Sunday, May 29, 2011

The True Love

In yoga philosophy, there are a couple of steps we take toward learning to become our best selves. Once we've been refined through the heat of work, the craft necessary for transformation, once we've come to know our True Self to some degree, one task remains, ultimate and necessary to complete the process: YOU MUST LET GO!

The ultimate act of our will is the act of releasing it in the conversation between you that big thing, whatever you call it, The Universe, Creation, God, or simply Things That Be. This final culmination of will and knowledge is known in yoga as Ishvarapranidhana. If yoga is anything, it is that interplay between what is real and practical in our lives and that which is ethereal, mental or emotional. It is knowing yourself enough to work up the courage to finally step off that edge of the cliff. And only when you begin to fall do you find your wings.

Ishvarapranidhana means to reach out your hand into the darkness and ask to know it. It is asking to be known deeper by what is in the darkness, the unknown. It is stepping out onto surfaces that you are not sure will hold your weight as you keep your fierce gaze at that which you love.

In this wonderful place, we allow our internal achiever to take a break and open up to simply being. And in the cosmic chess game of existence, we pause for a moment and allow for that which is larger than ourselves to make a move. And with this act of letting go, what we thought we knew about ourselves, what we planned on for our existence, doesn't seem to matter much anymore. The divine opens us up and we've discovered something new and magical about ourselves and the world, something exponentially greater than our previous conception.

David Whyte points to this perfectly in his Poem The Truelove

There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours,
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if part of you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now
and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are
worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides
I remember an old man
who walked every morning
on the grey stones
to the shore of the baying seals,

who would press his hat
to his chest in the blustering
salt wind and say his prayer
to the turbulent Jesus
hidden in the water,

and I think of the story
of the storm and everyone
waking and seeing
the distant
yet familiar figure
far across the water
calling to them,

and how we are all
preparing for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly,
so Biblically,
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love,

so that when we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don't

because finally
after all the struggle
and all the years,
you don't want to any more,
you've simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

Come to class this week and let's practice ways to let go of tension, stress, worry, illness, old ways of being, etc. Open up to the Divine by practicing Ishvarapranidhana.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Shine On

Light is fading quickly and the late-spring bright green leaves pop against this evening’s stormy slate gray skies. Scanning the Salt Lake City skyline, my eyes first find the brightly lit Trolley Tower, a beacon showing me the star that I helped to build. But I’m not looking for the Trolley Tower. Instead, my eyes rest on the historic Walker Tower, a tall Eiffel-esque structure atop the Walker building, shining over the city. Seeing it is like rediscovering a constellation, a familiar formation in the middle of the sky.

The Walker Tower shines a different color depending on the weather. Blue means clear skies, flashing blue means cloudy skies, flashing red, snow. Tonight is solid red, meaning rain. The Walker Tower is a monolith of meteorology, a dinosaur outsmarted by my wee phone, which displays satellite-accurate information of the weather, including the high/low temperature and weekly forecast, all in a cute graphic format, I suppose to accommodate for those who, through the simplicity of technology, have lost the skill to read numbers.

The Walker Tower is the lighthouse of Salt Lake, silently sounding the weather to those who might pause and notice. As I stand on the front porch in my bare feet on the cold, wet concrete, I wonder if I’m the only one looking at the Walker Tower tonight. Most of the time I’m like everybody else, too busy to notice. I’m living a life that needs constant attention, like gardenias, a life busied by tasks, like tapping broken, uneven rhythms on my laptop, changing laundry, cooking food, taking and giving love—all necessary things. But right now, living means simply standing here watching the old Walker Tower shine solid red into the night, almost hidden, almost a postscript, between the taller, more modern buildings.

Standing there so solidly and immovable against the turbulent skies, it speaks to what is real and now, and at the same time says that despite the current climate of our lives, the weather changes. Storms pass. They may come again, but so does the sun. Maybe tomorrow night it will be shining solid blue: clear skies. Despite its history (turns 100 next year), the tower stands as something constant and now. The Walker Tower reminds me that there are some things, regardless of new inventions, which stand through the storms and keep shining the way brightly, even when the other lights go out. Celeste is a shining tower for me. My family, and Chris, especially, my twin brother, are towers for me. All these, so important, yet I know that unless I choose to pause every once in a while, especially in those rainy nights of the soul, unless I stop and look inside to what is constant, to that silent, shining light, I’m truly lost to the night.

I could choose to look at my smartphone in my pocket to learn about the weather. Instead, I choose to find the Walker Tower. Shine on, Walker Tower. Even if it’s for just one lonely person living across town, shivering on the porch.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tibetan Caves Are Overrated

I sit on my green cushion resting on my yellow rug that covers the honey-wood floor in the front room of my rented space, and close my eyes to meditate. A single thread of incense smoke, sweet and pervasive, rises as if pulled heavenward by some unseen force, like a wispy prayer into the ether. Two large candles on my alter burn a soft glow as they sit like sentinels on either side of the frantic list I’ve placed there, my list of nerves and worries, big hopes and sterile to-dos. I like to write it all down and put it on the alter. The list seems to be the CliffsNotes version of a prayer I hope lifts upward, like the smoke. Plus, once I’ve written it down, maybe it will free up my mind to not think for a while and just be present.

I am about eye level to one of the several windows in this room—that is, if my eyes were open. But they are not. I’m trying to be present. As I sit, I hear traffic pass like waves, the current of the arteries of our city. I hear a neighbor in the laundry room directly below me, stuffing wet laundry with heavy thuds into the dryer and then listen as the dryer buzzes to life and starts to breathe. Dakota, the German shepherd who lives in the apartment above me, groans and barks excitedly as the pizza deliverer searches for apartment number 1, not mine.

No, I don’t live in a cave in Tibet. Nor would I want to—harder for the pizza delivery guys to find. These city distractions are not distractions at all but merely the environment in which I choose to live. And I guess that’s the point, right? We live here, and despite loud laundry, neighbors, barking dogs, and cars, one can find peace in the gentle hum of a city. When I visit my family in New York, I open the window from the apartment in the high-rise and listen to the sounds of the city, one long, sustained exhale. I actually find it quite peaceful. Part of the quest for peace involves creating a comfortable tolerance for things that would otherwise create aversion. We don’t have to love them, but with many things that are part of our everyday environment, we can simply be present in the moment and witness them. We are but one cell in this larger being, the community, the city, the world. We can circulate and find purpose and stillness in that motion.

Come to yoga and practice finding peace despite the busy world around us.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Drum Roll Please . . .

The moment has come! Prana Yoga is open for business and is offering classes in the most beautiful practice space in Salt Lake City. We (Matt) have been building this studio for several months; Jennifer Ellen and I have been building the infrastructure. We've had set backs, delays, frustrations, huge learning curves, and a LOT of really hard work. But walking through this studio and coming into this space I feel overwhelmed with abundance. You know, I feel like we've been pulling this project, Prana Yoga, up a steep hill for a long time. And last week, when we hosted a sneak preview workshop with Shiva Rea, I felt like we'd crested a small bump on the way to the summit. Now that the studio is operable, this beautiful space is ready to practice yoga in, it feels like this truck I've been pulling up hill now has it's own momentum and is actually much, much bigger than me and will continue to push me to grow to my own potential. And of course this studio is much bigger than me. I feel the collective momentum of all of you who have graciously waited as we've been building and planning, you who have been coming to our classes in our temporary space, and you who have offered emotional support and help along the way. Our hope is that this studio will serve us all for a long, long time.

I'm adding a bunch of classes to my schedule, including Restore Yoga! This week I'm here teaching Monday's and Tuesday's classes but fly to Hawaii on Wednesday to see my love--terrible timing but I gotta go.

Join me this week at Prana Yoga:

Mon. 10:00 am Restore Yoga

Mon. 5:45 pm Power Vinyasa

Tues. 6:00 am Power Vinyasa 6AM CLASSES RETURN!

Starting next week you can find me at Prana teaching 7 classes a week:

Mon. 10:00 am Restore Yoga

Mon. 5:45 pm Power Vinyasa
Tues. 6:00 am Power Vinyasa
Thurs. 6:00 am Power Vinyasa
Fri. 10:00 am Restore Yoga
Fri. 5:45 pm Power Vinyasa
Sat. 8:30 am Basics-- a great class for those who like a gentler pace but want to still move, to receive accommodations for the way YOU need to practice yoga and with more instruction on alignment and cues to make the practice really work for you.

Go to

to see our full schedule and buy passes etc.

See you in class!