Tag Archives: asana

Like a Dewdrop

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Asana in the woods
hot summer day
reaching for strength
diving deep to find my breath
I remember how simple it all is.
Just this moment,
this body,
this breath.
This little puff of wind,
the chorus of bullfrogs,
clouds drifting by,
everything constantly changing.
I remember the impermanence,
how I am,
how existence is
like a dewdrop in a blade of grass.*

*Still loving the Tokmé Zongpo quote featured in my last post.

Not So Big

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Looking up through the tall trees
to see clouds drifting
in an immense blue sky,
I realize how truly small I am.
I breathe and move from pose to pose,
remembering the impermanence of this life
in which the only constant is change.
I take pleasure in the sensations
of breathing
and moving,
in the sound of a bullfrog chuckling nearby,
in the feeling of a gentle, warm wind
kissing my face.
No human has ever grown to the height
of the black walnut and the tulip poplars
that grace me with their cooling shade
as I dive deeper inwards and face my own fire.
Practicing beside these towering giants
I am humbled.
Suddenly my problems
don’t seem so big after all.

Such a Joy Being a Student Again

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It is such a joy
being a student again.

Tonight
I didn’t have to speak–
I could listen
I didn’t have to watch
anyone else–
I could watch myself.
I didn’t have to plan a class
or walk around
making sure everyone
was focusing on their practice–
I could focus on my own practice,
my own body, my own breath.

It felt like a vacation!
I laughed,
I felt delighted.
It all felt so playful and free.

It is such a joy
being a student again.

Where the Real Work Begins

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It can’t be called a real yoga practice
if after an hour and a half of blissful asana
you go around flipping the bird to
unconscious drivers who get in your way.

The real work of yoga begins
when you step off of your mat
and back into your real human life.

When the babysitter doesn’t show up
and you’re scrambling to find a way to get to work
When you’re caught in rush hour traffic
and each intersection is blocked
When you’re sick and dragging yourself around
When you burn the dinner
Or sleep in late
Or don’t get any sleep at all
When you see a person
you don’t get along with too well
When you’re faced with an old fear–

What then?
It is in that place of discomfort,
in that place of old stories and reactivity
that you have the chance to awaken
right now
in this moment

Greet whatever arrives in this moment as a friend
It is all here to help you remember who you are
Step off of the peaceful sanctuary of your mat
and stretch the limits of your personal identity
strengthen your ability to feel compassion for others
balance the events of your outer life
with awareness of your inner world
open to your fullest potential as a human being

Welcome the challenges life presents,
take a deep breath,
and let the real work begin.

Expand Into the Infinite Awareness of Now

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You don’t have to wait.
Just do it.
It begins with the idea
then a breath
then a step
Breathe your arms up
then bow to the earth
Inhale to look ahead
and exhale to ground down
Stay put then
Just breathe
Feel the blood flowing into your face and head
Head below heart
Hands and feet on the ground,
rooted, focused
Look forward now,
step your feet to your hands
Inhale to look forward,
your spine long, strong and proud
Exhale to bow to the earth,
Then inhale a big life-giving breath
as you reach for the sky,
YOU’RE ALIVE!
Just move.
Don’t think.
Just move.
And now that your body is awake
senses awake,
mind awake,
whole being energized,
now sit.
Don’t move,
just sit.
And expand into the infinite awareness of NOW.

For Inspiration, Stand on Your Head

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Before I became a mother, getting to a yoga class happened a lot more frequently and with far greater ease. Now the opposite is true. Now getting out to a class happens rarely and with great difficulty.

This is a story I have been telling myself for a long time–ever since my daughter came, and it will be five years in May.  It has been such a perplexing conundrum for me–how can I be an authentic teacher of yoga asana if I am not practicing regularly? How can I practice regularly when childcare is so expensive? “Yoga Practice” had been put into a box, a box painted with the four walls of a studio, a large enough block of time, and an experienced instructor telling me what to do. I kept believing my story, I kept using my kids as the reason for not practicing. Too expensive to pay a sitter, it takes too long to get there and back, blah blah blah.

And then one day, in the middle of the morning chaos, I decided to just do it. “I am going to grab five minutes of practice, or ten,” I told myself.  “Anything is better than zero.” I didn’t sweep the breakfast cereal off the floor or pick up the books that had been thrown underneath the table. I didn’t sort the laundry or carry the breakfast dishes to the sink. I rolled out my mat with my kids running around the house, just like they always do–and I began to move and breathe with purpose. It felt so good just to go into downward facing dog, and I was able to relax into the pose and even smile as my son and daughter were squirming around on the mat underneath me, scrambling through the spaces between my arms and legs as if I were some sort of playground equipment.

Epiphany!  I don’t need an entire hour of kid-free silent time to consecrate to my home yoga practice.  I don’t have to get a sitter and drag myself out to a group yoga class to practice my postures. If I waited for the silent hour at home or the opportunity to attend a class at the studio, the yoga might never happen.  Yoga happens now.

What a relief! I was telling myself a new story, a story about possibility. A seed of awareness was planted that day…a gift of accessible present moment awareness to offer myself and my kids.  Five minutes of liberation, right here, right now. A simple practice that I don’t have to wait for, that I don’t have to plan. I didn’t turn my mini yoga practice into a regular thing following my epiphany, but the seed that was planted that day was a good one, and it simply waited for the right conditions to arise before it sprouted.

Tonight as I walked toward my little meditation room for my evening ritual of writing followed by my meditation practice, my eyes lit on the empty play room that was formally my two year old son’s bedroom before he began taking off his poopy diapers and decorating the walls with their contents. We moved him into his sister’s room downstairs so that she could tattle on him if he started any monkey business. So far this has been an effective strategy, and being closer to the ONE bathroom we have in our house puts him in a prime position to be potty trained some beautiful day when the stars align.

The playroom is now deliciously empty, save the plastic connecting blocks scattered across the floor and the piles of stuffed animals carelessly tossed every which way.  Luckily, I have long arms, and with a few swooping motions along the floor, I had all those suckers pushed right up to the wall, clearing some carpet space in the middle of the room…enough space for my yoga mat. I rolled it out with a feeling of relief, an inner sigh that rippled through my whole body, my whole being.

It occurred to me as I began to move and breathe mindfully that I am rarely aware of my breathing or my bodily sensations while I’m engaged in creative activities like writing, drawing, cooking, sewing, playing guitar; most often my awareness is stuck in my head where I am constantly analyzing the quality of the work I’m producing, or the lack thereof.

A light bulb went off. Why not take breaks every so often to do a few postures and breathe deeply? Breathing is the source of inspiration, of life, and is so crucial to creating anything that carries the life spark within it.  I decided to pepper my writing time with short asana sessions as an experiment tonight, and boy, was I wowed by the results.

Beginning with floor stretches for my hips and legs, some supine twisting to release tension in my spine, and some easygoing vinyasa to warm myself up and get my blood flowing, I started to notice that I felt more and more at home in my body.  Each deep breath was a great gift.  After a few minutes I was energized, clear-minded, awake, and I was excited to get to my journal.

The mental alertness and the energized state of my body stayed with me as I sat down to write, and I quickly found a state of deep focus–which is pretty amazing considering that I’m sleep deprived, have been held hostage by my own raging hormones the last few days, and the house is a complete mess. I allowed myself some time to gush in my journal about anything I wanted, no editing at all, and I was happy to notice that I had no shortage of inspiration–the ideas and words just flowed.  Fifteen minutes later, I returned to my mat.

For the second mini asana practice, I ended up in headstand for a couple of minutes, purposely turning my world upside down, rooting my head in the earth and my feet in the heavens. I imagined that the blood rushing to my head would bathe my brain in the power of this moment, and it would be ready to generate thoughts, inspired thoughts, ideas to spawn new ideas, new visions, a fresh experience of myself in this life in this moment. I found myself wondering why I didn’t come to this realization before.  I answered myself, saying, “Because you weren’t ready before.”

So yay. Speaking from experience–even if it’s the experience of just this one night–if you ever find yourself in the throes of writer’s block or are simply feeling blah, just do a few minutes–five, maybe ten–of yoga asana or any other kind of mindful movement accompanied by deep breathing, and you’ll quite possibly feel energized and even excited about your work. You will have tapped into various levels of consciousness–physical, emotional, mental, spiritual–and  you might find yourself able to create from a much more expansive, free place that exists beyond the neurotic conditioned mind.

If nothing else, your body will thank you for the increased flow of blood and movement of lymph, the life-giving breath that restores your bodymind to a natural state of calm. No mind-altering substances needed, no specific plan, and not much time at all to feel more like yourself.  Heck, you don’t even need a yoga mat! You just need enough space to move your body and enough room in your brain to try something new and focus on your breathing. Try it! Come home to yourself, right here, right now. And tell me how it goes.

Happy  homecomings, my friends!

Thank You Yoga

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Today
I attended a yoga class
for the second time this week,
and I was reminded why
I come to my mat in the first place.

To arrive frantic, speeded up,
mind cluttered with thoughts,
then to move and settle into
the soothing rhythm of my breath…
to test my strength,
my flexibility,
my balance
while promising myself
to be gentle with this one body of mine…
to end in a deep relaxation
and remember where my true home is,
to leave peaceful, clear, and calm–
this is nothing less than a miracle.

Thank you yoga.