Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Overcoming Obstacles....

The idea of revisiting the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is not the most up-beat thing to talk about in a yoga class. But, I think it's important, as always, to revisit the past to see where we came from.
First - where we are now...from so long ago, New Orleans and the surrounding areas have come so far in rebuilding.
So far- the culture of the United States has banned together to see to it that we 'get back' as a community.
But also, we need to remember that WE are still in need...always.
It's a process to rebuild and five years goes fast.
And we're not out of the woods.
We still need help.
But, where are WE at?
What trials have we had personally that fog our perspective.
The idea that our country is in need is a definite.
But we also have personal trials that we deal with on a daily basis that have just as much weight as Katrina, but they aren't newsworthy because they are our own.
In the yoga studio, we have signed a contract with our selves to come into a room and work out together what we need to progress ourselves forward.
Every single trial is just as worthy as the next, individually and communally.
So, we come to the room and work on it together. That is important.
It is important that we remember what has happened in our history as a culture so that we have the strength to work towards our future in passion and stay rooted in strength and security in the moment of our present.
Without the timeline of these moments - trials and wins, we cannot see where we are and where we are going.
I am not happy for what has happened tragically in our past and lives lost whether it be through war or natural disaster, but in this tragedy, there is a gift to bring us together in peace, see where we are in our own lives and move forward with the passion and truth and guidance in trial towards the most powerful future we can create.
Living in NYC during 9/11 was not a good time. I wasn't teaching yoga then. But those events forced me to look at my life. So many lives lost. What do I have in my life?
What do I do with my life. If so many lives weren't lost and so much destruction didn't happen, it wouldn't have made me a yoga teacher. I wouldn't have been a yoga teacher had it not been for 9/11. No question.
In destruction, we have the choice in tragedy to look at our lives, how precious and lucky we are to be breathing and living, that we make the decisions we need to make to live the best lives we can for those that didn't have the chance.
I remember Katrina. Not the happiest thing you want to bring into a yoga class when your student is running late, the car has broken down, the kid has a summer cold, you are in a fight with the husband or had an altercation with a road rager on the freeway on the way to your mat, but, it puts everything in perspective, doesn't it?
I know, as a student AND as a teacher, we all have a moment before we enter the room. To be strong enough not to judge the moments before and just work out the moments within, is the greatest gift you can give yourself and the others in class.
You have no idea...what trials someone is dealing with. Some people cry in class or yell in class or leave in class.
We all have hurricanes within us, daily. It's important that we support and encourage rebuilding from the destruction so that we can find that sweet sunny calm after the storm whether it's five years post or five minutes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

All we are saying...

Each class I look to a time in history and relate it to our time now, on the mat and in life.
I take quotes from authors, musicians, politicians, philosophers, yogis and super smart people that say cool things and reference that time or cultural emotion in history and pepper them in as I guide you through your practice.

When you look back, you can see how far you have come.
When you look back, you can see where you are now.
When you look back, you can better see where to go next.
You can be in the present moment with the past and present beside you.

It's easy to see the yoga in history, in our culture, whether you have ever stepped into a studio or not.

My last few blogs are a testament to that.

Yoga is a part of our cultural fabric. It's a business, an advertisement, a way of life.
It's in your heart and on your TV.
Technology and life is moving so swiftly, we can hardly catch a breath and catch up to our advances. Everyone has heard of, done or is practicing yoga in some way shape or form. And we look cute doing it. We are advancing in mind, body and spirit.
But, we are still challenged.
Honestly, it would suck if there wasn't a challenge.
Staying rooted, grounded in simplicity is difficult when we are consistently drawn in many directions...and think we have to look cute doing it.

So, as a teacher, I look back.

Our challenge, if we chose to accept it, is learn from our mistakes historic, anatomical or emotional, from the place we fall or fail and get back up again and try.
We are always in practice. Every day.
In history, we celebrate, but we also remember the mistakes we made along the way so that we can move forward in a wiser, more peaceful way towards success.
When we do this, we return to the now, learn and become better people, together as one.

The last class, we remembered a tragic event in history. But, we took the event, the bombing of Hiroshima to remember the great mistake we made and lives lost, see the error of our ways and understand that war is not only in neighboring countries we only see on the news, but on the road in the car next to us, our spouse in the bed next to us, or within ourselves as we learn to expand our ability to love and share that love fully.

Each day you fall or fail to love yourself or your neighbor, is an opportunity to learn from and try again, to love again.

So, it is this week that we celebrate the anniversary of an historical event that changed rock and roll history, the Woodstock Music Festival.

Over 40 years ago on August 15, 16 and 17, 1969, what was just a simple idea, spread like wildfire in upstate New York and became 3 days of peace and music.

I see....YOGA! (insert Oprah voice here)

The 60s were a tumultuous decade. I wasn't around, but the assassination of JFK kept the world glued to the TV for days and made the country uneasy as to where we were headed.
In Vietnam there was a war with so many lives lost and questions unanswered that protests and rallies became an every day occurrence. Revolt within our own country began to separate us like oil and water.
Racial issues were abundant and in the first time in history, the media 'drafted', for lack of a better word, so much attention to this separation that we were all clearly aware that there was an 'us' and 'them'.
We wondered... where are our priorities as a community and power? How can we move forward, so divided and so hurt?
So, WE did something about it. Well, my parents did. We listened but we acted.
The longing for equality beat like a drum from the core of the earth and made waves throughout, sounding loudly, "WE NEED CHANGE."
Then, for three days, the world stood still.
There was a small idea, some money, a space.
Then it became 32 musical acts, 500K concert goers, unbelievable chaos in traffic and sanitary conditions and they all...got along peacefully.
Janis Joplin, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater, Crosby Stills, Young and Nash, The Band, Blood Sweat and Tears, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi F-ing Hendrix and dozens more played sang their hearts out to the idealistic hopes of the 60's and the promise of a peaceful loving tomorrow, that the 'hippy' generation, their kids and their kids kids are still celebrating, making films and talking about till this day.
An event with such small promise inspired events like Lilith, Lallapalooza, Burning Man, The Horde festival and numerous others.
The idea of celebrating our likeness and differences in a communal way in times of peace and war can only be called....

Woodstock was not a cure all, but the energy created must be recognized as one of the many catalyst of that time for positive change.

The challenge of physical postures can be enough in a yoga practice, but when you place your downward dog on the mat, you can also place your pose on the pulse of a society that is always in yoga, moving forward in a flowing rate that is staggering, but amazing to witness and be a part of as a catalyst for positive change. We are all a part of the change. In strength and weakness. In success and failure. In sickness and in health, till death do us part. In history and in the future. It is up to us to decide how we are now, to effect the rest of how WE play out.
And how we feel changes every day.
What we do effects everything.
When we are challenged, choose to celebrate.
When you don't know where you are going or you are at war with someone or yourself, come to a place where you can commune with others, like minded and different and strike a pose, grab your surf board and head to the sea, meet some old friends for a cocktail or hang out in the kitchen with your old neighbor that smells like Lysol and talks too much about her cockapoo and share a cup of tea over some Oprah. Whatever you chose, make it one YOU want and DECIDE to make that decision and ACTION towards positive change.

Chances are, because you have shared space and created positive energy with others, you will be fueled and fired up to share that energy with others.

A little goes a long way. A good moment created by you, catapults the next moment into goodness. An unwise, negative action only depletes you and those around you and that sucks, gets you stuck, makes you tired and creates fine lines and wrinkles.

To think we don't have an effect is silly.

We have a responsibility, to ourselves and each other...
to do and be the best we can and spread it like wild fire.
But, it ain't easy.
When you show up to class in a good or bad mood, late or early, you have signed in at the front desk, yes?
When you sign in to take an hour and a half practice you have signed your name up on a list with many others.
Think of that signature as a contract.
You have drafted yourself, chosen yourself, selected this moment to put yourself...
in a contract for peace.
Whether you achieve that at the end of the session is up to you.
No pressure.
Keep practicing.
Keep signing up.
Keep communing with others to create that change YOU want to see, in yourself as well as others.
It has an effect.
...give peace a chance.
~Lady Yoga