Archive for the ‘Yoga’ Category
Monday, December 19th, 2011
Visiting San Quentin State Prison, and What I Didn’t See Coming
A few weeks ago I got the chance to visit San Quentin and speak with a community of prisoners who are working on personal transformation. What a surprise.
Unexpected thing #1: At San Quentin state prison, men with life eligible sentences play doubles tennis on the yard. Unexpected thing #2: These men (who have at some point killed another person) and I? We are more alike than I previously ever imagined. Unexpected thing #3: They are engaged in a year long program to become non-violent persons and peacemakers, and have taken a student peacekeeper pledge that many people ‘on the outside’ can partake in. (more…)
Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
In our continued effort to offer relevant content and community for conscious living, we have launched Santa Rosa Yoga, serving practicing yogis, professionals and the yoga curious in the North Bay area.
The greater Santa Rosa area is home to more than 200,000 people, with a higher than average interest in healthy lifestyles and spiritual living. The site offers a directory of teachers, studios and events, and original content on practicing, as well as a book and product review section, and a curated shop.
If you are interested in yoga, visit the site, and maybe follow SRY’s updates on Twitter.
Look for HighCountryYoga, coming soon.
Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
As a preface to this: This is a personal account, told as bluntly as I can tell it, and because I hope that others will be helped if I narrate my path. Also, I have come to completely love, accept and forgive anything in my family of origin- and I really loved my dad. That doesn’t change the truth of the story.
I had a mad dad. When things didn’t go well, he would bang and break. He would bully sales clerks and support people with his analytical brilliance. There was usually a low level of exasperation and sighing in his presence. It was this way before my mother died, and continued until he was well into stage 4 cancer. My stepmom wore her jaw down by clenching it over many decades, and although she’s a very cool and aware person now, I can remember her kicking her foot through my plywood bedroom door, because I had locked it and wouldn’t come out. I never understood their anger, I just learned to get out of the unhappy way, and wait for the good part of them to return. I would run, hide out, dream, and wait for the wave to pass. But the loneliness and fear in these moments didn’t stop me from growing up and doing the same kind of thing in my own household. (more…)
Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
There are 8 suggested “limbs” to a yoga practice- only one of which is the postures and physical exercises.
The first 2 limbs of yoga are actually the 5 suggestions for spiritual practices (the niyamas) and the 5 behaviors one should avoid to live a spiritual life (the yamas). These are considered the foundation of a yoga practice. Without these “life practices”, any exercises, meditations and energetic control will be less effective at creating love, joy, peace and harmony in one’s world (aka: yoga).
While studying these sutras, I was struck by the fact that the ni/yamas bear a very very strong resemblance to the religious and judicial code of the Abrahamic faiths- aka, the 10 commandments of Judaism, Christianity and Islam- but that they are more open ended and demand much more of the practitioner. (more…)
Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
For the past week, we’ve been looking hard at the things that fill our spaces and our thoughts. We then put every stuffed animal, every outgrown princess dress, every read-once hardcover book and seen-once DVD, every pair of 12 year old girl not quite right pair of jeans, every extra lamp and shelf and chair, every lego in a big pile. Then, we had a garage GIVE- set up a shelter in front of the house, hung signs, and made a karma wish exchange plan- and everything was free for the taking.
I cannot tell you how much fun it was. One small girl, maybe 4, had just been reunited with her mother after 2 years apart- she held her shoulder bag open and went “shopping”- for ballet clothes and dolls and warm things. Her grin was ear to ear. We did the same at the office- electronics, paper files, office supplies.
The next step was to repair all broken things. Each nail hit was stewardship.
How does it feel to unblock this stored energy? MAGNIFICENT. So free, so light, so healthy. It lets us focus on the things we do have that we want at the center, it lets us focus on experiences and connection and the miracle of being alive.
This is the power of letting go of what you don’t need. Infinite space for the things you do, and someone’s huge smile as you transfer your energy to them.
Monday, November 24th, 2008
I’ve been in an unpleasant state on and off for a while…one could say subdued..lethargic…sometimes touching on existential gloom- forgetting my true nature. In my mind I hear my teacher saying,”Just go to the mat- even if it’s only 20 minutes a day- tune into your breath- the source of all things breathing you.” That’s all it takes to stay connected and aware, right?
But sometimes that home practice isn’t enough and you must get into the studio and gratefully fall into the hands of another’s rhythm, and just flow. So today was a studio day- the ritual of getting my stuff together, burning fossil fuels, arriving early…I was in Larkspur, sitting in the lush cushy couches, perusing the coffee table books… and still more than a little grumpy.
I look down, and there’s a book on the table called Unstuck and it’s got a bright red cover, and I can’t resist shiny baubles, so I grab it. It’s by a medical doctor, James Gordon, but one who comes with a full quiver of alternative modalities and mind-body tools.
The book is a really interesting read, with specific how-tos for leveraging exercise, yoga, meditation, cognitive games, other things to overcome depression and that general stuck feeling- in a highly specific, personalized way. While much of it is common knowledge, his voice and approach are really clear and compassionate without any condescension. He frames life’s down periods not so much as a disease, as much as a natural reaction to life. He doesn’t dismiss western pharmaceuticals, offering good data on drugs- on how the brain and neurochemistry work- and also on herbs, alternative therapies. I was mostly impressed with the holistic logic of his treatment approach, and some of the super practical behavioral and perceptual ideas to handle specific negative feelings.
For example, one exercise was on feeling disconnected, a bane of many people who live and work in isolation, young moms, the elderly. So he talks about practicing connection. And about putting yourself in a place to connect and then breathing in, and allowing what happens to happen.
So after an entrancing flow class with the wonderful Christina Forth, I sat back down on the couches. And just was present, allowing the world to come in, not continuing to self-sever, to cut off from others and be in my head. And lo and behold, so did Christina. A gentle and meaningful dialogue ensued- on women and yoga, language, service field trips, the joy of using the linear brain in legal work or business, child bearing, “reentry”…exchanges of contacts. She really is a delight.
I was reminded that just on the other side of disconnection is conscious presence and listening and allowing, helped by conscious awareness and lots of deep breathing. Go to the mat, practice off the mat- it’s a short distance between where you stand at any given moment and remembering who you truly are.
Thursday, April 24th, 2008
When I first started practicing yoga, I thought Namaste must mean in some way “class dismissed”. Over the years I came to understand the literal interpretation as “the God in me acknowledges the God in you.” But it may just now be coming to full understanding. Let me tell you about Agape….
John and I were in LA a few weeks ago, and after years of being invited and resisting, we went to Agape for the first time. Agape is the powerhouse interdenominational spiritual center started by MB Beckwith and his lovely shining wife Rickie- now grown to 1000s, where the walls carry Gandhi and Jesus and the Dalai Lama and MLK. The congregation in itself- even without a word being said- is a prayer- the fellowship is every race, age and nationality- an example for the world. Their service starts with this cavernous room of people in 30 minutes of silent meditation, followed by a blow the roof off gospel choir and universal positive messages of giving and connecting. For those of us from mainline, divisive traditions, it’s revelatory.
So, during this service, the Rev Leon does a bit of biblical scripture, and I’ve been carrying it with me every since- it’s really changed how I see people, and how I react to things.
Leon pulled up the moment at the Last Supper when Jesus says to those gathered, “So, who do people say I am?”, and the disciples respond, “oh..they say you’re Elijah…Abraham…”. JC turns to Peter and says to him, “So, who do YOU say I am?”. Peter looks at him directly and replies, “You? Oh, you’re the son of G*d”. The speaker’s interpretation was that this observation was not limited to Jesus- that you could walk in the world with this recognition all the time. So you meet your friend, your child, your colleague, you see them through this lens, greeting them with a silent “Hey, I know you! You’re the daughter of god!”. When you are connecting to your partner, you are connecting to the beloved. When you are feeling separate, you come to connection through your COMMON connection to the universal energy that flows through you both.
That is Namaste. Namaste doesn’t mean class dismissed. It means, “Hey, I know you…I see you…I recognize you…you’re a child of the universe…the same energy flows through both of us… in our highest and most abiding selves, we are the same.”