Monday, November 30, 2009

Pause: Practice Deep Long Exhale: A Yoga Moment

Find your feet.

Realize that your inhale finds you. Give that inhale some space, some room, by practicing the deep long exhale.

Imagine that you can sense your diaphragm emerging from your spinal column. It's big, it's strong, it moves with power. And, it's perfectly capable of keeping you alive unless you get in it's way.

Consciously contract your diaphragm and feel how the muscles of the ribs, shoulders, chest, and belly move along with the diaphragm. Release this contraction and let your inhale flow in. Do 3 times.

Thank you for sharing this yoga moment with me.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pause: Feel Your Feet : a Yoga moment

Are you standing, sitting, lying down or are your feet up the wall (love viparita korani)? It doesn't matter, this will work anyway.

Attend to balancing the sensations from foot to foot, within each foot, foot to foot. Inhale as you 'push' away the base of your big toes (that's at the 'ball' of the foot). Exhale as you press away the outer edges of each heel. Do 3 times.

Check in with your hips, check in with your knees, how do you feel?

Namaste ...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's Next for Yoga in Tucson?

Ellie has been taking up a lot of my writing time, and my thinking time, as she has challenged me to truly consider what it means to work and play with a dog in a yogic way. She is a great teacher here, in a different way than Gary (the horse) has been. Things I thought I knew, new ways to think and be in relationship, it's all good. Yet...

It's been a tumultuous fall here in Tucson. Three yoga studios have closed (that I know of) in Tucson; Anjali, Shanti, and Providence Institute. And, the Sunstone Cancer Healing Organization is closing it's doors at the end of the year. And all this happening at a time when our community needs yoga more than ever.

I'm choosing to look at these challenges as fodder for svadhyaya - self-learning. How can I best serve? How can we, the community of yoga teachers and yoga therapists come together and share resources to best serve our community through yoga?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

WitGit: Learning from Animal Bites

Where is the Grace in getting bitten by a horse, by a dog?

Typing is problematic today; my right hand is swollen in preparation for what is sure to be one big ugly blue black bruise from an interaction with a horse friend of mine. (Yes, I'm taking my arnica, and wrapping with castor oil and a few drops of lavender, and the swelling has significantly decreased.)

And, our rescue dog, Miss Ellie, apparently never learned bite inhibition as a puppy, so I am working on ways to help her learn how to moderate her mouth pressure at play and during communication. Mouth, teeth: these are tools that dogs, horses, cats, and most other animals use to communicate with each other.

There are models of human-animal interaction that require that biting be met with swift punishment delivered by the human to the animal. But I am committed to working with animals in a yogic way, so that cannot be my first response. What to do then?

What happened with my horse friend was the horse being a horse, and my presence was a complicating factor. (I'm working on a longer piece about this, stay tuned). With Ellie, she never learned something that most puppies learn. Punishment isn't fair to them, yet boundaries need to be set for reasons of safety and social contract.

If there was anything about the horse interaction I could change, it is my awareness about what the horse on the other side of the pen is doing. I would like to react faster to get my hand out the way, but the speed of the horse's reaction is probably always going to be faster than mine.
That's a reality.

Horses are horses, dogs are dogs, people are people. As we come together in companionship and healing, we have to respect the animals for being who they are, and respect who we are at the same time.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ring Sour in the Saddle: More Samskaras

I saddled up today, pulling out Gary's old all-purpose saddle. It's a little small for me, but with a shaped foam pad fits him okay. It was quiet at the barn, all of the trainers off premises, and just myself and one other, so I thought it might be a good time to test out my arena riding.


My seat wasn't bad, I wasn't gripping with my thighs or calves, and my ankles weren't tensed. My shoulders weren't drawn up into my ears, and my jaw wasn't clenched. I had a tension spot at the juncture of the thoracic and lumbar spine, but managed to breathe that away. Still. Gary was recalcitrant, unresponsive. Could it possibly be because I was mind-grumbling the whole time?

I just wanted to play on the track that runs around the facility, and I wanted out of the saddle. Am I using my 'wants' to avoid 'work riding'? Why should I even have to do work riding? Why can't I just think of riding in the arena as play riding? Round and round and round go the thoughts as I resist going round and round. And Gary accompanies me in my resistance.

Loosen the reins, feet out of the stirrups, let's head back for carrots.