“He who binds the breath, binds the mind.”
Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika
We spend years in pranayama, the art of breath control, trying to free up the breath. It is slippery business. So many times we end up with a manipulated breath from concepts given to us by teachers, books, videos, and countless other influences. This manipulated breath often just covers up our habitual breath, which is a deeply ingrained breath pattern that has been imprinted off our ancestors.
Back in the day when I was a ballet dancer, I was using yoga as a way to balance my body and my emotional states of being. Yoga was extraordinary in balancing my dance body and advancing my abilities in dance. Injury prevention, improving coordination, balancing right and left sides, breath awareness and integration, greater relaxation in all situations, and mindfulness, were some of the main benefits that yoga gave to my dance career.
Today, having a lot on our plate, Colleen and I offered to do a business call on Saturday with a respected Gaiam employee. He said something like, “No way, I won’t interrupt your family time during the weekend.” I got off the phone thinking how smart and respectful this man is.
About a year ago, Colleen and I helped chair the Urban Zen Initiative with Donna Karan and Sonja Nuttall. This 10-day forum explored the future of integrative medicine and the new healthcare paradigm. One of our immediate concerns was to train about 100 yoga teachers, mainly from the New York area, in some basic yoga therapy techniques that would address chronic health conditions and common symptoms of many diseases, including pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and constipation. Colleen and I led these trainings along with a number of other senior yoga teachers.
I am in a small airplane on my way to the Mayo Clinic to do a satellite media tour with a Mayo Clinic doctor. We are going to talk about Integrative Medicine, and for me specifically, how yoga can help with many of the symptoms that patients deal with from their illnesses. The time has come for Western and Eastern health practices to merge, to find a united front in both preventative and curative health care.
Zen Master poet Gesshu Soko writes:
Arrows, let flown each to each
Meet midway and slice
The void in aimless flight –
Thus I return to the source.
My eldest brother is turning 60 today. Traditionally, 60 is a very significant birthday for the Chinese. I believe it marked a time when people would start letting go of their worldly possessions and embark on a life of spiritual seeking. It marked the time of the beginning of wisdom. My brother is retiring this year, and I hope he dedicates the last third of his life to fulfilling his dreams and to service.
It is a classic scene – you trip and fall, and your first knee-jerk reaction is to see if anyone saw you.
When I teach tree pose in yoga class, most everyone looks as if it is a matter of life or death whether they stay up on one leg for the duration. But fear is not helpful in navigating balance.
Mountain Pose is about learning to stand on your feet and connect to Mother Earth. It is about finding the alignment of your skeleton and subtly moving in and out of a fluid center.
Back in my college days I took a music listening course, thinking that it would be an enjoyable easy credit. Little did I know that I would be required to listen to hours of music not of my choice, and listen for structure and story, and then be tested on my analysis of the music. I am sad to say, I did not appreciate the course.