Monday, December 28, 2009
I just started (again) to read Mr. Iyengar's book Light on Life.
It's good! I highly recommend it, though I should admit I'm only on page 16.
But what a page it is ~
I especially like this sentence:
"Asana [yoga postures] bestows the firmness to live with equanimity in the vicissitudes of the world's hurly burly."
He's got passion and is very to the point, a lighthouse in the storm of hurly burly!
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
It was amazing to watch the dancer's bodies defy the notion of what bodies are supposed to be able to do.
It also felt odd to be sitting still and watching such defiance, such movement. The audience and the dancers were experiencing the two opposite sides of an enormous spectrum.
I think its important to remember that we are the whole spectrum (that is what the yogic sages would say!) , and we happen to be where we are inside of it, i.e. sitting, leaping, spinning.
Not that I am able kick my leg up to my ear, right now, on this rainy Sunday afternoon. But it is in the realm of possibility, with a little practice...
Monday, November 23, 2009
I often try to think in this way.
Like for example: What is the yoga of waking up early? It is a new day, and a new breath; you can surround yourself with quiet.
What is the yoga of animals? They are present in each moment, and don't know if they are pretty or silly looking.
The yoga of biking? Relaxing as the bumps come and go. There is concentration and grace in action.
Now with Thanksgiving in two days and with my baking skills warming up, I am wondering now: What is the yoga of Cheesecake!?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I try to teach my students how to use enough muscular effort to be in a pose, but not so much that they squeeze the possibility out from what it is that they are doing.
There needs to be some tension, but just enough to vibrate the energy within them.
I learned recently that in Tai Chi, there is a way of moving that is called pulling silk.
Besides the fact that I like to say "pulling silk", I think that imagining the idea of pulling silk can soften your yoga practice into something even more beautiful than it is already.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I'm thinking about how health is not gained by beating yourself up.
Yoga is not the pursuit of strong muscles.
Yoga can be what roots you to the earth so that your tree isn't blown over quite so easily,
The health that comes is effortless, in the fruit of that tree.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Your spine doesn't begin in the back of your head.
It begins the very center. *
Close your eyes and mentally map where your spine begins.
Does knowing it's location change how you hold your head?
I find this so fascinating!
*for those of you reading this on my website, see the image on my blog!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
"Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness."
Its cool. I'm cool. We are cool..., :)
Or as my friends and I used to chant in middle school,
"I wanna, I wanna, I wanna be a buddha!"
Though of course we really had no idea yet what it was we were aspiring to.
"In the spirit of a grand tea party!" was how Alexander answered when asked how his technique should be taught.
My teacher Chloe recounted this story, and now I tell you.
Learning in a forced environment can only scare a person away from performing at his or her best. While a tea party environment encourages relaxation and effortless being!
Joy creates many more wonders, and besides, its just so much more fun!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I just received the nicest email from Carolyn. She is doing a challenge to get fit with 3 friends and using the LRY video to yogify herself.
She has lots of energy and excitement for the practice, so if you need a little inspiration/infusion, look at her blog!
Her words make me really happy. Making the videos was a lot of work. And then I sent them off into the world like baby birds.
Knowing that they are flying about, and finding good homes is really quite wonderful.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
A favorite professor of mine said that one should never feel badly about taking the time to go through piles.
Or moving those piles from one side of the desk to the other.
He said that those little things may seem like procrastination, but are actually our way of figuring out where we are in relation to the world around us.
In yoga we take a lot of time moving a foot forward, and then back, and then over to the side.
All just on one little mat.
And in the end we figure something out about where we are in relation to the world around us.
Its all the same!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I still feel stuck beneath a mountain of boxes these days, and each time I get to the top, I fall back to the bottom again.
Its definitely good for staying humble.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The yogini pictured is named Aditi. Aditi will be one of the teachers for Living Room Yoga's mobile yoga studio, coming to homes (maybe yours?) near you. This pose is called pavritta janu sirsasana, or revolved head to knee pose.
If you would like to try this pose, warm up a little first, and then sit down (in a park is nice!)
Open your right knee out to the side with your heel tucked in toward your groin. Straighten your left leg out to the other side, toes pointing up.
Lay your left arm to the inside of your left leg. Using the arm like a lever, spin your torso toward the ceiling (or sky!) Reach the top of your head and your right arm toward your left foot. If you can reach your toes, wonderful. If not, just as wonderful, just make sure to breathe. Hold for 5 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side. You will feel renewed!
*For those of you on my website go to my blog to see!
Monday, September 28, 2009
I began an Alexander Technique master class on Sunday (ooh la la!).
Try this exercise; it is the beginning of my studies.
Imagine there is a big blossom on the top of your head. Whatever blossom you imagine is perfect for you.
Imagine big petals, maybe even say the word petal to yourself.
Imagine inside all those petals an opening, and that opening moves all the way to the base of your pelvis.
As you inhale, draw the breath from above you into the space within the petals.
As you exhale image the breath moving into, but not through your lovely sitting bones.
Continue to breathe like this, in through the top of your head, the opening of your blossom, and out filling the bowl of your pelvis all the way to your sitting bones.
I'll explain the importance of this later. For now, here is this exercise, sweet and simple, for you.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I was at the park with my (new!) husband Jeremy this morning.
He practices tai chi, and was teaching me some basics. I felt calm and smooth and relaxed from the practice.
I liked it. Actually, I reluctantly liked it; A lot of the warm ups seemed the exact opposite of what I have learned in yoga is healthy for the body.
Jeremy was bouncing while he stretched, turning his feet at odd angles before bending forward, and leaning back and whipping forward.
But the thing is, he has had major injuries in the past, and this practice was a huge part of his recovery.
So the moral of this story is just to move, not too worry too much about rules, and just move.
Really, just move your body and your mind and your health will follow.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Everyone keeps reminding me of that.
I'm also thinking that you must gently ride the wave of the day.
Even when there's a hurricane forecast for the outdoor ceremony. (aaah!)
In yoga they say that we often get confused between what is real and what is not. And then we feel pain when we think that we mistakenly take the unreal for the real.
Love is real! Napkin choice is not!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I've been thinking lately a lot about what grace means.
I've always thought of grace in a physical sort of way, like a ballet dancer is graceful.
Jeremy says that grace means forgiveness.
I like both but wonder how it all works, how does grace happen?
Thursday, July 30, 2009
If you listen closely to the sound of your beating heart you will find your rhythm.
This rhythm travels to the tips of your toes and to the edges of your skull, filling you with blood, oxygen, and energy.
Buckets-full move like waves, from the precious spot behind your breastbone into the ocean.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I lay there with many thoughts and frustrations. Time passed by like this for a while, until under my closed eyes, I saw a knot. It was low inside my belly, tied tight, and made of thick whitish rope. I imagined my two index fingers prying themselves into whatever space was there and slowly, very slowly, loosening it.
When the knot loosened I felt so much better and finally fell asleep.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Air entrainment, the intentional creation of tiny air bubbles in concrete
Brainwave entrainment, the practice of entraining one's brainwaves to a desired frequency
Entrainment (biomusicology), the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm
Entrainment (chronobiology), the alignment of a circadian system's period and phase to the period and phase of an external rhythm
Entrainment (engineering), the entrapment of one substance by another substance
Entrainment (hydrodynamics), the movement of one fluid by another
Entrainment (meteorology), a phenomenon of the atmosphere
Entrainment (physical geography), the process by which surface sediment is incorporated into a fluid flow
Entrainment (physics), the process whereby two interacting oscillating systems assume the same period
Entrainment is what I teach! The entrainment of the mind and the body and the universe.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Engaging a muscle a lot of the time is not a good thing.
Constant holding creates strain, weakness, tightness, mental stress too.
Your skeleton will hold you up. You won't fall apart if you relax.
So what took so long to realize this!? I always thought I should hold my belly in; loads of pressure to have a flat tummy.
But I've been experimenting lately (a little embarrassing with it being summer, the season of little clothes) and have found that as the belly is going, a new sense of calm is coming.
I never knew how much anxiety could be held in the belly, but there it is.
Give it a shot. If you are worried, wear a flowy and loose (and fashionable!) dress or shirt, and completely release. Soften your belly. Relax your belly. Let energy and circulation move through your belly.
Can you imagine the Buddha with a flat belly? No way!
Monday, June 29, 2009
Its good to imagine something falling through your fingers - water, sand, miniature people, ideas, dreams.
It sounds depressing but its hopefully it is not; its realistic, yogic.
Its not like you cannot hold them again. You can hold them again, and then let them go again too.
Monday, June 22, 2009
A few yogic rules to go by ~
1. Let your mate be exactly who they are, otherwise you are squeezing a bud that wants to bloom. Enjoying the flower is much more exciting.
2. The truth is much bigger than 1/2 of a relationship can imagine.
3. There is a lot of quiet needed to listen to your body in yoga. Listening to your mate takes as much quiet concentration.
4. Both of you are very small and the world is huge.
5. A lot of prana or energy is passed from skin to skin. Touch, a lot!
6. Pets can help you remember to laugh and love ~
Thursday, June 11, 2009
1. Lying on the earth: on the grass, on the sand of a beach.
2. Sitting on a stoop and watching people, cars, bikes and dogs go by.
3. Washing dishes
4. Doing laundry
6. Child's Pose
7. A cool eye pillow draped over the eyes.
8. Weight - Iyengar style sandbags on the legs, a cat on the belly
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The third eye is in between your eyebrows.
It doesn't see like your regular eyes see; it sees the inside of you.
It sees consciousness.
Here is a exercise to help you feel the power of your third eye:
Close your two eyes.
Focus on the top of your head.
You can imagine a blossom right there, open toward the sky.
From the very center of that blossom travel down over your forehead until your awareness rests right between the eyebrows.
Take this awareness a 1/2 and inch back to exactly where your third eye is. The color is thought to be blue, and the name is Ajna.
Now mentally massage your third eye, waking it up.
Let it's energy move toward the center of your head, and then flood your body with its consciousness.
Remember the third eye sees what your regular eyes do not!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Jeremy said something really good on Friday night. Just out of the blue he said:
When we are born its like we are just shot out of this cannon and even when we think that we aren't doing anything we still are moving and changing. Our bodies are burbling and digesting and growing or shrinking. We are spinning with this earth around and around. Day after day. It never stops. There really is no such thing as doing nothing, because its like we are part of this force that begins the day we are born and goes until we die.
And my yoga-fying brain thinks that stopping for a moment to watch that cannon-like flight is fascinating.
And, in case you are wondering, Jeremy is my husband-to-be! Wahoo!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
When your mind begins to think, for example, "I wish I was sitting on the beach with this blue sky instead of in my bedroom", see the thought on a puffy white cloud and watch it float through the sky.
When your mind asks, "Should this puffy white cloud be big or small?", label that as a thought and put it on another cloud. Watch that cloud float along.
Judith Hanson Lasater said in her restorative yoga trainin that we shouldn't worry about how our mind keeps on thinking when we try to meditate.
She said that thinking is the brain's job. Just as you can't ask your skin not to sweat, or your lungs not to breathe, asking your brain not to think is impossible.
The key is to not grab onto the thoughts. The key is to watch them for what they are, only thoughts. They are not you.
You are the blue sky.
Monday, May 4, 2009
When she did her homework, she did it. When she watched TV or goofed off or whatever, she did that too. She wasn't worried about homework when she was playing, or wanted to be playing while she was working.
She also taught me her secret mantra that I still think about: "oh well."
You can put it at the end of any and all sentences for a super-yogic effect.
1. I left the lights on in my car and now it won't start and I have no time to move it, oh well.
2. I missed the train and now I'll be late, oh well.
3. I can hold a handstand longer than anyone else, oh well.
4. I lost $20 bucks, oh well.
5. I ate too many cookies, oh well.
Try it, and notice if you feel a little more even, and a little less like holding on.
For a physical practice, try this: go to the beach and scoop up and handful of sand. Let the sand fall through your hands back onto the beach. Pick up another scoop of sand and let the second scoop fall through your hands back to the beach. Continue for as many scoopfuls as it takes until you realize that here is an endless amount of sand for you to scoop and drop.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
The you who is really you, was the you that you were when you were 2, and is still the you now that you are the lovely age of __.
You are still that cute, lovable, with big open eyes, or howling with tightly closed eyes.
I was listening to an interview on the radio yesterday, and the interviewee, Ruth Reichl, told something that her mom used to say.
I thought the quote so lovely that I stopped in the middle of washing my bowl, and messily wrote with wet hands and happy self,
"When you find yourself, when you know who you are, you will be beautiful."
Saturday, April 18, 2009
A few thoughts on vacation through the eyes of yoga:
1. Change what surrounds you, and then, "Who are you!?" in this new place.
2. Because everything is constantly changing; changing our locale floats on that swelling wave.
3. The universe is vast, and we are small.
4. Our eyes are much bigger than our bellies.
5. Health is wealth (as Swami Vishnu Devananda was so fond of saying).
6. Vacation stirs up prana.
And now, a short exercise on #3.
Read this through, and then close your eyes. Sit comfortably. Take 5 slow breaths, in and out. Now imagine that you are 100 feet above where you are sitting, and look at yourself sitting there, in space. Really look. Look at where your edges meet the space around you. Notice how far away you are from the closest furniture, from a wall, from the structure of your building. Now see yourself in relation to your neighborhood, to your city, to your state, your country, the world we live on, then finally the universe.
If you keep this up, you may be enlightened by the time you get to the universe part!
note: the reason I write of vacation is that I am about to take one, so if I don't write for a few days, this is why!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I saw a small avocado when I was walking home from the train yesterday. It was perfect, simply resting on the corner of the sidewalk, where the slope met the street.
The avocado looked so ripe and lonely there; it looked like an orphan, round and soft and little, especially compared to all the cement that surrounded it. My heart really felt it's situation.
And then I had a little round epiphany; we are all like that avacado, just talking and moving and making stuff.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Everything is so loud. And its not just the cars and jackhammers. Its the lists of things to do and places to go and millions of people and physical pain.
I'm thinking that when there is this storm swirl of noise, and you are feeling wrong and you don't know why, you must listen very carefully to you.
Put earplugs in if you have to, wrap your head with a scarf, relax your belly and listen like you have never listened before.
You might hear something really good.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I keep thinking about what my Alexander Technique teacher Chloe told me.
She said, "Try to walk with an unheld heart."
That was on Saturday. And now, whenever I try that, I feel so mysteriously happy.
So I offer the advice to you and your respective, lovely, warm, beating, hearts.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I've been teaching Bumblebee breathing a lot lately. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe springtime inspiration? Or by the plight of the honey bee?
There have been some funny reactions in my classes: all out laughter, a sudden opening of the body and mind to chant Om, the sense that the room was still buzzing after we all stopped, and an intense focus for the rest of class on a deeper level than usual.
All from buzzing like a bumble bee!
The pranayama, or breathing exercise is called Bhramari in Sanskrit. Bhramari will help to control and calm the flow of prana (energy) in all layers of your person. This exercise is supposed to be especially beneficial for your sense organs of eyes, ears, nose and mouth.
Here is how you do it:
Find a comfortable sitting position and close your eyes.
Rest your hands in your lap*.
Take a deep breath in through the nose, as you exhale, also through the nose, making a soft buzzing, or humming sound for the entire exhalation. Notice how the roof of your mouth vibrates with the sound.
Inhale again softly through the nose, and again exhale with a humming sound.
Repeat for at least 10 breaths, or more.
When you finish sit in quiet for a few breaths. Be aware of how the area right above the roof of your mouth feels. Notice if the room has a new vibration or energy.
Open your eyes and begin your day anew!
*Some people will close their ears with their thumbs and block the light from the eyelids with the last two fingers, placing the index and middle fingers on the forhead. This I would say is the advanced version of the pose and might be a little too intense if you are just starting out.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Imagine your body and mind like the string of a cello. The energy that lives in a string pulled from the base of the cello to its scrolling top can create a lovelyvibrating sound.
Same with you! Energetic balance in a yoga pose sounds rich and full. Pulled too tight, you might sound sharp, too loose could sound flat; the middle ground is where your body will vibrate right on key.
The words hatha yoga translate as sun(ha) and moon(tha) union(yoga). Too much sun would burn us; too much moon and we would be unable to grow, to wake up. The balance, or union of the sun and the moon creates life. The balance can be found in your tadasana (mountain) pose as well. Your feet root you to the floor. Your head is in the clouds. The balance of the two is what you breathe into to create life.
The opposites that can be balanced in yoga are endless: there is cool and warm, energy and relaxation, effort and surrender, remembering and forgetting. Yoga lies in between heaven and earth, liquid and solid, noise and silence, movement and stillness.
How do you find the balance between the opposites? By being very quiet and listening to where one element begins and merges into its opposite. That in itself is enough practice for a life time of yoga.
Friday, March 20, 2009
To practice Aparigraha, ( a good practice for these cash-strapped times, and much cheaper than a class!) try for one day not to shop. For that one day, when you feel the urge to buy candy, to buy another cup of coffee, to buy another pair of shoes, try saying to yourself, "I have everything I need to be a complete person, and anything else is unnecessary".
This is not easy to do. You might feel a little weird at the beginning, and a little empty. But the knowledge that you don't really need all that stuff can be much sweeter and more filling than anything you would find on a shelf.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Chloe Wing, a senior teacher of the Alexander technique, taught me this: Yoga alignment instructions are not daily life alignment instructions. She said (as I remember it) "Yoga is an ancient and mystical practice created to open the body to [divine] energy. It does not translate to daily function."
I expected a clap of thunder as she said this! I expected her statue of Shiva to leap off the windowsill and disagree! None of this happened. The only changes were my own eyes widening and my engaged shoulders releasing.
In daily life, the body should stand as effortlessly as possible.
Your muscles do not need to grip your bones.
The architecture of the bones can hold you up.
For you to try: Stand tall with your two feet on the floor. Feel the feet, not just what you think they feel like but truly how they feel: warm or cold, heavy or light, asleep or awake. Become aware of your toes and notice how they stream out from your foot without needing to grip the floor. The legs are even and steady. The leg bones stack on top of each other in a comfortable way. Relax your ribcage and shoulders. Forget what you have learned about proper posture, and instead rest and stand in comfort and ease. Let your arm bones hang loose and feel them growing very very long.
Breathe as if you were floating on your back in a clear lake. Stay here for as long as you like and float, effortlessly.
Thank you Chloe!!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
While I was teaching the daughter of my student Lisa yesterday, Lisa came in to tell her daughter that the very best thing she learned from me in yoga class: to lift her kneecaps up.
She said that in yoga class she could do anything if she lifted her kneecaps up. I was impressed, and inspired myself, since I am a classic accidental knee-locker. A lot of knee-lockers (ahh!, You didn't know there was a club!), don't really know how to lift the kneecaps. This is not good at all because locking puts too much pressure on the knees, and stops the flow of energy, or prana through your legs.
Besides, Mr Iyengar (in my opinion the god of yogic alignment) is a big fan of lifting the kneecaps up, and I go with him on issues like this.
Here is a short exercise that you can try to experience your knee lifting capabilities:
Stand on your two feet and bend your knees as if you were going to sit back onto a chair. Place your hands on the muscles of your thighs. Slowly start to straighten your legs and as you do, root your feet into the floor, and use your hands to encourage your thigh muscles (quadriceps) to lift up. Try not to push your legs back in space (locking them), but lift them up toward the sky. Squeeze them up like this for 5 breaths, and then release, and just notice how you and your legs feel. Stand in your Tadasana (mountain) pose.
Now you can do anything!
Monday, March 2, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
I found this quote on one of my favorite teacher's websites. I have seen it there before, and every time I do, I smile, and understand yoga a little bit more. My teacher's name is Genny Kapuler, and the quote is from the poet Elizabeth Bishop (that is her lovely profile in the picture)
"It is like what we imagine knowledge to be: dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free."
Saturday, February 21, 2009
When my grandmother asked her why she sat like that, the woman answered that it was a gesture of acceptance. My grandmother was a pretty tough cookie, but this really made her feel, and retell the story to me, long before I was a yoga teacher.
If you would like to try, sit tall and close your eyes. Place your hands on your thighs, palms facing up. Imagine one small bird resting on each upturned palm. Take a few breaths and under your closed eyes imagine the color of the bird's feathers and the delicacy of their faces. Now imagine the small birds gently flying up and away, leaving your hands as light as their feathers were.
Stay for as long as you like and breathe.
I think my Grandma would approve :)
Saturday, February 14, 2009
I have a student who gets really frustrated and stressed by the world around her. She's yells at it. She yells at the family dog. She yells at the housekeeper.
The thing is, when she yells at whomever, she is really yelling at herself. It is her own body and mind that reverberates with negative noise.
I told her that if you throw a ball against a wall like that, it's going to come back to hit you in the nose. It will produce stress.
The flip side of this dilemma is very beautiful and easy. You only have to practice being gentle. Then you will find yourself sweeter to yourself.
Its why giving someone a present can make you feel so good.
Give love and you will feel love!
(happy valentine's day)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
my friend amy, a most fabulous illustrator just sent an email asking for yogi word suggestions. I wrote a bunch down, and then I thought they looked so pretty I wanted to put them here too, for the lovely you.
the names of the poses...
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I don't think that sweating is a bad thing. I do it often!
Not sweating is really not about good or bad. It is about not pushing yourself, and instead being in cool calmness.
The yogic way doesn't make your heart race. The heart stays steady as the yogi moves through or holds difficult postures
Here is an example from the ocean. We bicycle to the beach in the morning and see waves licking the shore. We rest in the sun and the waves still lick the shore. We go swimming and the waves lick the shore (and us!). We throw the frisbee and beside us, the waves lick the shore. We eat lunch and watch the waves lick the shore. We swim again and the waves lick the shore (and us!). We finally go home and the waves ignore our leaving, still licking the shore. All night with no people or volleyballs and only the moon as light, the waves lick the shore.
The waves can be our breath, our sweat, our energy.
And we! We can be as beautiful as the waves, coming, going, splashing, licking, soothing.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
(imagine a pretty lady running on the beach with a blackberry in one pumping fist)
"I take my family everywhere I run, I hear from them once a mile. Luckily [praises of the cell phone company's service] which is important, if I get a crisis call about a missing binkie..."The ad upset me, and still upsets me!
I think we are in serious need of a Forget Your Cell Phone at Home Day
This could be a very exciting day. There could be confusion about plans to work out and worries about meeting who we are supposed to meet. Separation anxiety from our friends and family and the realization that we are actually solo.
This is where yoga comes in. Deep yogic breathing to assuage worries and steady confidence that the day will be as it will be. Maybe the forgetter would even feel the warmth of knowing what is important and what is not so important.
Being a little scatter-brained, I've tried forgetting the cell phone more than once.
You can run around, and no one can catch you.
Really, just like being a puppy off-leash.