Let me begin by saying right now–this newsletter is heavy. It is a reflection of my heart, which at the moment is feeling very, very heavy. By nature, I am a very private and contained person. But, right here, right now, there are voices calling (shouting really) for me to open up, to listen deeply to friends and to strangers who are BIPOC. Their voices are utterly valid, and they are in pain. It’s past time for me to sit with that pain, theirs and mine. Because, yes, I am feeling discomfort, guilt, shame–many, many things. There can be no turning away from it. It’s real, and it’s lived.
This is THE yoga. The yoga of ahimsa–non-violence in thought, word, or deed against another human being, or myself. The yoga of svadhyaya–self-study, in what ways are my actions, my perceptions, my belief systems both conscious and unconscious causing harm to others and myself. And, the yoga of tapas–self-discipline, to transform myself by sitting in the fiery discomfort of breaking habitual thought and behavioral patterns. It’s necessary, and absolutely essential work.
We are all human beings, but we are not all free. This is my yoga. I invite you to contemplate yours. And, as we sit with what is happening internally, and externally, be kind with yourselves, and with others. We have all walked different paths, and find ourselves in different places. As one of my teachers said, “model truth and compassion.” Let’s all be the change we wish to see in thought, word, and deed.
LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free. And, may the thoughts, words, and actions of my life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom.”
Find the prayer here: https://vimeo.com/400370987
“Despite the forecast, live like it’s Spring.”
I have been having recurring dreams about emerging from a cave, holding up a shielding hand as I squint against the ultra-bright light and warmth of the sun. My steps tentative. My head tilting back subtly, as I take slow, deep breaths. I feel my lungs expanding, my spine lengthening, as I release my arm beside me and simply stand. Time seems to slow down, as I feel the ground beneath the soles of my feet, the heat of the sun, and the caress of a soft breeze against my skin. This is, perhaps, what it feels like to be free. Aware of the earth that supports me, the sun that warms and strengthens me, and the air that sustains me.
“You and I possess within ourselves at every moment of our lives, under all circumstances, the power to transform the quality of our lives.”
These past weeks–months, really–have been an incredible shift in how we all live. What will we find when we eventually and slowly begin to re-enter the group life stream? What have we uncovered–discovered–about ourselves during this very special time? What have we let go of, and what do we take with us?
Now is the perfect time, if you haven’t already, to let things drop away that no longer support you. Keep only that which is fulfilling and produces joy for you. Modern life has a way of inserting extraneous and energy draining activities (think about how much time is spent on, say, social media). These current times of SIP offer rich opportunities to observe “tapas.” Tapas has been traditionally defined as practicing a “fiery discipline” (the root word ‘tap’ means ‘to burn’). I like the definition given by one of my teachers: “It is a necessary, fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment to burn off the impediments that prevent us from being fully present.” [Jennifer Prugh]
For the past seven weeks, my tapas practice has been to sit with how I feel about LIVE virtual streaming. So much about virtual streaming makes me very uncomfortable. Part of me is amused by this. Teaching live group fitness classes used to be a large element of my business. The energy of that was very fulfilling for me. Doing it in front of a camera (and seeing myself)–not so much. But, I am committed to finding my voice in this new world. And, so it goes. I sit with the discomfort, I do different camera/lighting set-ups, I observe the reactions it brings up, and I practice some more.
In the meantime, I have added a couple more videos to my Vimeo platform. Find the videos here:
- 20 Minute Standing Mobility Flow: Elevate the mobility, flexibility, and strength of your neck, shoulders, hips, and legs. No equipment needed. Bring your curiosity and willingness to explore moving in spirals and circles, up, down, side to side, and all around. https://vimeo.com/401159397
- Warming & Balancing Flow: This session is designed to link your breath to movement, finding energetic balance between not too much and not too little. Flow from one shape to the next, connected to your in breath and out breath like water from one shape to the next shape. Open your hips, invite mobility in your spine, and create some length in your hamstrings and hip flexors. Finally, you will have an opportunity to check-in with your breath and feeling self as we finish with a short meditation. https://vimeo.com/403516615
In closing, I also want to offer you links to a few things that have been very supportive for me, creatively and energetically:
Stay well my friends! Stay well.
“The Manipura chakra is like the morning sun; meditating on it with the gaze fixed on the tip of the nose one can stir up the world.”
–Gorakshashatakam (tenth century)
This July, we turn up the heat by building tapas, the fire of transformation. Into this fire, we place our will and temper our passions. “A moving object, when it interacts with other objects, creates heat. Heat, in turn, stimulates movement, which allows new combinations to occur.” [Anodea Judith] Fire influences change, destroying form and releasing energy. With this energy, we tap into our innate potential for growth and expansion.
We return again and again to the question, “Are you expanding or contracting?” (Hint: Expansion is ideal.) Are you resisting, turning away? Or, are you facing forward, standing in your power, seeing what is, and then growing larger because of it?
To help us stoke the fire of transformation, we will be practicing Kapalabhati (breath of fire) pranayam. To do Kapalabhati:
- Sit comfortably in an upright posture and rest your hands on your lower belly. If you’re sitting in a chair, make sure to place both feet on the ground.
- Take a deep, cleansing breath before you begin, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air about ¾ way full.
- In a quick motion, exhale through your nose, forcefully expelling all the air from your lungs by drawing your navel in toward your spine.
- Allow your lungs to fill up naturally, with no effort as your belly expands.
- Perform this cycle 10 times, then allow your breathing to return to normal and observe the sensations in your body.
- Repeat these cycles of 10 movements, 3 to 4 times.
For a video demonstration, see below: