"Bring your face, your heart,
your hands, your belly, down,
down, close to the ground
- to the rock of the world, the dirt,
duff, sand. Let surface meet surface,
warm cheek meet cool stone.
Go ahead, belly flop flat on the
sidewalk. Greet what you are not.
Lichens love and adhere to
their surfaces, love to sink into
their substrates, mineral or wood,
anything that stays still. Draw close.
From this horizontal perspective,
everything is more. More elaborate,
more complex, more articulate,
more beautiful. And oh, how the
small, slow, odd, humble things
begin to matter differently."
A. Laurie Palmer,
5 Tips on How to Live Like a Lichen
The best thing in the world
is to sink your heart and belly
to the earth. Remember from
whence you came. To where
you're going. Realize the
insignificance of all the
seemingly essential things
in the vertical busy world.
Find the rich complexity
of getting horizontal.
Make like a lichen.
We'll find the ground
in yoga this week.
"If you think you're enlightened,
spend a week with your family."
It's easy to fall into old patterns and roles,
reactivity, and long held judgments.
As though you've been handed a script
where you already know all the lines.
I've been working with a practice where
I try to see each person in front of me
anew. Setting aside all I think I know
about this person before the present moment.
It requires me to be quite attentive.
It gifts them the chance to be fully seen
exactly as they are, minus previous baggage.
Who knows? It could be contagious.
And you or I might then be
the recipient of such largesse.
Round the table it goes.
Take your internal yoga
practice of awareness
with you wherever you go.
Hope to see you on the yoga mat
this Thanksgiving week.
Edwin Warner walk on a November afternoon
"Walking, ideally, is a state in which
the mind, the body, and the world are aligned,
as though they were three characters
finally in conversation together,
three notes suddenly making a chord.
Walking allows us to be in our bodies
and the world without being made
busy by them."
-Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust
Yes, yes, yes!
My feet hitting the earth
in a natural steady stride
feels precisely as satisfying
as striking a three note chord.
Feels like a happy C major
when all is well in my world.
Sometimes it's far more dissonant,
but that's when I know I'm in
the right place.Walking it out.
Allowing the steady syncopation
to loosen me up from the outside in.
Yoga works the same way for me.
In the backyard, an unprized mat
thrown under the tree over bumpy
debris. But I'm falling into the zone.
Just dropping into one shape after
another. Staying as long as I want.
Without wise, precise progression.
Usually staying low to the ground.
Rolling about in leaf litter.
A twist here. A forward fold there.
Ah..... starting the drop into the zone.
Feeling just right, at last.
My mind, my body, and the world.
Try it with me on a yoga mat this week.
Or on your own two feet in a forest.
Shelby Park in the early seventies
Sometimes your insides just make you smile.
This seemed to happen more often back when
I was still in pigtails and being carried around.
Ah, those were the days.
No one will carry me around anymore!
I still get spurts of joy where I smile out loud.
But sometimes I smile on purpose. Try it.
Smile first. Then see how you feel.
Science says you'll boost your mood.
Your brain will activate the good stuff:
dopamine for feelings of pleasure
endorphins to alleviate pain and lower stress
serotonin so you feel stable, happy, calm.
I'll take all of it, please.
And smiling is ever so contagious.
When I see someone smiling out loud
I suddenly feel the world is a better place.
And then, well, you know, I smile too.
Let's start a revolution, yogis.
Bring your sweet self
to the mat this week.
A stagnant sense of identity
can make life harder.
An identity that is flexible
will encourage your flourishing
and support you in discovering
new parts of yourself.
I learn so much by observing those
further along in life than myself.
Those who remain as open as
a flowing stream inspire me.
They seem to see the world as wide,
the possibilities unending,
the unknowns still vast.
They haven't figured it all out
and wouldn't pretend otherwise.
They don't berate themselves
for this, but keep their eyes
peeled for the unexpected.
That's what I want to be
as an old woman.
Then it occurs to me, why wait?
Let's get flexy
on the inside
as well as the
outside on the
yoga mat this week.
A UK study comparing types of exercise
found that isometric exercise outperformed
aerobic exercise, dynamic resistance training,
and even high-intensity interval training
when it came to lowering blood pressure.
Their meta-analysis of 270 trials of
15,827 people demonstrated that all
exercise helped lower BP but
isometric was the clear winner.
Upon deeper reading of the study,
I realized these isometric moves
were held for two minutes. Phew.
That's approaching Michelle Obama
3 min plank territory.
We can understand isometric
isos = equal
metria = measuring
to mean neither the length of the
muscle nor the angle of the joint change.
It's a static hold, though contraction
strength of varying muscles may change.
Every yoga pose that we hold
is an isometric exercise.
Planks? Bridges? Warriors?
Triangles? Down Dogs?
You know I love to flow between poses,
but we'll begin working on longer holds.
Ah, remember that's exactly how we build
bone strength too. Why not have it all?
Come to practice,
you healthy yogi, you.
my Zowie zinnias giving it up to autumn
What once fed
butterflies and bees will now dry out
to feed the finches, each heart-center
turning to seeds that will soon disperse
on scouring wind. May it be so
for each of us too, the hidden parts
of ourselves becoming something lighter,
the pieces we finally learned to love
in spite of it all, drifting off
or clamped in a beak, our true essence
spreading across the earth.
-an excerpt from James Crews' poem Early October
I love when a poem finds you
precisely when you need it.
Just now, I'm trying to love
the least loveable parts of myself.
This work of embracing my shadow
can feel heavy and difficult.
I love Crews' notion of allowing
these hidden parts to become lighter.
The drifting duff and falling leaves
are serving as talismans for me.
Showing me how I could let go
of not only the past but its
tightly held emotional residues
that hide out in my body.
This is where yoga can
really do its stuff.
Get steady in a posture.
Feel safe enough to be present.
Breathe, notice, do your work.
Whatever that is for you
each time you step on your mat.
Watch the leaves, yogis.
Let them teach you, too
how to let go of something.
We are in the midst of peak bird migration
for early autumn here in the southland.
Take a look if you'd like to see how many
birds were in flight in Nashville last night.
We can help them arrive safely at
their destination by lessening light
around our homes in the evening.
Light at night can confuse them,
leading to entrapment, exhaustion,
and collision deaths. Not good.
Bird Safe Nashville has suggestions.
- reduce or eliminate outdoor lighting
- turn off your porch light
- turn off unnecessary interior lights
or at least draw your curtains
Let's be good stewards of our
environment and respect the
creatures with whom we share it.
Honestly, my pacifist soul would
take a BB gun to every streetlight
in my neighborhood if I could.
As a lifelong city girl, I hardly even
know the truth of deep night.
Let's find and give dark night
when and where we can just now.
We'll move and explore
yin (dark, cool) energies
and yang (bright, warm) energies
both, on the yoga mat this week.
image: Barth Bailey via Unsplash
graphic from YogaUonline by Julie Gudmestad
Forward head posture is perhaps
our era's greatest posture concern.
None of us are immune.
Our devices aren't helping.
Hours of computer use without
conscious upright posture is
bad enough, but put a phone
in your hand and forward you go.
Your skull becomes heavier and
heavier, crimping fascia in the
most unhappy way. Constricted
in your front body, lumpy-humpy
in your back body.
Yoga is a brilliant antidote.
Yes, please come to yoga
practice each week.
But I'd really love for you to
help yourself to yoga snacks
throughout the day. Even just a
few moments to slow your breath,
stack your skull atop your spine,
get tall, catch a twist, open up
your front body and heart.
It makes a difference.
We'll be doing exactly this
on the yoga mat this week.
I hope you'll join us.
Your body will thank you.
Last week, I woke up to a foggy dawn
and slipped into Shelby Bottoms for an
early morning walk in the chilly mist.
Stopped by the sight of lacy spiderwebs
covered in dew, a deer family at breakfast,
the Cumberland completely shrouded,
and the familiar wail of the train whistle
though the trestle was lost to the fog.
I took a little used path into the forest
to sit among the wildflowers a moment
only to hear a quiet "good morning."
I turned to see a bare chested,
barefooted man walking by,
hands clasped behind his back.
Soft in the middle, soft in his eyes,
this was no early morning workout
but a ritualistic drinking in of beauty.
There was a reverence in his stride.
I bet it was witnessing him that
inspired me to stop at the sight of
a small mown circle in the field,
to stand in the middle of it,
salute the sun, spin around arms
akimbo, breathe and move my body,
making joyful loud exhales
not caring if man or beast heard.
I learned something that morning.
Be your own weird.
Do the things you love that feed
your spirit exactly the way you
can most fully f e e l them.
You'll do honor to yourself and
maybe serve as an inspiration
to the rest of us to do the same.
We'll salute the sun together
this week on the yoga mat.