Friendly Beasts – What A Children’s Christmas Pageant Can Teach Us As Yogis

This past Sunday, my children performed in the Christmas pageant at church. I am not generally an extremely religious person. However, watching my girls in the Christmas pageant turned out to be a very moving experience. I was left more than a little teary-eyed. There’s something about the earnestness with which the children performed the story and sang the songs that embodied the essence of purity and good.

The religious nature of the story aside, the songs and scenes that they performed all covered meaningful topics. Things like: kindness, love, and inclusion. Things that are so desperately needed in these current times. Watching this, I felt hope.

I left the pageant, remembering the carol sung by the animals in the stable after Jesus’s birth: “Friendly Beasts”. Each group of animals: the donkey, cow, sheep, and doves sang about what they gave to baby Jesus when he was born. Their manger, straw, wool, carrying Mary, and even singing him to sleep. In his presence, even the animals were moved to stand beside this baby and emulate his “kind and good” nature.

This song, sung by innocent children, reminded me that we need to be an example. If we are kind and good, those in our presence will be touched by this and perhaps they will be moved to be kind and good as well.

At this time of year, when over-consumption, selfishness, and self-centered behavior are rampant, it is important to remember that our actions do matter. Whatever your beliefs, the Christmas story is a good reminder that how we treat others matters. Watching my children sing about giving selflessly, reminded me that I need to be their example of this behavior. In fact, all of us Yogis need to be an example of this behavior.

There is no guarantee that our children will see positive examples of being “kind and good” in the media or in their everyday lives. We hope that they will, but there is no guarantee. We are responsible to live our lives, as yogis and humans, in a way that includes being kind and good. If we live our lives in a way that we hope our children and those that we meet will be touched by, and even emulate, we are truly living our yoga.

In the comments: please tell us one way you are spreading kindness this holiday season! We hope that you will join us!


Disclaimer: Yoga in ME does not ascribe to or endorse any one religious tradition. Rather, we are inclusive and welcoming of all beliefs.

Power Outage? A Great Opportunity To Practice Yoga!

Yoga in ME is currently experiencing a power outage. At the time this post was written there were 484,000 customers without power in Maine. For some of us, it sounds like it might be a while before it comes back. This is a little bit daunting. But, bear with me on this one, this power outage is also a great opportunity to practice yoga.

How, you might ask? I can’t do fully bound lotus without heat! Well, you don’t have to! At Yoga in ME, we think it’s very important to remember that the practice of yoga is not just doing the asanas (or postures). According to the yoga sutras, Yoga is: the attempt to still the fluctuations of the mind.

In other words, all you have to do to be practicing yoga is put effort towards being present in the moment.

That’s right, folks. As long as you are present with what you are doing in the moment, you are doing yoga. This applies no matter whether what you are doing is a yoga posture, meditation, or something more everyday and mundane like folding laundry or preparing a meal.

For some of us, a power outage is our worst nightmare.  Basic things that we have come to rely on like heat, running water (if you have a well) and refrigeration no longer function. This can be very stressful and even dangerous in some circumstances. But a power outage is also a great opportunity to slow down. We are forced to unplug, and be present with what we are doing.

So how exactly does this work?

Well, when the power is out, it simply isn’t possible to be reading an article on your phone while watching something on TV and also playing solitaire on your tablet. In other words, we are forced to do fewer (and often quieter) things at a time. Instead of engaging in multiple activities at once, we might spend our time doing something like reading a book or playing a board game with the family. We are less stimulated and more able to be present with the people around us. THIS is yoga!

Not only are we forced to unplug and do fewer things at once, we are also forced to do many everyday things “the old fashioned way.”. Read, slower and more mindfully. Doing the dishes becomes a much more mindful task when you have to heat water on the camp stove. Washing and rinsing in basins rather than doing everything in the quick instant hot water of the sink!

Are you practicing yoga during the power outage? Tell us how in the comments!

Who Do You Want to Be When You’re Not a Judge?

Who Do You Want to Be When You’re Not a Judge?

From time to time we post an essays written by the students in our 200 Hour Teacher Training Program as part of their homework. This is one student’s essay.

I was recently listening to a podcast and this is the question that took root in my thoughts long after it had ended.  Funny, but I didn’t think of myself as judgmental.  I made observations.  I’d think, “She shouldn’t have done that.” Observation, right?   I’d think, “He’s squandering his money.”  Observation, right?  I’d think, “She’s so needy.  Well, she is!”  Observation, right? Then, why did the question attached itself to me unless I needed to make a shift in my thinking.  I genuinely did not want to be the judge!

So, I asked myself, “Who do I want to be?”  It’s a bit of a daunting question.  But three attributes came to mind without hesitation – I wanted to be kind; I wanted to be compassionate; and I wanted to be grateful.  So, where to begin?  The niyamas say, “pay attention…watch yourself…become self-aware.”  Svadhyaya (or self-study) creates the space that allows you to observe your own behavior and initiate appropriate changes. Isvara Pranidhana says it will provide what I need when I need it.  Armed with a team like this, how could I miss?

“Success is measured not by eliminating all random thoughts but by quickly noticing the random thoughts and returning to a quiet mind. “

I started by trying to monitor my thoughts – I was on the lookout for judgments.  When I recognized one, I acknowledged it and then reminded myself of who I wanted to be – kindness, compassion and gratitude.  This exercise paralleled my experiences with meditation.  A quiet mind is interrupted by random thoughts.  The meditator acknowledges the thought, thanks it for coming, and sends it on its way.  Success is measured not by eliminating all random thoughts but by quickly noticing the random thoughts and returning to a quiet mind.  Similarly, I acknowledged the judgment, appreciated that I recognized it and reminded myself that I was choosing kindness, compassion and gratitude.

How’s it going, you ask?  Am I ready to retire my flowing robes and gavel? Not yet.  I’d say I am a work in progress. The baby steps I have made were predicated upon a desire to find the balance between vigilantly being on the lookout for judgments (hard) and not beating myself up when they do occur (soft).  Over time I expect the judgments to diminish and kindness, compassion, and gratitude to expand because where the mind goes, prana goes!


Who do you want to be when you’re not a judge?


Sthira and Sukha

From time to time we post an essays written by the students in our 200 Hour Teacher Training Program as part of their homework. This is one student’s essay.


Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: 2.46 …”posture (asana) [should be] stable (sthira) and comfortable (sukha).” … Resolutely abiding in a good space – balance.


I am maintaining a committed yoga practice for almost a year now. After taking Yoga 101, I signed up for unlimited monthly practice, realizing that a fully present, committed yoga practice may very well bring me to a place where I would begin to feel balanced, content, and a member of a community of like minded individuals.

Translation of Sthira and Sukha, in the vernacular, essentially means hard and
soft. Up to now in taking a serious look at my life I see there is much hard and
perhaps little soft. Retreating into a cave is a familiar action that I take. It is one I learned in childhood, quite well, as a protection mechanism, creating a
withdrawal mechanism into detachment. Thus, on the outside I often appear
aloof and serious, certainly not revealing the soft, vulnerable, empathic,
compassionate heart that lies within.


“Yoga is not about retreating to a cave, it is more about finding our seat in the world.” Rima Rabbath


My yoga practice exposes my vulnerability, putting me closer to trusting those in my yogic circle and affirming that I am on the right path. The hard shell exists for a reason. However, those reasons are beginning to melt away. Asana brings me both challenge, a sense of accomplishment, and peace. I set my concentration on performing postures I find more difficult knowing that as I pass through the trial I come to a reward of relaxation and peace of body and mind. Yes, there are days of practice where I feel resistance in my body and obstruction in my psyche.

This generally happens when I experience upsets or challenges in my life with
family or other entities. Yoga and meditation are bringing me incrementally closer to being comfortable with these temporary disruptions and closer to embracing acceptance of what is as opposed to my struggling against my insistence that situations, people, and things be the way I envision. My perspective is changing – softening. My position though firm is now situated in the knowing I am stepping closer toward confidence of nature vs. staying stuck in the atmosphere of insecurity, doubt, and fear.

Sthira and Sukha of life teach that we need a balance of the hard and soft in our lives. The soft tempers and soothes the hardness of life’s difficulties and
challenges, especially if the outcomes we seek are not those realized. The hard and soft teaches us that when the outcome is not that which we envision, it is so often much more rich than we imagined, much more fulfilling and rewarding, if only we take off our prejudices and blinders to seeing what is rather than trying to see what is not.