Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yoga Festivals

This weekend I attended BlissFest at the Baba Siri Chand Ashram. Once again I dropped my mat down and just stayed for the experience. Whoever came to teach, I was there to take it in. Yoga festival's are new to me and one of the aspects I am really enjoying is the opportunity to try things I have never tried before and discover new yoga teachers. One teacher led us through the 5 rhythms. I assumed this was another name for the 5 Tibetans, but it's quite something else.

"5Rhythms is a movement meditation practice devised by Gabrielle Roth in the 1960s. It draws from many indigenous and world traditions using tenets of shamanistic, ecstatic, mystical and eastern philosophy. It also draws from Gestalt, the human potential movement and transpersonal psychology. Fundamental to the practice is the idea that everything is energy, and moves in waves, patterns and rhythms. Roth describes the practice as a soul journey, and says that by moving the body, releasing the heart, and freeing the mind, one can connect to the essence of the soul, the source of inspiration in which an individual has unlimited possibility and potential." ( wikipedia)

The website is great! Check it out here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Saturday the Baba Siri Chand Kundalini Ashram is having their second annual yoga and music festival, BlissFest. How can you say no to something called BlissFest! I don't know any of the teachers or performers but I really don't mind what I'm really looking forward to is having a visit and checking out the ashram. Guru Ram Das Ashram, founded in 1969 is a large and active community based on Sikh principles. People come to the Ashram to study and practice the teachings of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, experience life in a spiritual community, or create a private retreat and get rest and relaxation in a country location.

As it turns out I will be unable to have a stay in the Sivananda Ashram in upstate New York. That will have to wait for another time. Perhaps a weekend retreat in the Fall. I'm OK with not being able to attend, I am just so grateful to have the opportunity to expand my practice and come back to center. Each day I feel stronger, healthier and calmer. I have made some radical lifestyle changes which will affect how I conduct business throughout the year.

Wishing everyone peace love and bliss!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lovely Summer Days

The dandelions and buttercups gild all the lawn:
the drowsy bee stumbles among the clover tops,
and summer sweetens all to me.
James Russell Lowell

Monday, July 25, 2011


(Yoga on the Beach)

It's been sizzling hot on the east coast. Things have cooled off considerably but the best option we had was to pack up and head for cooler climates. That we did, having a long and fabulous weekend by the ocean. I have talked about my favorite beach side teachers before, Nancy and Don. This weekend Nancy offered Seavasana. Students could choose to float in the ocean at the end of class or stay on the deck for the final relaxation. Water child that I am I came to the next class in my bathing suit fully prepared for an aquatic experience. At the end of class a group of us walked out and floated along while our teacher gave adjustments. As she gently gave subtle adjustments I could instantly feel where my body was holding tension. The release was powerful! I felt the ocean literally pulling the stress out of my upper back! When complete we left the ocean in a blissful state and floated back to the deck for the final om mantra. If your in a position to safely have a bit of a float in the ocean, or a pond or river this experience is not to be missed.
Namaste everyone, shanti shanti shant, peace peace peace.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Little Lady, Big Voice, Bad Bad Girl

I was really rooting for Amy Winehouse. This woman, a hot mess and a complete fuck up, was inspiring. I knew in my heart, healthy, she would blow the doors off anything I had seen before. I was just waiting for the day healthy would start and recovery would begin. Turns out holding my breath wouldn't have been a good idea. I don't think this was a drug overdose. When sever alcoholics go through withdrawals the results can be life threatening. Too little, too late.

When I first discovered her music she was cancelling tours due to alcoholism. I read something that said as long as we have known Amy Winehouse she's been a train wreck, so on some level no one expected her to actually go over the edge, this just seemed her status quo. Perhaps, and perhaps that's why I'm so shocked she died. The Tablet has an excellent article by Dvora Meyers. There's some good insight into Winehouses' drive and innate character that help give understanding to her possible comfort level about what I think most of us would consider disaster incidents rather than decisions. I loved her music and played it often in my yoga classes. Sultry, sexy and without apology this little tiny bee hived whiff was a complete force of nature. I'm sorry it went down like this, I think at this point we all are very very sorry. Good luck in your journey, you will be missed. I wish you peace, real love and good mental health in the next round.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beach Day

The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

Jacques Cousteau

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Afternoon

One of my absolute favorite places to spend time is Walden pond. I like to float along and think about Thoreau's thoughts on life, liberty and nature. Today I brought Walden with me and selected the ponds as my reading meditation. Splendid indeed!

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature.
It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.
Walden, Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Zippy the Great.

Summer is a great season to enjoy all manner of reading material. Life beckons to be enjoyed in the sunshine, with a comfortable chair and a big floppy hat. Pursuing the library stacks one day I ventured to find a funny little book called, A Girl Named Zippy, Growing Up Small in Moorland, Indiana, by Haven Kimmel This woman is a brilliant writer and this is an amazing read . Zippy is a memoir about growing up in the Midwest in the 60's and 70's. This women has a voice so vivid and rich that it steps right off the page and the character stays with you long after you've put the book down. I devoured this book and hungrily searched for more. Luckily I didn't have to look far as I found she wrote a sequel, She Got off the Couch and Other Heroic Acts from Moorland, Indiana. Incredibly, this book was even more enjoyable. In her continuation memoir, her mother goes back to college, earns a degree and begins a career. It's a book as much about feminism in the 1970's and a generation of woman coming into their own, as it is a recollection of memories from childhood. Completely satisfying yet left me longing to read more this woman has wrote. Luckily she's written several novels. I see a Haven Kimmel reading festival in my future.
Wow, good stuff, Go Zip!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review

I read My Life in 23 Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer this past spring. It seemed the book de jour for the yoga community and although interested I was also a bit hesitant, I just couldn't quite place why. Dederer explores her passions; yoga, marriage and motherhood. She captures a feeling state that is personal, generational and universal. I understand why so many felt a connection with the subject matter, but yet something was missing for me. It was the joy of yoga, the release, restoration and expression of life force. I felt a small wave of unresolved depression running through the story and I found it unsettling and from a psychoanalytic point of view a bit unnerving. Throughout the book I felt she was trying to let go but couldn't. This seemed a defense mechanism she inherited from her parents who had left each other years ago but never divorced. By the end of the book Dederer had found some resolution from her childhood and peace in her present roles as mother, wife with a professional career. I'm glad she got on the mat but I think it may be time to climb on the couch as well. Well written but strangely unfulfilling.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hip Release

My left hip is ever on my mind as it remains stiff and slow to recover. I am fully into my practice these days and truly feeling better than I have in a long, long time. Although I'm feeling much relief in the hip area I am no where near full ease or range of motion. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded in some pursuit or another that my hip is STIFF.

This was my year of living dangerously, at least as far as my hips were concerned. Since our residential move out of the city, my commute to work has doubled, weekends were spent in the car, driving back and fourth between my parents house and mine. Most evenings for the better part of the year I've been writing reports or papers. I managed a small home practice and a gentle class once a week but with too much going on emotionally and a sudden lack of general daily movement my hips just froze. After my dad died and I was back home my left hip turned into an immovable brick. I knew I was in trouble when we arrived home and it hurt to get out of the car. All my emotions, lack of motion, inability to make this situation turn into something better, family stress, all placed itself solidly in my left hip like a frozen brick of discomfort.

Techniques and Prescription for Hip Restoration:

Acupuncture:Acupuncture can relieve some of the distress, relax the area and increase chi and blood flow which assists to open up the area for healing both physical and emotional.

When the hip area is a problem the skeletal system will be out of alignment. A few appointments with your local chiropractor can assist in helping the healing progress although it is unlikely the chiropractor will be able to totally alleviate the problem. Some areas where your chiropractor can help:
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improving movement of the joint
  • Relaxing painful muscle spasm
  • Strengthening weakened muscles
  • Active Release Techniques for scarring
Yoga is truly my best medicine. A daily practice with a mindful approach using gentle asana and letting go has helped tremendously. The following are a few poses which open the hips, but as a word of caution, if your hips are truly feeling tight modify, modify modify!

Cobbler's Pose - Baddha Konasana
Blissful Baby-
Ananda Balasana
Head to Knee Pose - Janu SirsasanaSeated
Extended Side Angle Pose - Utthita Parsvakonasana

Wide Legged Straddle - Upavistha Konasana
Goddess Pose-Namaskarasana
Pigeon Pose - Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Many massage therapists and yoga practitioners believe fascia holds memory and emotion. The hips are considered a huge and sensitive area of emotional holding. The hips are related to the second chakra, svadisthana. This chakra is concerned with our sexual and creative energies. Svadhistana's element is water (tears, sweat, blood, urine).

Meditate on water; imagine drinking it, bathing in it, floating on it, standing in the rain, and returning the the womb.

Back bending positions such as cobra and upward facing dog and side bends, such as standing crescent moon and triangle are stimulating for the second chakra

Pranayama: Dirga and Kapalabhati

Mudra: Yoni

Mantra: Vam

Bandha: Uddiyana Bandha

Wishing everyone good health and loose hips.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Piss off you bully!

The other day I dropped the mat down on a yin class taught by Nancy Curran. If you ever have a chance to take either her class or Don's please don't hesitate. These two instructors are innately connected to healing the heart chalkra. It only takes one class to understand and begin to feel recuperation and repair of the third chalkra. It's powerful and humbling. When I take their classes I relearn how to allow joy in my body and I find the courage to confront whats blocking my ability to feel bliss, comfort and and mental ease.

As we made our way through the class I am working on releasing areas of tension and letting go. I have a great bulk of tight stress throughout my body, so I'm pretty busy scanning, breathing and releasing. I'm rather deep in, when my mind steps in with mental list of what I need to do today, tomorrow and through the weekend.

I confront my list making mind: "What are you doing here? You need to clear out!"
The mind's reply;" If you don't review what you need to do you will never remember it all. What you should do is repeat the list two or three times and then when you finish class go home immediately and write it down on your to do list."
Me: "You need to get out... now."
My mind: " You need to get organized."
Me: "Jeesh! you are relentless, what I need is a rest from you."
My mind: " You need to prioritize what you need to do. I don't think you will be able to finish everything by Monday morning."
Me: " I'm not looking to finish everything, I'm looking to have a goddamn vacation and I want you to shut the fuck up!"
small silence.....
My mind: "wow! did you believe that email?! be supportive write back. maybe you should discuss this with someone. I mean really the nerve and insensitivity of someone to say these kinds of things to your mother during such time of emotional trauma and change. Oh, almost forgot! don't forget you need a manicure."

And so it went for an hour and twenty minutes of an hour and a half class. I got about 2 minutes at the start of class and about eight minutes at the end because I finally just passed out from fatigue. Mind you, this is Yin, a passive, peaceful class where people lay down with blankets in relaxing poses.

There's some work to do here, no doubt about it.
Hoping your joy and bliss are coming easier,
peace and harmony everyone,

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Jazz

Sizzling hot day, blue sky, slight wind, dry and hot, with goodness all around the rim. Content dogs and humans, buzzed happy on Summer sun and feeling loved and well. Nothing like a little Anita O'Day to make it a completely perfect afternoon. This is clip from the Newport Folk Festival 1964, nobody does Sweet Georgia Brown this good. She really was a genius. There's an interesting back story to the whole clip and the people in it. The women lived a fast life, embraced her art, made no excuses and kept it in full throttle till the end. (As a little side note and a clue to her complex personality, she'd been riding the white horse all day before getting on stage.) I think in this case it doesn't really matter what she choose to do her genius was going to always shine through 100% every time. I think she'd had many lifetimes of doing this and it was old hat, old fabulous hat! Enjoy the clip.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday!

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus (1883)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

End of an era

This is my mat, Mr. Cushy, actually its the bottom mat. The top mat is dark green with a drawing of bamboo's on it that my best friend gave me for my birthday one year. For a long time my cushy mint green mat was my main mat until it started to become slightly grubby, that's when it became a cushion. This was years ago, before I became a yoga teacher. My mat and I have had some powerful experiences and we've created many lasting memories. We went through yoga teacher training, traveled to several countries and had some pretty strong experiences which have included (on more than one occasion) me in a puddle of tears clutching the sides for comfort. I have rarely been without Mr. Cushy. He sits in the back of the car and I never leave home without him. The only big yoga occasion we did not have together was when I did teacher training in India. I thought he might be destroyed and have to be thrown away. Instead, I bought an orange cushy mat which I gave to a most excellent colleague when I left India. The orange mat was OK, but there was no comparison. I was happy to be back on my mint green mat again. Well..... truth be told Mr. Cushy's best days are behind him. He is perennially dirty, kind of stinky, probably a little moldy too. I know its time for that sad walk to the recycle bin, but it's hard to say goodbye. I remember finding this little gem at T.J. Maxx. This was the thickest mat I had ever found (still is to this day) and I couldn't believe my luck. Really! No one wants a generic, slightly ugly, mint green mat, Wow! I immediately clasped my arms around the box and that was it, kind of a love at first sight story. I have looked for other mats but they just don't feel right to me. Now it's just time to say goodbye, well not today exactly but really soon, which to be honest kind of hurts a little. I could talk about none attachment and mat etiquette which would include sage advice about why you should never step on any on another person's mat... but I won't, its not about that. Its about a a proper send off for a great little mat that served me superbly. Friday is recycle day and soon we'll part so I'll just say goodbye Mr. Cushy and thank you, you've been fantastic.