of the world. Mark Nepo calls this “the unlearning of God.” The Jewish myth and Nepo both remind us that it is our mission to begin the process to return to our original knowledge and to unlearn our way back to God.

The word Lailah or Laylah is Hebrew for “night” and is the name given to the angel of the night represented in the Talmud and in other Jewish mythology. The album “Layla” by Derrick and the Dominoes, ala Eric Clapton probably had another night angel in mind when the lyrics for the song of the same name were penned. If you squint your eyes and open your mind, the beautiful album cover could be seen as a representation of the beautiful angel Lailah!

In Jewish mythology it follows that the angel Lailah chooses a soul from the Garden of Eden, joins it with a seed and commands it to enter the embryo. As the “midwife of souls” she watches over the womb as it develops. Lailah places a lighted candle at the head of the unborn infant in the womb so that he or she can see from one end of the world to the other. She teaches the unborn child the entire Torah, as well as the history of his or her soul, showing the rewards and punishments available to the individual.

Right before birth, Lailah extinguishes the light of the candle and as the child emerges the angel lightly strikes its finger to the child’s lip as if to say “Shhhh.” This causes the child to forget what was learned. This “shushing” creates the philtrum, that crease located just above the lip.

Officially, angels are supposed to be sexless but most all other angels have masculine names. Most other angels names end in “el,” God’s name such as Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. There is debate as to whether Lailah is a male or female angel since Lailah is the angel of conception and all her characteristics relate to nurturing.

Jewish scholars note that God decides the fate of the child when it is conceived and leaves one thing undecided, whether it will be righteous or wicked, allowing it to have free will. The story of Lailah implies that knowledge is present and only just forgotten at birth, much like the Jungian concept of the collective unconscious.

Lailah serves as a guardian angel throughout a person’s life and at death and leads the soul into the afterlife. It is our mission in life to recover the light, to remember all the lessons that we have always known and to return to the place of knowledge that reveals our deep past and ultimate destiny.

Various sources are listed on this Wikipedia entry for Lailah.

Unlearning Back To God

MarkNepoAwakeningBookCover2From Mark Nepo, Unlearning Back To God: Essays On Inwardness, 1985 2005

“Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, Theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of the Unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love.

To know this spot of Inwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it. This is a hard lifelong task, for the nature of becoming is a constant filming over of where we begin, while the nature of being is a constant erosion of what is not essential. Each of us lives in the midst of this ongoing tension, growing tarnished or covered over, only to be worn back to that incorruptible spot of grace at our core.

When the film is worn through, we have moments of enlightenment, moments of wholeness, moments of Satori as the Zen sages term it, moments of clear living when inner meets outer, moments of full integrity of being, moments of complete Oneness. And whether the film is a veil of culture, of memory, of mental or religious training, of trauma or sophistication, the removal of that film and the restoration of that timeless spot of grace is the goal of all therapy and education.

Regardless of subject matter, this is the only thing worth teaching: how to uncover that original center and how to live there once it is restored. We call the filming over a deadening of heart, and the process of return, whether brought about through suffering or love, is how we unlearn our way back to God”

Shiva’s 8,400,000 asanas

Did Shiva really teach 8,400,000 asanas? How many asanas are there? How long is the list? The exact number of asanas is determined by who you ask! The history of yoga asanas on Wikipedia does a good job explaining the exact number of asanas within particular disciplines, giving various counts of 2, 4, 66 with 136 variations, 84, 908 with 1300 variations and the 8,400,000 Shiva list.

Apparently Patanjali never mentioned asanas by name in the great yogic text, The Yoga Sutras but speaks about the basic of elements of the correct seated posture as a part of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. From the Yoga Sutras we can surmise that the four basic asanas are the seated poses such as: Sukhasana (comfortable, cross-legged pose), padmasana (Lotus pose and its variations) Vajrasana (sitting on heels) and staff pose (seated with legs outstretched and feet together).

The Goraksha Samhita or Goraksha Paddhathi, considered the oldest of Hatha Yogic texts lists the 84 classic poses but only describes two in detail: Siddhasana and Padmasana.  The Hatha Yoga Padipika also lists the 84 classic poses and states that the first four are necessary or vital to attain yogic perfection: Siddhasana, Padmasana, Bhadrasana (also known in more contemporary texts as Baddha Konasana, bound angle butterfly pose) and Simhasana.

Shiva’s asanas “most useful in the world of mortals”

Shiva was said to have taught 8,400,000 asanas, which seems reasonable if you’re a god! He toned it down for us mortals and described 32 of the most useful to regular humans. It seems like a good place to start. Here’s the list with notes and common pose names in parenthesis:

    1. siddhasana (siddha in Sanskrit means “perfect” and “adept”)
    2. padmasana (lotus)
    3. bhadrasana (bound angle butterfly)
    4. muktasana (liberation)
    5. vajrasana (vajra in Sanskrit means “thunderbolt” or “diamond)
    6. svastikasana (prosperous – similar to Siddhasana except top foot is tucked into top thigh)
    7. simhasana (lion)
    8. gomukhasana (cow face)
    9. virasana (hero)
    10. dhanurasana (bow)
    11. mritasana (Savasana or Shavasana, corpse)
    12. guptasana (variation to Siddhasana where organ of generation is hidden by both heels, gupta in Sanskrit means hidden)
    13. matsyasana (fish)
    14. matsyendrasana (Lord of the Fishes, seated twist; see half seated twist Ardha Matsyendrasana and Complete Lord of the Fishes Paripurna Matsyendrasana)
    15. gorakshana
    16. paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
    17. utkatasana (chair)
    18. sankatasana
    19. mayurasana (peacock)
    20. kukkutasana (cock or rooster)
    21. kurmasana (turtle)
    22. uttanakurmakasana
    23. uttanamandukasana
    24. vrikshasana (tree)
    25. mandukasana
    26. garudasana (eagle)
    27. vrishasana
    28. shalabhasana (locust)
    29. makarasana (crocodile)
    30. ushtrasana (camel)
    31. bhujangasana (cobra)
    32. yogasana (staff or Dandasana)

Learning the Sanskrit for Asanas

Learning a new language can be a challenge for some people. There are those of us who seem to have a knack for acquiring language skills easily, mastering the exact pronunciation and gaining a good understanding of a new, foreign syntax. For me, it is more like the pounding of the round peg in the square hole. It just doesn’t sink in!

I find myself overanalyzing the word structure and trying to leap frog over the hard work of memorizing by making up word patterns that I think I am seeing. This approach of “analogous thought” has served me well when learning concepts, recognizing trends and when trying to anticipate the next likely event. It apparently is the worst way to learn a new language!

And so it is with my efforts to learn the Sanskrit names to yoga asanas. There are many lists on the internet and thousands of books that are helpful. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Yoga Toolbox by Joseph Le Page and Lilian Le Page. A sturdy binder containing 90 laminated cards. It’s a comprehensive book that illustrates the poses and gives detailed information about getting into the poses, alternate poses, the effects the poses have on the Chakras with notes on the Koshas, Prana Vayus and Ayurveda.

Yoga Journal’s index of yoga poses lists the Sanskrit name and the English name is an easy to read table with links to pictures and descriptions of the poses.

Wikipedia’s list of asanas is a table with columns for the Sanskrit translation, Sanskrit text, English common name, image and classification in an easy to navigate format.

My personal favorite tool in the form of a game with animated flash cards and score keeping for the competitive at heart:

Yoga Toolbox – Yoga Asanas on Quizlet. Quizlet.com is a simple online tool that is useful for teachers and people wanting to make learning easier and more fun. I’ve set up a set for Yoga Asanas that you may find fun and entertaining. The Quizlet platform has gone back to the age-old method of games as an engaging learning tool. I particularly like the “Scatter” and “Space Race” tools. Of course there is a Quizlet iPhone app that weaned me off time sucking Zynga’s “Friend” games like Words with Friends, Running with Friends, Hanging with Friends and Gems with Friends. Now I have a new addiction! Quizlet sets.

To master, teach

ToMasterTeach1IMG_2028To learn, read.
To know, write.
To master, teach.

Oh, how I wish I knew how to read tea leaves. After opening my tea bag, plunking it in my cup and covering it with boiling water, I turned over the tag to read these three simple lines of inspirational text. Sipping my tea quietly put me in mind of how teaching others is the best way to learn.

Maybe the tea leaves would reveal that I have always loved teaching because I love to learn. I love yoga and I love teaching yoga. And now teaching yoga is teaching me.

Malcolm Gladwell goes through many formulas for achievement in his 2008 book “Outliers – The Story of Success” but it’s his 10,000 hour rule that stuck with me. He says that it takes at least 10,000 hours of doing something before a person gains true skill.

Teaching motivates me to put in the time so that I might master a subject. After all, one should feel very confident in their understanding of something before they try to teach someone else. In order to know something thoroughly you have to read, write and practice. That takes time. Teaching gives you bonus hours once you’ve become competent enough to spend time passing knowledge on to others. Teaching also has the effect of making you feel like you’ve earned back much of the time invested, especially when the light bulbs burn brightly over your students’ heads.

I’m confident that I have put in over 10,000 hours doing yoga poses (asana – one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga) but I certainly would not say I have mastered asana. For the other seven limbs of yoga quick math tells me that if I spend an hour a day everyday for nearly 28 years I’ll make the required 10,000 hours. Quick psychology tells me 10,000 hours of teaching yoga would remind me that I’ll remain forever a student! Many traditions would say that the moment you think you’ve mastered something you’ve just hit the 10,000 hour reset button that puts you back at the beginning.

If tea leaves could talk they might say, “rinse and repeat:”

To learn, read.
To know, write.
To master, teach.

Pratyahara – the branching of the 5th limb

In oral traditions much effort is given to numbering spiritual precepts. The four noble truths, the ten commandments, eight-fold path, three sections of the Torah, five pillars of Islam and others. This continues in print and online with titles in the self-help genre: the twelve step program, four agreements, seven habits of (fill in the blank) and the eight steps to seven figures, a healthy back, better communications, and on and on.

So it is with the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The list helps to compartmentalize the main areas of concentration for the yogic path. The limbs provide a mind map revealing interconnectedness and the endless suffering of the human condition. The word “limbs” is very well suited to the Eight Limbs of Yoga because it has many straight branches, curvy branches, leaves, roots and berries and bark of every texture imaginable! If turned into a pure listing it would be called the “16 subcategories of the infinitesimal inspection of spiritual molecules found in the human species.” That’s a little long to be memorable!

For this discussion I’d like to turn the fifth item on the list of the Eight Limbs of Yoga into an analogy. The fifth limb, Pratyahara involves so much “branching” that it seems better suited to analogy. Let’s consider this analogy: Pratyahara is to the Eight Limbs as trunk is to tree. Its mid point in the Eight Limb list makes it a good candidate for a trunk, supporting the top four limbs and connecting them to the lower three limbs. The trunk of Pratyahara reaches right down to the last item on the list, the ultimate oneness of Samadhi.

A few translations and definitions to get us started:

• To draw toward the opposite
• Sanskrit – prati means “against” or “away”
• Sanskrit – ahara means “food” or “anything we take into ourselves from the outside”
• Control of the senses, or sense withdrawal
• Withdrawing from thoughts or actions (i.e., internal: thoughts, impressions, emotions; external: all that we take in with the five senses)

Ok, here we go. Start climbing the tree. Did I mention it was a Sequoia? Pratyahara is one tall order. Shut off all input of the mind and all information coming in from the five senses. Withdraw all attention to what we experience as being alive and draw to the opposite. Got it?

B.K.S Iyengar explains that Pratyahara is a “hinge” or pivotal moment in the yogic path. He describes that the practice of yoga Asanas and Pranayama breathing generates an expanding energy that can spin out of control. The loss of control comes when the yoga practitioner falls in love with the extra attention and greater attraction that they receive in the world with their new found yogic strength. The hinge point comes when we incorporate Pratyahara in our practice by withdrawing from the desire to control, consume and seek gratification. The forward fold of this hinge comes with our detachment.

It is quite human and instinctual to experience and indulge the senses and to entertain thoughts and emotions. So how do we begin the practice of Pratyahara? Is it even possible to reach such a state?

A few ideas for practicing Pratyahara:

• Breath. Pranayama – Control the breath to control the mind. The mind is governed by the breath and the senses are governed by the mind.
• Spend time away from sensory overload – turn off the TV, computer and cell phone
• Stay away from wrong food, wrong thoughts and wrong associations
• Open up to the opposite (right diet, positive thoughts, right relationships)
• Meditate
• Use Visualizations (creating positive impressions and pleasant thoughts that clear the mind of external worry, anxiety, anger, tension)
• Karma yoga – right work, right action, service to others, surrendering personal rewards

And the most difficult practices of Pratyahara:

• Withdraw from unwholesome impressions
• Place your attention on the formless nature of the mind

At the very least it is helpful to remember: where the prana flows, the energy goes!