Category Archives: Uncategorized

time soup

if we had never forgotten
and were in a state of
always remembering

there is no mistake
in being here

we might fall
to our knees
in praise of a bee’s buzz
– their sting –
and harvest

we might be easier
about shitty behavior
and traffic
and rather, focus
on how
to heal a planet
a sick society
our children’s lungs
and their heartbreaks

we might
raise one another
up

it is
quite a magic thing
that any of us
are breathing
can laugh still
and ever
fall
in
love

that these miracles
go down alongside
the nightmares
and the way my heart fibers have known
a version of each
is enough proof

for me

time is a bending
resilient
thing, like us
brewing in
a well and slow-cooked broth

bones and aromatics
bubble away with
dreams
as garlic cloves,
bursting

days
duly become decades
and sip themselves
into
the eternal marrow of a
fortified invitation
to do something
with
and within
this living
simmering
soup

Love from the bubbling broth,

Suki

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Home Fires

I’ve been putting off writing this and I know why. It’s an uncomfortable subject, perhaps not for you, the reader, but certainly for myself. The subject is homelessness. Not as an abstract idea, nor as a cause for social justice but actual, physical homelessness- specifically my own.

I spent a period of roughly two years homeless, victim to my own addictions and lack of skills necessary for coping in regular society. It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always hard. There were moments I wouldn’t trade for anything and there are memories I’d much rather not revisit. When you’re homeless you’re either anonymous or conspicuous. One turns out to be no better than the other. Engaged in the business of survival, it’s easy to forget that there’s a world beyond basic necessities or that you might have or deserve a place within it. This, then, becomes the crux of the matter; deserving, feeling worthy of . Yesterday when I awoke it had snowed five inches at my house. For a good twenty minutes I struggled with the question of whether to light a fire or not. It would seem a logical thing- the house was cold, I planned on being in it for the majority of the day, so why wouldn’t I? The why not is because I have conditioned myself over years to get by with less, to remain as unobtrusive as possible, to not be in the way or demand too much. Sure, the house is my own, the wood too, harvested and split and stacked by my own hand- but it doesn’t seem to matter. Somewhere within my being is a residual message telling me to deal with it, to not make a fuss.

Enter Yoga. So much of this practice for me is assimilating myself into a culture that I never thought I was allowed to be a part of. A culture that not only allows but encourages, nay, celebrates, self care. I sometimes tell the story of learning to take baths. Baths as opposed to showers. Luxuriation instead of utilitarian. The smallest things are the biggest things. This Yoga, this practice, to me at least, is about introspection. It’s about manifesting the best possible version of yourself so that you can be of service. That you might be available for what the world is asking of you and make no mistake, it is asking. You are necessary in the grand orchestra and divine play unfolding before you.

On Saturday evening, we will gather, as a community of caregivers, of ourselves and others. We’ll share stories, ideas, perhaps some tears. For the moment, I’ll be tending the fire.

In Love, Clint

 

A good long rest

Good day and hello from the waning twilight of the year. Solstice is coming and the days are quick to finish here in the northern hemishphere. In the depth of the dark is an invitation, silent, invisible, palpable. When our outer eyes are intercepted by darkness, the gaze is turned inward, naturally. By turns, looking in can be calming and soothing, or intense and flashy (literally, flashes of light and images that reveal themselves when the outer eyes are closed). What do you see when you are not looking for anything? What presents itself to your mind and heart when you pause? What sensations do you feel when you are still?

We don’t grow in the light. Looking to the plant world for inspiration, we see that all growth happens in the dark, much occurring beneath the surface of the earth in root systems long before sunlight kisses sprouts. Photosynthesis, like the upright, day-to-day process, feeds us incredible amounts of information and room for growth. But without pausing in the quiet dark to rest, without digesting, all the details become scattered fields of data.

All this to remind you that with the commitment to come to the mat thirteen times in the next moon cycle, you guarantee yourself as many chances to integrate all the information you are harvesting in your life and practice, in savasana. I, personally, am committing to offer longer savasana in my classes through the end of the year. Yum. That’s a promise for everyone, but especially a branch extended in respect for all the To The Moon & Beyond peeps. Join me in movement, probably a whole bunch of caturangas, and stillness to steep in the brew.

Bowing to new beginnings with the coming solstice,

Love and Peace,

Suki Ola

slating time for magic

Perhaps the idea of adding another thing to your plate this holiday season is : tremendously challenging to get excited about, daunting, and even seems the impossible. Me too, a little. I feel a juggler, often, hurrying from one meeting and item on the list to the next, and reviewing at the end of the day an unpacked project that has been waiting in the wings, ignored, and calling my soul. I am a modern-day stress bug. Yoga seriously helps by for real slowing down my roll, especially when its crash-coursing along at a fever-pitch. Sometimes I literally crawl onto the mat, waiting for inspiration to come, and indulging in the pure space of a pause. Most of the time, the pause swings back around to movement. Some days, I just lie there, hardly moving a muscle on purpose.

They say that yoga actually expands one’s capacity and creates time, rather than gobbling it up. But if I pitched that to entice you to join me, I’d feel a bit of a pushy jerk. And to my individualistic and bullheaded brain that all sounds like a big should, which maybe makes you feel like running, faster. So I’ll just say I’m with you. In the middle of the holiday rumble, I am willing to make life an experiment and leave something left open for interpretation. The rest of the agenda is pretty clear – work, party, obligation, commute, blah blah blah. And the thirteen times slated for yoga are hours left free for the divine mystery to fill. And all we have to do is show up? What a relief.

Love, Suki Ola

We Choose To Go To The Moon…

We chose the theme of the To The Moon Challenge because it was a sweet little quip on the scheduling of the event in relationship to the procession of the moon. The name also lends some momentum to invigorate New Years Resolutions, and support end of year completions. In quick succession 321… Launch became the continued theme for a workshop Suki and I will offer on New Years Eve. (Details on our website.)

All this moon and rocket talk has had me thinking about the race for space and the literal journey to the moon. Inspired, I went on an internet journey and came across the famous John F. Kennedy Moon Speech at Rice Stadium on September 12, 1962. I had never heard or read it before. Nor had I come across any excerpts or quotes. Surprising for a person with a penchant for inspired quotes, of which this document has more than a few. What a treat it was to read.

I was so inspired I thought I would share

Following is a self edited, largely abbreviated version. For the whole document you can go here https://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm

With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,

Genevieve

‘We meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

The vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

Man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man.

I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” -John F. Kennedy

Open to all the possibilities

The point of the To the Moon and Beyond yoga challenge is as you like it. There is no intended goal beyond an invitation to take a peek – a glimpse into what might benefit you to bring into your life, and what might be ready to drop away. We’re banking on the idea that in the stages along the way from dreamy conception of a commitment to practice thirteen times sandwiched between the new and full moon, to the dripping pomegranate seeds of culmination with the full moon and new year, there is magic in the mix that couldn’t have been imagined at the outset.

Personally, I’ve not seen the end of the yoga tunnel. There have been fruited apex moments on the mat, sure, and progress and happiness in relationships off the mat that I have been able to cast clear linking lines to the yoga. I can only truly say that thanks to my time exploring this yoga stuff I’ve : gotten better at moving in my skin; gotten better at dealing with conflict; gotten better at taking deep breaths when I’m stressed, when I’m resting, and when I might otherwise retreat into headspace and check out; gotten better at taking care of myself and others; I’ve gotten better at being me. And there is oh, so much more coming down my line and more fruit, for sure.

I’m curious to see what pops up with the commitment to be at the studio a whole bunch, to forgo other things in lieu of the grind of practice, to sit with what is stirred up to begin and what the gates will close in upon and finish, and to be with other people embarking on their similar and all the way original journeys at the turn of a new moon cycle and year. All in the light of the magic, reflective, and constant love of the moon, for who better to witness the outer work of all that asana on the surface, and to measure the profound alchemy that just might unfold in the dark cave of our hearts?

Ready.

Love, Suki Ola

Everything is medicine, and everything is poison.

The climate, literally, and in a broad view of humanity and politics, is feeling pretty v(olati)ile at the moment. And so, our opportunity to discern – to really truly get honest about what is helpful and life-affirming, and what is blighted behavior – is real. As autumn’s patina wends its way into the high desert sunshine and the gardens dry, I marvel at what the last year has brought. What a story I am tempted to tell about our lineage of human relationship with each other, and the planet! And I am aware that knowing what has gone down and how it got us to where we are, is invaluable information, but that the story, which lends itself to blame and shame, is venomous, and nary helpful.

In just the right proportion, at the right time, and for all the right reasons, we can take in poison, and heal. Shiva did it, we all have. I’ve also dosed inappropriately something I thought was “good medicine”, and made things way worse. Peppermint tea isn’t actually a panacea, and neither are antibiotics, this is the premise of the medicine-poison thing; nothing is for always.

People can also be medicine, and poison. Those we learn from, whether it feels delicious or bitter, are catalyzing change. We are all medicine people if we walk with awake eyes and hearts to how we affect each other, and we are pushing poison if we walk with closed-minded attachment to what is no longer true. Life is powerful! It is no small gift of being that we incarnated with human life. Wise living strikes the ultra-fine equinox balance between healing and harming inside of each breath.

And since we’re s’posed to be talking yoga, the asanas, pranayamas, and deep wisdom teachings of the yoga are also, medicine and poison, alike. Maybe one day a posture feels magic, and another, it causes pain. The pranayamas, inappropriately used, diminish life force, create stress, and can do serious harm. And scriptures written for the climate of a few thousand years ago may not be applicable verbatim to us, today in 2017, trying to figure out how to “be ahimsa”, or “cultivate peace” in the wake of bigoted buffoons playing as world leaders. Reading the news by default negates our opportunity to focus only on breath all the ding-durn day. We can’t do both, see? It feels dangerous to pretend to “stay cool” while watching devastating images of life destroyed, and a t-shirt that says “Namaste, Bitches” doesn’t feel loving to me, but who am I to say? Prescribed snippets of media-free moments, and critical doses of stress-relief during urgent times set the tone for healing in the now, and in the ancient ways. Small acts of self-and-together-care help us to rise from the ashes of judgement that keep us all down, and move forward in equity, respect, health, and love.

This is what healing looks like. I do believe that a guiding light and divine wisdom – God – is everywhere. And I commit to making and tending a thread of personal connection (context), between individual and the vastness, or else, I’m just prescribing unrealistic and ofttimes harmful concepts and practices. Anything we learn from is a guru. Taking the reins, then – even taking power back – is a process of making choices in every moment with intention (the thread), and willingness to transform (openness and humility amidst the vastly immeasurable spiritual stew of life-altering potential) through the experience. In the brewing process, maybe we learn to put poison into context, and make medicine with our words and actions that will actually begin to heal the wounds of the past? Apply love liberally.

Blessings for this equinox time, friends.

In deep respect,

Suki Ola

Shanti Mantra

Maybe I’ve already written about this mantra before, but holy Ma, has it been soothing my fires of late, and so, I’ll lay down the Shanti Mantra for you again. Shanti means peace in Sanskrit. What is happening in the world at large is discordant and uncomfortable. In my smaller world, I find myself ridden with anxiety and less-then lustrous behaviors, poor knock-offs of my fretfulness for the big issues. On the bright side, I am alight with fresh fervor to ease the disharmony that is born in hatred and judgement. And I know that I am not alone.

Translated through my heart and head, and with the help and guidance of the luminous Joe Barnett, the mantra goes thusly:

Aum sahana vavatu: Maha (big, humongous, ever-alive) mantra aum – sound and vibration of all things in the perhaps not infinite, but immeasurably large universe – may our practice be protected. May the practice space be safe for all beings, and a sanctuary from the distractions of the external world, and its fleeting states of chaos. May those who partake be held in the nourishing net of good support and community, and do no harm to themselves or others.

sahanau bhunaktu: May the practice be pleasant. Let’s be honest, if we don’t like it, we won’t come back. There is plenty of yuck and crud up, there must be a bit of pleasure left in the world, hey! Let it reverberate and come through our work together. And may we be filled up, nourished and fed with the deliciousness of rekindling connection to our bodies, minds, and souls. Let the practice beget more joy, as in the sharing of joy, great growth occurs. Rather than suffering, may the practice spread comfort, ease, and happiness.

sahaviryam karavavahai: May the practice be courageous. It is not without effort that we will turn this shitpile of misunderstanding and mistreatment of ourselves and others into wine. We are going to have to be wholly courageous, full of vim and vigor and unyielding vigilance to stop the disharmony from further jarring our communities, our entire population, our planet, and our connection to all that is beyond our imagination. (Interjection of my belief : the damage is not done, but there isn’t a moment to spare. Never has been.) It is the selfsame fires of our commitment to study that will conduce productivity, making our practice potent and sufficient. May we not doubt our capacity, but have faith in the process.

tejas vinavati tamastu: Through the efforts of our practice, may the effulgence of understanding move and spread between us. Let’s turn all this effort into good energy, good feeling, and good will. Nature’s way is collaboration and balance, and compassion is a force of light that will cut through the murk of enmity, which is not the nature of humanity.

maa vidvishavahai: Dispelling hatred is just what this light of understanding will do. When the lights go on upstairs and in our radiant hearts that we are all connected and in this together, may polarization and judgement disperse and be gone. This light is not harsh, but gentle and yielding, integrating of all life force as it brings all beings together in life, and love. That’s how powerful we are, people! Go.

aum shanti shanti shantihi: and fostering peace peace PEACE. Peace in our minds, in our hearts, and in the world. Peace in all the worlds. Peace throughout the humongous vast universe that begins at home, and on the mat.

For aspirant and teacher alike,the request is the same, as the journey we take in a class, and in the world, is one of together energy.                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                I love you. Suki Ola

Aum sahana vavatu                                                                                                                                                                      sahanau bhunaktu                                                                                                                                                                     sahaviryam karavavahai                                                                                                                                                                        tejas vinavati tamastu                                                                                                                                                                           maa vidvishavahai                                                                                                                                                                                 aum shanti shanti shantihi

 

 

 

June 20th, 2017

Aum asatoma sad gamaya tamaso ma jyotir gamaya mrtyor ma amritam gamaya

For the solstice I had big plans to write on a mantra I very enjoy. From the Upanishads (some of the OG texts on Hindu spiritual life and practice), it acknowledges the consistent transformative nature of nature – that all is always changing – and appeals to Aum, the vibration of all things, to lead a transition toward spirit. One might say it’s a prayer for immortality, and so stretches to the depths of the yoga practice. I have always seen the prayer to taste the nectar as a metaphor for absolution from a fear of dying. Years ago when I first really listened to the mantra (oh, these songs we listen to in yoga class are ancient prayers that carry with them eons of experience?!?!), I was struck with the practice of sipping in the nectar of the moment as best I could. I began acknowledging – out loud, and often – that I might be going soon. This birthed in me a sense of urgency, and a new peek into relationship with these funny fleeting shapes we get to live in and play with called bodies. While I was really sitting with the practice saying adieu like “I hope we get to see each other again,” and making plans like “Maybe tomorrow… if I’m lucky,” I fell really in love. Looking through, I see how the mantra helped me to keep calm in the face of quite a delicious drowning, as life turned topsy in a wash of passion and authentic partnership. For the first time, I tasted loving that did not disturb or rewrite my own story, and only brought more light and positive vibration to my every day. What a sweet gift of nectar.

The literal idea of the mantra is to move from : asat (untruth), to sat (truth); tamas (inertia, darkness), to jyot (divine light); and from mrtyor (death, impermanence), to amritam (the nectar of eternal life and bliss). I like to read it like thusly:

Aum, lead me from unreality, obscurity, and fear of death to reality, illumination, and eternal bliss.

I quite like the story of my own process with the mantra, but wanted to tell a bigger picture. Yearning to share a shade of the idea of how big this prayer can be, I thought about all of the ways to play translator to these powerful words, and I got stuck in the mud of tamas. Maybe my curiosities about if the Sanskrit word for death is the root word for martyr are not the way to go for a solstice supplication. Instead of a literary probing, here’s the poem that popped out instead. Happy solstice. Love, Suki

 

As time comes to pause

and the sun stands still

you

too

stand

toes in the mud

surrounded by snail shells, floating.

Their story rides below the surface

untold

as their soft bodies are gone

and only brittle bits of a home remain.

 

You imagine that their life was good

full of laughter

and sunlight streaking from above the surface tension

into the depths

of a pond’s murk, and quiet.

It is in these deep spaces

that life

breathes, amphibian.

Here, the snails are celebratory

for each duckweed bit that drops

for the diffuse light

down in the mud

for another day respiring 

at a snail’s pace

whatever that may be.

It is here that fish burp

and sway

sending up bubbles that tickle your ankles

in the shallows

where the sunglow still reaches.
And so

nature converses

sending messages

from one height to another

from darkness to lightness

and back around again.
Thank you

you say aloud

into the willow’s branches

and the message

slowly reverberates

and

perfectly sinks

to silt.

 

 

Yoga is not about being anything at all. Many of the Greats would say that if anything, yoga is about becoming one with everything, and so, about being no thing. There are hosts of ideas, thousands of years of scripture, and a billion and one styles of yoga in the modern world to fiddle with the big (and small), ideas of the practice, but my truth is that the yoga is about: being many things, learning many things, digesting many things, and then being free and capable to make informed decisions about what I might like to repeat. It’s about being supple, in body and mind, and keeping my heart open to the mystery. For that all to work out, it’s got to continue to change as I do. Over the years, different aspects of the yoga have enticed me, and for different reasons. In allowing transformation to happen, even seeking it through a variety of models of praxis, the yoga has become integral and linked to every encounter and breath. And seriously, I feel it is just beginning.

I have a teacher who likes to say that if you have found an idea or a practice that you enjoy and the concept of “rinse, lather, repeat”, is enticing, then you have found the impetus to practice. It is from this desire (tapas), and curiosity for process that we begin to understand what it really is that brought us to ask for practice at all. One can’t know what the end result is before it has come, but we have to strive for resolution and goals. Without direction, we are rather lost at sea. I like to look at the yoga – and especially something like the Root Down challenge – as an invitation just to set a course. It may be an arbitrary thing to attend 20 classes in 30 days, but that might just be the gift. Somewhere in all that breath and time with community, inspiration and deep wisdom will rise from the depths and the roots.

The Root Down Spring Yoga Challenge is on, as of today, and I am feeling all the feels about it. Already I’ve worried about how all that time traveling to and fro, and being on the mat at the studio is going to happen. But I know from experience that the yummy part of the challenge isn’t completing it, but witnessing the inevitable shifts that take place in the middle of it. Picasso said it nicely, “I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” He spoke directly to the surprise embedded in any commitment’s fibers. Just start, and see what unfolds. Join me for 20 in 30 days this spring. We can help support each other in the ebbs and flows of all that asana, remind each other to stay hydrated, and to stay open to the wild growth that will come from our setting strong roots into practice.

Love and giant respect, Suki Ola