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hohoyoga tree

HoHoYoga! Christmas “Tree” and Tea

 

Healthcare is more than just prescribing pills and procedures. [It is] personal stewardship of the wonderful bodies given to us by God.

–Church Health Center

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who donated to “HoHoYoga” this month.  It was an evening of bendy goodness and tastey flavors of warm tea.  We created “yuletide by the fireside and joyful memories there.” With your donations Church Health Center received $222.00.

Know that your presence and giving is greatly appreciated.

To those who were not able to attend, but who dropped off donations – thank you. The stories you shared about how the Center has helped you or someone you know, confirm how well and widely the Center serves a need in the community.

I leave you with a few songs (Christmas and otherwise) from the evening…

Tadasana (aka Mountain Pose) has become a staple balance pose in my practice.  Here’s how you do it:

Stand there.

TADA!!(sana)

That’s really all there is to it.

If you want more directions – balance your weight on both feet, engage thighs, tuck your tailbone just a hair, and stand there chest proud and chin parallel to the floor.

It’s that simple. Witness the balance and strength you have standing on your own two feet. Then you can go apply that little lesson to life when you step off the mat.

Beyond the Mountain, there are all sorts of poses to practice to learn more about balance.

Vision can be a helpful tool to acquire balance initially.  If you want to go that route, choose a focal point.  That woman in front of you attempting her own one-legged balancing act probably isn’t the best target.  Find a fixed spot to center your gaze.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, close your eyes and you’ll learn that vision is not necessary for balance. Your body is full of subtle built-in mechanisms to keep you upright.  Inside the ear is a universe furled. It monitors balance entirely without your direction.

You can also find balance inside your breath. Steady breath; steady mind; steady body. Let your breath be your focal point. Focus on it as if your life depends on it. Because, of course, it does.

 

Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.

–William Shakespeare

 

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.

–Iyengar

 

~~*~~

 

Danielle Orner

 

 

What a beautiful and empowering image from Manduka Danielle Orner’s story is worth reading.  Click here for Briana Rognlin’s interview with Danielle Orner.

Health is the greatest wealth; the greatest happiness is peace.

–Yogi Hari

~~~~@~~~~

No excuses.

The body remembers. It does not lie. It will tell your story even when you do not:  the teeth straightened by braces, the crinkle of past smiles around your eyes and there too the shadows of lingering heartache, the first two fingers on your right hand yellowed from years holding a cigarette, the slant of your shoulders when you crack a particularly funny joke, a hint of grey roots beneath the dye job, the shuffle in your gait when you’re lost in thought. The faint scar above your knee marks the day you slipped when climbing a fence. The months spent carrying your child are recorded in tiger stripes across your belly. The years you spent fighting injustice show up in the way you dance.  Your habit of grasping and holding on for dear life is audible in your breath.  It’s all there – ingrained in the cell, remembered in the muscle, written in the skin.

Did you know you’ve always been beautiful?

Acknowledge yourself.

Listen to your body.

Cherish your temple.

You are a divine work of art crafted in love and situated in this time and place for a reason. Live your bliss.

The physical practice of yoga (i.e., hatha yoga) refines and purifies every system in the body – from the circulatory to urinary systems.  It is a moving meditation. It is a metaphor for the posturing, posing, and transitioning we make as we travel through life.  You can struggle and fight your way through it or relax, witness, and celebrate the dance.

Breathe in. Stretch. Create space that wasn’t there before. In that space lies the potential for greater growth and movement.

Seek alignment in your posture. Align the words of your story with the one your body tells. Allow its beauty to shine.

Breathe out. Let go. Surrender to what is.

This time last year I was trying to figure out how to be a vegetarian and documenting my trials and tribulations in obnoxious detail.   Although I had been working at it for five months, by May 15, 2011 I had only made it without meat for two consecutive weeks (Enlightenment Day 125).

A year later, I’m happy to report that I have finally got the vegetarian thing on automatic. The hardest part of the conversion was dealing with hamburger cravings, especially in the summer when all my family’s gatherings traditionally revolve around eating them.

The media successfully made hamburgers much less appealing to me recently with the “pink slime” reports.  Apparently, 70% of beef products in our country contain this additive which consists of various cow parts glooped together and then gassed with ammonia to disinfect the concoction.  Yum!

This isn’t brand new news…we’ve known about this at least since 2009.

And the beef industries comeback?

“Beef is beef.”

…Yes, thank you…I’ll have the veggies.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built.

~Rumi

~~@~~

Just one of the many things to love about yoga…..

Hit the play button before reading on.

 

 

You are going to die.

 

(Morbid much?) 

Sorry, but this is Reality and Truth

 Your time is limited.

Each second ticking by on that clock is bringing you closer to your last breath.

It is bringing you closer to the death of those you love. 

 There is absolutely nothing you can do to change this simple fact, so now is the time to deal with it.

 

What is important?

Having six pack abs?

Racking up trophies and awards?

Updating your “status”?

Writing that next blog? 

Investing energy in that grudge you are holding?

 

Do not walk away from this question: 

What matters most?

 

 

Now, what exactly are you going to do (or not do) about it?

A lovely friend recently launched her website.  She used to be a professional cupcake baker.  She’s amazing. Please visit it! I’m in awe.

www.bethebreath.com

…and be sure to read the wonderful story in “beginnings.”

As I was saying, the whole ashram experience seemed like a really bad idea those first three days. One fella politely excused himself from the whole experience, left, and was never heard from again.

The rest of us settled in for the long haul and tried our best to adjust to the restrictive guidelines (no drinking, smoking, drugs, sexing, meat, or caffeine) and intense schedule.

Each morning a bell chimed at 5:30 and the groggy bathroom shuffle would commence.  By 6:00 a.m. we were all cross-seated in a candlelit room for morning meditation and satsang. The day dawned in silence broken only by the sound of cocks’ crows drifting in through the open windows. Around the time the horses awoke whinnying at the world we began our chanting.  The guru’s lecture started at 7:00.  We discussed pretty much everything there is to discuss in these  lectures: food, sex, Sanskrit, anatomy, selfless service, breathing,  bowel movements, movies, recipes, books, energy, the universe, chakras, tantric yoga, devotion, rap stars the guru had met including 50 Cent, personal finance, the Bahamas, drugs, drinking, disco, smoking, dreadlocks, work, marriage, land surveying, meat, fasting, divorce, children, Jesus, Krishna, Allah, amen, Om, computers, gardens, Truth, chiropractors, compassion, heaven, hell, reincarnation,  meditation, asasnas, pranayma, chanting, ahimsa, charity, kapalabati, zen, enlightenment, the gunas, ayurveda, karma, dharma, ishwarapranidhaana, swaadhyaaya, satya, asteya, aparigraha, hatha yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga, jnana yoga, nada yoga….and a bunch of other words with a lot of a’s in them.  The list goes on and on.

At 8:00 we did our morning asana practice for an hour and a half, which gave us about half an hour to get settled in for breakfast at 10.

Following breakfast we had the option to spend an hour practicing karma yoga (i.e., selfless service). I spent three days of my karma yoga in the garden, one making mango pie, several in the kitchen on dish duty, and some cleaning bathrooms and/or the floor.  A few words are warranted about the garden.  The garden initially elicited romantic notions (at least in my mind) of nourishment, health, happiness, and wholesome earthy sustenance.  The reality of the garden was this no doubt.  The reality of the garden was also mud and muck and heat and stinky stuff and weeds and creepy crawly things with wings and pinchers and stingers that ran and jumped and flew out at you without warning. It was the most difficult work I’ve ever done in my life.  It was amazing and horrible and wonderful all at once.  Yoga is the union of opposites.  In the garden, things started making a lot more sense.

The Lovely Noelle

From noon to 2:00 we had free time.  Some folks spent this time studying and practicing for the class they would teach.  Others spent it sleeping or showering.  I usually went on walks or contacted the outside world with reports. On day five, three of us broke out of the ashram during our free time to hit the store down the street.  

Who knew a grocery store trip could be THIS exhilarating?

The afternoon hours were comprised of lecture followed by another hour and a half of yoga. Dinner was served at 6:00. We had another round of meditation, chanting, and lecture from 7:30-9:30 at night. 

Something must be said here about the mangos. I’d never had a fresh mango hot off the tree before this experience.  It was mango season and there were mangos everywhere and I ate them like a maniac.  I ate them for breakfast. I made them in pies. I ate them in pies for breakfast. I ate them for dinner. I ate them at random times during the day. 

Mangos Mangos everywhere!
Mango pies

Then I discovered I was allergic to mangos.  I broke out into a rash.  My lips inflated to three times their normal size, which prompted one of my roommates to exclaim, “Wow! People pay big money for lips like that!” So one of my karma yoga periods was spent at a medical clinic to deal with my mango madness.

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