TELL ME

 

Flurries today.  Low temperature of 21 degrees fahrenheit in Chicago.  I am grateful to witness such beauty and power.  

No I don’t like being cold.  And yes, I am very sensitive to cold temperatures.  I wear thermals as soon as it goes down to the 50’s.  I could easily find misery in it.  But why?

Every day is a gift.  Every day has something new and exciting to offer.  Challenges to overcome.  Problems to solve.  Errands to run.  Bills to pay.  Money to make.  Loved ones to cherish.  These are the gifts of this life.  But how many do we have left?Thousands?  Hundreds?  One?

Our breath could run out at any time.  So why not savor it NOW?  What are we waiting for?  

Feel the air going in and out of your nostrils.  Feel your abdomen expand as you take in oxygen.  Feel your chest come back toward you as you release air.  

How do these moments of awareness affect you?  Tell me.

 

KIDS FROM 2 TO 104

 

I teach yoga at retirement communities and I am always inspired by their company.  Such wisdom.  Their varied past so inviting.  Yet they come to me for the same reasons.   

On the other side of the coin are my kindergarteners.  They have their innocence and vitality to offer.  

I am fortunate to be able to bring yoga to kids from 2 to 104.  And for them to bring yoga to me.  Happy Thursday!

 

 

STILL GOING

 

One of my students at a community college said to me today after class, “I wish I could just follow you around for 30 years.  You’re so calm.” 

She’s right that it may take that long for the calmness to rub off on her.  I wish I could have just handed some over to her, right then and there.    

We all need to work on ourselves, no one else could do it for us.  And it takes constant practice for things to stick.  Daily practice.  And yes, maybe 30 years.  I have been practicing for over 20 years and still going.      

Yogi Bhajan said, “If you want to learn something, read about it.  If you want to understand something, write about it.  If you want to master something, teach it.”

I am far from mastering anything.

 

THANK YOU

 

A beautiful soul carefully handed this note to me this morning.  It simply said: YOU ARE A BLESSING IN MY LIFE AND I AM SO THANKFUL FOR YOU.

She is blessed soul for she is thankful.  And so am I.  

 

 

 

PRACTICE SAFELY - part 2

 

How is your standing forward fold? 

Are you using the muscles in your legs?  Thighs, backs of thighs, shins, calves.  

How about your feet?  

What are your toes doing?  Bring your weight towards your toes.  Let your legs support your back.  

Allow the spine to lengthen.  The spine includes the neck.  Give the weight of your head to gravity.  Your shoulders too, the arms.  How about giving the entire upper half of your body to gravity?

Still: if any of this doesn’t work with you, find out what does.  But, again, please, please, practice safely.  We want you practicing always.

 

 

PRACTICE SAFELY

 

Last night I had dinner with one of my best friends and her family.  Her sister-in-law, who’s an occupational therapist, unexpectedly joined us.  She had just come from further training. 

If anyone’s ever met me, I’m always promoting the benefits of yoga, whether breath work, postures, meditation.  I’m always pushing to TRY a yoga class.  

“Take it easy.  Just do what you can.  Don’t worry about what everyones else is doing.  Don’t hurt yourself.  And BREATH…”  

Amazingly enough, the occupational therapist’s name is that of a version of Shanti (Peace).  Anyway, when I mentioned yoga, her response was: that a lot of their worse cases were yoga practitioners.  WRIST injuries!  

“From downward-facing-dogs!” she confirmed.

This is a reminder to please practice safely. 

Yoga is about finding peace.  It could be very difficult to find peace when you have to deal with injured body parts. 

Yoga is about getting rid of (or taming) the ego — never feeding it. 

Get to know your breath.  Connect.  Let it guide you in your physical practice.  Deep breaths in…  Full breaths out…

Get to know your body.  The wrist (and ankles too) are made up of a number of very small bones.  The wrists 8 and the ankles 7.  The diameter of my wrist measure only 5 and half inches, so you can imagine how small those 8 bones are.  Imagine them as small pebbles.  And we expect them to carry our downward-dog position?  Most of our weight?  Please don’t.  

Use your fingers, hands, forearms, upper arms, abdominals, legs, feet, toes.  Micro-bend elbows and knees (as a reminder to use those muscles in the arms and legs).  Integrate, incorporate — the whole body. 

You can also go down into your forearms (or elbows) for elbow-dog if you need.  But that’s another set of adjustments altogether.  There, try not to tense up the shoulders - which means move the shoulders away from the ears.

I’m off to my practice now.  Talk tomorrow.

 

 

WE ARE ONLY AS YOUNG AS OUR SPINE IS FLEXIBLE

 

 

 

DOING THE RIGHT THING

 

A friend and fellow yoga instructor is leading a workshop: “Finding Compassion in Difficult Times”

“The every day trials of life are challenging enough” he says.  “The state of the world can leave us overwhelmed and literally beside ourselves”

This practice offered by Paul Weitz (Sunday, November 12th at Reach Yoga in Glencoe, Illinois), focuses on finding inner peace and channeling our hearts and minds to be of service to others and the betterment of the world.  Karma yoga (yoga of action)

“Action” here does not mean physical movements such as asanas (or yoga postures) because it could also be, say, giving money.  

It is “doing the right thing”.  It is living your “true purpose”, your “dharma”.  All without expecting recognition, thanks, payment.

Karma yoga is when you do something for others without thinking what you would get out of it.  The moment you expect to receive, it is no longer karma yoga.

Karma yoga is one of the 4 paths of yoga.  Yoga meaning: enlightenment, peace, bliss, divinity, body mind spirit connection, perfection.    

Today do something for someone else, no matter how small.  Better yet: do it every day.

 

ARE THEY…? OM - ING...?

 

I teach yoga to Kindergarteners, first, and second graders at an elementary school for 45 minutes before their first class in the morning.  There are three kids in particular (out of twelve) who just CANNOT stop talking or making comments about anything and everything.  This includes during savasana, while I am leading them to pay attention to their breath.  They have to make “breathing” noises.  They have to “comment” on their own inhalations and exhalations. 

Luckily, today they were all next to one another when I finally had to tell them to move away from the rest of the students in order for the others to practice.  

I had previously tried different tactics to settle their mind and body.  I had each and everyone of them lead us into the sound OM.  Softly and peacefully.  They succeeded with flying colors! 

I asked them to define “respect”.  

“Trust!  You have to be able to trust that person”, said one.  

“Treat others as you want to be treated!”  Yes!

“And how would you like to be treated?” I asked.  

Naturally, their answers were insightful and sincere.   They were exactly what I was looking for.  They are beautiful kids, inside and out.  But still, they were sent to the other side of the short bookcase as I went on to instruct the other nine. 

Shortly after I continued to give my attention to leading the rest of class, I began to hear soft OM(s) coming from the other side of the bookcase.  It continued.  It was faint but candid, deliberate, and certainly darling.  

I thought to myself, “Are they..  Om-ing.  Wow…”  

They continued until I finally allowed myself to notice their sounds.  I expressed both my disbelief and appreciation.  

One answered, “We were doing it for ourselves!” 

She repeated, “We were doing it for ourselves!  REALLY we were!!!”

I told them, “Yes I know”.  Or at least I thought I knew.

“We wanted to get out of there”.  Meaning: out of suspension, out of the other side. 

It didn’t matter their reason for chanting (or connection with the sound).  All that mattered was that they did.  In their own accord.  In their own time.  In their own space.  In their own voice.  

And no matter how they expressed themselves in words, in deed, it ultimately comes down to just Be-ing.  

They did it to free themselves.  And in turn they freed everyone, especially themselves.

 

LOVE THAT I GREW UP CATHOLIC