Let The Light In

image

Some days, I feel so scattered. Fragmented. Pixelated. Seemingly concrete thoughts connected to a core value scatter to dust as they transform into words. I see sentences come out of my mouth that run on and on as they try to find form and continuity.

I take wrong turns. Forget the whole reason I went to the store.  I send a short text and discover my children have destroyed the house I just cleaned. I burn the potatoes to a crisp when there is no plan b for dinner.

Ever feel like that?

The habit: Hit replay and be the armchair self-critic.

The choice: soften. kindness.

I can take a deep breath (or four) and know that my perceptions of my actions do not define me. My intentions, core values, carry me.

I can resume the lifelong peacetalks I am having with myself.

This is when I turn to my yoga practice. The rythmn of breath, ritual of a vinyasa flow, support of a restorative pose brings me back together. Grounds me. Heals me. Reminds me:

Life happens.

Life is meant to be lived from a place of gratitude, not harshly critiqued or judged.

Life will not always be clearly in focus. It will be messy and uncertain.

It’s okay. It’s how it’s supposed to be.

I am alive and well.

I can lighten up and start each moment as a rebirth, a new start.

I can live this life.

I can love this life.

I can let the light in.

New Moon

I love the new moon.

Once(ish) a month, our perspective from Earth is a sky without a moon. There is a dark, shadow moon in the sky. Whether or not you believe in astrology, let New Moon be a reminder to make space for the subtler parts of life. Let this be a time to feel the currents that run deep and strong, far below the surface of our day-to-day life.

Make time to slow down. Make time listen to the quiet, steady voice – you know the one – the one content in the shadows, always there when the bright lights and shiny objects distract you.

Time to soften.

Let intuition lead the way.

Yogis: Be extra slow and deliberate with your yoga practice. Close your eyes more often, find ways to deepen sensations. Listen. Let each breath be so deep, so full, in the belly that your hipbones feel like they’re expanding away from one another on the inhale and coming back in on each exhale. Do this always, but especially around New Moon.

No Complaints

IMG_6216

What happens when you stop complaining?

Sometimes, a complaint dissolves, stopping in your throat or behind your teeth.

Sometimes, it escapes and you start the practice all over again….and that is why it is called a practice.

With each complaint that bubbles up, you get the opportunity to consider its source.

Anger. The type of anger that can spark a positive movement. I don’t like this, will not stand for this. You don’t complain. You act.

Others, they feel like anger. Look closer: anger can become so deeply entwined with grief. Grief over life’s shoulds, coulds and woulds. Grief over things and circumstances, real or imagined, lost. Grief over things and circumstances, real or imagined, that you think you want.

You notice how often you try to control things that cannot be controlled. You see elaborate arguments with reality distracting you from a life of gratitude and purpose.

You soften. You let go.

Conversations become simple, more fulfilling. You feel cleaner, more grounded and present. Unrepentant, you feel more connected to living as your best self.

Why am I trying to stop complaining?

I decided a long time ago that I do not want to live a life seeing the world as lacking or made up of dumbasses, dirtbags and stupid people. I do not want to look at the world as a construction of circumstances contributing to my discomfort or failure. I want to live in a beautiful world, full of possibility. Even in the dark times – even in situations of unspeakable violence and destruction – I want to see opportunity for change and healing rather than blame and name-calling.

The stakes are now even higher. I am raising two girls, two humans, two little adults in training. Do I want to be a family that meets up at the dinner table to complain about the day? No. Do I have an opportunity to pass on positive values and useful tools to bring good people into this world? Absolutely.

I have the opportunity to do my best every day.

No more complaining. It’s a practice I am willing to take on. I am willing to stumble, fall and get back up, bigger and brighter each time.

This is my action.
(And, seriously – how fortunate to live in a stable home, not in a war zone or a garbage dump? How fortunate to have running water and the opportunity to wonder “Oh, I don’t know, should I buy the organic ones?” at the grocery store. What the EFF do I really have to complain about?)

Truth and Trust

My one-word intention for 2013 was truth. It unfolded unpredictably, at times painfully, ultimately beautifully.

Launching intentions & prayers | NYE 2013 | Chiang Mai, Thailand
Launching intentions & prayers | NYE 2013 | Chiang Mai, Thailand

Nothing is inherent: Money does not buy class or happiness.Travel does not make one worldly or empathetic.Yoga asana is empty without aligned intention. Charisma is only skin deep.

No hurries, no worries. Saying, “I don’t know,” can be one of the most inspiring & liberating actions. 

patient introvert
The patient introvert | 2014 | Mekong River, Laos

I am less attached to building the resume I thought I wanted when I was in my 20s and early 30s. I am more devoted to living a life of integrity and gratitude. 

Yoga continues to infuse my life, reminding me to align action with intention. How I act in this life is more important than creating a life of shiny, empty actions.

Humility and gratitude: I can say all this and act from an incredibly privileged, first-world place. May we each remember how incredibly fortunate we are to live in a safe place with running water, access to education, etc.

My word for 2014 is trust.

Upcoming Workshop: Living Yoga at Asha Yoga

936624_657241544298340_1556658974_nI am very excited about leading the next Living Yoga series at Asha Yoga. I will be guiding the 28-day experience of diving deeper into our yoga practice and its philosophical roots. 

What is the program about?

Our true nature is love. Consider the age-old questions: “What am I? Who am I?” We will begin with the answer: We are Consciousness. We are Love. Together, we will explore different ways to cleanse our perspective and clear out the things in our life that do not serve us in order to connect and recognize our true nature: LOVE.

The philosophical framework for the program is the three mala, Sanskrit for veils. Each veil uniquely distorts our perception of both ourselves and others: the veil of too much subject (me! Me! ME!), the veil of too much object (they, them, those) and the veil of too much busy-ness (I don’t have enough!) We will explore these perspectives through asana, meditation, gentle cleansing and writing exercises.

What will I be doing?

We will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday nights from January 28-February 25, 2014 at the Asha Midtown location. Each week is focused on a theme. You will set meditation, asana (yoga classes), mindful eating and writing goals based on the experience you want, focused on the weekly theme.

In Living Yoga: Cleanse, we will also be incorporating yogic cleansing practices that are very safe – neti pot to clean our sinuses, oil pulling and tongue scraping to clean our mouths, hot water and lemon in the morning to clean our digestion and different pranayama (breath work) techniques to invigorate our nervous system.

At the weekly meetings, we will explore each week’s theme through teachings, discussion and activities. We will touch base to share our experiences with time for questions and answers. You will leave each meeting with a handout that will have a brief article about the teaching of the week, a clear list of writing and awareness exercises and a chart for you to use to track your activity. I will check in with you each week and be available to support you in any way that I can.

What if I have to miss a meeting?

Not a problem. I will email you the handout from the meeting you miss to catch you up on the week’s teaching and be available to answer your questions.

Why are you leading this program?

Yoga is a way of life, not a pose.
Teaching is sharing.

These are teachings that have helped me grow compassion, empathy and gratitude in my life. When I have judged myself or others harshly or felt overwhelmed by my life, these are teachings that have helped me put things in perspective. I am enough. I am not alone. I have enough. This program is designed to further explore these teachings and share something with you that I hope you will find helpful.

(Also – how great is it to be in a room at least once a week with like-minded people?!?)

If you have any questions, please contact me directly at yaynamaste@gmail.com

We will meet on Tuesdays from 7:30-9:00 p.m. at Asha Midtown
January 28-February 25 (Four weeks, five meetings)

Sign me up!

Asha members: $85
Non-members: $175 (includes unlimited yoga for the duration of the program)

Writing

Recently, some unpublished JD Salinger stories were leaked to the masses. I love Salinger’s writing. His characters are like family to me. When I was in the eleventh grade, I had a very vivid dream that Virginia Woolf and I ran into Franny Glass while we were shopping for apples in the grocery store. Franny was carrying a bottle of olives, naturally. My 21-year-old copy of Catcher in the Rye is duct-taped together.

Knowing that Salinger was very clear about these stories not being ready for publication, I decided against an eager google search. It was hard. I decided to continue the wait for the posthumous release of the rest of his work.

I believe that not all writing has to be shared.

Now that we all have blogs (and even podcasts), it seems everyone is writing. This is great. I love that so many people are writing. I am a believer in sitting down, listening and letting it all pour out. I am a believer that everyone has a story and that the process of writing heals.

I believe in questioning the readiness and intention of a piece before hitting “publish.”

In terms of writing something to share, I am a strong believer that there is a step that follows the pouring it all out on the page. I recently taught a writing and yoga workshop with my friend and amazing writer, Elaine Gale. In our workshop, she shared this: when you write, you make a mess and then go through the process of cleaning it up.

Make a beautiful mess, clean it up.

I haven’t been posting, but I have been writing a lot. Who have I been writing for? I don’t know who the “audience” is or if there ever needs to be an audience. Sentences have been spilling out of pens and erupting from my tapping fingertips on the keyboard. I have been writing because I can’t help myself. I have been letting out the big, beautiful messes.

I have revitalized my love affair with the craft of writing. I am enjoying the process of writing and then spending a few hours, days or weeks away before going back in to see what happened and what I can learn. I even enjoy looking something over and dragging it into the little trash can on my desktop. I love remembering a piece I wrote as being amazingly witty, discovering it really wasn’t all that great and then working on it so it lives up to my memory.

I love looking at something I’ve written and wondering how I can support the appropriate words with the best possible grammar.

I am reading to learn from other people’s writing – fascinated not just by the experience being shared in the story, but by how they write the story to life on the page. I listen to interviews with writers, comedians, musicians and other creatives to hear them talk about their life and process. I listen. I learn. I fall in love over and over again with being human and our amazing capacity to create.

I am not a professional writer. I write because it happens. I write because I can’t help myself. I have always written – and I am not, by any means, perfect. Typos and misspellings happen. I actively seek them out in my writing and ask: Where did that happen? Why did that happen? What was I feeling or trying to express at the moment? What can I learn from this? What does a semicolon do, really? And do I really know how to use italics?

Bringing it back to everyone is writing, I admit it: I am one of those people who winces when I see something published (and stay published) with glaring typos – be it a blog, a news story or even a Facebook post. When I see a potentially great story full of incorrect plurals and misspellings, I feel cheated. I feel sad for the story – like the story wasn’t loved enough to be cleaned up before being sent out into the world. As if the person holding the story didn’t love it enough to run spell check or go back after posting to edit.

I equate it to taking my daughter to the park without cleaning her up after breakfast. I could take this beautiful, joyful child out into the world without combing the dried oatmeal out of her hair, wiping the blueberry stains off her face or changing her out of the sticky, crusty clothes…but I won’t. Cleaned up, the sticky mess of breakfast will not be a distraction from her joyful self as she runs into the sandbox with other kids to fill endless Tupperware containers with sand and sticks. Yes, she had to get messy first – but I was able to clean her up. Nourished, happy and healthy, she will be at her best. Her smile is always beautiful, but it is most beautiful when it isn’t surrounded by a crust of old oatmeal she didn’t eat.

That is where I am with writing and why this little blog has been lightly posted upon this year. Let’s run with that metaphor a little further and just say there are some blueberry stains on the pages and I haven’t decided what park to take the kid to today. Out of respect for what is pouring out, I am not hitting publish as often. When a post emerges, it will be posted. I am focusing now on process rather than product.

We all have stories. (No one, it should be noted, has storie’s or story’s. No one.) We can all write – we all should write, in my opinion. Writing is powerful – it shows us who we are. It strips us down. All our bullshit and beauty stare back at us from the page. There we are. How marvelous.

Out of respect for all that is sacred, write! Get it out. Make your mess. Don’t feel compelled to always hit “publish” or “share.”

If you choose to share, clean it up. Out of respect for your voice and your story, share it in its best possible light.

I vow to do the same. Whenever I am ready, I will post again.

(In the meantime, come take a yoga class with me, keep an eye out for upcoming workshops at Asha and check me out on Instagram.)

Empower

I’m not one of those yogis who can post photos of me in Pincha with my toes on my forehead. I do handstands against the wall. I don’t have crazy open hips or a super bendy spine. Basically, I don’t a very exciting collection of yoga selfies.

I started doing a selfie challenge on Instagram two months ago (I confess, I started this post and then let it sit for a bit.)  I was feeling on the cusp of inspired/uninspired, so I was ready to try just about anything – even take photos of myself, which I thought I would never do. So glad I did – it’s been an unexpected creative outlet.

The first day of the first challenge was “Empower.” I posted this pose, which I do a lot at home and teach pretty frequently. I hope you find it helpful and empowering as well:

20130901-140427.jpg

This may not look like much, but I’m working hard! This is a great exercise for people who have damaged core/split abs (which happens frequently in pregnancy.) I do this each day and feel a little stronger, more healed and confident.

Active legs – knees over hips, shins parallel to the floor. Shins squeeze in like magnets towards one another. Push thighs back while pressing them away with active arms. NOW: Tuck the tailbone Stretch the sitting bones forward, bring the waist back without locking out the hips, squeeze core/midline in and DOWN. Whole back body down & breathe.

Anyone who says you “have your body back” within 6 weeks, 9 months or a year of having a baby is full of it – and I think more women need to talk about this openly. It’s been 19 months of carefully working to repair and realign pelvic floor, hips and split core. 19 months and I am just now feeling like I am on the other side of it. Finding out how to heal my body through yoga is empowering. Trusting that working diligently (and compassionately!) through a process of healing/strengthening is empowering as I feel a little stronger each day.

Doing this exercise each day has also taught me SO much about Udiyana Bandha – so added bonus!

Quote overload

Though I think all writing is really for ourselves, there is some writing that is good for sharing and some writing that is best for a closed notebook. I have articles and blog posts outlined, but the sentences have not been ready. Most of my writing lately has been for myself.

This was sparked about two months ago when I felt overwhelmed with quotes. On my Facebook feed, tagged in Instagram, tweeted and everywhere else. Believe me, I love a good sentence. I’ve been collecting quotes that inspire me since I was a kid the way some people collect cats or plastic tubs that can be reused so they never have to use Tupperware again.

I fell in love with a shirt that said “The Beloved is Everywhere ~Rumi” Since that is what I believe, I googled the quote to find the whole poem. Here is what I found:

 If the Beloved is everywhere, the lover is a veil,
But when living itself becomes the Friend, lovers disappear.
~Rumi

Wow. There is so much more there than I thought I was going to find. However, the nerd in my soul nagged me, “Why did they leave out the “if?”

Soon after that, for whatever reason, I saw a few people posting Machiavelli quotes in the context of yoga. In all honesty, it has been almost twenty years since I read The Prince, but I don’t remember it being a very yogic text. I could be wrong. What I do know is that Machiavellianism is defined as “the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct.”

This is the one that brought it to a head:

 ship

Yes, this is great! Love the sea! Be inspired! However, if you want to build a ship, someone is eventually going to have to collect the wood, assign tasks, build the ship and then sail it.

I spent a week stewing about this and the realized what was happening. These little snippets of language were sparking my curiosity and creating conversations. I was researching and searching for the original context, comparing it to the appropriated context and, ultimately, to my own life.

In short, I was learning. I was learning new poems, dusting off philosophical theories and becoming so mindful of what I was willing to quote or put out in the world.

Let the quotes lead your curiosity beyond the surface. Find the contexts. Be open to finding something deeper or that the quote had absolutely nothing to do with what you thought it did.

Be curious and act on that curiosity. And if you’re going to post something on the internets, know what you’re posting.

Look at it this way: George W. Bush said, “I am Mindful.”  and Donald Rumsfeld said “Don’t divide the world into “them” and “us.” Could you imagine those quotes written in cursive on a photo of a person mediating on a mountain?

yaynamaste: yoga + event services

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 175 other followers