Two-fer

Once again, you are about to get a great deal…two posts for the “price” of one!  How exciting for you…

So, here it is the 11th weekend in out 200 hour teacher training ~ and that means it is our last.  When I got the homework packet opened and started to read it I wept…this cannot be coming to an end.  I have been grabbing moments here and there throughout to do the reading and writing and practice, but THIS time I was going to soak in all of the reading, pause and reflect, do every question, post poetic on my blog because it was my last packet and i was determined to do it right.  So here I am again, asking myself “have you learned nothing?” as I sit in judgment of me, disappointed and irritated with myself for not meeting my expectations, for being less than, for making promises i didn’t or couldn’t keep.  Maybe this is where “surrender” comes in? 

The word itself seems to evoke a sense of darkness or dispair…surrender.  I looked up the definition and the first one listed was “stop resisting an opponent and put oneself under their control.”  Hmmm that’s interesting.  What if that opponent is you?  Your ego or judgmental self?  I don’t want to surrender to that.  But what if it is this other part of you that has been exposed during the past 5 months of searching?  The one who knows a little about right action and thought – about the yamas and niyamas?  what if i surrendered to her?  what would that be like?

The next definition of interest was “surrender to – give in completely to a powerful emotion or influence.”  Now that seems like a good one.  What about surrendering to the Yoga?  To what it can teach us about dealing with moments like this?  It certainly has been a powerful influence in our lives over the past months and i would venture to guess for years to come.

Synonyms for this loaded word include give oneself up, give in, cave in, capitulate, concede defeat, submit, lay down one’s arms/weapons.  No wonder this word can have a darkness about it.  But what if we looked at it as heroic to lay down one’s arms?  to take your gloves off in the never ending boxing match with reality? 

That is what i want to do with my life and my yoga and maybe even my teaching should that come to fruition…i want to unlace and take the gloves off and be with what is real.  It might be time to surrender to what is, to admit defeat, to bow to the here and now and embrace the real-ness of life just as it is with all of it’s messy imperfections.

That is what I want to be as a teacher, mom, wife, sister, worker, community member…real…present…alive…the journey is finding what is real for me in this moment.

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Multi-tasking – week 1 AND 2

Ok, so it really isn’t multi-tasking when you don’t have/make time in week one to do the assignment and then you cram the two together in week two…

M asked us to take a look at the Richard Rosen sequences peppered through the Teacher Training and comment on them.  That led me on a lovely trip through a lot of our previous assignments.  Honestly, many of which i looked at wondering whether i had actually read them…they were highlighted but the bell was not ringing.  I re-read to my sister one of my favorites on just washing the dishes from week 7…such a good read – and so impactful to her and me again.  Much of what I looked at in retrospect is in small ways taking hold…small, small ways I assure you.  It reminds me that this is a steady, life-long journey that i can’t just “know” or take in and understand.  The lessons are there and I am trying to be open to the teachers all around me – and within me (can you say “shoulder”?)  But back to Richard Rosen. 

 The sequence we were given first was the groin sequence.  My home practice is typically done at 5 a.m.  Following this sequence was much too much for a 5 a.m. yoga practice with no real warming or preparation.  Additionally, it just felt like one groin pose after another.  No body integration.  What I did take away from the “sequence” was a list of great groin poses to integrate into what I hope to be a balanced, accessible practice. 

Shoulder sequence?  yea, right, not for me right now.  But again, a list of shoulder poses.

Though I have had a headache for several days now – unusual for me – i didn’t think to try the headache sequence.  When it was assigned my head was fine…at least I didn’t have a headache…very debateable whether my “head was fine”.   No useful comment on this one, but want to try it soon. 

Lastly, the menstruation sequence.  I always have a hard time taking menstruation advice in any way from a guy.  i am sure they are knowledgable and learned and have read much, but please…they cannot in any way, shape or fashion have a clue what we are really feeling.  In all honesty, however, I am judging this poor man without doing his menstruation sequence.  It wasn’t applicable at the time assigned – though I did it and it was nice enough – cannot comment on whether it affected my cycle and her symptoms one way or another.

Week two’s assignment was to discuss my exploration with Trikonasana.  Here is where I am.  I love this yoga stuff.  I love how it feels in my body.  I love learning the inticacies and the fine tuning.  I am angry with my body for not allowing me to do what i want to do in a full and free way.  But when we were working on this one, i was “assisting” M, and holy crap that woman is beautiful in how her body moves and adjusts and re-adjusts and e-x-t-e-n-d-s!  there is already so much space in it – 5 feet of waist,  6 feet of legs (I am a lawyer because I am bad with math…just go with it).  I felt like i was looking at Lisa’s cadavor video as you can see her muscles adjusting and moving at your direction (her’s really – we all know that!)  In any event, it was a treat and a gift to watch and touch as it is in my mind as a guide to what i want my body to do.  No, i have no dilusion that i will ever look like M in trikonasana, but it gives me a very visual example of how it might feeeel in my body…some day.

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How does this happen?

My last post was one month ago…how does this happen?  My intentions are always to communicate my thoughts on what I am learning – and more aptly of late what I am not learning, but somehow a month goes by.  There is so much, but then something happens…everything else except stopping, thinking, feeling, being in the moment.  The excuses are long and varied – all “good” or easily justified in my little brain, but they are excuses just the same.  They are unconcsious avoidances of sitting and being and thinking and feeling. 

Given that I have not posted in a freaking month, there are many things I should post on (i.e. assigned topics perhaps? tomorrow, ok?) and many things that have passed through my life that are certainly worthy topics (a dinner with friends, work in high gear, Thanksgiving full of gratitude to name but a few) but there is one thing that is sticking and niggling in my psyche that I feel drawn to and that is the touchy subject of touch.  We have talked a lot about it, mulling over the do’s and don’ts of touch in the yoga context.  Preferences, ideas and personal perspectives.  Touch is so powerful and can be oh so good and devastatingly bad and absolutely deserves skillful thought and action and definitely much discussion.  But I wonder to myself if we are over-analyzing something that is pure and real if it is coming from an intention of compassion, love and support?  I have to ask- are we backing or shying away from something that has been shown over and over again in learned research and anecdotal living to have the power to heal at the cellular and spiritual level, to increase memory, to assist in development, to lower aggression, to calm…there is more I am sure?  Are we putting so much focus and attention on whether a simple hand on the shoulder or a brush of the back or a squeeze of a foot – when done from the heart with compassion and support – is necessary for a particular adjustment or correction?  Maybe it isn’t, but is that the only reason a yoga teacher would touch a student?  Could it be for the mere fact that you believe touch is all of the things i said above and that it is just good for all of us to touch and be touched?  Hugely generalizing, we in the West seem so afraid of and out of touch with our own bodies that I think maybe we have analyzed ourselves out of one of the most beneficial and accessible tools to bring goodness and wellbeing to our community.  I am absolutely not saying that we should be groping and grabbing everyone indescriminately, and not incorporating our knowledge of the person and their circumstances – or lack of knowledge for that matter – into account when moving through our lives and our classes, but I do think we might be taking ourselves too seriously on the subject. 

M was talking last weekend about how we do not run and hug each other when we are crying or sad as we did in the beginning.  I have thought so much about that and I am conflicted.  As I look back, we have gone from complete strangers to a band of sisters in a strong and loving family.  The idea of safety and security was important in the beginning – and we didn’t “know” it was there.  So the desire to ensure the distressed and pained knew they were not alone and were supported seemed critical.  That has not changed other than now we know we have the safety and security and support of each other – there is a constant “hug” if you will – in the room when we are together.  Do i come and hug you when you are sad to make me feel better?  Hmmm, maybe deep in my psyche under layers of stuff that is my motivation, but maybe it really is to offer comfort and support to someone I care about – to let them know they are supported.  Nothing is truly altruistic, so i absolutely get something from an offer of support or assistance, but is that my motivation?  That I get something?  That i am so uncomfortable with your pain that i need to make myself feel better by trying to help you out of your pain?   Hmmm.  None of us in the room have answers, but we have our wide open hearts to give over so the other knows they are not completely alone in their vulnerability.  It is not a hug to fix it…it is a warmth of touch that just might allow that person to continue in their difficulty, in their pain, in their confusion, in their anger or frustration and find their answer…or the next question. 

hugs and kisses my dears

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Bipolar Weekend

As I have become accustomed, slamming back into the “real world” after our weekend of sisterhooded deep delving yoga training is a shock to the mind and body.  I have to employ as much of the be-present-with-what-is mindset i can muster to get through those first few days away.  I want to run back to the studio and pull out a mat, a blanket and a zafu and take a little nap.  But given that it is Wednesday and the weekend seems like a month ago given what has gone on in the last 3 days, no nap time for me. 

There are two very distinct clouds still following me – lingering – from the last weekend.  One is light and fluffy and oh so playful in the wind, while the other is dark, heavy and black – ready to burst.  I am trying to allow them both to be there – each legitimate and necessary in my life’s sky. 

The fluffy cloud was hoisted into the sky by Alicia and Daniel who had us singing, chanting, dancing, twirling, humming…it was crazy fun.  Their love for what they do was completely infectious.  They entered the circle with love and support and confidence taking our hands and guiding us down a giddy path of joy and devotion.  I watched the gals laughing and bobbing and giggling with voices, bodies and minds…it was fan-freaking-tastic and oh, so heart filling.

On the other side of my psyche was the grieving i felt for the loss from our circle of our dear, sweet K.  I saw this coming from the last weekend but hoped it was a stumble and not a fall.  I feel great and deep ache in my heart as K added such a unique and special quality to our community – as we all do, really.  And not just that we have lost K, but she has lost us and I believe she needs us…to support her, to love her, to care about her thoughts and feelings and frustrations and tribulations…I know each one of us would and will be there for her if she so desires, but not seeing her beautiful being and hearing her blunt and real perspective…my dark cloud is bursting.

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It is difference of opinion that makes horse races

Not my original thought…Mark Twain said it first.  However, it is true in that we all have likes and dislikes and they come into play at different times and for varied reasons.  So, music during yoga is the current topic of discussion.  Friday during teacher training we had a great chat about pros and cons of playing music during yoga class.  It could set a mood in the class.  It could break a mood in a class.  It could provide distraction as a pro, and it would provide distraction as a con.  It drowns out noise from the outside as a pro, but it downs out noise on the inside as a con.  What to do?  We (teacher trainees) are hungry for knowledge, for information, for answers.  What is the “right” thing to do?  We are trying so hard to find the way and the teacher/student relationship plays a role.  There are influences in all aspects of life – including in the classroom experience.  Making sure that we find our voice for what it is is important.  We clearly chose this particular training – each for our own reasons I am sure – but largely because of how and what Michelle teaches – who she is  – which continues to evolve and change as she explores her vistas and beliefs.  What i want to make sure i don’t do is to think i must adopt every aspect of who Michelle is – and I know that is not what she puts forth…she is continually encouraging us all to find our own voice.  So, with that said, I am appreciative of the issues raised around music by Michelle as I had never really thought of the real downsides…the distraction and the forcing of a particular mood or emotion on someone.  But honestly i love having music during class.  I am trying to balance out my thoughts and emotions with the information imparted and perspective provided by Michelle yesterday and working to make sure i am integrating and hearing my own feelings. 

So, when we came in today and music was on – loudly – I figured Michelle was trying to make a point.  See how distracting it is?  Some of it I liked and some of it I didn’t.  I actually like Enya as non-musical as that may be (remember, I lip sync to happy birthday) but I felt myself enjoying so many of the selections just feeling the sounds and rhythms ebbing and flowing through my body.  I was more mindful of whether i was just allowing my body to follow the music and not be who she wanted to be but honestly that really didn’t matter much…it felt good.  Just like I think an “experience” class now and again could actually be a good thing, as long as we are really and truly mindful of why we are choosing to play it – or not, music can be a tool in our tool box to pull out and use with skill.

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potty mouth fast

So in honor of shauca and the 5th Chakra, we were to pick something to fast on, to find purity, clearing, clarity.  How hard could that be for one stinking day?  First finding what i wanted to fast on was the first eye opener.  Coffee? Hell no given that I am getting so, so little sleep right now.  Dark chocolate?  double no as i am dragging my butt through meteor shower days i “deserve” my freakin’ chocolate.  Can’t go without my phone or computer as how would the world of child safety function without my every word?  Then i thought…way clean, clean up, wow, my mouth is filthy so i will fast one day by no trash talk, no bad words a la George Carlin.  So, off i go!  Well, ummm, i didn’t make it past 8:00.  That’s ok, self, just start now.  Cool…except i didn’t make it past 9:00.  Well, it could happen to the best of us, so i was really ready then especially since i was finally at work and ready to dig in.  FORGET IT!  i couldn’t make it 30 minutes…really.  What the *&%^?  trash talkin’ truck drivin’ full fledged potty mouth with a mind of its own. 

I think i will pick something else…

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A bright beacon of shining light…

Brightness, shining light – that’s Max!  He is more than that of course but when I read Mary Pafford’s writing on Saucha and her images and explanations relating to people she has met in her travels and work in Cuba my dear son’s image immediately came to my mind’s eye.  He has a luminosity that radiates and infects those who are fortunate enough to come into his world.  His deep and abiding kindness and empathy are felt viscerally by many who describe interactions of caring and emotional maturity beyond his 13 years.  It has been that way since…well, since he was in my belly.  When he was just a toddler and was at preschool – maybe he was 3 or 4, one of his teachers he was close with was having a bad day and sat down on a stoop with a heavy sigh.  She told me my little toe head toddled over to her from across the play ground and put his tiny little hand on her face and asked “…you k?”  She said she never had an experience like that before…his big blue eyes looking up at her with caring and empathy for her difficult time and offering up love and support.  He put his arms around her giving her a long hug – then off to play.  The stories go on from there.  He certainly is a normal teenage boy sometimes with attitude and opposition, however, that is the exception of late.  We went through a very difficult time last year the two of us.  I was pushing and so was he and the results were unpleasant to say the least.  I feared this creature who gives me life and hope and joy and who i think is the coolest guy ever was lost to me through a combination of hormones and my own baggage getting in the way – but something happened.  I don’t know if it is the peeling away of layer after layer of this path I am on playing a part, but I do know HE chose to be different.  I watch him with absolute awe and astonishment as he works to modify his attitude and behavior – he physically changes his posture and i see it on his face.  I watch as he is getting wound up and frustrated but then he steps back, regroups, makes a different choice – and then moves forward with ease and acceptance and a sense of openness.  How did you do that my young man?  how did you learn about samskaras?  about ruts?  about learning how to push your cart off the beaten track before it beats you down?  about accepting what is in front of you without grabbing or pushing away?  what a gift he is to behold – this bright beacon of shining light I call Max.

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