Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day! And not just in the fireworks, Fourth of July sense, but in every aspect of freedom.

As the yogis say, “Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.” This translates to “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

Can I get an A-Freaking-Men? Sing it with me!

Finding Yoga in Unlikely Places

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This beautiful shot was taken by photographer Robert Sturman. (Click this photo to get to his website.) Check him out!

Ok, I’m not actually advocating attempting down dog on top of a horse, but more power to this yogini. What inspired me to write this post is the massive amount of gardening I’ve been doing lately, which has started to feel a little like a yoga practice to me. For some reason, I just lose myself in the planting and re-potting and digging and mulching…Not to sound like a hippie, but it’s very much a “one with nature” sort of feeling. The reason it feels like yoga to me, besides the nature unity sentiment, is that when I’m down on the ground with dirty paws, all I do is breathe and move. My mind is free from worry and I’m not absorbed with anything but the task at hand. If I knew gardening would be this therapeutic and meditative, I would’ve tried it sooner! Better late than never and I’m grateful to have experienced the joy of gardening.

A Yoga-Filled Weekend Ahead

Now that I have more free time in my life, I’m able to comfortably accomodate more asana practice outside the home and this weekend I’m looking forward to the Wanderlust Festival (Chicago version) in Grant Park! One of my favorite teachers, the lovely and talented Mr. Wade Gotwals is teaching a class that I plan to attend. Our festival isn’t as expansive as the Colorado and California ones, but definitely some great stuff. I’m also looking forward to taking classes with the Starnes sisters and Amber Cook. Hopefully the weather will cooperate! It’s been very rainy and stormy here in the Chi, which is great for the growing things, but not so great when you have outdoor activities planned. Fingers crossed for good weather!

Yoga in the Chi

Yoga in the Chi

I am also attending a lecture and experiential meditation session tomorrow at Moksha called Essence of Living Tantra with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait. Looking forward to hearing him speak!

And, in between, I plan to hit a few classes at my home studio, Nature Yoga Sanctuary. I just love my teachers there!

Have a great weekend and Yoga On!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gone Missing For A While

This song has made it to my super duper repeat playlist. I run to it, I listen to it while I’m working, I turn it on and sing along with it, regardless of the fact that I’m pretty much a shower-quality singer. It’s very relevant to both my absence from blogging and the path my life is taking.

My last entry was a little vague, but I’m in a major transition phase in my life. I’m going in the direction I want, but not exactly on my timeline. I told a yoga teacher mentor of mine that I had this plan to leave my corporate job at the end of the year because I frankly need to save money to pay the bills (and maybe if I admit it to myself, a little scared to do something different, even if it IS what I want.) I was very insistent that this was the way my plan NEEDED TO WORK, in order to work. She kept asking me why my plan was so set in stone? Could I deviate from it? My response was, “no, this is how it needs to be.” Yep, not exactly how it turned out.

So, perhaps I willed the change, but here I am, on my own, trying to figure out how to make it all work. I’ve learned during this period that I need to be OPEN TO EVERYTHING. It’s so easy to define yourself by the job you’ve been doing (in my case over a decade.) Now I need to relearn who I am apart from that particular situation. In yoga, we call these old patterns samskaras and I’m on the journey to break free from mine.

As for the title of this post, I’m relating to my buddies in Maximo Park (figurative buddies) when they say, “I’m going missing for a while, I’ve got nothing left to lose.” I feel like I’m taking a break from the self that I know myself to be to get to the next me. Part of that process has been pulling back a bit, which being super type-A was hard to do, but I’m learning.

The times, they are a-changin’

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This post is not about Bob Dylan

Oh are they ever! Not only has the weather shifted from Winter into Spring (or at least it’s finally  feeling less consistently like Winter in Chicago), but my life is undergoing some major changes. I am equal parts excited and terrified. I’ve always been seduced by stability and very slow to warm up to change, but when it’s thrust upon you, you better embrace it.

A few years ago, I would’ve been an utter mess, but thankfully, I’ve learned the skills to cope with change as gracefully as I can. So, that is what I’m going to do! 

I do, of course, owe this attitude to all that I’ve learned from my yoga practice and teacher training. And for that, I’m truly grateful.

If you bend too far, you might break

If you’ve followed current yoga news for a while (or at least the past year and some change,) chances are you’ve heard of John Friend. And the scandal (oh, the scandal…) If you HAVEN’T heard about it, a quick Google search yields article after article after article, a few of which I’ve linked to, so I’m not going to go into detail, nor am I going to proselytize. I have never had any connection to either Friend or his school of yoga, the now-relatively defunct Anusara, so I have no personal bias, but what I read didn’t sit very well with me. Any teacher in a position of authority has a responsibility to not cross certain boundaries and Friend, as such a public figure, and for goodness sake, a yogi, could possibly have been held to a higher moral standard. (Am I getting preachy? I’ll stop. Just wanted to offer a little context.)

At any rate, this video and article: “John Friend’s Advanced Variations of the Roots: First Set” appeared in my news feed from online source Yoganonymous (love you guys!) Naturally, I was curious and clicked to see what this Roots series looked like. And this is what it looked like:

Ouch

Ouch

I’m not gonna lie to you, it made me uncomfortable. There didn’t seem to be any rationale or intelligence to the asanas. There’s the “full extension of the pose” but, this was something else altogether. It felt like a contortionist act and it made me fear for the spinal columns of less flexible practitioners, who attempt to emulate this craziness. Again, another example thrown out there for the uninitiated who think they have to BE contortionists to “do yoga” or “be good at yoga.” It just seemed a little ridiculous.

What do you think?

 

Look Ma, Two Hands!

jason crandell

This past weekend, I had the good fortune of studying with Jason Crandell at Moksha Yoga Chicago. I first became familiar with him last year when I embarked on a Yoga Journal 21 Day Challenge. They had a variety of different instructors, but I always particularly enjoyed his online classes. He seemed very no-nonsense and accessible. I was more than happy to find out that he’s a really great teacher in person, as well. He’s got a great sense of humor and I definitely learned some invaluable arm balance tips (it was an arm balance workshop.)

Jason first started out with a story about how with all of his traveling to different countries, he decided he wanted to learn different languages, German, Japanese, Spanish, etc…Then, he realized that he actually didn’t want to LEARN those languages, he wanted to KNOW them. I found that to be very timely with my last post about handstand. I don’t want to learn it, I just want to be standing on my darn hands, already! He stressed that it isn’t the outcome that’s important, but the process leading up to it. Just because we work really hard, doesn’t mean we will always nail an asana, but once we step back, deconstruct, question, and approach it intelligently, we’ll make more progress. Love it.

We then went on to learn four different versions of vasisthasana. Confession, I am no fan of vasisthasana, so again, my ego kicked in as the versions got progressively more difficult and my ability to maintain my balance decreased. Oh well, at least I gave it the ol’ college try! I have a feeling in order to make peace with vasi, I’m going to have to spend a little more time with it. Again, I want to KNOW how to do it and do it flawlessly without having to work at it. Patience, grasshopper…

After we went through the vasisthasana segment, we moved on to bakasana. He told us a great story about how he doesn’t interact with his Facebook page very much, but one of his friends who works at Facebook helped him understand some measurement about what kinds of asana photos people respond most favorably to. More advanced asana didn’t perform terribly well, but bakasana was a winner. The logic behind this is that bakasana  at first appears difficult, but is ultimately accessible.

I remember my first yoga class when the teacher demonstrated it for us and I just turned to my friend and, pardon my French, said, “no fucking way.” Lo and behold, a few months later, I was in bakasana and haven’t looked back since.

We learned three different versions, two I nailed, one…not so much, but I did get close! I was quite pleased with the workshop! And, at the end, he again reminded us that it’s more important to focus on the action than the outcome. So, I am going to keep slowly working on my arm balances and skip the stress part of not being perfect.