The following video was shared with me by a dear yoga student today. As I watched, my own practice as well as my teaching, grew truly inspired. And yet, there was a tiny nagging voice that asked, Do you really believe? Even after all of these years of practicing, studying, classes, teaching, I questioned my own belief in the transformational power of yoga.
How large is my capacity to change? How strong can I grow? How large is my faith? Can I move forward without becoming burdened and worn down by feelings of shame, guilt, sadness, and self-recrimination?
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the ancient sage advises us to study and concentrate upon the qualities of an elephant to gain strength (Sutra III.24). In the video, we watch the transformation of a human being, from burdened and weak to fast, and strong with a much wider capacity to live a bigger life, to express his own life force. How important it is to the development of faith to see examples of transformation in living beings!
May you also be inspired. Would love to hear your story!
A photo essay of MIRROR in the Third Street Canvas. The poem is displayed in the window of the LABYRINTH PRESS CAFE. I enjoyed a wonderful vegetarian meal with family members Fred, Rabi, Helen (who also played photographer), Dave, Cynthia, and Rebecca.
Most of us spend considerable time sitting at a desk and/or working at a computer and let’s face it, our necks and shoulders get really cramped and tight. Depending upon your particular line of work and your physical condition, those knots can begin tying up your mind as well as your shoulders. The antidote for me is frequent yoga breaks.
Today I gave a short demonstration for area workers of some yoga stretches that can alleviate Desk Stress. Here are two poses that will help yo release that tension. It’s a very brief, mini introduction to yoga in the workplace.
OFFICE YOGA Stretch and Relax while at your desk!
Arms Overhead –Great for releasing shoulder and neck tension that occurs during computer work.
With hands clasped together, turn palms toward knees. As you inhale, raise arms overhead. Continue softly breathing as you press through index finger mounds. Release shoulders towards kidneys. When ready, exhale and release arms.
Seated Spinal Waves -If you are feeling stiff and achy, try some spinal waves. The spinal waves gently move the spine releasing tension throughout the back of the body. As tension and knots are released, energy can flow in unimpeded waves of healing and rejuvenation throughout your entire system. Try them anytime you need a quick pick-me up during the day.
Sit with your buttocks on the middle of the seat with your ankles falling in line with your knees. Inhale and lift the spine. Place your hands palms down on your thighs. As you exhale, round the back draw the tail forward while pressing the navel towards the spine to engage your abdominal muscles. Tuck your chin gently stretching the back of the neck. Invite the shoulders to roll forward, away from the spine. Inhale and reverse the curve of the spine, lifting the chest and drawing the tail down and towards the back of the chair. Lift the chin and stretch the front of the neck. Roll the shoulders back and squeeze the inner shoulder blades toward the spine. Stretch the front of the torso as you release the belly. Lift and open the heart center.
Yoga is about learning to channel energy. Using your power involves channeling your energy. Not recognizing your power is perhaps the easiest way to negate the energy at your disposal. This tribute to women who have transformed their own energies into action to change the world in big and small ways is inspiring for all of us, men, women, children, elders alike.
Though International Women’s Day is March 8, I am inspired by this video TODAY. It really supports my intentions for the year 2012. How about you?
Do you wish you could live more fully present in your life? I sure do, so I am working on expanding my sensory awareness. There is so much that passes me by, that never registers in my consciousness every waking (sleeping!) moment
What is sensual living, but a life spent paying attention. It’s a physical life. A receptive awareness. It is presence. Experiencing all that is. Touching, feeling, seeing, smelling, moving (yes, the body has that kinesthetic sense), listening, tasting. Any and all of these modalities can become meditations if you ramp up your awareness and really open yourself to what you are experiencing. Yoga itself becomes a powerful tool for meditation this way.
I just finished reading A HOUSE BY THE SEA by poet, May Sarton. Sarton describes living a sensual life in on the coast of Maine. I feel as if I’ve lived at Wild Knoll and pulled goldenrod from her delightful garden and sipped chablis on the patio in her colorful tapestry of existence beside the sea.
Here is a video that I found inspiring and hope you will too. I can’t wait to make my own BOOK OF SENSES. I invite you to live sensually for one month. Maybe we can compare notes afterwards.
This morning in class after we chanted OM ~ and the class is becoming less self-conscious and more vibrational as they grow accustomed to chanting ~ a student remarked how “good we sounded” as we had reached that exquisite blending of voices ~ that community of OMs.The experience reminded him of the Virtual Choir he’d seen on You Tube. Eric Whitacre, the composer and conductor speaks in the following TED video of what the process of group singing meant to him. He said that the first time he sang in a choir he realized that he was part of something bigger than himself.
In yoga, we’d say that we ARE something bigger than our conception of our individual selves. This is the beauty of chanting before class. We acknowledge and surrender to that energy, that grace, that love.
It is from that space that we twist and turn ourselves in the poses and that we sit quietly in breath work or in meditation or savasana.This is true whether we have chanted in a hall with hundreds of yogis or if we chant silently to ourselves while practicing. This is the sound of the universe. Of the primal energy that flows everywhere. The vibration that is.
In class at Panterra on Tuesday night, we were fortunate to have sitar player, Justin Scarimbola strumming his instrument while we fell deeply into savasana. As one note fell away, another appeared, then another and another. The evening raga grew a little “on edge” as daylight was fading to dusk and the notes picked up steam, coming faster, more insistent and then sliding back into quietude. The music took my mind along on its journey. Afterwards, I felt that somehow, I saw the world a bit differently. Time and space shifting in their tides just as the Indian raga grew louder, softer, faster, slower, smoother, rougher.
Today is windy and hot. Yesterday was hot and still. It’s all labile, change, flux, even when it seems to be static. Do not stay stuck, the music, the chanting, like our practice tell us.
We are capable of so much more love than we realize.
MANTRA for today: May I open to unknown capabilities within myself today.
I am so sorry dear readers that it has been sooooo long since I’ve posted.
This is the thing, my father-in-law who moved into assisted living in Fredonia last fall, fell out of bed and clunked his noggin’ at the end of February. Ten days of hospitalization were followed by a transfer to a nursing home-the locked dementia ward. This man, who two months ago was enjoying homemade dinners and classical music concerts with us, can no longer walk, barely eats, is in diapers, has leg sores, and hardly knows who his son is, much less who I am. At nearly ninety years old, where is the dignity? What effect does my yoga training have on my response to his suffering…and the family’s grief and suffering?
Well, the first thing I rely upon is the breath. I take long sessions of ujjayi to assuage the grief that he is leaving us.
The second practice I engage in is TONGLEN meditation. I will write a page about that soon. Fortunately for me, my teacher, Mahala of ten thousand bodhisattvas dot com offered a Tonglen class shortly after Ben went into the nursing home. Did the universe know that I needed this? I can hear my yoga teacher muttering karma, carolyn, karma!
As a caregiver of a ninety year old with end stage dementia, I now know that I need to learn how to take care of myself first because at present I am suffering from a very nasty case of the flue, probably due to exhaustion. So restorative yoga, here I come. The third practice. Pull out the bolsters and blankies, cause I’m resting, deeply. It’s the core practice of compassionate caregivers.