Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Today, in savasana, my mind was whirling away about a variety of things.  Not worrying, not fretting, just thinking.  I was thinking about yoga and how it really takes discipline and patience.  That's the tough love bit I haven't been sharing much lately.  There's the nice relaxing "I-sleep-better-on-the-days-I-do-yoga" experience of yoga.  There's a lot to be said for that kind of experience.  But I suspect there's a little bit of cotton candy quality to it.  It seems substantial but melts into nothing fairly quickly.

I was thinking about how there's "change" and then there's "transformation".  Change happens no matter what.  There's no stopping it.  Transformation takes discipline, mindfulness, and patience.

The first of the yoga sutras of Patanjali is sometimes translated as "And now the teaching of yoga begins", as if that occurrence happens once and then we are on the path.  I've come to realize that that moment where the teaching of yoga begins happens now...and now...and now.  And so do the opportunities to miss the moment.  Fortunately the  moment comes around again.  It's never too late.

While this was all swirling around in my head, I woke up to the fact that my body had found a place of profound relaxation.  So profound it sent a ripple of pleasure through me to notice it finally.  Mostly that doesn't happen.  When the mind is busy the body sort of picks up on it as well.  But today my body took me where I needed to go and then waited for me to notice.

And now the teaching of yoga begins.

Lu was always really good at Savasana

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A work in progress

This week I've been having some lively conversations in person, on Facebook and in emails about yoga.  I got my knickers in a twist, as they say, after reading a couple of articles in the paper that I'm going to say were a bit shallow and...well okay...I got annoyed.  I got defensive.  Yoga really doesn't need to be defended.  My practice is what it is.  It's a living event, a work in progress...and so am I. (Sometimes it's art!)

Usually I say yoga and meditation...as if they are two different things. But for me, they are one and the same thing.  Sometimes I'm moving and sometimes I'm not.  So when I practice yoga, everything is grist for the mill.  Even getting grumpy over someone else's comments about yoga is folded into practice.  This week, perhaps I'll practice renunciation.  I'm going to renounce worrying about what people in the popular press say about yoga.  Or maybe I'll just see my annoyance and defensiveness as some kind of love instead of a character flaw.  Who knows what I'll find.  That's why I love to practice yoga.  The living event unfolds in unexpected and sometimes delightful ways.

Here's a piece from Paths to God, Living the Bhagavad Gita by Ram Dass.  He talks about playing with renouncing desires, but renouncing pet peeves seems like it will be just as fruitful.

"If you want to play a little bit with a renunciation practice, pick some desire that you encounter every day. You decide which one: the desire to eat something or other, the desire for a cigarette, whatever it is you want to play with. Pick something that you usually give in to every day — like, let's say, a cup of coffee in the morning — and for one day, don't do it. Then the next day, do it much more than you usually would — have two cups of coffee. Start to study your reactions. Notice the difference in your feelings toward the desire on the first day and on the second day.

"Maybe another time you'll want to take two desires to work with: one day don't satisfy one and doubly satisfy the other, and then flip them around. Try to be very attentive to what's going through your mind about it. If you're keeping a journal, write about it in your journal. Start to relate to your desires as something you can scrutinize rather than as things that totally suck you in all the time, things that consume you. Get into a friendly relationship with your desires. Play with them, instead of being driven by them all the time. Desires get to be fun, really, once we're observing them instead of mechanically reacting to them.
"The whole game of renunciation and purification is an experiment — an experiment in how quickly we can extricate ourselves from being attached to our desire systems. Notice that it isn't a question of getting rid of desires — that's a misunderstanding. Trust me, the desires will stay around! We're just loosening their hold on us, getting clear enough of them so we can see them in some sort of context.”

And ps...check out this blog post from the Dalai Grandma on the Basis of Practice.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


"As Sri Pattabhi Jois, founder of Ashtanga yoga, said: 'Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.'

Doctors should really be prescribing practice to patients: practice healthy eating habits, practice exercise, practice good relationships, practice discipline, practice creativity, practice confidence, practice learning, practice working hard.  Because everything takes practice.  Health, contentment, love, good relationships, success...these don't come easily to anyone."

This is from the blog Prescribing Yoga by Christina Palmer.  It was chosen for recognition by one of my new favorite online magazines...The Magazine of Yoga...this morning.  It's so nice to be reminded that everyone needs to practice.  Whatever appears easy and effortless is always the result of practice.  We're all in this life together, practicing.