Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not Troubled

Yoga gives us a chance to start seeing our reactions: our aversion to suffering, and our clinging and attachment to pleasure andjoy . It gives us a breath, a pause, a chance to ALLOW for the world and our lives to play themselves out, even if it is uncomfortable or awkward or even painful sometimes. We can take lesson, as usual, from nature, of which we're a part...
The Buddha teaches his servant Rahula:
"Develop a state of mind like the EARTH, Rahula, for on the earth all manner of things are thrown, clean and unclean, dung and urine, spittle, pus and blood, and the earth is not troubled or repelled or disgusted...
"Develop a state of mind like WATER, for in the water many things are thrown, clean and unclean, and the water is not troubled or repelled or disgusted. And so too with FIRE, which burns all things, clean and unclean, and with AIR, which blows upon them all, and with SPACE, which is nowhere established."
(From "The Glass Palace," by Amitav Ghosh)

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Have a Dream

On that sweltering hot day of August 28th, 1963, Americans gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to hear the social revolutionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sing to the hearts of the world the song of his dream of racial equality. Even though racism isn't completely erased in America, who would have even dared to imagine that 45 years later we would be inaugurating our nation's first African American president?
Dr. King knew of the imperative for nonviolence as did his Open Heart Great SAlt Lakepredecessor of peace, Mahatma Gandhi. The principle of nonviolent revolutions and nonviolent living parallels the ancient yogic principle of nonviolence, Ahimsa. The ancient yoga scholar, Patanjali, lists Ahimsa as the first step toward finding Samadhi, our highest self. Yoga teaches that to truly know one's self, one must also extend this knowledge out to all others. Consider the idea of not only personal Samadhi but a Samadhi of community or collective.
Open Heart Great SAlt Lake If, as we learn from yoga, we originate from the same source, call it God, Universe, Creation, then to hate or harm someone else is ultimately to harm ourselves. This self infliction is therefore the autoimmunity of humanity, the failure of one part of the organism to recognize itself and therefore to fight against it.
But Ahimsa goes deeper than learning not to throw punches. The gate into the temple of peace is nonviolence; however, the true lesson of Ahimsa is to honestly and deeply love each other, even when your brother or sister holds radically different ideals, morals, or opinions than you. When the power of our conviction meets the peace of our compassion, we can sit together as brothers and sisters and build lasting solutions to differences and problems. These solutions last because they are built from the most durable and fundamental element common to all of us-- love. Dr. King said, "Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him."
Ahimsa also means not harming YOU. Remember, you are a part of the universe and deserve to be here, to be happy, and to have abundance. I believe you cannot truly love someone else until you honestly love yourself. You deserve the pleasure of peace. I believe that Dr. King and Gandhi would both agree with this idea.
Let's practice peace in yoga this week. One of my teachers quotes her teacher who said, "Yoga is one of the most compassionate things we can do for others because suddenly we are not such a pain in the a## to be around anymore."
Please remember our brothers and sisters in Haiti. Meditate and pray for them. If you have the means, please contribute to one of their relief funds. One of the ways some organizations are collecting donations is through text message. You can text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti, charged to your cell phone bill.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Inversions: If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em.

Most of the time, higher air temperature is cooler than lower air temperature. This is because the sun’s energy is converted to heat as it hits the ground and makes the temperature near the surface warm. Once this heat radiates off the earth, the air expands and rises, cooling it as it goes. Sometimes, especially in winter and at night, this process is reversed when with clear skies (classic Utah) the sun goes down and the ground gets cold, cooling the air close to the ground. The higher air is suddenly warmer than the new cold air on bottom, and voila! an inversion is born. The warm air on top acts like a lid and traps the cool air on bottom as well as all the pollution that is sitting in that cold air, pollution from cars, fireplaces, and industry, etc. Us creatures who live near the surface are left to stew in our own muck and breathe all the gunk we would otherwise hope to drift out of sight and out of mind. In the murky inversion, we see clearly just what kind of pollution we emit every day, and we are forced to breathe that pollution.

The Sanskrit term for inversions is Viprita Karani, meaning active reversal. The ancients knew the value of changing things up, flipping things on their head for a different perspective and a different way of operating. Physically, getting upside-down is great for strengthening the muscles in the shoulders and arms as well as abdominals. Inversions are also great for cultivating balance and activating sluggish digestion. Getting upside-down reminds us that when life gets turned in the opposite direction than you’d expected, not only can you deal but maybe even learn to thrive. Inversions bring a lot of blood and energy to your head, great for stimulating your brain. Plus, inversions (the yoga kind) are fun. The not-so-fun kind of inversion is great for keeping us mindful about what we are doing to our air.

This week, let’s practice turning things around. There are inversions for every body in every practice, ranging from simple, restorative poses to fun, intense poses. Let’s find a version that matches your practice.

Perhaps with this clarity of turning upside-down and putting all this new energy into our noggins, we can come up with some great solutions for the pollution we are forced to sit in during these temperature inversions. I’ve come up with a few. Please feel free to add to the list.

1) If we all work together using the breathing techniques of our pranayama practice, maybe we can blow out all the gunk and start out fresh.

2) Carpool to practice or take the bus, eliminating excess pollution; and don't idle your car longer than 10 to 15 seconds.

3) Turn off lights and other electrical devises that don’t need to be running. Much of our electricity comes from coal, which causes pollution.

4) Pretend that pollution doesn't exist and continue doing what we want until we all die of lung cancer from smokin' two packs of car exhaust a day.

5) Write yet another folk song about air pollution and add some more hot air to the atmosphere.

6) Skate, blade, run, bike, ski, dog sled, luge, skip, walk, pogo, moonwalk, saunter, strut, dance, lurk, creep, levitate, paddle, row, swim, climb, or fly to class.

Click comment below to add to the list.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Animate Your Intentions

We’ve made it! We’re here. It’s 2010. It’s been an incredible year full of struggle and happiness and amazement. I hope you’ve set some intentions as you prepare to let go of old stuff and I invite you to hope and expect new things to come, both joys and struggles. But with presence you are free, not free from problems, but free to be completely engaged in whatever this Universe throws at you. With presence you may find that deep part of you that can respond powerfully to whatever situation comes. And with presence you can feel and see these events that happen in a context of a larger perspective which gives meaning to all events as they sew themselves together into the tapestry of our lives.

Let’s put those New Year’s intentions into action—literally. Come to yoga and animate your intention. Watch your intentions, whatever they are, blossom and come alive through the practice of yoga. Give these hopes a form and breath—life. Let your yoga practice be a powerful tool to guide you through this winding path that is unfolding for you this year. You’ll be mesmerized at what comes, what is always and already there, as you practice paying attention, as you practice feeling mindful with a body that is healthy and strong.

Regular schedule this week for yoga. Yipee! See you there!