somethings a happening

There’s something happening in Mysore lately. I can feel it; I’m pretty sure that others can see it. Initially, it appears to be a thing of yesteryear (or day) but then… with patience and slow focused breathing, it comes.

I’m talking about my yoga practice of course.

Each day, I roll out of bed feeling the effects of a more consistent practice, complicated by the building mileage and load in my preparation for a 4 day backpacking trip I’ll be taking April. Wondering if I should forego the practice, I reluctantly roll out my mat amongst the sea of Ashtangis. My body is tightly bound and über sore. I move through the Surya Namaskara sequences slowly attempting to focus on my breath in an effort to separate from the soreness.

Today, I was half way through the standing poses when I told myself that I would only have to go as far as the seated postures before shifting to the closing sequence. However, by the time I was nearing the completion of the seated poses, my body seemed to be urging me to continue… and so I did.

path through the crooked trees

The poses that follow are ones which have, in the past many months, been met with an underlying level of fear. Curling up in a little ball, rounding my low back, and even forward folds with my back to my mat have not been well received before now. In the past week, however, I have welcomed a new calm and witnessed an observational awareness of the way my body responds to me taking on these poses. I am by no means comfortable, yet I have been able to experience a subtle shift – a melting – that allows me to open up to possibilities not previously envisioned.

Not only did I have to go back for Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimotanasana (noting the omission just when I was about to enter Janu Sirsansan C), I realized I’d missed taking Salamba Sirsasana (headstand) well after I’d rolled up my mat and begun rolling down the road towards work. Still, I am finding that taking on the commitment to a daily practice, no matter how sore the body or warm the bed, real does have its benefit. Tomorrow, of course, may be all together different but I believe that I am heading down the right path towards further healing.

What’s even more sweet is that it’s not just me. If you talk to anyone who has been establishing a regular ashtanga practice, you’ll likely hear that somethings a happening on their mat too. Something magical and awesome.

Ashtanga Yoga Workshop with Tim Miller

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend an Ashtanga Yoga Workshop taught by Tim Miller at Yoga is Youthfullness in Mountain View, CA. This was essentially an Everything Ashtanga thing and was fastinating. The line up of activities was quite impressive. It included how the method of ashtanga is designed to penetrate the kosha layers, the primary series practice as an archtype of sādhanā (tapas, self-study, and surrender to the Universal Intelligence), liberating the Shakti through an introductory practice of Nadi Shodana, and a Pranayama practice to cultivate detachment, intelligence, and longevity.


Needless to say, it was a very FULLfilling weekend where I took my practice to places I’d never explored before. This included Kapotasana, among other poses from the second series. Not only were these poses new and challenging but they had an unexpected therapeutic effect on my spine. I left the studio on Sunday morning feeling open and uplifted — and was standing taller I’m sure.

Although I would love to think that I am ready to occasionally explore these new poses, I know that I am most definitely not. Like the New Years of 1991 where, after 5+ hours of meditation, I walked across a bed hot coals, the energy was right this weekend and I was wide open to go deep into the Ashtanga world. I am eager to return to my practice of Yoga Chikitsa (Primary Series) for I know that there is more therapy to be worked in that practice. Even there, I feel like good things are beginning to take place.

The weekend of philosophy (including Patajali’s Yoga Sutras), intensive led primary and secondary practice, and delving into Pranayama practice was fabulous. I am both full and empty at the same time. Truly, I am immensely grateful for this amazing opportunity to deepen my practice. Thank you Tim for coming up to see us folks in the Bay Area — and thank you YiY for inviting him (and me) to your fabulous studio.

Easing into 2014

2014 is HERE! I’m healthy, happy, and grateful to be ALIVE to see the sun come out yet again. These things such as the sun coming out, waking up in a safe environment are not things to take for granted. They are truly blessings.

Having spent much of the past couple of weeks feeling ill, I decided that I just did not want to succumb to my superstition regarding the cleanliness of my house, who I am with, and what I am doing at that moment when the new year arrives. My house was reasonably tidy but not spotless, as I generally aspire to – worrying that a dirty house at the beginning of the year will lead to a dirty house for the year in its entirety. I spent the evening with YaYa and close friends, then went to bed before the strike of midnight. But I have no intention to sleep the year away.

When morning came, I sat back in observance and watched the day unfold. I felt no need to change or control it — as I have done year after year. I just let it be.

The day began soft and quiet at first. No birds’ song, no people out walking, no dogs barking, and no traffic. It was unusually quiet. I took it as a sign of much late night activity — people milking 2013 for all they could get of it – down to the very last second. As for me, I was happy to sleep the last of it away and awake to the quiet, gentle calmness of a new day, and new year. I really like this way of starting the year off without me having obsessed over trying to control the transition. It’s a nice reminder for me to relax and just let some things be as they are. Maybe? Just a little bit more.

Best wishes in the New Year

Christmas 20131226 DSCF0729

Christmas has come and gone, leaving me grateful for family, friends, and my health. This holiday season, I received the most joy in giving to those I care about most. I was also very happy to have kicked a cold to the curb (so to speak) and make it to the family events.

I did not give or receive this Namaste Santa (nutcracker) but I sure do think he is sweet: symbolic of the both holiday and of the gratitude we all (hopefully) observed this season. In a few days, a new year will be upon us. I wish you all the very best of health and happiness in 2014.

To read my 2013 year-in-review post, click here.

use your energy wisely

Demands are high during this time of year. Whether it’s the final push to meet a set of corporate or personal goals, or the long list of holiday gatherings, gift giving, and to-dos. It’s ALL good; it’s just A LOT. This intense trend which demands putting forth 110% is something I’ve been practicing NOT doing. In yoga, this concept is called Brahmacharya. There are other aspects to this Sanskrit word, but I am talking about the teaching that reminds me to use my energy wisely.

After a decade of following the endurance athlete mode of pushing hard and chasing my goal of qualifying to run in the Boston Marathon, I have ingrained the pattern of doing everything in my power to push past the pain and fatigue in an effort to hit my goals. As a result, I have a long list of injuries collected along the way. It could only go on for so long. Ever since my qualification and marathon in Boston, my body has been letting me know that the time to make a change has come. I shifted from running to yoga, and found that the deep-seated pattern of continually going “all out” just didn’t work. Something had to change.

Breaking away from always pushing-the-edge (mostly physically) has been my lesson-of-sorts for this year. This is most easily seen in my physical practice, be it yoga, hiking, cycling, or other, I am not merely talking about my physical actions. I’m also talking about my tendency to taking on responsibilities, lofty goals, and aspiring to walk on water. Well, I don’t want to undo all of my work on making this change just because it’s the end of the year. I understand that there are no guarantees that there will be another year — or day for that matter — but assuming that there is, I would like it to be a little less painful (if not pain-free).

In addition to wanting to make the season bright and memorable for all my loved ones (myself included), the final push includes taking the written exams for my yoga certification. So as not to overwhelm myself, I’ve taken a one thing at a time approach. I’m happy to say that I passed my Anatomy test, and am now preparing for the Sanskrit test which I hope to take by the end of the year. Then comes the developing and teaching of a 75 minute asana practice as the final step for testing out. Thankfully, I did not put that on my list of things-that-must-happen-this-calendar-year.

What is my point?

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