Svadhyahya

I am practicing, learning, processing, growing, becoming.

August 23, 2014 at 9:31pm
2 notes
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.

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.

August 11, 2014 at 7:37pm
0 notes
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

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

August 8, 2014 at 1:04pm
32 notes
Reblogged from amanda-oaks

Every gesture offers
this possibility

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
suffering. So

in advance, over and over,
forever let me say bravo.

— 

BravoAndrew 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
1 note
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.

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.

10:05am
1 note
I’m not talking about the things we need to remember, although that also applies. I’m talking about the wild water of our thoughts - that heavy bucket sloshing, setting us off kilter. Get it out of your head and on paper (or the screen). It doesn’t matter if it’s messy or half-formed or something you’d rather not ever-ever-EVER have another person read or know. Write it out, scrawl, move that pen. Pour those thoughts out, dump them fast enough that you don’t have time to judge them. Sometimes, it’s the only way to empty out, to gain some space and clarity, to know what you think and to choose to be guided by those thoughts - or to disregard them. Breathe. Hit delete. Crumple that sheet of paper (burn it if you must) - or close the book and put it away, for another time when you need reminding. #amwriting #amjournaling #iampracticing

I’m not talking about the things we need to remember, although that also applies. I’m talking about the wild water of our thoughts - that heavy bucket sloshing, setting us off kilter. Get it out of your head and on paper (or the screen). It doesn’t matter if it’s messy or half-formed or something you’d rather not ever-ever-EVER have another person read or know. Write it out, scrawl, move that pen. Pour those thoughts out, dump them fast enough that you don’t have time to judge them. Sometimes, it’s the only way to empty out, to gain some space and clarity, to know what you think and to choose to be guided by those thoughts - or to disregard them. Breathe. Hit delete. Crumple that sheet of paper (burn it if you must) - or close the book and put it away, for another time when you need reminding. #amwriting #amjournaling #iampracticing

August 1, 2014 at 10:08am
2 notes
"8/1. Here I am again, 8/1, awake and dreaming." This, from my journal, in the wee hours of this morning. If dates are just arbitrary, why does my body know? Why is this crossover into my birth month a little wild? Last year it spawned Love More, Give More and the inception of #perspectivesonpractice which have shaped the entire year. It’s 8/1 again and I’m lazing for a few more moments. Because refueling, rest and sleep are important. And now it’s time to get up. I have work to do.

"8/1. Here I am again, 8/1, awake and dreaming." This, from my journal, in the wee hours of this morning. If dates are just arbitrary, why does my body know? Why is this crossover into my birth month a little wild? Last year it spawned Love More, Give More and the inception of #perspectivesonpractice which have shaped the entire year. It’s 8/1 again and I’m lazing for a few more moments. Because refueling, rest and sleep are important. And now it’s time to get up. I have work to do.

July 30, 2014 at 11:16am
1 note
Today, you’ll find part 2 of a beautiful conversation with yoga practitioner and teacher Rachel May over at #perspectivesonpractice (link in profile) This “interview” is more like a set of teachings on yoga practice - on the change that we sign up for as practitioners, the discomfort that can come with that, and taking responsibility for our feelings are all topics that she shares here - check out part 1 for a beautiful and startling description of embodiment, duality, and Ganesha’s true role of helping us to SEE our obstacles, so that they can be removed. #iampracticing

Today, you’ll find part 2 of a beautiful conversation with yoga practitioner and teacher Rachel May over at #perspectivesonpractice (link in profile) This “interview” is more like a set of teachings on yoga practice - on the change that we sign up for as practitioners, the discomfort that can come with that, and taking responsibility for our feelings are all topics that she shares here - check out part 1 for a beautiful and startling description of embodiment, duality, and Ganesha’s true role of helping us to SEE our obstacles, so that they can be removed. #iampracticing

July 26, 2014 at 11:07am
0 notes
This. Again this. I would like to be able to say “this.” every morning, boredom or beauty, ease or frustration. To welcome it all (maybe?) or at least, to be with it, breath with it, to *live* it. Mornings like this it’s easy. It feels good. Trees and damp grass. Cool earth and hot sun. Breathing and moving and letting an ant off on a nearby blade of grass. Outdoor yoga may be my favorite yoga ever, asana or hiking or just sitting with the sound of the birds and the breeze. Taking advantage of the setting here, now, on a tiny weekend breather, moving through my physical practice, working out the morning stiffness, adjusting for the uneven ground, laughing with the way it shifts my balance, pausing to breath, to stabilize, to normalize. Absorbing the sun in savasana. Feeling steady, wide open, whole.

This. Again this. I would like to be able to say “this.” every morning, boredom or beauty, ease or frustration. To welcome it all (maybe?) or at least, to be with it, breath with it, to *live* it. Mornings like this it’s easy. It feels good. Trees and damp grass. Cool earth and hot sun. Breathing and moving and letting an ant off on a nearby blade of grass. Outdoor yoga may be my favorite yoga ever, asana or hiking or just sitting with the sound of the birds and the breeze. Taking advantage of the setting here, now, on a tiny weekend breather, moving through my physical practice, working out the morning stiffness, adjusting for the uneven ground, laughing with the way it shifts my balance, pausing to breath, to stabilize, to normalize. Absorbing the sun in savasana. Feeling steady, wide open, whole.

July 25, 2014 at 10:29am
3 notes
This. This is one of those mornings where I feel so incredibly grateful for this body, what it does automatically all the time without my intervention, and what it does because I ask it to. What a gift. Amazed at this practice, it subtleties and it’s bigness - more than ever being in any specific position that might give a thrill - the details, the refinements, the process, are what keep it fresh and new - and what keep me grounded, fascinated, passionate - what give me the tools, the ability to be here, to enjoy it all. What a gift. #yoga #yogaeverydamnday #yogateacher #childspose #balasana #thesubtext

This. This is one of those mornings where I feel so incredibly grateful for this body, what it does automatically all the time without my intervention, and what it does because I ask it to. What a gift. Amazed at this practice, it subtleties and it’s bigness - more than ever being in any specific position that might give a thrill - the details, the refinements, the process, are what keep it fresh and new - and what keep me grounded, fascinated, passionate - what give me the tools, the ability to be here, to enjoy it all. What a gift. #yoga #yogaeverydamnday #yogateacher #childspose #balasana #thesubtext

July 24, 2014 at 11:20am
0 notes
This week I’ve found myself lazing on my mat - practicing but *not* practicing - as I find when I realize I’ve just been sitting there - not paying attention to my breath or sensation - completely checked out, wondering how much time has gone by since I was last *here*. We can use anything to check out - even these tools that are built to help us be present - engaged with this body, this moment. I even think this checking out is not all bad, in moderation, when I’m conscious that I’m doing it - choosing, for example, to just look out the window, not thinking about much of anything at all. In this case, it’s been more unconscious, a shift that I don’t notice until I come to and realize I’ve lost time. Usually, this means I’m tired, or overstimulated, both of which are true this week. But then this morning, I found the fog clearing a bit, some energy returning, and a long, slow, mostly attentive practice ensued. Long enough to wind my way safely here at the end - a pose that takes lots of prep and careful attention for my body to even consider it - long enough to move slowly through everything my body wanted, structure and details and ranges of motion - opening and play. Savasana, which has also not come easily lately - was lovely - attentive rest without so much struggle. Ah. Enjoying the after effects.

This week I’ve found myself lazing on my mat - practicing but *not* practicing - as I find when I realize I’ve just been sitting there - not paying attention to my breath or sensation - completely checked out, wondering how much time has gone by since I was last *here*. We can use anything to check out - even these tools that are built to help us be present - engaged with this body, this moment. I even think this checking out is not all bad, in moderation, when I’m conscious that I’m doing it - choosing, for example, to just look out the window, not thinking about much of anything at all. In this case, it’s been more unconscious, a shift that I don’t notice until I come to and realize I’ve lost time. Usually, this means I’m tired, or overstimulated, both of which are true this week. But then this morning, I found the fog clearing a bit, some energy returning, and a long, slow, mostly attentive practice ensued. Long enough to wind my way safely here at the end - a pose that takes lots of prep and careful attention for my body to even consider it - long enough to move slowly through everything my body wanted, structure and details and ranges of motion - opening and play. Savasana, which has also not come easily lately - was lovely - attentive rest without so much struggle. Ah. Enjoying the after effects.

July 21, 2014 at 1:45pm
0 notes
Marking a moment. I’ve just dropped an important packet in the mail - one that alternately shapes/hijacks my plans - and to some extent, my partner’s - for the next year. My brain wishes me to share all the logical, concrete, rational reasons why I would do this, but if I am honest, the real reasons aren’t rational. Call it intuition, a gut-feeling, heart-guidance, something my hands picked up on before my head (they usually do). No decision I’ve ever made this way has led to regret - even though not a single one of them turned out the way my mind predicted. With that piece of concrete truth - I’m giving myself over to curious excitement, about all that I’ll learn, to the unexpected turns and the unknown outcome. We never can see the whole thing at the beginning - and isn’t that amazing, actually? I begin bodywork school at the beginning of September. ✨🌱👐

Marking a moment. I’ve just dropped an important packet in the mail - one that alternately shapes/hijacks my plans - and to some extent, my partner’s - for the next year. My brain wishes me to share all the logical, concrete, rational reasons why I would do this, but if I am honest, the real reasons aren’t rational. Call it intuition, a gut-feeling, heart-guidance, something my hands picked up on before my head (they usually do). No decision I’ve ever made this way has led to regret - even though not a single one of them turned out the way my mind predicted. With that piece of concrete truth - I’m giving myself over to curious excitement, about all that I’ll learn, to the unexpected turns and the unknown outcome. We never can see the whole thing at the beginning - and isn’t that amazing, actually? I begin bodywork school at the beginning of September. ✨🌱👐

July 20, 2014 at 3:58pm
38 notes

"Joy is the kind of feeling a woman has when she lays the words down on paper just so, or hits the notes al punto, right on the head, the first time. Whew. Unbelievable. It is the kind of feeling a woman has when she finds she is pregnant and wants to be. It is the kind of joy a woman feels when she looks at people she loves enjoying themselves. It is the kind of joy a woman feels when she has done something that she feels dogged about, that she feels intense about, something that took risk, something that made her stretch, best herself, and succeed - maybe gracefully, maybe not, but she did it, created the something, the someone, the art, the battle, the moment, her life. That is a woman’s natural and instinctive state of being.” 

___

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves, p223-24

July 17, 2014 at 2:35pm
2 notes

I’m putting together a collection of photographs and stories. Yoga stories. Real stories. And I’m looking for YOURS.

Let me tell you how this all started. Almost a year ago, in response to a question from a prospective student (“How do I know you can teach me yoga when I don’t see any photos of you doing it?” – A legitimate question when the frame of reference for yoga is limited to the poses displayed with every article and advertisement.) I had been avoiding the issue, and I realized that I couldn’t keep on. I got curious. Was there a way to share photos of my own yoga practice that was in integrity for me, and took into account the relationship between my intention as the photographer/subject and the perceptions of the viewer? Was it possible to navigate the responsibility I feel to promote safety, personal responsibility, and inclusiveness in yoga practice? A way to provide visuals promoting conversation about what yoga is, that refused to exploit the fact that I mostly fit the prevailing visual paradigm of a yoga practitioner?

I began to explore, to try taking some photos and writing some words. These pieces have slowly become a part of my personal practice, that in my head is much more about the subtext than the image – about what you can’t see by looking at the photo. The photo that combined with the story might give a broader picture of a moment, or a practice, or an evolution. A pairing that opens the door for conversation, and opens minds about what yoga is, really, rather than giving any false impression of attainment. This is idealistic, I realize. And also not original, I see others of you out there, putting so much thought and sensitivity into how you share about your practice online. These postings, I suppose, have been my quiet contribution to the “yoga selfie” debates. I don’t know that I always succeed in affirmatively answering my own questions, but I’m actively examining my intent with every piece I post.

Back to this project, these yoga stories.

Here’s what I’m dreaming of.

I know there are others of you out there, who care about sensitive representation of this practice that means to much to us. And still others of you who have something to share, but have struggled to navigate how that might work, as I did. Here’s what I’m dreaming of. Maybe it’s an e-book. Or maybe it’s a Zine. I don’t really know (or particularly care) about the final form of the project just yet. What I do care about, deeply, is the content. And here’s where you come in. I’ve been sharing my stories and my images this way, and I want to hear yours. Beyond that, I want other people to hear your story.

I want these pairings of stories and images to be part of the conversation of what yoga is really all about, the impact that personal practice can have in our lives in both the near and long term, and of who does yoga. I want to see different body types, skin colors, genders and sexual orientations - different representations of flexibility and physical ability, and for sure I want some photos that don’t show asana or whatever human form you happen to take, at all. If your photo happens to show a pose, I want the story. It’s not the static picture of your backbend that I connect with – it’s your journey that gives it depth. I want images and stories that represent your yoga subtext, your broader story, your wider lens. What do you say? Have you got a subtext to share?

I’ll be taking submissions through the end of July. Email me at melhuntyt at melhunt dot com with a subject heading of “Yoga The Subtext” and your photo + your subtext story. Preference will be given to unconventional displays of yoga, diverse practitioners and types of practice (beyond just asana), and above all to great content – your best writing and images on this topic. Photos should be high quality (i.e. 300 dpi or above to allow for possible printing in case we should decide to go this route).

12:53pm
1 note
Including yourself. 

When I’m present for this self, there’s no hiding. When I’m present for you, I can see what you’re made of.

Including yourself.

When I’m present for this self, there’s no hiding. When I’m present for you, I can see what you’re made of.

9:51am
3 notes
It is 70 degrees and I am breathing. There is a slight breeze, cooler than my body temperature - and I shift back and forth between delighting in that sensation that magnifies the delineation between my skin and the air around me - and counting my breaths. I suppose, at some point in these moments, that maybe I should choose one or the other to focus on right now - and then I give over fully, to sensation… Only to notice at some point a shift in my breath (sensation too, of course) - this signals my brain and without thinking, I begin counting again, steadily, slowly inhaling 1, exhaling 1. Inhaling 2, exhaling 2. Inhaling 3… And then the air stirs across my neck, my jaw, my arms, and I leave the count behind once again. There are decisions that happen here - of course there are, but for the moment I let them slide by under the radar and allow this (undisciplined?) shift back and forth - external sensation/internal sensation, conscious counting, conscious awareness of my skin. Undisciplined or not, when I decide to move, I feel like a new person, more awake to this body and it’s senses, more aware of the sounds and sights and smells around me - damp earth and squirrels running, trees rustling and card passing sunshine breaking through the leaves, green and brown. More curious, open. Less pondering.

It is 70 degrees and I am breathing. There is a slight breeze, cooler than my body temperature - and I shift back and forth between delighting in that sensation that magnifies the delineation between my skin and the air around me - and counting my breaths. I suppose, at some point in these moments, that maybe I should choose one or the other to focus on right now - and then I give over fully, to sensation… Only to notice at some point a shift in my breath (sensation too, of course) - this signals my brain and without thinking, I begin counting again, steadily, slowly inhaling 1, exhaling 1. Inhaling 2, exhaling 2. Inhaling 3… And then the air stirs across my neck, my jaw, my arms, and I leave the count behind once again. There are decisions that happen here - of course there are, but for the moment I let them slide by under the radar and allow this (undisciplined?) shift back and forth - external sensation/internal sensation, conscious counting, conscious awareness of my skin. Undisciplined or not, when I decide to move, I feel like a new person, more awake to this body and it’s senses, more aware of the sounds and sights and smells around me - damp earth and squirrels running, trees rustling and card passing sunshine breaking through the leaves, green and brown. More curious, open. Less pondering.