limbo land

october 2013

chrysallisQUOTE

If you, like a lot of us evolutionary agents, have been feeling weird lately, uncomfortable in your skin, your world and your relationships – especially with your self, you are not alone.  The period between who you were and who you are evolving into can sometimes feel like limbo land.

It can be hard to navigate this unknown, untethered to the past or future, terrain, when we are so used to strumming the same notes of old thoughts and behaviors.  For example, if we are prone to strumming only 2 notes in our song: one note of victomhood and the other note of righteous indignation for most of our lives, then on the way out of that song and into the new tune of empowerment and truth, we find ourselves in a period of transitional silence. The caterpillar that is not yet a butterfly, in it’s pupal stage, called a chrysalis, is just as important and beautiful as any other phase of it’s metamorphosis.

The space between the old song and the new song can be quite challenging and uncomfortable, because we have yet to experience the new notes of empowerment, and what’s left is silence. At first there might be a tendency to fill this “void” with food, or busy-ness, or drama, but the hook isn’t there anymore so we are not fulfilled in the same “old” way.

limbo danceWhen we pause long enough and feel into the silence, no longer trying to outrun the discomfort of the unknown, we can appreciate the beauty and completeness of the chrysalis. When we ALLOW and recognize the beauty and joy within emptiness, the range of music that lives within us will emerge, and a new song will be sung.  This “limbo land” is rich with opportunity to sit in the great mystery, and appreciate reaching INward instead of reaching OUTward. It is PARTY time in LIMBO land!   While it is OFTEN the LAST thing I want to do in this seemingly empty state, it is always THE thing I need to do, which is NOTHING, which is simply being in the weirdness and sitting with what is…yes, sitting – MEDITATING. These are the exact moments that our souls beckon us to come home and nest, like a homing pigeon finding its way back after a long journey.  Take rest for 1 minute, for 5 minutes, for as long as you will ALLOW.

We welcome you to join us at MoYo for playtime in LIMBO LAND, where we are also enjoying a metamorphosis and continue to find the beauty between the notes.

practice makes P R A C T I C E

september 2013

 

cellsLIFE

 

Sometimes, well let’s face it, A LOT of times, we miss what is right in front of us. We miss, ignore, bypass and bulldoze our way through the very experiences that can help us expand our consciousness and evolve into our best selves.  Those who show up in our lives to polish the pearl, to press our buttons, and maybe rub us the wrong way, show up in order to teach us something about ourselves that we might otherwise skip over, consciously and usually unconsciously.  These are the exact experiences that we need, but usually don’t want, in order for us to live this gift of human life to its fullest.
Because we have chosen the path of Yoga as one of the ways to practice being present with these experiences, we give ourselves the opportunity to sit with the discomfort and mystery.  When we practice yoga asana (postures), we enter into the present through the physical body, observe the breath, and how we CHOOSE to relate to what is.
T H I S   i s   t h e   p r a c t i c e .
How we are on our mats is exactly how we are in our lives.  Each of us relates to what is through the lens of our own perceptions.  It is often when outside forces, in the form of teachers and circumstances beyond our control, push and prod us to expand these perceptions, that we have the greatest opportunity to learn.
Because we are householders, and not cave dwellers, we have chosen to live amongst the chaos and diversity of humanity. This diversity keeps us honest & makes life interesting with a bounty of “teaching moments.” We see what we are ready to see, and we can CHOOSE to stretch that vision: to ZOOM IN when we get too far out, and to ZOOM OUT when we get too small-minded or myopic.
reflection“The world is only a mirror. You will only see in the world what you’re prepared to see in yourself – nothing more and nothing less .”          - Robert Holden
When we step onto our magic carpets, whether in a group class or on our own, we enter into relationship with our inner world, and the opportunity to intimately connect with what is reflected back to us. It is called the PRACTICE, because it is a PRACTICE. We don’t DO yoga, we practice being with ourselves exactly as we are, and the physical practice provides the richness of playing our edges on every level.  It is all there on the mat, off the mat, and available to everyone, regardless of ability, agility, or flexibility.  You know that saying, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear?”  Well, the teachers are everywhere, and anywhere we choose to see them.

letting the L I G H T in

august 2013

 

crack

If you live along the coast, in the Santa Barbara area or elsewhere, you may have been privy to the prolonged marine layer that seems to greet us every morning, and linger sometimes until 5PM.  There isn’t much to complain about here in the land of tremendous beauty, so the weather tends to be the worst of it, not to mention the unseasonable CHILL that has accompanied the lack of sunlight.
You also may or may not have noticed that there seems to be a universal awakening or unavoidable awareness of the dark places withIN us. The shadowy parts of us that call our names and beckon us toward integration and wholeness.  I know that for myself, I went through a long period in my life being ruled by the shadows, because I was completely denying their existence – “THINKING” that the enlightened ones had no dark sides, and that I could fake until I could make it…you know – over there, where the happy people live. With all the talk of LIGHT, and being the light, seeing the light, calling in the light, I mistook this to mean GET RID OF the DARKNESS.
RoseCU“It is our creation that allows the
beauty of our life to reflect to us.
Trust the dark crevices to present
the sweetness hidden in the growth.
These are the places you will find your truth. ”    - Christi Mider
The denial of the dark side, or “demons” within, is the best way to be controlled by them. Then we get busy trying to control our external world, so as not to disturb or draw attention to that which we find uncomfortable or messy. We can also take the course of the Hero’s Journey and spend gobs of energy trying to destroy, obliterate, annihilate, and subjugate the parts of us that don’t “belong” in our picture of happiness, which can cause even more suffering.  ORrrrrrrrr, we can choose to be awake to them all, and  L O V E every bit of ourSELVES, so that we can integrate and authenticate our entire BEING.  More about the ancient art of “feeding your demons” in the book of the same name by Lama Tsultrim here.
Here’s to loving the L I G H T,  the D A R K ,  and  E V E R Y T H I N G i n –  b e t w e e n !

a case for S E L F ishness

july 2013

299

Somewhere along the way, SELFishness got a bad rap. Yes, it is typically defined as ”concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare,etc., regardless of others,” but I am starting to view it from a different perspective, and put a subtle, yet profoundly distinct, spin on it.  I am not referring to narcissism or greed, nor am I referring to the antithetical behavior of self-denial or selflessness, but rather…SELF-centered, SELF-serving, SELF-loving, SELF-regarding:
S E L F , as in the creative expression of SOURCE that shows up as YOU.

It is easy to confuse wanting to be of service in the world with SELF sacrifice.  We do this when we say “yes”, when we mean “no” – over and over again. We do this when we put our own self-care on the bottom of the “list,” in order to get just one more thing “done.”  We do this when we look outside of ourselves to fill the  v o i d ,  all in the name of service.

There is a reason that during the pre-flight safety instructions, flight attendants instruct us to “put the oxygen mask on ourselves first, before helping others.”  We can’t be of service to others if we are not serving our SELVES first, and it can be as simple as taking the time to BREATHE.  Whenever I have a hard time putting my SELF first, over the unending tasks and duties, I think of something Erich Schiffmann has often shared.  If I can really get with the fact that we are all intimately and ultimately connected, then ANYtime I spend in meditation, in yoga practice, on a massage table, or anything that cultivates my own inner and outer awareness and harmony, I AM TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM.

Most of us, as we embark upon the path of SELF-awareness, start with a teacher, a guide, or some sort of formal instruction to learn a discipline that resonates with our own particular BEST SELVES.  Then, at some point along the way, the discipline begins to dissolve (if it is working), and we begin to skillfully navigate our choices through intuition or inner guidance. We trust our own spark of consciousness and wake up to the consciousness of the heart. We become our own best teachers.

300

“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”

- Howard Thurman

bring on the B H A K T I

may 2013

280


We are super thrilled to host our FIRST EVER KIRTAN music concert at MoYo, tomorrow night, THURSDAY, MAY 16 @ 7:00pm!!  Even more exciting is that Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band will be here to usher us into this practice of Bhakti Yoga.  Our first time will be ever-so-sweetly tended to by one of the leading voices in western Kirtan music.  Woot Woot! Lucky us!

A mini, brief and broad introduction to Bhakti & Kirtan:
The Sanskrit noun bhakti is derived from the verb root bhaj, whose meanings include “to share in”, “to belong to”, and “to worship”.  It can be translated as “participation.”  Bhakti Yoga is one of six systems of yoga revered throughout history as paths that can lead us to full awareness of our true nature, and is known as the path of  L O V E  and D E V O T I O N.

The path with which we are most familiar in the West is the one that begins in the body, or Hatha Yoga.  This physical practice, as well as daily living, can most definitely be infused with Bhakti, and in this way, we can worship the divine in everyone and everything. In modern western culture, a Bhakta (one who practices Bhakti Yoga) is marked by his/her fierce devotion to and intoxicating love for the Divine, the Self, the Beloved, the Source…G O D.  “In In its purest form, bhakti burns like a devotional fire in the heart.”

281In the yogic tradition Hanuman is the deity who embodies the Bhakti tradition because his life is devoted to service. Known as the monkey-god who serves Lord Ram by finding Ram’s wife Sita and bringing them back into divine union, Hanuman can be seen as the conduit for bringing the masculine and feminine sides of ourselves together.
Bhakti Yoga includes the practice of Kirtan (Sanskrit: to repeat), a call and response form of chanting,growing immensely popular in the West.  Kirtan involves chanting (no, you do not need to have a good singing voice – I should know : ) hymns, mantras & the many names of the divine, accompanied by musical instruments, and lead by a wonderful story teller (usually with a GREAT singing voice!).

Through this magical combination of music, singing, and repeating the mantras, Kirtan can be a direct path for quieting the mind and breaking the heart wide open..Love is the door and chanting is the key.

“Chanting is a way of getting in touch with yourself. It’s an opening of the heart and letting go of the mind and thoughts. It deepens the channel of grace, and it’s a way of being present in the moment.” – Krishna Das

“Kirtan is for all people. There are no experts, no beginners. The practice itself is the teacher, guiding us to ourselves. Kirtan allows us to enter into a mystery world-a world where all the logic of our minds, and all of the conditioning are left aside. With Kirtan, we create a temple inside the altar of our hearts, a place of refuge, a place of love, and a place of just being.” -Jai Uttal { more from Jai Uttal HERE }

“To understand Kirtan you have to immerse yourself in it… A group singing together, breathing together, is a cloud of intelligence, turning like a flock of birds… You feel intimate with all strangers surrounding you… Intensely, vividly alive… It’s an awareness that I can only really touch in moments of profound inner silence…  chanting is what gets me there.” ~ Dave Stringer

Even if you just show up, and listen, and feel the sounds wash over and through you, the power of participation and vibration will carry you across the threshold to joy, to peace, to freedom, to stillness, to  L O V E .

reality check

april 2013

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Unless you grew up in a culture that cultivated a deep appreciation for minimalism and Mother Earth, you might remember when, like a lot of things, we took her abundance for granted.
We threw things “away.”  Then we discovered REcycling, and now, not only do we REcycle, REduce and REuse, but we UPcycle and close the loop.

We drank water straight from the tap/hose/well, and then plastic bottles, then filters, and now from ph balancing “systems”. We went GREEN, and now BLUE is the new green, and eventually all of the colors of the rainbow need us to “go”, and start putting the EARTH FIRST.

That’s how it happens…one contemplative footprint, one level of consciousness at a time. We learn, we discover, we expand our understanding, we grow, we change, we evolve. It shows up this way in our Yoga practice as well.  “It” is what knocks on the door, taps us on the shoulder, whispers our name, yells in our ear, and maybe kicks us to the ground to get our attention.  Waking up to reality is not always fun, but essential to living authentically in the here and now.

So hop, crawl, dance or plop onto your mat to practice waking up. The mat can be a magic carpet on your floor at home, a walk on the beach, a hike in the mountains, standing in line at the farmers market, pumping gas, or making your way over to MoYo to practice B E i n g  together.

Here’s to Mother Earth and making every day EARTH DAY!

 

 

c o n n e c t e d

february 2013

Chain of figures

Sunday, February 10 marks the ringing in of the Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Year of the Black Water Snake. I for one, am thrilled to embark on another NEW beginning, because I was a bit slow on the uptake of the 2013 refresh and reboot.

lovesnailI just finished setting up my datebook for the year (in February!), and am still writing thank you notes from the gifts of 2012.  Yes, I am hopelessly attached to the medium of pen and paper, and am not fully in sync with all that the CLOUD has to offer.  I prefer to speak on the phone rather then text, I feel guilty when my email inbox has not been attended to by the end of the day, and I am STILL doing battle with my resistance to the Facebook world.  Not a day goes by when I do not ponder my level of engagement in the digital connection of our age, and what, if anything, I need to do about it.

As a self-described “techie” I am constantly surprised by my lack of desire to be techie about connecting. I gaze with awe at those who have it wired and seem to navigate this new world with open arms and ease. How does all of this new technology affect how we interact with each other?  From keeping in touch with our closest friends and family, to dating, to online yoga classes, to education at every level of academia, to reaching across the globe, or starting a revolution, technology can both bring us together and dramatically expand our world and world-view.

How do we balance our need to connect with our need to unplug from it all, and when does quantity start to diminish the quality of our relationships?

In my search for the answers, I was thrilled to come across the award-winning Sundance documentary, Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology, directed by Tiffany Shlain.  We are screening it at MoYo on February 22nd, so if you are unable to join us, you can “connect” with the film on iTunes here.  Please check out the synopsis and trailer above, and connect with your Self and us in person on the mat at any of our class offerings!

trust the C H I

january 2013

First and foremost – HAPPY 2013!

We are still here, which means we must have more to learn. There is something magical about the global resolve to be healthier, do better, let go, move on, go with the flow, and create lasting change at the start of a new year, filled with endless possibilities. Whether you take time to take stock and set intentions for the future, or simply live day by day, you can’t help but feel the desire of our collective consciousness to live better lives. We are in this together, and reaching out for support is one of the best ways to keep us on track.

We can get confused about what really needs changing to be happier in this life, because often times it is not really the extra weight or the unhealthy habits, but what lies beneath – the denial of our essential nature,  o u r   e s s e n c e .

Oriah Mountain Dreamer sums it up in one question, at the opening of her book,  The Dance:  “What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?”

Our friend and Tai Ji master, Chao Pang, succinctly and lovingly invites us to
F o l l o w  the  C h i  .  .  .  T  R U S T  the  C h i.

Come explore, play, inquire, stretch, move, breath, meditate and practice with us at MoYo, and feel what it is like to be in it  T O G E T H E R.

Double Dutch Anyone?

After wheezing through a treadmill stress test, and proclaiming to the cardiologist that I must have ‘exercise induced asthma’ (a real condition, by the way), she informed me that my cardiovascular fitness was not where it should be for “someone my age.” Whaaaat? When? How? Somewhere between then (when I used to wear athletic shoes for athletic reasons) and well, NOW, I embraced the ease and convenience of CLOGS. Yes, yoga is great, yoga is good, and I can’t imagine my life without it, because after all, it is a LIFE style.  It turns out that the asana practice, while energizing and potentially sweat-inducing, is not technically aerobic exercise, so…

247I bought a jump rope.

Of course I “skipped” for a whole 60 seconds before the “exercised induced asthma” kicked in, and I took a break to ponder the joy of sustained aerobic activity. I remembered how much fun it was to jump with friends, so I invited our furry, four-legged family member, Cooper, to join in. She actually scored TWO clean jumps before going after the rope.
Then it hit me…DOUBLE DUTCH! Oh what fun it is to jump with friends to the beat of the feet and the twirling of the ropes.  WHO’s IN?
Seriously, after two random conversations with fellow yogis, I think we have something here.  I am reaching out to anyone who wants to skip and jump and play and most definitely laugh – all in the name of cardiovascular health!
Drop me a line if you are interested and we can get this show and our feet off the ground, one baby skip at a time.

Skipping as exercise from Wikipedia:
Skipping is an activity not only suited for competition or recreation, but also for a cardiovascular workout, similar to jogging or bicycle riding. This aerobic exercise can achieve a “burn rate” of up to 700 calories per hour of vigorous activity, with about 0.1 calories consumed per jump. Ten minutes of jumping rope is roughly the equivalent of running an eight-minute mile. Jumping rope for 15-20 minutes is enough to burn off the calories from a candy bar.

happy HOLIdays !

 

december 2012

241

1 2 .  2 1 .  2 0 1 2  .  solstice  {or the end of the world as we know it} marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. For centuries, winter solstice has been a time to reflect, a time to pause, a time to celebrate. For us, in our particular relationship to the sun, it is the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin solstitium, or sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the seasonal movement of the sun’s path appears to come to a stop before reversing direction.

These days we “DO” a lot, especially during the hectic holiday season, so it is important to take some time to STAND STILL and honor the “stoppage,”  We can take extra care to nurture ourselves by PAUSING in stillness whenever possible.

So if you are feeling stressed and depleted – YOGA to the rescue!

242One of my favorite poses to calm the nervous system and quiet the mind towards stillness is VIPARITA KARANI  (inverted DOing pose, or legs up the wall).

All you need is a wall, a blanket, bolster or block, and some time (just 5 minutes can radically shift your perspective, and 15 minutes can take to that Calgon place)

Just click on the photo to the left for a tutorial, and because this is considered to be an inversion, please read the fine print:

As with any inversion, Viparita Karani should be avoided if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma, If your feet begin to tingle during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis.

We wish you a joyfully reflective winter solstice and most splendid holiday season!!