Who I Am Personally
“I believe that the movement of life is towards love and inclusivity; that sacred scripture and self-inquiry are the guides to this journey, and that everything in life is ultimately for us. When we understand the intimate grace that permeates the movement of our lives, they become a generous miracle.” –Deborah
As a child and young adult, I was the one always seeking to be at the top of whatever I was doing; I was seeking to get an A+. Life has mellowed me through the years, but I am still
seeking to get an A+. Now, however, I want to receive it because I lived well, not because I performed well. When I go to bed at night, I want to know that for this day I was kind. For this day, I told myself the truth. For this day, I put courage over fear. For this day, I danced my own dance.
I relish the “ah-hah” moments in life, both my own and witnessing others. For that brief moment the world gets bigger, mystery seems tangible, and life is never quite the same again. When we wrestle with what it means to take spiritual wisdom to the everyday moments of our lives, we become vulnerable to those moments of awakening.
Trips to India, the land that birthed so much spiritual insight, continue to show me the importance of putting myself in places where I can remain a student of life, both challenged and changed, whether in a different country or in my own family and community at home.
Speaking of home, Minnesota is where I reside with my spouse, a Lutheran minister. I love the simple delights of lively conversations, the rugged beauty of the area I call home, and visits from our 2 children and 7 grandchildren.
I am deeply grateful to the great teachers who have guided, prodded, enriched, and grown me in unfathomable ways. My life is informed and moved by these unselfish beings.
How I Became Interested in the Yamas & Niyamas
My exploration of the yamas and niyamas began with the formation of these three questions:
- Why is it that yoga’s path to awakening begins with an ethical system?
- Why is there so much interest in postures, breath, and meditation and yoga’s ethical system gets glossed over? (Compare the number of books written on postures, breath, and meditation to the number of books written on the yamas and niyamas.)
- What were the yogis trying to tell us?
I don’t have the answers, but I do think these questions merit contemplation. For me, the yamas and niyamas are about laying the ground rules for our journey towards union, harmony, and wholeness. They are about living in right relationship with others, the earth, and ourselves. They are the foundational guide to practice both on and off the mat.
What could be a better or more needed place to practice harmony than in our interactions with others and ourselves? I know that if I choose to fight with my husband for instance, the “me” that shows up on the mat for postures or on the cushion for meditation is a “me” in disturbance. I am either running the story of the fight and still being mad, or I am running the story of the fight and being cruel to myself for not being kinder to my husband. Either way, harmony cannot find me; I am too consumed to experience the deeper recesses of my being or hear the call of my soul.
In a simple way, I have begun to think of the yamas and niyamas as a flashlight, shining light on the places of my life where consciously or unconsciously I am out of harmony or right relationship. In this sense, they have become a true friend, ready and willing to take me ever deeper into my pursuit of integrity and wholeness.
The daily, mindful practice of these ethical guidelines begins to make us people who are not only more skilled at living and making thoughtful choices, but who are also becoming harmonious, quiet, and undisturbed. Are the yamas and niyamas easy? No. They ask us to dig deep and find the best that is in us. And they ask nothing less of us than a continual conversation that is both personal and communal. In whatever form it takes, I hope you will join me in this important conversation.
How I Became Interested in the Kleshas
I had been an avid student of the yamas and niyamas as well as the mind and meditation for over two decades. This focus became a rich background for framing my interest in the kleshas, which began in earnest as I watched the growing incivility troubling my country. Blame, hatred, and rigidity were rampant, and with them addiction, suicide, and loneliness were growing.
I wondered why, why is it that in a world so generously abundant we suffer and cause others to suffer. Why had defamation become more important than compromise? Why were family members willing to stop speaking rather than lovingly disagree? Why were we fighting so strongly for our beliefs instead of examining them?
If practice of the yamas and niyamas are foundational for leading us towards wholeness and healing, the kleshas provide an explanation for our brokenness and lack of harmony.
Understanding and applying yoga philosophy to life is powerful because it gives us the freedom of choice. We begin to see that each choice, thought, and action we take moves us towards love and compassion or bondage to our own misunderstanding and fear. Knowledge frees.
Who I am Professionally
Deborah Adele holds master’s degrees in both Liberal Studies and Theology. She carries yoga certifications in Kundalini yoga, Hatha yoga, Yoga Therapy, and Meditation. She is also trained as a Gestalt practitioner and a Somatic educator. For over 14 years, Deborah brought her combined knowledge of business and her in-depth knowledge of yoga philosophy to build Yoga North, a now thriving international yoga center. Currently she is writing, teaching, and engaging in her own personal practice.
Deborah worked for three years with a consulting firm where she combined the concept of body and breath with organizational development skills to improve leadership and management in various businesses around the country. Deborah is the author of the groundbreaking book The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice and The Kleshas: Exploring the Elusiveness of Happiness.
Deborah is a keen and innovative thinker, and, in whatever venue she finds herself, consistently uses her knowledge and training to support others in living a life imbued with balance, clarity, and well-being.