Tag Archives: Love

Walk Strong, with a Gentle Heart

Current political circumstances are intense. To say the least. With blatant outright bigotry, lack of tolerance, and escalating violence it is nearly impossible to stay away from, or uninformed of, the present political environment. In such palpably contracted times one’s commitment to their yoga practice, or any mindfulness practice for that matter, must be exercised as diligently in the world as it is on the mat in order to walk strongly with a gentle heart through this crazy realm.

At times like these apathy has no place. The fundamental teachings of yoga demand attention too higher ethical and moral values. Ahimsa-lovingkindness; classically non-violence, is at the top of the list. And what is lovingkindness? In its simplest it is the pure intent to love all with kindness and care. It is easy to get caught up here. Does lovingkindness only exist for that which an individual knows and understands, resonates with and is aligned to in belief? No. Lovingkindness is the most basic notion of its value as the first Yama-precept for being with the world, (and self must be included in this) has to extend to all existence. So then the question becomes, must we be loving and kind to people who actively hate, are violent, seek out ways to harm others maliciously and subversively? Yes. If your aim is to truly practice lovingkindness or non-violence then yes, the teaching demands that you love them in the company of their faults. However, the word love and the practice of love is not synonymous with making oneself available for abuse, nor acting and speaking out in alignment with something bigger.

Mindfulness practice means using the mind in a discerning manner. In this vein to use the mind to acknowledge that while a human or a group of humans are severely misguided they are not outside the circle of deserving love. This discernment is then followed with action. What is the appropriate action to take in the face of true racist hate? When the teaching is to love? Love exists with boundaries. There is too much awareness, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in this world to play ignorant to the harm racism, bigotry, and simply the belittling of any human for any reason. Therefore appropriate action in the company of such ignorance is to first acknowledge with love the lack of value in such awareness and behavior, and to withdraw contact with such a person until the time when they can see beyond the limited vales of their perception. To share the premise of your choice with such a person may or may not be valuable to them, but is ultimately valuable to the greater good. To do so with words that emanate from love is to act in alignment with the precept of Ahimsa. This is Sakriya-with action; one who performs one’s responsibilities; putting into effect what one has learned from their spiritual teachings. Acting with a moral compass.

To do nothing. To say, “it is all good.” To say, “I am practicing non-violence and lovingkindness and they are only doing the best that they can.” To be apathetic. To avoid confronting the ignorance for fear of making waves, especially when the hatred is espoused by someone you deem friend or family, this is Niskriya-without action; one who does not perform one’s responsibilities; one who does not put into action what one has learned.

Apathy, fear of rocking the boat, just plain old doing nothing does not cut it for the sincere yogi. Such Niskriya is far from in alignment with a good moral compass. This is nowhere near doing the best you can.

A true yogi assigns themselves to shining the light of awareness into the darkness of ignorance. Lives in their responsibility of practicing the Sakriya of love in the abyss of discrimination. From love, with love, for love.

A Yogi has a large toolbox from which they can pull the correct tool for the situation at hand. Mudras are such tools. A mudra is a hand gesture which correlates reflex reactions from hand to brain. Mudras are powerful tools which redirect energy flow. And in the case of standing strong with a gentle heart in a crazy world, mudras can bolster a yogi’s capabilities. A combination of Varada Mudra and Abhaya Mudra can be used to support and enhance a yogi’s aptitude of Sakriya in harmony with Ahimsa.

Varada Mudra is represented with the downward facing palm of the left hand. It is the mudra of the accomplishment of the aspiration to devote oneself to human salvation. The five extended fingers of the mudra symbolize respectively; generosity, morality, patience, effort, and meditative concentration. This mudra expresses not only the act of giving and benevolence, but also the act of receiving. Varada Mudra is seldom used alone and is regularly used in combination with Abhaya Mudra.

Abhaya Mudra is represented with the upward facing palm of the right hand. This mudra is not only known worldwide as a gesture of waving and salutation; it is also known worldwide as a gesture which means “stop.” Abhaya in Sanskrit translates to fearlessness, and the mudra is also one which dispels fear and symbolizes protection and peace as well as being seen as a gesture of good intentions, offerings of love, and reverence to the highest.

Together the combination of these two mudras powerfully express an individual’s capacity to simultaneously be generous with love and maintain discerning boundary. This is what is called of all humans who seek to live in the awareness that dispels ignorance in this world, at this time. This is what is called for from those who have committed themselves to the primary tenant of yoga, Ahimsa. As crusaders of awareness, as practitioners of love and non-violence, it is a yogi’s responsibility to hold the human race to a higher standard, knowing that standard can be met. To say “they are only doing their best” when one knows that they can do better if they are liberated from the veils of limited belief, is to be apathetic. Is to walk in Niskriya. This is not the time for apathy this is the time for courage. Now is the time for Sakriya. To speak and act with love and a gentle heart.

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

Genevieve

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Shanti Mantra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                I love you. Suki Ola

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

 

 

 

Love Is All You Need

 With Valentines Day lurking around the corner it seems only appropriate to touch on the subject of love. Beautiful love, healer, connector, forgiver, magnanimous in all ways. Love the mover of mountains and the soother of broken and weary hearts. 

 For many years I was personally disgruntled about the upcoming holiday, for numerous and oftentimes silly reasons. Fortunately for me, and those close to me, I am mailable and my convictions change. This inevitably leads to a change in the words I espouse which is why those in my company have found my changing mind fortunate. And to be fair, through their love and acceptance I have always been permitted the space to voice my opinions without loss of love, not always in agreement, but always with allowance. My unsavory feelings around the holiday stem mostly from a personal desire to see all hearts experiencing the expressions of love every day, not just one day of the year. This has been such an important personal conviction that much of my life has evolved out of it.

 Love has many definitions, many feelings, and many different expressions. In it’s essence love is allowing, accepting, all encompassing, and simultaneously transcends all things. The quality of love that we may feel for another person in regards to sexual desire and intimacy is classically known as Eros. Love for those that are familiar and creates a sense of closeness in your heart is known as Storge, this is the love we feel for our family or those we relate to in specific ways, like our yoga family. Then there is Philia which is the love of true friendship. Philia is the type of love we feel for our “chosen family”, those you will accept and allow to be who they are whether you are related to them or not. Finally there is Agape, this is the all encompassing and simultaneously transcendent love of the divine that exists despite changing circumstances. 

 The more aware we are of these levels of love the more capable we are of seeing our own and others expressions of love in clear terms. Valentines Day has become quite simply and beautifully a celebration of Eros, the delight that can be found in Eros, and the value of such pleasures. Forgiveness and allowance of family members despite their shortcomings and inability to be the people we believe they should be is the quality of Storge love. After thirty-five years of personal experience in this department I think this can be the hardest quality of love to cultivate in the human experience. And by proxy the most liberating and profound. Philia is a type of love that is easy to experience. It is the motivating force behind making plans with friends, answering middle of the night calls of friends in distress, reaching out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Philia is a branch of love that adds deep texture and quality to our lives in the presence of changing intimate relationships and challeng and loss in relationships with blood family members. Agape is the quality of love that created a planet where life thrives in concert with itself. Agape is the force of love that reminds us no matter our shortcomings and transgressions no one is outside the circle of deserving love. Agape is the force of love that witnesses our birth and embraces us in our last breath without conditions of where we have come from or where we are going. 

Through awareness of love and of our relationship to love at these levels we can relate to others through love with greater skill. Stewarding the earth in gratitude for her generosity. Contributing to the greater good in our daily activities and work through the lens of true friendship. Honoring those we don’t understand as we would our family members with whom we don’t see eye to eye. And cherishing the fleeting and powerful moments of intimacy we spend with our beloveds behind closed doors with dignity and respect. These are just a few examples, and I invite you to deepen your own contemplation on the subject of love. Working always with the knowing of loves true nature, allowing, forgiving, generous, accepting, spacious, and unconditional. Through contemplation you may arrive at the realization that everyday is an opportunity to live in Love. To live in love in relationship with the whole of the universe…multiverse…and beyond!

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

Genevieve

When the sun is standing still.

Go to the place within you that is both silent and cacophonous in the same breath. It is there, in the moving within the stillness, and the light inside the dark, that all is. And it is there that all is happening.

I have learned in some years of “practicing”, and “refining”, and “being good”, on and off the mat that nothing that seems to be the real goal, is it. There are endless caverns of respite within effort, and deep tides of peace that only come from restlessness and disease. I believe that it doesn’t have to always be this way, but that for many, like myself, we must crawl through the rocks on our knees to find what is real. And simple. And good already, birthed from the sweat and grunt of time. Looking back, I heard this wisdom from many mouths, but who was I to listen? And who is any teacher to tell? We all must learn and find ourselves.

It is now, facing the winter solstice 2016, when the world is been cracked open, yolk broken and spilled, once again, and I feel it is safe to relax and begin anew. There is no less passion, just less me in the way of the work. And oh, so much more urgency for the process of unveiling the truth about real: medicine; politics; religion; health and wellness; love, trust, and compassion than ever before. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it once again, as many times as needed: a mantra, a prayer – practice is over. No more suffering at our own hands for perfection, only forward motion and steps toward something we can all feel at home in.

As the sun comes to a momentary pause, may we also sit still and source a link to the rhythm of the movement that is never absent, in all things. Blessings for your own moments of stillness, may they bring to you just what you are seeking and need – healing, rest, self-reflection, irreverence, reverence, faith, or just the chance to BE, and quit doing, if only for a breath or two.

Love and respect, Suki Ola

Attention, Attention…

These last weeks leading up to the election I have been completely distracted. More interested in the movement at Standing Rock than the movement toward the White House. What is taking place at Standing Rock, in my eyes, is as important, if not more so, than the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement, the movement to abolish slavery, and the movement to liberate this country from the jowls of the English Monarchy. Again, that’s just my opinion…and I feel rightly so.

Life without clean water is no life at all! Mini Wiconi, water is life.

An avid fan of great novels, up on the list of personal favorites sharing space with War and Peace, East of Eden, and Jitterbug Perfume is the entirety of the Dune series by Frank Herbert. Of course like any series, some of the books are better than others, but like all of the greats this work touches on more than a plot that turns pages. Water is life after all and the Dune series navigates the reader through a conversation around the extraordinary power of water…economy, ecology, philosophy, theology, politics, love, water is the current that moves all these streams in Frank Herbert’s fictional universe, and in our natural universe as well.

I feel fortunate that my lamentation in regards to the presidential election is shared by most of those in my social circles, but I know it is not shared by all in my sphere or otherwise. So much of what happens in our elections is a generating of fanaticism for our “team”. And much like a favorite team winning or loosing a major sports title, we as fans feel fully let down or overwhelmingly elated when our candidate wins or looses. As a result of this election many of those in my social circles were feeling down and out while looking forward toward a vision they do not feel they can align with.

Walking into my favorite coffee shop the day after the election was a somber experience. A dear friend of mine who was there responded to my inquiries of her welfare by stating her desire to join the revolution of love. “Where is it?” she asked. “At Standing Rock” I responded.

What is and has been taking place at Standing Rock is a powerful faction of humanity facing a vision it does not align with and looking through eyes of forgiveness and spirit. There is nothing more beautiful and powerful than this! Dignity and self respect shine through the veils of corporate greed and corruption. Integrity with principles outshines the need for convenience and ease. Patience walks alongside fear and uncertainty. Through prayer and forgiveness a movement is gaining momentum and it is a revolution of love.

No matter our political affiliations and leanings, no matter our socioeconomic backgrounds, no matter our racial legacies, spiritual pursuits, relationship status, we all need clean water to survive. Every single living being on this planet needs water to live. The planet itself is 96.5% water.

It’s easy to turn our attention toward what bothers us, the wheels of the aggravating thoughts of our mind spin unrepentantly until we turn our attention elsewhere. I made a choice to not pay too much attention to the presidential election because my attention and my prayers have bee, and continue to be elsewhere. The roots of the word attention come from the Latin ad tandere translated simply as to stretch toward. It is an act of our will to turn our attention toward a place that is new or unknown, much like approaching a deeper asana or new relationship. The places we focus our attention become the ruts or samskaras of our minds, the places where it is easy for our thoughts to go, from which we base our observations, opinions, judgments, and choices. While practice on the mat stretches our attention with focus in the midst of intensity, the work on our mat is truly just training for the work off of our mat. So that in the midst of what life has to offer us we have the capacity to turn our attention to that which is aligned with something bigger than our ego’s desire to be right…or even to know at all. With practice we become skillful at remembering heart in the face of adversity, forgiveness in the face of long lasting deceit, and love in the face of fear.

May your practice return you to our shared experience, one of challenge, dignity, adversity, spirit, deceit, love, the unknown, and so much more. May we all join the revolution of love no matter who’s side we align too. May we remember that even though they did not win for 108 years, the Cubs finally had there day, and love too will have its day and many more that follow. May we take steps toward the salvation love offers every day through mindful attention, forgiveness, and acts of peace. And through it all, may we enjoy fresh water, clean air, and warm hugs that dispel the false boundaries of separation worn like a jersey of a sports team!

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

Genevieve 

Legs.

Legs.

Loving on our bodies in general is not exactly encouraged in our culture. The pressure for us, as spirits in form, to perfect the form, rather than tend to the formless, is real. We live in a weird time and place where the focus on the external is far sharper than support for the depth of process it takes to look at what lies beneath. Pockets of pure perspective (like a community at your local yoga studio), do exist. Seek them out. Find a yoga teacher who inspires you to look with respect, rather than mistrust, into your body, as a step on the path of awareness. The following practice is all about dissolving the confusion and negative language around legs. Let’s call it “leg-loving-life-giving-practice”.  See what twenty minutes or so of exploration, stabilization and gentle stretches can do for your legs, those amazing limbs that carry you about all day long.

Put your feet up.

Legs up the wall helps to drain excess pressure, like the kind that builds up after a lifetime of mostly living on your feet, from your lovely legs. Lie down on the floor and kick your feet up. Five minutes.

Fold forward.

Find the position of your pelvis that allows your spine to move toward the earth with gravity in a forward fold. Start standing, using the strength of your legs to rock your pelvis forward and back, and get familiar with both actions, as they are both useful. Then, apply the forward tip of the pelvis to your forward fold. That means that your lower back is below your tailbone as you reach to touch the earth. Bend your knees as much as you need to maintain that alignment. Your back will thank you and your legs will actually be stretched (not stressed). One to two minutes.

Strengthen.

Harvest the power of all the muscles from your feet to the core of the pelvis. Hug muscles to bone and draw, like you are pulling on spandex, from the furthest points (toes), to the nearest (pelvic floor and base of spine). Play with keeping the muscles strong, and softening skin around them, to avoid over-strengthening, or becoming rigid with power. If you can breath and move, the power is good. Thirty seconds in a couple of standing poses with this fluid strength will build confidence and grace.

Lengthen.

For legs that go on forever, connect them to your solar plexus. Rather than the very limiting idea of legs ending at the tops of the femur-bones, give yourself an extra foot or so of gam by expanding the concept to the center of your body. It’s a literal connection, you don’t have to make it up, just change your mind about where things begin and end. From right around there, the psoas muscle extends, giving freedom of mobility and stability to your legs. See how it feels to move from here (above your navel, below your heart, deep along the center-channel of the spine), and allow your spectacular gams to grow. Take some time to shift your perspective, on and off the mat.

Relax.

Either with your knees over a bolster, supine, or returning to legs up the wall, give your limbs another sweet respite. Five minutes.

Yours,

Suki

Meditation on (what you) love.

Perhaps the practice of meditation has left you daunted and alone, hung drying from a rail of judgement and ill-communicated invitations.  Meditation is not supposed to make us feel unworthy or incapable, nor does it seek to laude the wiser ones, and leave the rest of us lost forever.  Meditation has no goals, no means and no attachment to us, and so, therefore, is for everyone.  Kahlil Gibran’s “On Love”, reads “Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.  Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.”  If you have been presented with meditation as a discipline you cannot live up to, two things for today:      1.  the person who presented it thusly was rude and unfair in their sharing, perhaps driven by ego?                        2.  You are free to create your own destiny around meditation and its influence in your life.  A little is good, a lot is only better if it serves, and no other practice will be as potent as the one that feeds your soul and is of your own wild creation.

According to wikipedia, which, like meditation, is in and of itself a funny and beautiful example of a user-owned and managed operation, meditation is “a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.”  This says nothing of the how, just the goal, which is also up to the individual.  The wiki waterfall goes on to light upon various modes of spiritual and religious tradition, each with similar and perfectly unique definitions of what it means “to meditate”.  In Patanjali’s ashtanga system, dhyana – meditation, occurs after dharana – concentration, and only when the concentrator witnesses the object of their devotion as a part of a whole and unifying force.  In the subtle shift from mindfulness in relaxed breath and body to a deep state of blissful consciousness and peace, the line is fine, perhaps immeasurable.  But the alteration comes from a particular shift of attachment to the external world, liberating the thinker to become a non-thinker, and a lover.  Concentration on a candle flame is dharana.  Concentration on the light within, burning and flickering, steadily glowing as the winds of universal breath wash over, is dhyana.  Rather than counting the backs of the heads in front of you on the bus, counting the cadence of your breath and noticing minute alterations as the bus rolls over potholes, is dharana.  Watching the bobble of everyone’s head over the potholes and recognizing a shared cadence of respiration in everyone on the bus, a shared destiny of inspiration and expiration in each individual’s breath that merges into oneness with the pulse of an entire city, is dhyana.  The big difference?  The I.

In allowing your egoistic attachment to what your meditation must “be” to float off like a fart, meditation can begin.  “Now we will meditate”, only rang from on high for me when the idea of what it might mean to meditate had become so blurred and illegible that I surrendered to continuing to sit down and see what happened.  Sometimes the old standbys of candle-gazing and counting the breath are a welcome respite for a tired mind.  The purpose is, of course, to awaken from the slumber of unconscious drudgery.  To not forgive oneself for coming to the practice stuck in the mire of unconscious drudgery is equivalent to expecting one five minute meditation to change the whole world.  On some level, every moment changes everything, yes, but we are often too distracted to see any effect whatsoever from our actions, especially the subtle ones we spend alone, breathing lightly and sitting still.  If the purpose of the meditation is to weave an individual consciousness with one that is universal, representing all that is immeasurable and god-filled, rather than empty, then it seems sensible that the object of focus leading to integration would be just that universal God energy.  Herein lies the rub: for many, God is a virtually impossible image or feeling to conjure up.  (That’s why I’m meditating, geez.)

Perhaps if our attention is just focused on the things and the ones and the feelings that we love, shifts will begin.  In the Narada Bhakti Sutras, the way that we love food is distinguished clearly from the way that we love our people, and also from the way that we love God.  And yet, all are love.  If we can learn to apply the way that we love something, anything at all that truly gathers the full force of our heart, to higher forms of loving, then we are in a state of meditation.  To begin, bring to mind the bits of your life that elicit joy.  Pick one and think on it.  Allow the sensory experience of your mind to flood and then ebb away, leaving a sweet residue of retained happiness.  This is at the very least better than feeling an evil and elusive club of meditators have perfectly ornate pictures of a godhead in their minds and hearts at all times, leaving your silly frazzled self standing outside on a doorstep, waiting.  Separation hardens a heart and Love, in any form, softens a heart.  Meditation draws a mind from states of darkness into the light, then into the well-prepared and softened, loving heart.  In time, love for a cat, or catnaps, can merge and blend with infinite bliss.  Let the people on the other side of the door (who are you), know that exclusive behavior is lame and step in with an open heart.

Love, Suki Ola

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

 

Genevieve Continues The Spring Yoga Challenge, Class 16

Class sixteen marks the beginning of a new column on my challenge punch card, which means I am closing in on completion. This afternoon I marked this new notch with Clint’s noon Yoga Hour class and a room full of beautiful of like minded people as we were reminded by our fearless leader. Clint expressed how valuable community is for him and that at Shree even when we do not know the other people in the class they are a part of that special and ever expanding web.
Offering his students an opportunity to share in the experience of participating in community we were all invited to begin class with a short introduction of our names and what we are passionate about. All around the room were exclamations of passion for life, yoga, and higher qualities of being like saving the planet, creating beauty, and being outdoors. I shared my passion for love unconditionally and was happy to reveal myself so honestly.
We were then led through a class of shoulder opening back-bends which inevitably and energetically open the heart as well. I was surprised to find myself in savasana after what felt to me only a few short minutes of asana. Clint closed class with another invitation, this time the offering to share our passion this afternoon even if it was with just one person. I could not help but be delighted in the awareness of the recurring gifts Shree gives to its community, a web that that continues to grow and cover the planet, as our students are not just local. I also could not help but delight in knowing that my personal impetus to open Shree was deeply rooted in my desire to share the power of love and the incredible value of loving oneself!
Taking a walk, eating well, telling your truth, going to a yoga class or many, smiling at yourself in the mirror, smiling at strangers, laughing till you cry, crying when it really hurts, bathing in the glow of the sun, dancing and singing in the rain, feeling supported by a community of like minded people, these are all gifts of an ever present and unlimited unconditional love that is never beyond your reach.
Now with marks on a new column, less pain in my body, lightness in my heart, always more love, and a shining strong community of like minded people to support me, yeah, I guess I can say this yoga challenge thing pays off!
It still isn’t to late to start your own, and be greeted with warm smiling faces as you walk in our doors.
With love, always, in all ways and in joy, for giving,
Genevieve

Genevieve’s Spring Yoga Challenge Day 14, Class 11

This evening I enjoyed a rare event, yoga with my loving husband.  I spent the day with my mother and was surprised when I walked into Shree at 5:30 pm for Suki’s Gentle/Restorative Yoga class to find my good looking husband sitting on the bench inside the front door taking off his shoes.  Though I regularly invite him to join me for class, as well as encourage him to do more yoga, he does not often go take me up on my offer.  One thing I really love about our relationship is that we are interested in different things and our singular approaches to life including the tasks of taking care of ourselves are not the same.  It is because of these differences that over the past eight years we have had a very good time enjoying each others company adventuring into the others world.  This said, my husband is not as enthusiastic about yoga as I am and has shared with me this truth many times, that it is not uncommon for him to spend the majority of time in a yoga class working out the thoughts in his head, i.e. thoughts that he might enjoy himself more should he be elsewhere.  Despite this, Mr. Oswald, like almost all other people I know, no matter the experience on the mat, feels better for it afterwards, and this is why he continues to come to class, all be it sporadically.

In class tonight Suki invited us to relax and prepare for sleep after the big full moon and eclipse of last night, tax day, passover, and the Ides of April.  I almost always find Gentle/Restorative yoga to be a perfect platform for the practice of relaxing, surrendering, and letting go, and often enjoy a deep savasana at the end of class.  Tonight was slightly different from such previous experiences as I found myself surprised to notice everyone was moving at the end of class and I had not heard Suki call us out of savasana, I had fallen asleep.  This to me is a sign of a job well done on the mat, and perhaps also a sign that tonight I am tired.

Now after my surprise yoga date with my husband and a delicious dinner I will off to bed to enjoy the sleep I prepared so well for in class.  If all goes well I will wake up tomorrow to meet an exciting new day full of wonder, magic, and everything new, including another effort to rise to the challenge at Shree Yoga Taos.

Wishing you sweet dreams and lots of love,

Genevieve