Tag Archives: health

Tightropes and Sages

9 Feb

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My teacher Emily is amazing, wonderful, insightful, and really really tough. Since she is at Laughing Lotus in New York, I don’t get to practice with her as often as I  would like, but on Tuesday she happened to be in San Francisco, so I had the opportunity to learn from her deep wisdom. Her class focused on how we are attached to certain outcomes. She used myth and metaphor but kept bringing us back to attention around our insistence on fulfilling a certain set of desires. She used poses as examples, specifically Visvamitrasana. It is a more advanced version of a compass pose, encapuslating a side bend, back bend, twist, and balance. Look it up, it’s crazy hard, and stunningly beautiful. It is also too advanced for my current ability, but she showed a couple steps to get there that make it seem more accessible.

The thread of the teaching, though, was not the pose but rather our attachment to how we felt about our attempt of the pose; our need to do it perfectly or our refusals to try for fear of failure.

It got me thinking about all the challenges we are presented with everyday. Some people hold theirs deep and hidden and others wear them for the world to see. I’ve mentioned before that I am 50lbs overweight. I have been doing a lot of  soul searching in relation to my body. I can be pretty self conscious about it, especially when faced with challenges like Visvamistrasana. I beat myself up about not having enough self control  or comparing myself to others that I will never be like. Emily’s class left me with some food for thought, constant focus and and practice should not be obsession. Her mantra was the tightrope between acceptance (of a pose, a habit, a physicality, a situation), where you are at with it, and the daily practice to meet your edge everyday.

Visvamistrasana is one of the sage poses and like any person that embarks on a journey to understanding, has so much to teach if you are open to the lessons. My challenge for 2013 seems to be the delicate balance of constant attention and letting go, not just for my body but in most parts of my life.

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You can change anything.

15 Aug

I know IT IS really positive. I am hanging there these days, in positivity. Namely because it get’s things done. And, because it cuts down on headaches and backaches and silly disagreements. Though, let’s be honest, I am lured by sarcasm and irony from time to time, just because of their sheer hilarity.

But, you CAN change ANYTHING! So to drive this home, I’ll explain my little boy. When he is angry about something his breathing changes, it gets shallower, quicker, more ragged. In turn, he gets more and more agitated, more and more upset. On the other hand, if I hug him, belly to back, and breath deeply, evenly, and calmly, he slows down, drops into his own belly, no longer gasps for breath, and in moments, is over the possible tantrum.

I am sure that you have already heard a million times that breath can change anything, and I am reiterating the truth of that statement. Slowing down your breath, making room in your body; slows down the mind, makes room for following the breaths and the thoughts and gives you a chance to consciously make decisions about the how/what/when of anything under the sun.

So you CAN change anything by CHANGING YOUR BREATHING.

As an experiment, try out the pranayama (breath practice) that we did at Laughing Lotus this morning, Sitali:

1. Sit upright with your hands in your lap, eyes closed. If you use mudras choose the one that you are loving right now. Or rest your elbows on your knees and cradle your right upward facing palm in your left upward facing palm.

2. Stick our your tongue and curl it into a little flute (this is genetic, if you can’t do it, make a kissing mouth).

3. Breathe in, over your tongue, through your open mouth.

4. Seal your lips.

5. Exhale through your nose.

6. Repeat 10 to 15 times

You should feel calm, cool, and collected. I can think of so many uses for this. Maybe rush hour? You would probably illicit a laugh or two from other people on the interstate, changing something for them in the process. I use my breath before I make big decisions, or answer a question that really annoys me. I even watch my breath before eating the second (ok, really fourth) cookie. How could you use it?

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