Monday, October 1, 2012

Nature-al Yoga

It was finally beginning to feel like fall around here, but now it looks as if we are heading back up to near the 100 degree mark during the day, with slightly cooler evenings. While it's a bit warmer, it's not that unusual of a day here in the desert.
What's a good yoga practice for this subtle time of transition?

In our Peaceful Yoga for Women class, we move outside of our casita shala to practice in the lovely garden. We take our cues from the flitting butterflies, the bushes that flower and quickly fade, and the still-biting mosquitos. We practice our balance poses on the unevenness of the patio stones and take in the sounds of the neighborhood around us.

At Horse Yoga, we quietly notice the white dove, the scraggly blackbird, the stately blue heron who join us at the round pen. I scold the little house dog who seems determined to head out to the road (and instead runs to the porch, where he's let in to the house), and we get back to our walking meditation mandala, with Carrma, our teacher for the day.

Taking your cue from the world around us, how do you incorporate Nature into your yoga practice?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Yoga Moment: Add the Martian Flourish

Inhale -  arms out to the side with a flourish through the wrist, hand, fingers.

To see it in action: Go to somewhere just before 55s on the video. Watch close.

And it works even better if you imagine you have those 4 arms instead of 2.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Are you holding? Let it go.

That one, the one with her back to you, that's me, yours truly. Take a look at that right shoulder - that's classic holding. I'm pulling my right shoulder blade in that causes tension all the way through my elbow to wrist, hand, and fingers.

If you look at that right hip (it's okay, this is a kind of anatomy lesson), you can also see how I'm more drawn in than I am on the left. Can you see how it affects the back of my right knee and calf?

Yoga Sutra 2.46 (sthirasukhaasanam) tells us that our posture should have the dual qualities of alertness without tension, and relaxation without dullness or heaviness (from Reflections on Yoga Suutras of Patanjali by TKV Desikachar).

My left side in this photo is close to that balance yet my right side is drawn in. To find that balance, I need to release that tension on my right side, which I can do by first being aware that I'm holding, and then exhaling and using visualization to send that exhale into the holding area. Three long exhales will usually do it. And, yes, it's that simple. What initiates that holding anyway? Mind, of course. So Mind needs to engage fully with Breath to help Body find its way to that place of stability and comfort.

It can be a lot easier to see than it can be to recognize when you are holding or locked into a gripping pattern. What is the difference between holding and gripping? And what difference does it make to you? We'll take a look at that next time.

Oh, and that's Ephiny in the background with one of her new students.  We practice Horse-Assisted Yoga with her and her herd mates at Judith Tarr's Dancing Horse Farm every third Friday of the month (Tucson). 

Thanks to Evie Brettthe photographer gifted at catching these teaching moments. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Daisy's Story

Still in the vjnanamaya, that dimension of being that reflects our creative self. This poem from that place, that dimension, is about a real horse-being, one of my earliest horse teachers from the time when I began to remember:

Daisy's Story

When Daisy flips her head
you might think her
      and head-shy
   just a stubborn child's pony
   with wily pony ways. 

You would be mistaken. 

When Daisy flips her head
she is telling you a secret
and yours. 

When Daisy nuzzles your hair
and listen with all of your heart. 

When Daisy touches your hands
and honor that remembering. 

When Daisy flips her head
and look closer. 

What do you see? 

Is it a trick of the desert light?
spiraling impossibly
shimmering with clarity? 

Could it be the horn 
the horn of the unicorn?

Daisy has a story about that
Ask her to tell you. 

And just for fun, Daisy was the original 'bad-ass unicorn'. Daisy has long since passed over the rainbow bridge. But her gifts linger on, inspiring me to continually remember. Namaste Daisy, Namaste.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Old poems, new: Once I was...

(You might wonder what in the heck these poems have to do with yoga, animal-connected yoga?) In a word, everything. In a sentence, these poems are the product and the language of the vjnanamaya - that somewhat mysterious dimension of the pancamaya model for yoga for healing - between logical mind and emotion, lie our songs and our stories...)

Once I was a Cowgirl
(originally written in 1990, or thereabouts
and things have changed a bit since then!)

Once I was a cowgirl
wearing tight jeans
permeated with the honest scent
of the sweat
of my red-headed pony.

My dress boots were the color of
desert sand, my work
boots of red cowhide, they had
roper heels and I drove a green
Chevy pickup.

I tied my hair in a thick braid
It hung to my ass and swayed
with me
carrying my cue stick to the bar
for a long cool one.

The cue was handmade.
I never had to use it to claim my quarter
from the guy in the black stetson.
I shot an okay game, but
I was just so hot.

Now I work with computers
I can't drink beer
and I go to bed at ten.
There are no coyotes here
my cue stick stands
warped in a closet.

I still have my name belt though.
It's handmade too, the deep hand-tooled roses
tinted a dusty red.
Backed in gold suede, backstitched white
my name carved in bas relief across the back
my initials in the tongue.


This poem is a kind of bhavana, bringing me back home to horses and sweat and who knew the desert sand boots would become the real desert sand of the Sonoran desert?

Old Poems New Again: Jaguar


You admire the black beast
her casual violence
her indolent yawn

Her ballast to the hunt
a life its own
a softly sinuous scimitar

You long to stroke her
to feel the incandescence
caress the patterned iridescence

You inhale from the pink maw
the rich and heavy breath
redolent with the scent of the eternal

You stare into her eyes
those golden flecks
those ancient regimes
surround the welcome dark
of the unredeemed.