Tag Archives: challenge

The Queen of Distress

A student of mine recently gave me a new nickname, the “Queen of Distress”. The student informed me, after I queried, that this was a compliment and not otherwise. I am pretty confident that the nickname came about as a reflection of the subject matter I have been unfolding in my classroom recently. All recent themes have been spokes off of the hub of adversity.

The reason for this focus in my class themes is not me working out a current personal journey through distress, but rather my continued desire as a teacher to relate the asana practice to something greater off the mat. And I am pretty sure that no matter how open, strong, or flexible someone is, asana practice invites adversity. With this in mind I often teach on the theme of rising above or navigating through adversity as the great opportunity to translate the practice off the and mat into ones life.

While I may not be perceiving my life currently in a specific state of adversity, I am aware that there is always a bit of challenge to be navigated in the course of every day. This is one of the many reasons I return to the mat regularly. Each time any of us returns to our practice we have the opportunity to reset any states of discord to something more harmonious, or to set the stage for harmony before the discord arises. Be it physical, mental, emotional, energetic, spiritual, or otherwise.

The practice of traversing adversity mindfully and with courage can eventually lead us deeper into the more esoteric qualities of our yoga practice. As we learn to navigate the rising and falling of life’s challenges we become more capable of seeing what exists in the steadiness beneath those waves. Through this lens we become more capable of discerning what is temporary and what is eternal. In Sanskrit this is Viveka, or the practice of discernment. In time our practice of Viveka enables us to experience ever more harmony in the midst of whatever life hands us, and the fact of the matter is that life will hand it to us.

So I may now be the “Queen of Distress” but I am comfortable with that. Even though I may not percieve myself in the midst of the shit today, I know I have earned the title. And I am happy to share my knowledge with others in the hopes that something helps.

With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving, For Peace,

Genevieve

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Root Down

Tomorrow begins the Root Down yoga challenge at Shree, our newest and greatest innovation in the invitation to come to the mat, again and again, in good company. Spring is a juicy time to settle into the practice and investigate what is stirring, as below the surface, tap roots are coming alive.

In yoga, the practitioner is in a steady state of spring. Recognition of promise and potential are addressed humbly, and the focus in any given moment settles on what is at hand. What humble courageousness to accept that all that has come before has only led to this moment, and that much more is waiting in the wings. The yoga embodies the great spirit choice to retain balanced attention: not too much, not too little, for all of it.

In the Upanishads (ancient scripture describing the philosophy and teachings of yoga), the concept of neti neti is introduced. Literally, neti neti means “not this, not this”, and includes a practice of finding truth by understanding what is not true. As yoga practice deepens, more and more attachments fall away. The practitioner sees that not this (one pose), nor this (rigid alignment), not this (particular breath), nor this (one teacher), nor that (stylish pair of pants), and on and on it goes, will ever completely answer the questions that burn at the heart of the practice. Each aspect has value to offer to a depth of understanding, but will not, in and of itself, solve the puzzle.

The value of learning what is not true and shining the light of the sun of your heart on what is, in fact, true for you, is an exercise in the yamas and the niyamas. Saucha (purity) is expressed in clearing away distraction. Brahmacharya (control of the senses) is displayed in avoiding the train-wreck that ensues from following the leash of the senses. Satya (truthfulness) is found, only through process. Aparigraha (non-grasping) presents in the practice of letting go of what no longer serves. Santosha (contentment) is exposed in the simple pleasure of regular practice. These are the roots of the yoga practice, and often begin to show themselves only after time.

By returning, again and again, all is slowly revealed. Might you in your month of Root Down answer all of your heart’s deepest questions? And is the challenge forsooth the answer to all of your prayers? Neti neti. Even this is just a construct, created to offer structure to the formless, but why not? How else will you find the truth? And what better way to spend the windy month of April than setting roots down into the well of radical self-care? Root down, and simply watch to see what arises from your depths.

With love and respect, Suki Ola

 

Creativity as a cave and you, a candle.

The smallest amount of light can dissipate much darkness, but what is the danger of the darkness? I have to ask as we approach the twilight season, and the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur when light is cast into the beginning of the new year, what, pray, is wrong with the darkness? It is in the dark where our ideas are seeded, in the dark where they take root and begin the slow and earnest process of seeking a path toward the light. Long before the early blooms of spring flowers arrive, the dark womb of the earth holds space for life to move and shake beneath the surface. In this antipodal season of Autumn as the plants begin to wither and fall away, there is still ferocious life-force flowing, though slowing, beneath our skin. It is our work as yogis to honor an interval of less velocity by continuing to stoke the fires of life-force within. With practice, we learn to keep the deep channels open for prana to flow as our leaves begin to fall, so to speak.

It is the murk of unknowingness, the quieted senses harvested in stillness and meditation, and the screaming for change that swells from our darkest days that impels transformation. In the Hindu Goddess tradition, from Kali’s timeless, terrifying cave, Saraswati emerges. Saraswati’s pure course mothers inspiration, learned craft and arts, knowledge, clarity, intuition, and creativity. But the pulse, the drive to create is what comes before in the dank and quiet cave. In the predawn tickle of sounds and bare beginnings, harmony is formed. It is in these places of unfinished business, even untapped resource, that creativity dwells in her ferocious garb.

The just-before-moment, when words swell at the tip of your tongue is the time when yoga, a connectivity to the source and creative force of the Universe is most ripe. Enjoy the overcast, shadowed, and fearful caverns of imminent announcement that rise, curling like smoke from the slow-burning fires of verve within you. Settle in and enjoy the flavor as best you can, for without attuning to our deepest urges, the pleasure we experience on the outside is but a sprinkled on a shell. Cast loving light into the cave of your heart, your fear, and your silence and watch what rolls out from there, with each measured breath.

To your darkest hour, I bow.
Love, Suki

What Lies Beneath

The yoga journey is fundamentally rewarding even when extraordinarily challenging. So much of what takes place on the mat or in the meditation practice translates to our lives outside of the practice. It is truly no wonder that people have been utilizing it for thousands of years. I myself have only been on the train for nine years and have seen the power of transformation steeped in the cauldron of the yoga practice sweep through every aspect of my life. The more I practice the subtler yet more inspiring the challenges get.

In the beginning is a valuable and profound unfolding of the physical body, a revelation of joy in the fulfillment of strength and flexibility gained through attaining new heights in the asana. Over the journey the challenge crosses over into relationships with others and with behaviors that for the first time get attention and fall away from being habitual and done mindlessly, inviting a knowing of Shraddha (belief structures our lives operate on that are empowered while unconscious), and ultimately its transfiguration. Then like a good flow class the practice aligns with life to throw one into the deep well of pain, challenge, transformation, and in the end transmutation. The Tapas, the burning away of the desire to be comfortable in the known, morphs into an all-consuming desire to align with something greater than self, which arises when we sweat on the mat and as life falls apart. In the renunciation and reconciliation life gets put back together again. In the wake and the puddles of sweat or tears there is quiet like the stillness before the gestation of a seed and its great journey into mature life.

This has been my journey and I know I am not alone as I see similarities in my story with those of others. This is life, it’s not always easy, it’s not always pain free, and it’s not always about the next big pose. This is where the real yoga starts to show up and we are asked of ourselves to be present for the journey rather that the results of our labors. When we allow ourselves to be present for the journey then no matter the result we gain. This is the gift of our lives not only our yoga practices, when we realize that sometimes the only way out is through.  Even if that journey is just getting through a book a friend recommended that you do not enjoy, you will probably find in the end something of value was waiting for you to just unveil it.  Not unlike precious gems hiding in the deep belly of the Earth, we often find our most valuable meanings in life in the deep darkness of the underbelly of our being.

“When you are in conflict or doubt, or are afraid, when you lose hope or lose people that you depend upon, move beyond the pain and fear; there is an awareness there. An awareness that has always been there. In your loneliness and suffering and darkness and fear, silently, behind it, the awareness is waiting for us to return. This awareness is the field of consciousness from which all life came, the absolute energy that precedes all and is beyond all and is within all. It is within you.

We all have this in common, but we have been convinced that we are alone. This energy, though, that compels one cell to become two, that heals wounds, that spins quarks and planets, is within us all. And all language can do is rest on top of it, or point to it, never really describing it. This force, this undeniable compulsion to come together-we know that it’s there and we all know when it’s absent and we all know that we must be open to it now. And in spite of its ethereal and indefinable nature, we all know that it’s love.” –Russel Brand

It is there in the midst of it all when we become quiet that we find ourselves in the presence of the consciousness that pervades the universe. This consciousness is always present and always available to us to experience. In its company we feel the tenderness of embrace as well as the brightness of inspired transformation. In the presence of its company we withstand the travails of all challenge. In presence we see the beauty and experience the rewards all along the path of our journeys.

Happy spring, may you fee blessed by the challenges that call you to the doorstep of your transformation.

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

Genevieve

21 Days of Yoga

Below is a personal accounting of a student's recent journey through her just completed Autumn Yoga Challenge.  So powerful is her story that we felt compelled to share it with everyone.  Thank you Kelley.

I have been practicing yoga off and on since my early 20s when my sister and I used to go to the Solar Yoga Center in St. Louis. It was there that I learned poses. It was there that I learned to take a cold shower with peppermint soap before committing to meditation. I still love the smell of peppermint soap because of it. I never took my yoga practice any deeper than that, but I have continued to practice off and on. I ended up at Shree for one of those occasional classes.

Then at the beginning of September my husband had a major surgery, my beloved dog died, and my beautiful youngest brother, he was 22, unexpectedly died. There was day-to-day to manage. As a firm believer that life comes as it does, I tried keep moving. But my ability to focus had come to a halt. My sleep and waking time was blurred. As a writer and thinker, I have always relied on words to help me explain my emotions. I have relied on words to help me figure things out, but now I was at a loss for how to deal with the pain. There were no words to “talk” through the sorrow. It seemed simply to sit in my body. In a silent and what felt kind of random decision, I joined the 20 classes in 30 Days-Autumn Challenge at Shree.

Continue reading 21 Days of Yoga

The End, Genevieve’s Spring Yoga Challenge, Class 21 Completed

Once upon a time I was working at World Cup on the corner of Taos Plaza and a new woman was hired, her name was Suki.  She was new to town and I had recently crossed paths with her at the Alley Cantina where she I watched her dance freely like no one was watching in the middle of an empty dance floor.  I could not take my eyes off of her, spellbound by her willingness to be so free despite having all eyes in the room on her, like my own.  The day she began working at the Cup I had been deemed the person with all of the information to fill her head in order to teach her to be the best Barista she could be.  It was July 2005, at the time I had a boyfriend who lived in Seco the day before her training my boyfriend and I enjoyed the Seco 4th of July parade, and that night I got a spider bite on my ankle.  I recall noticing the spider bite after it happened and not thinking to much of it, however by the next morning it had started to swell, and by the time Suki and I showed up at the World Cup for the afternoon training shift it was the size of a tennis ball.  During the course of our six plus hours my right ankle swelled to the size of a football and Suki insisted on mopping the floor, which in my training routine was something I generally kept until the next closing shift, however this time I could not refuse.  Being stubborn and not quick to visit a doctor when in illness I was telling her that I would probably just go home and rest after we were finished.  Suki, being the sensitive, aware, and intelligent woman she is, suggested I go to the emergency room.  We investigated the bite again and noted that it was starting to look like a volcano with big blue streaks coming down from it.  Looking at this grotesque image I knew it was time to go to the hospital.  That afternoon was the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship of teaching, and learning from each other.

Suki came to Taos to do a Yoga Teacher Training in Santa Fe, and being an avid skier she intelligently informed herself that Taos Ski Valley would fit her fancy far more than Santa Fe’s terrain.  It had been eight years since I was ejected through a windshield, suffered a severe break to my lower back, and taught myself to walk again.  Over the course of those many years yoga had been suggested to me, but as I said in my previous story I am stubborn, and I hadn’t gotten around to exploring what yoga was all about by the time Suki arrived.  Just like the night at the Alley when she was dancing, over the course of the next few months working with her I noticed Suki was so very vibrant in all she did, her sense of self was strong and secure and she shined like her pearly white teeth behind her wide and friendly smile.  It’s another story, perhaps a book of it’s own, to describe how I felt at that time in my life and why I felt that way however, I was not feeling so shiny, and I wanted to know how to feel the way Suki felt.  One thing she was doing and had done for most of her life was yoga, and now she was beginning to teach.  She invited me to attend her class, I just couldn’t say no.   No matter how insecure I was, how afraid I was of not knowing what I was doing, how stubborn I was about my limitations related to my back, I just had to go.  Something about Suki’s bright smile and the tenderness with which she treated me from that day with the spider bite said to my fear, “don’t worry, you will be safe.”

I remember that first yoga class, it was in January of 2006.  I remember my first down dog, it felt agonizing as my arms shook, then Suki made the invitation to express the posture from the feeling of our hearts.  My heart softened immediately remembering it’s desire to be happy, and knowing the space I was in was safe.

Everyone comes to yoga for their own, unique, and personal reasons.  Everyone has their own intentions, motives, and desires of what they wish to get out of the practice.  Though eight years have now passed I think back and it is apparent to me my motives are still the same.  I wish to be happy and peace-filled while traversing this wild and crazy ride called life.  I wish to experience this happiness true to myself, in the fullness of my authentic expression without hesitation or fear of who may be watching.   I know that at the heart of sharing this experience of my Spring Yoga Challenge through this blog is this truth of my desire to be courageous while standing bare and vulnerable for the world to see.  Along my journey of the past eight years deeply devoted to this practice I have developed all of the skills I use to stand vulnerably as my authentic self with courage most deeply through this beautiful and continuing relationship with my dear teacher, friend, and student Suki. In this truth so much gratitude fills my heart and the joy of this gratitude  brings tears to my eyes.

After awaking this morning from dreams that were no where near as delightful as I would have called sweet, I awoke feeling a bit more ill than I would have liked.  Stuffy nose and slightly feverish I spent the morning quietly, took a walk with my dog, enjoyed fresh air and decided that it was the time to finish this journey I set myself upon.  If I had not challenged myself to complete the task by the 30th of April I would not have gone to class today, however, stubborn old me made my way over to Shree at noon to see my dear beloved teacher.

Suki guided us through beautiful asana of deep hip flexing and twists to sooth our nervous system and help us to drop more deeply into the quiet calm fibers of our being in order to bring us ease in the wild and voracious wind of the past couple days.  I silently acknowledged to myself that I had not felt to shaken by the wind and appreciated this inner calm was a sweet benefit of all of this yoga I have been doing.  Suki remarked on the quality of the wind being like the quality of our mind often blowing, sometimes blustering, and providing the potential to create a constant sense of unease.  The ultimate teaching she offered her students this afternoon is that yoga’s purpose is to quiet the mind stuff, to calm the winds of blustering thoughts so we may enjoy the ever present well of inner peace.  As always, I found myself returning from Savasana with the winged expression of joy, gratitude, and love for this magnificent teacher rising from the well of peace in my heart.

Being an owner of Shree Yoga limits the possibility of being rewarded in the most fabulous ways our students are rewarded materially by use for completing classes 7, 14, and 21 of the Spring Yoga Challenge.  Yet, the rewards of practicing regularly are not restricted from my experience and I have experienced many.  Through the calm diving into the well of my grieving heart, to the equanimity experienced in the ease I feel when the wind blows wild outside, and all the other resonances of my energetic and physical body and tastes of riches in my free spirit and open heart between, I have been rewarded.

Almost a decade ago this powerful relationship of friendship and studentship began, it has in itself multiplied into many aspects of my life and ever continues to bring me more joy.  I do not know if Suki knew I would be attending her class today, however, she brought me a gift, an edible treat of powerful super-foods we discovered on our journey to Maui together a few years ago, Happy Balls.  After class I delightfully devoured my happy ball and began to sing from the truest joy in my heart…If you are not familiar with Pharrell William’s new song Happy consider this your introduction…

“Clap your hands, if you feel like a room without a roof.  Clap your hands if you feel like happiness on the move…Because I’m happy happy happy happy…happy happy happy happy!”  You can check out his uber inspiring and creative video here.  http://24hoursofhappy.com/

Once upon a time I was bit by a spider feeling as grey as a cloudy day.  A wonderful yogi of luster and long fibers guided me out of the gloom and along my way.  Now I’m at home and though I’m alone I’m as happy as I could be.  Knowing inside me is all I will ever need to be willing, courageous, and free.

If you have been keeping up with me along this journey I thank you for sharing it with me.  It is my deep belief that the more we share of our experiences the narrower we bring the gap of separation between us and feeling alone in our suffering, or as I like to call it, being human.

There is still one more day to dive in and get your feet wet on your own magical Spring Yoga Challenge.  Yes it will be difficult in more ways than one.  Yes it will require commitment and tenacity.  Yes it will deepen the quality of joy in your life in all of it’s rewards.  Stop by Shree for tonight’s 5:30 class or tomorrow’s, 7:30 am, 9:30 am, Noon and 5:30pm classes to begin.

That is all for now, and this marks The End….of this story at least.

With love, all ways, for giving, in joy,

Genevieve

 

Just One More, Class 20

In the old days class twenty would have marked the moment of crossing the finish line of the Spring or Autumn Yoga Challenge at Shree Yoga Taos.  However in 2014, we decided twenty wasn’t enough and twenty-one would be an appropriate upping of the ante for those like me who fervently take the plunge regularly.  In the old days I would have experienced an elated delight toward the end of class, just like the experience I had this evening when my body made an inner exclamation of and undying love of yoga and being in my body.  Unlike challenges past, as I finished class this evening there would not have been just one more class looming in the distance.

Many times in my life I have been asked, “What is it you love about yoga, what brings you back to the mat?”  My answer to the question has always been true and despite the many years that have gone by it continues to be the same.  “There is always more room”,  I answer with confidence and ease.  The longer I practice the more often I experience more room in my body even if it is limited in its movement.  I experience more room in the energetic body followed by more room in the relaxed quality of my muscles.  No matter the spaciousness or limitations of my physical body I find there is always more room in my mind after I practice, less judgement, less criticism, less running around in circles on the same thought, any thought, be it expansive or limiting, dissipates like vapors off a hot cup of tea.  Mostly however, the thing I find most appealing is that there is always more room in my heart to love and be loved, to experience joy no matter my physical surroundings, freedoms, or limitations.  This spaciousness in my heart translates directly to my spirit which always feels after a yoga practice unlimited in its expansion, unlimited in its knowing, unlimited in awareness of time and space, unlimited in it’s eternal presence and connection with the eternal heart of all hearts.  Even if my awareness of this radical unlimited spaciousness of my spirit is only for just a tenth of a second, I have the great joy of experiencing it every time I come to my mat.

When I was doing my yoga teacher training my teacher Bea Doyle so brilliantly said, “It does not matter what type of yoga you practice, it is ultimately a spiritual practice.  A student may say that’s not for me and align them self to a rigorous physical practice with a teacher who never touches on the spiritual aspect of the yoga.  However, it is inevitable they will find themselves asking “does this serve me?”, and no matter the answer, the question itself is spiritually based.”  Bea calls this “the back door approach.”  Bea is a remarkable teacher who has a subtle way of including the spiritual qualities of the practice without ever sounding dogmatic or off putting.  Perhaps that is because she was a math teacher for twenty years?  I feel so fortunate to honor her as my teacher and I often hear her wise and intelligent voice in my head, as well as in other teachers at Shree who have also studied with her.  Like Bea, I do my best to bring the spiritual aspects to the classes I teach, however I know I am not as subtle about it as she is, being that subtle wouldn’t suit me as it would not be authentic.  Authenticity is another valuable teaching I learned in her spacious and beautiful studio Bhava Yoga on Central in Albuquerque, authenticity, spirituality, asana, spaciousness, how to string instructions together, and so much more.

Now it’s been five years since I finished that teacher training, five years since Shree opened it’s doors, five years of regular teaching which amounts to thousands of hours, maybe seven yoga challenges including autumn and spring, and countless hours of time on my mat at home, in class, and elsewhere.  Tonight as I was rising into locust pose (Salabasana), a pose that for all these years of practice has not only alluded me, but also brought that discomforted “why am I doing this?” question to mind, I felt surprisingly and amazingly good.  “Ah, I love yoga!” exclaimed my body as we repeated the pose and an old mystery became clear.  “Ah, I love that there is always more room.”  I reminded myself to mark that moment as an important one on my path of always learning, and like the invitations of my teacher suggested, I moved on.

This evening I attended Liz’s 5:30-7:00 pm class knowing it would be subbed by Doug Gilnet.  In this challenge I have made a concerted effort to get to all the wonderful teachers at Shree’s classes.  With the exception of Kelly who is out of town, I have been successful.  Class was a perfectly paced slow flow of back bends and forward bends.  With my new awareness of the high point of my hip, and the ever changing strength and flexibility of my muscles through this winding yoga journey I felt really really great through tonight’s entire practice.  Music is my favorite drug and in my world always makes life more delightful, for his class Doug offered his students a really gentle mix of beautiful music to support our time on the mat.  Traditionally yoga was taught by men, I find the quality of a mans voice while teaching yoga to be inspiring, steadfast, secure, and supportive, and Doug’s voice fits this description.  Doug generally teaches at Shree on Monday afternoon’s from 3:30-5:00 pm, he also heads the yoga program at Ojo Caliente, where he can be found Tuesday through Friday should you desire to take yourself on a really nice personal yoga and soak retreat.  However you find your way I highly recommend attending Doug’s class, I am confident you will leave like everyone left class tonight, calm with a peaceful serenity across your face.

Now, as darkness begins to blanket this magical town I so fortunately call home and I contemplate the solar eclipse taking place with tonight’s full moon, thinking this must be the dark side of the moon Pink Floyd spoke of, I restfully reside in my inner light, ever-growing like the expanding universe and the spaciousness of my heart.

One more to go, yet so many more to come.

When a new galaxy comes into creation do you think perhaps the conscious intelligence that breaths us all ever states “just one more”?  Who knows?  I know, I don’t know the answer to that question, yet the universe continues to expand, as does my heart.

With love from my big spacious heart,  and the ever expanding curiosity of my spirit and mind, good night, sweet dreams, in joy,

Genevieve

Class 19, A Fine Close to a Full Saturday

Today I had the good pleasure of spending six and a half hours with Prisca Winslow Brady and a small classroom of students at her Move Into Balance Studio on Gusdorf Rd.   We were there for an all day workshop of Feldenkrais Method focused on the high point of the hips.  Not only was the workshop informative, I found myself as excited as a child on a first time trip to the zoo while I learned new ways of being in my body.  Prisca is a fantastic teacher, she is aware of her students reception of what is being taught and in that awareness the teachings become more palpable.  As a child she was my first ballet teacher and I have admired not only the grace with which she moves in her body but also the skill with which she teaches my whole life.  Over the past few months many people have suggested the Feldenkrais method to me as an aid in finding more comfort in this body and this evening I can see today as the stepping off point of a fantastic journey ahead.

After this full day of learning new ways of being in my body I walked on my new hips over to Shree to attend Megan’s Yin Yoga class from 5:30-7:00 pm.  Yin Yoga involves a good amount of not doing and just being in the body which was a nice addition to the subtle doing of un-doing and re-doing I did for the majority of the day.   Yin Yoga consists of long holds which open up fascia and the subtle energy body, in the pause is an awareness of what one feels, often increased sensation, which essentially becomes a playground of sorts where we can learn to be in our discomfort with more ease.   Megan has a very kind and gentle voice that I find soothing as I have worked my way through real discomfort in her classes and the sweetness with which she coaxes me deeper is delicately enjoyable.  Megan’s class went by so quickly I had a hard time believing it was time to go, so I layed around a bit longer and enjoyed a long and well earned Savasana.

Yin Yoga and Feldenkrais are not my usual modes of bodily movement, nor is Burlesque dance which I have also recently added to my routine.  However, as I desire to re-pattern the muscle memory of my body in order to move out of discomfort I know it is valuable to do new things, so along with a Yoga Challenge I have added the challenge of being a new student in many ways.   I am having so much fun running into students of Shree in these other studios and other modalities of being in the body.  I think they would agree with me when I say it all translates.

This Saturday was a long day at the office…in my body.

If you are interested in knowing more about Feldenkrais yourself, or what Prisca offers you can check out her website at http://www.movintobalance.com. You can also begin taking adult dance classes at Taos Youth Ballet http://www.taosdance.com, Dalinda Vanne Brightyn’s Sundance Studio http://www.dv-taos.com, and Taos Academy of Dance Arts http://www.dancetaos.com, and of course Shree Yoga’s Schedule can always be found at  http://www.shreeyogataos.com.

However you choose to be in it, being in your body is an invaluable way to experience this short and fantastic life.   It also helps you live longer just ask Bette Winslow, Prisca’s mom, who was the founder of Bette Winslow Dance Studio and an irreplaceable figure in the journey of many young and old into their bodies in our community.  Bette was at class today and she is a spry young 94.  May we all be so lucky to live on our own, get up and down off the floor, and enjoy moving in our bodies like Betty, for as long as we get to be around.

With love, long muscles and happy bones,

Genevieve

 

 

Nearer to the End, Class 18

There are so many things that I love about yoga it would be impossible for me to pick just one and call it my favorite.  Every time I return to my mat more things of joy are revealed by my practice.  Even if I am experiencing discomfort or agitation the overall experience returns me to joy or even better, peace.  I am a positive person, an optimist, and I am practiced at looking for the good, this does not mean I am always experiencing the more uplifting qualities of being, I am human after all.

As I journey through this Spring Yoga Challenge and reveal my experience through this blog I am making a concerted effort to share the highlights and the good stuff.  However, being human, having a body that has been through deep injury, and a critical mind, I also find myself along the way in contracted states of unrest, discomfort, and judgement.  Not that I have just returned home from a class that I did not  enjoy, as a mater of fact I have enjoyed all of my classes on this journey so far, which I continue to mark as a testament to the excellence of teachings being offered at Shree.  This is not a post about discontent, rather as I was walking home from class and thinking of what I wanted to share tonight it occurred to me that I wanted to speak on one of the most valuable things about this practice in my life, perhaps the thing that I might pick as a favorite if I had to.

For me taking a yoga class is like living life.  You show up, you have ideas of what you might experience, you are lead on an adventure that you haven’t much control of, and all you can do is respond. Even if you are a person who does the same practice every day, the body is constantly changing, what once was will eventually become different, sometimes better sometimes the other way.  All you have on the mat is what you bring with you, the quality of your intention, attitude and willingness, the power of your courage and your strength, the steadfast hold of your mindfulness and the awareness of how you feel and how you respond to that.  In the end, often in Savasana (corpse pose) the experience is what you make of it.  Fortunately in yoga you get to walk away from the experience, and like in life, you leave with the quality of being you allowed in your mind and heart.  Needless to say, along the way you may traverse tricky footing, challenging poses, shortness of breath and fear, or the words of your teacher that push your eject button, yet what you do with the cumulative experience is up to you.   I believe that a common trapping for a devoted student of yoga is the “way I like it” philosophy, and if the teacher or the class does not fit into that philosophy then class becomes an experience of forced getting through.  As I see it, the opportunity to gain is always there, and often times the experiences we perceive as those we have enjoyed the least are our greatest teachers.   I have come to learn the more experience I have, the more opportunity I have to bring with me to the mat what I know will support my ability to leave happy no matter what the teacher is offering, and this in my mind is a direct reflection of this wild journey we call life.  Experience teaches us, be it good or bad, easy or hard, happy or sorrowful, it teaches us who we are, what we want, what we are made of, and most of all what thoughts and self expressions bring us happiness, joy, and peace.

For myself the experience of being in my body brings me great joy.  The experience of generously loving with an open and courageous heart brings me even greater joy.  The ability to let go of the thoughts that drag down the joy and love in my body and heart brings me peace.

Tonight I truly enjoyed Ashleigh’s Slow Jams class from 5:30 -7:00 pm. Class was a sweet journey through movement and standing poses and into even more divine restorative postures that comforted my body deeply.  Though the style of yoga Ashleigh and I teach are different, I always find myself happy I attended her class.  Ashleigh closed class with an invitation to us all to bow our heads to all of our teachers, I bowed to her and the lineage of yoga teachers that hold us all, with a full and reverent heart.

Again I wish to say as I near the end of my Spring Challenge all of the teachers at Shree are fantastic and have wonderful offerings for all levels and types of students.  I am not the only person who thinks this as Shree has won first place in the Taos New’s Best of Taos 2014.  I offer gratitude to all of our teachers and students for such a beautiful honor.

Humbled, Grateful, In Joy, and Truest Love,

Genevieve

 

 

Reaching The Mountain Top, Class 17

Living in Taos most of my life has taught me many things including being in rhythm with the seasons of nature.  All four seasons happen in this high mountain desert climate allowing the awareness of that rhythm to be more clear than if I were to have grown up closer to the equator or the poles.  Currently it is April, windy season,or as I like to call the sporadic change of weather at this time of year as schizophrenic spring weather.  In the morning the skies are blue and clear, in the afternoon perhaps snow, by dusk rolling clouds and a light breeze.  Growing up in Taos I knew that March meant sunscreen and layers, May meant lilacs, presuming we didn’t get a late freeze, July meant possible flash floods at my friends house on the mesa, and Halloween meant long sleeves, jackets with our costumes and snow.

Summer weather in Taos is generally more consistent than spring, it’s either dry or wet, drought or monsoon.  Of course we pray for monsoons in the desert yet, if you are like me and you enjoy hiking, monsoon weather does not only put a dampness in the dirt but may also put a damper on your hiking schedule.  For instance if you wish to hike Mt. Wheeler it is advisable to leave early in the morning, six or so, so that you do not get caught on the way up the mountain in a thunder storm.  If you are like me, often times living beyond what is “advisable”  than you may find yourself as I have, on your way up the mountain watching the ominous clouds rolling in.  Ambition to get to the top to enjoy the beyond amazing feeling and view may impede your opportunity to experience the hike with a sense of pleasure sending yourself full blown into the unease of stress.   Being driven you may continue upward despite the warning of crackling thunder and drops of rain.  Perhaps, you pause in a moment of conscientious mindfulness, reflecting on the circumstance, attending to the rewards of your yoga practice, and in this awareness it becomes apparent that surrendering the desire to summit may not only prevent you from being struck by lighting above the tree line but it may also leave your spirit with more room for the fullest form of your inner expression of joy, which in effect is the reason to hike the mountain in the first place.Hiking a mountain in Taos during the monsoons is not too different from taking the Spring Yoga Challenge or any yoga class for that matter.

Today at noon I attended Suki’s Yoga Hour class, after a morning of working in the yard, and now three weeks of yoga challenge my body is admittedly tired.  To tell the truth I would have preferred to attend Gentle/Restorative Yoga this evening however I am teaching that class for Liz as she is in South America and well, that makes it almost impossible for me to also attend.  After so many years of being in this fantastic, feeling, healing body, I know it’s limits.  Sometimes I can push the boundaries and summit the mountain before the storm rolls in, rock the three and a half hour advanced yoga practice and smile all the way through, do eight hours of yoga two days in a row for the sake of learning more, and other times I just want to take a hot bath and get in bed.   This afternoon I had very little tenacity and vigor in me.  However, as the days roll by I now have only a few short days to complete this challenge I took on for myself.  I made my way to class knowing that in class instructions are an invitation as on a hike making it to the summit is not a necessary ingredient in the recipe of enjoying the great outdoors.  All that was really required of me today was to just show up.

Suki’s class was an invitation to find the place between excited and stressed out, how very appropriate I thought to myself.  She taught us a sequence of poses that built on one another leading to bigger and bigger poses incorporating twists and weight bearing, all of which required our physical effort.  Most asana requires effort and in that is the invitation to balance the effort, as yoga is a practice of balancing, with a softness in the effort, softness under the tone of the muscle, softness in the breath and mind, softness in the heart and spirit.  To carry the rhythm of our asana was a delightful breath practice specific to the softening of the quality of mind as well as the energy body beneath the effort of the physical form.  It was a wonderful and masterful practice, and minding my own needs I also managed to take good care of myself modifying where necessary, listening to the thunder in my body, in order for myself to leave happy and not hurt.

From my perspective leaving happy is ultimately the point.  Why stress oneself out in the pursuit of more joy and excitement?  Why stress oneself out on the journey of reaching the summit?  Why stress oneself out in the short years of our one and only miraculous life?  As far as I can see, I see no good reasons to do live in stress.  On my journey of life I continue to learn, up and down mountains, through joy and greif and all stages between, through this Spring Yoga Challenge, the gift comes in being present in the moment.  Showing up and being aware of your experience and how you feel, and if you don’t like how you feel choose to do somehting that will allow you to feel somehting you prefer, perhaps that is better, perhaps it’s just more peaceful or comfortable.  Feeling, being present with the feeling of the feeling, and knowing you can choose your mental response to that feeling as good as standing on the tallest mountain in the world.  I have learned that in the awarenss is great spaciousness and an opportunity to see the easiest route back home, literally, figuartively, metaphysically, esoterically, and intrinscly.

Now at home I sit calmly and happily without to much physical effort at my computer exercising another feature of my being tired from this self imposed challenge, my mental muscles and I share with you these many thoughts knowing I am approaching the end.  As I begin to see the descent off the mountain top of the Spring Yoga Challenge I am aware that rather than stress myself out about getting home it will better serve me to continue to do my best to be present with every step along the way, every breath, every down dog, every moment of frustration and delight, present in the yoga on and off the mat.  It’s like Suki said at the end of class “Thank you for showing up.”  Yep, showing up is enough.

With love, all ways in joy, for giving,

Genevieve