Category Archives: Yoga History

Is Your Relationship to Your Fellow Man Making You Sick?

Five thirty A.M. the reporters at NPR assault me with the news of the deadliest mass shooting in our history. I am awake.

My tired mind forces a memory scan. Who do I know in Vegas this week? It seems just yesterday my friend Holly said she is going there for something. Shit. Was it this week?

Disaster comes upon disaster, one shoved down as the other surfaces coming with more and more frequency.  The Trump disaster overshadows all. Hope is slipping.

The webinar I watched on Alzheimer’s hits my frontal lobe. The doctor listed the places on earth called Blue Zones where people have the least medical issues including Alzheimer’s. In the U.S. there is one place. It is Loma Linda California. He says it is not any particular diet as much as a clean diet devoid of alcohol and smoking that keeps them healthy but there is more than that. There is community. Love and charity prevail not instigated by crisis but on a regular basis. It is the basis.

We cannot thrive on a daily diet of grief. The stress is killing us as fast as fast food, climate disasters and drug overdoses. Stress corrodes the brain.

We live in a war zone. We are at war with each other. We are at war with our President. We are at war with our own failings.

My husband notes on shooting a documentary about Trump supporters that the commonality is the question, what about me? He perceives an overarching narcissism that trumps empathy.

Put on your own oxygen mask before your children’s. Who doesn’t know that? You need to love yourself before you can love someone else. That’s common knowledge too, right? Charity begins at home. We are advised to look after ourselves in order to become. But how do we know what is too much charity and what is too much self interest.

After all, for true self interest we should be concerned as much with the people around us as ourselves. They are our environment. They are the fabric of our lives.

There is a social implication of controlling others or overwhelming them which is described in the yoga text, Yoga Sutras as bramacharya. This does not define dictatorship versus charity but allows us to consider staying in our own lane either way. However bramacharya does not stand alone. It co-exists with a call to kindness, generosity and contentment with oneself and one’s lot.

 Insecurity is the enemy.

Are we stuck between those that wonder what about us and those that worry what about me? Do we rail against what seems an extreme of one or the other? There is so much need for those outside our pack and also so much instinct to gather the loved ones and shut the door.

A Pakistani Muslim friend of mine daughter started kindergarten this year. She invited the class to her daughter’s birthday party and only a handful of people responded and came. She found out another girl whose invitations went out later had a party the same day and that’s where most of the class had gone. They hadn’t invited her daughter and they hadn’t responded to her invitation though the policy at school is for invites to go through the school and to everyone. My friend had an emotional crisis. Why was her daughter shunned? And then she got sicker than she’s ever been. She tells me it’s the flu and she felt like she was dying.

I write this because it seems a metaphor for all our sickness, this social disease. This dis-ease.     My friend is used to a strong community. She is an outsider here. What does this do to our bodies?

Today another person went off the rails and unloaded bullets into strangers. We don’t know why yet. There will be demands for better mental health screening, for gun control and for tightening up against terrorism if they find any links to a terrorist group outside the U.S. I doubt any of it will successfully happen.

Human beings need a chance to work a job that allows them to care for themselves and their children. We need to be educated. We need to eat and drink cleanly. We need to have fun. We need time to have fun. We need to live a life beyond survival. We need time and space to be charitable. We need friends and family who are not crazy to care about us. We need to feel secure.

Tech life allows us to find new avenues of isolation and rudeness.  The benefits of information at a fingertip seem small compared to the disruption of our social lives. There’s no turning back but there has to be some measure of discernment and that is the problem. There is no true north. That star there? It’s fake. It’s that easy to dismiss something that is accurate.

We are untethered. Fact has become opinion even to its face. There is no moral anchor. Where will it come from? I don’t know. I know for a student of yoga the moral restraints and observances as described in the Sutras is a useful checklist, as useful as any commandment from the bible.

If it seems I’m saying that yoga will save us think again. I know lots of morally bankrupt yoga folks. No one is exempt from hypocrisy. This is a think piece. I’m thinking out loud. Hope it gives you something to consider about yourself as it does for me. And if want to read the basis of modern yoga’s moral system, this is a good place to start. And by the way, I don’t know that it was written so much as a moral system as a way to manage personal energy so that me, myself and I can find peace within whatever situation I’m in. If it is a way of separation, it is at least a separation that leaves room for inclusion. Now go figure that riddle out.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under American culture, Healing, new age enlightenment, politcal action, social action, social commentary, yoga, yoga and blogging, yoga and politics, yoga and religion, Yoga History, Yoga philosophy, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

Samskara and the Witness: Yoga’s Value in the Time of Trump.

Samskaras are impressions that form our unconscious thoughts and actions.

Bramacharya is the tempering of excess.

 

I have a failing dog whose cries sound like a bird that has newly taken residence in my yard. He falls and the puppy runs in to tell me. Is it him or a bird? I jump up now when I hear the bird. I am confused and it’s corrupting my concentration. My impressions are nervous and exhausting. I recognize that something must change. My choices challenge me.

 

Obstruction of justice, Russia, agenda, fake news, collusion, credibility and incompetence represent the concepts that frame America this day of June 8th. James Comey, former FBI Director will be heard. The moon will be full. The pundits will interpret and Americans will take sides.

 

Here in Nashville, the city is teaming with tourists for Bonaroo and CMA week. Music fills the air. The town is charged with love for our hockey team the Nashville Predators who will compete for the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh tonight. They are my clients. Music is much of my moving life. I am not entirely distracted by politics today.  I throw my thrown gardener’s back into the mix. I am in pain so I’m already irritated. Just these things create a background for my impressions of the news today. This is a molecule of what informs my consciousness. The rest is my history. And yours.

 

I remember saluting the flag with pride. I remember a country that made me feel safe. I remember a mannered country even if it was only the surface. I remember feeling the grownups in charge would take care of me. But then I was raised kindly in a safe and privileged place by two grownups who are together 64 years today. I have an impression. I am loved and I love easily. I was raised by people who took care of those weaker or less fortunate. I believe in entitlements which I think is a horrible word for helping those less advantaged. I have traveled and felt the sameness of folks from different worlds. I embraced the alternative world of yoga and shunned the status quo as a young adult. It was a time that embraced that.

 

I know to listen to the opinions of people who think differently than I do because I am aware that my impressions color my views.  I admit to rage over what I perceive as deeply cynical or naïve views. I can barely stand to watch Fox news though my husband insists we do to understand what we’re dealing with. But I see obnoxious. And I know those people see MSNBC, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and the newspapers that once had the greatest gravitas the same way and worse.

 

How do we witness objectively? How do we begin to lose our impressions and be an unbiased jury?

 

We listen to the words out of people’s mouths without interpreters. We come from kindness to embrace all living creatures and this earth. We look for credible evidence which means it can be proved. We choose to withhold absolute opinion. If we’re lucky we feel what feels right according to the rules of right and wrong we learned at home, at worship houses, at school.  If we had none of that we look for something to trust. Something of love. Something of light.

 

In yoga we breathe gently with consciousness in rhythm with movement. We hold our attention to the sensations of the moments. We try to lift the cloud by being patient. We hone awareness. When confronted with truthful feelings we examine them. It’s not foolproof but it’s what yoga offers.

 

My impression is that both the words liberal and conservative are good in context. Liberal when it means generous. Conservative when restraint is called for to reign in incorrect generosity. That concept is covered in modern yoga as bramacharya.  Modern yoga philosophy recognizes the other factors that allow us to recognize bramacharya in our own lives.

 

This is not a tutorial on yoga. It is to say that yoga is needed more than ever in these days of confusion. When right and wrong is no longer absolute, when facts are called fake, when robots are manipulating our impressions for gain, it is imperative that we find a way home.

 

Author’s note: this is truly a blog post written quickly and as ….. an impression. :()

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under American culture, politcal action, social action, social commentary, yoga, yoga and politics, Yoga History, Yoga philosophy, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

We are Salesmen

It’s a new day.  So I open e-mail even though I don’t want to because that’s what responsible people do. I’m being sold. I’m braced for the assault. Buy this, think this, try this, help this, read this. If I put this rant on my site I am selling. If I put it on social media, I am marketing. Anyone with a Facebook account is a salesman.

 

This export/import business of social media sucks a lot of time. That’s why I see some friends less unless I make the effort. Some are lost in the bazaar. They are exporting and importing, trading with friends and strangers from solitary seats. It’s a fluid life without scheduled time so these things tend to run all over the day and night. The nature of man is to ingest and eliminate and so maybe this is a natural extension but me, I have indigestion.

 

I worked for a couple of yoga studios after I left mine. The yoga scene had shifted to what would be known as modern yoga though that had happened about a hundred years ago.

 

I was told it was my responsibility to promote my classes on social media. The only reason I’d gone to a studio was to avoid self promotion. It didn’t work out. Though I am a gregarious hostess, I am more a recluse than a joiner when it comes to strangers. I am not comfortable with a disingenuous life. The act of reaching out to strangers through a black hole befuddles me. On the other hand, I have no problem presenting my work as a resume to the world. Websites seem a logical solution.

 

So What’s in a Name?

It was the late 1900’s and an entrepreneurial client had bought a website company for a hobby. He wanted to build a website and insisted it be mine and demanded I create a name for my company which was only me and gave me a computer to boot despite my protests. I didn’t give a crap about a name so I picked Active Yoga since I was teaching a physically powerful class and I figured it gave the right impression and of course it started with the letter A so that had to be a plus in the now defunct phone book. It seemed like a lame name but there were no other yoga sites as far as I knew. Yoga people didn’t have websites so it didn’t matter what I called it. Famous last clueless thoughts…

 

That website was a day-glow mess and now my “brand” was out on the new world wide net so I enlisted the young web designer husband of one of my ballerina students to give me a professional make-over. I wanted something that read like a book. He wanted flash and sizzle. We argued. I told him my students wouldn’t even know how to engage a technical site. He told me, “Your students are stupid!”

 

I told him I wanted it to be a resume of my experience. He told me, “No one gives a shit about content. You will be the only one who will ever read it!” I told him that was fine.

Active Yoga_Inverse 450

In 2000 I added the domain name Rebel Yoga since that had become the unofficial title the students had given me but it was unusable in the South considering the Civil War and all. It was later the moniker of a couple of excellent yoga saleswomen from the East and fourteen years later I dumped it for a grand.

 

Active Yoga went through one more incarnation a few years ago so I could manage it myself. I leave it there for posterity though I’m told to add content every week to drive traffic. Driving traffic is a passionless activity for me so I don’t bother. Where a website was once marketing, it is now dead as a tome filed in the tombs of the library’s basement if you don’t sell it regularly.

 

Now we use our names for titles because we are our own brand. It makes perfect sense and why didn’t I think of this sooner? Every yoga teacher certainly alters the yoga they learned as it’s alchemized by individual perception. Of course my yoga is Hilary Lindsay Yoga. Why had I wished to presume anonymity when I was posting a website? I should have just shouted my name but then in those days before we became voyeurs, people valued privacy. Now I am HilaryLindsayYoga.com but it comes up as Active Yoga because like my husband’s last name, it has become me.

 

Look at the biggest salesman of all, Donald Trump! He has his name on everything and if it has his name you have an impression of it whether it’s clothes or meat or a tower or a golf course.

Trump

Despite the image of Trump, sales are not a bad thing.  How else would we know what is out there?  I’ve been sold so many things that improve my life and I’m grateful.

 

On the other hand, social media imitates a third world open market with hawkers trying to get each others attention. Like you, I am often bored, suspicious and exhausted by it. Like you, I am lucky when a good salesman catches my eye and fortunate when I recognize a fraud. What we ingest we must digest. That’s what I have to say about shopping and buying. We are all in sales unless we can live solitary lives not dependent on others. We pick what we can assimilate. No need to apologize unless you think you are the one who can change the nature of our economy to something better but don’t try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under American culture, new age enlightenment, politcal action, satire, social action, social commentary, yoga, yoga and blogging, yoga and politics, Yoga Class, Yoga History, Yoga philosophy, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

Sanders, Trump and Yoga

There is a murmur in the corner of the not so tiny yoga community about the state of affairs of yoga.

Bitchin Yoga always weighs in as vigorous claims interest her. For her, what was once surprising is not now. Age teaches. The state is adrift at the surface which is why she’s keen on learning high wire skills. Beneath the surface not much has changed.

_MG_3997_Radnor_Winter_Pond_6x9_small

Consider this in terms of this election year. An unsettling season of ferocity seems normal these days. What once seemed weird or alternative or unlikely now seems a solution as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump rise in the polls. Judgment of some kinds ceases as the Status Quo fails to deliver. Unconventional organizers ascend and division is clear.

The time is right for the once strange of yoga to increase in popularity, attract developers and further divide in these days of radical unrest and financial uncertainty.

Yoga practitioners with a pre-modern yoga history had little to distract us from the practice as it wasn’t tied to livelihood or even solutions to specific social problems. Modern yogis have a different experience to reckon with. Survival is paramount and so is unleashed creativity if they want to stay in what has become the game.

 

Yoga isn’t fringe anymore and “mindfulness” has pierced the commercial world. Yoga class as a *“mindful” exercise isn’t necessarily entirely different from a yoga classes twenty five years ago but as an increasing component of the public domain, it is presented differently. Now it is subject to regulations enforced by an outside source. That changes the flavor of things. The outside source used to be the first and second limb of yoga.

 

Before blogging there was a book on the state of yoga in America. Hearkening back to the chapter I wrote for that book, I still think that the first limbs of yoga are the key to the state of yoga and most things in America right now. Attraction or willful rebellion to those guiding principles of ethical restraints as well as the interpretation of those principles shapes the character of our choices. We are flailing wildly perhaps not realizing we are looking for direction. But we look for structure nonetheless.

 

To put it simply, the first limb describes the social offenses to avoid if one wants a peaceful life. The second limb describes the components of that life. In short, if you are doing the right thing you will sleep at night and want to take the next breath in the morning. But what is the right thing if not an opinion these days?

 

Look at the followers of Trump and Sanders and a yogi will notice that what looks like non-violence, honesty, lack of greed or gluttony and overstepping one’s power is not the same for everyone. Perception comes from individual experience of life. In fact there are a disturbing amount of stories of power abuse in yoga studios though the owners seem clueless. How interesting that a major goal of yoga is to break through this veil of perception to see truth.

 

What truth is has become one of the paramount questions of our time. Politicians tell their truths. It is different for each of them. They inform and influence the greater group. The group has shared truths. Some things become evident and absolute but often the case is not closed. This is the state of the yoga studio and teacher as well.

 

Discontentment’s fire fuels us and the West becomes a Wild West again. We will survive at all costs. We will sling guns where we want. We will break boundaries in relationship to all things whether it is sex, drugs, rules, racism and yes yoga. Political incorrectness has become correct. Survival comes first. When you open doors it is interesting to see who and how we choose to walk through them.

 

Is the yoga being taught now working? I’m sure it is working for some students because the interest in walking through a door that advertises illumination is to want that. So if the student keeps walking in and the teacher is at least conveying that yoga is the practice of self awareness or discipline or kindness then some yoga is being taught. Perhaps it is enough if the student recognizes there is work to do and because we are hard working people we can embrace that. We are the work we have to do. Perhaps that is the surface we want to scrape.

 

As for the financial survival of the teachers it is like other businesses today. The price of everything except salaries is going up. Perhaps that’s why so many teachers use yoga as their hobby or second business. Still, more people are putting hard earned cash into teacher training that won’t pay them back in much more than a brief education. There must be some pay off for them. That says to me their yoga experience has got them hooked, hopefully on more than ego. That’s not a bad thing.

 

It is a long time since I had a studio. I was lucky to be part of our local ballet company and my rent was cheap. I did not hire or fire. There were no Groupons and for that, there was no competition. We had punch cards and an honor system and a yoga family that lasted longer than the average attrition rate now. I am grateful beyond measure for that beautiful experience. I cannot say I know the state of yoga now but I know one thing for sure. It is a changing status while beneath the surface the seed of yoga is not.

 

*This is noted because I don’t like the use of the non- word mindfulness when thoughtful worked just fine. I used it here because it is part of yoga culture now.

4 Comments

Filed under American culture, Buddhism, new age enlightenment, politcal action, social action, social commentary, yoga, yoga and blogging, yoga and politics, yoga and religion, Yoga Class, Yoga History, Yoga philosophy, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

Beginner Yoga Class: Introductory Notes

runner on Moonlight

 

 

Why practice yoga?

We come into a world of endless possibilities like instruments without instructions. Our mechanisms are so advanced that it takes years to know how to implement them and a lifetime to refine them. Yoga is the instruction.

 

In yoga we begin with the body to organize ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. The first task is to get to know ourselves.

 

The body is the material we start with. It is touchable and concrete and we can identify with it. This is where we have the maximum opportunity for self examination.

 

The modern system of yoga is described in a text written about 18 centuries ago. It’s known as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In the simplest explanation it is a guide to self inquiry that results in liberation from distractions and a sense of freedom from the tedium of a restless mind. It is entirely self serving. Older systems of yoga speak to service in a different light. When the student is steady in the foundation of yoga she may find a purpose and skill in service.

 

The student is given guidelines to behavior. When these guidelines are applied to the physical practice of postures, the student can experience how the concepts of disallowing harm, arrogance, greediness, jealousy and gluttony feel in the body. Then the student has the choice to adjust his/her attitude toward herself in the posture. The body becomes a vehicle for reflection.

 

Beyond the body, these restraints not only free the student from a guilty conscience but lead to equanimity. This allows for emotional space. Then the student may become contemplative which results in a desire for further knowledge. It also leads to joy as the student sees herself as bigger than her body.

 

Another way to look at this is in terms of relationship. The experience of yoga is the experience of relationship between the student and herself. On a physical level it is the experience of muscle to bone, bone to bone, breath to bone and mind to breath. This will indirectly affect the relationships of the student to others as the student becomes more insightful.

 

 

Posture is practiced with vigor tempered with compassion so that effort is balanced with ease. Steady effort in yoga is done with modesty rather than bravura. It is intended to create the sensation of good space in strong bodies.

 

Born a survival/gratification machine, we first learn to move toward pleasure and security. Then we are instructed. We are taught to use the manual of morality. We are trained to use our minds and regulate our emotions. Our eyes are turned inward only so much as to direct them outward according to a boss.

 

We continue toward self awareness via the teaching of yoga. Beginning with the body, we endeavor to stop the noise of our minds so that we may come to know ourselves without bias.

 

 

Originally posted to the journal page of http://www.activeyoga.com

I thought bitchin needed some attention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under social commentary, yoga, Yoga Class, Yoga History, Yoga philosophy, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom