Tag Archive | balance

yoga is breaking my heart

The heart opens and closes like an aperture. Like a lens, it intuitively senses how much light to let in and when to close completely.

Sometimes, I believe, we override the natural flow of the heart’s openings and closings and everything switches to manual. We may close up, shut down so that the light cannot reach us, nor can the love. We may do this out of fear, out of pain and out of not-knowing.

When we do this, I feel, the heart tries to break free of and break through the manual override, sometimes breaking it open. Just as the prime directive of all living things is to live, perhaps the heart’s prime directive is to open.

The human heart is often broken. This is not always a bad thing.  The other day a dear friend and I were talking about something that I wanted to do. She lovingly guided me to be careful, I could get hurt. Immediately I said to her; I have already been hurt! Many times. I felt my entire being resist her warning.

I want to live a life that does not avoid hurt, but rather seeks experience.

I want to complete as much karma, with as many people possible in this one lifetime. And I want to do this without fear and with love.

I want my heart to open so wide that I am blinded by the light of the Divine, seeing everything only through that light.

Yoga is now a  part of my life, each asana bringing me closer to that open place in my heart. Each wide legged stance stretching my hamstrings and stretching my inverted heart open.  Each strong warrior pose asks me what it is I am ready to fight for, and the answer is always; love and light. Every childs’ pose with my hands in prayer, my forehead on the ground connects  my heart to earth, opens my heart to earth.

I can feel yoga seeking out all the places in the rooms of my heart where I have manually closed the windows. Shut out the light and put locks on the doors. I can feel yoga gently, powerfully opening those windows, letting the light in. I can feel the locks being cut, the doors flinging wide open, the light rushing in.

I am not at all sure if I am coming back into physical form, or not after I leave this world and pass into the next. That is not for me to know, or wish upon while I am still human. My task is to be here, live here and love here. With my heart breaking open.

the perfection of my imperfections

When I started my yoga practice, I simultaneously started a ballet class. This was my grand gesture to get my body ‘in shape’. It actually already has a  shape, I just wanted it to be a different shape.

I have always wanted to dance the ballet, but am aware that I do not have a ‘ballet body’ (said using Thurston Howell III’s voice) and I just couldn’t see myself in a ballet class. Ok, truth be told, I couldn’t see  myself in leotards. Ok, truth be told even further, I could see myself in leotards and it was terrifying. There were other fears, too; what if my plié is passé, what if I fall? 

But when my friend Desire said ‘you should take ballet 101’ I listened because she is a ballerina with a ballet body, and maybe she knows something I don’t know. I convinced my friend Monica to join the class too, saying the same thing to her; you should take ballet 101. I figured I was channeling Desire because she said yes, just like I did.

My first dance class was when I was six years old. On day one, my mother sent me in with pink satin pointe shoes and a pink taffeta tutu over pink tights and leotard. I was mortified when the teacher sent me right back out and then  argued with my mother that I was not to be in pointe shoes and a tutu as the beginners’ class wears flats and no tutu. I could hear my mom’s stern reply to the teacher; she’s wearing the shoes and the tutu. Clearly, my mom had not studied the art of persuasion with my friend Desire, because I was not allowed in that class again.

In ballet, everything is to be done with precision, with alignment and with perfection which antagonizes my inner perfectionist to no end. I wince when gently corrected in ballet and immediately imagine that my chances with the Joffrey just went out the window.

Quite the opposite with yoga, according  to my teacher. He assures me that yoga is not about perfect alignment, not about perfection at all, rather it is about acceptance and union with the Divine. He must know Desire, because I believe him without question.

I fell on my head when attempting crow at home. And I lose my balance in class all the time, it just makes me laugh like a child. I never wince when my asanas are adjusted, my spirit soars with joy as I feel the power of the pose even more when my body is moved just so.

Yoga is showing me how to be in devotion to the part of me that is not perfect, and is not expected to be. Yoga shows me that my body is flexible as it bows down low, surrendering itself to the source of all things. Yoga shows me how strong my body is as it reaches high up to touch The Divine.

I told Monica to go to yoga with me, using the Desire voice. She said yes.

the secret alphabet of yoga

This morning, it seems, I was stuck on one letter in the alphabet; B. The blog, the blovel, my brain all clamored for attention. The one letter I really wanted to get to, Y, for yoga, was so, so far away. It shimmered on the horizon like a mirage and I was rushing to get things done to get to that letter Y.

Up at 6:30 to be at a 9:00 class 3 minutes from my house seems like enough time. But when you’re an aquarius with a capricorn rising everything must be perfectly executed, no task left behind.  It bogs me down and I battled with time, willing it with the super power of my mind to please go s l o w e r.

The good thing about cats, is that they start with a C, so I was able to get past the B for a bit as I fed them, watered them and cuddled them a whole bunch. But then it was back to the B’s until yoga class.

I ran in just as class had started. I really hate being late, so it brought me even further back from the Y, all the way to A for acceptance and then a reprieve at F, for forgiveness, and super boost to S, for self-forgiveness. This was like playing Yoga Yatzy, I thought to myself as I attempted to calm my breathing-back to the B for God’s sake, then S, for shavasana.

Getting closer.

Down dog, D, child’s pose, C and plank, P. warrior, W.

S for sweating.

C for crow. P for pigeon and you gotta be kidding me; back to the B’s for boat.

I realized that I was way, way too much in my B for brain space and the way to Y and yoga was through the letter H for heart.

My hands at my heart and my eyes closed just before I am reaching up, up ‘for the highest things’ my teacher suggests. A literal flood of relief came over  me as I felt everything, everything  just relax. The alphabet slipped away, my tension slipped away, the Om-ness of the flow took over and I finally, finally got to Y.

announcment

I invite you, fellow bloggers and dear readers, to follow my new blog novel called The Yogi and I.

I look forward to sharing with you the story of Nina;  lost in her indifference and her grief she discovers yoga and soon finds her way back to sex, love and herself.

{ Please note: this blovel is for mature audiences only and contains explicit writing  }

Sending  you all yogini blessings!

morgan freeman is my guru

I am always looking for quotes on things that interest me. As a writer, I love words, of course, but I have a special fondness for the way other people use words and what they are saying. As a writer, I am also a reader. While looking up ‘stillness’ the other day on the world wide web, I came across all of these fantastic quotes by Mr. Morgan Freeman. His words rang so true, and so direct that soon, I was wishing we could have lunch or tea together and discuss my yoga practice, or his.

I have a weird habit of creating fantasy relationships from the literary, scientific and cinematic realms. Sometimes I even have fantasy famous boyfriends. Johnny Depp and I broke up long ago, but I still dress up in date clothes for his movies. Just in case.

You never know when the next teacher will appear, and Mr. Freeman is now one of my gurus.  Here are some of the wonderful things he has said to me when I asked for his guidance. I am sure you will see why I have chosen to study with him.

  • It’s what I learn from the great actors that I work with. Stillness. That’s all and that’s the hardest thing.
  • Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes radiance.
  • I can say that life is good to me. Has been and is good. So I think my task is to be good to it. So how do you be good to life? You live it.
  • Still, it can be more effective to accomplish what you need to accomplish with the minimum effort. Watch Anthony Hopkins. He doesn’t appear to be doing anything. He is so still that you can’t see him working, but you are drawn into his character through his very stillness.
  • Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes radiance.

I could not agree with you more, Morgan, my new guru.

sweating pigeon, laughing crow

Finally I was able to go to class, after a week’s absence; my body was happily moving through the poses with strength and grace. Even when I messed up my left and right (the by-product of being a visual learner; auditory  instruction can confuse  me) my recovery was smooth.

I was surprised however at how much water was leaving through my skin. Perhaps you are wondering what exactly that means? That is my polite way of describing the horrifyingly extreme amount of sweat pouring out of me. Now, I love me some yoga, but sweat? Not so much. All of my life I have been told to hide this bodily function and now here it was leaking out everywhere. Did you know that your ears can sweat? Let  go, let go, let go. Breathe.

Child’s pose, sit up,  hands at my heart, rise up, reach up, fold down, child’s pose, down dog, right leg way up, swinging it forward and slide into pigeon…relax, breathe…plop. Sweat is now leaking from the top of my head onto the mat! I bring my focus to the pigeon and not my sweat. I don’t like pigeons  very much. I love all living things, but have no connection to this bird. I think they are dirty and dangerous, perhaps carrying diseases and parasites. I steer clear from pigeons.  But right now, I was a pigeon, lying with my feathered body resting on my leg-perch, my wings stretched out in front of me, my birds’ head down in prayer, surrender.  As I breathed into this bird energy, I could feel the fast beat of its tiny heart, and I could see how beautiful they were with their iridescent feathers sparkling in the sunlight. I could hear my pigeons’ cooing as she rises up with grace from her resting pose  to fly off, generously fanning my sweating body. It felt good and I thanked her.

I am studying the spiritual meanings behind the asanas, and using this imagery and ancient wisdom to guide my body, guide my practice. While researching on the web this morning just before class, I came upon kakasana, or crow.  Crow is one of my totem birds, hawk being another. Crow pose has some obvious power to it. I was very drawn to the crow pose, and imagined myself a crow and flying way above the earth and then compacting myself narrowly to dive down for some tiny morsel on the ground. I liked crow, but  realized it may take me some time before getting into it.

Still in pigeon, I was thinking how I longed to accomplish crow when to my surprise my teacher announced that we move into crow. He showed us how and as I found my balance I was able to manage small success with microseconds of lifting my feet up and off the ground…this made me laugh lightheartedly like a child and I tumbled over. Funny trickster crow!

On my way to my car, I delighted in the synchronicity of meeting crow on the very day that I had discovered her and just then a beautiful pigeon flew right out in front me, startling me and I gasped while she hovered in front of me, her soft wings gently breezing the air around us.

Sweat, laughter, surprises…it’s all yoga.

morning light

I have not been to the studio all week, as I mentioned in earlier posts, due to the rehab of my shower. I am so excited that tomorrow morning I will be on the mat in the studio. I had opportunities to go to class at night, after the workers had left, but for some reason, I am a morning yogini. This is surprising to me because, while I am an early riser by nature, I am not an early socializer. I usually schedule all public appearances after 12 noon, and 1 is when I am at my best.

The early morning hours, just after sunrise has always felt to me a time of sweetness; the world is waking up, the light is diffused, and if I’m lucky the coastal marine layer is heavy, everything enveloped in mist. In magical circles this is called the ‘tween time’, when the sun and moon are just passing each other, when the morning and the night are switching out. Powerful and poetic this is a good time for reflection, writing, reading and chanting. Also a wonderful time to simply sit, sip tea and breathe.

I have enjoyed my home bound time, these last mornings, but am very much looking forward to being on the mat, as the world moves from the night to the day.

private practice

This week, I was not able to go to class at all; there is construction going in my apartment. I had to be home, so that my beloved felines did not escape, crawl into newly opened walls or get trapped under exposed plumbing fixtures. And believe me they tried. I really missed the studio, my teacher and the practice. I also missed getting up and out of the house early and stretching and working yoga through my body, my mind. I missed it so much, that I attempted to do it at home, alone, unsupervised. I was nervous…and excited.

Moon salutations, sun salutations, down dog, crouching tiger, cobra, twists, child’s pose…I was physically doing yoga, but something was off, something was missing. I worked through it all again. Still missing something. What to do?

I sat on my mat. I laid back on my mat. I laid on my side.  Rolled over to my back again. My hips suddenly, spontaneously lifted into bridge pose, and it felt good-really good. I closed my eyes and strengthened my bridge, I imagined how strong this bridge was, how people could walk across my bridge and get where they are going. My breath was moving like ocean waves, my bridge was strong and still and…yoga happened.

I finished with tree pose, my absolute favorite. For the first time, I was able to lift my foot from my calf to my inner thigh and hold myself there while my hands moved from namaste to temple dancer, then reaching high over my head, arms swaying gracefully in the breeze. For a few moments I was a tree; rooted, flexible, reaching and yoga flowed easily through me.

It occurs to me now, that nothing is ever really ‘missing’, we are either in the flow or trying to get there.

I dream of yoga

Last night I dreamt that I was doing yoga. The dream is slipping away, now that I am awake, but I remember that I was in the studio, it was evening with the moon shining in on us. I was with one of my yoga teachers and he was showing me some very special asanas, not ones that he would normally teach. In my minds’ eye I can see myself doing them, but cannot make out exactly what they were. My body moved effortless and smoothly, as if I already knew the positions. It felt incredible, nourishing and sacred.

Several times in my life I have had dream-visions where I am shown, taught, instructed or guided in ways that do not feel earthly, do not feel ordinary. In my shamanism practice, I have learned that the ‘waking’ state is the middle, or middle world, and that while we predominantly live here, in ordinary reality, there are two other realms; the upper and lower worlds. Here in the middle, where we seem to land most often it is very physical, limited by our beliefs and thinking. In non ordinary reality all things are possible; flying, shapeshifting, visiting with animal guides, spirit guides and long past ancestors. Learning and teaching is common in all three realms, but feels somehow more sacred when it happens in non-ordinary reality.

I have long suspected that the dream state is another non-ordinary reality, and have been excited to visit it each night. My dreams are often prophetic, intuitive, rich with symbolism, color and epic story. Having my yoga teacher show up to instruct me in hidden asanas is thrilling, to say the least. The middle world part of me wants to know what those asanas were, where I can find them, how I can hold on to them, my physical self wants to physically experience them, write them down, touch them here, now.

An inner knowing calms me with this thought; the secret asanas of my dream have gone deep within me, energetically. They are not physical positions for me to practice in ordinary reality. They are spirit gifts given to me in the dream world by the dreaming self of my teacher, given to him by his spirit teachers and so on. It seems to me, that while I do yoga in the physical realm, I am also doing yoga in the spirit realm. How yogic is that!

Yoga is good medicine, I imagine my shaman teacher saying to me. Yoga is frickin’ awesome, I imagine my yoga teacher saying to me.