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"Discipline provides a constancy
which is independent of
what kind of day
you had yesterday
and what kind of day
you anticipate today."
― Jon Kabat-Zinn>

There is something to be said for constancy.
When your body and your nervous system
are able to rely on you,
they will return the favor.
Consistent care and attentiveness
may be the key to all relationships,
it certainly is for your own longevity.

When you take to your yoga mat
even when you don't feel like it,
it has a cumulative effect
. . . on your life in general.

Show up for yourself, yogi.
With your tribe through the ether.
With strangers in a studio.
By yourself in your living room.
Any way you like.
You won't regret it.

I'll be looking for you
on the yoga mat this week.

____________

photo by Taichi Nakumura



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mid-full body ocean breath in Siesta Key

Spinal surgeon Ken Hansraj is amazed by
how the simple act of full body breath impacts
the health of the spinal column.

He explains that when we inhale and fill the belly,
the lungs expand downwards .
When we exhale and the belly empties
moving towards the spine, the lungs snug up rising.
Not only are we oxygenating the body in this process,
we are stirring the nerves in the spinal channel.

Deep belly breathing works to massage the spinal nerves.
This is essential for a healthy, happy back.
Fluid subtle movement of our spinal fluid increases
the metabolic capacity of the brain,
spinal cord, and nerve roots.
Talk about brilliant design.

In our yoga practice,
we move our spines in all directions.
Flexion, extension, spiraling
-always with the breath.
It's powerful stuff not only for present well-being
but for long term spinal health.
We'll tease it apart a little this week.

Join me on the yoga mat
this week.



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Georgia O'Keeffe (1933) by Alfred Stieglitz

Refine my ambition into honest goals.
Quiet my mind when it is already certain
that nothing could possibly be different.
And rekindle a tenderness in my uncertain heart
for my own small moments of courage
for you’ve given me nothing to do
but what’s mine to be done.
-Kate Bowler

Wow. I need this. Often.
I would do well to acknowledge
my small moments of courage.
There are some!
And better still to realize
I don't have to do everything well.
Simply recognizing what is mine to do
is the work of a lifetime it seems.

Stepping on the yoga mat is
a wonderful time to practice this.
Am I there to slay every asana?
Thank goodness, no.
Am I there to do my best work
with supreme stilled focus?
Gosh, maybe on a good day.
Often, my mat is where I go to fall apart.
Just be. See what relief my body can bring
to my too busy mind or troubled heart.
That little rectangle is a magical place
of allowance in my life.
I hope it becomes that for you too.

I'll look for you on the mat this week, friend.



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my favorite image from a solo holiday to Birmingham in 2016 where I lay upon
a vast white hotel bed and ate cherries one by one with absolute abandon

"One of the few things I know about writing is this:
Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away,
every time. Don’t hoard what seems good for
a later place in the book, or for another book;
give it, give it all, give it now. The very impulse
to save something good for a better place later
is the signal to spend it now. Something more
will arise for later, something better. These things
fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.
Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself
what you have learned is not only shameful;
it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely
and abundantly becomes lost to you.
You open your safe and find ashes."

The great Annie Dillard is advising writers
here, not only how to write but how to live.
I am a saver. A squirrel away for laterer.
An "eat just a few of those expensive
organic dark cherries a day" only to find
the remainder rotting in the fridge sort of person.
It's ridiculous. You've heard the quip:
How you do anything is how you do everything?
Oh, dear.

I intone to myself:
Anything I do not give freely and abundantly
(even to myself) becomes lost to me.
Heart and hands wide open, yogis.
Lord, help me remember this.

Give it all up on the
yoga mat this week.



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Egon Schiele -1918

"While we pursue happiness
we flee from contentment."
-Hasidic proverb

I came across this proverb while reading
Jonathan Safran Soer's Here I Am.
It hit me like a major chord struck hard
on my ever so slightly out of tune piano
and it's continued to linger.
I'm very interested in contentment of late.
Not the mamsy-pamsy idea of settling
with an anemic smile and sigh,
but the purposeful courageous ethic of
choosing contentment here and now
instead of always looking elsewhere.

I feel like I'm building a new muscle.
And I have a feeling it's going
to make my life a lot better.

Let's try greeting our bodies
this way on the yoga mat this week.



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Ta da!
Just like that, here we are.
Into the new year.

This time round I'm less interested in improving myself and
more interested in just receiving what's already around me.
More rewarding than trying to burnish a better, shinier me.

Here's what I noticed on the very first day of 2023.
It's a fruitless battle to banish the last pine needle from my house.
Change is inevitable. Goodbye snow; hello 68 degrees.
I saw a man on old school rollerskates jostling a red shopping cart
up and down the Shelby Bottoms Greenway at alarming speed
with a thrilled child inside shaking her hair in the sunlight.
I passed under the rackety railroad trestle, looking up to see
G R A T I T U D E pristinely graffitied on a railroad car in green.

Little messages these.
Life is messy, noisy, cold, warm again.
It can be joyful too. Don't try so hard.
Make do with what you have.
It's enough. And more interesting.

Shall we take this to the yoga mat?
I hope you'll meet me there
in this spanking new year.

photo credit: Edu Lauton



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Swedish fairytale illustration by John Bauer

"I've stopped trying to handle the darkness.
I let the darkness handle me instead.
Most of the time all it wants to do
is hold me for a while -
slow me down, keep me from running,
cover me up long enough to remember
that being in the dark doesn't mean
there's something wrong with me.
It means I'm alive,
and this is part of the deal."
-Barbara Brown Taylor

We're entering the winter solstice,
the shortest day of the year
and the longest night.
Both hold promise and opportunity.
As we slip into winter,
consider what slowing down
and quieting into the dark
might reveal
if you can get quiet enough to hear.

We'll get curious
on the yoga mat this week.



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This is your body,
your greatest gift,
pregnant with wisdom you do not hear,
grief you thought was forgotten,
and joy you have never known.
-Marion Woodman

The older I become, the more introspective I grow,
the more time I carve out to be alone on the mat,
the more I realize these absolute truths.
Yoga unlocks these mysteries like nothing else.
Get less interested in what your yoga looks like.
Get more interested in what it reveals.

You don't need me for that,
but I still hope to see you
for a shared yoga practice this week.



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I snapped this poem when I spied it open on a friend's sofa.

What strikes me now is the line about
"day-blind stars waiting with their light."
I remember this on these cloudy winter days.
The constancy of starshine, seen or unseen.
It reminds me of the light that remains within us
even when we're not at our evident best.

Recall the downcast or stern face of a stranger
that suddenly lights up at an unexpected kind word.
As though a projector switch was just thrown open.

Look for the light in others, even if it seems dormant.
And when this feels hard, take Wendell's advice
and go be among the wild things
to restore your faith in the goodness of the world.

Come celebrate your light
on the yoga mat this week.



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Edward Munch 1895

Few things tip me into intense anxiety,
but I ran into a trigger recently, and boy.....
Riding my exhales was all I could do to stay put.
That, and finding a patch of sky to gaze towards.

As yogis, we know the power of somatic work.
Coming into our bodies, observing, connecting
are brilliant ways to settle our nervous systems.

If you ever find yourself swept away into anxiety,
you might try the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.
Practicing it when you're okey-dokey
(chopping veggies, taking a shower)
will prepare you to pull this practice out
when you're askew and need it most.

Simply identify 5 things you can see.
Name them to yourself one by one.
Identify 4 things you can touch.
And do, noticing tactile feedback.
Identify 3 things you can hear.
Go slow, tease out each sound.
Identify 2 things you can smell.
This can be harder, requiring focus.
Identify one thing you can taste.

You'll have rooted yourself into the present
rather than spiraling into the pull of fear.
Sounds simple.
And it is.

This is also a nice way to quiet the mind
when you're just feeling squirrely.
Try it. Then keep it in your back pocket.
Building skills, yogi, building skills.

Hope to see you
on the yoga mat this week!