• Embodiment,  Inner Work,  Practice

    The Story My Body Tells

      My daughter’s in bed, earlier than normal and without the usual tantrum episode that accompanies bed time.  The tightness in my chest has not yet release anxiety’s grip and my breath is thwarted by the anticipated stress of this time of night.  I can feel a slight tension pervading my whole body as some level of me braces for a standoff with my mini-tyrant roommate.  But she is sleeping, and as I start to believe that, I can feel certain liveliness tingling inside me from the rest of the day’s events.  My legs ache a little from work in the yard, and my eyes are beginning to feel heavy. …

  • Inner Work,  Practice,  spirituality

    My Top 12 Favorite Spiritual Practices

    These are the practices that I employ regularly right now in my life.  There have been and will be many others, depending on my needs and the season of life I find myself in.  And for you they may be similar or very different, the question is how do you tend to mind, heart and body?  What helps you align all the elements of your being?  How do you make the darkness conscious?  Asana:  To get out of my head and into my body, to make greater contact with what is stirring in me, to challenge fixations expressed in body and increase energy flow.  Asana is my primary gateway to…

  • Practice

    Suspending Strength and Weakness

    Warrior III. I watch my mind resist, and my body tense.  I have struggled with this posture for a long time because my hips are very flexible but lack stability and it makes this pose very hard.  But it also makes it very necessary to bring a balance of tone and openness to this region.  I enter the pose and automatically feel compensations arise:  tense jaw, thwarted breath, locked standing knee and unsquare pelvis.  Emotions arise:  irritation, resistance, confusion.  My mind begins to judge:  How long have you been working on this?  Why isn’t this getting easier?  What’s wrong here?I see my physical, mental and emotional patterns play themselves out in the container of…

  • Consciousness,  Intelligence,  Practice

    Asana: More Than Just Moving

    BKS Iyengar – Yoga Master I have always had a deep respect for Mr. Iyengar’s teaching.  Like him, I believe that asana is a path to liberation and the en-lightenment of our lives.  I was particularly struck recently by his description of the five stages of creating asana.  Below is a re-working of this description through my own interpretation.It is obvious to anyone who has practiced a moderate amount of yoga with various teachers that there are differences from yoga class to yoga class.  I have been curious about these differences for a number of years but have not been able to articulate them.  Mr. Iyengar does just this in his book The Tree…

  • Inspiration,  Practice

    Tilling Your Soil

      Sometimes a personal yoga practice can feel like a daunting task.  Simplify it –  every time you step onto your yoga mat simply till the soil of your being…     With the deep wish for new life as your Gardener, let the sunlight of your awareness shine evenly across the whole of your inner landscape.  Just as sunlight never judges the soil on which it falls, release all judgement.  Just as the soil never tries to impress the sun, release all efforting. Let your asana become gentle movements that kick up the crusted soil of hardened physical and emotional patterns in your muscles.  Let new blood flow in the clumped, knotted areas of your body, let your muscles relax and be…

  • Inner Work,  Inspiration,  Practice

    Yoga and Emotion

    Sometimes I love to revel in how immensely practical yoga and spirituality can be.  As a very sentimental person I find myself in the throes of wild emotional forces within me daily.  For many years I had minimal ability to make space for this inner wilderness.  Instead, I would find myself angry, depressed or anxious, yet I knew intuitively there was another way to allow the forces to move in me without being towed under by them.  This way has slowed shown itself to me over time through my practices and most especially yoga. Yoga calls us to be completely present amidst awkward and difficult sensations.  We are asked to stay with the inner…

  • Embodiment,  Inspiration,  Practice

    Being Grounded – The Deeper Meaning of Warrior II

    Before Christmas I wrote a post about learning to live the deep philosophy’s of the East and West through our yoga practice.  I believe that this will be a topic that will thread its way through my blog for as long as I write it.  Recently, I’ve been inspired by Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) and in this post, I will unpack this living posture so that it’s layers of meaning and impact can be seen. Warrior II It is possible to be in an asana without really being in an asana.  We have become masters of mechanically applying instructions for just about everything without actually participating or being present.  We can…

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  • Embodiment,  Inner Work,  Practice,  spirituality

    Living Compassion – One forward bend at a time.

    In my last post I introduced the process of learning how to embody wisdom.  In this post I will offer you one way to approach compassion through yoga and enact it as a living virtue in your practice or life. I find myself in a standing forward bend.  Today, it feels like it’s the first one I’ve done in a long time and my whole body is talking.  My hamstrings feel like over-wound guitar strings and my upper body feels tense and suspended over my legs like a marionette just waking up.  My breath feels constricted, like I’m wearing a girdle and despite having two feet planted on the floor I feel a little wobbly.   But,…

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  • Practice,  spirituality

    Be Affected By Your Breath

    I like to think that some of the things that I’ve discovered in my yoga journey may resonate or be helpful to others.  The following is an inquiry into the breath that can be engaged in your practice as a way to connect to this vital force and to approach your practice from a different perspective.  Much of it can be experimented with even if you don’t do yoga – either way, let me know if it helps, hinders or inspires! Become Aware – the breath is affected by and affects every layer of our being.  When we labor in physical activity it changes accordingly, when we are sad, mad, glad or afraid there is…

  • Inner Work,  Inspiration,  Practice

    Yoga and Instinct

    I am currently reading Maps to Ecstasy by Gabrielle Roth who is the founder of the 5 Rhythms – a practice of ecstatic dance and a profound movement meditation meant to bring us into deep intimacy with ourselves.  I am completely spellbound by her words.  She is a healer, an “urban shaman” as she calls herself, and a woman interested in an immanent relationship with living.  No transcendence, no stoic unemotive state of enlightenment to chase – her work is dedicated to being in the world in the most whole way we can as thinking, feeling, emobodied beings. I just finished a portion of her book on nurturing instincts.  She…