Putting the Pause Back in Practice

With the windchill temperature at -30°F, now is the time to stay inside and watch t.v.  Wait, what?  I meant, umm, stay inside and follow our breath.  Really, honest.

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Ok, I’ll ‘fess up.  I have been known to be way too involved in Transparent to pick up my kids on time from school.  Please don’t call Children’s Aid.  My pause button for all things electronic is broken.  It’s either on or off.  Moderation for me is not possible, so for this Lent season I thought it may be a good opportunity to give up all unnecessary screen watching to tame my addiction.  Wish me luck!  And please don’t tell me what happens to Maura!

I’m embarrassed to admit how difficult it is to tear myself away from a lit screen — like a cavewoman drawn to fire, I just can’t look away.  But if I don’t look away, when am I going to enjoy this life I’ve been given?  During the commercials I guess.

In the end, what I’m seeking is a little bit more balance in my life.   A little bit of ice cream, a little bit of tv, that’s awesome.  A tub of Ben and Jerry’s and  a netflix subscription, wellll…that’s pretty awesome too.  But every day? It’s kind of gross.    

A rich, full life demands balance.  And baby, that is tough.  Too much Transparent = too little house cleaning, and this delicate balance is lost.  In our yoga practice we also aim for balance…a steady comfortable seat in every asana we embody.  And that is the challenge, isn’t it?  We fall.  And we get up and we fall again.  And then, after practicing and practicing, when we find our balance easily in the asana, then we find a way to challenge ourselves a little more, knowing that the fun of yoga is finding the ease in what was once impossible.  To find space where there was none before.

Moving to Rest

A few weeks ago our family took a movement class in the city with Eiko, an East Village treasure, who, with her partner Koma, form the incredible duet Eiko + Koma.  For over forty years they have been practicing their particular style of dance which combines slow, searching movements for hours at a time.  They are hypnotizing to watch, and I hoped to discover, by taking a workshop with Eiko, what made their work such an act of meditation for me as an audience member.

One of the exercises we practiced was moving to rest, to practice “becoming useless”.  It brought me back to yoga, where the practice asks us to  find a steady comfortable seat –sthira sukham asanam – in all the asanas we embody.  What does it mean to practice becoming useless?  Perhaps not working, not striving towards a goal, but just being here until it becomes effort and then moving into the next moment seeking stillness and rest.    Not trying, but just being.  It’s hard, right?  It is easier to run towards a goal:  the challenge comes from being here now, right Ram?

If you get a chance to practice moving to rest with Eiko, I hope you will.  The workshops continue on Wednesdays at 10am at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery.  Or you can practice moving to rest on your yoga mat, any time, any where.IMG_2191

Yearning for Spring

Where are you Spring?  We’ve been waiting for you such a long, long time.  We come into the studio and the floor is chilly on bare feet.  The rain never ceases.  And we pine for the warm fragrance of blossoms, the sunshine on our faces, cool mud between our toes.  I am longing for your softness, your suppleness.  Where are you?

Lord of my Heart.  Open wide I keep for thee.

Wilt thou come?  Wilt thou come?

Come for once, come to me.  

Will my days fly away, without seeing thee my Lord?  

Will my days fly away, without seeing thee my Lord?  

Night and Day, night and day;  I look for thee night and day.

Night and day, night and day;  I look for thee night and day.

Unknown-4At Integral Yoga on 13th Street, this was a song we learnt during our Teacher Training.  Not a Sanskrit chant, but a love song of sorts.  Waiting and waiting for a Lover to come, searching every nook and cranny for just a trace of Him/Her.  That unrelenting yearning for Someone to step in and Save The Day and fill that yawning, gaping hole in our belly with lovingkindness ASAP, or at the very least make it stop raining.

Darlin’, we know that feeling.

This desire for change-it’s what brings us to prayer, and what brings some of us to our yoga practice.  A longing that we think may be satisfied by Someone/Something outside, but that which we seek is in all of us.  Atman, Holy Spirit, call it what you will,  we all have this light that shines within us, and sometimes even shines through us.  It may be 45°F and drizzling outside, but inside it is always sunny and warm.

Embrace the Season

245px-Seagull_in_flight_by_Jiyang_ChenTo everything there is a season.  And this season, beloved friends, is summer.  Even if you are not tethered to a school calendar, the relief of summer permeates every crevice of your being.  After the rushing and pushing and striving and elbowing forward of spring, we melt into the lethargy of summer where everything goes into S-L-O-W-M-O … what was so pressing and urgent a few months ago becomes a little less so, as we begin to let go of what we no longer need to hold on to.  So take the time to lay in your hammock, or sit on the park bench, or by the sea shore and let the summer rays transport you back to your essential self.  Embrace this season of relaxation and renewal…all too soon it shall pass.