Life is Sweet / Yoga of Resilience

We can flood our senses with sweetness…without ever tasting a thing.

yoga-of-resilience

View weekly class schedule here.


Join me in the fifth week of our seven-week series exploring the Yoga of Resilience, Resistance, and Recovery.  I am offering this series in all of my current weekly classes: Wednesdays at 5:30 and 7pm, and Saturdays at 10:30am. If you have missed any classes, you can still jump in and join us. While the series provides optimum benefit if you are able to attend all sessions, each class is designed as a complete offering unto itself.

Yoga is a profoundly elegant, comprehensive and holistic system for experiencing vitality, complete freedom, and wholeness. It is a path and process.

It is precisely these things – a path, a process, a comprehensive system – that so many of us need right now.  We are being called to a level of healing and recovery that is profound and uncharted.  We are being called to the Next Level of resistance to oppression, requiring Next Level commitments to resilience as well.  Read why we need this work more than ever in these times.

In the past few weeks, we been exploring the individual tenets that Durga Leela, founder of Yoga of Recovery, has codified.  These tenets help to structure the work of resilience/resistance/recovery by speaking to the nature of human experience – acknowledging exactly where and how we suffer – and pointing to the tools of Yoga, Ayurveda, and the 12 steps which meet us at the level of our suffering.  These tenets recognize the natural energies of manifestation/existence/the human condition, as well as the ways those energies can go awry, and the yogas that best allow us to express those energies in a more conscious (sattvic) way.

The first tenet, Life is Longing, speaks directly to our innate longing to know our own True Nature, to know Spirit.  In Life is Prana, we acknowledge the reality that breath is life, Life Force, Spirit.  Last week, Life is Relationship taught us that we are relational beings, and we must accept the imperative of cultivating a relationship with self and other (and god).

This week, we learn that Life is Sweet.  This tenet reminds us of our biological imperative to seek beauty and sweetness in life.  Our first taste of life is sweet (breast milk), and on the physiological and emotional levels, that sweet taste signals feelings of being nurtured, loved, protected, and nourished.  Thus, it is a primal response throughout life to seek sweetness in the face of life’s many stresses.

Life is Sweet tells us, therefore, that we need to find life-supporting ways to seek that taste of love and protection.  Ayurveda tells us that nutrition is encoded into the body through taste: there are six main tastes, which are themselves combinations of the five elements, and which have emotional correlations or vibrations associated with them.  The sweet taste is the most nourishing and anabolic of the tastes (building up), and its emotional vibration is love and nurturance.  Eighty percent of the foods in nature contain the sweet taste. (As Durga says, “80% of what Mother Nature gives us is love.”)  This, in part, explains the culture behind terms of endearment like sweetie, sugar, and honey, and the practice of giving sweets for Valentine’s Day, of baking cakes for birthdays, or using chocolate to recover from dementors.

Eighty percent of what Mother Nature gives us is love.

However, rather than just relying on one sense – the sense of taste – and seeking artificial or subpar sources of sweetness, this tenet invites us to find ways to sweeten our lives through all five of our sense gates, with taste coming last.  We can flood our senses with sweetness without ever tasting a thing.

Here, the therapies that meet this need include Ayurveda Five Sense Therapy, which offers us sattvic (healthy, illuminated) sources of sweetness, along with Bhakti yoga (“the sweetest path”).  In Ayurveda Five Sense therapy, we look to bring in sweetness through each of our sense gates:

Smell – Earth Element – Aromatherapy and Essential Oils, incense
Taste – Water Element – Sattvic sources of sweetness (fruit, dates, coconut)
Sight – Fire Element – Color and Light Therapies (especially Nature, art)
Touch – Air Element – Ayurvedic self-massage (abhyanga), consensual touch, marma points
Sound – Ether Element – Sound therapy (singing mantra or kirtan, Singing Bowls, music)

We can flood our senses with sweetness…without ever tasting a thing.

Ayurveda tells us that the spiritual root of disease is forgetting our nature is spirit, and the physical root of disease is “misuse of the senses.”  Too often, we take in self-destructive, life-detracting input through our senses, which becomes a part of the fabric of our physical and energetic beings.  This is especially so for those of us trapped in cycles of addiction.  Five Sense Therapy seeks to help us course-correct, to balance out the accumulation of “acting out through the senses” and “negative impressions” (essentially, junk food for each of the senses) with more positive or life-enhancing nourishment.

So, what does this mean for us? Life is Sweet offers us simple ways to sweeten our lives each day: use essential oils (topically, or in a diffuser); eat fruit by itself; take some time in Nature, grow plants or get fresh flowers; nourish our self-relationship through nurturing self-touch (abhyanga); and sing, chant, or listen to life-enhancing music.  All of these will help satisfy the root of the craving for sweetness, which is the desire to feel loved, nurtured, and protected.  That desire is fundamentally human and profoundly healthy – there is nothing wrong with it!  However, when we succumb to chronic “misuse of the senses” then we run the risk of causing harm, of breaking down the very vessel that we are seeking to nourish and sustain.  In this work of resistance and resilience, we need all the help we can get to build ourselves up. With constant onslaughts threatening our health, wellness and integrity at every turn, we must take every opportunity to fortify ourselves and each other.

The path of the yogi is a path of self-inquiry.  This tenet invites us to get curious about ourselves, to become literate in our own tendencies, and ultimately to explore and expand the ways that we metabolize sweetness through all of our senses.  As Durga Leela tell us, “Ayurvedic daily practices are anti-depressant, anti-anxiety behavioral health care practices – they help insulate us from the stress and toxins which assault the body.”  If that sounds like something that could benefit you, I invite you to join me in this ongoing conversation.

Sweet! See you on the mat.

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About bienestarte

Patty Adams is a bilingual clinical social worker, as well as an experienced yoga teacher and anti-oppression trainer. She is devoted to intersectional organizing, liberation, holistic healing arts, and wellness.
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