Tuesday, July 28, 2009

State of Flux

More often than not, as of late, I feel like I'm in a state of flux--caught in a cycle of ebb and flow with periods of stagnation.

I don't like this feeling, this sitting still sort of feeling. As if someone pressed the pause button on my life and then misplaced the remote. I'm spinning my wheels in place and though, I see where I want to be, it's a matter of getting there.

It just occurred to me, in the moment of writing this, that I need to come clean. I have to speak out on my own behalf. I need to step up.

I need to voice my truth.

Where is my voice when I need it most?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Enlightenment for Idiots

The title is a little cheesy, I'll admit--it's why I avoided the book for so long until I finally thought, what the hell?

I ordered it through Amazon and read it in 4 days--freakin' loved it.

I do NOT want to sound like a book review, so I'll just say a few things here. The main character spends most of the story's time in India--I felt like I was there. She was on a quest for enlightenment, visiting various gurus/teachers and ashrams--I felt just as much a part of that quest. When she cried, I damn near cried. At her wit, I would laugh out loud.

You know a book is good when you're so into it that, upon completion, it feels as if you've been dropped back into a life you no longer recognize...and the suitcases still need to be unpacked.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I was driving in the car with my little man last week and as we were passing under a bridge he read the "Clearance 17 ft." sign posted there. He turns to me and asks if I can imagine being 17 feet tall.

And for the next few miles, I did exactly that in my head...imagined being 17 feet tall. I had a picture of this new freakishly tall body in my mind and even began to consider how I would fold and contort this body to fit in my wee little compact car.

I then decided I wouldn't like it--I like my size, have always liked being short and felt very thankful for my proximity to the ground.

My point here?

The mind is more than happy to create a story for you--any time or any place, with any thought 'seed' that you plant. It just goes to show how very undisciplined our minds are when left to their own devices.

Sometimes, maybe most times, these seedling manifestations of thought are harmless and breed creativity through the musings of imagination but if we stay too long in the land of stories, then we have removed our self from the present moment.

Furthermore, by succumbing to haphazard musings of the mind too much of the time, we cut short the time of intentional contemplation and planning--that time we spend with our most intimate self, whereby we come to know what it is that we desire, where it is we want to go and how it is we plan to get there.

Recently, I visited a blog, The Yamas and Niyamas (posted to the right in my blog roll) and viewed her video posting on "Plugging Your Holes".

Deborah was offering a small teaching on Asteya or nonstealing and expanded into Adikara--a sanskrit term meaning "the right to have or the right to hold".

Adikara has become my new seedling of thought, especially by using the metaphor offered by Deborah that she learned from a friend who likens Adikara to a colander.

In considering the right to have something we must first consider what it is that we want--what is our desire? And in knowing what we want, we must evaluate how it is escaping us currently--considering Adikara as a colander, we can imagine our 'desire' slipping through the holes.

In an effort to "plug the holes", we must cultivate a condition of being mindful guardians and activists for our desires, for our path. To do this, I practice san kalpa during my meditation or during intentional windows of stillness and quiet that I take/make for myself throughout the day.

San kalpa is a positive affirmation or statement of intention. I like to think of it as a promise made to myself and the universe. Once created, the san kalpa should be repeated three times, planted like a seed in a mind well equipped to manifest reality from a single, tiny seed.

Thus we arrive full circle as I ask myself--do I want to stay in the land of stories whereby I am imagining what it will take to 'fit' a 17 ft. tall body into my teenie-tiny car or dare I use that same energy to 'plug the holes' and manifest an intentional path for myself by cultivating adikara, the right to hold and have my dreams?

Elie Wiesel Quote

No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night

~~Elie Wiesel


I have someone in my life right now teaching me a big lesson and as I write this, I am really trying to refrain from being judgemental--there is my caveat. I am trying to convey the lesson I am learning from her without the judgement that arises, especially in the direct moment she is teaching me, i.e. when she acts this way, and my initial reaction is to cringe and simmer with irritation.

When I speak to someone, I am sharing a moment of intimacy where my action or inaction, attention or inattention, words and tone say more than the words themselves. It really is the ole' actions speak louder than words.

If someone asks a question, acknowledge them by looking at them--SEE them and when you respond to their question, speak in a way that says they matter right now.

From the mundane, "where is the bathroom?", to the sacred, "do you have a minute to talk?", your response is powerful-- it shapes how you are perceived, possibly how they perceive themselves in relation to you and most importantly perhaps, it defines a moment.

Respond with care.

Happy Day

I have been re-committing myself to early bedtime.  I fell out of my routine when the kids returned from their grandparents a few weeks ago, feeling as if I had to make up time with them but dragging my butt around with little sleep and 'me' time.

Lately, I had to reassert that mommy needs her time and her sleep.  So on most nights, I'm in bed by 10:00, sometimes earlier, so that I have time to read from my latest book, maybe move through gentle asana and/or breathwork before my head hits the pillow.

This sort of 'claiming' my space and asserting my needs is an extension of my practice really as I honor my body/mind and establish a routine in support of my needs.

I was really into my book last night so I read well past heavy eyelids and then turned out the lights, prayed that I wouldn't become subject to the usual mom-guilt that can plague me just before sleep and, apparently, drifted off safe and sound.

I woke this morning before my alarm at 4:30, feeling great and happily looking forward to my Thursday morning Ashtanga Vinyasa practice.  I gave myself the next 30 minutes to lie snuggled under the covers and then, amazed at myself, got out of bed, dressed, brushed my teeth and left for class.

Smiling, light-hearted and peaceful, I moved through my practice.

What a difference it makes to honor yourself and live in a way that supports the life you want to lead.

Peace & Love to you...


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The River, Fish and Meditation

I tweaked my practice a bit this morning--instead of an asana practice, I had decided to drive to my favorite little park on the river and walk, perhaps taking a meditation on the water.

It was a welcomed experience--I think I'm entering my moon cycle and around this time, my body feels heavier and more awkward. I prefer to honor the changes in my body and though I could have moved through a more gentle asana practice, I wanted more activity and take any chance I can to walk on the river.

I headed out a little before 7:00 AM so outside was softly glowing from the newly risen light. I walked for about a half of an hour, taking in the breeze, the birds and squirrels, the whole experience I love so much.

I focused on being as meditative as possible, giving attention to my breath and giving attention to the moment. There were times when my mind would wander, many times as a matter of fact, but I mindfully returned to present, wanting to savor the experience as much as I could without putting too much at stake.  I tend to do that--imagine grandeur and then sink to disappointment when the experience does not measure up.

After about 30 minutes, I walked over to a marble bench at the edge of the water and positioned myself for a short meditation. I practiced my meditation with my eyes open--softly gazing ahead to the water, observing the calmness on the surface. A few times, I would catch a fish jumping above the surface, only to disappear as quickly as it had appeared. The water, parted for it's ascent, would merely ripple with it's descent before returning to calm.

This interplay of the fish and the river got me thinking--the river, I imagined, is akin to our minds and the little fish, the thoughts in our minds. Just like the fish, thoughts appear and disappear, coming in and out of our frame of reference. The fish were free to jump above the surface of the water, free to return--the river, never clinging to the fish, was unattached to outcome.  The fish might get swooped up by a bird while floating in the air just above the surface and not make it's way back down.  The river, simply waiting to receive or not, never made anymore of the fish than necessary.

If only, during meditation, our minds could be more like the river and our thoughts more like the fish.  If only our minds, aware of the thoughts as they reach our consciousness or 'surface', could be unattached to the outcome or investment in the thoughts and the thoughts, like the fish, could be fleeting, free to emerge and even more free to submerge.

Thus the practice.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Gift of Technology

I have to say, I love the technology that brings us together, I do--like, want to marry it, have kids with it and move to the country, love it. Now, I preface with a caveat that the same technology can divide us and disconnect us, I realize this and, therefore, work to be in the middle, creating a balance.

That said, the fact that I can prepare for classes day after day by collecting inspirations from a collective of teachers far beyond my geographic location is mind blowing to me! At my wee little fingertips I have the internet and Blogs--I freakin' love the blog~o~sphere! I have magazines--some of my favorites being Yoga Journal, Yoga+, Shambhala Sun and Yoga Magazine. I have books and books and books galore!

In my classes last night, I worked with Vira III (Warrior III) as explored in a recent Yoga Journal article, Warrior 1.5 (You're not out of the loop, it's his own invention :-) introduced and explored by Jason Crandell and a technique for seated meditation in a way explored by Kira Ryder.

Let me lay this out for you.

Vira III as explored in Yoga Journal (I'll post the issue later)

I had the students go to the wall with two blocks and position themselves so they could lift one leg behind them, taking the foot to the wall, leg parallel to the floor. The hands were pressing into the blocks positioned on the floor so wrists were under the shoulders. The action of pressing into the hands to fortify upper body, maintaining a lift and pressing into the back foot against the wall to 'feel' that action of Vira, was super cool and no less of a strengthener than the "full" expression (and I use full expression loosely).

Warrior 1.5 by Jason Crandell

You can find his exploration/explanation here but I'll give you the gist. Jason (cuz we're on a first name basis and all) shared that Vira I has been a struggle for him and he found himself wrestling with the pose or avoiding it altogether. I can relate to this as, I too, have had some come-to-Jesus moments with Vira I. So much so that when I have heard it called in the past, I literally thought, *AUGH*.

So, Jason turned his torso in, every so slightly, to the place between Vira I and II--voila! Vira 1.5 was born and, for him, he was able to stay, to explore and to partner with his body, over time, toward the "fuller" expression (again, used loosely). However, I would add that if you only ever practice 1.5 and never find your way to Vira I, it won't matter at all in anyway what-so-ever, so long as you find a way to 'stay' and cultivate an explorative mind.

'Sitting' as explored by Kira Ryder

Full video here (very short).

Basically, we came to the wall for sukhasana on a blanket and positioned a block behind our backs. Exactly where the block was positioned was up to the student or if they used a block at all--for some, it got in the way and the wall was enough support. Kira's idea is that the block provides a way to open the chest by rolling the shoulders back--I liked it and personally found a new opening that I have yet to access in traditional sukhasana, especially for a seated meditation.

See what I mean?


It wasn't so long ago that books were a new means of transmitting knowledge as a progression from oral transmission (which is still a fave of mine too) and books, though in print, were not available as we now know them to be. Maybe a handful of copies, keeping them ever so precious and rare, usually in the hands of the elite.

I am grateful for the spread of knowledge, for the way we connect over the divides blurring lines along the way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cooking, yoga--whatev'

I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation--Madame Benoit

Cooking is a wonderful way in which we can express our creativity. We can improvise with herbs, experiment with color and presentation--Lissa Coffey

These quotes were in my inbox this morning and, perhaps because I LOVE to cook, I was drawn to a deeper consideration. First, I couldn't agree more--I always look to recipes as 'ideas' or 'suggestions' and not an end-all-set-in-stone sort of thing. I vary to my taste, to what's on hand and my family's liking.

As I read and reread, I couldn't help but find the applicability to yoga practice. Each posture is only a theme which a mindful practitioner can play each time with a variation--our practice can express our creativity as we improvise with modifications, experiment with breath and depth...ahhh.

I was somewhat of an explorer this morning on the mat--my practice followed a pre-dawn lover's quarrel.

Next time, just wash the goddamn strawberries--augh.

This was at 5:00 AM. I didn't even think I would make it to the mat but after things began to fizzle and our voices held tones of surrender, I decided there was nowhere else I would rather be.

I unrolled my mat, lit my candles and incense and clicked the "Bliss" channel on my Pandora--I didn't know where I was going with my practice or if I would even lift my butt.

My breath began to settle me and that was good enough to bring me further in...okay, maybe a Yin Butterfly, uh-huh, good, so perhaps a reclined hero, yup, just what I needed, now Down Dog...

You get the picture--I began to stir, then I simmered and finally, the marination, uh, I mean meditation.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"It's not about you..."

This morning, I listened to an interview with Kira Ryder at iHanuman.com. During the course of the interview, Kira and the interviewer shared an exchange on teaching yoga and those moments or aftermaths of "I sucked" or "...god that was terrible" or those general feelings of inadequacy to the task.

They each shared personal experiences and I listened, shaking my head in agreement and understanding, recalling my own experiences of such.

Kira shared so eloquently how she is working toward moving past these feelings. In a nutshell, she said it's not about you (the teacher) so get out of your way, get out of their way, this teaching thing is more about 'sharing' than teaching and when we share, we experience together, we explore the practice and it's fruit.

Thank you Kira--I needed to hear that.

The full interview can be accessed here.

Kali Flow

I have found my deity.


She's a little crazy and that resonates with me as I strive for peace in an otherwise crazy frame of mind. Kali is known as the dark mother, showing a tender, protective side while bearing a sword to destroy false consciousness--she's a lover, a mother and a warrior.

This flow is dedicated to my dark, crazy mother:

Warrior I
[Performed w/goddess arms; chest open forward and lifting]

Warrior II

[Exit on inhale, arms frame the head, lunging leg straightens and heels turn in as toes turn out]

[Feel free to really tap into your Kali side here by stretching the tongue out and down as the eyes roll up]

Step back to the front of the mat and repeat on the other side.


Friday, July 10, 2009

They came back...

I knew you'd be on the edge of your meditation cushions...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I need a new story...

The good news is that I recognize just how deeply grooved my samskaras are, just how anchored I am to my patterns or the stories I tell myself--stories about myself, about others or about the world I live in and move through.

The bad news is that I still commit to the grooves and do my part to deepen them every time I believe the hype in my head, every time I act in accordance with the illusion that I am somehow less or not enough, every time I turn the page of the same ole' story.

I think it's time for a new story even if I have to craft it one page at a time, even if I have to craft it one word at a time.

Fortunately, I rebound from the reverberations of my samskaras better than ever. For instance, yesterday morning I taught for my teacher who is out of town right now. When she asked me to sub for her, I was honored--I think that highly of her. The nerves set in and then the doubt and suddenly I'm sitting before the class, calling the sequence TOTALLY psyching myself out!

Voice cracking, body warming, heart PoUnDiNg in my chest--I left there feeling so inadequate, belittling myself throughout the day as I recalled my 'story' of the class. I gave almost my entire day over to these feelings I manifested from my storehouse of doubt.

Fortunately, I took a good friend's yoga class later in the evening following his Buddhist discussion group and I was able to put my day in perspective--a fresh perspective. What might have, before, taken me days or weeks, I managed to accomplish in a matter of hours.

I realized that, first and foremost, I AM my biggest critic and probably harder on myself than the students were, if they gave me a second thought at all. Second, I went into that class trying to emulate my teacher when I should have just been myself--my style, my pace, my voice. Lastly, what if I did mess up--not that I believe this now but what if I just wrecked their yoga experience and confused their sense of direction as they attempted to follow my word salads? If we can all be open about the experience, there is surely something to take from it--their lesson is their lesson but mine?


And that, my friends, is what I plan to practice tomorrow when I sub for her again...

...if anyone shows up.

(There's that doubt again.)


Thursday, July 2, 2009


All sorrows can be borne if you tell a story about them--Karen Blixen

When I first read this quote, I read 'borne' as 'born', meaning birthed, brought to life and this resonated with me as I often weave fantastic tales of woe and in weaving those tales, they are afforded greater life and with that life, power--power over my consciousness, my thoughts, my actions, my sense of self.

Upon reading closer, I discovered my misunderstanding and read 'borne' as 'borne', to remain strong under or be able to handle, which makes the meaning just as relevant to me and almost in line with my original interpretation, with a slight shade of difference. In this interpretation, sorrow can be handled if you tell a story about it and, I would imagine, a story with a hero or heroine evolving toward greater consciousness through suffering.

It's all in the telling...any story we tell our self becomes more powerful in the telling, taking greater hold, coming to awareness and to life.

What stories are you telling about your own sorrows?

What stories are you telling about your life at all?

Look again through a lens of satya, (truthfulness) and look again and again and again.  Does your story change?  

Can it change?

Should it?


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A new find!


I just visited this blog and already, I'm in love.


Where the Wild Things Are...

...inside of me for sure.

I re-read a journal entry of mine last night where I recorded my thoughts pertaining to an article on using yoga to harness rather than tame the wildness inside of us. The article explores the Western emphasis on the serenity inducing, rejuvenating aspects of yoga.  The author concedes that while yoga is certainly about peace, it also brings out our strength and channels our wildness.

This SO resonates with me--I am CRAZY wild! My mind can lap itself and I can get caught in thought patterns that are less thought patterns really, as that makes them sound so ordered, and more like thought labyrinths. I'm up and I'm down and I really just have to give myself the space to experience these polarities because I know I will level out eventually.

This morning, I embraced that wildness on the mat and it was totally cool.  For the duration of my practice, I allowed the crazy side of me to surface--she's playful, spunky and ill-tuned to the moment but for this practice, I let her have her way.

With her disregard for centering on the moment, I can't say there was much focus but it was a cool mind trip.

I wish you joy...

On my drive into work this morning, bobbing to music as usual, I took notice of a man sitting on the sidewalk. He was sitting cross-legged and was wearing dark tinted sunglasses--he appeared to be talking, I assumed to himself because he was lacking in audience.

I'm not sure why but I sent a prayer out for him--I wished him joy and I meant it. I saw another man walking through a fast food parking lot and sent him the same prayer. At this point, however, I paused because I wondered if they might be social deviants who had ever brought pain into the lives of others. But this thought passed quickly for me as I realized it was not my responsibility to judge them, their lives or their actions. For IF they had, isn't it entirely possible that they induced pain because of their own? Furthermore, with joy in their lives, might they even begin to share joy with others and move from causing pain?

Please realize that this is entirely hypothetical--I have idea who they are in their hearts and who they have been in their actions but I know, at once, it no longer mattered.

So I finished my prayers for these strangers and even found another candidate walking the sidewalk in his work uniform.

It made me feel good to send these wishes of joy, these small prayers to people who had absolutely no idea who I was and no idea that I was even there, sharing space and time with them for that moment.

And with that...I wish you joy.