615.419.3604 hilary@activeyoga.com

WIRED.

  I always ask them, why did you come to yoga today? Most of them stay silent hoping I’ll ignore them or just do anything, anything other than demand an answer. Today a couple of folks wanted a body mind connection.   You will move your body. You will breathe with intention to inspire that movement. That will connect your body and mind. But your mind is a tricky construct created between you and impressions of the world. It is both your protector and foil. You want to connect to more of yourself than that. But the mind says there is nothing more. This is the work. And the work is intimacy that you were trained to avoid.   We are a network of nerves.   What does that have to do with your yoga practice? You came here expecting to move in familiar ways. You came here expecting me to tell you to breathe as if that was the measure of your endurance or consciousness, as if that done with precision will mean the yoga is working.   We see, hear, taste, smell, touch and think of that which comes in from an outside source. We have another sense of our movement in relation to space. Simultaneously, we have internal senses that measure impressions of the world within. These senses dictate our behavior both consciously and automatically.  We are a matrix of nerves wired to compute 24/7. We are not familiar with all of ourselves because all of ourselves is vast beyond present measurement.   People come to yoga for relief and they try to blow past sensations...

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...

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...

“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...

Everything Will Be Alright

She approaches me after class. Tells me she’s in law school. She and her peers are suffering from P.T.S.D. she says. From life. She’s responding to a comment I made in class. I consider it pure luck that I have a positive position on the life we share at the moment. Things need to break. The shit storm of happenstance and wrong actions that are instigating an onslaught of information on disaster is also precipitating a wellspring of solutions. That is a wellspring of love. That is the breath we choose. The human condition shifts with awareness and it changes with our reactions. I see many hopeful reactions despite the barrage of sorrowful scenarios. We are looking for ways out. We are wielding sledgehammers. We are scraping peeling paint. As radical politicians move the conversation from the usual banter, awareness grows. As spokesmen, leaders and newscasters inform people on pollution, poverty and violence against each other and the planet, quiet numbers choose to make things better in small and large ways. It’s a life of small steps. We just step faster now. Diverse paths are rapidly emerging. Some of us will be sacrificed no doubt. It was never easy to be aware. But it would be less glorious to not be. To blame nature’s weather or planets for our discomfort is shortsighted as well. Instability is nature itself. The perfect day will not last no matter how we pray for that. Welcome to your place in the world. To smash and break it until it is right for you without harming any creature is artful. Perhaps that’s why the...

Music and the Bomb Shelter of Your Heart

  Thanks to my failed relationship to all things virtual connection, I had lost much of my cherished music in a wrong attempt to switch I-tunes to my new computer. In the resulting fit of pique I had foregone music in class for the better part of a year and turned to my left brain teaching mode but I need music tonight so I plug this vintage I-pod in knowing that what will or will not play is a mystery.   I’ve got a play list running that had been shot full of holes in the firestorm. Tonight I’m checking this out to see if something destroyed has been impossibly recently resuscitated by my I.T. guy. I’ve desperately missed conducting movement to music which was lost in tandem by my crapped out hip and my crapped out I-pod. The students trickle in. I decide to let untested music ride as class begins.   As we settle down it’s apparent that the song playing is a bit intense. The list is called Alternative. It was arranged to tear your salty heart from a bomb shelter and restore it honey dripping to an emerald cave.   “Hello friends. I’m running a questionable play list which is an interesting choice right here as I don’t remember what’s on it and I don’t know most of you. Music is personal. Something here might urge you to run screaming from the room. I want you to do this (hand raised) if a song makes you nuts and I will cut it off. If you agree, we’ll continue this experiment together. I hope it serves...