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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...

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;...

Robocaller In Your Head

  Robots hacked your home phone. You know, that old clunker nailed to wall that you keep for the last touch of we’re a family here. You keep it for your mother and you keep it for midnight emergencies next to your head in the bed. It’s got a virus called robocall.     It’s the automated voice in your head that beats you down by repeating the same things over and over even though you’re not buying, even though you will never close that deal. It doesn’t respect your busy day or your need for dreamless sleep. It’s the ring of a new world, the world which agrees that it’s fine to call anyone at any hour for any reason. It’s the ring of limitless which you thought was freedom but is someone else’s freedom to imprison you. That someone else is you.   You could press #1 to take yourself off the list but you don’t because you’re afraid you might miss something. You’re a hoarder.   “We rarely hear the inward music But we’re all dancing to it nevertheless.” ~ Rumi   You don’t notice that the words to the song or jingles contain some lyrics of your stuck life. You don’t recognize that repetitive ruminations abide because you don’t confront them.   You have to pick up to take yourself off the list. You have to agree to not be called again. You have to know what is valuable and what should be thrown away.   Be still. Have a seat or lie down with yourself. Robocaller is waiting and ready. It knows when you...

Raw Chocolate Truffles with a Bite

  I am not an exact chef. It drives my chef friends crazy. Why can’t you just use a recipe as you find it before you change it? Baking is an exact science! You can’t mess with it!!!! Nonsense: I mess with everything and it works out fine. But suffice it to say that I encourage you to mess with this recipe. I made it up and I change it when I want to. It’s expensive and hard to make unless you have a great blender but it’s worth it. I use organic ingredients. Here you go:   Soak one cup of raw cashews and one cup of raw almonds in hot water (walnuts or pecans are good too) Soak 10 small dates in hot water or hot liquor of your choice Remove most of the water after a half hour or more and place in blender in thirds holding back a quarter cup of nuts and puree Add 3 T. Raw agave One T. Organic unrefined coconut oil ½ t. vanilla One T. Raw Coconut Sugar (sometimes I add a tablespoon of cacao nibs) Blend again Once blended add 2/3 cup raw cacao powder 1 T. chipotle powder ½ t. pink sea salt Blend blend blend – the smoother, the more pleasing Add the last nuts toward the end so they are chopped into small pieces   Roll into 1 inch balls on freezer paper on a cookie sheet and freeze (optional – you can chill them in the fridge) Options: Roll them in coconut or toasted sesame seeds and coconut sugar or even powdered sugar   You...

Correct Might Not Be Right When It Comes To Asana

  Injuries surfaced a dozen years ago; injuries that told me my career as a teacher was over but that’s not me. I kept going, changing my focus, my message, my style, my mission. Screw defeat.   Vacillating between discipline of form and giving it up altogether to find my own circuitous path in a bi-polar vortex of pain and pissed, I’ve learned a couple of things. I’ve come all the way back and been completely broken again. I could not get up off the yoga room floor the day I was sure all my injuries were gone. Superman met kryptonite that day as I came down confidently from the impossible height forced by a block under my sacrum and could not even move a finger. Shithead. You are paralyzed. You forgot your fragility in the ecstasy of a whole strong spirited body again. But you are not that. Now you know.   Back I crawled into my Feldenkrais womb of acceptance for all that is true about this body on this day, this age: Crawl crookedly as I am and find myself in my circuitous path born of instinct and survival. Bring it back to the yoga floor and try again.   But if I stay a crooked path with a crooked body, won’t I get more crooked? I feel sure that is true and work to strike the balance again. On days uninspired by a willing body I strike out with alignment from my Iyengar toolbox as a weapon against a blank page that refuses to be written. ABC is familiar and safe. Except when the letters...