The place we stayed in Charlottesville had a beautiful old barn renovated into a yoga and bodywork studio - such a gorgeous, light filled space to practice. Basics. Salute the sun. Breathing in Tadasana/mountain pose and I *feel* like a mountain. Aligned tectonically. Rooted. Alive. Steady, a time signature marked by beats of seasons, years, my ecosystem dependent less on doing and more on being. Formed and forming. Yoga teaches me when to stand and when to yield - and that there’s a way that even yielding looks steady from the outside. A sense of solidity, resolution, even in changing circumstances. Even though things might not work out - not the way we wanted or hoped - we are ok. We are marked by the events of our lives - the tragic and the joyful - and we are still here. We are stronger than we know. We have more inside us than can be immediately perceived and still sometimes that moment is all we need to know that we are the same. We have an impact, on ourselves, on others, on our world. Even when we’re standing still. Maybe especially then. #iampracticing standing, present and steady, open and aware. What are you practicing?
October 12, 2014 at 8:26pm
#viewfromthemat this morning in the mist. Short on words this evening. Feeling gratitude, awe, and commitment. Feet solid, hands and heart open, eyes wide. 🙏
I feel strong, capable. In this particular moment, at least. And it’s got nothing to do with a fancy hand balance other than it being an outward, playful expression of an inner feeling. My physical practice doesn’t always include these poses because they don’t always feel safe, or necessary - but when they do, I play. One of the many paradoxes of practice is the interplay between whether I serve my practice or it serves me. Whether the body is a vehicle or a tool or both. Something to be cared for gently and protected, or to be used (and used up). Along the thin line between these sides of the coin spreads devotion, good humor, humility. In the space where the paradox disappears is intention, presence. Living with the dualities and aiming to widen that space requires a certain quality that I don’t know how to name, other than “fierce”. Playing with these paradoxes shows me the best and worst parts of myself, and presses me to build the courage to love them all.
October 8, 2014 at 8:36pm
"Some say the creative life is in ideas, some say it is in doing. It seems in most instances to be in a simple being. It is not virtuosity, although that is very fine in itself. It is the love of something, having so much love for something - whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land, or humanity - that all that can be done with the overflow is to create. It is not a matter of wanting to, not a singular act of will; one solely must.
The creative force flows over the terrain of our psyches looking for the natural hollows, the arroyos, the channels that exist in us. We become it’s tributaries, its basins; we are its pools, ponds, streams, and sanctuaries. The wild creative force flows into whatever beds we have, those we are born with as well as those we dig with our own hands. We don’t have to fill them, we only have to build them…
Once that great underground river finds it’s estuaries and branches in our psyches, our creative lives fill and empty, rise and fall in seasons just like a wild river. These cycles cause things to be made, fed, fall back, and die away, all in their own right time, over and over again.
Creating one thing at a certain point in the river feeds those who come to the river, feeds creatures far downstream, yet others in the deep. Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, is fed. That is why beholding someone else’s creative word, image, idea, fills us up, inspires us to our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves, p298-299
I did something really hard this morning. I followed through on a difficult decision to let go of leading a program that I love (in it’s current form) to make more space. I’ve been working far too hard for the last month and the truth is that I cannot keep it up. This is maybe the hardest part of my practice - recognizing that my time and energy are finite - and beyond that recognition, acting on this truth. In years past I would have pushed myself right up until my breaking point - and in the past this choice would have spawned a whole lot of fear or a whole lot of sadness, or both. There is a bit of sadness if I’m honest, but mostly what I feel right now is respect. And gratitude. Respect for myself and all those involved. Respect for my mission and how I’m choosing to enact it. Respect for all the possibilities and all the unknowns. Gratitude for the wise counsel of those in my circle and for the support all around me. Gratitude for the patience of those friends who haven’t heard from me in awhile. Gratitude for the opportunity to serve and to watch others grow, for those people who put their faith in me and for all that they and the effort have taught me in the process. May the space that this decision creates ultimately allow me to be of more use, and to live more fully into my self, with my heart wide open. #iampracticing
All things are created from source energy (call this God, the Universe, the Creator, or anything that suits you). And all things that are ready to be created will find a channel through which to flow. We are all able to be this channel. If we stop blocking the flow, we can dip into source…
“We are the channels, not the source. Our egos like to claim our ideas, but they are not ours, not any more than ‘discovering’ an unmapped territory would make it our creation — source energy created it. We merely find it and reveal in to humankind.”
Beautiful, relaxing truth. We don’t have to try so hard - to create or to protect “our” ideas. Aim to be a clear channel.
October 5, 2014 at 7:13pm
Today one of my clients grazed the floor with her fingertips in forward fold. First time. She’s worked hard for the 8+ months we’ve been practicing together - and it’s not the fingertips to floor that makes me proud, even though we both squealed. That’s just a by product, same as any pose. It’s the work it took her to get there safely: the body awareness she has developed, the noticing and adapting and *knowing* when something doesn’t feel right, the attention to her breath, the ability to let go, to soften and relax, to connect consciously with her body and to enjoy the process. My clients make me cry on the regular you guys - although I try not to do it in front of them. They are all so individual and each so inspiring. Yoga is amazing and it is such a privilege to watch it do it’s work.
What are you practicing today Friends? Today (& every day) I am practicing being a student. Which translates to being perpetually awestruck. Although I’ve been practicing yoga for a long time and teaching it for a few years now, these studies of the intricacies of anatomy and physiology, contact, sensation and how our bodies process information are amazing and overwhelming in the best possible way. We can always go deeper, there’s always more to learn - and I’m practicing being open, curious. I’m practicing releasing what I think I know in order to receive this new information. I’m practicing integration - bringing it right on into my physical & reflective practices and sharing my excitement with pretty much anyone who will listen (thank you friends and @thaddeushunt!) I’m enjoying this permission, this invitation, to dive deeper, explore more, and be be amazed. #iampracticing
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.