The last month of my life has been a wonderful surprise. No, I’m not jumping up and down that I broke my leg and have clocked more couch hours in the last 33 days than I have in as many years. And yet, this month has been full of gifts, big and small.
So I gave my son Jack, the book “Life” the autobiography of Keith Richards, as a present this past Christmas. And fittingly he gave me the same present. I have been wondering lately whether there is any connection between my reading of Keith Richards Life and my practice of yoga, and to tell you the truth, I don’t see much of a connection at all, except...................there is the issue of collateral damage...........
Happy New Year everyone!
Well we’ve had three amazingly beautiful days here in Seattle to start our year off with. I’m not superstitious but it sure does feels like a good start for 2011. I had the good fortune of spending New Years Day at the studio facilitating a New Years day workshop and was grateful for the opportunity to bring together the things I love to do when setting my own intentions which are: Visioning, Vinyasa, Inquiry and Creative exercises.
Here is my recipe for realizing your Intentions for the coming year:
This month I was asked to write an article about back bending because I have a workshop coming up at Be Luminous January 23, 2010.
For those of you who know me and come to class regularly, I have no problem waxing on regarding virtually any yoga related topic. So why was this article so hard to write? At first I started with the hows and physical benefits, but that’s really missing the forest for the trees. You can learn the hows, the secrets and techniques, along with anatomy and physical benefits at the workshop. The real question is the why…
In October 2009, I decided I would learn how to run. I wanted to run long distance. I wanted to run with people. I wanted to run alone. I just wanted to run without suffering and I wanted to run with contentment and challenge. In other words, I realized I wanted to run like I was doing yoga.
I wake up early Sunday morning. My husband is out of town and I have decided to go hiking. I have a split second of thinking how much work I could get done if I got at it now, but that passes quickly. I need to get to the mountains.
I load up the dog, throw on my running shoes, grab gloves and a hat and head out. There is sun in Seattle and I feel hopeful. My intention is to do a short hike, maybe up the backside of International at Alpental to avoid crowds and get a good uphill in. I arrive in the parking lot at 10 am and to my surprise there are only two cars.
"Silent retreats are a kind of crucible that reveal the workings of the mind in a unique and illuminating way." James Baraz
Just yesterday, walking my dog down the streets of South Lake Union, I got the best mental picture. Two dogs from 20 yards away spotted each other, froze and silently faced off. Without so much as moving a muscle or making the slightest bark, they were talking smack.
The other day a practitioner at Be Luminous came up to me apologizing for taking child's pose many times throughout the class. He said: "My energy was extremely heavy and my body felt very unstable and I was unable to stay with the practice." I responded by saying that not only did he stay with the practice he offered himself and the group a precious gift by acknowledging and honoring his needs and learning to listen to his inner voice of wisdom.
Dancing with Fear by Natalie Smith
From Yoga Behind Bars magazine Issue 4 Winter 2009/2010
"Aren't you scared of us?" My eyes passed through the collection of girls in their blue juvenile hall scrubs and found the questioner. A young freckled girl of about fifteen gazed back at me with defiant, playful bravado. There was something so compelling about her question that the background buzz of teen girls paused and they all turned to hear my answer.
I smiled. "Of course not. Why would I be scared of you guys?"
I know, curious title.
Let me explain…
Along with 11 other unshrinking souls, I’ve committed to practice 40 days of vinyasa yoga, meditation, and conscious eating.
Today is day 15. And I’m entering new territory.
The steady practice part is not an unknown. I’ve practiced 3 days a week, for years. And I have experience with meditation. And I’m also mindful, most of the time, of what and how I eat.
What’s new then?
It’s this hard-to-explain surrendering to, and accessing of a deeper energy. I mean, way-down-in-the-energy-well-deep.
What does it mean to be kind? What does it mean to give and experience love? Walking through Be Luminous on a daily basis, I feel a sense of awe at what a community of committed people can build. Be Luminous is beautiful and buzzing. The energy, though, is not just an energy of busy, bustling people. Rather, it is an energy of deep kindness and community I see, hear and feel.
Chaturanga Dandasana, the four footed staff pose is a challenging posture for both beginning and intermediate practitioners to master. In the posture, the whole body is parallel to the floor, stiff as a staff and straight as an arrow, with the four limbs equally supporting the body. This posture requires complete body integration.
Common mistakes or misalignment in the pose include anterior rotation (rolling forward) in the shoulders, collapsing in the chest, arching in the lower back, and disengagement in the legs.
Having just crossed the threshold into a new year our energies naturally gravitate toward setting our intentions, renewing our commitments, reigniting our life vision and riding the natural energy associated with the birthing of our yearly cycle.
The energy we imbue into our intentions is wonderful and we also know that the craziness of our lives can seem to pull us away from our deepest yearnings.
Here are some of the touchstones that I have found helpful for the realization of my intentions and cultivating a regular yoga and meditation practice.