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My Yoga Year so far

Because I'm a geek with a notebook (see 2/21/10 post for TMI), I keep pretty good track of my practices, the who and what and how long, and of course take notes in class. Over a peaceful solo sushi lunch yesterday, I had the great pleasure of re-reading my scribbles since January 1. Amazing teachers and amazing lessons!

January, on into March:
Kicked off the year and turned up the tapasya with Laura Christensen on New Year's Day, poses in 20s and 10s to celebrate the new year + one-minute handstands. Over the next months, we worked our way through the Austerities, keeping the fire of intention alive and smokin'. Such good times: regular classes, start-up of Sunday morning advanced Rock Your Chit playtime on the mat, a tremendous three-hour shoulder workshop, a yoga benefit for Haiti. Wow, so glad to be a part of this kula: so much love and friendship and fun.

February: Spent a week at Immersion led by John Friend, followed by weekend workshops. That week blew my mind. Here are a couple of my favorite bits from the pages and pages of notes I took:

The dharma of embodied life includes becoming more cultivated and involved, more skilled at being a poet of life, this ever-unfolding game of expanding consciousness.
Every experience, including those practices that are challenging, can be used as a gateway. Challenges are opportunities for awakening. Use everything for awakening. Every moment is a gateway to the heart.
Literally, I came away from those 7 consecutive days of practice with John and with the expanded kula completely on Cloud 9, just so happy and aware of being in exactly the right place, right in the center, right where I belong. Aaaaaah.

Hit the road with Laura and other members of our home-kula, for a series of great workshops at Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center in Truckee. In class we reviewed the austerities and started in on the malas. We stayed in the lovely home of our dear Diana, played in the snow, had some long, sweet practices in a gorgeous studio, made new friends, played ping pong, generally just reveled in beauty and love all weekend long. I spent most of that weekend in a state of utter delight, just so amazed at the bounty life brings. No malas on me!

April: On April 1st, Laura started her Shri Series, a 7-week course that dives deep into the Principles of Alignment. It's been my enormous pleasure to arrive early, open the room, set up the puja, greet and check in my fellow students. And we really are diving deep, going back to the basics, the fundamentals. All of which is making my practice so much more solid.

Also this month Darren Rhodes was in the Bay Area again, so for the third year in a row, I went to Yoga Kula in the Mission for a weekend and played with the big kids. This year's theme "Kali Kick-Asana" certainly kicked my asana. I loved being with the larger kula, having Trixie and Laura right next to me in class, and being blown away by the poses Sianna and Darren led us through. There's something so fun about just trying things, even crazy things like some of the toes curled-under poses we were asked to do, like we're on the playground daring each other to jump off the monkey bars, higher, higher, higher!

Outside of class it continues to be my concerted project to incorporate what I'm learning on the mat into the rest of where I spend my time, mostly into the office where I spent too many hours each week. The inspiration of these great teachers and friends and practices is with me throughout all of those long hours away, and really is changing how I move and talk and operate. At the same time, it's also true that the more yoga I do, the more commitment I bring to my practice, the more time with my friends doing what I love, the less I want to spend time doing what I precisely don't love -- all of which, if I remain aware, keeps that blaze of tapasya burning hot. It's a delightful unfolding, really, and so gratifying: the more I practice, the more practiced I become, the more skilled, the more devoted, all of that More squeezing out the other stuff, the stuff I'm not crazy about. So, big lesson for me: to change your life, just change your life. Like awakening, it doesn't have to come after a lifetime of sitting under a banyan tree. It comes at every moment, at any moment, when I just do what I love: plug in, delight, jump around.



We've been patiently waiting for flowers for months now. It's a funny thing putting seeds in the ground in the fall, watching foliage develop through the cold of winter, waiting, waiting for flowers. Now here they are! This particular poppy -- and we planted several varieties -- is a Peony Flowering Poppy, so very peony-like, its flowers really just as the seed packet describes: "huge glamorous poufs of softly ruffled petals." Huge and glamorous indeed!

We used to devote almost all of our garden space to edibles, and I'm so glad that we took a turn into flowers, growing pretty for pretty's sake.


Rogue Elephant

One of the things I most love about my walks in the woods across from my house, besides the abundance of the non-human, is the funny little traces other people leave behind. I rarely see people while I'm out, though I do see coyotes, rabbits, deer, squirrels, ravens, hawks, crows, banana slugs, newts, countless little brown birds. It's strange to me how much I appreciate it when I can tell that others have been on my same path, using it in their way, getting their fill, like me, of being outside. I read their signs, the cleared scotch broom, the downed-trees moved off the trail, and wonder about them, who they are, grateful.

But it's particularly wonderful when clever lovely people create little altars like the Ganesh that appeared a few years ago.

The first time I saw it, I was utterly delighted that someone had seen this as they passed this tangled oak root, had remembered to bring the marble for the eye, the Ganesh candle and the coins. Someone had stood there and thought about it and then come back and created this for others to see. At one point that same someone cleared the leaves directly in the front, and laid little stones to demark a path, a little run-way to the elephant's head.

I pass Ganesh several times a week, always greet it (Jai Jai!), replace the candle when it tumbles, appreciate how truly elephant-y that root is, its curling trunk, and thank the Someone who brought it to life for the rest of us.


Retiring the porno pants

Once, years ago, in the beginning of our yoga time, Joe and I had a crazy, crazy sub. That, in itself, was far from remarkable, since in those early early days, we were taking yoga at a gym which, with some exceptions (love you, Lori), seemed to be a refuge for what I think of as kooky super-70s yoga, the leotard and long braids kind, very Lilias. No disrespect, but not my cup of tea.

Anyway, the one time of this super-crazy sub, we were dismayed to find that, in addition to her really loopy vibe, she also had an extremely unfortunately-placed hole in the crotch of her yoga tights. I do not mean a certain worn-ness of the seam. I am talking about an actual gap, a void, a quarter-sized revelation. Distressing. Because no matter your penchants, something like that has its own gravity. Throughout the hour-long class, no matter what poses she was demonstrating, she never seemed to be aware of the extra air, but just carried on. Perhaps she did know and just played it off as well as possible, but we strongly felt that she was just so out there, that she didn't even care about flashing that bit of cootch, like life was just one extended everybody-naked-in-the-hot-tub.

Dear god, have I become her?

Sadly, there is a point in the life of every beloved pair of yoga pants when they just break down. The repeated wearings and repeated washings break those babies down after a while: they lose their hug, their ass-seams get thin. Joe was good enough to tell me this about some LuluLemon pants a couple of years ago. I was mortified but grateful that he happened to mention it before I left the house (although I spent a good hour or so feeling a little queasy about the huge yoga workshop I'd been to the weekend before in those very pants, yes, like 250 people were there). I still have those pants, but don't wear them for yoga -- maybe just sometimes around the house, yard-work, no company.

The problem is that you can't always tell about a pair of pants when you pull them from the drawer or dryer. It takes a prasarita to tell whether they've rounded the bend, and when you're in a hurry, packing yoga stuff as you rush out the door for work, not always time to check the integrity of the pant-booty. Trix and I have pinkie-sworn to tell each other, but honestly, then there's the question of how and when -- certainly not while assisting each other, maybe on the ride home when debriefing the class (ha ha ha)? It's delicate.

Just to be on the safe side, I am retiring the blue Hard Tail pants I wore last night. They have been my favorites for a long time, but I am uncomfortably aware of their age and of my nether-regions lately when I wear them. I bid them adieu, and for safety, throw them in the rag pile to be cut up into squares that will dust the house or clean bikes. Anything to ensure that I not wear them out again.

I wish yoga pants lasted longer, particularly given their price, but they are transitory just like all other material things. Memories are a different matter, like the one I still carry of that sub and her so-sad tights. So I'm retiring the porno pants and making favorites of other pairs, until they too hit that point of no return. I'd rather be remembered for other things, thanks. ;>


Still working it, now with laryngitis

The power and effectiveness of your words increase in direct proportion to the silence that you observe.

- Baba Muktananda
I am still working on the practice of silence, maunam, super-challenging for me generally, but made a teense easier for the next couple of days by the fact that I have developed laryngitis. This is an extremely well-timed case since tomorrow I am attending a dreaded work-retreat, something which I have been responsible for planning all while I'd rather be pretty much anywhere else but there tomorrow. Really. Those things are like utter torture for me, worse than the dreaded staff picnic. Horrible.

I am enjoying thinking about how much I genuinely, Snoopy-dance LOVE yoga retreats, compared to how much I genuinely loathe and despise work retreats. On the one hand, spending time with delightful people on the same path, playing all day long, laughing, having fun, generally eating really well. On the other, a day spent with people I feel like I only associate with, really, if I'm being honest, for the paycheck, in a required camaraderie which I don't feel, braced all day for the attack that will come, it's only a matter of time.

Though convenient, it's not a nervous laryngitis, since I've been battling full-blown illness since Wednesday of last week. The throat just totally degenerated over the course of yesterday until I find myself here, with achy ears and a voice that is just about gone. If I could, I would go straight back to bed and sleep this out, but I'm instead going to do what I always do: keep going.

One of the main reasons I've been dreading this particular retreat is that the facilitator shared the feedback with me the other day that some of my colleagues complain that I don't talk enough at work about my husband's cancer. Let me repeat that: I am being faulted for not talking about my husband's cancer at work. At work. Really. As a stand-alone, that statement represents in one fell swoop everything that is most fucked-up, dysfunctional and boundary-less about the place where I work. Really.

But when I spend a little more time with it, what I get from that complaint is that my silence AT WORK about what was a nightmarish, terrifying and deeply personal experience is interpreted as withholding, as not participating, as not being sufficiently collegial. And in that case, I suppose I am guilty as charged.

So, hmmm, thinking a lot, trying to push aside the dread and go into tomorrow with no expectation, good or bad, thinking about the quality of silence. Not so concerned with how my silence is perceived, as much as where it comes from and why.