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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...

So You’re Worried About Yoga Injuries? Here’s Some Excellent Advice.

      Inquiry and Experience #6 and #7   There’s a surge of disclosure on yoga injuries due to the quickly growing number of students and their use of social media. Don’t panic. Although you will likely be injured at one time or another doing yoga (including muscle strain as injury), it’s unlikely to have a lasting effect for the majority of you.   On the other hand you might get yourself in trouble if you have a condition that will be ill served by the yoga practice you’ve engaged in. Not every body should do every thing. You may have a health or skeletal, soft tissue or muscular issue that warrants caution. Even those of sound body can be at risk engaging in the wrong practice or becoming overzealous. Innocent people have suffered at the hands of unskilled or thoughtless teachers as well.   Here’s my sincere advice for new and old students:   Stay in Your Own Lane ~ move at your own pace and do the best you can without overreaching. You might research range of motion often referred to as R.O.M. Everyone’s is different but there are normal ranges. Are you practicing for a circus career? Can you be content not putting your foot behind your head like the guy next to you? Take a good look. Do you really want to look like that? No. It’s damn unattractive and you don’t.   Pay Attention ~ this is the fruit of staying interested and the two are co-dependent. Don’t space out or move by rote. Notice everything about sensation. Take your time. Notice everything...

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...

Yoga Like Water

  It exploded from comets To begin as the oceans, And borders of seas,   Becoming the vapor, the clouds and the rain, And one with the earth,   Becoming the rivers, the lakes, and the streams, To become most of me, I breathed it out to become part of you.   Altered, transformed, shifted, ripened In time and beings, Its sparkle drew my searching eye and quenched a thirsty palette.   Is there a broken line in the lineage? Does this drop contain the residue of the first drop? Some has been burnt away for sure but most remains.   Like water, this yoga: To know it with intellect is a lively chase for a living art from an ancient time. Not my favorite game, but one I’ll play when the players arouse, Uninterrupted on more peaceful days I’ll stand in sensation.   This yoga like water whose chemistry would not matter if the proof was  my health, Would bear further examination should it rouse suspicion.   I was curious and explored something apart from me, Until it was no longer apart but a part.              ...

Pull Your Socks Up

  Sharon’s mother is British. If life is making her daughter gloomy she says;” pull your socks up!” I have an image of England as a country which doesn’t approve of depression. Citizens should keep their sunny sides up by doing something pro-active rather than despairing; an attitude one cannot argue with even if it is only my imagining.   This morning I needed to pull my socks up though I didn’t notice until I was standing on my head in front of a mirror in my folk’s house.  It’s not usual to watch ourselves as we practice but the sight of yourself with your own eyes is a good idea now and again. I like to look, adjust, close my eyes to feel and then look back again. That’s how I noticed what it felt like to pull my socks up. That’s how I noticed how good it felt to keep my sunny side up.   I’ve been standing on my head for a few decades but it doesn’t mean I always know where I am because I have the common combination of flexibility and injuries that can pull the veil of illusion over any yoga pose   Headstand is one of the kindest postures on hip joints as they are unloaded. And it is liberation for the belly. When doable, one should learn to stand on legs no matter where they are in space to notice the support born from rising which is different than the support of leaning or collapsing. It is the support of oneself. It is independence.   I’m surprised to note that I’m...