615.419.3604 hilary@activeyoga.com

Live in the Moment? How?

You are human and you think about the future. The future is a mystery that is scary. We are wired for danger. We are born for stress. It’s how we survived as a species. Now it seems to be killing some of us.   People tell you to live in the moment. What does that mean? Of course you live in the moment. The moment is the life. You also consider the next moment. That way you have food. And a roof. Or at least a raincoat. You learned about that because of the past.   There is so much to consider in a microwave  life where every moment presents an opportunity to slide into sloth.  I mean, you don’t consider consequences but live in the moment.  A pint of ice cream and a bag of chips seemed like a good idea in that moment. So did the next drink or the trip home with a stranger. There is that too but is that what the new age pundits are recommending? Before you beat yourself up for succumbing to what seems the less enlightened version of be here now,  consider that there is no such thing as the present because you are a compound of past present and future happening all at once always. You can’t live in just one of those things because they are not separate. What you can do is manage your reactions by observing them. Managing your reactions may result in better choices. It’s all about observation and ironically desire to be free of desire or a victim of your past.   You are frustrated...

Pranayama by Michael Stone

Yoga teacher Michael Stone has a gift for conveying imagery through words with a tenderness that is unique. I am putting his newsletter on Pranayama here because it is everything I could say in words I had not thought of. He is remarkable. Check him out. The link is first and I’ve copied his copy below. All credit to Michael Stone.   https://michaelstoneteaching.com/pranayama-1-practices/?utm_source=Michael+Stone+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5f19a8a3fe-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_06_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6b6fe36477-5f19a8a3fe-122510405         Pranayama 1: Practices   Pattabhi Jois said that pranayama practice was like plugging yourself in to a 12,000 volt outlet. Some confuse the endorphin rush of extended inhales and exhales with what should really be going on: ease and pleasure. The best part about chanting is not chanting. The afterglow, the clean taste in the palette when it’s finished. Ujayyi Pranayama Pranayama means the energy of prana. We’re ayaming (unrestraining) the prana. Ujayyi means victorious, and up. We’re stretching the threads of the breath to release the prana. The inhale and exhale are conditioned by samskaras – your scars of gender, culture, Stephen Harper, childhood, the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. All this can be found in your breath. Doing pranayama means becoming a connoisseur of the breath. Inside the breath there are gravestones, habits, flows of the past, nervous system indicators/regulators, immune system indicators/regulators. We practice to comb through all the layers of the prana. Inhaling and exhaling through the nose tones the glottis. Try to produce just enough tone in the vocal diaphragm so you can hear an aspirant breath, but so your neighbour can’t hear it. It’s like when you’re whispering – then you are also toning the vocal diaphragm....

One Day at Middle School

They come from disparate worlds. They are many colors and many income bracketed families. It takes a no time to see how many struggle or don’t even bother to pay attention. Some of them come every week but every week there are newcomers as well. Yoga is simply a means to focus attention and hold attention I tell them. To do that, we use our bodies. I ask them not to talk to each other during class unless it is a necessity. The class is short I tell them. This will let us make the most of our time. This will help us pay attention. I ask them to follow me in a wide squat. I drop one shoulder and then another. We are squatting. We are twisting I tell them. And we are breathing. We will lose our attention toward the squatting and twisting and we will find our breath to bring us back to our movement. We will be in charge of that movement. We will practice this and we will eventually do it in our own way and in our own time but we will keep moving unless we need to rest. We will be good to ourselves and the people in our room because that will make things easier for us. We will move in rhythm with the breath, I say as they continue to follow me. I raise my arms overhead in mountain. Breathe in and as we bend forward with bent knees I ask them to breathe out. A little boy named Marcel who hugs me before class has stopped and is swinging...

Your Yoga Practice is a Tandem Rowboat Race

The two rowers rowing in ‘tandem‘, need to be well matched and synchronized to make this work. If one pulls too hard or the other not enough, the boat will go off course. You have two of each limb, this many fingers, these toes, matching hips etc. which is why you buy two shoes, two gloves, two legged pants. But they don’t work exactly the same way. They may even look different on close inspection but you don’t notice. It’s like, how long have you had that mole? I don’t know. What mole!   We don’t notice the subtle differences one side to the other because they don’t matter until we are uncomfortable.   The intelligent way to practice yoga when you want to refine your impressions is to work unilaterally.   Divide the body down the spinal line to conquer habit and dullness. Bring your awareness to the skull as well, divided by the bridge of the nose. When you can expand your focus to hold more events at once, you will unite and conquer the same postures that can otherwise be your downfall.   For example, you can spread your collarbones and stop or you can see if one or the other can move again. The one that can move again would not have had the opportunity if you had left it at the first pass. Behind, the shoulder girdle and its muscles will become uneven in effort and tone as well. This will effect the spinal muscles which will effect the pelvis.   The tailbone is an interesting place to consider as well.  You can’t see...

Asana Happens Behind the Scenes: Inquiry and Experience #10

Note: This is for intermediate students   What draws the viewer’s eye to a yoga pose is the surface. The viewer does not observe the work beneath the surface but if the pose is executed with grace it is because the work beneath the surface is done with integrity.   This is balance through opposition. This is bridging the places in between. This is the bandhas. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) is an excellent posture to demonstrate this lesson. Assume the posture with your back to the wall and the right foot leading. You will use the wall for support for the back body, including your head. The right foot is a few inches from the wall to accommodate the pelvis. Bend the right knee until it’s over the ankle and then lift the right knee to lift the right hip. Allow the left leg, the back leg, to rise and stop when you feel resistance. Pulse the back leg and up and down a few inches. Stop and observe. With the left leg stuck at the point of resistance, lift up vigorously with the right ankle bone to ignite the lift of the knee and then the hip. The buttocks muscles will respond and begin the rotation of the pelvis. The muscles will move to the bones and pull the skeleton to the mid-line. That is the impetus and support that now allows you to raise the back leg higher. Raise the left leg firmly and note the relation between the two legs. Assume the posture Supta Padangusthasana,(Reclining Hand to Foot Pose) with your back on the floor.  Place...

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;...