Tag Archives: selflove

For Days like Dump-trucks

There is a serious disorder in expectation about perfection in the yoga conversation. If you thought you were meant to come to the mat already ordered, saved, resolved, and put together, then you have had been fed some bad lemonade, friend. The whole idea is that we come to the mat messy, ever-changing, and hopeful, but it is the mess that leads us deeper into the practice, again and again. Somedays I feel like a dump-truck, and others, like a butterfly. Somedays I am the picture of patience and great perspective, and the next, mired in selfish and constraining ideas. This is the dance, the sloppy play of humanity, and of yoga. The process is in process, that’s why we call it so.

My invitation is to look, with love, at what is happening in the moment, and learn to design a practice for every day, different. On the butterfly days, I practice many pushups, firing a deep inner fire and yearning for strength, then flip over, around exploring the world from the upside, and roll into backbends that lovingly tear away the scar tissue over the vibrancy of my heart. It’s metaphor, of course, but my asana practice on the butterfly days is wild, playful, motile, and verging on passionate ferocity.

And the dump-truck days, are not so. I sit. I breathe. I look out the window. I sit on purpose (concentrate). I sit (meditate). I sit (do nothing). I wait. The practice’s end reveals itself, like a gentle embrace from a friend, calling me to sip tea, or take a bath. On the days when you are feeling far from your free-flying magical-mystical self, and more like digging your head into the earth to hide, try gentle pranayama (extending the life-force through breath), practices like anuloma viloma. In English, this breath is often called alternate nostril breath, and the idea is to balance the energies of opposing currents in the body, bringing the conversation to the table between butterfly and dump-truck, or maybe body and mind. The whole thing will last about seven minutes, dear dump-truck, and the invitation is to dive deeply into the breath, the earth, and all that you are carrying, dump the bucket of all that no longer serves, and find a balanced load for the moment.

Begin in a comfortable seat with an upright and relaxed spine. This position is important for pranayama practice and meditation as it opens the channel between the earthly world and the subtle world, linking like a ladder to what is below and above, alike. It’s pretty much the point; everything you do from this comfortable upright position is extra credit, rich and long-lasting crema on the espresso, so to speak. Open the channel, and then see what falls into your lap. Ten rounds anuloma viloma pranayama begins with a minute of mindful breathing, gently in and out through the nose, with attention on balancing the length of inspirations and expirations. If you find after this mindfulness practice that the inspirations have inspired you to do something else, follow, or that the expirations and letting go are leading you to a different practice of clearing the slate, go.

If you wish to move on, stay, and lightly place your right index and middle fingers at your brow-center. Gently rest thumb on your right nostril, just below the bridge of your nose with gentle pressure, and ring and pinky on the left side in the same manner. The mild restraint of the nasal passageway must be light enough to allow air through easily, but stable enough to bring your mind’s eye to the sensation and call attention. This tender pressure can be applied throughout the pranayama. Take a deep inhalation, completely close the right nostril and exhale left. Inhale left, pause at the top of the breath with both nostrils completely closed, exhale right. Inhale right, pause at the top, both sides completely closed, exhale left. This is one full round. Continue for ten rounds, release right hand and breath through both nostrils, watching the breath for another one to two minutes and enjoy your day deeply, best you can.

Love and respect, Suki

 

Advertisements

We live in a culture that affords little room for acceptance when it comes to the big green monster of envy. As children we are taught to feel shame about such a yearning for what another has. This leads to a whole culture who lacks language and tools for looking across the river and seeing something you like in another’s bountiful field. Step one in accepting jealousy is to distill this strange cultural conversation around shame. You are not a bad person to wish for something more, end of story. Step two hurdle: acknowledge the despair and self-pity that can follow on the heels of jealousy. To look with honesty at the situation often proves to absolve despair, and can even be an outlet for opening deeper conversation. By seeing that all is not entirely ruined, a path may begin to present itself. In this conversation, it is safe to ask “what are you going to do about it?”, and wait for an answer of empowerment and a plan.

Perhaps a new perspective is in order on the completely natural experience of wishing for what is out there. In the realm of pure potential, the teaching is to accept the possibility of anything you desire becoming real. This is one of the tenets of the yoga, yes? That with practice, over time, a human will be capable of breaking the bonds of limitation that a human form experiences and be immersed in pure unbounded bliss. Rarely, I think, do we as humans on the ground feel jealousy for such enlightenment, more like inspiration. This is a sweet teaching in and of itself. If the highest order of desire is something we see in another and only respect and admire, can’t we get past coveting the small stuff?

A higher teaching on jealousy is to look to the immeasurable means of loving, mudita. Mudita translates to sympathetic joy and is an offering of the heart’s highest to look with happiness upon another’s good fortune. The principle behind this practice speaks to the Dalai Lama’s invitation that we raise the opportunities for joy by 7 billion plus by celebrating another’s good tidings. But this is a high form of peace. My offering today is to look for the good in the discomfort of feeling jealousy. Accept the gift it is to have a model for what you wish. It is truly abundance in reality to be able to look to another for an example of how to climb the peaks that seem so daunting and faraway. What a sweet gift it is to have a teacher, and imagine, gasp! We would bolster the courage to ask them for insight and guidance for the journey.

Love and Peace for what is, Suki

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