Category Archives: Restorative

A practice of Patience

Take a moment. Consider how patience feels in your body. Now consider how impatience feels. The difference is incredible. What does too much patience feels like. A little stagnant for sure. The question is how do we move toward balance. This also begs the question that when we feel passion or want to act against injustice, can this be done from a place of patience. One might think that patience means a lack of urgency or importance. Could patience allow for the perseverance to move toward righting injustice?

Patience is defined in the Webster dictionary as “to manifest forbearance under provocation or strain: not hasty or impetuous: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity, and bearing pains or trial calmly or without complaint.”

I struggle with some of this definition but the term that resonates with me is steadfast. Patience certainly is not a practice of non engagement or being passive. One can be in control and steadfast, with purpose and stay in the present moment. Perhaps it would look like taking the time to listen and consider the thoughts and ideas of others, taking the time to express your ideas and wonders and taking the long game towards relationships, personal goals and societal injustices.

More often than not, my mind moves beyond the current moment and it recalls and interprets both consciously and unconsciously the past or forecasts the future. In other words, my mind gets in the way. Consider, when we feel like we have something figured out or we dismiss what we don’t understand. Active listening can be tenuous when patience is out of balance in either direction. When I become quiet and present, I understand that my current abundance or lack of patience comes from several well honed drives and reinforced behaviours. Like a mountain appearing before me, making the changes I desire seems more arduous and multi fasciated. This climb is not without reward.

In yoga, we have a concept called the kleshas and it is defined as an obstacle or an affliction.  Firstly, we have the hurdle that yogis would call incorrect understanding or comprehension. How often do we know for certain that we have reasoned correctly and our perception is without error. We might also feel all other interpretations are flawed at worst or not fully formed at best. One could think of our understanding as illusion. Consider too the ego mind and the many past experiences that have provided each of us with deep patterns of expectation and automatic reaction felt emotionally and physically. Finally, consider that we are unconsciously making decisions toward experiences of pleasure and we are repelled by suffering and unpleasantness.

How do we look to remove these unconscious obstacles? In yoga, we have the practice of focusing the mind. This practice could be meditation and it could also be the active practice active listening, and mindful movement to name a few. Here we learn the skill of being present and that the feelings both good and bad always come and always go.

Only practice leads to new skills. The skills of being present are simple to practice however it does take steadfastness and constant practice to develop patience. Practicing patience to increase patience. Curious isn’t it! Well not so much.

Being present is being patient. Can one be patient and act in the world? It would be the most steadfast, respectful, productive, and self honouring way to do so. This is the mountain and I have some thinking and climbing to do.

Less Stress in Fall with Yoga and Ayurveda

The change in seasons has a profound effect on our systems. Fall, for many, often seems particularly harsh. Fall is a vata time of year according to Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga) and several of the many qualities of vata are the qualities of wind, dark, dry and cold. More than any other season, fall is where I notice a change in me, my students and my clients.

Here in eastern Canada we have yet to see the true fall chill, or the winds, but we have certainly felt the effects of the busy schedule and the effect of rising and having dinner in the dark. We might see the sun if we can get away from our desk during the day. In the fall, we start back to school, and our traditional work schedules fall back into place. We are all well immersed in our volunteer work, activities, sports, family support demands, appointments, work trips, and we crave to fit in some plain old pleasure. The summer is now simply beautiful memories and photos.

Starting in September the family finds itself going all different directions. And while thrilled with the new and interesting activities, the consensus remains that it is darn busy. For many fall is a favourite time of year. It has beauty and the joy of crisp refreshing air, the beautiful colours, cosy sweaters and cups of steaming hot tea. Amidst this joy we find ourselves fighting the effects of so much activity, darkness, winds, and dryness.

I notice these changes in myself. I start to crave soups and I have a natural desire to do more grounding meditations. I have learned over the years to put some things off until later in the fall or winter to distribute the amount of things I am doing. I am slowly learning that “no” and “later” are great words for this season (no, this isn’t my very robust procrastination abilities speaking.) I am busier and I have to find ways not to add on to the controlled chaos.

I see the effects in my students. The meditators seem more anxious, the minds much more unwieldy than in the summer. Many of my yoga therapy clients can be more achy, and restless. Even the clients with the best outlooks can become easily frustrated and overwhelmed. The group classes are just plain chatty. It is a joy to see them all tucked into savasana, warm and balanced after a practice.

Here is where the concepts used in Yoga and Ayurveda can come to our rescue. Ayurveda very much considers taking the seasons into consideration and that our choices can help us balance our system. For our physical practice we can look to have grounding practices – think forward folds, balancing postures and poses like parsvotanasana and grounding a child’s pose and legs up the wall. For breath work consider Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breath and a breath that has the same length of inhale and exhale. These will help with keeping yourself feeling balanced and calm. Remember, inside and out, warm and oily is good. Warm baths, steam and using warm sesame oil on the body will help warm, balance and ground you. With respect to vata soothing foods, think warm proteins and vegetables with fats and spices. At this time of year cooking your vegetables helps with effects of vata. You can get back those crisp salads in the summer.

Instead of fighting your way through the Fall “vata” season, meet it joyfully with some simple tools and techniques from Yoga and Ayurveda.

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Kimberly Mantas lives and works out of Ottawa, Canada. She is a Yoga Therapist, Meditation and Hatha Yoga Teacher with Mantas Yoga and loves to hang out at Blue Bamboo Yoga and Beyond Yoga and her health partners. She thinks yoga therapy rocks and is an always curious sort – ever excited when people get to know their bodies and minds better.