Friday, December 23, 2011

Death Becomes Me

A few days ago, after looking for him and filing a missing persons report, we learned that my grandpa had died.  At 78 years old my grandfather died alone in a hotel room (he was found by a hotel manager in room 410), surrounded by the very few things in life that comforted him, music, cigarettes and alcohol. I say that not as a judgement but because I am not comforted by the fact that he went out as some would put it "on his own terms." I wanted him to know that we loved him and missed him and he never got to know that. He never got to feel the urgency of his loved ones while he was missing. He never got to know that his only great grand child was praying for him to come home safely.
In the midst of the sadness and grief I observe others and their process and what they have to do to get them through the day. Everyone's process is different.  Some may party to get them through the night. Some my sleep to get them through the day. But no one knows when you're all alone, the thoughts, emotions and tears that may come.  It is sure nuff a process that I am trying my damnedest not to judge as I see, hear and watch others go through it.Not judging is a huge lesson for me (albeit it is a struggle). I am usually a solitary person, but as I go through it all, I don't want to be alone. It's too similar to how my grandfather died. Actually all of my grandparents (and father) died alone. The one who is still alive is also alone. The point of life is to love and be with others. I struggle with it all. Maybe he did too. Maybe that's why he disappeared for days. But even the thought of this is no solace.

At this point I don't want to be strong. I don't want to be on auto pilot. I want just melt into this tub and drown in my tears of sorrow until I can cry no more. That night, I couldn't say the words. I couldn't say that he was dead. The words wouldn't my escape my lips. My head was not connecting with reality. I wanted it not to be true. We were supposed to help find him. He was supposed to come home alive. He was supposed to be our Christmas miracle. Returned to us safe and sound.

I am mired in death.

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Honest Eulogy

What do you do when it's your birthday?  Does it cause you to be more self reflective?  Do you think about the the year gone by or do you think of the year to come?  Does it make you pine away wistfully for your youthful years?  Or does it make you young folk wish to be older than you are?

Birthdays make me quite pensive. I start to review my life on all levels.  But mostly I think, "am I becoming more of the person that I want to be?"  If I died today, what would those that knew me have to say about me?  Could they get up and be honest, or would they say a lot of things because it's not kind to speak ill of the dead?

How would your honest eulogy read?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cutting through Yoga Elitism (RePosted)

I have to admit.  Sometimes I get annoyed by seeing yoga retreats in Bali, or Brazil, or some other exotic place in the world.  Yoga, which is an ancient tradition, was originally passed on from teacher to student right in their home, village or community.  Now with elite yoga you get to travel halfway around the world outside of the daily grind of life to chant together or practice asanas together in the serene setting of a foreign land.  I say that is not yoga.  It feels like escapism.  It's getting away from the ugly harsh realities of how people are living in this country and going some place where all of that is erased and real life melts away.  Yoga is supposed to be brought to the people wherever they are,  in the muck and madness of daily life.

 Yes, I could probably find specific slokas of the gita or of patanjali's yoga sutras to back up what I am saying, but my heart tells me all I need to know and that is:  If we are to use yoga as a practice to help us deal with the daily struggles of life, how does running all over the globe help? How are you improving your life or the lives of potential yoga students right where you are?  Be here now!  Right where you stand, that is yoga!


While discussing this with a co-worker and fellow practitioner she said "You need to get in a space that no matter where you are, the distractions don't distract you."  She is absolutely right, that is one of the aims of yoga.   I wish that more of the magazines focused on this as a core teaching of yoga.  I wish that there was more of a focus on seva and karma in present day yoga.  I am almost at a point where I'm ready to unsubscribe to yoga magazines, because I'm tired of the hard tail ads and the perfect little yogini's with their perfect little lives and perfect little bodies.  Where is the magazine that digs deeper?  Where is the yoga teaching that gets to the core of what we face as individuals when we are off the mat?

I feel incredibly fortunate that I work at a place that has free community yoga every week for the last 3 years.  It began as yoga for those that were unemployed.  Michigan was hard hit by the recession early on, especially those who worked in and around the auto industry. So this idea sprung up to give back to those who were in need of this practice.  Yoga has given so much to me a practitioner and now as a teacher. I feel this overwhelming urge to give back, to help, to transmit something that cannot be spoken through words, but only through sharing of this practice, the breath, body and mind connecting as one.  While I try not to judge, I admit right now it's very hard not to when there are $20 yoga classes and book signing with yogi "masters" and yoga groupies and all of these things that just seem to be the antithesis of what yoga is.

I understand that things get westernized to a certain extent when they reach our shores, but do they have to become totally bastardized?  There is this righteous (or so I think) indignation building up inside of me where I feel like being The Yoga Renegade!  No I'm not skinny, never have been and never will be.  No I'm not white.  No I'm not blonde.  And no I'm not teaching in a suburban yuppie neighborhood.  I want to take yoga to the people who could benefit from it the most.  I want to take yoga to the people who can least afford to pay for it.  I know what yoga has the ability to do when you practice.  This is why I became a teacher. This is why I love yoga, this is why my head is about to explode seeing this beautiful practice being stripped of its roots.

All power to the people

Yoga to all people

Yoga is for everyone

Let's cut through the yoga elitism and take it back to where it belongs: "We the people!"



Please check out the links below.  I am organizing 24 hours of continuous yoga to support the Non-Profit work of Yoga 4 Peace.


http://www.meetup.com/yoga-irenes-edu/events/44197802/

You can also support Y4Peace and their free community programs
http://www.y4peace.org/Donate.html

Overcoming Anxiety


For every problem in life there is a spiritual solution, at least that’s what Wayne Dyer says. My major problem right now (well for years) is with anxiety.  I hate that I have it.  It was probably born when I was 3 years old and first started experiencing sexual abuse.  Withdrawing and retreating became my coping mechanism.  At that young age you have no coping skills, so whatever you learn becomes a pattern grooved into the brain and eventually becomes habit and second nature.  So when difficulties arose the only way I knew how to protect myself was to retreat to a place within where nothing could touch me. 


It wasn’t a happy place, it was just a place within, where the outer world didn’t exist.  No pain, no trouble no fear, nothing.  It was my escape.  I often times describe it as being in a catatonic state.  It was my shield.  But I don’t need to go to that place anymore when things get stressful or there is anxiety. Anxiety happens when I feel extremely vulnerable and overwhelmed.   I don’t mean to disappear and fall off the face of the earth, but going inside is the one thing that has “saved” me from unbelievable pain.


I don’t want to react in this way any longer.  It is hurtful to those that care about me.  What I realize more and more these days is that I was retreating from abuse and abusive people, the people in my life now are not abusive, yet I am still reacting to the situations with the same response.  It is maddening to me sometimes that all of this began at the age of 3 and I am 34 years old and still working on breaking these old patterns.  I’ve been in therapy for several years now, and I’ve broken through some major things, but this didn’t occur over a few weeks. It happened over a 12 year period and the patterns are deeply engrained.  But I am encouraged, I know that they can be broken/shattered!  Some things may not go away, some feelings of anxiety may continue to occur. However, I know that from overcoming the flashbacks that I used to have of the abuse, that at some point not only does it occur less, but my response to it can be changed by my own effort. That is what I’m working toward right now, changing my response to anxiety.  



So the first thing that I am becoming aware of is of course my breath.  Through my yoga practice I see that one or two things happen when tension or anxiety about something occurs.  I either hold my breath and stop breathing or my breath becomes short and shallow.  When that happens, I am no longer in the moment. That is where the thoughts started to repeat like a broken record and the anxiety becomes my truth, not just thoughts that are roaming around in my head, but they are my reality.  Now, if I could just continue to take this yoga thing off the mat I’d be able to see that: 1. this is just a story on repeat, 2.  I can change that story by replacing it with something else and 3. Affirmations are always helpful when overcoming negative/destructive thoughts or behavior patterns. 


When I was having flashbacks of being sexually abused my therapist told me to remind myself that I was safe and no one could hurt me, that I was fine.  It took a lot of effort for me to do that in the midst of what felt like day time terror, but I did it.  I overcame those severe anxiety attacks and if ever they were to return I’d know what to do to defeat them again.  This same thing I must apply to the less severe anxiety.  I can use an affirmation to help me become present and out of the loop of the broken record.  I feel like this is a tendency that I must overcome because it has a very negative affect on my relationships with other people.  I am truly a dedicated person and I’ve never seen myself as running away from my problems, until now.  I spent years hiding in my self-created sanctuary.  That story has been on rerun for far too long and I am determined to write a new chapter in my book of life.




This is yoga off the mat!



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tears from the Sun

I had another emotional practice one night.  It's funny, after therapy is when I feel the need to just get on the mat to allow the natural process of release to happen.   I began in tadasna, equally standing on my two feet.  As I raised my arms and looked up, the tears began to fall.  I exhaled, and folded forward only to begin to sob tears flowed uncontrollably.  All I could do was give in.  What an interesting way to begin sun salutations.  I guess I saluted the sun with my tears.
What  a release!  It felt like it was coming from some place long ago. When it finally ceased of its own accord I continued my practice, full of strength and determination to just be on the mat, not think about where it was all coming from, just be in the moment.  Never more present had I been.


This is Yoga!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Does Love Exist?

Some spiritual teachings say that the root of suffering is desire, craving, want of what we do not have.  But I wonder often, is it wrong to want?  The sacred scriptures say that above all we should desire God's love.  But what if it does not come natural to us?  God, the invisible unseen is supposed to be the most desirable.  Yet time and time again I have found that in this natural world, all that I have wanted, all that those around me have wanted and craved was to truly be loved by another.  To crave human love is as natural as the breath that we breathe.  Yet it is ever elusive, always fleeting, always withdrawing.  

I enjoy the solitude.  I truly can and do appreciate being and living alone.  However, on a deeper level I know that I hunger for someone to share my life with.  I don't believe in perfection. No one can ever be that.  But I do long for a love to share my life with.  Years ago when I was unhappily ever after I used to cry to God (literally), I used to ask in those tearful moments, Is there really love?  Does love really exist? Can anyone ever truly love?  Is there real loving love?  I was longing and crying out for that love that we all hope for.  In the midst of enjoying my solitude I have found that again I am crying out to God for that love.  True love, real love, deep love, a love that doesn't withdraw.  A love that I've yet to experience.  A love that would give all.  A love that would not sacrifice me, but sacrifice for me.  Does it really exist?  I have imagined that it truly only exists between us and God.  Still seeking.  Shall I ever find?



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Feet.....Uh not so much


I admit it.  I love shoes.  I want more shoes.  My favorite kinds of shoes to wear are high heels. The higher the heel the better.  I mostly love sexy strappy shoes, but platform shoes, colorful shoes or any kind of shoes, as long as they're stylish will do.  I am really attached to high heeled shoes.  They are stylish and cute.  But my feet don't like them.  I've tried; I go to shoe stores and look for "sensible" flats, but to me they're all kind of ugly.  I haven't seen one pair recently that made me just have to buy them.  I actually recently joked that I liked a pair of shoes because they were very comfortable but they looked too dikey (kind of ironic coming from a lesbian)!


What on earth does this have to do with yoga you say?  For one my attachment to shoes is probably not what Patanjali had in mind when he laid out the yamas and niyamas of the Yoga Sutras, namely Aparigraha or noncovetousness.  Second and more pressing for me right now is.... my feet hurt like hell after wearing high heeled shoes!  I notice it when in tadasana for any period of time and mostly in balancing poses. So what's a yogini to do? Do I let go of my attachment to the feeling of pain while on the mat, or my attachment to shoes?  Well, pain is a signal to the body that something is wrong and since yoga is about awareness then something else has to give. I try to rationalize that everyone has to have a vice, (I'm sure this isn't my only one), and everyone needs to wear shoes.  But no one wants to wear ugly shoes.  I'm trying to wrap my mind around wearing shoes that are comfortable, but with that great comfort there is no style, no flair, no panache!
I started to think that maybe I should become a shoe designer so that women don't have to sacrifice style for comfort.  But that's not very practical.


Just yesterday in yoga class we were doing several balancing asanas and with each one my feet screamed in agony.  I kept falling out of the asana.  Mostly because the soles of my feet were in so much pain from walking around like barbie!  My feet still hurt and I can't find shoes that I actually like.   What's a yogini to do?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

PTSD and Yoga

I have to admit that every time I've begun to write this blog I got stuck.  I was mentally hitting the pause button.  I have PTSD.  I can usually talk about it openly but there is something about writing the words that feel so raw, real and exposed that I just kept getting a brain freeze.  I initially had fear about the a stigma of "mental disorder".  But PTSD is the mind's way of reacting to unusual trauma.  It begun at an early age and it took many years to get diagnosed, but with  a diagnoses came the use of tools to help me better cope with all that living with PTSD has wrought.  PTSD doesn't go away.  I've used cognitive therapy, yoga, and meditation as tools to help me manage the symptoms.  

Yesterday in a yoga class a teacher gave a pretty good definition of what happens to me when I am triggered by something.  She said "the story that's on rerun in your head...." When something triggers my fight or flight response that situations become my story on rerun (or broken record).  Or rather how that situation made me feel becomes my constant rerun.  Whatever my emotions were at the time are a response to the trigger but it doesn't mean that my actual emotions/feelings about the situation are based on reality.  A wise woman once told me "feelings don't make it fact".  Just to give an example, let's say my best friend called me to cancel our plans to go up north for the weekend, that could illicit a trigger in me to feel abandoned.  My best friend didn't do anything wrong.  She just had to change our plans based on something else happening in her life.  Well in my head the story on rerun would be abandonment and feeling alone because when she called that's where I went to emotionally.  Now through the practice of observing my own mind (through years of meditation and introspection) I have become much better at seeing these triggers.  I know now from whence they come and now it is easier to talk myself down from that fight or flight ledge.  This example is a very simple, one that I'm sure has be experienced by people without PTSD.  However, it illicits a pretty over the top emotional response of anger (that the person could do this), fear (that they are truly abandoning me), and hurt (that I am all alone), which in turn makes me isolate and "run away" from that person.  Which in its own way is self sabotage because running away only ensures the self fulfilling prophecy of being alone.  And it is this that causes the thing that I fear the most to actually happen, being alone. 

Usually one who has PTSD already feels isolated and alone, as if no one truly understands what they are feeling.  It's pretty hard to put it in words, but until you learn how to shut that rerunning story off, there is no way to see through the emotional tornado that PTSD brings up.

Stilling the mental waves
I learned to meditate many years ago.  And while there are many different meditation techniques, just sitting still trying to quite the mind has never worked for me.  I needed a technique that would lead me there. I needed something to focus my mind on until it would begin to calm the storm of restless thoughts.   I learned some very useful meditation techniques through Self-Realization Fellowships teachings, they offer a home study course in meditation and pranayama unlike anything I had heretofore practiced. Not only did the meditation give me room to calm the mind, the use of daily introspection helped me to go back and review what was actually going on in my mind that caused me to react the way that I did.  The mind is very reactionary and someone with PTSD is even more reactionary than someone with out it, so tools like this are invaluable.  While practicing these things are helping, it is no easy feat.  You have to be willing to look at your own thought processes, see how they are negatively impacting your life and be willing to acknowledge them and do something about them.  Positive change comes with much time, practice and patience.  It takes dedication to your own healing and growth to keep at it.  PTSD doesn't go away.  But with vigilant observance  you will be able to see the triggers with clarity and stop them in their tracks before they send you into fight or flight.  Meditation has certainly be very useful to me on this front.

How does yoga help?
Survivors of sexual abuse who suffer from PTSD may find that they have disassociated from their bodies physically and emotionally. In my own experience the way that I was able to cope with the trauma as it was happening was to "leave my body", by going into a catatonic like state.   When I was in the midst of having a flash back, I felt like I had absolutely no control over my body, breath, or emotions.  I was reliving that trauma all over again 20+ years later as if it were happening at that very moment.

Yoga asanas taught me awareness of the body and mind.  It has helped me to be fully aware of my body of  being in the room and using  my breath to create awareness.  What that means for me is that there is a pause between the moments that I feel something and the time it takes me to react to it.  This is the exact opposite from how PTSD would trigger a response from me. 

Through the practice of yoga I am allowing myself to observe how my body feels in each posture. 
 Is there a tightness in my lower back?  Am I tensing muscles that I could relax in that particular posture?  Is my jaw clinched?  Is  my face relaxed?  While all of these things seem simple, most of us go through out our day not noticing all of these "little things" that are going on in our bodies.  By practicing yoga you initially become aware of what your body is feeling, and in time with practice you become aware of the emotions that can come along with these bodily feelings.  

A few weeks ago I was in kapotanasa (pigeon) and found myself feeling angry.  I noticed that not only were my hips tight, but so was my jaw.  My jaw was actually clinched shut.  With this new found awareness I was able to release my clinched jaw.  I acknowledge the anger I was feeling and where it was coming from. In that moment I observed that my emotions had a direct effect on my body.   I learned to be still, and truly observe what was happening in the body and mind and honored those feelings, in that way I  allowed myself to move through it.  It is common for us to push through pain or just "get over it" but with yoga the awareness gets carried over into all aspects of your life.  Yoga, when truly practiced, is a science of the mind and so much more than just physical exercises.  

Now when I feel an emotion while I am practicing (on or off the mat), I observe it (more often than not), to see where it arises from.  I acknowledge it's existence, allow myself to relax the tension it has brought up and allow it to pass of it's own accord without mental force.  I let it be until it dissipates on it's own.  I am living proof that with time and persistent practice, yoga can be a useful tool for one who suffers from PTSD. 


This is yoga on and off the mat.




Namasté

Friday, August 26, 2011

Begin at the beginning




Teaching yoga to loved ones can be very instructive.  I taught my first private class to a loved one who had never before practiced yoga before.  Here's what I learned about teaching:

1. Start with practicing the foundations together

  • For a beginner show and tell is very important, they've never practiced before so show them what you want them to do first
  • Show the posture,  then show again (while describing) and practicing together
  • Sun salutations are a great foundation to teach, as are the warrior postures
2. Flow is not as important as safety for a beginner
  • Teaching the basic sequencing and how to get in and out of a posture is key
  • Make sure that your student knows to back off of anything that hurts
  • In movements where the torso is moving away from the thighs remember to teach your to engage the abs to protect the back
  • Only teach what you yourself practice.  If you practice safely you will teach safely
3. Don't throw too much at a beginner
  • If you need to practice the same sequence of 4 four asanas 10 times, so be it. You may think it boring, but it may help your new student to gain confidence and stability in this new practice
  • While seasoned practitioners know that breath and movement go hand in hand, it can be a point of confusion for the beginner   
  • Instead try teaching one or two points during the first few repetitions of the postures.  Add more tweaks after the student is confident and safely getting in and out of the postures
  • Use simple words to try to convey what you want the student to do.  Be clear and concise
4. Breath is important
  • Breath is very important, even for the beginner, especially for the beginner
  • Gently, simply remind them to breathe
  • Pay attention to the rise & fall of the chest make sure your student isn't holding the breath
  • Again, gently remind them to breathe
These are just a few things that I gleaned teaching someone who is brand new to yoga.  As teachers inevitably we will have students who are brand new to yoga.  They won't know what a downward dog is, let alone a sun salutation.  I certainly overwhelmed my newbie.  In designing the class I was so focused on doing things that would get fluid moving in her joints and not adversely affect her knees that I lost sight of the fact that she was truly a beginner and need to know the foundation.  Obviously we can't teach all of our classes at a beginners level but we can certainly be mindful of the fact that there are beginners there and their needs will be different from a seasoned practitioner.  While this was a private class it really made me aware that beginners only need one or two cues to start with or else it becomes confusing and overwhelming.

I really felt honored that I was given such honest feed back.  I am learning to teach and there's a lot that I don't know.  There's also a lot that I do know, I just have to remember and put it into practice.  Our students truly are our best teachers.  Just remember that for those who are new, begin at the beginning.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Strike A Pose!

Okay for the first time today since having new teachers, yoga school was excellent!  Oddly enough I believe it's because we are getting back to our roots.  We had morning practice and, we had the most amazing workshop on one asana: Bhujangasana (Cobra).  Insert JI Joe reference!  Today our poses seemed to be so....dynamic, nothing was static. One teacher even taught tadasana in a way that made us all sweat! F'ing amazing! If I may use such language to describe today's yoga teaching and practice.  Back to cobra.  A few weeks ago we had most of our asanas taught by gifted a teacher named Dawn Priebe. I remember that when she had us in cobra, she said that one of her students described it as "like making love to the floor!"  It sounds a little strange for a yoga posture, but every adult in the room got what she meant by it.  Press the pelvis firmly into the mat.  In Bhujangasana your pelvis should be cemented to the floor.  The hands are just beside the shoulders, the arms and elbows are tightly knitted to your side body and of course the shoulders are down away from the ears and the scapula are reaching down the back and close together.  The tops of the feet are pressed into the mat and you are recking your pedicure. The thighs are engaged, so your knees and shins are lifted off the mat, with the tops of the feet and thighs remaining firmly pressed into the mat.  The pelvis continues to be pressed firmly into the mat and you squeeze the gluteal muscles together like you're trying to hold a walnut between them.  Your abs are engaged as you inhale and lift the torso off the mat.  Look forward.  Shoulders remain down and away from the ears.  Breathe.  The lower back is working here, but not to a point of pain.  The muscles here are actively engaged but not straining.  If it feels uncomfortable on the low back, make sure that all of the muscles described earlier here are engaged. You should be able to lift the hands off the mat for 15-30 seconds with the torso still off the mat.  Keep the breath strong and steady, deep and even.  The shoulders are not in play here.  Though you may use the hands firmly planted into the floor to propel you upward, that is all they do or  you may extend the arms out behind you.  This way the pose is dynamic. The muscles of the lower extremities are fully engaged and your are bringing much needed strength into the lower back.  As you lift up and look forward open the chest. Allow the heart to melt forward.  Breathe.  Feel the extension in the spine as the cobra lifts to strike.

Strike a pose!
 

This is yoga on the mat!


Namasté



Monday, August 15, 2011

Bringing Balance: Moon Salutations

Lets hail the beautiful full moon with a few moon salutations!  Anyone know any other moon salutation sequences?
The moon represents the ebb and flow of the tide. The highs and lows of emotions and physical activity! She stirs us to mate with our beloved. And for women she often indicates our own flow. The moon can be a guide to planting and harvesting in nature and on our personal life journey.  It would be an honor to salute the moon from which we receive so much and think of and honor not nearly enough.   This is a sequence I found, but I am also interested in creating another sequence that really honors the silvery sky goddess that speaks to us all in her fullness!
In the weeks to come I will post a sequence of postures that will include ardha chandrasana and other postures that open the heart and feel expansive, just like a full moon rising. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Solid As A Rock!

Today I had an extremely emotional day, so by the time I got home I knew that I had to take it all in and just be with it.  The first thing I said to myself was "take it to the mat Ellyn!"  Before I got on the mat I decided to go to my car to get my ipod.  I wanted to have some music going, to ensure that I would get outside of my head and just be in my body and practice.  I have this thing for walking around barefoot.  I jokingly call myself a shoe whore because I love cute shoes, but I truly love to be barefoot as much as possible.  As soon as I step foot outside of my apartment door, I planted it on a small sharp shard of glass.  Thank God yoga has rendered me flexible enough to bring my foot up high enough to remove the glass.  After the bleeding stopped and the pain subsided, I got on my mat.  I had my play list going and started sun salutations. Before I could get to the salutations I started sobbing uncontrollably.  I tried to push through it and do my sun salutations, but at the top of every push-up the sobbing took over my breathing.  My mind started to race.  Why couldn't I be still?  Why couldn't I just get through this?  Why couldn't I just practice and flow and let go?  I searched my mind for a book with postures for depression or a gentle practice like I had during another really emotional period but nothing came to me.  I released myself from plank and found myself in sobbing child's pose.  "How is crying, doing yoga?" I said to myself! "This isn't yoga...."  Or so I thought!  So many things can come up during yoga. We normally think of the physical things like tight muscles or mental things like the thoughts that won't go away.  But crying on the mat?  What's up with that?  It's really not much different from wandering thoughts that come relentlessly.  Except of course the loud belly shaking sobs.  But today for me, this became my yoga.  I stayed on the mat.  I continued to cry and then, I stood up.  That's when a lightbulb came on. I was in tadasana (mountain).  It was just yesterday in my yoga workshop that we practiced a meditation in mountain pose.  I stood tall, noticed my breath.  I noticed the tension in my body, I allowed it to relax.  I felt my tailbone drop like there was a weight hanging off of it.  The curve in my lower back became more natural and less exaggerated.  I relaxed my shoulders away from my ears and I continued to breathe.  I inhaled my abdomen and kept a slight bend in my knees.   I lifted my toes and planted my feet firmly into the mat, pressing through all four corners of each foot.  I felt firmly grounded, completely rooted and solid in my posture.  I was a mountain.  Sometimes animals make their homes in mountains (animals of fear, hurt, anger, pain, desire, vice), mountains have to adjust to all climates (emotions),  people walk on and climb mountains (sometimes people don't behave in the ways we would like and sometimes they walk all over us, but still the mountain stands firm).  Sometimes the mountain is snow covered (we may not be able to see what's in front of us with clarity but know that it is just beyond our sight and in time it will be revealed). Sometimes rivers run through mountains (just like my tears, and mountains just allow the rivers to flow and so must I).   Tonight this was my yoga.  This was my mountain pose, this was my saving grace.


This is yoga on the mat!


Namasté




Monday, August 8, 2011

The Joys of Savasana!

Up until very recently savasana was a posture that I allowed my body and mind to completely let go relax and fall asleep in.  I recently read an article about savasana and it got me thinking about how to practice savasana it in a very different light.  Wait, did I say practice savasana?  Yes I did.  I know, I know, it's corpse pose.  It's the one where you are supposed to be totally relaxed, free and let your body rest and fall asleep, or so I thought.  Yes no tension no thought and maybe even catch a few zzzzz's.  That was my practice of savasana.  No more!  It actually changed this past Sunday.  Even though I had read an article on savasana (by Michael Stone) weeks ago I had not yet begun to put it into action.  I think I was wrestling with the idea of it in my mind.  I liked being able to let go and rest and even sleep after a good, hard, long, deep, sweaty practice, or even after a restorative gentle practice.  But on Sunday I decided that I was going to relax completely, but also be aware.  I thought to myself that there's no reason that I can't at least try it.  And to my surprise I found a hidden jewel.  Remaining awake and aware in savanasa is what I like to call conscious passivity.  While the body is passive and completely relaxed the mind is aware. You know where your body is in time and space and you watch the breath rise and fall of its own accord.  Thoughts may come but you let them roll away like clouds.   With time the thoughts are no more.  You are present, on your mat vibrating with radiant energy there is a sensation a tingling radiant feeling that engulfs the entire body.  This is something that you must truly experience to understand.  If you've never done it, I implore you to remain awake, aware, and fully conscious during savasana.  Please come back and share what your experience of conscious savasana was.