Monday, December 29, 2008
the best yoga teaching advice that anyone ever gave me
"eva, you just gotta love 'em."
-Jonathan Gordon, The Yoga Center of Brooklyn
Sunday, December 21, 2008
the inside and the outside
Erin is a painter with very lovely hands. When she spoke, she painted the air around us with her fingertips. It was like watching a work in progress, very fascinating!
This is what she said, paraphrased, as I remember (it was late...)
You know, sometimes its good to remember with all the stuff that goes on here, [imagine long thin fingertips swirling around the temple/forehead area] that real life happens out here. [imagine now, same fingertips swirling the air around and in front of her, my neighbor, and myself]
We talked about how, while being in a serious muddle, we see our friends, or snow, or a cat tucked into the recycling box and it (whatever your it may be) really doesn't seem so bad.
My quandary here is that yoga philosophy says that "reality" does happen in our heads. The world is an illusion. An illusion that is put there to teach us something, but still an illusion. And everything out there is colored by what is in here.
Maybe its a give and take? Our thinking paints the illusion brighter or darker, and that illusion does the same to our paint?
good stuff to ponder...but outside pondering or in??! Oy!
This is Erin's painting up above. Click on it to see more!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
a present for you!
I am so excited about these presents!
They are lovely and sweet and of course, a surprise!!
If you would like one, email me your address and I will mail you one as soon as they are ready.
While my supplies last.
my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, December 13, 2008
just do it
I bring this up because I have been meaning to, for the last 6 months (or more!?) dye my ugly brown shoes black to make them cute (er) and wearable.
I just did it.
It took me 8 minutes, and even inspired the dying of other (not so attractive) shoes as well.
Now I feel accomplished, calm, and curious at whatever took so long.
In a yoga class, the teacher says what to do, and the students do it. The simplicity of following clear directions makes them feel so good. It clears their minds, organizes their bones, and energizes a sense of possibility.
If you would like to experience this phenomena in real time, do this:
1. Stand up and lift your two arms up toward the sky, palms facing in.
2. Pretend you are holding a clear tube that surrounds you completely.
3. Imagine that this tube goes straight up into the universe and burrows down into the earth. You are right in the middle of all this.
4. Close your eyes and breathe 5 deep breaths, in, and out.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Left and right peace agreement
I am trying to declare peace between the left and the right sides of my person.
Here is a little background on the two sides: The right is tighter, smaller and more demanding. She is like a button mushroom that wants to be in control and controlled at the same time. The left is more introspective and relaxed, like an oyster mushroom. She likes to relax and read and sleep late. She can also be a bit of a slug.
The internal war often starts first thing in the morning. Something mysterious will wake me up. The right side is the first to speak. "Out of bed with you!" she says, very similar rhythmically to "Off with your head, you!" The left side pretends not to hear her. She is still considering a dream. There is a woman with the part of her chin that is under her tongue and between the boomerang shape of her jaw and the rise of her neck, gone. Something had fallen through there, or like in a whirlpool, actually sucked through.
The right side doesn't let the left finish thinking about the lady w/ no undertongue part. She insists that she write about the lady from the dream immediately. The left side doesn't want to. She is heavy like potatoes, and besides, one arm is asleep and unable to move. That arm, the left points out silently, knowing that the right has won the fight anyway, is the right arm.
In an alternate universe the two sides of a person could react to each other in the same way that two cats living in the same studio apartment do: reluctantly. The two sides could howl at each other, and then make out all in the same breath. They are cute together. At night they unzip. Then they air out. When they come back together they are able to snuggle once more in the peace and quiet in which they live.
My universe is different. It has something to do with patterning. Faced with multiple left and right situations, they cling to each other to stay afloat but bruise each other in the process.. There is nowhere else for the two sides to be but married to each other. And like any couple that has been together for more than 30 years, they know what the other will say before they say it, even though they don't necessarily like it. They hold serious grudges. That is why this peace agreement is so important.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The sun is finally peeking through the clouds and it is really dazzling my eyes.
The colors are a little brighter after you haven't seen them for a while, no?
I wonder if we need to feel sadness in order to have happiness, or hopelessness to find hope?
I don't want that to be the case. I want to feel smooth all the time, but that is probably asking too much.
From her book Writings, p. 135, Agnes Martin writes:
When we are unhappy it is because something is covering our minds and we are not able to be aware of happiness. When the difficulty has passed we find happiness again.
It is not that happiness is all around us. That is not it at all. It is not this or that or in this or that.
It is an abstract thing.
Happiness is unattached. Always the same, it does not appear or disappear. It is not sometimes more and sometimes less. It is our awareness of happiness that goes up and down.
Happiness is our real condition.
It is reality.
It is life.
In yoga-speak, the things covering our minds are veils. The veils teach us, they frustrate us, they fill us with sensation and the need to run. In order to see reality, or happiness/bliss, we must work at moving through them, to our middles.
Agnes Martin was so yogic!
Real proof that you do not need to bend your body into a shape to be a yogi.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I haven't written in a while because I've been feeling decidedly unyogic.
I'm trying to feel differently & maybe that is the problem?, the trying?
The artist Agnes Martin wrote about how when all pride is gone, then you are truly free.
Freedom = ?
Monday, November 17, 2008
a new intent!
I actually just posted my first one about introductions.
Its a good one!
If you would like to read it, click here: Namaste
Please know that I will not ignore this bloga! It's like my baby (if I had a baby~)
Intent is just a way for me to reach a few more peeps.
So feel free, on your yogic computer wanderings, to visit me there. I would love to have you!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
How would it be to act as if there were no beginning and no end to whatever you were doing.
As if there were only the action itself.
I did sun salutations once for 45 minutes straight. I'm not sure if I just worked myself into a tizzy, or I really did start to feel the pulse of the universe in my bones.
The experience did feel never-ending, and my purpose felt different than usual. Pretty much no purpose.
Acting without end could be like running in a marathon, without all the people cheering. Maybe it would be quiet and your feet would make nice noises pushing off the pavement.
(this is my friend morgan's painting. her website is www.morganmckeehan.com)
Thursday, November 6, 2008
the leaves are falling...
The leaves in Prospect Park finally decided to let go. Of course not all of them, but A LOT.
They've been hovering at the brink for a while, looking like small pieces of fire.
And then last night there was lots of wind, and the beautiful leaves let go of their branches.
They didn't even have to think about it.
They let go, just like that.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
We have a PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!
I'm just so happy I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.
Wow, sometimes its the best thing in the world not to be equanimous~
Sunday, November 2, 2008
How yoga is like playing music
You are in a yoga asana and your body fits just right.
You are breathing and the breath is resonating through your entire person.
And you love yoga so much, because the music your body is making, both inside your mind and on the edges of your skin is so incredibly beautiful, you can't help but get really quiet to listen.
That is also why, when you are first learning yoga asana, and your body feels awkward and difficult, or when your hips are tight and won't let you get into a place of comfort, you hear the screaching and shakiness of a beginning violin student. And of course you want to run.
Taking a flowing yoga class is like playing a melody that lifts and dips and travels in spirals and ovals.
A yoga asana in the Iyengar tradition is a single note held steady for a long period of time. Its beautiful, sustained and mesmerizing.
Yoga is called sometimes meditation in motion. Its also really so much about listening. About getting super quiet and listening. Even if it sounds terrible listening, and noticing if it starts sounding goergous listening too.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Who are you?
Your mind changes, your body changes, your cells all change once every 7 years!
What does not change is the witness of all this change.
Where it gets a little more intense, interesting, and hard to understand, is that what doesn't change in me is the same thing as what doesn't change in you.
If you embody and truly believe this, then:
- You have reached enlightenment and please start a bloga that I can read!
- You will be always full of glee because even if someone else wins the lottery, it will feel as if you won it yourself.
- If you squander away all your winnings after that (as most lottery winners do?) you won't be sad because the whole of life (which feels much better than dollars) will be streaming thru you.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
things that are broken and fixed
I bought a TV one year ago. I discovered 2 weeks after it's one year warranty expired that the TV had no picture. I glared at it for a month, cursing my bad luck and complaining about how I never even watched it. Finally I called the TV people. They offered to extend the warranty and fix it. I didn't even ask them to do that!
Then my phone line got all crackley and died. The thought of calling a technician to come and fix it filled me with dread. Verizon said they would charge me (a lot!) if it was not an "outside problem". I felt worse. I made an appointment with a mysterious robot voice. Miraculously, the technician came 15 minutes ago, and now he's gone to have a look at the pole.
Ok, 2 electronic breakage yoga lessons:
1. Nothing stays the same. Things break and are fixed. I can watch this ebb and flow like I have the best seat in the house. This is VERY yogic: I am the eternal witness, that which does not change.
2. What I think an outcome is to be, is never what the outcome will be. The thinking happens in my mind, and the outcome happens on the outside. Thinking about downward facing dog is very different than being in downward facing dog.
3. (related to #2) Worrying is pretty much pointless, it just tires the brain. Better just to do.
Monday, October 27, 2008
That means slowly slowly, in Arabic and in Hebrew slang too.
I think it feels good to say, "shoaya shoaya".
So I've been saying it a lot.
Ah! I just bought a big beauteous coffee table that is too big for my apartment! "shoaya, shoaya".
I'm so hungry and I don't feel like cooking but I don't know where to go, "shoaya, shoaya".
What are my people?! "shoaya, shoaya"
you can use it for just about anything, and I swear, it'll make you feel better, and maybe even promote world peace too?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
ballet in silence
My friend Marissa invited me to see the ballet on Saturday (what a fabulous friend!).
The piece in this photograph, Overgrown Path, was an incredible combination of art, dance, sculpture, and music. So sad, so lovely, and so yogically bright and simple.
The dancers danced only to the music of a piano, except when there was no piano, and instead pure silence. They continued dancing anyway, without the music, without something to rest what they were dancing on. It was like watching them float, almost frightening like they would fall, but they didn't.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
You in the purple!
Maybe because I suddenly felt so *simple? Usually I teach yoga, or I try to figure out how to be in this world, or I want to accomplish so much and don't know where to begin. This time it was just You in the Purple.
*a few synonyms for simple from thesaurus.com : child’s play, cinch*, clean, easy as pie*, effortless, elementary, facile, incomplex, intelligible, light, lucid, manageable, mild, no problem, no sweat, not difficult, picnic*, piece of cake, plain, quiet, self-explanatory, simple as ABC, smooth, snap*, straightforward, transparent, uncomplicated, uninvolved, unmistakable, untroublesome, walkover
Monday, October 20, 2008
The Swami’s definition of God
One of his disciple Swamis asked, "When you see a movie, what is the most important thing?" We answered, "the characters!", "the plot!", "the scene?" The Swami replied, "The screen. Without the screen you have nothing to project the movie upon."
In the Sivananda yoga tradition, this is a classic. I remember when I learned this, that I didn't like how the Swami knew the answer but let us guess like little kids. This explanation did though, make an impression on me.
Now, in my own confusion I like imagining the simplicity and cleanliness of an open space, a blank screen, and of something that never changes itself, but change happens upon it. Its like contemplating infinity, seeing beyond the stars, or looking into deep water. A very small and very big feeling all at once.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
doctor’s office yoga
was absolutely nowhere to be found this morning. After 2 & ½ hours of waiting I thought I would implode, or explode and my only way of dealing was so 2009. Txt msging! Furiously writing about our stupid healthcare system and wanting to throw stuff out the window.
My friend wrote back to me, "doctor's office yoga" so I had to wonder how, on earth, a girl could have dealt with that situation yogically.
Here's some ideas:
- Invoke the goddess Kali, with her tongue dripping blood and hair all crazy, with her red third eye and human skulls for a necklace. Maybe she would scare everyone away and I'd be next in line?
- I'm realizing the problem really is about powerless-ness, not only patience.
- Yoga teaches that suffering comes from misunderstanding (as well as from a few other things I'll write about on another day…).
- So, basically in the doctor's office waiting room, I forgot my true nature as a limitless, unbounded drop in the ocean of our life and existence.
- Instead I felt completely bound, almost like being tied up.
- My mind was doing the binding. No one was actually in there with ropes.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
He picked this time because the energy in the very early morning is still and full of secrets like a pregnant woman.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The day of fasting 2008
I fasted on Yom Kippur. That was Thursday, and now it is Sunday and I'm still feeling the effects of a day of being empty. I hadn't realized until that day, how much stuff I give myself every day! Almost anything I want. On Yom Kippur, I didn't give myself anything tangible.
When I walked to the park, I only took my 2 keys. That was it! No wallet, no food, no water, no nothin'*, as they say in lovely bklyn. When I sat in the grass, I felt really different. I wasn't thinking about meeting anyone, or what café I would go to get lunch, or that I needed to accomplish anything, anywhere. There was only grass, clover, sun, and a few other people, some empty like me, lying in the park like little blankets of energy. Usually there is a thicker layer (stuff) between myself and nature. By taking away the distraction and desire of STUFF, that layer felt transparent.
A few weeks ago when we were working on a project, my friend Gil said that "art doesn't get made on a full stomach." I was hungry and didn't really want to hear that at the time, but we got our stuff done, and then we ate and it was delicious.
It's been a while since I've allowed myself to be empty enough to make art. I'm not just talking about food, but all the other stuff I've piled on so that it's hard to move. This year, I am going to try to be patient with emptiness. In yoga, or pranamaya, the exercise would be to focus on the exhale, rather than the inhale.
*this picture is from before, I didn't bring my camera!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
more is not better
Thursday, October 2, 2008
my favorite yoga analogy
is that we are like a lake in the mountains.
When we are clear, our lake is smooth and able to reflect the mountains around it exactly as they are.
When we are anxious, worried, ruffled, our lake is wavy and turbulent and unable to reflect the mountains.
The 2nd yoga sutra *, or thread is yogas chitta vritti nirodaha. Yoga calms the oscillations of the mind. How does it calm those oscillations!? Mostly by bringing you into this exact moment. In your experience of yoga, there is only your body, mind, breath and awareness. Its like minimalism of your person.
I remember when I first moved to New York, my roomate, who is German, had a white piece of paper in our office room that said in capital black letters, KLARHEIT, which is German for CLARITY.
Now, 9 years later, I think about that paper more than anything else we had in our little apartment.
*this link is a little dense but if you have time and want to focus...
Its a test of patience, with yourself, with your nose, & with your head in general.
It can be a good time for lucid dreaming and meditation.
So your bones don't feel like your usual bones at this moment. Instead they feel like very heavy ancient bones.
But we all look for a changes of consciousness once in a while. So how about instead of drowning in the kleenex, try a little floating on top? That's my plan.
Now if you have to go to work anyway, then its a totally different story and becomes a practice of removing yourself from your body awareness. Just pretend your are not sick. It sometimes actually works.
Monday, September 29, 2008
My jewish new year wish for you is...
to not feel the weight of the city so heavy on your shoulders.
I wish for you to feel like a little bird that can soar up, dip down, see for miles, and then decide where and how to land.
I wish that you will ride a bicycle and feel the wind on your skin.
Lastly, and most importantly, I wish you crazy amounts of love. Really gigantic amounts!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
yoga + blog = bloga!
I'm realizing that a blog is a yoga practice too.
Just like with a physical yoga practice, I'm thinking once a week is good, twice a week there might be some progress, but three times a week, that's asking for enlightenment...
This is going to be way more difficult than a perfect tree pose.
I am a serious perfectionist.
And blogging and perfectionism do not go hand in hand. Actually, they pretty much sock each other in the face, and then just sit and glare at each other. A standstill, like an old western movie but not as interesting...
So here is the deal: It takes major faith, or a leap of consciousness to put something out there when you don't know how it will be perceived, or if it is even worthy of being perceived. That's my first thought in need of a serious yoga-makeover.
Inhale, and exhale all the way down to the palms of the hands. Close your eyes and feel the smooth keys under your fingertips. Drop your shoulders down your back, relax your elbows. Listen to the cars drive by in the rain and know that everyone is trying to connect in someway to the world around them.
So maybe its not about what to write, maybe even in some way what specifically gets written doesn't matter. It really is just about a rhythm, a pace, an ongoing probing or trying to find myself/yourself in space.
Its the same in the physical practice of yoga. It doesn't matter that you can stand on your head. It matters that you are able to breathe while you stand on your head. And that you keep on standing on your head. It matters that you are settling your brain against the pull of the earth. It also matters that a headstand turns your perception upside-down. Or that you were scared and you did it anyway.
so the exciting thing is in the doing, not in the doing perfectly~
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
What is the opposite of yoga?
I was sitting in my neighbor’s yard (yes there are a few yards in bklyn!) and we were talking about deep stuff…like YOGA, and he asked me what the opposite of yoga was.
Good question!, I thought. Really, one no one had asked me that before. I even had to think for a moment, which felt nice in my brain, like scratching an itch in one of its corners.
I’m still thinking about it, but what I have come up with so far is the situation of separation. Like if you pulled apart the small white pedals of this little flower, the flower would be no longer, you would just have a pile of mush.
Separation can take many different forms: like saying yes when you mean no, or that this is mine and that is yours. Or grades in school. Chapters, pages of a book. Raindrops. Chocolate chips.
But separation can’t be all bad. In the womb we start out as one cell and keep on separating. And that little flower's separate petals are connected to its center.
So yoga is what connects the pedals to the yellow part. Or your mind to your breath to your body. The opposite is very lonely, and precarious too.
Ha!, and you thought you were just standing in warrior 2!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Steve & the Yogic Art of Dressing
Steve is my neighbor and the snappiest dresser on the block.
He lays his clothes out on his bed to decide what to wear. He doesn't try everything on to see which outfit makes his stomach look the flattest.
This is a perfect example of egoless dressing, or the art of yogic clothes picking in action. And he looks so good! He makes the neighbors happy. My upstairs neighbor agrees. You see Steve and you smile. What a serious gift.
I was an expert when I was, maybe 5 years old ~ and now I would love to relearn.
Here is a story, as my dad told it about this expertise:
It was Halloween in Seattle and I was a ballerina. I was a real ballerina because I was wearing a pink tutu, very tight and stretchy on top and poofy on the bottom. Seattle on Halloween can be really cold and of course rainy, and sadly not tutu-only wearing weather. My dad insisted I wear my winter coat on top of the tutu. Of course I was very upset and would have none of that. So we compromised and put the winter coat UNDER the tutu. Then I pirouetted around the living room floor with my lumpy stretchy tutu thinking I was the most beautiful & graceful girl in the world.