seeing is believing



Firstly, here’s to celebrating FATHERHOOD and all paternal bonds.

Happy Father’s Day!

If you were ever a teenager in a house of paternal influence, then you might have experienced some RULES that you needed to bend or break in order to establish your independence ( INNER ARTIST : ). The rules were for our own good,
to keep us safe and teach us discipline.
At MoYo, we offer up rules/guidelines/movement principles to create the structure for learning. One of my teachers used to say that his goal was to teach himself out of a job…meaning once the understanding comes from the knowledge of experience, we were encouraged to make up our own rules. Breaking the rules to uncover the artist within.
Picasso did not start with Cubism. To be such a prolific painter and artist, and master of many styles, he first had formal training in figure drawing and oil painting. In yoga, we learn technique and alignment from someone else’s experience and then we try it on for ourselves to see how it fits. When we speak of asana (physical postures) in the West, we are referring to styles or systems that some people, somewhere, found valuable enough to share and pass on.
We tune into someone else’s beliefs and if we light up, then we tend to adapt that particular set of rules – UNTIL we realize that the belief itself is a limitation. The second I find myself justifying any limitation, I know that I am not open, not expanding, and not allowing. When we show up for a Yoga class, we show up to be guided by another human teacher, and WILLING to override our conditioned impulses to TRY ON something NEW, and see how it feels to BE in it. We are willing to be trained to then skillfully INTUIT the practice. The wise and wonderful Erich Schiffmann once said, “The advanced practice will seem like you TRUSTING you. When the discipline works, it begins to dissolve.”
So, we practice, so that we can know, so that we can NOT know, so that we can experience, so that we can know, so that we can NOT know, so that we can experience, so that we can know, so that we can NOT know, so that we can…
The knowing comes from the experience, and the practice leads us to Jnana or “supreme knowledge” in the Yoga world. Belief is considered to be counterproductive within the practice of Yoga and this supreme knowledge.

So come to class and experience the INNER knowing and cultivate your INNER ARTISTRY, so you can learn the rules and how to break them : ) Yoga is a dynamic, fluid practice that will continue to evolve just as we do.

cheers to knowing what we know and don’t know – the journey continues,

d e n i s e

story time

The study of “brain fitness” is a rapidly growing industry, with much of the baby boomer population (those born in 1946, at the end of WWII, through 1964!*) approaching senior-hood and beyond. Which means that the largest generation of Americans born in U.S. history, along with the rest of the world, are faced with longer life spans AND functioning in the world with AGING brains.
*sidenote: I had no idea, until researching for this post, that I (yours truly) am a member of the “late boomer” cohort of baby boomers, by coming into the world a mere 19 DAYS before the end of the era!  I also did not know that technically, my parents are NOT baby boomers, that my husband and siblings ARE, and that most of my classmates ARE NOT.  Whaaaaat ??
Mind officially blown and altered : )
This new information, about a group to which I did not know that I belonged, does not necessarily  S T R E T C H  the dimensions of my mind, but it does change what I “thought” was my position in this world.  The “position” turns out to be quite fluid, depending on one’s chosen reality.  The fluidity shows up when I start to unravel the threads of my life story because of this new relational reality. We all have one, a story about our lives.  Whether we tell it or live it consciously or unconsciously, we are creating it in every moment.  Understanding that we create our realities from the thoughts that we think is one of the fundamental aspects, or underlying by-products of the yoga practice.
Whether you sit and observe, or play with the physical asana/postures, you will be confronted eventually with choice. It might happen gradually over the course of many meditations/years/yoga classes, or immediately, when you start to direct your awareness to areas of your being with a friendly curiosity and love.  Either way, and in any case, we find our way to discovery of choice, and with this discovery comes responsibility of creation.
“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives — the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change — truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.”  
- Salman Rushdie: One Thousand Days in a Balloon
We need to be willing to change our story when we recognize limitations and rigidity within it, which is why we find peole to reflect back to us, the ways in which we CREATE these limiting beliefs about ourselves. Even then, we often allows others the authorship of our own stories, and give up the power to create and change them as we change.  I could make many claims about the many benefits and effects of practicing yoga, and quote from ancient texts to support these claims, but what really matters is one’s own experience. It all comes down to trusting our own experiences, and being flexible enough to OPEN UP to NEW ways OF EXPERIENCING OURSELVES.
I love this quote from The Center for Narrative Studies at

“Authorship over one’s life is what integrity is all about, but it only comes when we claim and win the naming rights to our own life. Stories that do not grow out of the inner authority of our experience or carry the weight of our reflection do not rightly belong to us. Yet, how easily we allow other people’s stories to colonize our experience and claim our voice… When we become aware of how telling our everyday word-choices are in the narratives we weave, we begin to understand how our language creates our relational reality. By gaining a deeper insight into how meaning is woven out of words, we can learn how to weave new meanings.”

While the aging, baby boomer generation drives the rising interest in brain science, it is time for all of us to recognize the power each of us has to change the story, own the story, and let go of the story when it no longer serves our highest good. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again and again - we are all interconnected and how we tell our stories to ourselves and the world shapes the wolrd that we all inhabit.

Modern research (and some really old, unnoticed until recently, research) is showing that the brain, previously believed to be a physically permanent structure by early adulthood, continues to create new neural pathways and alter existing ones in order to adapt to new experiences.  This is called brain plasticity, aslo known as neuroplasticity or cortical remapping. “Structural plasticity” refers to the brains ability to actually change its physical structure as a result of learning.  So we are back to Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was seriously on to something BIG – the mind can be stretched, the stories untold and revised, and new experiences can actually ALTER the way you think and what you CREATE. So step on your mat, sit on your meditation cushion, and be open to the NEWness of NOW and your ever-evolving story : )

here’s to  s t r e t c h i n g  our brains and  o p e n i n g our hearts!
d e n i s e