Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australian news article on Rajashree

(Click on the page, then click on the little magnifying-glass-thingy to enlarge. Or, original is here but who knows when they'll take it down.)

Thanks to @jimwehmeyer on Twitter for sharing this, and Rachel at Alive in the Fire for retweeting it.

I'd so wanted to go to Rajashree's seminar at Kripalu last weekend, but it was just too expensive for me. Everything I've heard about her leads me to believe it would be amazing just to be in her presence, and try to soak up drops of her wisdom, and compassion. Been feeling like I could use some of those lately.

Hope everyone's doing well, and staying warm!

Friday, January 14, 2011

"They are themselves. They are so good."

Birds on our porch
via davedash / flickr

“We don’t have to run away from this world. We don’t have to feel harsh and deprived. We can contribute a lot to the world, and we can raise ourselves up in this world. We should feel so good. This world is the best world. If you drive into the mountains, you may see the mountain deer. They are so well groomed, although they don’t live on a farm. They have tremendous head and shoulders, and their horns are so beautiful. The birds who land on your porch are also well groomed, because they are not conditioned by ordinary conditionality. They are themselves. They are so good. Look at the sun. The sun is shining. Nobody polishes the sun. The sun just shines. Look at the moon, the sky, the world at its best.”

- Adapted from Chögyam Trungpa’s book, Great Eastern Sun, by way of Ocean of Dharma (by way of Yum & Yuk)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Well, I tried.

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, really. It comes down to knowing myself, and I know that I'm a total flake. I desperately want to prove to myself that I have the discipline to do (or not do) X, but then I pretty much inevitably don't do (or do) X.

E.g: Do 30 straight days of yoga (well, I did do that once, but life was so different then). Don't bite my nails. Do walk to work instead of taking the subway unless weather is totally heinous. Don't eat crap. (I originally typed "carp," which I haven't eaten - success comes in mysterious ways!)

When I started the work-study program at my studio in March or April, the cleaning days assigned to me were Thursday and Saturday. Since then, I have rarely missed a single Thursday or one weekend day (I switched to Sundays) of practicing at the studio. I cleaned early one Saturday morning in June before driving five hours to Cape Cod with my dad, but I didn't take class. More recently, with my car's increasingly frequent freak-outs, I've corralled my fantastic boyfriend into driving me down to the studio. (I'd just take his car if I could drive a stick. But this way he helps me clean, too!) I missed both days when I went to San Diego at the beginning of November, but I took one class (at training, woot!!) while I was there.

So, for almost a year, I've been taking two classes a week, pretty consistently. (My home practice has become almost nonexistent since 1. buying a house, and 2. getting a second dog.) I'd like to step it up, but I feel like planning to practice every day is just an easy way to set myself up for disappointment. Another idea had been percolating for a while; I decided last month to add in one home practice a week (ideally on Tuesdays or Wednesdays to balance out the Thurs./Sun.).

My first attempt was yesterday, when I stayed home sick from work. It went something like this:
Give bones to Leo (2) and Lucy (10 months).
Try to keep dogs off rug long enough to roll out mat.
Roll out mat.
Separate dogs, who are fighting for the "good" bone (?).
Remove Lucy from mat.
Press "play" on iTunes Bikram class.
Start pranayama breathing.
Transcend these odd barky noises.
On fifth breath, throw bone into kitchen so Lucy will leave me alone.
Transcend, transcend, transcend.
In forward bend, untangle (my) hair from Lucy's mouth.
In through the nose. Out through the nose. I am the perfect picture of peace.
Balance tested severely during standing head to knee, when Lucy walks underneath my picked-up foot.
Fall out five times, get back in six times.
Apologize profusely to Leo for kicking him in the ribs while stepping out for triangle. (He shouldn't have been on the damn mat!)

I got as far as standing separate leg forehead to knee. Working that pose, this is what I saw:

Leo's tail is the blur. I think he was trying to get the "good" bone away from Lucy (on the floor). On the other hand, this is how they play, constantly.

At that point, I gave up on trying to practice and chased them around the 20-degree backyard for a long time.

Chalk it up as a learning experience: Now I know that home practice goes much, much more smoothly when the boyfriend can distract/deal with the dogs. The hiccup there is that he's spending hours every night, post-dinner, studying for architecture exams. It shouldn't be a big deal to ask him to *not* study one night a week. Right?

I might have to get the dogs their own mats. Lucy would look great in Shakti.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Be moderate in everything, including moderation.*

*Horace Porter, 1837-1921

Gorgeous shot via Gregg Le Blanc / flickr

Yoga for Hangovers

This New York Times Wellness blog entry is harmless, but some of the comments on it have gotten me a little steamed. Some of the same people who define (their style, natch, of) yoga as one glorious thing go on to define alcohol drinking as one awful thing, when it seems so obvious to me that people can only speak to their own experience. Yet that caveat is never included in the comment.

Maybe my hackles are residually raised from my time in Utah, and I'm still hypersensitive to all-or-nothing, us-vs.-them claims. Or maybe my perspective on this has come from being in the Bikram community and exploring its place in the larger yoga world... It's so often under attack; it's not "real yoga," according to someone(s) who've declared themselves deciders for the rest of us. That judgment, that sense of superiority that makes it OK to judge, really bothers me.

And maybe oddly, the same goes for comments like this one:
The purpose of drinking is to numb oneself to life’s challenges, forget your troubles, lower ones [sic] inhibitions, and enable oneself to have a good time, It requires no work or effort. It has the potential for bringing short term bliss and longer term misery, unpleasant recuperation, and long term physical harm.

It's simply not true across the board. No doubt there are people for whom numbing and forgetting is the purpose of imbibing (in fact, I dated one of those people; it was terrible). But there are many, many more people for whom some alcohol is healthily integrated into daily life. As far as the commenter's claim about alcohol consumption bringing "long[-]term physical harm," well, he or she must not have heard any of the science linking red wine with heart health. And that's just the tip of the iceberg...

It may seem like someone who gets so amped up about this must be on the defensive, must have some deep personal attachment to drinking (or insert any vice here). But I'm not, and I don't. Yes, I work at a wine magazine and on some level, surely have a vested interest in people continuing to consume alcohol. Yes, I really like the taste of beer (IPAs, mostly). I'd guess that I drink four times a week, including a glass of wine with dinner some nights. But if for some reason I had to stop ingesting any alcohol right now, I'd be fine. It's the principle here, people.

I just looked up quotes about moderation, looking to cite this post's title, and it was funny how many of them, across cultures, related to "the drink." I particularly liked this one:
It is better to rise from life as from a banquet - neither thirsty nor drunken. ~Aristotle

So go and take part in that banquet, and enjoy its bounty, and rise from life knowing, reveling, in that fine place of balance we've worked so hard to create.

And for Pete's sake, can we stop the obsession with defining what's correct for everyone??

(Grrrr. There are so many things I've wanted to blog about in the past month; it feels a shame to start with this one. And so ineloquently, too. Harrumph.)