Sunday, September 26, 2010

Virya & Asana

The last few months I have been exploring the paramitas. This fantastic book that I was gifted from my mother years ago has resurfaced in my life at a a coincidental time with my recent path of growth and change. This wonderful text "Buddha is as Buddha does" by Lama Surya Das gives you ten practices for enlightened living. Among those are patient forbearance and wisdom and mindfulness and meditation, and heroic effort.

As i revisited the skill of heroic effort I began to consider the fatigue and inertia of my depression and was led to think about the heroic effort that this time could teach me in my life. This skill would help me and and by extension help everyone around me and it would be of spiritual value towards a higher accomplishment.

A Monday morning, I head to my yoga class and my radiantly pregnant instructor Renee has chosen to run class a little differently. We start in Virasana - hero's pose. Today of all days she is choosing to explore our hero. Courage, to face the unknown, to bear with discomfort, to approach things with new eyes, to change. Coming to my mat and bringing the hero from my head, down into my heart. It was a profound experience that is inviting me to allow the skill to take root in my heart and grow.

I choose heroic effort.

Do you?

Practice guided by- Renee < @Eastside Yoga in Windsor.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yoga for a Hangover.

We’ve all been there. Last minute decision to go out and grab ‘a drink or two’ which translates to several bottles. Birthday parties to prove that you can still ‘roll’ like you did in college (let’s face it, that was a special time in our kidney’s history). Wedding receptions, tailgates, heck, monday night. Point is, you drink too much and then the following morning ensues: throbbing, pounding, can’t see straight, i’d-rather-never-see-the-light-of-day-again kind of hangover. The sad truth is that there is no getting around it. Must deal. Your options are as follows:

1. grab your handy bag of frozen peas, place over face. Burrow under covers. Breath from straw. Spend day there.

2. ‘greasy food and coffee’ cure. Honestly, do we still really believe in that?

3। yes, you guessed। Get your tushy in a yoga class and DETOX. Sweat the night (tequila) out and purify. The first 20 minutes will be heck, but hang in there, you’ll be a brand new person by the end of the class. If this option of leaving your home makes you quiver in your dress that you still haven’t taken off from last night, here are some short and simple options to encourage those hangover blues right out of your body.

Here is a sequence that I found to help squeeze all of those toxins right out of your poor aching insides.

Detox Sequence:

Twists are extremely therapeutic and detoxifying. It massages our internal organs, clears the spine, aids in digestion, and most importantly, encourages release of toxins we hold deep within. These gentle twists will help leave last night in the dust.

Mellow: Start seated in a comfortable cross-legged position. Root your hips down into the floor and sit tall through your spine. Take your right hand to the outside of you left knee. Place your left fingertips onto the ground behind your lower back. Put gentle pressure onto the outside of your left knee as you lift your chest and twist to your left. Hold 8-15 deep breaths and switch sides.

Medium: Straighten your left leg and bend your right knee so that the sole of your foot is flat on the ground in front of your right sitz bone. Ground your hips, lengthen the spine and wrap your left arm around the front of your shin bone so you can rest your palm on your outer right thigh. Place the right hand on it’s fingertips behind you. Lift the chest and pull the belly and back shoulder to the right to twist. 8-15 breaths, repeat on second side.

Spicy: If you can bare to sweat a bit, stand up, otherwise skip this step. Standing with your feet and legs together, bend both of your knees and sink your hips. Keep the shins pressing back so that you can look down and still see your toes. Join the hands into prayer (namaste) at your chest. Hold 10-20 breaths. Take your left elbow and place it to the outside of your right thigh. Press into the leg and press the bottom palm into the top to revolve chest open. 10 more breaths. Come back to center and repeat on second side. If you can handle even more heat, do 5-10 Sun Salutations before this twist. Click HERE to learn how to perform a Sun Salutation.

Soothe: Sit down sideways against a wall. Lie down and take both legs together up the wall. Shift until your bottom can rest next to where the wall and floor meet. Take arms overhead, cover eyes with a cloth or eye pillow and rest here for 5 minutes.

*this sequence was first featured on www.quarterlife.com


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Art of Chaos

Life as a working mom is chaos.

Wikipedia says that chaos is derived from an ancient Greek word meaning a state that lacks order or predictability. This matches my life exactly.

The challenge of living a chaotic life is to be able to assimilate everything that is thrown at you (literally and figuratively) with grace and aplomb, and still look blissful while you’re doing it. Ask any mother you know and she will tell you that this is true.

Swirling around us at any one time are any of a score of issues, responsibilities, commitments, expectations, demands and temptations. Our challenge lies in how we deal with that whirlwind within ourselves. What structures do we have in place within ourselves to filter the input and respond to everything that we are bombarded with both skillfully and with compassion?

I have been considering the concepts of action and reaction the last week or so. Our conditioning by and large is to react to most stimulus that we are presented with. Children are a prime example of this behavior. Take a four year olds toy and you are sure to be met with a screech. a whack and a removal of that toy from your possession in short succession. This continues as a theme throughout our growth into adults, and becomes more complex as we grow. The key to handling the chaos with skill is found for me in my yoga practice.

Through the process of self study I am learning how to skillfully recognize my reactions before they become actions. This is the art of my chaos, to feel my reactions arising in my body and then to skillfully choose my actions in response. The other part of my art is flexible planning. So, just as I am learning to be flexible and strong in my body, I am learning how to be strong and flexible in my life. Through asana I am learning to sit with discomfort, consider it and then respond accordingly, and sometimes not at all.

Is there an art to your chaos?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Yoga for Lunch

I had yoga for lunch today :)

Nancy ran a great midday class inspired by Shivananda style yoga. Pranayama, (Skull shining breath) and some OM chanting followed by 30 minutes of an invigorating surya numaskar series, deep forward bends and some gentle supine poses to balance it off.

Short, refreshing and a window to a different style that I have not practiced before.

Thanks Nancy for the great class!

Come have yoga for lunch with us. Next Yoga for Lunch class on Thursday at 12:00.

Class today - 12:00 yoga for lunch with Nancy at Eastside yoga in Windsor.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Going with the Flow.

I did 45 hot, sweaty minutes of Vinyasa this morning.

Damn. It felt gooooooooooood.

To sweat through a balance posture and breath through the trembling of my muscles, to lose my balance, land lightly on my hand and flow right back up into balance, there is so very much to be learned here.

So many of us find ourselves fighting through hard moments in our lives... arguing with a child, or a lover, or a sales associate and becoming so deeply frustrated and unbalanced that we have difficulty flowing back into balance and listening to the subtle cues of our breath. For myself, when I am on the mat and deep into a posture that challenges me I find myself more aware of my tendency towards anger, towards frustration, and towards the perception of failure. In life, I can admit that I have fallen and not gotten back up. I have cursed the ground for hurting me when I fell and then myself for falling, and then finally I look around for someone to blame. This could be the bank, or my yoga teacher, or my employer or even my husband or my children.

Trouble is, what I am learning is this kind of behavior only causes more suffering. To push responsibility for my own balance, my own contentment off onto someone else is to deny my own need to grow. It is to deny my own lack of perception and my own ability to pay attention to the subtle cues of my breath and my heart. To blame solves nothing. It causes resentment and hurt and nothing but more suffering.

Instead, yoga teaches us to go with the flow. To stop when we feel something that is larger than we are and observe it. To breath into the feeling, and really feel it. Watch how it moves through our body. Most importantly, it teaches us to allow it to happen and to not grasp at it or push it away. Allow it to arise, peak and subside. This is the truth of my yoga practice, and something that it teaches me every time I come to my mat.

How did you go with the flow today?

Class this am - 9:15 All Levels Flow with Dianne @ Eastside Yoga in Windsor :)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

From the Meditation Cushion - Some Thoughts on Truth.


Years worth of wise men and women have given their two cents worth on this topic and yet it still remains somewhat of an elusive and complex idea.

Right now I am trying to wrap my head around a hefty dose of truthiness.

I was visited this morning by a person who tends to be a lovely addition to my life. This morning though she chose to share her feelings on some happenings in our shared life that did not resonate well with me.

At the same time as being hurt and weakened by her comments I am left wondering how much of it is true. Do I really lack the grit to be the parent that my son needs in order to grow up as a healthy and happy person? Do I need to pull my socks up and get my house in a more controlled order? I don't really think so. In fact, up until this morning I was feeling pretty good about myself and the house I am keeping. Not so much now. Funny how that works.

This all brought me to the topic of truth. What is truth? Is there an absolute truth? What is the truth in this situation? I know what my truth is because I was all but convinced of it and happy because of it when this lovely person came into my kitchen. On the other hand, I have to assume that her conviction this AM means that what she said is her truth. So, where does the absolute truth lie? At this point I am not entirely certain.

The Buddhists would say that I need to not be attached to the righteous feeling that I am right and she is wrong. They would also say that I need to open my heart to her and have great compassion for what is clearly her suffering. If she brought all of that stress to spill all over me and my spirit, then she is clearly carrying it all inside. My attachment to my own righteous thoughts is causing me to suffer. In Buddhist tradition I need to release my attachment and open my heart.


It is the right thing to do and I know I will feel better but my own righteous attachment to my thoughts is resistant.

Something for my meditation cushion and I to work on together.