Refining your Practice

by Erin Ipjian

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There’s a funny thing we do in yoga: we spend years learning and refining the poses, attentive to the smallest of details, like the grounding of the outer seam of the foot or the reach through the ring finger. And, yet, we learn that the pose is not the point. So then, what is the point?


Maybe it’s this: maybe all the physical refinements make this practice what it is - a moving meditation. Maybe there is some value to learning how to be attentive to the details of the pose while still dispersing our awareness throughout the entire body, aware of ourselves as a full, integrated whole. Maybe this skill can even translate off the mat - this capacity to attend to the required minutiae of everyday life without losing ourselves in the process. Maybe that is how the practice helps us remain connected to our broader purpose.

So, then, perhaps the details really do matter, even if they ultimately aren’t the point.

Happy International Day of Yoga!

by Erin Ipjian

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People have been moving, breathing, sitting in stillness, and observing - in other words, practicing yoga - for thousands of years. On today, the International Day of Yoga, here are the top 4 lessons that we continue to learn from our daily practice and aim to share at Evolution:

1. You are not your body. Move your body, challenge it, explore, but please don’t ever forget - you are not your body. Don’t use this practice to sculpt, flatten, or reshape. Use it as a celebration of the incredible gift you have been given. Move as a way to root out dysfunction when possible, to build resilience, and to fully embody the precious container through which you experience this life. Your body is a gift. Treat it accordingly.

2. You are not your mind. This lesson is trickier than #1. Here’s why. Your mind is the lens through which you view and interpret the world. It will misperceive, misunderstand, and compare. It is capable of incredible creativity and innovation. It is also capable of overriding the truth and fueling destruction, as history constantly reminds us. Don’t believe everything you think. In fact, examine everything you think. Hold it up to the light of discernment. Spend time in silence, notice how your mind moves and the unconscious patterns it continually returns to.

3. Know that you are connected to everyone and everything around you. In short, their pain is your pain. Their joy is your joy. Life is not about getting ahead. It’s about fully connecting to who you are, for real, at your core, and sharing that with the world and everyone around you. Be vulnerable and honest and seek connection with those who do the same.

4. Keep practicing. It’s really easy to not make time for #1 and #2. We all get busy. It’s also really easy to forget #3. This practice only works if we continually return to it. You are never done learning. You are never done practicing. You are never done evolving. There is always a greater understanding to uncover.

Happy International Day of Yoga, dear yogis. See you on the mat.

Evolution Yoga

Yoga & Movement

by Erin Ipjian

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Much of modern yoga practice centers on movement. Attentive movement focuses our mind, soothes our nervous system, and is vital to living well. It’s the perfect entry point to the practice of yoga.

But, here’s the thing - ultimately yoga is not about movement. It’s not about sticking the pose. The pose is a tool, not a goal.

I think of yoga asana as a method of recalibrating the body and reigniting our awareness so that we can more effectively sit still with ourselves. The real beauty of this practice is that it provides us with a method to quiet the incessant chatter in our minds. It guides us towards the vast openness that lies underneath. That is what I hope to share with my students. And it is what keeps me coming back to this practice day after day.

Yoga for Clarity

by Erin Ipjian

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All of the techniques of yoga - movement, breath, meditation - are really designed with one goal in mind: to free ourselves from the ways in which we fail to see clearly.
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The om symbol itself is a beautiful and succinct visual representation of our states of consciousness and the veil that obscures our perception.
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The premise is something like this: many of us live in illusion, misunderstanding who we are, misidentifying ourselves with the little “I.” We think too small. We unconsciously move through the world from a place of separateness, filtering each moment through a mind jumbled with old ways of thinking picked up along the course of our lives.

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Yoga, on the other hand, gives us the tools to break free, to see ourselves and those around us for who we truly are without judgment, and to move forward in our lives with newfound clarity. All that is required is our dedication to the practice. See you on the mat, Evolution yogis. ❤️

Letting Go

by Erin Ipjian

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One of our responsibilities as yogis is to continually scan the stories and mental patterns (samskaras) that shape the lens through which we perceive the world. .
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Unless we live in a cave, it’s nearly impossible to move through life without picking up a collection of viewpoints and conditioning. By adulthood, our lens of perception (citta), can become quite muddied. Some of us spend our entire lives never examining these patterns, only making them stronger by continually revisiting them.
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Yoga, on the other hand, challenges us to disrupt our patterns, to discern whether our mental loops are true or useful, and to let go of the ones that do not serve us.
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And though it may seem easier to not do the work, the benefit of remaining dedicated to our practice is huge. Over time, we begin to shed our samskaras. We become more adept at meeting the world with greater clarity, authenticity, and openness. This is where life starts to get really good. We begin to effortlessly create and express what we were meant to share with the world. We become steady and sure of ourselves. We get out of our own way. We fulfill our dharma. .
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This is what drives us to return, again and again, to our mats. Thank you, as always, for doing the work and choosing to practice with us, Evolution yogis. We’ll see you in class.

Finding Balance

by Erin Ipjian

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Each time we come to the mat, yoga invites us to engage in an exploration of opposing forces. A well-crafted practice will draw us to center - the place where we are neither too far in one direction or the other. One of yoga's most commonly explored pairings is that of steady, persistent effort (abhyasa) on the one hand, and non-attachment to the end-result (vairagya) on the other. 

Steady, persistent effort, without the pairing of non-attachment, sends us into an endless cycle of seeking more and more, where nothing is ever enough. Complete non-attachment, devoid of effort, on the other hand, leads to inertia. Finding the balance between these two is challenging to say the least, and that's exactly why yoga is a lifelong endeavor.

So, here's to endeavoring to strike the perfect balance -- coming back to the mat, again and again, engaging in this beautiful practice, softening into acceptance, and noticing how the balance plays out beyond the mat.

Yoga as Training Ground for Life

by Erin Ipjian

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I like to think of yoga practice as training ground for life. Within each posture is a lifetime’s worth of opportunities to explore and refine. Each pose is an invitation to identify where we are exerting needless energy, focus our attention and resources, and observe how we respond in the face of challenge or failure. We test the frailties of the ego by playing with our edge and learn over time to develop a genuine curiosity for the noise the mind creates both on the mat and off so that, ultimately, we can begin to see beyond it.