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Archive for September, 2014

On Giving Advice and Dancing

So I’ve heard that I’m a good person to talk to when one needs advice. People tell me that my blog or my yoga class theme really hits home; that it’s just what they needed to hear. And I write these words, I theme my classes usually because it’s an issue I’m having or have had before, an idea that I’m working with. Here’s the thing though—I don’t often listen to myself. It falls close to the lines of “do as I say, not what I do.” And, well, that’s just silly.

The most recent example of this happened on Saturday. We are gearing up at the studio to begin a teacher training and we hosted an informational session for all interested yogis. We discussed what the program would involve and I was asked to impart any advice I had about starting such a program. I passed along the wise words that I received from a past teacher when I was getting ready to start my own training. He encouraged me to really develop a strong personal practice. What this means to all of you non-yogis is that it’s the yoga you do when you are by yourself—no classes, no videos, no one else around. Not only because it makes you stronger in your practice but also because it’s interesting to see what comes up when there’s no one to guide you.

And, hey, guess what I hadn’t been doing for a really long time? You got it…it had been longer than I could really remember since I laid down my mat and let nothing guide me except for the rhythms of my breath. Sure, there are challenges to doing yoga at home. One of them is a big brown dog who can’t comprehend why I would possibly be on the floor and not be petting him. The others are simply a product of my busy little mind…..upward dog….downward dog…oh, hey, look I haven’t really dusted that shelf in a while, maybe I should do that real quick. Lucky for me, I have access to a beautiful, peaceful studio that I can go use when class isn’t in session. Every once in a while it occurs to me to take advantage of this great fortune.

Yesterday was one of those days. I had some spare time before teaching a class so I left my house a little early, got to the studio and locked the door behind me. I turned on a playlist of songs that have been my favorites this summer and I began to do my yoga practice. I started simple, moving through sun salutations and twisting lunges. Then I began to have some real fun with my poses, pushing myself, flipping all around, taking rests in downward dog. And then something happened. This song came on. It’s a song that’s filled with rhythm and pain and want and movement. So I started dancing. The moves came back to me easier than I would have thought; which is probably reassuring to my parents since they paid for dance lessons for fourteen years. Yes, dance was my first love and I had left her somewhere along the way. It’s funny how we forget the most basic things that bring us joy in our attempts to be grown ups, isn’t it?

So I danced throughout that song, my body taking on the rhythm and the pain and the want the movement. When the song ended, I started it again. And then when it was over again, I collapsed on the floor, sweaty and exhausted. And I felt incredible.

Being by ourselves, doing a self practice so to speak, allows us to see who we are when no one is looking. It can be a scary place to be because sometimes that self is hard to find; and sometimes that self isn’t as shiny and glowing as we would like it to be. But it’s who we are and where we are and that’s always our starting point. What comes up when no one else is telling us what we should be doing? What can we express when the room is completely empty? At that point we become free of judgment from others….but then we must face the judgment that we are only holding against ourselves. And I think we all know that the inner critic is a surly little beast; but it’s a beast that must be taken out for walks and exhausted if we truly want to tame it. Yesterday I chose to dance with that beast. And today I woke up sore but definitely closer to where I need to be. I suppose I should start to listen to my own advice more often.

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New Years, New Moons

Everything in the universe at this very moment sings of new beginnings. This was the thought I had as I went to sleep last night, determined to wake up this morning, veins filled with this promise. Instead I snoozed for about an hour and woke up feeling like I had ruined it all. I easily talked myself out of going for a run and started to talk myself out of sitting at this computer and writing down these thoughts. I made coffee and the filter collapsed, filling the precious first cup of the day with grounds. I wanted to write this with confidence. I wanted to take all of these signs for a new beginning and wrap them around myself like the comfortable sweater that I donned to fight the chill of fall in the air these days. My friends, I wanted to project this air of new beginnings to you from a place of such good energy. But the truth is, that I am getting my butt kicked by this concept. But I shall present it to you nonetheless.
In the past couple days, we have seen the autumnal equinox, a new moon and also Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Each one of those events is about starting fresh, making changes, acknowledging mistakes, moving forth. If you’re the type of person that believes in such things, and believe me, I believe; then you have to know that the universe is virtually pulsing with the plea for you to get up off your ass and make some changes in your life right now. Pulsing, I said. Where shall I begin?
Last year at this time, I went walking with a friend and she told me of the Rosh Hashanah services that she had attended. I had never known much of what this Jewish holiday signified and trips to the great world wide web has not produced the words quite as beautifully as she presented them. But she told me that this holiday gave one a chance to take stock of the previous year and all of the mistakes it contained. She said that we took stock of the mistakes, the slips and trips and falls, the fuck ups…not so that we could continue to beat ourselves up about them, but rather so that we could forgive ourselves for them and then move forth. It reminds me of one of my favorite phrases—“Take the lesson and drop the packaging.” This New Year is a chance to take the wisdom that’s presented like a gift from those slips, trips and falls; and then tie a little ribbon on that package and be done. Be. Done.
Now excuse me while I switch gears and drop some astrology on you—the new moon just moved into Libra. Do you not know what that means?? Well, I didn’t either. But apparently, there are no crazy planetary things happening with this moon, meaning it’s a very quiet time, a chance for stillness, an opportunity to breathe, reflect…pause. The past few months of full moons have been ‘super moons’ which tend to be emotionally charged and filled with drama. Now, the stars and the planets and all that good stuff are all giving us a chance to chill out for a little bit and recharge. This, too, is a great time to take stock of who we are, where we’ve been and where we wish to go. Nothing from that drama of the supermoons was a waste, but now we get to figure out what to do with it.
And then, pfew, the equinox….it’s the first day of fall, a time when our Hemisphere slowly slips from a time of light to a time of dark. While some of us (me) may be tempted to get a little sad at this seasonal change and the promise of cold that it contains, this is a good time to really think about the dance between darkness and light. One can’t exist without the other; we must have struggles to have wisdom, we must have some pain to get to joy. Frustrating, isn’t it? The equinox is also a hugely auspicious time of transition. Definition: if you feel like you need to do something a little different in your life, by god, try to do it now. Every little particle in the air right now will be urging you forth with good juju. At least I like to think so.
So here I sit from the perch of my computer, still drinking coffee filled with grounds, urging you to make the most of this time, urging myself to do the same. Because we always get the chances for new beginnings…but why would we waste this one? Be well, friends–tie up that package, recharge and move comfortably forth into a place that you want to go.

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