Posts tagged ‘practice’

book

I can sum up the themes for the Intro to Yoga series into the shortest self-help book ever.

Chapter One: Keep it Simple

Chapter Two: Create Space

Chapter Three: Dedication

Chapter Four: Delight

Chapter Five: Visit Your Family

Chapter Six: Evenness

The last chapter is what we worked on last Sunday.  Evenness (sattvic or sattva in sanskrit), is the idea that when life moves through extremes, we don’t follow the swing of the pendulum.  Of course, we feel joy and sorrow, rage and awe, but we don’t act on them, we don’t hold them in the body or the mind for any length of time.  We see the pendulum swinging, and we see that each time it swings, it swings through center, through evenness.  And, we hope that with time, with practice, the swings of the pendulum grow less extreme, our experience of life is life with ease, with evenness: a life that is sattvic.

You’ll note that there were six classes in the series, but class five I was off in RI visiting my family (yes, my grandmother had a wonderful time at her party, as we all did!).  A balance like this is probably about right: five parts in practice on my mat, one part putting it into practice in the world.

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February 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm 4 comments

Taking steps

Our foster son is nearly eleven months old, and today he walked for the first time.  He has taken a few steps now and again in the past couple of weeks, but today I saw him walk to get somewhere he wanted to go.

He’s a very solid little person, both in his body and his heart, and his first steps reflected that–not the stuttery, tripping, baby steps I might expect, but five solid steps.  One foot after another.

The rest of the day, I watched as he practiced his new skill.  At the end of the day–already wearing his pj’s and waiting for my husband to get home to read books and tuck him into bed–he took a couple of steps towards me, then stopped to get his balance.  I backed away.  He walked a few more steps, paused, and I backed up again.  He walked across the room towards me in this way, only touching my legs when I was backed up against the far wall.

Parenting is of course a bucket of work, but it’s also an amazing privilege to watch another person learn how to do things.  He had such a look of awe and joy on his face as he walked towards me, exploring the outer limit of his abilities on his sturdy little legs.

At some point, we settle into walking, every step no longer cause for awe, and celebration.  But watching him inspires me to think about what I am taking steps towards right now in my life–in what ways am I exploring the outer limit of my abilities?  What brings joy to my face, and awe to my heart?

I don’t have an answer to this right now–it’s late, I’m tired, and I still need to pick up the playroom–but I know that asking the question is taking steps in the right direction.

October 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm 2 comments

simply s t r e t c h

One of my favorite moments of every day is watching my daughter Nora wake up.  Sometimes she is lying in bed with her eyes open when I go in to check on her.  She’s quietly looking around the room, wrapped up in her swaddling blanket.  Sometimes she’s fussing a bit, making the squeaks and squawks which mean she is about to cry.  Sometimes she’s already crying, mouth wide open and eyes tightly shut.

When I peel open her swaddling blanket, no matter what Nora was doing the moment before, she stretches.  Immediately when her first arm is released, it goes over her head.  Second arm released, goes overhead.  Then a long stretch with her short little arms, and a big arch in her back as she rolls slightly to her side.  Then she stretches her little legs as long as they go.

What an inspiration!  Although Nora has been in many yoga classes since she was conceived–most of them in utero!–nobody had to teach her to stretch first thing in the morning.  It’s something every baby knows to do–after a long sleep, some time in the carseat, or a satisfying meal, pause and take a long stretch, head to toe.

I have so little time to practice these days, but I watch Nora and realize–much as I would enjoy it, I don’t need 90 minutes–or even 9 minutes–to practice yoga.  I just need to pause for one moment, take a deep breath, and stretch myself head to toe.

It’s as simple as that.

September 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm 2 comments

Ahimsa

Someone in Vermont has a license plate that reads AHIMSA.  I see it from time to time as I drive around.  I’m always jealous that I was not clever enough to have thought of this idea–what better place to remind people to be nonviolent than in our cars (surely I am not the only one who has cursed at the car in front of me for driving too slowly when I am running late on my way to yoga class!)?

Ahimsa, which is often translated as nonviolence, is one of the yamas, or ethical guidelines, of yoga.  Although they each have a strange-sounding Sanskrit name, they are all principles we’ve heard along the way: to practice gentleness, and truth; to not covet the things or talents of others; to remember that each breath is a blessing.

The yamas are meant to govern our conduct with the world–the rules of the sandbox so that we can all get along with each other–but I’ve found it helpful to also think about how they apply as I interact with myself.

Am I gentle and nonviolent with my body when I come to my yoga practice, when I choose what and how much to eat, and to drink (ahmisa)?  Do I see my reflection in the mirror of truth, or do I allow it to be distorted by my own judgements, and expectations of what I “should” be (satya)?  Do I give myself credit where credit is due, stepping into the bright light of my own goodness (asteya)?  Do I pause to feel the satisfaction with who I am and what I have in life, instead of looking for what’s to come (aparigraha)?  Do I see the spark of the divine within myself, the light that shines out from my own heart–that piece of God within me (brahmacharya)?

In my classes, as in most yoga classes, we “Namaste” each other at the end of the practice.  This simple and beautiful word holds so much meaning–the light of the divine within me, recognizes and honors the light of the divine within you.

When we practice the yamas not only out in the world but also within our own selves, it is as if we are giving ourselves that greeting, Namaste.  I see myself as a spark of the divine.  I honor myself, in all of my grace, in all of my potential, in all of my perfection.

Namaste.

November 12, 2010 at 3:40 pm 2 comments

Grace.

The dog and I are resting on the porch.  She has her nose in the sun and the rest of herself in shade.  I’ve got my legs in the sun.  The rest of me—and this computer screen—are in the shade.

We’ve had four days of my ideal weather.  Hot sun, cool breeze, and nights chilly enough to need a thin wool blanket.  It’s easy for me, on days like this, to feel that life is a blessing, that life is full of grace.  That I am full of grace.  And certainly, of course, the dog is full of grace.

I imagine grace is a quality within our hearts.  It describes the times in life when we feel afraid and do the thing we’re afraid of.  It describes the times in life when we say the perfect thing in a difficult situation, or when we say the wrong thing and forgive ourselves for it.  It describes those days when we feel the sadness in our hearts, and the beauty of the day, and the two can rest there, side by side.

Grace may look like the face of a baby, a well-tended garden, a beautiful loaf of bread.

I taught to the theme of Grace in my yoga classes this week.  One class is a group of friends who meet once a week in the summer to practice.  Some of them are new to yoga, some of them have a steady practice year-round, some come to their mats only when we meet for this class.  They watch, learn from, and help each other with a sense of fun, and kindness, and ease that is a joy to watch.  This is Grace.

Now, can I bring Grace along for the ride when it gets up into the 90’s again, as the weather tells us it will by the end of this weekend?  Blech.  We’ll see.

At least weather in the 90’s is perfect for wearing an uppup tank.  Check them out at http://shop.uppupyoga.com/.  They make a great gift if you know any yogis with a summertime birthday!

Have a grace-filled week.  Thanks for visiting.

Sometimes Grace looks like Luna, resting on the porch.

July 2, 2010 at 5:32 pm 4 comments

Welcome

A hot air balloon just landed down the street from us.  In the little neighborhood where we live, hot air balloon sightings are not uncommon–to the chagrin of Olive, a black standard poodle from these parts, who has great anxiety about only two things: bugs and hot air balloons.

Olive, on the watch for hot air balloons

There is a distinctive sound that a hot air balloon makes, when they flare the gas to keep it floating.  If you’ve heard a blowtorch, it’s a bit like that, many times over. Olive hears that sound and she tucks her tail and heads under the table.  The rest of us run outside, faces tilted to the sky.

Last month this same hot air balloon floated past the window of the yoga studio where I teach www.uppervalleyyoga.com.  It was a special workshop on the elements: we connected to earth through the foundation of our feet, water through opening the hips.  We were working on fire with hand balances when the balloon floated past.  The ferocity of fire and the ease of air–how inspiring!  We all paused to watch it land in a teeny pocket park about a block away.  As it landed, it disappeared behind the buildings and trees, until we could just see the top of it, spinning.  By the time we finished practice, there was no sign of it left.

We’ll be at SolarFest in Tinmouth, selling our yoga and kidswear, and enjoying the festivities, July 16–18th.  There will be a lot of information on solar energy and other ways to live sustainably (worm composting, veggie fuels, backyard chicken raising), workshops for kids and adults, yoga, dancing–and it’s all powered by a huge solar array!  Please come to the festival and stop in to see us.

And check back in for more thoughts on life, yoga, dogs.

With thanks, from your friends at uppup.

June 25, 2010 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment


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