Tag Archives: Liberation

Resilience and Adaptabilty

Resilience and adaptability are an intrinsic part of nature. Weeds survive, cockroaches will inherit the earth, and water will always find its way. Unfortunately, the possibility that one can become stuck in a rut of being, obdurate and unable to be fluid like water, is as great a potential as falling in love. 

Nevertheless, life invites us to be flexible. Too much fragility and we will crumble under life’s pressure. Too much rigidity and we will stubbornly refuse to adapt with changing times. Get left behind, looking out at an unfamiliar world from an inner gaze hardened by our own stubborn shortcomings.

So much of this journey of life is a dance among paradox. Dancing between stability and freedom is the dance of liberation. Freeing ourselves from our attachments to the past and desired outcomes, yet holding the gaze steady on the intent and the motive is the recipe for a vibrant life. Despite the length of that sentence, the concept is still much easier said than done.

None of us are outside the circle of loss. None of us are exempt from desire. None of us are without needs. Life, being what it is, will test our capacity to meet ourselves in the company of ourselves, during loss, overcome by desire, with needs unmet. What we do when we arrive at thes thresholds is what becomes the fluid and flexible bouncy of resilience or hard brittle bark of unfluctuating obstinacy. The most beautiful part is that we get to decide. We get to decide how to respond to life’s undulations.

The key ingredient is knowing that responding is not reacting. Life happens. Take a breath. Connect to the deeper part of you. The part that evolved with the ever evolving universe, conscious, adaptable, resilient, and remember what drives your heart. Take another deep breath, move away from the drama, exhale. Take another deep breath, choose the direction you wish to go, take one small step in that direction. Responding mindfully to life’s unsavory as well as life’s more rich and delicious circumstances is like becoming the resilient and ever buoyant material of a trampoline. Not only do you bounce back but you catalyze movement into the future.

Regularly returning to practice returns you to your capacity to connect to your breath. Regularly returning to your practice invites deeper connection to your adaptable and graceful heart. Regularly returning to your practice reminds you of your ability to skillfully spin, twirl, and jive on the paradoxical dance floor of life. Stepping gracefully between stability and freedom, acknowledging your innate ability to be simultaneously fragile and rigid, embracing your innate ability to be resilient and adaptable, will bring you ever closer to the vibrant freedom of peace you were born to enjoy. Carry on!

With Love, always, in all ways, for giving,

Genevieve 

Contemplations on Happiness, Peace, and Asana

The pursuit of happiness came on like a storm, furious, powerful, and unrelenting. I was in my teens when I decided that being happy was what I wanted to do with my life. I am sure it came about as a snarky response to the big question of what I was going to do with my life. It seemed like a reasonable goal in the midst of a maelstrom of inner confusion when facing the big teenage mystery of what the picture of my life might become. And as a teenager I believed that it did not matter what kind of career I had, what kind of lifestyle I had, how much money I would make, where I would live, all of that was secondary to the first and most important goal, happiness. Diligently like the idealist and rebellious adolescent I was I pursued this goal, finding myself in many wild and delightful moments full of happiness and yet always knowing something wasn’t quite right. Just because I was seeking happiness did not mean I was happy. Just because I thought that those other aspects of life were secondary to my happiness at the time did not mean that any of them were. In fact, as a low blow to my idealist rebel teenage self I have found that many of those aspects of my life are great contributors to my  happiness as an adult. In spite of my great efforts to be happy first I have often found myself unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and in a semi-constant state of inner tumult looking for that which would scratch my itch for joy. Having an itch after all is a natural part of life. We all experience desire and longing. However, as I eventually found for myself, the pursuit of happiness can become an unrelenting oppressive force menacingly disturbing the peace.

Unlike my youthful merciless pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of peace approached more discreetly, like a great novel, the first pages drawing me in, and the further in I went the more interesting and compelling the experience. Different from the blatant and obvious benefits of pursuing happiness the benefits of pursuing peace reveal themselves more subtly, almost clandestine in their disclosure. Leaving one satisfied at a taste of the mystery, its savory and sweet flavor lingering offering room for pause, contemplation, connection and serene delight.

Everyone comes to the mat for a different reason, yet it is probably safe to say that at the heart of all of our pursuits is peace. We cloak our desire for peace in the pursuits of happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction, health, patience, generosity, strength, flexibility, resilience, our hunger for connection to others and to something bigger, the list goes on. However, we must beware that in these worthwhile pursuits is a tendency for obsession and myopia, discipline turned into obligation, and misguided attempts to better self at the expense of self acceptance. A very famous yoga sutra, and the only one of the 196 teachings to even mention asana, states:

2:46 Sthira sukham asanam.

Asana is a steady, comfortable posture.

 If it is steady and comfortable that we seek than we must stop looking for the places we can be better and contentedly accept where we are. In the practice of self-acceptance we can become more calm and peaceful, more relaxed and allowing. This does not mean complacent, but rather naturally cultivating the ripe and loving environment for transformation, rather than trying to force it. In the end everything will change, there is no question of that. So, in the meantime we have the opportunity to enjoy the transitions in peace. Practice effort and surrender. Notice how the trees effortlessly and gracefully drop their leaves, and in step with the season we are invited to drop our own leaves, whatever they may be, and settle into the steady comfortable posture known as life.

 

 

Pause And Enjoy The Present.

This summer I miraculously grew a watermelon. Last spring without too much attachment to the outcome I flippantly stuck a couple seeds in the ground. I was not so attached to the outcome because in the past I have tried to grow melons, and until this summer have met with tomato sized cantaloupe success, which I consider minimal at best. My husband who knows more about these things says growing this giant watermelon is a spectacular feat at our altitude. I based on my minimal experience largely agree. He harvested it yesterday, before whatever was chewing on it enjoyed it before we could. In my garden much is going on this week, the harvest of the watermelon, the squashes fading from absolute abundance to one or two, the corn fully grown, brown peaking out amongst what was all so green only a few weeks ago, has notified me that a transition is taking place.

One thing I really appreciate about nature is that even in it’s inconsistencies it’s pretty consistent. The nature of nature is cyclical, and in fact all things are cyclical, though it is more evident in some places than others, growing seasons, birthdays, and yearly calendars. Viewing the nature of creation in all of its forms through a cyclical journey clarifies an understanding of the ever expanding and contracting cosmology of the universe and all life. From nothing all things arise, the barren earth before a planting, the unknown before the big bang, an empty womb before conception. After the seed has been planted, the rise of manifestation is an expansion into its fullest state of being, like my watermelon. The high point of manifestation in its fullest forms is like the fullness of an inhale, alive, vibrant, mirroring qualities of our life’s journey that resonate with emotional feelings of love, satisfaction, elation, joy, and contentment. Holding to the pleasure that exists in such full-filling experiences is a natural desire, however it is as futile as holding onto our breath at its fullest point. Were we to hold our breath we would eventually pass out and our body in its own intelligence would return to breathing. The bottom of our exhale, like the top of our inhale reflects another aspect of the nature of this conscious, animate, feeling journey we call life. In the emptiness there is an echo of the lower emotional states of being such as sorrow, discomfort, distaste, grief, frustration, and other experiences of this nature. It is human nature to want to resist spending much time in these experiences, being drawn to the full and bright feelings that reside at the top of the inhale, and to not wish to pause in places that are dark and cold and scary like the basement at the bottom of an exhale. Yet life is not so stagnant, so simple, so one way, life invites us to experience the flavor of the dark and hard times so that we can have the contrasting experience of the full and bright moments of elated delight. It is in fact the harder, more challenging and difficult places in our lives that are the birthing ground for the desires, motives, and intentions that eventually become the joy-filled satisfactory moments of our content.   Exhaling metaphorically and literally therefore, is a necessary part of the bigger equation of the cycle of manifestation, from the height of a manifested expansion begins a contraction. The watermelon is harvested, eventually it will be eaten, all its life digested and composted into the energy of the barren earth or body from which something else will arise. Our Universe will continue to expand until it changes course and turns in upon itself in a black hole. Each of us who has the great opportunity to be alive, will die. Our lives, no matter how much we may try, we only have little control of, because life is a series of happenstance and circumstance. The Earth will continue to tilt on its axis and rotate in the habitual pattern it has displayed for millennia and the growing season will only be so long. Having awareness of the nature of seasonal timing and knowing that the only control I may have in my ability to grow a garden outdoors requires responding to the opportunity to grow in good timing and to harvest in good timing. Like growing a watermelon most of life is a dance with a partner who is doing their best to guide us through the steps of our lives with as much ease as possible, and like learning to train a dog, we come to see overtime that this dance partner has a language of its own.

Part of nature s language is that it is cyclical, another piece of the puzzle seen in nature it that all things that manifest into form manifest from the inside out. Seeds contain all of the information for a fully grown plant, they root in the deep dark earth from where they unfold and break out and through evolving eventually into their fullest potential before the contraction of their inward turning spiral. One common thwarting conception of us humans is to perceive ourselves from the outside in, which in many ways dims the brightness of our individual and shared journeys. This is because not unlike nature we grow and expand from the inside out, not only in our waistlines, more importantly in our mental perceptions of life and our emotional responses to it. When we are mentally small our emotional responses mirror our mental perception, therefor the journeys into the underbelly of life’s experience we see as an act of victimization rather than a seed of good fortune and joy being planted. When we allow our perception to be expansive enough to see the good, the potential of the good, and our own ability to be resilient and adaptable our emotional experience reflects this with a feeling that is brighter even if our life circumstances do not appear to be this way on the surface. When we come to understand the cyclical nature of life, the expansion and the contraction, we become less resistant to dancing with a partner we cannot see, and more comfortable witnessing the present moment which is always a transition of some form or another.

Noticing that things are always changing, always in transition, invites us to acknowledge that we don’t need a special moment to pause because in fact any moment can be a special moment of pause. Taking that pause invites an awareness of the present. The awareness of the present, is where the gift is, that is why they call it the present. Pausing and reflecting at the end of a growing season, a multi year cycle of life, a midday in a week of work, or any point in a round of breath is the foundation upon which we get to choose our perception and our response to life’s invitations, which most often is the only control we really have in this dance. What we may witness in that point of self reflection may invite us to enjoy a moment of satisfaction, or to plant sooner next year. Either way this awareness allows us to move like nature from the inside out, from our hearts into the world.

Like harvesting a giant watermelon in a high altitude kitchen garden, the potential to live a life of joy, meaning, value, and satisfaction is always present, no matter the appearance of the circumstances.

photo

Fat Cat, Fat Watermelon, we grew them both!

With Love, In all ways, Always in Joy,

Genevieve

What is Yoga?

What is yoga? Where did yoga come from? What is the point? What determines a “strong” or an “advanced” yoga practice?

As yoga becomes more and more popular the world over, and more and more people practice it in one form or another, an individual does not have to be a student of yoga at all, does not have to ever have set their foot on a yoga mat or into a yoga studio to have asked themselves, or another, any and or all of the questions above.

Perhaps a piqued curiosity of yoga led you to a local yoga studio like Shree and you excitedly jumped into a yoga practice without hesitation. However, most people who wish to answer these questions were probably more like me at the beginning of their yoga journey. Timid, shy, afraid to join the spandex-wearing crowd because of self imposed ideas of limitation leaving them feeling unfit to fit in.

Like most people who come to the mat I was encouraged to try it by many before I ever let my curiosity overcome my fear and allow an open minded perspective create new space in a mind that had previously been full of preconceived ideas of yoga being just about the stretching and the stretch pants. Nearly a decade ago when I began my yoga practice and I allowed myself to cross the threshold of fear into curiosity where I could begin to answer the aforementioned questions for myself the most logical place to seek out information was at a yoga studio. These days, in the age of high speed internet connections, researching and studying yoga and the variants between the many schools and philosophies of yoga has become not only more easily attained for the curious seeker, but also perhaps, even more confusing.  After all, where do you start?

At the top of the Google search page for Yoga is a link to the home page for Yoga Journal, a magazine dedicated to the culture of the practice. Yoga Journal is a wonderful product that has served the yoga community for years and is a fantastically informative print magazine, as well as online version, yet does not concisely answer any of these questions previously stated. Next on the Google search engine page is the Wikipedia link for Yoga. Like Google and the many other wonderful bits of information that are readily at ones fingertips with the advent of high-speed internet Wikipedia has become a widely used resource, and for good reason, it quickly gets to the point.  At the top of the Yoga Wikipedia page, above the brief synopsis I have come to trust and rely on as the concise and generally accurate information I seek, however, is the following disclaimer.

“This article is about the umbrella term yoga which includes both religion, philosophy, and practices. For one of the six Hindu philosophy schools, see Rāja yoga. For the popular yoga that explains and emphasizes the physical practices or disciplines, see Hatha Yoga.”

In this disclaimer alone are eleven possible avenues of information one could venture down in order to answer the simple question, “What is yoga?” The Wikipedia synopsis translates the Sanskrit “Yoga” into it’s more literal meaning of “yoking together” rather than explain briefly what is yoked in Yoga and how. Should one continue to seek the answers to these simple questions via the World Wide Web, they will most definitely have the opportunity to become more informed, yet as I mentioned before, there is a great potential they will also become more confused.

Akin to the failings of finding viable and concise answers to these simple questions on the prodigious blogs and articles published daily on the internet and in publications like Yoga Journal, one may also find these answers hard to come by in a yoga classroom setting as well. This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest failings of the rapid growth and popularity of yoga in western culture today. Yes, the health benefits of Hatha Yoga (yoga in its physical form) are many and great, however the exercise is a tool to be used as a means to the end, and not the end itself.

Yoga is to yoke, to bring into balance. As I was taught, Yoga is also another word for discipline, which is rooted in the word disciple, meaning student of. In this vein, Yoga becomes the deliberate and repeated act of bringing into relationship all aspects of oneself into a well-rounded nature; body, mind, and spirit. The practice of Yoga consists not only of the physical (Hatha Yoga) and breath exercises (Pranayama), it includes focus and meditation (Dharana and Dhyana), the practice of the withdrawal of the senses (Pratyahara), and the study of the philosophical principles through which one can create a sustainable lifestyle of ethics and morals to better ones relationships with self as well as with community (Yama and Niyama, as well as Raja, Kriya, and Bhakti Yogas), and not in this specific order. It is through the yoking of oneself and the continuous return to disciplined practice that attachment to the body and the concepts of the mind as well as the emotions of the heart fall away with ease. It is then in this place that radical freedom or the transcendence of the self (Samahdi) is obtained.

Where did yoga come from? What is the point? What makes an advanced practitioner?

The origins of yoga are up for debate, however it seems to be pretty clear that no matter the “School” in which you study your yoga, “Ashtanga”, “Iyengar”, “Bikram”, “Anusara”, “Hatha”, “Vinyasa”, “Kundalini”, “Kripalu”, “Bhakti”, “Kriya”, “Raja”, and on, all modern Yoga is rooted in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Sutras are a series of philosophical threads (Sutras) that explain in detail the many aspects of the practice dating back to 400 CE. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is in effect then, the questionable source of debate. Were they actually written by one person, or was Patanjali just the guy who decided to transcribe the teachings into a concise* format? (Using the word *concise loosely as the book is a series of four parts with 196 teachings.) The Sutras have been translated and interpreted many times and is the source for all pertinent information on yoga, if not concise, viable for any who are truly interested in being a disciple of yoga.

In The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali states;
Yoga Sutra 1:2, (Book 1, Sutra 2)
Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodhah
Yogas=Yoga; Chitta=of the mind stuff; Vritti=modifications; Nirodhah=restraint.
The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is yoga.
(Translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda)

This mind stuff being the attachments, expectations, sufferings, disappointments, resentments, hopes, fears, happiness’s, stories, and endless chains of chatter by the mind.

So, what’s the point?

I like to tell my new students “I want you to leave happy and the instructions are an invitation not a command. Please do whatever you need to do to leave happy.” Not only do I want my new students to leave the class happy, I want all of my students to leave life happy, this is why I teach yoga. In essence I feel that the teachings of yoga, and the continued practice of yoga enable any level of student of yoga to surrender their beliefs and feelings of limitations as well as their attachments with more ease, and eventually learn to set new ones down as quickly as they picked them up. Inevitably this practice leads to more happiness. The long term sustaining of this state of quiet mind stuff makes an advanced Yogi. Perhaps this Yogi can do handstand, perhaps not. Perhaps they know all of the Sutras, perhaps not. The advanced practitioner responds to life with ease, open to the invitation of enjoying being no matter how life appears beneath or beyond the surface of their skin.

So, what is yoga? Yoga is a series of precise steps of dedicated practice taken toward freedom. Yoga is a spiritual practice that uses the tools each human is born with to facilitate their personal growth on and off the mat. Yoga is multifold, and a lifetime of learning. Yoga is an invitation to enjoying life through learning to surrender with ease. Yoga is all of this and so much more, and that is why the answer to this question is hardly ever concise. If you were thinking of trying yoga but havn’t yet, please take the leap over the threshold of your fear into a wonderful exploration of you, your limitations, your freedoms, and your willingness to change those boundaries at any moment. If you are a seasoned student, thank you for spending time with yourself, your spirit, your community, your skills and your liabilities both on and off the mat, and thank you for being an ambassador to what I feel is one of the most rewarding of disciplines to undertake.

If you are still curious and the questions still feel unanswered, in asking and seeking, you are doing yoga. It is when we come to know that we have stepped out of the classroom.

With Love, Always, For Giving, In Joy,
Genevieve

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

 

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

 

 

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

Genevieve’s Spring Yoga Challenge, Day 20 Class 14

My how the time flies!  It is almost the end of April, another Easter is upon us, and I am two-thirds of the way through my yoga challenge.  This morning I was discussing the challenge with a friend of mine telling her how hard it is becoming for me to get to class, acknowledging for myself that the commitment is indeed a big one.  She congratulated me on my journey while confirming the difficulty of completing the challenge in her own mind was showing up as a resistance to even signing up.  We agreed that taking twenty-one yoga classes in thirty days is no small feat.  Another friend of mine who despite her busy schedule signed up for the challenge and has upped her personal ante by giving herself twenty-eight days to complete, because the shape of the multiples of sevens resonates for her.  Each of our own relationships to this challenge reflect what is truly being offered in the Spring Yoga Challenge, the opportunity to participate, even if the surface of that choice is non-participation.

This invitation to participate in this great gift of life was the offering Sonya gave her students at the end of todays noon class which she subbed for Kelly, and it resonated sweetly and harmoniously with how I was feeling upon arriving and compleating class.   As this is also Easter Sunday the invitation to resurect and begin anew is present at every corner today.  Weather you celebrate the holiday or not, from the abundance of eggs to the blossoming tulips, nature is reminding us constantly of the timeliness of beginning again.  From a yogic standpoint, my teacher Bea Doyle out of Albuquerque shares this insight on the story of the resurrection, it is a teaching of the opportunity to re-ignite the eternal flame of love that burns in the cave of our hearts.  However we choose to show up in our lives, in our relationships, in our yoga journeys is up to us, may we make the most of that choice by utilizing the beautiful gifts of our minds, bodies, and spirits.

As time continues to prove it flies, may we remember these truths and not hesitate to participate in life, love, and our personal challenges in ways that are harmonious for our hearts today and everyday.

You still have time to sign up for the Spring Yoga Challenge if you too wish to dive into this deep and beautiful journey.   Show up anytime before the first of May and jump in, you’ll have thirty days from the day you sign up to complete.

Happy Spring-forward!

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

Genevieve

 

Genevieve’s Spring Challenge, Lucky Class Number 13

I have just returned home from my thirteenth yoga class in eighteen days!  After a wonderful day of rest and relaxation yesterday, today I felt recharged and ready for all things life has to offer.  My willing attitude served me this afternoon as Clint’s noon yoga class was an armbalancing extravaganza.

Clint opened class with a wonderful reminder, that we, each of us, are already perfect, and the practice of yoga is an unveiling of the boundaries of identitiy we have picked up over the course of our lives and wrapped around our already perfectness.  He reminded us that every movement we take on our mats is offering a prayer with our bodies.  As we sat and dropped into our breath my heart fluttered with delight as my mind allowed itself to release any ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, on and off the yoga mat, which echoed the yoga class I taught this morning.  It is Good Friday after all, and for me this marked day on the calender is a reminder to remember the ever present goodness in all things.

Through the duration of our hour, Clint told fantastic jokes and encouraged us to smile which inevitably upleifted the challenge being placed on the musculature of our upper arms, abdomines, and shoulders.  My favorite joke;

“How many yogis does it take to change a light bulb?”

“How many?”

“You are the light, silly!”

After numerous planks, chaturanga dandasana’s, downward facing dogs, crows, and side crows, I sweetly drifted off into the bountiful peace of savasana.  From savasana Clint’s melodic voice brought us back into our good and beautiful bodies through the ever present gift of our breath with a final invitation to breath in equanimity and love.

Walking home a lady bug landed on my still fluttering and full heart.  What a blessed and lucky gift it is to be alive I thought to myself, alive and present in it.   With every passing day of this yoga challenge and every passing class I fall deeper and deeper into this knowing.  Today is Good, and tomorrow will be as well, because I choose to make it so, no matter what appears.  This is a direct reflection of my discipline and the practice.  Like the lady bug, and Clint’s invitation to love, my heart has spread it’s wings in flight.

I hope you have a wonderfully GOOD Friday,

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

Genevieve

Genevieve’s Spring Yoga Challenge, Class 12

Tonight I attended Liz’s Gentle/Restorative yoga class after a day long adventure to Ojo Caliente.  When Liz offered up the invitation to move into contentment I found that it was not hard for me to step in to such a feeling after having a quality relaxing day.  Relaxing and taking the time to do activities one enjoys, from my perspective, is an important piece to the overall puzzle of a happy and meaningful life.  Hot springs, yoga, chocolate, lots of sleep, good movies, quality time with those I love, these things are important to me and add to the overall feeling of content I experience from day to day.

Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment, it is also a fundamental practice in the eight limbs of yoga.  Practicing contentment is easy when life is easy, like a day at the hot springs, yet contentment requires mindful effort when life is throwing you through the ringer, like the sudden shock of loosing someone you love.  Fortunate for us life is not always the same, steady, easy, clear, and without challenge, if it were, I think it would become quite boring.  Rather, in the undulations of the ever changing state of what is, is the ever enhanced opportunity to respond to what is however we choose.  When we learn that we can respond and not react to the experience we are having in the right now, then we are really setting ourselves up for happy, meaningful, and successful lives.  If we constantly live in a state of I have no control, and reactionary to the world around us, then we perpetuate an inner cycle of discontent.  Choosing our response to the ever changing-ness of the world does not mean that all things will always be outwardly awesome, it just means that we can say “life is good” no matter the experience we are having, and this is the embodiment of Santosha.

And “life is good” for it is a blessed, short, and fleeting gift.  We are here today with all the potential to enjoy right now however it shows up, and well, this moment and what we make of it is all we have before we are gone tomorrow, or the next day…or whenever our expiration date arrives.  I hope it does not arrive any time soon for any of us, and in the meantime may each of us continue to choose quality of life in all the ways that make our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies happy.

Enjoy your evening with a contented heart.

Love, always, in all ways, for giving,

Genevieve