repost from Jan 2011– Winter Wonderland!

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Holy crow! We got another foot today! That’s 4 storms since Xmas that have yielded at least a foot accumulation… I’m normally a winter lover but this is my 1st winter as a mommy and it’s been quite a trip. Haven’t been on the mountain snowboarding & have been home from work since August. I also haven’t been apt to run out in this weather cuz of the little guy, and I have been such a homebody. I’m a little cabin fevered out! I notice how it has affected my yoga practice. I have been taking a lot of intense, hot yoga or vinyasa classes, seemingly to optimize my time away from home and make my practice “worth it”. This may be also residually pent up from when I was pregnant and had to modify my practice to a simpler style… I have developed some pretty crummy bilateral DeQuervain’s tendonitis since pregnancy and I definitely feel its impact though, sadly. Icing my wrists, using Traumeel (Thanks Meg!) But it makes me wonder what is the yoga for me? It’s amazing to me how yoga means so many different to so many… reading about Tara Stiles in the NYTimes; Bikram, Ashtanga, Kundalini, Anusara…. Researching more and more of Ayurveda, and how we can apply it to ourselves in individual “prescriptions”, if you will, has made me realize that this Pitta probably should cool it on the hot practices. But those hot rooms feel fabulous in this weather! At least for the first 20 mins or so… *laughs*

Anyway, I am going into work tomorrow for a short day with mixed emotions, excitement and regret… Bittersweet. This time at home with my newborn son Ari has been a blessing and I am so lucky to have had it. I’m also so thrilled to be able to work part time, so I can still be home with him 4 days of the week. They all say it, but these times do pass so rapidly, and it’s so true. I am packing up his newborn jammies to send to my brother who has recently become a new father, and his boy, Rowley will need all the jammies he can get— I know this to be true.

I do look forward to fulfilling my role as a nurse practitioner again, particularly in women’s health, and really look forward to getting my schedule more regulated so I can find the niches for classes that allow me to cool it, and breathe. Namaste.

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Kriya at 5am (repost from 02/2011)

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Two days in a row, I’ve had waking & rising times at 5 am (as instituted by my infant son, Ari). As de rigeur, I started off with a cup of coffee, and tuned into pandora.com on the laptop to check emails, etc. I started a Snatam Kaur Khalsa station to listen to. Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion and chanting, and Snatam aligns with the Kundalini practice of chanting so divinely–her voice is so angelic, and is one of my favorite kirtan-ista’s. Taken with the fresh snowfall and twinkling star & moonlight shining above our humble abode, I aligned with the Adi mantra; Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo, which translates to “”I call upon Divine Wisdom”. I have recently had a lot on my metaphysical plate, so to speak, of the What Color is Your Parachute variety, so when this chant came on the station I listened, and sang along. I was inspired to look into some kriyas and found this on the web.

I was invigorated! Kappalabati breath is a tried and true pranayama for firing up and energizing, so coupled with these kriyas (Kriya (in Sanskrit “action, deed, effort”) most commonly refers to a “completed action”, technique or practice within a yoga discipline meant to achieve a specific result. Types of kriya may vary widely between different schools of yoga. .. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriya ) I had energy, attention and vigor through the entire day. Pretty tall order for a new mommy who gets two 3 hour spans of sleep throughput the night and requires a nap daily. On my 1st day back to work, I had a similar day, and didn’t have time to nap, and I was still feelin’ the Kundalini love. Rockin’ good findings. Sign me up, Shakti!

http://www.kundaliniyoga.org/mantra.html

repost from old blog- Feb 2011. What is the “right” yoga?

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or rather, what is your yoga? I am sure that you have heard in classes “this is your practice”… but is it? What is yoga to you? And what yoga is the “right” yoga? I have been rolling this thought around in my head for some time now, more so over the last month… There seems to be a strong urge for a strong, vigorous or heated practice in the town where I live, rich with Ivy League-ers, and in this day and age that has made yoga popular now that the realization is there that asana practice and pranayama can cause you to break a sweat and work hard.

I have seen and practiced many types of asana practice, and being the black & white determinant type of gal that i am, have struggled with how many styles prevail in our country now, while wanting to have an idea of whether I am on the “right path” or not. Bikram makes me sweat, reel and excel through intense heat and asana. Ashtanga makes me fly and breathe. Anusara makes me soar though catharsis and deep practice. Kripalu made me giggle and run. Kundalini energizes me and makes me vibrate. Yin makes me settle blissfully.

I have finally been able to sit down and screen the movie EnLighten Up via Netflix and it was a pleasant and interesting film, taking a yoga newbie and submerging him into in depth, intense yoga practice and experiences across many borders…(I should be so lucky!) to determine whether he can find enlightenment. It does become apparent that the film maker herself is projecting her own curious intentions through the films interviews, but I am thankful that her subject was someone other than herself.

Listening to so many yoga gurus sharing their expertise and insight for yet another truth seeker asking what is it all about and why do we do it is a treat. It is interesting how the physical (asana) practice can be all for some, whereas the devotional (bhakti) practice is for others. Yoga as we know it (Ashtanga) technically is an 8 limb practice of yoga and includes a web of interwoven ideals that are not independently achieved, but are instead concurrently striven for along the way.

The eight limbs are as follows: (some explanations utilized and paraphrased from http://www.yogamovement.com/resources/patanjali.html )
Yamas

Yama is social behavior, how you treat others and the world around you. These are moral principles. Sometimes they are called the don’ts or the thou shalt nots. There are five yamas:

Nonviolence (ahimsa). Do no harm to any creature in thought or deed.
Truth and honesty (satya). Tell no lies.
Nonstealing (asteya). Do not steal material objects (a car) or intangibles.
Nonlust (brahmacharya). Moderation in all.
Nonpossessiveness (aparigraha). Covetousness.

Niyama

Niyama is inner discipline and responsibility, how we treat ourselves. These are sometimes called observances. There are five niyamas:

Purity (shauca). Purity is achieved through the practice of the five yamas, which help clear away the negative physical and mental states of being.
Contentment (santosha). Cultivate contentment and tranquility by finding happiness with what you have and who you are. Seek happiness in the moment, take responsibility for where you are, and choose to grow from there.
Austerity (tapas). heat and vigorousness in learning your path. Show discipline in body, speech, and mind.
Study of the sacred text (svadhyaya). Study sacred texts, which are whatever books are relevant to you and inspire and teach you. Education changes a person’s outlook on life. As Iyengar says, a person starts “to realize that all creation is meant for bhakti (adoration) rather than for bhoga (enjoyment), that all creation is divine, that there is divinity within himself and that the energy which moves him is the same that moves the entire universe.”
Living with an awareness of the Divine (ishvara-pranidhana). Be devoted to God, Buddha, or whatever you consider divine.

Asana

“The posture of yoga is steady and easy,” Patanjali says. Patanjali compares this to resting like the cosmic serpent on the waters of infinity. Although Westerners often consider the practice of asana or postures as an exercise regimen or a way to stay fit, Patanjali and other ancient yogis used asana to prepare the body for meditation. To sit for a lengthy time in contemplation required a supple and cooperative body. If you are free of physical distractions — such as your foot going to sleep — and can control the body, you can also control the mind. Patanjali said, “Posture is mastered by freeing the body and mind from tension and restlessness and meditating on the infinite.”
Pranayama

Prana is the life force or energy that exists everywhere and flows through each of us through the breath. Pranayama is the control of breath. The basic movements of pranayama are inhalation, retention of breath, and exhalation. “The yogi’s life is not measured by the number of days but by the number of his breaths,” says Iyengar. “Therefore, he follows the proper rhythmic patterns of slow, deep breathing.” The practice of pranayama purifies and removes distractions from the mind making it easier to concentrate and meditate.
Pratyahara

Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses. Pratyahara occurs during meditation, breathing exercises, or the practice of yoga postures — any time when you are directing your attention inward. Concentration, in the yoga room or the boardroom, is a battle with distracting senses. When you master pratyahara, you are able to focus because you no longer feel the itch on your big toe or hear the mosquito buzzing by your ear or smell the popcorn popping in the microwave.
Dharana

Concentration or dharana involves teaching the mind to focus on one point or image. “Concentration is binding thought in one place,” says Patanjali. The goal is to still the mind — gently pushing away superfluous thoughts — by fixing your mind on some object such as a candle flame, a flower, or a mantra. In dharana, concentration is effortless. You know the mind is concentrating when there is no sense of time passing.
Dhyana

Uninterrupted meditation without an object is called dhyana. Concentration (dharana) leads to the state of meditation. The goal of meditation is not unconsciousness or nothingness. It is heightened awareness and oneness with the universe. How do you tell the difference between concentration and meditation? If there is awareness of distraction, you are only concentrating and not meditating. The calm achieved in meditation spills over into all aspects of your life — during a hectic day at work, shopping for groceries, coordinating the Halloween party at your child’s school.
Samadhi

The ultimate goal of the eightfold path to yoga is samadhi or absolute bliss. This is pure contemplation, superconsciousness, in which you and the universe are one. Those who have achieved samadhi are enlightened. Paramahansa Yoganananda called it the state of God-Union.

In the film there is an interview with Shri Pattabhi Jois where he explains that four limbs are external: the asana, the pranayama, the yamas, the niyamas; and 4 that are internal: pratayahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. The film goes on to show many other masters in yoga (“Titans”, if you will…but that’s another film) who contradict, clarify or eschew the ideals set previously. Is yoga in fact the practice of unifying with the Divine within and without? Can that be achieved through asana only? or must all paths be acknowledged..Bhakti, the yoga of devotion & divine love, Jnana (yoga of knowledge), Raja (the Royal yoga that follows the 8 fold Path) & Karma yoga ( the yoga of service)? Maybe it’s this.

This is getting entirely too lengthy! Therein lies the rub– Maybe we make it too difficult.

repost from March 2011….. Today’s Tarot.

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“‘The Ace of Chalices card suggests that my power today lies in capturing the essence. My emotions are valid. I am beautiful and I deserve to pursue, share, and express unconditional love, pleasure, and happiness. I bring new love into the world. I am empowered by love and my gift is beauty in truth.'”

Despite having images from the Dark Crystal of stealing essence from little froglings, I can appreciate this message and it’s meaning. I do crave grasping the magic in balance with work, passions and family, and had some recent upset in that area, once again. I write here as an affirmation that this message can be conveyed into my truth– my emotions are valid, and I am beginning to see that I do need to think outside the box to be able to create happiness in my work. A very wise and good friend of mine shed some light on the topic and her experiences had determined that when she finds she is on the right path, the Universe and it’s roadsigns become more and more apparent, brighter, hard to miss… She is right. We always have multiple paths laid before us, and they are decorated in various ways that appeal at certain times. Right now, my path has curves and is overgrown with thicket but I think I am up for the adventure.

8 limbs y’all….

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I am in the midst of Anusara yoga Immersions, and they are truly blowing my mind with all the wisdom they are revealing for better living, loving, breathing.

Yoga means to unify the mind and body, align with the divine within all of us. There are 8 limbs, all of which are continually revisited and not ordered steps; The ‘first’ of these steps are the Yama’s or ethical precepts or moral guidelines: Ahimsa ( non-harming), Asteya (non-stealing), Satya (truth),Brahmacharya (moderation or celibacy, not necc sexually) and Aparigraha (non-coveting). Aparigraha most often relates to material goods, however it can also relate to possessiveness or attachment of unneccessary emotions, things, etc… Like Jealousy!

The second of the limbs are the Niyamas, the personal lows or rules that we try to ascribe to for higher consciousness, and ultimately- Bliss.

1. saucha, purity or cleanliness. 2. santosha- Contentment! ( This is one also applies, and is HUGE for me)… It’s all good in the neighborhood… it is what it is and it’s all divine. There more, and I of course could go on ( you should HEAR some the tantra wisdom I am learning in my yoga immersions… whoa. SO vast and huge amounts of mind expanding, heart opening and universal love creating wisdom… ( and no, it doesnt apply to the popularly asssociated intimate applications that so many westerners automatically apply the word Tantra to).

Long story short, I am using your small comment of being jealous about the exersaucer to show how even small little asides can create ripples in our attitude and how we see our relationship to things, people… And illuminating you ( hopefully) with how yoga works in many many ways to create happier, more intrinsically beautiful and self loving people. Cuz as super Drag Queen superstar RuPaul says, ‘If you cant love Yourself, how in the hell are ya gonna love Somebody else?? ‘ Can I get a Namaste’ up in here??

This one’s super tough for me… self love is SO hard.

I’m listening to Otis Redding, and his song “(Call me) Mr Pitiful” just came on… see??? Otis needed yoga too!

Beginner’s Mind

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Today in yoga class, one of my beautiful teacher’s, Jeanine, reminded us of our Beginner’s Mindset. The idea of Beginner’s Mind asks that you come to your yoga mat with the mindset as if it were your first day, your first yoga class, like you are new to practice. I am familiar with this idea, and struggled with it: I totally didn’t get it- I was like ‘”WHY on Earth would I WANT to put myself back into those days of intense discomfort, monkey-mindedness, and constant frustration that I couldn’t do what amazing physical feats that Miss Lady Thang was rocking out over there all in her Prana outfitted glory??” I mean, I’ve worked hard (and I continue to!) to keep my mind on my own practice, approach it with a “Just Be” kind of attitude, leave the competition (with myself and others) at the door, let my mind rest at ease and just BREATHE and flow.

Of course, through years of regular yoga practice it becomes clear to me that with regular practice of anything we can tend to start to take ourselves pretty seriously. We perhaps rush, or become frustrated when our practice doesn’t go as “well” as planned, or set our expectations too high. Maybe we get all aggro over the littlest things, like when our arms flake out by that 5th vinyasa, or your hamstrings are uber tight leaving your freewheelin’ heels to scrape the back wall. Maybe you fall over on your face while trying to get into full vasistasana, even though you nailed it last week. Ego is a funny thing.

Last night we had some friends over for dinner, they are visiting for the Holidays and are expecting their first baby in the Summer. They’ve been married about 2 years, and seem to be loving it and very happy. They’re all aglow with baby love. Throughout the evening my husband and I held our own maintaining appearance of a blissed out couple; not talking over one another, sweetly delegating hosting duties and care of our son and pets back and forth… It was a nice evening, and rare.

When our guests were putting on their coats to leave, they saw a photo taken on our wedding day of David and I walking back down the aisle, newly married. “You guys still look the same!” our friend says… I couldn’t help but to smirk and snort with derision internally. “Oh yeh” I think, “We’re just as happy today as we were there… suuuuurrrre”. I remembered back to that moment, gleefully surprising my hubby by having our wedding pianist enthusiastically play Linus and Lucy, by Vince Guaraldi; who could resist grinning and dancing down the gravel walk on our beautiful marital grounds? Not me. I was geeked! I was in love, married. A newlywed bride. A beginner. It seems so long ago, and so much has changed. Dave and I fly past eachother in the waking hours, share little as we’re too tired for eachother often enough, and snap at one another over many small issues. We have become strangers.

Back in Jeanine’s morning class, I am working to keep it light and airy in mind and movement. I go within, but not so much that I have tuned out the rest of the class, and I laugh when I fall out of vasistasana. I eek out nooks and crannies in my body with exploratory adjustments and alignment of breath. I spread my fingers and palms on my mat and appreciate it’s knobby comfort. I have fun.

Particularly when I become aware that for the first time in perhaps 6 years, I hear the quiet twinkling notes of Linus and Lucy pouring out of the yoga studio’s speakers. I start to beam as we melt forward into our standing forward fold, and maintain the grin as we reach out and up to the ceiling, and I playfully dip a little deeper backwards. The Universe reaches out in ways to communicate messages and I’d like to think I can be a good listener.

Maybe this Beginner’s Mind stuff is pretty juicy after all.

And so it begins.

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I decide that all the recommendations to journal have found hefty real estate in my mind.  I’ve discovered much in the last 5 years, and that path of discovery certainly ramped up to A.P. standards in the last 3 years; pregnancy, birth, motherhood, rinse and now launching a repeat cycle.  The times have of course been whirlwind– no mystery there; but the amount of growth and resolve that has been borne of these wondrous times is exhilarating.  I write now for many reasons, two of which I will explain now…. the others that will certainly become clear in due time.

I write to continue this path in a healthy, contemplative way, continuing to reflect upon all that happens within our little family and in my life.  In these past few years I have come to a level of maturity in my yoga practice, my friendships, my marriage and overall, in my life.  And I wish to impart what I have learned and experienced both to hopefully shed some community light to other momma’s as well as to look back on how far I have come and all the magickal times I’ve been privy to with our 2 year old son, and my husband.  I can’t believe he’s already two, or that we have another on the way.

I get teary thinking about that now…  How even the memory of my son wiggling in my belly seems so distant.  The lessons of parenthood come swift and plentiful, and if you listen and heed, you find that your yoga practice is always with you and strengthening day by day, even if you don’t balance upside down or sit in padmasana.

I look so forward to this journey of reflection and sharing the love.

Om Shanti, Momma.  Peace Peace Peace.