Yoga: The Conversation
July 18, 2013
Lately been on my diatribe page. Tonight yoga calls me. Yoga calls me because yoga is how I engage and I have been trying to shift my ways.
And, I have made it back to my mat.
Today my yoga is balancing my heart needs with what is present to feed me.
Of course if you know me you know that is many lattes. But that feeds something that is not as real as my heart.
Latte feeds an addiction and a desire to kick my nervous system into gear.
Right now this moment I am shot, toast, exhausted.
Now while my students rest in Savasana, I sit with my mudra and closed eyes.
I invite the silence, if only for a moment…if only for minutes here and there.
The silence in my heart is growing.
I want to need less. I want to need less on all levels.
This may sound odd because I believe love is the magic we all seek and make. Yet I want to need love less…less love from others so I can learn to love myself more, in all ways.
I want to love my belly. I want to love my yoga. I want to love my quiet and my blather.
And I want to pray with more intention, more focus, a deeper awareness.
I end most classes by looking to our heart and saying there is where we find joy, gratitude, blessings and now, I have added peace.
I think the heart holds the seed to all our greatness…I believe loving each other is where we meet grace.
And I have found what I want and what I feel and what I am offered don’t always suffice.
I used to think I was “overmuch” and had to spread myself around.
Many think I have lots of friends. I may have more than many but honestly there are a numbered few I talk to, which is true for most I think.
So as the picture says, gratitude is my heart’s memory.
With that, I’d say my heart if full.
July 2, 2013
So I kind of fell off my mat, metaphorically speaking. We have no AC right now so sweat comes easily. If I were a big fan of hot yoga this would be perfect.
But the perfection in life comes via the imperfections.
Yoga is the process. Yoga is presence. Yoga is awareness.
Today presence is a challenge because of overwhelming sadness. I have had a few curve balls and the little things that would roll off my shoulders drop like boulders.
Feeling alone and mediocre, I keep going.
My yoga feeds me though now the practice is gentle when I make it to asana. The awareness brings me to change as all changes and my presence helps me release what I can no longer hold and hold what I must to keep going.
Today is mom’s birthday. She is 87 today. And she ends every conversation: “hugs, hugs, hugs” ~ makes me smile from head to toe.
So to my friends who listen to me these days, my students who feed my heart and passion, my family that always supports me in every way, I say, Namaste.
I honor the sacred in you and me. The light in my heart seeks the light in your heart.
May 31, 2013
From my newsletter, not all of you receive:
It’s been too long since I have reached out this way. Life is full and rich as always.
This winter I considered giving up teaching full time as I realized I love the practice of teaching more than the practice of asana. Teaching fills me in a way an office job cannot. The practice constantly gives me a mirror I don’t always want to look into because I don’t always like what I see.
Yet the reflection of students looking back it me gives me a joy I would miss otherwise. My students are willing and eager and curious. Not being a parent, I don’t have offspring to give my love, my hopes or my dreams to in a real way. Instead I share myself with my students. Sometimes I share too much, other times not enough.
Learning to give directions with clarity, knowing how to read my class and when less is more has been a lesson I needed to learn. Two years ago I received feedback that was tough to absorb and oh so necessary. Since then I have relaxed, in every way.
Those who know me know I am full of fire. Passion informs my every action. Sometimes I could be softer. Sometimes I could be clearer. Sometimes I could be kinder.
I get less angry more often. I aim toward treating all with respect and integrity. Sometimes the edge that lives in my heart pokes through but with grace and understanding, forgiveness prevails.
Yoga for me, as I have said a million times, is about engaging. It’s not about crow pose or a wheel, for me. It’s about taking who I am on all levels to the next level. Writing helps.
If you check out my blog you’ll see I write often, for elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, and Journey of the Heart, Women’s Spiritual Poetry. I write and teach and teach and write.
Life has been good to me in all ways. Grace touches each breath. This has been a challenging year. I questioned all I know and felt all I had was threatened in a profound way. Change is the only constant. Challenges like this help remind me of what matters: family, friends, faith and love.
Hope to see you all on the mat and off the mat. If I can support you in any way in your journey, please don’t hesitate to ask. Yoga has helped me connect to my heart and spirit in my body. Yoga helps me find balance. For these reasons I always return to the mat, sometimes daily and others less often. It’s a flow. Thank you all for being a part of that flow.
May 23, 2013
Last night I did lazy yoga….restorative poses, forward folds, while texting with one of my favorite people on the planet. [Ah focus….well, my focus was to relax and renew….he helps me with that].
And today I got with Elena Brower on yogaglo…such simplicity and ease in how she shares, at least that is my experience.
Enter my new book and my new endeavor: Theme Weaver. Read my home page again. I made my brand, my mission and my bio with Michelle’s guidance and put them all there.
Yes I feel I could give more as I teach. I could frame more of what I want to say with that focus I lack often and with what moves my heart.
I want to inspire my students and feel inspired as I teach.
I want to keep everything about my yoga and my teaching dynamic.
I want to share less personal details and give more context. I want meaning to lead my actions and thought, hearts and deeds, on the mat, off the mat, as a teacher, student, friend, wife, daughter….in all arenas….
I want to feel the joy that is my birthright.
May 21, 2013
My birthday is June 1st. I’ll be 54 years old. Age is a funny thing….we don’t feel older but we know we are. Life does not get easier we just get better at living it.
Enter yoga, engagement, the process of union: on the mat most of us do asana and use that as the vehicle to connect mind and body, heart and spirit, feel the twitter of our deepest longings and learn our truths, especially when they lie.
Of late, as I said below, I have felt worn and tired. I have not been on the mat.
I have felt insecure, worthless, less than…in general. The self-loathing that is part of my make up and usually only has a quiet voice has been loud and its tiresome and boring and it makes me cry.
What I get is that my yoga off the mat has been finding the light and letting sadness wash through me.
I don’t get depressed as a rule.
Last night it hit me and I wrote: Striking the Unstruck Sound: Finding My Heart Chakra.
I wanted to share what the moment held and yet I wanted the moment to hold something different.
Yoga helps me stay in the moment even when its unpleasant. Yoga gives me focus. Yoga gives me purpose. Yoga helps me see how I am…the patterns that haunt me when feeling cornered and the truths that push me out of the corners.
I return to change. Change is all we can count on. Most of us run from it. I run toward outer change and I struggle with the best for any kind of inner transformation.
They say time heals. I think that’s true.
Soon I want to return with more regularity to asana practice. I want to find the tree tops and the moonlight.
I want to write of the children I teach who remind me of hope and joy and promise.
But for now I’ll write for that too is yoga.
May 11, 2013
Yoga: engagement…I have been engaged with my angst and troubles and not so much on the mat. Am headed there after this….with the lovely Elena Brower.
I have been sick. And worn out and worn down.
In an ideal world I would have simply stopped working for a few days at least. In an ideal world I would not get sick.
I like to dream of an ideal but prefer what’s real: the sludge of feelings that wrap my heart and the deep cough that wracks my chest.
As a wise friend says: it’s all a point of view.
Today in class I read less so I could cough less and did more of the poses which I rarely do. It was my Yin class, which I so love to teach.
My students each and every one bring me a joy hard to explain. I don’t have children and there’s a sense of not having anyone to pass on things to yet every class is a gift to share myself, the good and the bad.
So now I go to my mat to ease my own aches and try this weary body to feed my tired heart.
April 30, 2013
I was at a new studio where am teaching now, Lil Omm, and grateful to become a part of the community. We had a teacher orientation and in sharing I said I realize I think I love teaching yoga more than yoga itself.
It may sound ironic. I do love yoga and carry a deep respect for the practice, whether the focus is asana or meditation or devotion or study. In yoga there is something for everyone I believe.
But I truly love teaching and today my life is structured in such a way that I rarely feel overworked from teaching, or simply tired. Of course I have grumpy days and days when I am tired but each time I enter teaching from such a space the process of sharing transforms my mood and I always find the joy in giving.
I feel the more we give the more we have to give. This also means we have to give to ourselves and feed our own spirit and heart in the ways that work, day by day.
I believe we all do what we do find balance, or create balance. Yoga is a healthy way to do that. Yes I have many bad habits yet the path has kept a focus where my striving continues to help me reach in ways that are better for me, on all levels.
The process is slow but the process holds me and teaches me.
I build community with my students and feel such grace in being able to share what I love and maybe help them help themselves.
The area where I live has tons of teachers and many programs to train teachers.
I believe students are drawn to those who feed what they need and help them realize their own truths and dreams. I am blessed with many great teachers in my life.
And always the seed of all teaching comes down to presence: learning to be in the moment every moment.
April 21, 2013
Today taught Yoga for Cancer Survivors as a sub. I think it went well. First time teaching this for me…
Then I taught Yoga Nidra, another first.
Always grateful for the opportunity to share the different windows of yoga and to be able to see through the windows of others.
April 20, 2013.
So the practice I love more than asana is teaching asana. It’s true. Oh I love yoga in all its light and yes there are shadows…
But teaching feeds me. I build community with my students and the longing I have to belong beats into my heart from theirs.
Sometimes I stick with the poses but usually I share something of my life and it ties in to yoga because yoga is life, its balance, its engagement, its love, its action, its hope, its what I know.
Some weeks I do yoga like all the time. Some weeks I meditate often. Some weeks I do pranayama. And some weeks I don’t to any of them but usually I do something.
But teaching is what I do every day, well, as a rule. Wednesday I did not teach a class.
And that is rare…
I count my blessings every class as I bow and ask each of us to look to our heart with gratitude for what is.
I don’t always feel grateful for what is but in that moment I let grace brush against me and I am, grateful.
April 18, 2013
Life goes on, and on…well, until it does not.
I tend to do yoga at home with various websites. Sometimes I do it often and others, not as much. Yet the precept of yoga, of connecting with myself and the world informs all I do.
I don’t worry much about asana per se. I enjoy it. In fact, I love it. But I don’t care if I don’t have party tricks. I do my best to find my alignment on the mat and carry the peace I enjoy off the mat.
Teaching itself is a practice, how to connect with students, no matter how I feel about myself.
We talk about intention in yoga a lot. My intention in a class is simply to love my teacher, whether or not I like the teacher.
My intention in life is to love others. Sometimes it is hard when feelings for others or the situations around them are layered with hurt feelings. My hurt feelings often come from feeling rejected, but I think that is normal.
Though I think often I may feel rejected because the feeling is already in me, that angst of feeling separate we all experience as part of being human.
I continue to learn that another’s reaction is rarely about me. As a friend said to me, friends are often who we need them to be….because our need brings them to our life and how we interact and perceive others is more than not dictated by how we see ourselves.
I find the cleaner my mirror is the clearer my windows are when I look out into the world, to my students, my family, and my friends.
Life always comes with challenges but I find yoga helps me help myself and therefore, am better able to help others.
June 13, 2012
It is official: I wrote Anusara HQ I told them I resign this morning.
I don’t feel like a lost a lot because the best of Anusara will be with me always. The UPA’s work every time and who can argue with grace, if standing on integrity’s wings and in truth’s light?
I was not surprised by John’s actions. I am amazed at the reaction, though I was not a part of the Kula in a deep way nor did I travel often to see John. In fact, I only saw him twice. My personal relationship was almost nonexistent.
And I did not advertise my classes as Anusara because I did not want to have to conform to something that I did not work well.
I always was a free agent of sorts. I took what worked for me and worked it. I speak honestly from my heart and share from that space when I teach; sometimes I talk yoga philosophy, sometimes I tell stories, sometimes I just talk about stuff…
Yoga remains to me how we engage. Yoga gives us a form to hold the dynamic process of what it is to be alive, supporting each individual in the way she asks for it, in what she brings to her yoga: asana, meditation, prayer, contemplation, dharma…whatever we look for in yoga we are looking for in self.
Ask and receive. And often in yoga the gifts we receive aren’t even those we’ve asked for, nor even knew could be a part of the process as the heart opens and the connection to the spirit deepens.
May 23, 2012
Well, the conversation never stops, I just don’t always come here to share what it consists of for me. I hope to do better but time is always the test.
Yet yoga has passed the test of time. Each time it comes alive in a culture each culture makes it its own and yet there is something that is Yoga that none can change. In this country our way in is through Asana. In Patanjali’s time the way in was through meditation and the point seemed to be to find a way out.
Rajanaka Tantra per Douglas Brooks, as I understand it, is the teaching of those who live in the world and take what they learn and earn from their yoga back into the world. Life is the process. Embodiment is a gift. Our true state is bliss. Freedom gives us as much as we can handle. It means responsibility. Freedom recognizes beginnings and endings as marks of time, as boundaries. Sometimes it is confusing as individuals because we don’t know where we end or begin, much less when.
I don’t have the blessing of being a parent. To me, that is the ultimate test. You’re children are not you. But in different ways they are like you. The mirror is a maze. Tara Brach says they learn from the life we don’t live. And children learn by imitating via their own lens. Then hopefully we grow older and maybe grow up. As adults it is the our job to find gratitude and forgiveness where needed and become more of who we are.
I find with time we do become more of who we are. Older people in my experience are much more open minded because they have less to prove and have a better sense of self.
Yoga helps each of us help our self. We grow stronger. We are taken inside. Our imbalances surface. The slope gets steeper and yet we get stronger, better able to handle the incline and boulders and falls. Awareness deepens. We find the freedom that comes in knowing and understanding. Sometimes the dreams get more real. The ambition more concrete.
Frankly, at 53 I feel like I am just beginning on so many levels. Poetry has been a companion since I was 9 years old, yoga since I was 37 years old. Their functions are complimentary but distinct because how the process invites me is contrary: one is physical through asana, or in solitude, through meditation. Poetry is a meditation and holds revelation and answers in a way yoga takes me to the questions.
Balance. It’s all about balance.
March 16, 2012
So I went through a dark phase, as the poems posted reveal. Yet as my brother used to say, there is the calm after the storm.
I have decided to maintain my Anusara Inspired [TM] status. Check my bio. See below for my take on it.
And soon I will get my EIN number with the IRS. I am dba Yoga, Yoga, Yoga. I hope to broaden my horizons of where I teach while deepening the conversation through meditation consistent yoga, regular pranayama and yes, Qi Gong. I also hope to expand my business horizons, work smarter as they say. I love my schedule, where I actually have days off, and time to practice. For years I was on the road 2 to 4 hours a day and hanging out in coffee shops. Life is sweeter, I am happier and possibilities continue to unfold.
Stay tuned. I have more workshop ideas. Therapeutics are down pat. But I want to evolve the conversation in workshops as well, so I can share what I learn as I learn.
March 8, 2012
Life is all about being present with change. Anusara is changing, and so am I. I am trying to find the softness, and it hides beneath my sadness and beyond the anger.
The founder took a fall, so to speak. Ironic that the most vital principle that holds all together is Open to Grace and the founder fell from grace, so to speak. However, the system of Anusara stands strong. It works every time. Anusara will always inform how I teach what I teach. Yet for a long time I have not felt I am a strong by-the-book Anusara teacher. I am a strong teacher yet Anusara felt like a box I could not quite fit into and, I did not really want to fit into it. I teach vinyasa with alignment when I teach a regular class. If asked to teach a class that is not vinyasa I do that, from pose to pose, with alignment. I teach therapeutics, prenatal, kids and seniors, gentle and bigger bodies, all with alignment.
My way of opening to grace changes as I change. Today I pray. Yesterday I tried to teach from where I was at that moment, and to speak my truth. I prayed then too here and there but now I want prayer and meditation to inform my teaching each time. I don’t know if it will. Intention is everything. And everything changes.
I found the articles I read about the Founder, John Friend, and all the dialogue, frustrated me. So I unplugged. My saying echoes the song, the harder they come the harder they fall…John was acting like the majority of men I have known in my life, with a seeming lack of respect for women in particular…from what I can gather. I was disappointed, but not hurt. Life always goes on.
I was not overly attached to John or Anusara. I respect the system. I respect what John created. I used it in a way that works for me, the alignment principles and the foundation on grace.
Grace whispers and when I am listening I can hear her voice, the guidance, the love, the possibility of being unfolds in a wave and magic happens.
Feb. 8, 2012
Well, some believe everything happens for a reason. In yoga we have karma and Leila…the concept of cause and effect is something we all learn and at a young age. Leila is a bit different. Leila is the idea of things happen, randomly, seemingly unconnected, and if it is good we call it luck and if it is bad well, we all have our own way of cursing. Yet truth be told, experience does not have to be good or bad. And there is not always a reason why…I mean we can default to the Divine but what does that serve? It is comforting, I agree. And it is nice to think that even if something is awful it always serves a greater good. But does it? I think things happen. I never ask: Why Me? And there have been times it would seem the most appropriate of questions. But I don’t think I am that unique or special that I am singled out for any reason, good or bad. Love makes us special, in the giving and in the receiving. That’s all…learning how to love, now that is a journey. Today I had to say Good-Bye to a class. Apparently enough complained that I had to go, and if I cannot be me then I don’t have to be asked. Though today all my sweet students gave me love and support, and many were a bit indignant. And one student sent me a delightful supportive email. It was one of my favorite classes, big, in a gym, level 2 though often raw beginners came. Size: usually at least 40 give or take. The criticism was it was boot camp yoga and I talk about my personal stuff too much. I felt badly about it but am glad I am not a new teacher. I walk around the room, I give adjustments, I teach alignment, always, I use my life as a sounding board to teach about yoga. As I said today, yoga is not an escape, but a way into self and life and awareness. For escape there is Law and Order. And I wondered if I was seeing my audience? Today made me think I was, because many asked for my card, thanked me…and I know there are many who liked my teaching, asked for my newsletter, came back week after week. But it is all good. I found a new place to rent space and offer classes. I was contacted by someone else looking for a teacher today. I don’t know that things always have to have a reason but in my life in yoga when one door closes many always open… I did my best. I had fun. I shared. I teach from the heart and try to share myself and have fun at the same time. Sometimes I talk a lot, sometimes not so much. And I always walk around the room and try to keep people safe and teach alignment…and breath. Yoga is life. Life is yoga. It is the conversation. I say first you trip and then you travel. Life is about creating options, being happy, loving always, and having fun…I will miss my students. Hope the next teacher has better luck.
Nov. 4, 2011
Ah, today I got a great nap. My youngest kitten, almost 15 weeks, lays out on his favorite blanket, eyes partially closed, blissed out. Now a cat always lives in the moment, will much awareness. For me, it is an ongoing lesson: how to live in the moment, be fully present, and be aware. Yoga brings this home every time I practice. After a good practice is my favorite time to meditate. Yoga puts me in me. Yoga fills me up so I can let what is in flow out and what is out flow in. Yoga grounds me. Yoga teaches me to be more me. Joy is our birthright. In yoga we call this: Ananda. And some say it is an obligation, and more difficult than sadness. In joy there is complete love and an embracing of life and self and what we may call Nature, or the Divine. And in joy there are no challenges. Joy is being-ness. Joy is the celebration of life. Happiness is accepting what is, Joy is living it with full expression of the heart. In Yoga, we connect. Joy is a challenge if we are not in our hearts. And sometimes hearts break. Suffering is part of life. This morning I learned of a horrific tragedy: a toddler was run over and killed halloween. Joy? No. Nothing but sadness, a grief I can only imagine, maybe anger at injustice…No. No joy. I am fond of saying this life is a crapshoot…or, in yogic terms, Leila, chance, the lucky as Douglas Brooks calls it, or, the unlucky. Some people get cancer. Some people go crazy. Some people are plagued with addiction. Some people live with chronic pain. And there is no good reason. The questions is not what happens but how do you live with it, how do you process your life, your grief, your pain…how much compassion can your heart hold? How much sadness before…? But we get back to choices. We all make them. Yoga helps me help myself, and hopefully others. Yoga helps me laugh and cry. Yoga gives me tools that hep me live more effectively and efficiently, on the mat and off the mat. Yoga, to be honest, saved my ass..in every way…
Oct. 29, 2011
Connecting the dots: So glancing at the earlier blog I’ll pick up one thread: having choices. We create them as we can, where we can, at least, I know I do. I have chosen to cut back where I teach, so I drive less often. I have chosen to give up teaching at places I love and leave many students who I also love. Yoga: how I engage. I was engaging too much…My stress got so high I should have been teaching bootcamp and not yoga. I was injuring not just myself but my beloved students. In Anusara the most vital principle is Open to Grace. However, when I am exhausted and drained the Grace cannot flow in or out. Tonight I got home and told my husband I was toast. Tomorrow night will probably be no different. I do my best, which is not always what I’d like it to be. So I am changing how I engage myself and how I engage my life. I cannot write more now…but hopefully more will come soon… August 1, 2011 Yoga is a path that creates balance. We continually fall out of balance and therefore, are continually trying to get back to that place in ourselves. Like standing in Tree pose, we use our strength to hug to the midline, to invoke confidence, knowing if we put a foot down we are honoring a need to stay strong and that we can choose to come back into the pose, or rest outside of it. We all use things outside of ourselves for balance, like coffee or tea, food or alcohol, naps or walks. Most things, done with moderation and awareness, are not harmful. Yoga’s beauty stands in helping us reach inside for that balance. We build stamina in heart, body, and mind. We develop the ability to focus. We learn we can relax. The space we enter in the final relaxation is always there for us to enter. Once we know where it is, we can learn how to get there. Relaxation is vital for all of us, whether we are students, parents or working in a job we love, or hate. I know I love my work and life. I love having choices. I also know circumstance can take me to an edge where between teaching, for balance, I rest and listen to Tara Brach or Sounds True, Insights at the Edge. When overworked or impacted my circumstance, things fall off: exercise, yoga, meditation. But I know where they are. I know I have stepped away. I know I have made a choice. And I know the step away is temporary. I have lost much before in my life. But then what I did not lose was my poetry. What grew was my faith. And now I have another tool, another gift, yoga, that time or circumstance, cannot take. For even if I could not do asana I could practice yoga in my life by living mindfully. Sometimes life is demanding and sometimes things happen that strip us of all but our dignity. Yoga is one of those lights that never goes out. And that is because the light remains always in the heart. And yoga without love, without heart, is not yoga. It is exercise or prescribed action or dogma. Yoga’s beauty resides within each individual, every day an opportunity to choose how to act and love and live. The formulas may vary with different traditions and schools but hopefully they all take us the same place: a place of acceptance. Happiness, Tara says, is loving what is. Yoga helps us do that by keeping us present in body, mind, and Spirit. July 9, 2011 Yoga literally means to yoke, to bring together. Hatha Yoga, the yoga of balancing opposites, is mainly what we do here. Hatha Yoga has become its own thing, which is neither good nor bad. It is asana, or poses, meditation and pranayama or breathing with awareness and intention. Mainly, in most health clubs and even studios, it is asana. But for me, the act of yoga is the act of sharing, of being in relationship. I came to it through asana and continue to move with it and grow with it and learn more about who I am and am not. Honestly though, I realize I know enough about yoga to get in trouble…it is simple but deep. There are schools of thought. There is philosophy. There is asana and meditation and pranayama. There is Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. There is Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion. There is Jnana Yoga, the yoga of study. And there is more… But what I realize more and more is that there is more and more to know. Yoga has brought me home to myself. It has given me a sense of belonging which I had at rare moments in my life. Yoga has given a frame to beliefs I had. And the path keeps me coming back to meditation. What I came to believe in, in all ways is alignment. Anusara has a profound but simple system for it in asana which also transcends asana. Alignment, in asana, is not only about being safe but about finding that ease and steadiness in breath, flow and stillness. In life, and in faith, alignment is about having harmony between the parts so the whole of me, all parts, can move and be at peace as often and whenever possible. The first principle is Opening to Grace. We do this with breath, with love, presence and acceptance. The second principle is Muscle Energy, the sweet embrace of how we are and who we are. The third principle is Inner Spiral, the concept of creating space mindfully so we can move with the grace we never stop invoking and keeping that sweet embrace in that space, doing what we call Outer Spiral. And the final principle, Organic Energy, is how we take all that, and express ourselves in time…taking all the grace and love and embodying it fully. This explanation is my spin on the five Universal Principles of Anusara Yoga. In asana they are invaluable. In life they are constant teachers and signposts that guide me in my alignment. They help me balance opposites. They teach me about myself in relationship to myself and others. In teaching, with asana, they help me help my students find their way into asana and from asana with breath, in the final relaxation, into meditation. The texts of yoga are many. One of the beautiful aspects of Anusara, to me, is that it is accessible, tangible and moves us all in as many different ways as there are individuals practicing. I love yoga. I love having a method, a dharma, that helps me help myself and in that, helps me help others. July 3, 2011 Sthira Sukham Asanam Asana need be steady and easeful…this is from Patanjali, the Father of Classical Yoga, Yoga Sutras. A Sutra is an aphorism and literally means thread. Of all his 196 sutras this is the only one that directly talks about asana, ironically. I think back then, Yoga as a process of union and enlightenment, was much more about meditation than anything else. And the pose, or asana, was to aid in that process. We often lose site of that today and many rag on the focus here in this United States on Asana. However, I think it so appropriate for a culture obsessed with physique that we find our way into yoga via the asana, the physical component of yoga. And anyone who has done any consistent yoga practice I bet will have had moments, if not longer periods, of meditation…if only in the final relaxation. Every culture remakes yoga to fit its needs. This to me speaks of the essence of yoga, to be able to be fluid and flow with time’s changes and to help create balance. In our Asana, if we are steady and easeful our breath is flowing, there is no tension and we have the strength to hold the pose and the serenity to stay in it. Meditation is a vital to yoga but we all get there differently and it takes many forms. For many sitting and breathing works. For others, going on walks or riding a bike works. Asana itself can be meditation in movement practice. I know for me writing poetry is a form of meditation…it opens and soothes my heart and connects me to spirit. This connection, of heart and mind, body and spirit, is the crux of yoga, to me. Yoga is about the conversation ~ the one within and the one we take from that space into the community. Yoga is sharing. Yoga is falling out of balance to find our way back. Yoga is not just making mistakes but acknowledging those mistakes, bringing awareness to the action so we can learn our lesson and not keep repeating it. I love asana. Meditation does not come as easily for me, so far…Yet I focus on what works, stay open to possibility and to my own willingness to change and to grow. I listen to Tara Brach online almost daily. And I embrace presence as a process of being. Ease and steadiness is not always easy or steady, yet I bring it into my life as an intention, to find it moment to moment, pose to pose, situation to situation. Some situations of course show me I came into them or reacted with neither ease or steadiness. But I stay in the process. I come back to awareness not as an end or an achievement but as a way to grow and be. I keep the doors unlocked and the windows open. I don’t hide from the darkness, I embrace it. And through that I can find the light, I can return into ease and steadiness with integrity and humor. May 27, 2So as I write this I just finished an email to my good friend who helped me create this website. And once again, I was writing about feeling tired, and feeling tired of feeling tired.
What does this have to do with yoga? Well, basically, in so many ways, everything. Yoga is about the conversation we have with self and how we take that self out into the community where we work, live and share. As a teacher, I want to help students help themselves find balance. As a student I am always trying to find balance myself.
Yoga for me is so much more than a vocation. Yoga is a way of being in the world with an open mind and willing heart. My training and tradition is in Anusara Yoga, a tantric tradition that embraces the good and celebrates life through the principle of Opening to Grace. Often when I introduce this in classes I refer to Grace as Love, for it is a universal concept and feeling that we can all identify. For many Grace is charged with a variety of meanings. And isn’t love itself a gift of grace in so many ways?
Balance is a dynamic of life that calls us all. We are constantly working to sustain balance, whether in a pose, a relationship, or with the myriad of voices and feelings that run through each of us. Yoga is integral to my balance by keeping me grounded in my body, by giving me a dharma, a path, and in that path a set of values that resonate with how I feel and what I embrace in this life.
And I will continue to return to Anusara Yoga. Anusara translates as “to flow with Grace” and what more beautiful concept is there with which to align our hearts but that of grace, the miracles of everyday that catch us unawares, like the rainbow I saw last week or the student who emailed pictures of her newborn baby girl? And grace itself brings us back into our hearts and helps us listen so we can look around us, beyond self to others to better see what the light holds within, for we all hold a light within.
Yet I know on nights like tonight, it is easy to forget all this. Yoga helps us remember, in relaxation or meditation or in the asana practice itself, we remember by tuning into the breath and coming home to our hearts waiting to be recognized. When we forget we are manifestations of light and spirit, we can forget the same about those who people our lives. When we are able to remember beauty surrounds us and happiness is our birthright, when we feed our own hearts we have more to give. And isn’t life about giving and sharing who we are and how we are whenever we can? In yoga, as a teacher, as a student, as a wife, daughter and friend, I am constantly reminded that balancing is not an act but an art, and when we feel a sense of balance, the energy can flow and when the energy flows, the love can overflow.