615.419.3604 hilary@activeyoga.com

The Cure is in the Poison

I’ve been hurt by yoga. Poses. Done wrong Imposed upon me By someone else Or me I didn’t go near them again. Not those anyway. But then I did. After a while. And I did them differently like tasting poison that could only kill me if I drank too much or too quickly. And I approached the poses like a frightened animal. Entered the poses remembering the first time and every way I knew they hurt me and I used them to put myself back together the way I was meant to be. Now that I...

Are Your Relationships Working? The Body of One is the Body of All.

  Hatha yoga, is the physical experience of relationship.  It is the relationship of bone to bone, bone to breath, breath to muscle, muscle to muscle, fiber to fiber and cell to cell. Stretching doesn’t make muscles longer as much as it makes relationships between fibers and cells become efficient. Stretching wakes us up.   When posture is pleasurable it’s likely we’ve found the right path. It is an indirect path. The map is provided by a teacher but not all vehicles are suited to drive the same way on the same path. We learn by trial and error. Some of it is obvious and some more subtle. The more refined the mind, the more refined the yoga practice which results in greater awareness of the unseen. One thing is for sure. If there is pain, sorrow or anger, the relationship is off. And that bad relationship takes its toll on parts that had no part in creating the problem.   When there is discomfort in a relationship it’s helpful to look at the forces individually. Work unilaterally in the pose as you would look at your own part in an argument. Maybe look and feel how one group as one side is different than the other.  Then take measures to make the best “deal” for each side.   Perhaps you guessed that I’ve got the contentious governing body on my mind. The incoming is trying to make the best deal for one group. Healthcare and tax reform are big topics. The filter of my yoga mind sees we the people and the people of the world as one...

My Back Door to Yoga Therapist

Yoga was a gift from a friend.  Later I sought meditation to get me through college final exams. I was a rebellious teen becoming sensitized though I didn’t mean to.   Running from a life of certainty I became staff at a Macrobiotic restaurant. The staff was given classes in Macrobiotics by the head chef. You are what you eat. You are who you eat. You are how you eat. Doors of the mind opened. This was the seventies.   Base is everything. As the Macros say, “little yin attracts big yin” which meant that a taste of something is enough to suck you into something bigger. It was not a good thing with yin food (talking sugar etc. here) but it was a great thing with movement.   I danced.  Ballet, Modern and Haitian lead me to the worn wooden floors of dozens of somatic studios. This is how I move, how I look, how I feel. Aerobics, Pilates, Barre, Power Yoga, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, Breema; the avenues were endless if you were inclined to find them even at the edge of the fitness revolution.   From the weird to the woo- woo, to the sublime, to the scientific I dove in to things that seemed to jump out to find me. In California I embraced color healing, sound healing and acupuncture. I tried colonics, dream therapy, re-birthing and then there was Dora Lee the chiropractor who told me to make a list of all my unresolved relationships. She pressed my spine; asked me who number 10 was as the room filled with the smell of cigarette smoke;...

“Yoga in America”

My chapter published in the book of the same name titled Yoga in America in 2006 reprinted here for students of yoga     A support group                                                                      The joy of community and the awareness of one’s singular peculiarities The first solitary foray into the wilderness The awakening of a budding teen The first trip to a foreign land The promise of peace A step toward the truth The struggle to be creative and the fight to be competitive The running of the bulls What your friend did to lose weight The sweetness of Satchidananda and the sternness of Iyengar Competitive, corporate, and consumer driven Clothes, gear, and music A traveling circus of superstars The video on the television set of the Kansas farm wife. The workout of the suburban housewife and the Hollywood star An option on the fitness menu at The Golden Door Spa A small class at the community center Offered in rehab and at the local church The silence of meditation and the hip hop on the Dee jay’s playlist Recognized as” Hot” Forever considered cool A rapt audience The innocence of the unsophisticated offering obeisance to the cloth The condemned tenement on New York’s lower East side transformed into a multi-million dollar Mecca An ingredient tossed into aerobics and strength training classes An escape from stress A chance to improve Where East meets West Used to be patchouli and now it’s nag champa Disguised by different titles Confused with enlightenment A step toward enlightenment The memory of the first kiss and the practice of the last breath An open marriage with secret resentments Where groovy...

Beginner Yoga Class:Introductory Notes

  Why practice yoga?   We come into a world of endless possibilities like instruments without instructions. Our mechanisms are so advanced that it takes years to know how to implement them and a lifetime to refine them. Yoga is the instruction.   In yoga we begin with the body to organize ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. The first task is to get to know ourselves.   The body is the material we start with. It is touchable and concrete and we can identify with it. This is where we have the maximum opportunity for self examination.   The modern system of yoga is described in a text written about 18 centuries ago. It’s known as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In the simplest explanation it is a guide to self inquiry that results in liberation from distractions and a sense of freedom from the tedium of a restless mind. It is entirely self serving. Older systems of yoga speak to service in a different light. When the student is steady in the foundation of yoga she may find a purpose and skill in service.   The student is given guidelines to behavior. When these guidelines are applied to the physical practice of postures, the student can experience how the concepts of disallowing harm, arrogance, greediness, jealousy and gluttony feel in the body. Then the student has the choice to adjust his/her attitude toward herself in the posture. The body becomes a vehicle for reflection.   Beyond the body, these restraints not only free the student from a guilty conscience but lead to equanimity. This allows for emotional space....

God, War and Warrior II

  In his opening lecture on the Yoga Sutras, Edwin Bryant PhD, Professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University, discredited the idea of a devotional aspect to the text postulated by an attending teacher. He declared that the totality of the Sutras is a call to meditation and an invitation to renunciation rather than advice to dedicate oneself to anything outside oneself. He had begun by stating that one cannot study yoga philosophy too often as the significance of the content changes with perceptions based in life experience. This teacher took comfort she said, in the idea of channeling disturbances of the mind into devotion or bhakti. Bryant shut the notion down going so far as to say that the text including the eight limbs was simply dedicated to eliminating distraction from self involvement which seems an erudite view.   When the teacher cited a verse of the Bhagavad Gita to press her point Bryant made it clear that the Gita was not to be confused with the message of the Sutras. The Gita advocates duty and devotion to something outside oneself which is a direct departure from the attitude of isolation described in the Sutras.   Gita’s shadow danced when I set the class for Warrior II the next day.   God and War is a curious pairing without context. In the framework of modern and not so modern conflicts it’s business as usual and the business places God in awkward positions depending on whose God it is or on which side God stands. God and war in the Gita? I leave it to others to interpret as they...