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A Sutra a Day

Between 14 May 2012 and 22 February 2013 I worked my way through the 196 Sutra of Patanjali. I called the project "A Sutra a Day". I tried to relate each of the Sutra to my life in a personal way. Here are the results.
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Eve Grzybowski

Yoga Suits Her

I've been teaching yoga since 1980.  A lot of my identity is tied up with being a yoga teacher.  What does that mean?  What should that mean? On this site I explore my personal journey and provide commentary on the state of yoga in the twenty-first century. I invite you to have a look and see what may be here for you.

 
Photo by: Julie Slavin Photography, Old Bar

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Featured videos from my YouTube channel

I've been adding meditations, short instructional video and an ever-growing selection of complete yoga classes.  Click on any of these below videos to view them directly.  Or click on the button below to explore the entire channel.

Current Post

Yoga Practices Can Help With Grief, Dying and Death

 
Cartoon of charley brown and snoopy sitting on a jetty discussing death.
 

Willingness to be with grief, dying and death

This last weekend I had the privilege of teaching a daylong workshop entitled 'Yoga in a Palliative Care Setting'. It was a beautiful day, attended by 12 yoga therapy trainees, willing to learn about grief, dying and death.
 
These brave participants were able to touch into their feelings relating to dying and death. They were open to let the sadness that often surrounds the end of life come up to the surface. 
 
Grief is likely to be present for us at the end of life. But before then, we experience so many other losses. Some of them are small, no more than transitions: moving house, changing schools, different working hours or conditions. Some are major, as in the death of a spouse or child, a divorce or a bankruptcy. No matter big or small, for the most part, we don't fully experience these losses. Our lives are so busy and grief is potentially so painful.
 
At the beginning of the workshop, I made an assertion. I said that we teachers can only support those at the end of life to the extent that we have faced our own grief.
 
American writer, James Miller sums up this notion in his book, The Art of Being a Healing Presence
The depth you can go within yourself corresponds directly to the depth at which you can connect intimately with another.
I don't have a tool box full of techniques for dealing with grief, dying and death, other than being able to be with experiences. I've been a Palliative Care volunteer for several years now, and I've had practice sitting with death. I have seen that each individual's death is unique. The teacher/writer, Stephen Jenkinson, says in his book, Die Wise that we in the West are 'grief illiterate'. To remedy this impairment, we need to see being with grief and dying as skills that require learning. I'm definitely still learning.
 
You might think I'm a little mad to give grief, dying and death the attention I have in recent years. I'm of an age where I can see 'the train a-comin'. Thank goodness, I've had yoga in my life for five decades. I'm hale and reasonably hardy. But there's no escaping the fact that we will all get to the end of life, some sooner, some later.
 
Ironically, to be intimate with the preciousness and brevity of life, is a steady reminder to be alive to right now. Seeing the end of my life ahead of time gives the opportunity to love life all the more. 
 
I still wonder how an old yogini like me gets tossed around on a sea of emotions. Aren't I part of a breed of calm and detached observers–that is, meditators? It's possible that what I experience at these moody times is some of my own unresolved grief. So, here are some tried and true practices to help carers, patients and us as supporting yoga teachers:
 

Practices for carers and patients

  1. Savasana (Corpse Pose) - Yoga relaxation is the ultimate teacher of surrender. The yoga practitioner when in deep relaxation is 'dying' to all that is experienced in everyday life. Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist in A Joseph Campbell Companion says that this state is 'where you don't know what was in the newspapers this morning, you don't know who your friends are, you don't know what you owe anybody, you don't know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are....'
  2. Yoga Nidra (Psychic Sleep) - This is a practice that has the practitioner cultivate a state of being awake, aware and still able to plumb the subconscious. It gives access to healing on levels that are not accessible in a fully conscious state. Yoga Nidra is designed to help us acknowledge and ultimately welcome all experiences, even grief, dying and death. The sort of freedom that this sort of surrender offers, according to Dr. Richard C. Miller, a leader in promoting Yoga Nidra, allows people to come home to themselves. 'You know yourself, all others and every thing as the unititive Presence that everything is: that you are.'
  3. Mindfulness Meditation - In mindfulness meditation practice, life becomes simpler. It is as it occurs in this moment. And this moment. And this moment. There's nothing to push away or try to change because whatever it is is already here. For the individual who is dying, this practice may be  helpful in letting go at the end of life.
 
There's another important yoga practice that may be appropriate to someone near to their end of life. That is, pranayama, usually translated as controlled breathing. More than controlling the breath, the practice can connect us with the tissue-thin interface between the mind and the body. It can be experienced in the space that opens up between the phases of the breath–inhalation and exhalation. 
 
One of my teachers, Ann Barbato, says:
The simple practice of following the out-breath into the silence and then watching the in-breath arise from the silent space is calming and peace-inducing.

Whether you are a yoga teacher or a person close to the end of life, this sounds exactly like the pathway home to our essential selves–our homecoming.

All these practices help foster acceptance. Our emotions, our griefs, then become part of being hale and hearty. 
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Yoga Practices Can Help With Grief, Dying and Death

Grief is likely to be present for us at the end of life. But before then, we experience so many other losses. Some of them are small, no more than transitions: moving house, changing schools, different working hours or conditions. Some are major, as in the death of a spouse or child, a divorce or a bankruptcy. No matter big or small, for the most part, we don’t fully experience these losses. Our lives are so busy and grief is potentially so painful.

read more

The Previous 4 Posts

First yoga rule: be kind to yourself

First Yoga Rule: Be Kind to Yourself

Recently I learned (or learned for the 1,000th time) a Be Kind to Yourself lesson.If you’re like me, you don’t learn these vital life lessons easily. This is why long life can be a good thing. Because you can buy a little more time, and hopefully more wisdom.Recently I was on a two-day boat trip with nine other people. After the first day, one of the passengers got on my nerves. Seriously. A sailing boat doesn’t have much room for seclusion. […]

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Put down that yoga book and read a good yarn instead!

Put down that yoga book and read a good yarn instead!

I have many discerning book reading friends, I recently discovered.When I tried googling best books of 2015, and 2015, I found myself uninspired and confused. Then I decided to ask my friends. I threw a line out on Facebook.I asked my friends, ‘Any recommendations for well-written, can’t-put-down reads….your personal favourites?’Remarkably, I received more than 70 suggestions from almost as many people.What am I supposed to do with this sort of cornucopia? Obviously, share it in a post.So, here is the list–some from yesteryear, others hot off the press. Some I’ve read, and some I’m not likely too. […]

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What this yogini has learned about camping

What This Yogini Has Learned About Camping

Yogini in steep learning curveI have a persona that I rather enjoy presenting to the world–that of being a skilful Yogini. I admit this fact in order to be completely transparent. I know that yoga is meant to help you divest of guises and the ego, but there it is.Now that I’m away from my yoga studio and teaching, that comfortable role has fallen away. I’m faced with this new role, that of a camping traveller.I’m in a big learning curve. Every morning I wake up in unfamiliar surroundings, totally at the effect of weather. […]

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The yoga of practising kindness

The Yoga of Practising Kindness

The kindness of friendsI’ve always thought that practising kindness was one of the most beautiful yoga practices there is. I’m not always good at it but kindness and generosity are my aims.In this post, I’d like to credit some of the many people who have extended kindnesses to Daniel and me thus far on our northerly camping odyssey. Even though, if these people heard me praise them, these special people would probably declare, ‘Aw, it’s nothing.’From the very first of our camp sites in the Coopernook State Forest, we’ve been pampered. Ken and Sal McGowan did everything for us. […]

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Eve grzybowski - home

It's been out of print for 15 or more years but now it's back.  It's available as a paperback as well as a range of digital formats for different devices.  The design of this edition is modelled as closely as possible on the original release from 1997.

Electronic versions:

Paperback version:

(Note: Book retailers set their own prices that are all different and constantly change.  It's worth shopping around for the best price.)

Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of Teach Yourself Yoga.  Just ask and quote ISBN: 978-0-6487945-0-9.

Please send me feedback about the book.  I'd love to hear about any errors or problems with eBooks on various devices.  And please review the book wherever you get it.  Reviews will help more people discover the book.

Eve grzybowski - home

Yoga Basics Pack.  $24.95   

10-week beginners Yoga course. 

Specially designed for beginners, Yoga Basics is an easy to follow program for better health, flexibility and peace of mind. This pack contains 10 beautifully illustrated cards, one for each week of a ten-week course that tie a clear, practical and portable guide to getting started in yoga.

Eve grzybowski - home

Yoga Tool Kit.  $24.95

10 beautifully illustrated cards that give clear, practical and portable programs to meet a variety of needs. The customised sequences help provide holistic healthcare – better health, flexibility and peace of mind – so you can stay on top of your daily requirements with a safe and effective regime. Practices for boosting the immune system, insomnia, menstruation, post travel, low backache, stress and anxiety relief, fatigue, encouraging mental balance, managing menopause and regenerating.

Eve grzybowski - home

Classes and Workshops

I'm currently teaching two weekly classes on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales where I live. I also lead workshops here and in other parts of Australia.

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Visit the Vault!

I've been regularly contributing to this blog since 2009.  There are now over 1250 posts about a very wide range of topics. Click here to explore.

Eve grzybowski - home

Yoga Resources

Books, videos, teachers, websites, places to buy really hot yoga clothes (kidding), and generally anything I find that I think others might find useful.

Eve grzybowski - home

A Bit About Eve

I've been teaching since I was 35. I'm now 76. In that time there have been a few changes. Click here if you want to find out a bit about my life.

Eve grzybowski - home

Shop

No, I'm not selling yoga mats or clothing.  I don't even have a t-shirt... yet.  But from time to time I find myself with something that someone may want.  Have a look, I'm never sure what you'll find.