Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mindfulness in Motion

"From down dog, now step your right foot toward your right wrist, come up into warrior one."
The reaction is to quickly adjust the feet, stand up and then take arms up over head.
It is a reaction, 'ahhhh... I know warrior one.'
The goal of Yoga though is to experience the movement in between down dog and warrior one, to notice the roll forward on the back foot to the ball, to engage the low abdomen as one lifts the leg, bending the knee to bring it through. To experience the foot placed, to notice the hips and whether the left is drawn back or not. Then from this place of balance, to move the arms in line with the ears, to reach long through the side body as one lifts the rib cage away from the top of the hips and upward. Feeling steady in the stance. At the height of the pose, the belly is still engaged and stabilizing the legs. From this very solid and stable foundation, the front body can open, reversing the curve of the thoracic spine, the collar bones wide and the energy of breath collecting in the region of the heart.

Try it sometime, take a full minute, a breath or two to come up into warrior one and see what an amazing landscape of information there is for you in the change.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Secret of the Yoga Sutras

I have begun reading the secret of the Yoga sutras. As I read about learning to recognize and gradually not be attached to the variations of the mind, I am forced to notice how my mind wanders into self criticism. Yesterday looking in my body as I tried on pants and thinking with dismay how big around my thighs are and my butt looks saggy. I don my running shoes and go out with my good and dear friend Mike, all the while feeling like I am sucking air and I should be in better shape. Why is my mind on this journey of self criticism? Because it is the habit. It is my habit to look at myself with negative judgement.

And I know I am not alone. I watched a great TED talk this morning with a make-up artist who acknowledge that this is what she has been hearing for years from the people who sit in her chair. And then she said something very helpful... was it going to take being on deaths door or having cancer to make her appreciate what she was given?

Excellent reminders that I am in charge of whether I decide my thighs are too big or my butt too saggy. I am in charge of whether I choose to appreciate this 50 year old body that can still climb V4 in a matter of a few tries and still runs, weighs the same that it did in high school and enables me to teach Yoga. I will decide that I have been blessed with a petite figure probably from my Gram. I have bright blue eyes and a wide smile. And a pretty discerning mind. All in all, a pretty package.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Yoga is Life

I enjoyed the past week in Colorado at a Yoga training immersed in the teachings. There was some asana, but more than that, there was an excavation of mud that covers the soul. As we stand in a pose we see the subtle movement of the body. The leg has a slight quiver, the abdomen expanding on inhale, tail rooting into the body on exhale. If we watch even more closely, we see the movement of the mind. 'My shoulder hurts.' 'Steady... steady...' 'God I hate this pose.'

I watched my mind as I tried to remain one pointed on the breath and the concentration of light at the third eye. My mind went off on an excursion and once I recognized it's movement, I had to retrieve it and bring it back. Then the thought arose...'act fearlessly.' Clearly a message from deep within me as it brought with it amazing feelings of excitement and anxiety at the same time.

These glimpses into what lies in the heart are critical to shape how I will live my life from here forward. These messages arise from the silence. And so as I negotiated the mountain passes through a late spring snow storm, my new mantra, "act fearlessly" accompanied on the road.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tuning out, tune in and farther out

I am sitting in a hotel breakfast room in the shadows of the mountains in Colorado. The air is crisp. The sun is slowly creeping higher in the sky, though later than what I am used to in Halifax. I am in the process of trying to adjust after a 19 hour day of travel.

And I am so very happy. Happy to put the phone, the computer, the Facebook, the blog away. Happy to just rest. Oh... It will be a week of asana, meditation, conversation, walks, dinners, social engagement, dishes and sweeping. But I will rest in it. 

My love of Yoga trainings is that I am fully present. I do not plan ahead or ruminate in the past. I sit with where I am.

Perhaps you can't go on a retreat. But go to class this week and rest in each pose, present to the experience, the whole experience. How does the tight hamstring feel when it is experienced in the landscape of the whole body experience? 

So much of our life is lived holding tightly to one part - usually what we dislike the most. Broaden that experience. In the tremendous mountains, the air, the sangha, it is a bigger landscape in which we see the world is beautiful, even if there is something challenging before us.

Rest in the pose and ask yourself, "how would this feel if I couldn't feel the discomfort?"