Winter is an interesting time for me — well, more specifically, an interesting time for my feet. I love summer because of the ease of slipping my toes into a pair of flip-flops and floppin’ around unencumbered by shoes. In fact, during cold months I wear winter’s flip-flop equivalent, moccasins; a shoe that is as close to a non-shoe as it gets.
In fact, one of the main reasons that I love teaching yoga as a profession is because I get to be barefoot for a living! There is something so freeing when my toes are unbound from the claustrophobic nature of high heels, tennis shoes, boots, mary janes … you name it! When my toes feel the freedom to roam, I find that my spirit has that same permission. The sense of adventure that I feel when I am liberated from the shackles of my shoes is only matched by the abundant bliss that I feel when I am out in nature, spontaneously and effortlessly awakened by the wild untamed natural world.
There is one exception to this no-shoe strategy I tend to live by: my hiking boots. When my feet inhabit these shoes, my sprit soars straight to its inherent wildness. Of course, it isn’t the shoes, per se, that illicit this magnificent response, it is what the shoes represent: trees, trails, birds, bees, sunrises, sunsets, mountains, moose, rivers, rocks … you get the idea. This wildness is as much as state of being as it is a location, in the wild, animate world. When I’m not on my yoga mat, this is certainly where you will find me — winding my way through the wide-open woods.
Recently, my husband Andy and I were jolted out of deep sleep at 5 am by a huge CRASH. We jumped out of bed to investigate (with me grabbing slippers and a flashlight). I assumed a bear had climbed onto the front porch table to get at the bird suet (not the first time).
As the only humans living on a two-thousand-acre estate, we are surrounded by wildlife and are accustomed to myriad nature sounds. Many nights we listen to the primal howls of coyotes, which I love. (Sometimes I even howl along with them!) We know our seasonal birds by their calls and occasionally hear an owl in the night whoo-whoo-whooing.
As an auditory person and lifelong environmentalist, this is heaven for me. It was just a short time ago I needed a sound machine (of nature!) to help me sleep in New York City, with all of its jarring, man-made sounds. (I swear the garbage trucks have amplifier speakers.)
It’s no wonder the number-one complaint of city dwellers is noise. Chronic, debilitating noise is more than just an annoyance — it plays a huge factor in our quality of life. Studies confirm that noise and stress are closely related to our health, and I am always surprised that more people don’t plug their ears (like I do) when a subway car rambles by.
What we hear transforms our brains and our lives. That’s why it’s critical to take control over your ‘personal soundscape.’ Customize your home environment as you would a beautiful soundtrack to create a haven of soothing sounds (and sights and smells). Here are a few tips to do that:
I don’t like being upside down and backwards. This makes Handstand a challenge for me. I don’t trust that my fellow students can hold me steady while I substitute my hands for feet. It’s a reflection of my own limited thinking, not an accurate assessment of their competence.
Still, I try. I go to class and work gradually. First, I achieved Headstand, which I couldn’t do a year ago. It’s a stepping-stone to the loftier goal of Handstand.
Yoga is always putting new challenges in our paths. Just when we think we have achieved a difficult asana, we discover that it was the modified version. It taught me to give up hope.
I have thought a lot about the way in which I want to end this year. Especially since the new energy of 2012 is fast approaching. As I contemplated my plan, what came to me was “cleansing and clearing.” Often I take time in the spring to clean and clear out closets to create space, but this felt different. What came to me was that I was to clear and clean myself from the inside out. I decided to do an 11-day cleanse and allow my body to release old toxins. That decision created a powerful domino effect that I want to share with you.
Is yoga therapy right for you? Have you tried everything under the sun to eliminate an ache, pain or chronic condition? If your doctor has suggested that you try yoga therapy (and not just yoga classes), the first step is to find a great yoga therapist to steer you into a customized practice that may potentially improve the conditions of self-healing in your body, mind and spirit.
I was recently around a parent who was teaching their child discipline. When the child would become disruptive and disobedient, the parent would say, “Do you want a time out?” If the child continued, the parent would say, “All right, if you keep this up, you will take a time out.” The child continued and the parent said, “Okay, that’s it! Time out!” They then made the child sit in a place that they were not allowed to get out of until the parent gave permission. Of course, the child was upset even though they were clearly testing the boundaries.
Dear Arielle & Brian,
I am reading The Soulmate Secret and doing the exercises you suggest. Now I am wondering, how many soulmates can we have in this life because I am feeling a connection and seeing more than one person as a potential soulmate? The bottom line here is: How am I going to know who is the one? Any advice is greatly appreciated!
Dear Arielle & Brian,
I am 42 and have practiced some sort of metaphysics since my teens. For the past 15 years, I have been focused on manifesting my soulmate. I have often felt angry and discouraged because he is still not here.
Dear Arielle & Brian,
I have been fortunate enough to come across your recent work, The Soulmate Secret. The guidance you provide is sound and amazingly simple. The ideas suggest much of what the Hindu religion teaches, of which I am a faithful follower. I find it very refreshing!