La Mort de Bouddha - Odile Redon 1899
Inhale, and God approaches you.
Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you.
Exhale, and you approach God.
Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.
Odile Redon, fascinated with Hindu culture
and Buddhists practices, was in Paris painting
this piece about the same time Krishnamacharya
was learning yoga from his father in Mysore, India.
Krishnamacharya, known as the father of modern
yoga, went on to teach the renowned yogis who
brought yoga to us in the West. One of them, Pattabji
Jois, taught my teacher, Diane Avice du Buisson,
and I pass on what I learned from her to you.
It's good to know the lineage of your practice!
The first time I heard an exercise scientist talking
about "a box breath," I remembered this beautiful
instruction from Krishnamacharya. Scientists now
know the physical and emotional benefits of this
pranayama (breath practice) in focusing the mind,
lowering blood pressure, and calming the nervous
system by steadying breath rhythm. But a century
ago, Krishnamacharya was teaching it to find
connection with the rhythm of the universe.
You and I can do both.
On the yoga mat this week.
Edward Penfield image by RawPixel
Have you heard of allostasis?
Developed by a neuroscientist
and a biologist, it's a concept
understood as stability within change.
Oh, my. An oxymoron if I ever heard one.
But maybe not.
Even stable, steady consciousness is
a process of constant, adaptable change.
All our bodily systems are functioning best
when rewiring, shifting, regulating function
in response to our environment, conditions,
what we're eating, doing, feeling.
Brad Stulberg writes that "the goal of
mature adulthood is not to avoid, fight
or try to control change, but rather
to skillfully engage with it."
Allostasis would suggest that change
or disorder doesn't happen TO us, but
rather is something we are working WITH.
I'm a terrible swimmer, but this has me
daydreaming of nimbly gliding
through water, IN the flow.
I'm trying to live a little into the truth
of allostasis. My dear aging body kindly
provides oh, so many opportunities.
Maybe you will too.
Stability within change.
Perhaps on the yoga mat
with me this week.
Lake Champlain viewed from the Episcopal Church's Rock Point in Burlington, Vermont
A few hours into our long drive to Vermont,
I was remembering Pico Iyer's words
that travel is the chance to be
someone other than who you are.
With windows down, advancing forward,
I felt many of my personas flying off
behind me like cloaks I wouldn't need.
I've retained this lightness even now.
I don't know that it will hold.
But sometimes it's enough just
to remember the empty desert.
what if I could continue as a no-one
a little while longer and somehow refrain
from living out of people's responses
to me even as I re-enter my familiar world.
This is a wildly novel notion for someone
such as myself. But how I would
love for it to come true.
I guess this is my
"What I Did This Summer" essay.
I've missed you, yogis,
and will be so happy to be
in your presence once again,
sharing our yoga practice.
This will be my last week of teaching
this summer, dear yogis. I'd love to
see you on the yoga mat once more
before I disappear for August.
I'm aiming to put action to my values
by taking rest when needed.
I hope you, too, might find ways
to gift yourself sabbaticals of your
own making in your own time.
If you work for yourself, as I do,
where paid vacations are not a thing,
I know it can be a courageous task.
I tend to live within a scarcity mindset
where work is my virtue and saving my goal.
My early life experience shaped me
to believe that this is the way
I can feel safe and secure.
Somehow though, no matter how much
I squirrel away it never feels like enough.
It's taken me a while to realize
there's no winning this game.
Looking a little deeper in, I realize it’s
possible to try on an abundance mindset
trusting the universe to support me.
Taking my tight fists and eagle eye
off the future for just a minute so that
I might more fully enjoy the present.
Bless my heart. This first ever
long work break is an intentional start.
I'm getting there.
Looking at why I do the things I do
can be surprisingly revelatory.
This growing up thing seems to involve
a lifelong process of becoming.
Hope to see you on
a yoga mat this week.
I attended a recent candidate forum
at the Episcopal School of Nashville
in my East Nashville neighborhood.
A pleasant walk from my front door
to stand listening in the back, I spied
a corner full of yoga mats and
bedraggled blocks and this brilliant sign.
Encouragement to keep an open mind
and a good attitude grows more specific.
Follow instructions. Hands to yourself.
Stay on your mat. And my favorite:
Mats stay on the floor.
But the final rule is to Remember Joy!
With the explanation that yoga
is to make you feel good.
Sometimes it can be that simple.
Set aside all the extraordinary
benefits for the long term.
Wanna feel good?
Do some yoga.
Maybe with me this week.
(And if you're here in Nashville,
you can vote early this week!
There is no shortage of good people
running to make the city a better place.
Be mindful and cast your vote.)
It's Plastic Free July.
An opportunity to look closely at how much plastic you introduce into your life
along with its deleterious effects. I learned about this international movement
in the midst of rereading Walter Isaacson's biography of Leonardo da Vinci.
The synchronicity! Polymath Leonardo sought to understand human circulatory
systems in light of the movement of waterways. He believed the microsystems
of our bodies and the macrosystems of the universe were as one.
If only we could see ourselves as a part of the whole rather than master of it.
What is good for the planet turns out to be good for us. What is bad for the planet
turns out to be bad for us in more ways than we can count. We now realize that
just as plastic pollution is clogging earth's waters, PFAS -"forever plastics"- have
leeched their way into our very bloodstreams. Ack! Being mindful about not only
what we take into our bodies but how we do so really matters.
The Plastic Free July website is full of ideas and inspiration.
As yogis, tending to our temples and tending to the world is good practice.
Trying a month of conscious awareness around plastics can generate
wonderful, healing, rippling effects. Let's try.
Come tend to yourself
with a yoga practice this week.
The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra is a classic
text that we think appeared around
800 AD in Kashmir. Today, in translation
as The Radiance Sutras we can learn
the 112 techniques for experiencing
life more fully. This week as we're
thinking about freedom, consider sutra 23.
Forget all of your ideas about the body -
It's this way and it's that way.
Just be with any area of it,
This present body
As permeated with limitless space,
Drenched in freedom.
In an America where it feels as if
today's freedoms are not quite as
equitable as they should be,
peering through this ancient lens
allows us to vivify ourselves with the
embodying truth that we are
in fact permeated with limitless space.
It's also a wonderful truth
to incorporate into your
experience of yoga asana.
No matter what the pose requires
you can, in fact you should,
find freedom within it.
Hope to see you on
the yoga mat this week.
Sometimes it's hard to be a Tennessean.
Not so this past weekend. For a few hours
Saturday morning, downtown was awash
with love and celebration for Nashvillians
of every stripe at the PRIDE parade.
We marched with Christ Church Cathedral
and I teared up more than once.
Spying a gawky, stout teenager
leave his mother leaning against
a building in the shade while he
bounced his way to the sidewalk
wrapped in a pride flag. He didn't seem
to know a soul around him
but was absolutely giddy with joy.
An earnest older couple called out
to our church group "Thank you!
Thank you so much for being here."
We held each other's gaze,
our eyes brimming in acknowledgment.
I think just about everyone there had
a story to tell, most of them hard.
There were a lot of striking wardrobes
but all I could see were vulnerable souls
who felt brave enough to be themselves
even if only on that street that morning.
And as I walked with my fellow
Episcopalians there was a thurifer
swinging a censer in front of us
releasing sacred incense into the air
marking every single one of us holy.
Bring your beautiful self
to the yoga mat this week.
greeting the sun one Colorado morning
Here comes the summer solstice.
The longest day of the year
with the most light and fire.
We would do well to understand
the power of the shifting seasons
and their influences on our own energies.
Remember the three doshas of Ayurveda:
Pitta, kapha, and vata. They're made up of
the five elemental qualities of all matter.
Summer brings the fiery qualities of pitta
and the dry, light, rough qualities of vata.
Summer energies bring motivation
and spark - that changeable vata!
But you can easily burnout
if you don't find enough rest.
A 20 min nap can combat feelings
of flighty anxiety or instability
by keeping vata in check.
You may find yourself hot, dry
or i r r i t a b l e. (who, me?)
Counter with a spritz of calming
rosewater if you have it.
Or just mist with fresh water.
Inhale a cooling essential oil.
A cold washcloth at your neck.
Stabilize from fiery pitta mounting.
Finally eat naturally sweet, light
and moist foods for balance.
Think coconut oil, avocado,
summer squash, cukes.
Pass on spicy, oily stuff
and alcohol. Too drying and
aggravating for the season.
Just as we are made of
what we eat and drink.
We are affected by the seasons.
If we remember this, we can
work in tandem and feel
part of the wondrous whole.
Your yoga practice is the same.
We'll salute the sun this week
but we'll find respite too.
My greatest joy at the moment
is spying my first sugar snap bloom.
Someday soon I will be nibbling peas
while standing at my bamboo teepee.
These rarely make it to the kitchen.
Just in case you too are trying your hand
at growing some of your own food,
here's some wisdom from Cindy Delvin
of Delvin Farms. This is the family
that provides us with organic produce
each week through our CSA share.
I wish I had learned these tips earlier,
but there's still time to slip in more herbs
near the tomatoes, isn't there?
Basil is beneficial when planted with tomatoes and asparagus. It enhances the growth and flavor of tomatoes and repels flies and mosquitoes.
Bay Leaf, dried and sprinkled with other deterrent herbs like cayenne pepper or peppermint can be used as an insecticidal dust.
Cilantro can be planted with potatoes and dill to repel aphids, spider mites and potato beetles.
Garlic Plant near roses and raspberries to deter Japanese beetles.
Mint planted near cabbage and tomatoes deters white cabbage moths and attracts earthworms that loosen your soil and provides aeration naturally.
Parsley can become a natural insecticide when planted near asparagus, corn and tomatoes. Parsley also increases the fragrance of roses when planted around rose bushes.
Sage planted near rosemary, cabbage and carrots deters cabbage moths and flea beetles. Keep away from cucumbers and onions. They don't like each other.
Rosemary deters cabbage moths, bean beetles planted around beans, cabbage, and carrots.
Thyme also deters cabbage moths.
Eat your veggies!
(whoever grows them)
And do your yoga!
A perfect summer coupling.
Hope to see you
on the mat this week!