Going to someone else’s class was the best thing I’ve done in a long time. So nourishing. Can’t replace home practice, but I’ve been missing out by not supplementing. My partner (work… I’ll always call my husband my husband) was telling me my tank was on empty and my dan tien (sp?) was low – he’s an ex-massage therapist. He was right.
So here was one of the things my monkey mind came up with during class: as a student, I prefer a silent sivasana (corpse, or final relaxation at the end). A number of my students, however, have requested a guided meditation for sivasana, to help them tame the monkey. What do you prefer and why?
BTW: sivasana in the class I took was blissfully, artfully, and just plain fully silent.
One of the reasons to take a class, is to get the teacher’s voice & rhythms & attitude in your head. I’ve been taking my own class from myself for months now, sort of my way of letting my own voice settle in. I sometimes do podcast classes for inspiration, but usually shut them off and play on my own for the rest of my time on the mat. I’ve been teaching about a year now, and I think my voice is settled. I’m ready to take someone else’s class!
I taught my class today after some playtime on the mat and I’m really grooving on the vinyasa thing, the flow and the structure. It’s so easy to build toward an idea and still maintain connection between parts. Meditative.
It’s a luxury to take a yoga class, isn’t it? It’s active faith. You don’t know what’s coming up, or for what you’re being prepared, but you dive into each & every moment letting the next wash over you like waves and getting just as caught up in those. Ahhhhhh! Here’s to going to yoga class!
That’s it. Just stand, but stand with everything you have. Stand intentionally. Stand in your own arwareness.
I’m putting out a challenge to us all: students, teachers, sometimes yogis and gee-I’ve-been-thinking-about-trying-that-at-home folks.
Once a day, roll out your mat (or, if you don’t have one, clear out a space in the living room or on the grass). Stand. In Tadasana (Ta-Da!) (mountain pose). That’s it.
If you feel like bustin’ out some moves from that last yoga class or video, knock yourself out. If you feel like putting on a podcast, look up Hillary’s or Elsie’s (they’re on wordpress).
Breathe, pay attention to bandhas, hug your muscles to your legs, center your rib cage over your pelvis. Connect to the floor through your feet. Notice and play with the position of your sternum relative to your shoulders. There’s so much to do right here.
I’m doing this to to encourage us all to meet ourselves on the mat regularly. Leave a comment & say how long you want to join the experiment. Leave comments on your experiences.
Unroll your mat, unfurl your heart, unleash your voice. I bow to you. Namaste.
Well, yes that’s the plan. So there’s this whole thing in the spiritual disciplines about not having expectations in order to let things be as they are and not over interpret them. Of course, the struggle is caused by the fact that in order to be transparent enough to yourself to be relatively expectation free, well, that takes a lot of work. So you have to, um, set expectations.
So, every day? Well, no, I haven’t lived that. I’ve thought about it every day 🙂 And I just came from the yoga mat & wondered, “Why didn’t I do this the last two days?”
Because, Steve Ross is right & it really is all yoga. You see, my husband & I work crazy opposite schedules and he’s stunningly understanding because some twisted part of me loves weekend nights. But sometimes we both just crave some blissful, no expectation, do what’s in front of you rest, relaxation & whatever time. So, we had two whole days off together and we did nothing of merit.
We watched two movies – Two! in bed! eating chips and drinking soda! We saw Nacho Libre (highly recommend it) and Notes on a Scandal (worth it! great writing, acting & Judi Dench – how can you go wrong!). We went plant shopping together. We slept an obnoxious amount.
And I loved it. Now that’s yoga, don’t you think?
Thank you. Thank you to this space, the people who make it possible and to this community of writers. Becoming a little part of this has helped me remeber that all the diverse moments, experiences, interactions are part of a whole fabric, and this makes each one of them more beautiful.
Meaning seems to grow from connection. Connection seems to rescue what alone is ugly or small and reveal it as a growing living part of changing, morphing, whole. The connection changes a sharp, misshapen remnant of glass or pottery into a window onto light and color, an integral part of the luminous universe.
My husband said I should call this “If you don’t go to yoga class, you’ll probably die alone.” While you may meet someone at yoga class, I want to motivate you to get your yoga on every couple of days to build awareness, strength and connection. Now, I am a yoga teacher, so I don’t mind if you come to class every two days. But you can take Tree pose in the grocery line, do DownDog in the park and follow it up with Camel against a tree to bring your mind back into connection with the heart and body any time.
You create your muscles and your body and your body contributes to your consciousness which determines how you move and create your muscles. And your muscles are “remodelled” every two days.
The remodelling process happens first by breaking down the structure that you used and then by rebuilding it to meet the demand again. Each part takes about 24 hours. So, in 48 hours you have new muscle. But then if you don’t use it, yep, you guessed it, you start to loose it. In about 2 weeks significant loss will occur.
So, if you feel like you’re treading water in your practice, try busting out your favorite moves from class last week while your waiting for your coffee. You’ll notice a difference in the moment and in a few days and in class next week. And, hey, you might just meet someone who notices you doing yoga! (information drawn from Julie Gudmstead’s recent article for Yoga Journal Online)
We are one another’s mirrors. The depth of Spirit expressed through our looking is dependent on the quality of our gaze. This is how Spirit depends on each of us: to see (and enjoy!) Itself. Spirit just is the mutual gaze raised to the level of awareness.
The struggle to maintain equanimity throughout all seemingly opposing forces (life!) is easier to witness with a little bit of asana practice sprinkled in every day.
Change happens. But when we do something that later we regret, often we are drawn into a notion of radical change, wiping the slate clean, starting over. One of things I love about yoga is the subtlety of the underlying philosophy. T.K.V. Desikachar puts it best in The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, I think, but I’ll sum it up: Keep up the things that give you lasting joy. They will overtake your life.
“The conditioning of the mind that lets it continually take the same driection is called samskara. Samskara is the sum total of all our actions that conditions us to behave in a certain way. … Through yoga we attempt to create new and positive samskara rather than reinforcing the old samskara that has been limiting us. When this new samskara is strong and powerful enough, then the old distressing samskara will no longer be able to affect us. You could say we then begin a completely new life. When the new behavior patterns become stronger the old ones become ineffectual. When we practice asanas we carry out actions that are not determined so much by our habits, and yet still lie within the range of our abilities. … [T]he mind clears a little. … This kind of reoirentation is called parivrtti. Vrtti means “movement” and pari translates as “around.””
Feel your legs to find your feet. Sometimes the same old instructions just don’t take us anywhere new. “Find the four corners of your feet.” “Roll forwards and back, side to side.” “Lift and spread your toes.” Ok, after we’ve done all of that, sometimes I still loose my connection to my feet! I think that’s because all those instructions are just about the feet.
Yoga’s about connection, right? How about we use the legs to find out about the feet. So, do this standing up and then again lying down.
Press down on the ball mount of your big toe. Excellent. Pulse that: modulate your pressure to create sensation. Now, bring your mind into your inner calf and thigh (pay attention there). Notice where you feel muscular movement. Now, contract just those muscles like you mean it.
Do that with the inside of your heel. Then the ball mount of your little toe, paying attention to the outside of your leg (you’ll also notice some changes inside). And, finally, of course with the outside of your heel.
Now, in Warrior II, notice where your back foot touches the ground. Play with the muscles you found in the above exercise and feel how different you can make your arch.
Notice in balance poses and inversions how the muscular action of the small muscles of your legs can draw energy in through your feet and create stability.
Here’s to happy feet! send me your favorite instructions about feet in yoga class and remember to practice: love, truth, beauty: here, now.