Friday, February 27, 2009

Waffle Practice

So this morning, I set my alarm like I always do to rise for my practice. Usually I am alone in this space and time because the rest of the bodies in my house are sleeping.  But this morning, in preparation for an anticipated park day with friends, the house was alive--all bodies up and moving.  

I could have closed the door on it all and had my practice anyway but I felt compelled to be with them, to spend time with them, however short, just talking and having breakfast before I left for the office.

Yoga is a practice of mindfulness and happens on AND off the mat--I am consistently being reminded of this.

So, I made 3 Belgian waffles with maple syrup and pecans and sat down with the kids for breakfast, talking, laughing--just being with each other.

Practice is perfect, however it unfolds.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What I love about this practice... that you are not let off the hook and you are not coddled. This path is not easy and not for the faint of heart. Don't let the smoothness in the flow of asanas fool you--you will be tested.

This practice...

...demands awareness, presence, lifting the veil and staring into dark spaces.

...asks you to go deeper, to look deeper, to seek and to accept.

...needs you to breathe into discomfort and open your mind, heart and soul to the living of your life.

You can't cheat the practice, you will be called out.

There is no pretending and no facades and there is simply no where to hide because you have stepped forth, you have tapped the power that is 'you' and there is no turning back. Oh, you might avert your eyes, you might not like what you see at first, you might even step off the tracks to catch your breath but the practice has begun... will be opened.

I freakin' love it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Now this is living...

There are moments in my life when I feel like I get 'it', like I'm directly connected to the purpose, the reason, the point of it all, like my awareness is keen and I am a receptor for communication from the universe directly guided from within.

Yesterday was one of those days and I didn't even see it coming. If my meditation practice was any indication of what to expect from my day, I was no closer to enlightenment than I was to miraculous conception or levitation. I couldn't focus, couldn't sit still, I bounced between mantras, fingered the beads on my Mala, pretending that I was feeling each one for the first time and that I was somehow imbuing it with the 'energy' of my scattered and fragmented mantra repetition while secretly (secret from who, right?), I was seeking out that guru bead--only because it meant my Mala meditation was OvEr. Some mindset huh?

So I released myself from the meditation drudgery that I was creating and answered my body's call to move and this is where my 'presence' crept up on me though I wouldn't know it until later. During my asana practice, which has looked different since my surgery, there was no urge or push to go any further than I could, rather, there was this blissful acceptance and gratitude that I had a body at all to move on the mat, that I was beginning my day in this way, that I was present, alive. I was very tuned into my body, my experience, and very committed to honoring a path of exploration that did not seek to overdo or deplete.

When I had opened my body and flowed through my range of motion, then I was ready to settle. I tried meditation again but this time, with an object--I didn't think my Mala could handle another reckless handling. So I took a candle off my alter and sat it in front of my mat. My gaze rested on the flickering flame and my mind followed the breath...ahhh.

Centeredness. Stillness. Peace.

After my meditation, I showered, prepared my lunch for the day and drove into work--it wasn't until I was well into my morning that I realized just how present I was, just how connected I was to the life I was living--I was the living.

I was looking people in their eyes, really listening to what they were saying to me and making time for one-on-ones that I usually overlook. I did just a little more for people than I normally would--stepping outside to talk, centering my moment around them because they deserve that sort of attention in this world, offering tea and time and acknowledgement. I hugged my children when I got home and rubbed their sweet little cheeks.

When I arrived at the studio to teach my evening class, I took the time to center and then adorned the space with candles--more than I normally would because I wanted the space to inspire my students and I knew that I would present the same object meditation for them that I had practiced earlier. As they rested in Savasana, I placed a candle at the foot of each of their mats so that when they rose, the flickering light would greet them.

At the end of class, I thanked them 'from the bottom of my heart' for their attendance in class--I meant it sincerely. I am always moved when I teach but this place of awareness that I lived from yesterday accentuated the gratitude I experienced.

I lived into every single moment of my day. I lived into the nooks that I normally step over, I lived into the spaces in between my thoughts--I was living and experiencing abundance.

Now this is 'it', this is living, this is yoga, this is what I'm talkin' about. I want more because the sensory experience of mindful presence has me hungry and hooked.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another flow...

Let's see...hmmm.

Begin in Mountain
Forward Fold
Step back to Downward Dog
Inhale right leg up behind body
Exhale take right foot forward between hands
Inhale Warrior I
Exhale Humble Warrior
Inhale rise
Exhale Warrior II
Inhale open Warrior II
Exhale Extended Side Angle
--option, take right hand to floor inside the foot, keep left arm reaching up
--option, from here, keep body at an angle and lift right hand from floor, both arms framing head, chest rolling open
Turn out and step back to DD


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Here I 'flow' again...

Just barely but flowing nonetheless.  It's been wonderful exploring my new possibilities on the mat--easing further into a stretch, exploring nuances and breathing open.

Today, I flowed through a practice from Kira Ryder's website--thought I would share here for those interested:

Crescent Flow

Begin in Downward Facing Dog
Inhale right leg up behind body stretching foot away
Hold with breath
Inhale lift
Exhale, step right foot between hands
Inhale, rise to Crescent Lunge
Hold with breath
Exhale, ground left hand beside right foot
Inhale, right arm out and up
Breathe into twist
Exhale turn out, drop knee
Inhale, reach up and lengthen
(Arms can be framing head or hands clasped behind back)
Exhale hands to frame foot
Straighten both legs for pyramid
Inhale lengthen, Exhale bend knee
Step back to DD

Repeat on other side

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yoga to the People

Every once in a while...a studio comes along.

Their motto:

There will be no correct clothes
There will be no proper payment
There will be no right answers
No glorified teachers
No ego, no script, no pedestals
No you're not good enough, not rich enough
This yoga is for everyone
This sweating and breathing and becoming
This knowing glowing feeling
Is for the big, small, weak and strong
Able and crazy
Brothers, sisters, grandmothers
The mighty and the meek
The bones that creak
Those who seek
This power is for everyone


All bodies rise...

I LOVE their philosophy, their space and their practice--when you visit the site, be sure to take an online class.  Highly recommended.

I have plans to visit New York this summer and will attend classes at the studio, personally.  Will be sure to post.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Seva Challenge

I will run a post from time to time with a link to information previously posted on the SEVA Challenge that I am involved in.

In the coming weeks, I will post on donation classes I am holding, events I am planning and other related info.


I miss my flow...

I am such a flow girl.

I have known this for some time but have taken it for granted in my asana practice because it was just how my body moved--one pose flowing into another into another, led by the breath. My daily yoga dance, my offering of grace.

As I recover from the surgery, I move differently on the mat. I enter a pose, leave a pose, enter another, leave another, attempt to enter some that are still not possible, honor the limitations I find myself in for now and attempt something else. I can feel my body pulling toward a flow, craving the smooth connections between these poses that it knows so well, like the words of a inspiring prayer etched into the mind, my body knows it's flow. My body wants to flow...

However, I suppose my practice then is to embrace and honor where I am physically. Perhaps my 'flow', for now, can be the way the breath moves my body while I hold a pose, the grace of softening--physically, mentally, spiritually--deeper into myself.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Was it the yoga?"

I have been confronted with this question NuMeRoUs times since relaying news of my injury and subsequent surgery. Certain friends, family members and co-workers, though well meaning for sure, assume that my practice injured me.

I will be honest. It makes me slightly defensive...shhh.

I am trying to understand and accept their concern with love and appreciation--for the most part, I do. BUT there is the smallest part of my mind that jumps into reaction mode.

Now, could an aggressive practice void of mindfulness lead to an injury? You better believe it and for that alone, I should recognize the legitimacy of their questions and concern. As I write this out, I better understand.

However, because I know me and my practice and my body personally, I know otherwise. As I wrote about in my previous post, I was not spiritually grounded in the way that I sought but I was NOT physically negligent.

My injury, I'm convinced, was a direct result of my witnessing a traumatic event, a terrible human tragedy. My body was gripped by sorrow and helplessness and shock and it manifested into a physical ailment--this 'knot', as it appeared, or hernia, as it is referred to, surfaced in my gut during the incident and the pain progressed from there.

Does my mind/emotion center wield that sort of power? Absolutely. And now, more than ever, I believe this to be true. When I think of that night, I still feel it in my gut directly above my incision.

If we only knew a fraction of the power we hold...hmmm.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stumbling Toward Grace

I am in the midst of a life-change; an unfolding like no other to enter my life before now. So much has happened this week that totally shifted the path I was on and the landscape I looked out upon. Yet I stay open...curious...waiting and above all else, grateful for the unfolding.

In the last week, I have witnessed a traumatic accident that claimed the life of a local school teacher (I know this now but did not know that then) and have undergone surgery for an umbilical hernia.

One minute, I'm walking 10-12 miles a week, practicing yoga daily, standing on my head, balancing in advanced arm balancing poses, twisting my body, hovering in chaturanga dandasana, and the next, I'm detoxing from narcotics and anaesthesia, nursing my first ever surgical incision, struggling to walk around my house, praying for and against a bowel movement and suppressing the urge to sneeze, cough or laugh.

Suddenly, my practice is redefined.

The reality of where I am from where I was is sobering and humbling...but it's more than that because, if I'm honest, I knew it was coming. I'll get to that in a moment.

For me, yoga has been a journey of transformation--on so many levels. I have grown spiritually, I have cultivated a place of centeredness--it quivers from time to time, for sure (I get grumpy in traffic and when I get no 'me' time and sometimes for no good reason at all :-) but now I feel the center and seek it more than ever. There has also been a physical transformation--my body is lean and strong; stronger than I've ever been...well, until now.

I had become intoxicated with my strength, lulled by the grace with which I moved on the mat and drawn to the dance of the asanas. These are certainly not negative states except that the intoxication began to drive my pursuit of the mat and to consume my mind.

I noticed this intoxication, this imbalance, and I would often pray for a shift in my thinking during meditation. I would sink into the subtleties of each pose, the feel of my body in the pose, the flow of the breath. But a strong seed had been planted in my mind and I was not relinquishing the desire and drive for this strength training I was endeavoring each time I came to the mat.

I felt something coming to me, I knew that I was going to be hindered physically, nothing life threatening, but some event in my life was going to realign my practice and my awareness. After all, I was asking for a shift.

Now, I believe that you receive what you seek from your practice wherever you are in your life and however you show up. Had I not been seeking more spiritual depth in my practice, had I not been praying to be released from this 'spell' of my physical abilities and accomplishments, I feel certain my practice would have continued on the same path...if I felt served, served I would be.

But I didn't, so life threw me a loop in the form of an umbilical hernia and I was delivered from my physical station of stagnation straight into a pit of pain heretofore never experienced. This pain brought me into the core of my physical self. This pain gripped everything I had--my awareness, my soul, my body--all clenched in it's teeth. I could barely breathe. I struggled to speak and when I did it came in pants of phrases that needed to be strung together. I was delirious and felt so completely alone as my body turned on me.

Fast forward through the dramatic blur of events--ambulance, emergency room, blurred consciousness, nausea, vomiting, narcotics drip, x-rays, ultrasounds, CAT scan, more narcotics, more vomiting and I woke in the Emergency Room when the tech walked in to wheel me up to surgery, apparently decided for me somewhere along the way.

I was hit with the pain at 6:30 Friday evening and I was on the operating table by 10:00 Saturday morning. The last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist holding a syringe to my IV, saying 'this' was to help me relax. I prayed one more time that I would wake up from the surgery and I let go.

Wake up I did, new to my body in its delicate state and in awe of the manifestation of that which I had been seeking on the mat.

Over the course of the last week, I have taken many baby steps, including eating solid foods, standing up straight, walking for more than the distance between my bed and the living room, getting out of bed with no more assistance, touching my toes, breathing with depth, reaching my arms up to frame my head and driving myself WITH a seat belt.

I still have a long way to go but I am settling nicely into this journey and, in a funny way, I am honored to have the opportunity to intimately connect with my body, to move at it's new pace, easing forward when allowed and pulling back when necessary.

My practice on the mat today began with my Mala meditation and then I moved where I could, tentatively exploring poses that were once very commonplace for my practice and avoiding others altogether. There was no anger, no despair or frustration, just alignment of body, mind and spirit--I was at peace, blissful and grateful for this delicate vessel.

I was honored to be and, more than that, honored that I woke up...whatever the impetus.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Om Namah Shivaya

Salutations to that which I am capable of becoming...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let us not forget...

...that Michael Rose, the "pedestrian killed while crossing Herschel" was more than the 20 second news slot he has become and while cars continue to drive down that road that will never be the same for me and while people continue to cross from both sides of the street, a man lost his life last Friday night.

We know now that he was a teacher of English--English as a second language and we've been told through news stories that he was patient and easy-going.

I can't help but wonder who was waiting for him to come home that night that he didn't, who had plans with him over the weekend, who might have left messages on his voicemail until they learned that he had been killed. I wonder if he had children, a partner, a dear friend. I wonder how many people he had touched that day alone, much less the last week. I wonder if he was happy with the direction of his life, content in his profession and at peace with his choices.

I have never witnessed death and his has broken my heart--tying me to him in ways I have not been prepared for, ways that still catch me off guard.

As I prayed for this stranger lying in the street and covered his limp body with blankets, I wonder if he knew I was there, praying for his life and holding him, at least, in my heart.

Obituary follows:

Michael William "Mike" Rose

Michael "Mike" William Rose, 61, passed away suddenly January 30, 2009. Mike was born December 25, 1947 in San Antonio, Texas to Joyce De Ramus Rose and William (Bill) Rose. He lived most of his young life in Athens, Ohio where he continued his education after high school at Ohio University graduating with a degree in Journalism. Upon being drafted during the Vietnam War, he began an adventurous four years as a photographer's mate with the U.S. Navy VP5 Mad Foxes at NAS Jacksonville. After honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida where he received his post-graduate degree in Journalism and life time love of following Florida Gator sports. From Gainesville he moved to Live Oak, Florida where he was the editor of the Suwannee Democrat. He returned to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio receiving another degree in Reading Education. He loved Florida and returned to Jacksonville to start his just short of 30 year career in teaching. He held teaching positions at many Middle Schools in Duval County before obtaining his most current position at Sandalwood High School. Mike enjoyed immensely his job of teaching students from many diverse backgrounds at Sandalwood High School. Mike is survived by his son, Wesley William Rose; ex-wife Laurie Peterson Griffin; husband-in-law Gerald (Gerry) Griffin; and special young friends Parker and Bailey Griffin. We will all miss you greatly. Family members and friends will gather on Friday evening from 6:00pm until 8:00pm, February 6, 2009 at Hardage-Giddens Edgewood Funeral Home (729 S. Edgewood Ave.) Jacksonville, FL 32205. A Memorial Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, 11:00am, February 7, 2009 in the Chapel of Hardage- Giddens Edgewood Funeral Home. The Memorial Funeral Service will conclude at the funeral home. Funeral arrangements are under the care of Hardage-Giddens Blanding Funeral Home (5753 Blanding Blvd.) Jacksonville, FL 32244.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Getting out of my own way...

As I heal and recover and move toward the SEVA challenge that I committed to last week, I am confronted with my biggest obstacle.


"What needs to change" was the question in my meditation newsletter this evening.

So, "what needs to change?"

I need to get out of my own way.

I need to unfold into healing and physical recovery by not musing over where I was, by not making comparisons that devalue where I am right now.  I need to move forward on my challenge and not talk myself out of my potential one week in.  I need to align my heart with my purpose and simply move forward.

I need to get out of my head and into my heart, into my soul.

I need to silence that voice inside telling me I could never do this or that, it's much too large a task, too short a time, too impossible a chance.

I need a new voice--one that supports and inspires my will to see this through, my desire to transcend the mat-bound practice I have developed, to pray for abundance so that I may serve others and inspire action in my local community.

"I found my purpose by going straight into what scared me.  Whatever brings you to the mat...will be the place from where you serve.--Seane Corn