Colleen is bent over the computer, squatting in a chair in the morning light at the kitchen table. She is sorting out the stories of her life; sometimes it is just a recalling of events and sometimes it is a cathartic moment that is unearthing a traumatic burial in her body. What a year and a half it has been, my baby writing her memoir yoga solution book Yoga for Life. Is writing akin to being possessed, especially a memoir where there is a constant exorcism being performed along with eminent exposure? Just like a liberating yoga regime, there is arduous work with momentary flicks of freedom.
Mantras are powerful—so powerful and potentially destructive, in fact, that it makes sense to notice which ones we’ve embedded in our psyches. A lot of mantras are so ingrained that we don’t even realize they’re there, replaying themselves over and over in our heads, creating a rut and defining who we are. I’m talking about mantras like “I am not enough,” or “Nothing ever works out for me,” or “She is smarter,” or even, “I can’t do yoga because my mind is all over the place and I am not flexible and I don’t have time.”
If you practice yoga, chances are someone is going to ask you what yoga is and why you do it. I have answered both of these questions time after time over the years and it never ceases to amaze me how much misinformation is circulating, based on stereotypes or without thinking.
I was talking to my brother a few weeks ago, expressing how great yoga would be for my niece who is a very flexible athlete. His response? “She’ll start yoga when she’s 50 and starts to slow down.” You would think I would have taken this opportunity to inform him of the various styles of yoga available, the mental and physical benefits of yoga for all ages, and the need for an athlete to balance sports strength and power with the flexibility and healing benefits of yoga—but I didn’t. Instead I sat there stunned.
As any trend, person, ideology, etc. mounts in popularity, it can easily diverge from its original state.
Perhaps this is simply a flexibility that allows for such expansion and appeal to a broader audience. Perhaps it is an imminent fall from grace that occurs once the subject is spread too thin. Yoga today is a $27 billion dollar industry. This is big business and a number that reflects its quick rise in popularity.
In 2006, Rodney and I had the privilege of taking a few classes with Mr. Iyengar. When it came time for Headstand, I informed the yoga master that I didn’t do them — I have a seizure disorder that I always felt was aggravated by Headstands. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to stand on my head now! And I did. I stayed up, and only came down when he said it was time.
By then, the rest of the class had moved on to Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), and, trying to be a good student, I came down from Headstand and sat right up to join the rest of the class. That’s the point at which he slapped my back and said, “That is your problem, not Headstand: You transition too quickly and mindlessly. I am sure that you do this in your life as well. You never let anything settle in.” Wow, what an acute teaching for a chronic issue!
Hope is a feeling, an internal movement. If seen in its proper context, hope is part of the light of joy and love that is constantly shining through and illuminating the beauty of life — the awesome dance in which we take part. There is no need to feed it or hang on to it as a distraction or a promise. Instead, strive to see it in context with all of the present moment’s thoughts and sensations. It is but a broken branch floating in the middle of the river of the Tao that we can hang on to only momentarily; however, it must not become the totality of our reality.
Just back from a day at the Yoga Journal NYC convention where Colleen and I were invigorated with the curious and competent students that we encountered. We also had time to go to the presenter’s dinner and had a wonderful time catching up with our dear colleagues of many, many years.
Visiting the Gaiam booth and helping get the word out about Gaiam TV where all of our many years of yoga programing is now housed was a whirlwind. Being a human sandwich-board is both humbling and slightly intimidating, even after all these years in the media.
Are you crazy busy? Is there hardly a moment to catch a breath? Is your significance tied to how much you work and how much you accomplish?
We must retrain ourselves to be, not just to do; to live, not just work. It can take time and awareness to rewire yourself, but it’s not an impossible task — and you can make a significant headway with 15-30 minutes of daily yoga practice.
Maybe it’s cabin fever, or perhaps it’s just all those Girl Scout cookies, but I’m ready for something new in my fitness routine. Aren’t you?
Like many people, I made a resolution to lose weight, and I’ve been keeping up my end of the bargain I made with myself to work out for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. Now I’m ready for something new: a new challenge, a different routine, a never-tried-that-before workout.
The 9th Annual San Francisco Yoga Journal Conference was January 12-16. What a great way to start the new year! Gaiam was a sponsor, Rodney Yee was the keynote speaker, and yoga blogger Elena Brower was there teaching and sharing her yoga knowledge with hundreds of students and other attendees. Although many of us couldn’t be there in person, it almost feels as if we were, thanks to Elena’s gorgeous photo essay, below. Like what you see? Learn about next year’s event here.