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. 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 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.
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. ✨🌱👐
"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
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).
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.
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.
Sometimes, a cookie and a chat are just the things to turn the tide.
It is Wednesday morning and I am breathing. Sneaking in a little needed opening/inversion @mercury_studio before beginning my work. A creeping, unexplained sadness is heavy in my chest and I know - it’s ok. It will flow on in a few minutes, or a day, the current will change and another emotion will direct the flow. The less I resist it, try to think it through or make up stories about it, the easier it moves. The more I can float with this, the more the joy will carry me when next it comes. (I know this). #iampracticing What’s your practice this morning, friends?
Intense and real feeling dreams lately. Which is not so normal for me (which is to say not normal at all). If there is any clarity in these fuzzy subconscious processings, it’s this: There’s no going back. I’m on my path.
Balance? Or BS? Bullshit, I say! More here: http://www.melhunt.com/balance-or-bs/ Rather self-conscious about putting this out - it’s still just a moment - #thesubtext still applies - you get that, right? But it demonstrates the concept so damn well! Oof!
Playing around with locust and peacock prep because fun & I swear my fingers come almost down to my knees. Seriously. This, and my absolute inability peel my feet up off the floor results in fits of giggles. 🙌😄🙏
~ Love YourSelf… ~
Oh yes. And one more, which I think is inherent: Don’t compare yourself. It dims that source that we so long to see.
(Source: sunshine-soulflower, via brisjoint)
Dirty feet and a faded bookmarker and these words. Gratitude to @marihuertas for introducing me to Raymond Carver’s poetry. “I lay down for a nap. But every time I closed my eyes, mares’ tails passed slowly over the Strait toward Canada. And the waves. They rolled up on the beach and then back again. You know I don’t dream. But last night I dreamt we were watching a burial at sea. At first I was astonished. And then filled with regret. But you touched my arm and said, “No, it’s all right. She was very old, and he’d loved her all her life.”