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
As we continue to navigate the waters of these strange times we are in, I am slowly working on adding more online video offerings. Some are guided meditations that help you to ground and find peace. Others are short sessions on improving active ROM. My newest one is 20 minutes of standing leg strengthening and stretching. My hope is that they are useful and helpful!
Full of many wonderful and not so wonderful events. I am forever grateful for the support I received from family and friends as I navigated mourning, injury, and healing. I am astoundingly grateful for the gift of time spent with family from far away and close-by, and the privilege to travel and explore with them. But most of all, I am grateful to love and be loved.
The new year will roll some big changes into my life that are exciting, and full of questions yet to be answered. I look forward to exploring the possible answers with an open mind and open heart. In fact, as I write this now, it is with a sense of, “Bring it 2020! I’ve got this!”
As I close out 2019 and roll into the holidays I spend a little time each evening reminding myself of the many things in my life I am grateful for.
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” –Amy Collette
How will you close out 2019? Who or what are you grateful for in your life?
These are some of the essential practices at the heart of Yoga. Whether we are sitting behind the wheel of our car, standing in line at the market, or upside down in headstand–connect with awareness and breath. Anything that allows us to be more aware of ourselves, to feel a connection to ourselves and life, is Yoga.
This month I invite you to practice tuning into awareness, your “inner being-ness,” with a welcoming sense of acceptance for all your daily experiences either on the mat or off the mat.
“Practice becomes firmly grounded when continued for a long time with devotion and right action.”
–Yoga Sutra 1.14
Check the link below for a short (10 min) video designed to help mobilize your major joints and spine. It is a “feel good” sequence, great for first thing in the morning, or before going to bed.
“If the only prayer you ever say in your life is Thank You, it will be enough.”
I am grateful for so many, many things in my life–from the simple joys of the first warming sip of my morning tea, and the sound of my cat purring, to the comfort of a safe and secure home, and family and friends who love me. Life is an intricate, often impenetrable, mix of light and dark energies, love and hate, good health and dis-ease, heaviness and joy. How often do the heavier, darker aspects seem to outweigh or coverup the light?
Gratitude, according to the Buddha, offers the highest protection against unhappiness. Gratitude is the key to balancing life’s energy. Contentment (Santosha) is available to us in every moment. “I accept this moment, just as it is. I accept those around me, just as they are.” Peace of mind cannot be found through external circumstances, but through our willingness to enjoy each moment as it is.
As Meister Eckhart said, a simple, heart-felt “thank you” is enough. It has the power to shift e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. This month we are practicing the art of contentment and acceptance during each breath, each pose, each moment on the mat. What are you thankful for today, right here, right now?
One of my favorite ways to meditate is with mantra. The word mantra can be broken down into two parts: “man,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means transport or vehicle. Mantra is an “instrument of the mind” that helps us transcend our thoughts. Mantra is, in essence, the vehicle that helps us connect with our true source, or pure consciousness.
Join me this month as we explore and experiment with mantra:
2:15-2:45pm, Fridays, Breath & Meditation, Breathe Together Yoga, Los Gatos. #breathetogetheryoga
“It is not how far you move into a pose, but how deeply you feel the pose.”
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the most important posture as one in which the practitioner can hold motionlessness and comfortably, “sthira sukham asanam.” The idea is to sit with ease, not being pulled by aches, or pains, or restlessness. Whether the pose is as simple as Dandasana (staff pose, see above), or as challenging as Virabhadrasana III (warrior III), we are always moving towards being well-seated within the pose, balanced, equanimous, and observant. These qualities become transferable to everything else we do and experience in life.
This month has been blazing by me faster than anticipated. Family emergencies, a friend in need, and a “celebration of life” have offered me many opportunities to practice sitting with what I am experiencing. These are truly golden moments!
I have a few extra classes on my calendar this month. Please check my schedule under “Yoga.”
The following short video clip is a balance sequence, useful for practicing equanimity, and sharpening your focus. This can also be practiced with a strap around the ball of the lifted foot.
“We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne.”
Doing good for others begins with the self. Whether practicing the Dharma (the teachings of Buddha), or the Yamas and Niyamas (yoga’s moral and ethical codes), doing anything positive benefits both ourselves and all beings. This month, let’s:
BE(e) the inspiration, by showing up for ourselves. Make a daily meditation practice a priority. Set your alarm 10, 15, 20 minutes earlier, and begin your day with a session of meditation. Insight Timer, and Head Space, are two meditation apps I highly recommend.