May 17, 2013 - 11:10am
“The body never lies,” Janet Stone said in a workshop on the yogic concept of satya, or truth. “We misinterpret it, ignore it, and project our ideas onto it, but the body itself never lies.”
Our mouths sure do, though. Even if we don’t tell boldfaced lies, we all withhold aspects of the truth, revert quickly to what we want to believe rather than listening openly, we hide aspects of ourselves from others, and most of all, we lie to ourselves. And that’s okay:...
April 26, 2013 - 1:44pm
The massage therapist slid her hand under my sacrum, and waited. I wasn’t sure what this was supposed to feel like and apparently nothing was happening.
“What do you feel?” she asked, keeping her hand still. I closed my eyes.
I felt as if my spine were spiraling away from her hand, curling and twitching towards the left, my shoulders rolling in, dizzy, as if I were spinning through the air. My jaw seemed to list to the left, like in the movies...
April 18, 2013 - 4:14pm
Anger: we all know it, many of us well. But at a yoga party, it would be gauche to bring up the raging intensity sitting in your gut. We’re all focusing on the positive here, right?
Not exactly. Yoga is in part a practice for life. It’s natural and normal to feel anger, and yoga can help us find the compassionate action that the anger is sometimes trying to point us toward.
Anger comes in different forms. Empowering anger is a galvanizing force: It has a clarity like a...
April 5, 2013 - 4:25pm
“Now is the time to know that all you do is sacred.” ~Hafiz
Remember that moment on December 21st, 2012, when you wondered if just maybe the Mayans were right and the tides would suddenly rise to destroy the arrogant human race? And then nothing happened?
I remember how exciting it was to think about the possibility of a new world—one that marked an energetic shift, an intellectual, spiritual, and emotional awakening that was not only personal...
March 22, 2013 - 2:54pm
Once upon a time, Shiva, the Lord of Yoga, became infuriated to discover that his beloved, Sati, had immolated herself with rage when her father, Daksha, insulted the couple by not inviting them to a party. Shiva yanked a great dreadlock out of his hair, threw it in on the ground, and the warrior Virabhadra appeared from the earth, sliced off Daksha’s head, and planted it on a stake. We gesture towards this story in our yoga classes every time we reach our arms up in Warrior One...
March 13, 2013 - 12:00am
This is how bad things have gotten: I am squatting on my floor by a low table to write this because I threw out my back again and I am in extreme pain. Pain, however, can lead to resting, also known as sitting in my apartment with nothing to do, which makes me feel like the craziest of crazy, so I must find some way of working. Hence squatting before my altar to the Lord of the Internet.
Being injured is a good time to practice the yoga of awareness: I observe that I am in pain. I...
March 4, 2013 - 4:56pm
I used to think having a home practice meant I had to get up at 4 a.m. to chant mantras, meditate, and practice asana for two hours. I am not a morning person.
Also I love going to public classes. I love learning from different teachers, getting adjustments, and being with community. But there are always days when you just can’t get to your regular class, when you are traveling away from teachers and studios you trust, or maybe you just want to find out what happens when...
February 26, 2013 - 2:57pm
I wish I could speak like music.
I wish I could put the swaying splendor
Of the fields into words
So that you could hold Truth
Against your body
I am trying the best I can
With this crude brush, the tongue,
To cover you with light.
I wish I could speak like divine music.
I want to give you the sublime rhythms
Of this earth and the sky's limbs
As they joyously spin and surrender,
Against God's luminous breath.
Hafiz wants you to hold me
February 19, 2013 - 10:05am
I taught my first kid’s yoga class last week, at the school where my mom works. “Just around 30 kids, Julie,” she said. “Grade 7. They can’t wait to meet you. You’ll love it.” I have never taught yoga to kids before, and I wasn’t sure I would love it, but I owe my mom a few favors, so I agreed.
Along with the Grade 7 teacher and 30-some kids, I filed into the gymnasium where I was greeted by a huge floor and small dusty blue mats. The kids immediately started shouting that they wanted to...
February 12, 2013 - 8:16pm
A couple of weeks ago, I adopted a dog from the animal shelter. His name is Finnegan, and he is the best ever: he is snoring belly-up beside me as I write this.
I wanted a dog partly because my life is crazy: I write, teach, perform poetry, offer workshops, and manage a yoga studio and all of its teachers and their workshops. Every week is different, and sticking to a routine feels a bit like trying to catch a cloud. I’m in front of people all the time, and I needed a reason to come home...
February 5, 2013 - 10:00am
I used to love backbending. It was my favorite part of my yoga practice for a long time.
Then I got my heart broken. I was amazed to see how quickly my body took on the metaphor: all my muscles tightened around my chest and suddenly “heart openers” weren’t so fun anymore.
Eventually the muscles around my chest began to let go, and the pain shifted down to the bottom of my spine, to the joint where my pelvis and spine meet: the sacroiliac (or “SI”) joint.
Teachers kept telling me I had...
January 28, 2013 - 10:00am
When I was in school, I wanted to talk about feminism all the time. I loved its possibilities: a world where we could all be more feminine, a world where we all could be more masculine, or a world where we never needed to be either unless we wanted to, regardless of our born-with sex. It’s all so complicated and intellectually fascinating.
The deeper I got into school, though, it started to feel less like a fun thought experiment and more like an emotionally crushing reality. When I told...
January 22, 2013 - 12:00am
"A Rabbit Noticed My Condition"
I was sad one day and went for a walk;
I sat in a field.
A rabbit noticed my condition and came near.
It often does not take more than that to help at times—
just to be close to creatures who are so full of knowing,
so full of love
that they don’t
they just gaze with
-St John of the Cross
As we practice yoga, many of us start developing an idea of what we think the “perfect yogi” should be. We think of her...
January 15, 2013 - 10:00am
Because the moon feels loved, she lets our eyes
follow her across the field, stepping
from her clothes, strewn silk
glinting in furrows. Feeling loved, the moon loves
to be looked at, swimming
all night across the river.
On New Year’s Day, 2013, I looked out the window. We were several rainy nights deep at a cabin on Vancouver Island, and I was looking out across the bay. Suddenly she appeared, slipped through her cloudy robes, and shone her light over the water in...
January 7, 2013 - 10:00am
Breathing is, indeed, good for you. It’s been shown that breathing into the belly helps encourage a relaxed state in your body, nourishes your organs, calms the nervous system, and oxygenates the blood. It’s easy: just breathe.
Has anyone ever told you to do that when you are upset or anxious? Breathing deeply isn’t always that simple. “Just breathe” is the yogic equivalent to telling someone to take a chill pill. Urban Dictionary defines “chill pill” this way:"while not truly a "pill" it...
December 28, 2012 - 12:00am
I was on the hunt, seeking amrit, the nectar of immortality. I had to cross a river, so I found a boat made of ghost bones and stealthed to the opposite shore. I discovered a back door into a secret temple where the location of the amrit was revealed: underneath a peanut tree. I ran to the tree, but its guardian stopped me with a special punishment. His curse was that every time I opened my eyes, there would be my own face, staring at me, three inches away. At first I was terrified, but I...
December 17, 2012 - 4:05pm
Well, folks, we’ve almost made it through 2012. The end is nigh. As someone with absolutely no authority or ability to predict the future, I’m here to tell you that it’s absolutely true, the world as we know it is certainly coming to an end on December 21st.
And hallelujah! Our darkest day is coming. The Mayan Calendar completes its cycle and will need to be replaced along with our yearly wall calendars; astrologers tell us Saturn will enter into Scorpio; Chinese astrology welcomes the...
December 13, 2012 - 12:30pm
Injuries often happen in the silliest ways. We are intelligent adults; we look both ways before crossing the street, we don't run with scissors or swallow toothpaste. But we badly sprain our ankles while walking innocently down the street, get black eyes from slipping in the bathroom and landing on the tub edge, or throw out our backs lifting up a teapot. Everything seems to be going so well, and then BAM! You are down for the count, for such a mundane reason, you want to tell everybody...
December 4, 2012 - 11:18am
Increasingly over the past couple of years, I’ve been having outbreaks of hives and itchy skin. I finally sat down with an allergist, who gave it to me straight. I am allergic to pineapples, apples, and—get this—anything that touches my skin. Anything that rubs, scratches, or irritates my skin will create the itchy, irritating hives. He said, “Your problem isn’t actually the allergies. It’s stress and anxiety, so I would get that under control if you can.”
Funny. I’ve been trying to get my...
December 1, 2012 - 10:00am
Every worldview, whether religious or cultural, is steeped in the structure of a story. Christians, for example, elevate the value of love through the archetype of Jesus, the ultimate picture of faith and compassion. Buddhists understand the value of spiritual seeking through the image of the wandering Buddha, finally enlightened under the bodhi tree. American mythology upholds the “American dream,” and the rags-to-riches story is retold again and again through the currency of Hollywood...