September 25, 2014 at 9:52pm
For real, I am tired. Today I turned off my alarm, skipping my morning physical practice in favor of an extra hour of sleep. On days like this, structure gives way to sneaking it in - and this teaches me a lot about connecting with myself in minutes and moments when I might prefer a wide swath of time. Breathwork in transit, walking and driving, asana between engagements. Back bending is a natural choice to boost my energy, and despite my body’s affinity for them, there is still a progression and a conversation involved. 5 to 10 minutes warming up my spine, connecting with my core and progressively opening - checking in all along the way - how does this feel today? What is that sensation telling me? Do I feel safe, supported - especially that old whiplash injury, finicky sacrum? What is the impact on my body, mind, emotions? Sometimes (often) I think the pose itself matters very little - except of course for any real physiological effects, like that much needed energy boost. The connection and the attention and the care fill a more foundational need - and the combination leaves me clear-headed and open-hearted. #mhyogasubtext
September 24, 2014 at 4:38pm
What are you practicing today, friends?
Today I’m practicing accepting that I cannot take on *more* without making sacrifices. That bandwidth and life are not infinite resources even if potential and ideas and ambition may be. That choices are necessary to focus, growth and progress. As my friend Heather says, you can do all the things you aim to, but maybe not all at the same time. I am practicing making these hard decisions the only way I know how, with careful consideration (a form of love, I am realizing). I am practicing extending that care to myself in the process, by reminding myself of the good that comes of rest and space, more trust and a little less determination. There’s a difference between perseverance and pushing, and despite how I feel about balance, I can fine tune this. #iampracticing
Wishing you curiosity and kindness (and connection) in all your practices.
September 23, 2014 at 9:52am
One of these days, I’ll remember to take a photo of what my first forward fold of the day looks like. This is not it. I’ve lost count at this point and the extension I’m finding in my spine means that I’m warm and there have been many. Forward folds are where I work out a lot of my shoulder and neck tension, paired with openers for the front of my body. On this particular day, my first forward fold unearthed intense sensation when I turned my chin toward my left shoulder and curled it toward my chest - I followed it across the top of my shoulder and traced it down my shoulder blade, the sensation advancing on the inhale and receding on the exhale, the next inhale increasing again down the line of some particular muscle attachment (I’ll have my books open in a minute to go find it!) I love this work, this practice, this curiosity. I love letting my body lead and listening to what it offers. I love these moments, mornings, spans of time where my mind feels calm and balanced and offering my body this patient, loving space doesn’t initiate the internal dialogue of efficiency, progression (whatever *that* means) how this influences what I’ll teach or my to do list for the day. It’s a practice. Some days, it comes more easily than others. Some days, it doesn’t come at all. It’s worth the effort to note what it feels like when it does - and to remember that this is why I do this. #iampracticing
September 21, 2014 at 8:30pm
#viewfromthemat this morning. Incredible. You guys, there is always more. More to learn, more to unlock, more connection, more love. I feel so grateful to be doing this, at this time, in this place, with these people. I have never felt so aware of the support that is always all around me (us) - that comes not only in the form of family and friends and teachers but also the earth I walk on, the practices and traditions I draw on, and even my own natural tendencies and gifts. May we realize our greatest gifts and our greatest opportunity to serve come from who we are. May we give of these gifts freely, without fear. May this permission and presence create space, healing and joy in our lives and the lives of those we come into contact with. (at Body Therapy Institute)
September 18, 2014 at 10:11am
On the way to a client’s last night, I couldn’t resist stopping for a few minutes. Breathe. Acknowledge that amazing process that’s already happening in your body. Know that that very breath connects you to these trees, this water, this light. We talked about how the elements of yoga practice are useful and relevant in everyday life - and she asked a question, my reply: “I don’t really know, and I think that’s why I’m still doing this!” I don’t fully understand, nor can I verbalize all the ways that this practice works in my life - but WOW do I feel it. #latergram #grateful #yoga #yogateacher #yogaSTUDENT
September 17, 2014 at 10:05am
I have a story for you. About intention & action. And I’m not quite sure how to tell it just yet - because it involves learning something I thought I *already* knew on a deeper level. This is how it works, I know - practice (life) is a constant unfolding and there is a difference between intellectual knowledge and experiential understanding. Still, I am often surprised by these realizations - and grateful for the opportunity to learn. // Here it is, as well as I can say it, right now. Our intentions can have an actual physical impact on our bodies, our experience, and our interactions. So I’m choosing my intentions consciously, care-fully. I’m trusting that my values guide my life in ways I may never see. I’m trusting that one of my highest values has a hell of a lot to teach me about living. Talk to me about your physical or concrete experiences of intentions or values in action. I would love to hear. #trustlove #iampracticing #whatneedstobesaid
September 15, 2014 at 2:54pm
Something has shifted in my practice recently, and I’m not quite sure I can put it into words. It just feels a little… different. This morning, my body called for precision - a set & balanced sequence (thank you, Andrey Lappa) a reflection of the structure I’m welcoming to support my transition into school and studies while I continue to serve clients and fellow practitioners online and in person. Afterwards, I revisited this pose again, yin style, for a few minutes.
Years ago, I never dreamed that my body could do this. Now, it’s one of the only poses that can effectively re-set my sacrum, while bringing needed space to my hip flexors. Breathing here, I actively lengthen my tailbone. I practice connecting to the tissues deep within my low belly, hips, pelvis. Sometimes I meet sensation, some muscles I can consciously control… In some breaths I meet silence and I inhale into that possibility. I explore where I can soften while maintaining safety in my knees and low back, and where active engagement and support are fundamental. I commit to being here, with my body, with myself, with whatever comes up. I commit to listening, even if (it seems) quiet. I commit to being present for this experience right now, acknowledging and releasing the distractions my mind offers up.
"The difficulty of defining contact and presence must be acknowledged before we continue. We can experience them, we can feel them in others, and we can be moved by them, but because of their preverbal nature, they are almost impossible to put into words. Presence and contact should be the foundation of the healing and educational professions, yet outside the experience itself, we have no language to describe them. The power of presence and contact is in the experience, and it cannot be nailed down to a “this” or a “that”. Their magnetism is that they cleave straight to the heart, because they are the language of the heart. Making contact from an embodied presence communicates the essence of living things. At it’s most profound, it is the voice and expression of the human spirit. Writing about contact and presence, then, is trying to put into words what is basically a nonverbal experience. In order to understand these elements of bodily wisdom, we need to free ourself from logic and consecutive thinking and to listen with our body and an open heart.
…We must realize that the ability to perceive, connect with, and assist someone else is directly related to the depth of connection we have with ourself.”
Richard Strozzi Heckler, The Anatomy of Change, p 116-117
These very first readings are giving words to my core philosophy (which I’ve only been able to describe bluntly as “Presence trumps everything”) and affirm the intuition that brought me to study bodywork. I have no idea where this path leads, but it’s so clear that it is mine.
September 4, 2014 at 8:32pm
Tonino: What exactly do you mean by “wild”?
Turner: I mean something that is self-willed, autonomous, self-organized. Basically, it’s the opposite of controlled.
You can see the wildness in the movement of the glaciers, or you can track it in the star formations of the Orion Nebula. Wildness is everywhere. It starts with microscopic particles, and it goes more than 13 billion light years into the cosmos. It’s in the soil and in the air, it’s on our hands, it’s in our immune system, it’s in our lungs - where there are two thousand bacteria per square centimeter! In a certain respect, much of what we consider us is in fact not us. We breathe and wildness comes in. We don’t control it.
From The Sun, August 2014. Interview by Leath Tonino with writer Jack Turner.
Gratitude to my friend Donna for sending me this - she knew I would love it, and oh, do I.
These boots. They’ve been to Scandinavia, the northern presidentials in NH, the Lost Coast and Yosemite - and now back here to my childhood stomping grounds. I love these boots. I love these woods. I love this river. I love this body that allows me to visit these places. #latergram
September 3, 2014 at 3:04pm
What are you practicing today friends? I would love to hear about it. Today, I’m laying out a pile of books that (literally) weighs as much as the pack I just carried over Franconia Ridge - and I’m practicing mindful preparation. It includes moving slow and resting (at the beginning. Practicing this now - and intending to continue) - organizing materials and laying out my calendar, listing my current obligations and projects to get some clarity on where I’m spending my energy, and what’s most important. I’m practicing being here in the excited/nervousness of beginning, in the overwhelm at the thought of being a student again and of this volume of material and practice that my brain and body will be absorbing over the next 12 months. I’m practicing being here - not in the wondering or the ideas or the exciting or worrying daydreams. All these practices come down to this, again, over and over. Be here, with this task. Be here with the feelings it brings. I am right where I need to be - and this is not a reassuring mantra, for the moment it feels like a simple fact. #iampracticing
No cell service. No wifi. I almost forgot what that’s like. Just me, my breath & body, a lot of laying in the grass in between rainstorms, a lot of staring out the window, a lot of silence, a lot of space. Yes.
Throwback to this weekend. Saturday, preparing with seated practice to “teach” about teaching - on our biggest obstacles (aka our fears) and how to mitigate them, our biggest assets - about how much of it has to do with showing up and being present exactly as we are (as opposed to who we think we should be) so that we can connect, and respond. About how our fears sneakily put us at the center of everything and prevent the natural relationship and sharing of responsibility between teacher/student/topic or tradition/and our background - everything that brought us here and informs who we are as teacher & student. About being clear on why we’re doing this, and about teaching as translation. And ever since, I’m thinking about it - more extrapolations, more that I didn’t have time to share, more that I’m still exploring and practicing, more that I’m still not even clear on myself. And this too, I told them, is part of it - trusting that they’ll get something out of it, trusting the shared responsibility of the learning environment. Trusting that it’s enough. It’s enough. And it pushes me to keep practicing, keep thinking, keep growing and refining. I love this work that is ever challenging, ever humbling. I love that most of the time I can laugh at myself in the process. I love the moments that are my why, those moments in practicing and teaching when I AM (Whole. Present. Connected.) fleeting though they may be. #latergram #yogateacher #yoga #iampracticing
Every gesture offers
but there will be no applause
for even the most beautiful of your thoughts—
the one in which you wash ashore, beyond thought,
and set off into the hinterland
of laughter and
in advance, over and over,
forever let me say bravo.
Bravo, Andrew Johnston (thanks, Amanda Oaks)
I read this as my spirit talking. “There will be no applause. Make your gestures count. Make sure they matter - to you." For that, forever, the spirit says bravo.
August 7, 2014 at 4:06pm
The submission deadline for Perspectives on Yoga Practice is approaching (this Sunday!) I would love to see your submissions to this effort to expand the visual culture of yoga by bringing stories of direct experience into the mix. Check it out at the link in my bio or cut & paste this address: http://www.melhunt.com/yoga-the-subtext/
:: Nothing in my mind seems to want to settle today. Don’t let the closed eyes fool you - they are simply my way of shutting out external information - even here in the relative solitude of my own space I can allow myself to be distracted by the kitchen detritus, the floor that needs vacuuming, the sound of the dryer, my husband working on the couch. There is some serious effort to focus behind those eyelids. I spent a good bit of time just playing, doing all sorts of things I can’t actually do - because they require lazered attention, in those moments. When I move on, the shallow breathing and wild mind return. In every position requiring some opening, my body leans in, hungry, and so I follow… Even though opening my ribs is NOT the thing that usually settles my mind. I hope, against the evidence of prior experience, that giving my lungs some more room will do the trick. I also know, from prior experience, that the messages of my body work in mysterious ways, and sometimes those signals get crossed with the messages of my mind. I’m not sure, any longer, whether I’m following my body or my mind and so I simply decide not to worry about it. The wildness continues and I let it, without adding frustration to the mix. I finish my seated postures and come into a fidgety savasana. Would it have been better to practice in a different way today? Maybe. Would my mind be a little more settled? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, my body feels open in a lovely way - even if today, my mind hasn’t followed suit.