Around Thanksgiving, I’m drawn to the subject of gratitude and how to put it into practice on a daily basis. I have to admit, I’m not ready for the typical stress of the holiday season and am on a mission to keep the season as stress-free as possible with a mixture of appreciation for all that I have and awareness of all I can give.
Thinking about Thanksgiving prompted me to write this blog. I saved it to my computer, planning to post it online as soon as I got a chance. Then coincidentally I heard a radio interview with psychologist Robert Emmons, author of a book called Thanks. Emmons has spent years studying positive psychology, and in the interview he pointed out that gratitude is more than a tool for self-improvement. “Gratitude is a way of life,” he said, noting how being grateful can improve your health physically as well as mentally.
This month’s Spiritual Cinema Circle film collection is all about overcoming the odds.
It Ain’t Over is a story of hope from a man with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) who has been defying medical odds for over a decade. Granny’s Got Game follows a group of women in their seventies who have been playing basketball together for nearly 20 years. The Birdman celebrates a shopkeeper in New York City who has maintained a sanctuary for music lovers in the midst of the digital age.
This month’s film program is all about love and inspiration.
In Jillian’s Vantage, a couple on a blind date learn to see from one another’s perspective.
In The Most Beautiful Thing, two teenagers getting ready for the school dance teach each other about communication and compassion.
In Revelations, a man’s life is judged in an unexpected way.
Autumn has arrived, and with it, I always feel the need to turn within to find balance between the lightness I felt during the warm summer days and the sudden desire to stay cozy and warm inside, as the temperatures cool outside.
Watching leaves float to the ground is a reminder that our lives are a mirror of nature’s cycles and that everything is in a state of impermanence. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that no longer serve us.
The yoga practice is a glorious dance of the physical possibilities in the human body. An advanced practice can take your breath away as easily as it can expand your ujjayi. It can twist and turn in directions that make an artist quiver with creative jealousy and inspire even the heaviest of sloths to entertain a change of mind.
That being said — it can also be intimidating as hell.
I learned, trained, teach and practice in Santa Monica, California. It is the mecca of yoga these days and the cream of the crop when it comes to beautiful practices. It’s hard to find a level 2-3 class that doesn’t have at least one yogi soaring through the air in-between asanas or adding what appears to be a level-X variation to every pose. It can often be inspiring and mind-blowing but it can also be, in a word, daunting.
By Paula Anderson
“It’s a dog’s life.”
That’s a phrase we hear time and time again. But why is so easy for our pets to seemingly embrace joy? And what is it about these furry descendants of the wolf that brings us such peace? Could it be that they, too, share an innate love of yoga?
When was the last time you actually enjoyed a cup of coffee? And I don’t mean sipping on one while you’re getting ready in the morning, stuck in traffic or rushing to a meeting at work. I mean, when was the last time you actually sat down and focused your full attention on savoring the taste of the coffee in front of you?
Our films for this month focus on communication and imagination. In the high-concept short Baggage, a young man reclaims some emotional baggage he thought he had left behind for good. In The Gambling Man, we visit the inspiring real-life story of Alby Hurwit, a retired doctor who pursues his life-long dream to compose a symphony. And in What is That?, a father and son learn to reconnect.
One of the main goals of a regular yoga practice is to be able to reach Samadhi, a state of deep concentration and meditation resulting in union with a greater reality … a greater universal consciousness. When we are in Savasana, we are working toward this state, feeling the benefits of our asana practice, resting our bodies in order to open up to our breath and release all of the tension and thoughts running through our minds — coming to a place of blissful nothingness.