Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Simple Steps: #11 Asana

In the Eight Limbs of Yoga, the practice of physical postures is called asana. This is the most commonly known aspect of yoga for those unfamiliar with the other seven limbs of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.

The practice of moving the body into postures has widespread benefits: of these the most underlying are improved health, strength, balance and flexibility.

On a deeper level, the practice of asana, which means "staying" or "abiding" in Sanskrit, is used as a tool to calm the mind and move into the inner essence of being.

The challenge of poses offers the practitioner the opportunity to explore and control all aspects of their emotions, concentration, intent, faith, and unity between the physical and ethereal body.

Todays Simple Step will be the first of five posts that highlight the physical practice of yoga!

Get ready to just enjoy the next few moments...

Find a quiet, clean place for your practice and polish up your patience with yourself!

Be prepared to try something new, or do your familiar practice in a new way or with a renewed attitude.

Todays Simple Step

Give yourself 5 minutes of alone time - just 5 minutes

Close your eyes and take a deep breath.

(You can sit or stand for this)

Stretch upward...arms and chest lift...breathe...

Stretch gently side to side...slow down...breathe...

Reach down and slowly let your head hang loose. Relax and breathe...

Notice the places where your body feels tight. Mentally relax them and do whatever gentle movement comes naturally.

Lie quietly for a couple of moments when you feel complete.

If 5 minutes stretches to 10 or 20 or 30 so much the better, but 5 is all that is required.

You have just completed your first asana series!

Notice how many parts of you feel good.

I will offer you traditional yoga asanas in my next 4 posts. Meanwhile, enjoy the delicious feeling you have from the choice you made to move and stretch.

It is the realization and commitment to this good feeling that will carry you through.

Till next time,


Photo Credit GCA by Bob Alba

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Simple Steps: #10 Celebration of the Spiritual

This ongoing series of posts is an expression of the breath and depth of the Eight Limbs of Yoga as a practical system for daily living. For me, taken as a whole and interpreted broadly, there is no more comprehensive system for personal growth and enlightenment in exisence. This is because mind, body, spirit and emotion are all represented and integrated.

Yo-ki-bics is a practical representation of the actions one might take that demonstrate the integration of the eight limbs. The system does not seek to exclude, but to include...I speak not of dogma but of practice!

In yoga, isvarapranidhana is another of the niyama personal observances that means "to lay all your actions at the feet of God."

It is the recognition that the spiritual suffuses everything, and through our attention and care we can attune ourselves with our role as part of the Creator.

Todays Simple Step

Set aside some time today to recognize the omnipresent force that feels like a guiding light in your own life, and notice the form it takes.

Do the thing that represents your own spiritual it wholeheartedly today.

Invite the simple pleasure of communicating with the various forms of life that surround you: animals, birds, trees, flowers...

Be generous today in some anonymous way and do what you do in God's name.

Release the need for your ego to take credit for your good deed...BE the spirit of your actions instead!

This is your Simple Step.

Till next time...

Photo credit: "The Womb of the Mother" from our trip inside Mammoth Cave by Bob Alba

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Simple Steps: #9 Self Study

The fourth niyama, or personal observance, is svadhyaya meaning "self inquiry" or "self examination."

This includes any activity that cultivates self-reflective consciousness or that means to find self-awareness in the activity or effort.

Self Study includes accepting our limitations, being non-reactive to the dualities of our existence, and welcoming the opportunity to grow.

Todays Simple Step

Close your eyes for a moment and ask your most self-destructive habit to step forward.

Write about it today in your journal, or discuss it with a mentor or wise friend.

Bring the relief of Light to your limitation and invite yourself to begin a more conscious and constructive dance with Life today in at least one important area.

Like man's best friend teaches us so wisely, begin the return trip on the road to love by steadfast holds barred!!

This is your Simple Step.

Till next time,

Photo credit: Buddy by Gael Chiarella Alba

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Simple Steps: #8 Contentment

As we move through the Eight Limbs of Yoga and begin to appreciate the subtleties of this magnificent system of personal growth, today we acknowledge another of the niyamas or personal observance.

The next niyama practice is santosa, or contentment.

To be at peace within and content with one's find contentment even while experiencing life's difficulties becomes a process of growth through all kinds of circumstances.

Cultivating contentment allows us to be happy now rather than later, and to stop the incessant waiting for a better day.

We do this, all the while progressing in every way we can toward better circumstances.

Todays Simple Step

Eliminate the word SHOULD just for today.

Look at yourself every time you explain why you "can't" do something "because..." and reframe your point of view so that you ARE cause.

Fly the 'Attitude of Gratitude' flag in some specific way and communicate it.

In your personal journal or dayminder, list the top ten reasons you are abundant today, and what you have RIGHT NOW that demonstrates that.

Go out of your way to share something you are content with today.

This is your Simple Step.

Till next time,


Photo credit: GCA Warrior Prayer by Bob Alba

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simple Steps: #7 Discipline

Welcome back to Simple Steps, a practical guide to the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

The third of the niyamas, or personal observances, is tapas, the disciplined use of your energy.

Behind the notion of tapas lies the idea that we can direct our energy to enthusiastically engage life and achieve our ultimate goal of creating union with the Divine.

Literally meaning "to heat the body," tapas helps us burn up all the desires that stand in the way of our goal!

Isn't this a good thing?

Todays Simple Step

Pay attention to what you eat today. Burn up the desire for anything that is not your ultimate healthy fuel.

Observe your body posture and stand tall!

Notice if you're breathing deep and full in all circumstances today.

Today find ONE important area of your life where your discipline has been flagging and reup your committment!

This is your Simple Step.

If you're not already getting these posts delivered straight to your inbox, join Friends of Yokibics and click FOLLOW on the right hand column of the blog.

Till next time,


Photo credit: Gael at Sunset by Bob Alba

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Simple Steps: #6 Cleanliness

Niyama is the Second Limb of Yoga. Niyama means "rules" or "laws."

Like the 5 previous yamas which offer insights into universal morality, the five niyamas are not exercises or actions that are there simply to be studied.

They refer to the attitude we adopt toward ourselves as we create a code for living soulfully.

This gives us a map of personal observances.

The first niyama is sauca, meaning purity or cleanliness, and it invites relationship in both the inner and outer world.

Todays Simple Step

Clean your room!

Seriously...or your desktop, file system, closet, secret stash, whatever and wherever...and remember "simple" might not necessarily seem "easy" for you.

If you hit your resistance and want to blow it off, make it unimportant, push it away as you have so many times before, then you must clean your mind first!

Release the conversation that would have you being less than you can be.

There is nothing more important than that you do this today.

Living unemcumbered will feel less difficult and much more fun.

Once you really get how these two aspects of yourself work in tandem, and you activate a responsive result, you will have mastered this very important step in both your soul growth and your effectiveness in the World.

This is your Simple Step.

Till next time,


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Simple Steps: #5 Wealth Management

Yogis managing wealth?? You bet!

The very nature of the fifth yama, aparigraha, invites us to a relationship with wealth that neutralizes the desire to hoard it, thereby increasing the flow.

What's wrong with hoarding?

Hoarding itself implies a lack of faith. We never know how we will be provided for, and so we gather, hold on and squeeze tight to what we've got.

Addressing our hoarding tendencies requires a letting of of our attachment to things, and an understanding that impermanence and change are constants and therefore true.

Managing our wealth WELL is an inspiration to the world as we engage in the flow of Nature's abundance.

The Mystic knows that as we give with ease and generosity, the World gives back exponentially in return.

The wondrous part is that we never know just HOW that return will occur!

Engage the flow and have faith that you will receive exactly what you need.

Today's Simple Step

Do yourself the biggest favor today:

Determine something you yourself think you need, then find a way to give that very thing, or something like it, to another.

Whether it is an emotional gift like forgiveness, or a material gift, offer what you can and engage the flow today.

For direct delivery of these posts, click "follow."

Till next time,


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Simple Steps: #4 Sense Control

This Simple Step to forming a well-rounded practice of mind-body-spirit wellness is the forth of five yamas. Called brahmacharya it means sense control.

Traditionally this was translated to mean celibacy, or withdrawing from the pull of the senses which can bring us into the mists of a life separate from Spirit. It requires a non-attachment to the things of the flesh that keep us stuck.

For me the deeper practice is that we use our creative energy to regenerate our connection to our Spiritual self.

Sense Control encompasses genuine appreciation of the world we interact with through our senses by recognizing the Divine in what we perceive.






Establishing a great relationship with our senses has the power to make our personal world a better place, don't you think?

If everything we saw, and all that we touched was held sacred...if we truly relished the taste of our food and swooned with the scents of Nature...would we ever intentionally hurt our planet, or see our neighbor's backyard as different from our own?

Both non-attachment to sense objects WITH appreciation of their presence offer a practice that embraces the essence of brahmacharya.

Todays Simple Step

Wake your senses up to their purpose!

Slow down at mealtime...taste...smell.

Look at the world through eyes of love.

Be more concerned with listening than speaking today.

Touch and be touched with compassion for your loved ones.

This is your Simple Step.

You'll find all posts in this series labeled SIMPLE STEPS on the right hand column of the blog page, and you can have them delivered to your inbox directly by clicking FOLLOW.

Till next time...


Monday, September 14, 2009

Simple Steps: #3 Non-Stealing

This Simple Step to forming a well-rounded practice of mind-body-spirit wellness is the third of five yamas. Called astaya it means non-stealing.

What does stealing mean in this day and age anyway?

Stealing includes taking from another without their permission, but its subtleties include using something for a purpose for which it was not intended, or beyond the time permitted by the owner.

It is taking what is not freely given.

One of the most prevalent ways of slacking that has far reaching consequences is stealing other peoples time.

Being late.

Holding people up.

Being a no-show...or demanding another persons attention through inconsiderate behavior or expecting them to use their time to complete our task.

Today's Simple Step

Do what needs to be done today to correct any subtle areas where you are stealing other peoples energy.

Respect other peoples time.

Respect other peoples things.

Respect other peoples ideas.

Feel good about this powerful choice! It grants you the gift of a healthy heart filled with faith that what YOU can be,do and have is more than enough, and that is the very nature of abundance!

This is your simple step.

You'll find the rest of the series labeled SIMPLE STEPS on the right side of this blog page.

Till next time,


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Simple Steps: #2 Honesty

The second Simple Step is another one of the yamas (40 Simple Steps will be collected under the label on the right hand side of the blog page) called satya, or commitment to truthfulness.

Satya means "to speak the truth" - to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others.

If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another than it is better to say nothing.

The bedrock of satya is that communication and action form the bedrock of any healthy relationship, community or government. Deliberate deception, exaggeration and mistruth harms others.

Today's Simple Step

Observe your words today.

Eliminate even white lies and excuses. Notice if this is hard for you.

In addition, use your words to support others. Offer your words of support even when you might feel more comfortable staying in the background.

Make someone smile today with your truthful words.

This is your simple step.

Till next time,


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Simple Steps: #1 Dynamic Compassion

Of the Eight Limbs of Yoga there are numerous branches or examples of each.

The first limb is called Yamas, and the first of these is Ahimsa...

Non-violence and compassion for all living things.

More than a lack of violence itself, ahimsa means active kindness and thoughtful consideration of other people and all things.

Sounds like plain old common sense, doesn't it?

It is! Done as a practice though, it invites you to go deeper, richer...all the way.

What can you do to practice ahimsa today?

Today's Simple Step

Spend this day becoming aware of thoughts around your judgment of others.
Make it your first priority.

Whenever and wherever you can, open doors, ask if you can help, take extra time, listen.

Just for today, go the extra mile and when you see yourself holding back kindness, let go.

Determine the thing that YOU can do today to practice compassion - and do it.

Let the practice take you as deep as you are able with at least one person in one significant way.

This is your Simple Step.

You will find the entire catalog of Simple Steps labeled as we go on the right hand side of the blog page.

Till next time,

Monday, September 7, 2009

Simple Steps: An Overview

Are you looking to start a home-based yoga practice? Have you been looking for a MindBodySpirit routine to enlarge your daily lifestyle? It was this very impulse that got me started many years ago.

In 1977 there were no local yoga schools, studios, short trip to the gym.  All my training was sought after, and 99% of it involved travel.  With two small children at home, much of the time I was at a loss...except for my self-study. Ahhhh...The books of Richard Hittleman and Parahamansa Yogananda became my mentors.  Their writings, illustrations and philosophies filled my days, and enlarged my life in ways I can never repay.

Although today you have such support for simply hopping off to the local Y to take a class, I still believe that developing a home practice - a life practice - will support you in ways you will not regret.  I have a great idea to help you get involved right from where you are.

I have created a series of Simple Steps that you can take to incorporate each of the Eight Limbs of Yoga into your daily practice. I will post an ongoing series of practical applications that will give you bites size practices for each one.


Collect them all and you will develop a well-rounded system of daily opportunities.

I wish someone had done this for me when I was looking for a reasonable way to address my spiritual growth while learning different esoteric and comprehensive systems.

Along with my regular ongoing blog topics, this series of SIMPLE STEPS are easy-to-digest bites of information that I will regularly post so you can follow along.

In short, SIMPLE STEPS will outline the foundation of an age-old yoga philosophy that is a blueprint for health, happiness and peace of mind.

Based on the eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for a well-rounded yoga practice, no one element is elevated over another in hierarchical order. Yoga is not merely a physical practice. Each of the eight limbs is part of a holistic focus which eventually brings completeness to your system of bodymind health and wellbeing.

With SIMPLE STEPS you can develop a comprehensive daily practice for mind-body-spirit health.

In brief, the eight limbs of yoga are as follows:

1. Yama: The attitude we have to things and people outside ourself.
2. Niyama: Personal Observances; the way we relate inwardly to ourself.
3. Asana: Body Postures.
4. Pransyama: Breathing Exercises.
5. Pratyahara: Control of the senses.
6. Dharana: Concentration on inner perceptual awareness.
7. Dhyana: Devotation through meditation.
8. Samadhi: Union with the Divine. Joy!

To get the most from these posts, you can review them by coming back to the blog and clicking SIMPLE STEPS in the right hand column of labels, or click on the label for any of the eight limbs described above and you will see 5 different posts covering that particular limb.

You have 40 practices in all to choose from and grow with. This offering is my gift to you. Get well. Live. Love. Enjoy.

This offering is my gift to myself. If we can reach the "hundredth monkey" through something I have offered, then I have done myself a great service.

Today's Simple Step

Commit to your Practice.

This series will highlight The Eight Limbs with five examples of each.

That means you'll have 40 Simple Steps to follow. Game? Begin right now...

Till next time,