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Courage to Feel and be Vulnerable

Talk about partner yoga workshop– some couples neither partner had done yoga, but most one was regular yogi, and other partner had never done yoga. And I was thinking of how courageous it was for the non-yogi partner to be willing to try something so new with their partner… Courageous, because it can be really vulnerable to do something that your partner is the “expert” at, and you are totally new at…. Saw that courageous vulnerability as an expression of love.

TED Talk, Brene Brown- Social worker focuses on importance of vulnerability in order for us to feel human and alive, and fulfilled. In her research, she found that she could basically divide people into 2 groups:

  • There were people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it.
  • there was one variable that separated them- was the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. She calls these people- whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness.

And these whole-hearted people had one other thing in common: They fully embraced vulnerability. “They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they talk about it being excruciating — They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.”

Contextualize/universalize: I love this so much, this is one of the most important things we can gain from our yoga practice. Our tantric philosophy invites us to embrace the full spectrum of life- the courage to feel the full spectrum of physical sensations and emotion, the courage to love ourselves and others despite our imperfectness. To really experience life fully and express ourselves fully > courage&vulnerability.

Context Statements:

–       Courage- from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

–       yoga invites us to express ourselves fully, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be discrete about how we express ourselves, like you don’t express yourself the same way at home and at work, but in all cases, can we at least be honest with ourselves and have the courage to be imperfect?

–       We must learn to be compassion to be kind to ourselves first, because we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly

–       It takes courage to let go of who we should be in order to be who were are. But this is necessary for real connection.

–       What makes us vulnerable is also what makes us beautiful.

–       We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability> but you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the stuff I don’t’ want to feel: here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment, I don’t want to feel these.

–       When we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

–       numb through addictions, through striving to be perfect, through trying to make our kids perfect, through believing in certainties, through blame.

-But there’s another way: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee, to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of difficulty, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

Courage to be vulnerable- Open Lvl Class

IS/OS- action of the thighs and tailbone + SL

Strong action in the legs and low back gives us the support to open our hearts with courage.

4 SN for Sarah – with twists and back bends

standing poses and quad stretches

child’s pose

Handstand- demo tailbone action

King author’s pose

Abs > bridge> abs> bridge/urdva

Camel pose

camel assist


child’s pose

standing forward bends

seated twists and forward bends




The Malas defined:

  • The malas are like impurities. The dust that covers the mirrors of our hearts. It creates confusion and suffering and yoga is then the means to clean the dust , the malas, away and allow the true heart to shine through.

From Amy: In this case mala being a “cloak” or a “veil” rather than mala like the bead.  These veils are like coverings which conceal our true nature, like a film that settles on the mirror of our hearts, obscuring clarity. Like a floor which collects dust bunnies, or tarnish on silver that dulls its shine, the malas collect on our consciousness.  Yet, the silver is still shiny underneath, the mirror at its essence is still reflective, and the floor can be “swiffered”.

Yoga is the swiffer for your heart.

Dust bunnies are going to accumulate just by the very nature of you being alive. Every time we forget how miraculous we actually are, more dust bunnies arrive. Life is just that way, we forget. And shit happens. We get hurt.

We say that the Malas are God-given, for every time we forget our greatness, we get to delight in re-remembering again. You are supposed to forget.  And each time you remember, you grow, you expand, you become even more of yourself.

Anava-mala: feeling of unworthiness, longing, insecurity, feeling of separateness, low self-esteem.

  • located in the heart
  • caused by cloaking of desire (iccha shakti)
  • If our fullness is hidden from us, it becomes desire for fullness (raga), bringing feelings of unworthiness (anava mala)
  • “Impurity of smallness; finitizing principle.” The individualizing veil of duality that enshrouds the soul. It is the source of finitude and ignorance, the most basic of the three bonds (anava, karma, maya) which temporarily limit the soul.”
  • When Iccha ( you also can use the term Sat) gets covered by Anava-mala then our sense of fullness becomes impure. We suddenly feel we are lacking; we feel fragmented.  The natural outcome of anava-mala is to then to increase the water element and increase Kapha which can cause depression.  When Anava-mala is then lifted by polishing the mirror through practice, we feel our natural state of Iccha which is peace. We are full again. From Leanne’s Blog
  • water
  • kalpha
  • when cleared> peace

Mayiya-mala: too much object, only seeing difference, inability to see unity, can’t reveal self/be vulnerable

  • located in the 3rd eye
  • We can learn how to open to and support this current of energy within us, and give it expression in our bodies and our lives. When we believe we can’t know this, we get ignorance (avidya), where we make judgments based on difference, i.e. , “that object is separate from me” (mayiya mala). Even taking steps toward opening to the flow of universal energy within is Alignment.
  • When Jnana ( you can also use Chit) gets covered by Mayiya-mala our sense of connectedness becomes impure. We see difference- we become prejudiced. Mayiya-mala is related to the fire element and when it increases then Pitta increases and we become angry. When Mayiya-mala is lifted we feel love. From Leanne’s Blog
  • fire
  • pitta
  • when cleared> love

Karma-mala: inability to take action, feel powerless

  • located in the pelvis
  • Caused by cloaking of kriya/action
  • When Kriya ( or Ananda) is covered by Karma-mala, then we lose the agency to act- we feel powerless. Kriya is related to Air and when it becomes out of balance then Vata is increased and we experience anxiety. When Karama-mala is lifted we feel joy.From Leanne’s Blog
  • As the great epic the Baghavada Gita advises, “Perform your obligatory duty, because action is indeed better than inaction.” Yoga is about taking action. When the power to act is hidden from us, we feel impotent (kala) and anxious (karma mala). When rediscovered, we remember the immense possibility of even our subtlest action to affect the world in a positive way, and delight in even the smallest action as an expression of the highest good within ourselves. From Jessica’s site
  • air
  • vata
  • when cleared> joy

The malas then in some way help move the spanda back and forth between these states of emotions. The yoga practice helps create longer periods in the higher vibrations of peace, love and joy but we all feel the negative emotions sometimes too. It is very natural. What is really amazing about tantra metaphysics is that they have a method to get from the lower, darker, vibrations to the higher ones. We don’t have to stay angry, we don’t have to stay depressed. We can learn to recognize that as part of the spanda and use techniques to help us get back to a more desirable plane of being. From Leanne’s Blog

Transcript of the Interview:

Q. So I wanted to start with a question around inspiration.  What gives you inspiration in this life and who?

A.  So I’d like to begin with my parents, because I feel that my parents and my sister really embody love, and they help so many people and they are totally committed to helping every single person that they meet that could require help in some way, and they have been this way ever since I can remember and even in the times that I personally have felt maybe more like going into my room and being private and quiet they were the ones who were just like come on, you know and connect with us and let’s go help someone.  It’s amazing that they hold this very constant state of love for each other and for the people that they meet, and so that’s really one of my biggest inspirations. I’m also immensely inspired by nature and especially trees.  I love to be in forests, I love the redwoods of California.  I love all trees, but 5 years ago it was really the Redwood trees that drew me out here when I made a big move from the East Coast out to here.  So I love trees and I love all of nature.   And I love poetry, it inspires me greatly and Tantric teachings inspire me a lot, the text of Tantra, the stories, I love story tellers, {I} forgot about that, story tellers and music, absolutely light me on fire and there’s more too {laugh}.

Q. in a nutshelll {laugh}…yeah…Can you speak about the power of Revelation, you mentioned the Tantic teachings, what in particular inspires you about Anusara?  Why Anusara of all the of yoga systems?

A. Oh, okay that’s beautiful.  So Anusara, for me one of the things that just sort of went like this to me {gestures an embrace} invited me right into the best parts of myself is that in Anusara, we have what’s called First Principle and it’s called Opening to Grace. And in this First Principle, it’s allowing ourselves to be become more sensitive, more spacious, more with attunement, more listening, more present with however something is in the moment, and allowing ourselves to feel compassion and love in ways that we’re connected to ourselves and more than just ourselves in the moment, connected to the bigger picture we like to say in Anusara, so for me when I first started studying Anusara, it was so huge, because it wasn’t just about being in the pose, like okay, come to your breath, we have all these ways of opening to grace, come to your back body, your foundation, but it was more like what was happening in my life.  So when I would be inside a situation in my life that was maybe challenging for me, I would actually start to ask myself, what does Open to Grace look like right now in this moment in this situation, when I’m off my yoga mat, and here I am feeling all these challenges or intensities, or something that is pulling me off-center in a big way, and I started really asking the question, what does Opening to Grace look like right now in this moment and what would happen was an immediate bonding with a greater sense of love and self-love inside myself.

To those who have given up on love I say, “trust life a little.” – Maya Angelou