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...

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...

Somatic Yoga. Ladybug v. the Beetle

I cleaned out an old desk and found this described in a flyer from a workshop I taught in 2008: Balancing Structure and Freedom The student moving from precise focused alignment to an exploration of the senses will come away with a deeper awareness of asana as the physical expression of yoga philosophy. The student will also be guided to freedom of movement within and without form to create form.   The second part of that workshop presented a study in inductive v. deductive body reasoning which is why an Iyengar student back in the day described my classes as back door yoga. The pose is revealed as the parts come together. You might say, as the parts become organized as a whole.   This is based on my experience of yoga. This is what a yoga teacher offers. It is not regurgitation of something before them.  It is the expression of that information now digested by their unique digestive juices.   My yoga developed during years of dual study in Iyengar and Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement. These practices do not involve opposing subtleties but they are opposing dynamics.  They are taught independently in different worlds of somatics. That informed my teaching at a time few people were studying either. Now I see the online yoga world discovering the benefits of subtle movement .  What felt unique to me is becoming “a thing”. That is a good thing.   But when I wonder what I have left to offer any student that hasn’t been done before, when I become frustrated that I’ve said and done it all, I am...

Yoga, Hammer and Nail and Threads of Thought

  I’m covering an Iyengar class. As a longtime student of the Iyengar system I am aware of a couple of pitfalls so I take the opportunity as the visiting teacher to offer thoughts and a technique useful in my personal practice.   Tension is not a negative word. Tension creates integrity. Tension is a negative when it is extraneous.   Think of your practice as a carpenter hammering a nail into wood. Once nailed, there is no reason to keep hammering. Step back and appreciate what you’ve created. Consider it.   Give up 20 percent of the effort and notice you are still in the pose. Perhaps you can keep letting go of effort to 50 percent and hold the pose. Think of the form resembling a suspension bridge.   Physical yoga is the application of desire mixed with effort, and then the reflection of that effort’s effect finished with the facility to know when to surrender to what you can and cannot comfortably do. And know that your experience today will likely change the next time. Patience in yoga is not just a virtue but essential....

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 is Like Monday Morning Quarterbacking

The expression Monday morning quarterback refers to assessing how things should have been done after the fact. You know what was best after things went south by a wrong direction.   I learned the hard way that a physical practice could be disastrous down the road.  I learned at least a dozen times in a dozen ways with a dozen parts of myself.   As I observe the group of beginning yoga students before me, I consider the path I will send them on. I know that much of what I say will be lost to many of them no matter what I say. Still, there is something I can tell them of taking care of themselves in a group experience.   This class is an elective and should be treated that way. No tests. No grades. No pressure. You do not know how you will respond to a particular movement until you have done it. That is fundamental and ironic. Therefore, you should proceed thoughtfully even though you have no thoughts that pertain to this except mine as you follow my directions. You will trust me more than yourselves. Until I’m vetted do not do that. In fact, don’t ever do that. My directions are specific for the sake of form but not specific to you. I don’t know you. You will have to meet yourselves. The way to start is to breathe intentionally and follow the thread of breath with your movement. No breath, no movement. No faking. As you figure out the best way to organize your poses, you will notice that this is not absolute....