“Right Thought, Right Speech, and Right Action”

How did “Right Thought, Right Speech and Right Action,” the phrase that you say at the end of all of your classes, come about?

 

I heard the Kent Bond of Willow Glen Yoga say “Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action” in the late nineties when I was attending his classes very regularly. That phrase felt essential to my personal practice. Upon a little research, I learned that the words encompass three main ideas inherent in the very useful Buddhist Noble Eight Fold Path (which you can look up for further elaboration). I added the phrases below over a period of several years.

“Right Thought. May we be steady, present and joyful.”

Stirham, Sukham Asanam (YS 2.46). The posture must be steady and grounded in comfort, ease, or in some translations, joy. In order for those two to be possible, we must be present. Every moment of every day we’re in a posture, or shape, of some sort, whether we’re aware of it or not. So the yoga practice is about being present for this moment and for the next. It’s about being really here, and rooting ourselves to the present (since there is, in essence, very little to hold onto) as a means of establishing steadiness. Being present to the the ridiculous odds of being alive right now at this very moment is a simple means of experiencing joy.

“Right Speech. May our words improve upon the silence.”

They say that silence is golden. And if you’ve been on a silent retreat, you know this to be true. We’re often afraid of silence, but that space is precious to a yoga practitioner. Out of it arises everything. Thought is incessant. Thoughts so easily leads to words. Words are the pillars upon which actions are built. Before we know it, we’ve created a world largely of our own making. We know how easy it is to slip into talk that does more harm than good. I use this phrase to remind myself daily to use words well, because it’s so easy to forget. Words are energy. Restraint of opinion, gossip, judgement and small talk is a powerful expression of non-violence and a tenet of the practice.

“Right Action. May we be the change we wish to see.” 

On the way home from India in 2007, while in the airport in Delhi, there was a billboard with one of Gandhi’s most famous phrases, “Be the change you wish to see.” Right action means acting with kindness and compassion, telling the truth, being as non-violent as possible, and leaving every proverbial room cleaner than we found it. And each infinitesimal action counts. Being useful in whatever seemingly tiny way is method of meeting the sometimes overwhelming suffering of the world.

I’ve been saying these words at the end of each and every practice to remind myself daily ever since.  Thank you for asking.

Jennifer

84 Postures in 84 Days

Join our Summer Instagram Challenge from June 3 – August 25.

Follow our Instagram (@breathetogetheryoga) and Jennifer Prugh (@jennprugh).

Yoga- asana has a long standing history of creating systems of 84 postures. But historically, most systems are of seated postures. So Jennifer Prugh weighed the history of yoga with yoga-asana of today and created a system of 84 postures that address the body of a modern yoga practitioner while still retaining a connection to early yoga. Learn the system, learn how to safely sequence your practice, deepen your understanding of yoga, share what you are learning with others and have fun doing it!

Each week we will post seven postures for the week. You post yourself in the posture, or a variation or modification of that posture each day. Hashtag us so we can find you!

Post daily for prizes or a chance to be featured!

To win the grand prize of a gift box full of items totaling $500, complete all 84 postures within June 3 through August 25. Be creative, show us whatever expression or modification that you wish. Let’s play!

Hashtags

#breathetogetheryoga
#BTY84
#JennPrughYoga

Games to Develop Your Observing Self

When I was around 10 years old, I made up a game I called First Day on the Planet. I imagined that I was an alien from another world who woke up that day in a strange, new place. I used this perspective to watch the world around me and observe things about nature, people, relationships, communication, transportation, weather, commerce etc. It was fun to pretend I didn’t know things and view them as if I had never experienced them before.

As an adult, I created a new version of the game called First Day in this Body, which fits nicely into the end of every self-practice when I’m getting ready to exit Savasana (corpse pose). Here are more details about the game, for those of you who want to try it.

 

First Day in the Body Game

Imagine you’re an alien and you’ve just woken up in this body; begin the process of watching, and focusing just on your body.

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Ticking Clocks and Other Blocks to Meditation

A student walked out of my restorative yoga class because the clock ticking in the room was irritating her and she couldn’t relax through it. This was a long time ago, before Breathe even opened, but I notice students experiencing the same difficulties with distracting sounds even now. I feel empathy, since I am also easily distracted by repetitive sounds.

At the time, I went to meditation teacher Sharon Allen and asked her what she recommends for this type of distraction. The first thing she asked me was if the distraction could be avoided; in other words, can we remove the ticking clock? (I smiled at that because I was expecting her to give me a lecture about how we need to learn to practice with the distraction.) After we determined that I couldn’t take down the clock and remove the distraction, she offered me a practice that I have found priceless, one that I have expanded on and that often helps me during meditation. Read more

When the Pose Doesn’t Fit (Part II)

Psychological Barriers to the Imaginary “Perfect” Pose
Memory plays such a big role in our yoga practice. Music, imagery, certain cues, touch and all the other sensations can help – or hinder us – as we practice. I once had a student whose foot fell asleep each time she practiced swan pose in my yin class (similar to a folded pigeon pose, held for 5 minutes). This reminded her of when she was a child and would have seizures, because each of her episodes was preceded by her feet falling asleep. She couldn’t tolerate the swan pose for more than a few seconds. She became afraid, anxious and uncomfortable, and the more she practiced, the worse it became. Together we worked with her body to find another way to practice this pose, because she wasn’t ready to address the trauma that the sensations brought from her past to the present. At times yoga teachers are treated like therapists, and some do have training, but since I don’t, I worked around the issue which made sense to me at the time. Read more

When the Pose Doesn’t Fit (Part I)

There are many reasons why a pose doesn’t work for someone, which means there are many ways for me to address it when someone tells me they can’t practice the pose that I’m offering that moment. Some students will set out on their yoga adventure with shining enthusiasm, but are met with difficulty stemming from their current situation and their conditioning. These barriers can be physical or psychological. Read more

Using the Breath as a Path to Healing

“How is your body feeling? Are you stressed? Are you reacting? Do you have anxiety at this moment? Notice your breath. Your breath will tell you every time.”

I begin every class inviting people to notice their breath. Many teachers do this as well, but because I work with students who have stress, anxiety, PTSD, and depression, among other things, the breath, and how it affects our emotional well being is one of the essential components that I always invite people come back to. I also want to give students an opportunity to notice how their body feels when they are completely at ease, which is what I attempt to establish in the beginning of class when we do grounding and breath work, so that they can pay attention to sensations that invoke a sense of peacefulness, to use as a sensation baseline, as this is something tangible that can be a take away when they leave class. Getting people to relax and ground themselves can take a while and there have been times where we start the class with a full 15 minutes of just breath work.

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Benefits of a Hot Tapas Practice

Way back in the nineties when I began teaching, I first taught Bikram under the auspices of Kent Bond at Willow Glen Yoga, before Bikram began to limit who could teach it. While I enjoyed the series very much, especially in the winter months, I felt that with any physical activity that is repeated over months and years, repetitive stress issues are bound to develop. I wanted a practice that would give me strength, flexibility and the clarity that comes with repetition, but I wanted to be sure that my body was receiving the most benefit for the time spent and the mental resiliency that comes with learning new things.

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Being With Discomfort

I recently taught at a workshop to high level athletes, and a lot of the participants shared, with some exasperation, that the yoga poses we practiced were uncomfortable. I looked at them very matter-of-factly and said, “Yes, they are”. The nurturer in me wished that I could have offered them a quick fix, an escape hatch, but the truth is that sometimes yoga is uncomfortable. (It has to be.)

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Yin and TRE as a remedy for Fascia Issues

The “buzz” around fascia has been picking up during the last several years. And while there has been a fascination with how fascia connects the entire body (which I have to admit, is quite fascinating), it may be interesting to point out some of the psychological effects of fascia particularly when it comes to stress and trauma.

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