Category Archives: yoga therapy

What is the Feminine Side of Yoga?

It was the 80s in Southern California and I’d wandered into a well attended yoga class at a local gym. The teacher was a woman.

She approached me purposefully as class let out and asked, “What do you think about doing yoga from a more feminine side?

WHAT!

It took about three decades to answer that question.

Yoga was interesting though I can’t remember why I thought so at the time. Mostly I was curious. When I was younger yoga wasn’t even an organized thing.

Dance was the thing I liked. Long ago in New York there was Haitian dance that fed my soul and also a modern movement class that fed my ego.

That class was a disciplined method. Precise. A purposeful brain teaser.Haitian was the opposite.

Lose your mind. Complete freedom within the form.

Wild animal wondrous Voodoo magic, fierce, graceful,bewitching, athletic and feminine at once.

I moved between the fancy Upper West Side studio graced by the city’s elite to a condemned building on the lower East Side where I stood out among people of different color and cultures. Upper West Side ~ pop music, Lower East Side ~ live percussion. Polished wood to worn wood, view of Central Park to pathway through the homeless.

I lived a double life or even a quadruple one but no one ever picked me out for being wrong or a slacker. Or a guy.

Years and years later, I am sitting with a psychic. I’ve met several over the course of this life. Why would I go? People I believed in believed in them. Simple. And compelling.

Like others, she refers to a spirit guide who is appears to be mine. She says, he is telling me…..

He?

Oh yes. He. You are entirely male.

What!

Your guides are only masculine.

I recall the first psychic I met in NY in my twenties. She was a Channel. She kept saying, he and she said, he’s calling you darling. I’ve never heard him call anyone darling before.

You know?

Well I don’t but I never disbelieve anything until it’s proven impossible and so.

The weather turned suddenly cold in Nashville. I’m beginning a yoga class as I remember a description of bones being yin… dry and cold. The organs are yang. Heat.

To balance the brittle in our bones we begin to move from the front and depth of the organs and blood.

The spine is felt in the back body, the intuitive body, the receiving body. We take a moment to notice.

We will not harden what is already hard. We will move from the front body which is the way the nervous system works anyway and let the receptors in back be calm and gentle.

I realize even as I teach them that most of the yoga I’ve studied has focused on bones. Most of the tension I’ve felt is the feeling of spine and sacrum. So much attention there had hardened me.

And before I even saturated my life with yoga? Why did that teacher recognize the masculine in me?

I reckon that the reason I was drawn to Iyengar Yoga was the reason I persevered through the first dance class mentioned here. It demanded absolute perfection and attention to detail that was familiar. That environment would emerge in me later characterized by personal eccentricity. There was a militaristic quality that I was sort of used to as a kid. Structure and alignment for sanity.

Anyone who knows me would be shocked by that. Because I grew up in a loving home, given all one could hope for including scads of freedom. And more so, I was a recalcitrant. I ran wild and against the grain. But there’s a kind of OCD thing that runs through my mother’s family of overachievers that stealthily bled into me.

I am telling you a story that speaks to the unfolding of yoga that makes it ever interesting. It portrays our experience of ourselves as fluid. It is a shape shifter, an enabler, a shrink, coach, parent and child.

So what is the feminine side of yoga? It’s the folding and unfolding and relationship of organ to organ. It is core strength born from breath that bone follows but does not initiate. It is bone as the structure and the interior as home.

It is home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ask Alice How She Feels Right Now.

EAT  ME

 

My body is sensitive to drugs, to food, to thoughts and so is yours but you may not notice. So many of us have trained ourselves or been trained to disassociate from discomfort that when asked how we feel we have no words. Perhaps we realize we feel nothing but confusion. It’s a modern malady. But then in an industrial world resting or too much self care is viewed as self indulgent or weak.

 

I took CBD* oil (Phytocannabinoid Diol)combined with other hemp plant compounds for joint pain and began to notice I was mellow in the way I felt after yoga and bodywork.  I hadn’t realized how anxious I’d become. The nation is suffering from the effects of the last election and maybe that’s it but yoga wasn’t fixing it except for moments.

 

We live in a garden of plants that support the health and longevity of our human bodies. The fountain of youth is a dream or nightmare but there is some basis to believing in its existence.

Though I primarily use plants for medicine, this plant provided me a lesson in personal power. It is challenging to regulate how much I need of it day to day or even hour to hour by how I feel. In a world where even we yogis hand over the power to a doctor when our bodies concern and confuse us, this substance requires you to FEEL in order to self-regulate. This creates a healthy dynamic in the relationship between doctor and patient. This is personal power beyond moving the body or centering the mind without sickness. While I am a patient that goes to a doctor armed with information, I still have doubt about what does and does not work in many circumstances. The use of this oil demands I trust myself. (I am compelled to issue a disclaimer that if a person needs help and does not have the ability to self regulate, a doctor’s advice is essential.)

 

This is both yoga and beyond yoga where yoga binds consciousness to spirit and matter using the body as the vehicle. That vehicle is an energy system in a state of

Flux,

Imbalance,

Movement,

Motion,

Change,

IMPERMANENCE.

 

When we become sensitive to our bodies,

When we become intimate with ourselves in relation to other,

When we are able to sharpen our attention to choose happiness,

We may find ourselves living in yoga.

 

 

*CBD is a molecule in the hemp plant whose cannabinoid system like cannabis supports human receptors in the brain and body called endocannabinoid receptors. The plant and we share a genetic code in some way.

Please do not run out and buy CBD. Hemp is not very absorbable and you will waste your money if the product does not have a carrier for the blood system. Also, make sure you get a product where every batch is tested at a reliable lab. Organic does not mean clean.

 

 

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Stories From the Tunnel or the Rise of the Yoga Professional

A coffee cup in my waking hand, I invite newscasters into the kitchen. Some stories bear repeating if you’re a person, with a mind, on the planet. Stories of the life are a teacher’s palette. Modern life is a tunnel that provides quick passage. These are news stories from the tunnel. Inherent in the problems are glimpses of light. Those are reflections from your own story.

One is on sleep. One is on noise. One is on work.

Sleep

is a precious and finite commodity. Without it you are functionally disabled. Since your sleep debt is a nation’s decreased productivity, it is a national crisis. Someone has written an interactive book for parents to read to their children to help them both relax. It is a form of yoga nidra. It is not too early to teach a human to unwind.

Makes sense when you put a cell phone and video pad in hands as soon as eyes can see and hands can hold.

Noise

comforts the lonesome. Henceforth, a restaurateur in Manhattan has construed that the perfect dining experience is also a financial win when the restaurant is stripped to bare floors, walls and ceilings. He turns up the music. You must scream to be heard. Now it’s a big party. Lonely souls wander in. Everyone is a party guest. The playing field is level.

I went to such a restaurant in Manhattan this week. The noise was an assault. STUPID is the only way to describe it. The waitress screamed the menu. I held my hands to my ears to stave off anxiety. There was no digesting that food. It was a pricey battlefield.

Though I was in bed at an unusually late hour I had to read that night to unwind. It was not a book to hypnotize me to sleep but it did the trick nevertheless. But the problem isn’t falling asleep when you’re tired; it’s staying asleep when your mind is just dimmed like the lights. Then noise is no memory but patterned in a brain that cannot decipher day from night.

Dress Code

at a Silicon Valley tech company is non-existent. Millennials ride scooters around artsy work modules surrounded by community play areas with ping pong tables and random games. They wear play clothes. It looks like kindergarten for grown-ups. Adultgarten. It looks like fun and it has to be because the CEO says work never ends even when they go home. This is wholly accepted.

Do they prowl the hip stripped dining scene to feel connected when they leave that office? Is it weird to be free? Is there always one eye wandering to the cell for messages? I wonder how they sleep at night. Maybe they nap like wild creatures when the need hits. Maybe they can sleep with the full light of day on their faces, ear buds piping music to the brain, fully clothed in jammy clothes.

Yoga is medicine for man mad illness. We require more waking hours to undo ourselves. We need more hours to take the cure for sleep, social pressures or work. Yoga class is purposeful rest, music/dance ritual and work as play. Maybe that explains the rise of the yoga teaching profession. Is it a panacea for the disenfranchised? Perhaps I have buried the lead: Explaining the Rise of the Yoga Professional.

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Robocaller in Your Head

Robots hacked your home phone. You know, that old clunker nailed to wall that you keep for the last touch of we’re a family here. You keep it for your mother and you keep it for midnight emergencies next to your head in the bed. It’s got a virus called robocall.

woman on phone

It’s the automated voice in your head that beats you down by repeating the same things over and over even though you’re not buying, even though you will never close that deal. It doesn’t respect your busy day or your need for dreamless sleep. It’s the ring of a new world, the world which agrees that it’s fine to call anyone at any hour for any reason. It’s the ring of limitless which you thought was freedom but is someone else’s freedom to imprison you. That someone else is you.

You could press #1 to take yourself off the list but you don’t because you’re afraid you might miss something. You’re a hoarder.

“We rarely hear the inward music

But we’re all dancing to it nevertheless.” ~ Rumi

You don’t notice that the words to the song or jingles contain some lyrics of your stuck life. You don’t recognize that repetitive ruminations abide because you don’t confront them.

You have to pick up to take yourself off the list. You have to agree to not be called again. You have to know what is valuable and what should be thrown away.

Be still. Have a seat or lie down with yourself. Robocaller is waiting and ready. It knows when you are home. Pick up and listen. Why were you marked for this call? Robocaller has your number. Do you? Think about the incoming message. If you don’t need to hear it again press a key and get off the list.

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Music and the Bomb Shelter of Your Heart

Thanks to my failed relationship to all things virtual connection, I had lost much of my cherished music in a wrong attempt to switch I-tunes to my new computer. In the resulting fit of pique in I had foregone music in class for the better part of a year and turned to my left brain teaching mode but I need music tonight so I plug this vintage I-pod in knowing that what will or will not play is a mystery.

I’ve got a play list running that had been shot full of holes in the firestorm. Tonight I’m checking this out to see if something destroyed has been impossibly recently resuscitated by my I.T. guy. I’ve desperately missed conducting movement to music which was lost in tandem by my crapped out hip and my crapped out I-pod. The students trickle in. I decide to let untested music ride as class begins.

As we settle down it’s apparent that the song playing is a bit intense. The list is called Alternative. It was arranged to tear your salty heart from a bomb shelter and restore it honey dripping to an emerald cave.

“Hello friends. I’m running a questionable play list which is an interesting choice right here as I don’t remember what’s on it and I don’t know most of you. Music is personal. Something here might urge you to run screaming from the room. I want you to do this (hand raised) if a song makes you nuts and I will cut it off. If you agree, we’ll continue this experiment together. I hope it serves you well.”

A room of faces unanimously smiles. So that’s that. Thanks guys.

I match the class to the intensity of the lyrics. This is my wheel house. It’s what got me on the map so to speak. I’m here too many years teaching and too many years on this earth to be accused of baseless vanity. The rust falls off the wheels. The list seems intact and it appears to be lifting the level of concentration, fueling hearts. An hour later the track is still uninterrupted. It seems the hour plus play list has indeed reappeared intact. The music seems to agree to follow the now downward flow of the yoga class though I can’t be sure.

Notice where the attention is drawn, I ask them as they enter savasana. What does at tension depict in the muscles and mind? I ask them to describe sensation and thoughts with silent words until there are no more. I tell them that these are the places and ruminations crying out to be noticed.

By the noticing they calm and shift.

Ed Sheeran has begun to sing, “Give Me Love. The class is well into the work of savasana when the volume rises and the song takes a dangerous turn. Lyrics screech a repetitive desperate demand.

LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME!!!!!

The calm is assaulted. This invasion has torpedoes aimed for the heart. It will test the student’s nerves. I rush across the long room to turn it down even as it’s coming apart, winding out from the tantrum to murmer; m-my my, m- my my, m-my, my oh give me love,lover.

Damn! “Give Me Love” just delivered the gist of my directions though I didn’t consciously plan it or the in- your- face full frontal. Not a likely vehicle for savasana, it was nevertheless powerful. I closed with a lesson offered there.

You cannot avoid pain by ignoring it. It will continue to knock on your door or climb in your window when you ignore the door or finally blow the roof off if you lock the window. Discomfort is comforted by the act of seeing it and that is an act of self love. Give all the words you have to all the ways you feel with abandon to let your SELF know you are listening.

Here’s a lesson to help you listen in savasana.

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Taylor Swift P.T.S.D.

My old trainer friend Johnny teaches a spin class on Sundays at Vanderbilt. He’s crazy for Taylor Swift and keeps her coming on every play list. Johnny assures the class that at sixty some years of age he has no Taylor poster on his wall but he’s a fan of course because Nashville’s girl’s got chops.

Taylor+Swift+Taylor+Swift+Performs+Free+Show+k3-YU-5EFnAl

Though I taught a brief and admirable experiment of spinning/yoga when the first spin bikes arrived at the fitness place where Johnny and I worked twenty some years ago, I haven’t been on a bike of any kind since my hip went south and refused to haul my leg over the bar on my sweet old Lotus ten-speed. She was my Manhattan chariot in the days when I was invincible and I’ve missed that miserable seat.

So it occurred to me a bit late in the game that I might get the muscle tone back in my hurt hip leg by taking a pass at spinning and by God the hip hasn’t complained.

I’m spinning in place and getting nowhere which is not an unusual feeling for me these days and Taylor is singing “Out of the Woods”… hey are we out of woods yet out of the woods yet out of the woods yet, are we in the clear yet are in the clear yet are we in the clear yet and she’s breathlessly singing “Shake it Off” I’m just gonna shake shake shake shake shake shake and it’s gonna be alright and she’s singing “Red” burning red remembering him comes in flashbacks. I’m getting a hint of P.T.S.D., me going nowhere and Taylor pop chanting edge walking rants.

I’ve read that an animal freezes when frightened and doesn’t finish processing the trauma until it shakes. Until it shakes it off. I’m thinking of that, of being lost in the woods and once in the clear not even sure until someone assures me. I’m thinking of red and blasting ammunition and passion and heat.

I’m thinking of the veterans I will meet this week for our first yoga experience together. I know these lyrics will go through my head as lyrics go through my head asked for or not morning and night and in sleep even as I push them away. I will remember spinning as hard as I can which feels discouraging as I’m not as powerful as I remember. I will think of my friend who told me last night that he still has post Vietnam episodes. He’s on a list for a service dog.

Most of us have suffered trauma to some degree by the time we are teens. Not all traumas have long term effects. And some become part of our personality or persona. We may not recognize them or attempt to sort them out.

Today I spent 45 minutes on a spinning bike. I may have ridden nowhere but my mind rode into my work.

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Natural Medicine on Ice

Natural Medicine on Ice

Natural Medicine on Ice

 

It’s sleeting and raining and snowing.

Ice blankets the branches,

Turned pavement to treachery

This town is closed.

 

No cars pass this house.

Frozen bird feeders magnetize wildlife;

The scurry and flutter of creatures is all that moves under an icy downpour of sodden pellets.

 

My schedule is frozen and the promise of a day off is both exhilarating and nerve racking.

I’m not good at this.

The stillness reminds me that I’m exhausted and too restless to stay put

With projects I’d sooner leave in a rear view mirror.

 

My dog and I take tentative steps onto a dicey front porch.

I’m four layers deep, finished in an old ski jacket.

Despite the icy hill, we pick our way up the road’s shoulder

And head for the lake.

 

I slide backwards again and again down the slope that cuts to the lake road

And finally find footing in a swath of old leaves on the edge of the woods.

My husband has slipped my phone into a pocket worried that I’ll fall in a world of aloneness.

 

I recall a snowy mountain in my past

Three miles up and the road just a path

I’d climb home in darkness,

Moonlight on the snow

I’m used to the simple company of dogs in wilding times.

 

My husband persists

He reminds me that I have a failing hip

What if I fall?

 

Ha!

I’m shushing down the road like a pretend skater

Running without lifting my feet

That slide without slipping.

The woods are silent and I silently pray for no trespassers other than me.

Red and I

My co-conspirator pup’s white fur looks buttery next to this snow.

He matches my pace though he’s old and more into smelling the roses these days

So to speak

Like me.

 

Look at us,

I tell him.

Ten days ago you had abdominal surgery

And two nights ago, I could barely stand on two legs

The body is more than matter.

 

Under nature’s spell

Given the right time and place

Incapacity is not a word,

And without a form

No longer exists.

 

Unthawed on commencement

I return with my jacket covered in ice

With all that ailed me released by silence and silvered trees.

I am unfrozen.

 

 

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Feet to the Milk White Sky

Feet to the Milk White Sky

Feet to the Milk White Sky

 

Warm legs slip from tangled sheets at dawn

The shock of cold air is a sweet relief before it assails

 

Enfolded in fleece

I put the coffee kettle on

And head to the office to push this button for later

Set the day

 

Coffee steeping and my house sleeping

I slip off the robe, flip onto my head on the red living room rug and send my feet to the ceiling

A forest falls from a milk white sky

Spidery black branches are pen and ink paintings on the emptiness

Cool air caresses skin warmed too much too quickly despite the morning chill

 

Temperature control is random these days

Mine moody as the climate’s changes

Record highs, record lows

 

Upright again, the groundswell assaults me

THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON DOWN HERE

Chaos below with my head in the clouds

Infinite space with my feet in the air

 

Is it true the sky is falling?

Chicken Little!

Cautioned a cup- half- full mother to a nervous child

 

I learned to pull my work boots on

And pulled my head from the sand

To notice the beauty in chaos

To modestly wade knee deep and do what one does for love

It muffled the alarm that rings through my sleep

 

 

But should all fail and the sky fall

Uncharted at dawn by even the birds

I make peace with the milk white sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Superman Years: A Book Review

 

Artwork for book by Kathryn Adler

Artwork for book by Kathryn Adler

A toddler wearing a Superman cape pinned to his T-shirt walks ahead of me beside his mother down the lake road. The mother stoops to hear his running commentary. He marches proudly like Winnie the Pooh’s Christopher Robin, master of a universe provided by that mother. I wonder; is he healthy? Will he be happy? For how long will that mother’s heart be unbroken? An unseen observer, I feel an unspoken prayer that they can hold this moment for eternity.

 

I’m reminded of another mother whose son donned Superman’s protective cape as a toddler before anyone consciously realized he’d need all the protection heaven and earth could offer.

ty_at_age_of_diagnosis Linda B. book

Author Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares the experience of raising a child with Type I diabetes in a nakedly honest, deeply personal account titled The Superman Years. It begins with a dream.

 

I have studied dreams – my own and others – in my work in psychology for many years now, so it was not unusual for me to write down and reflect on the dream I had early in April 2000. In it, I took my diaper-clad son to a clinic, where a doctor told us “we” had diabetes. That was the end of the dream.”

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

 

In an equally concise and comprehensive one hundred and thirty- four double spaced pages Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares her ordeal of dealing with a child stricken with Type I diabetes. This is the extended hand of a woman who was sanctified by fear to find faith, unfamiliar strength and renewed purpose.

 

I began the book in the wee hours of dawn expecting it to put me back to sleep but I did not close it once until the last word was read. As I reluctantly turned the last page I realized that the author had somehow written a sweeping history though it involved just a few pivotal years in a family’s life whose drama centered round its youngest member. The book is a revelation of the terror and impossible exhaustion of raising a dangerously vulnerable child and the effect that has on the family. It is also a beacon of hope to any of us who are responsible for someone we love.

 

artwork by Kathryn Adler

artwork by Kathryn Adler

Here is a story of love; of the fragility of the family web, the challenges and victory of marital commitment under stress. She introduces the politics of medicine and educates the reader on the nature and specifics of diabetes. She describes instances of “the places that science cannot explain”; of communication in coma, of physical renewal through imagination and the potential of both waking and sleeping visions in a world apart from modern medicine. She introduces the perception of animals to loved ones. She describes how she found self- compassion and equanimity in crisis through yoga.

 

Isolation, fear, loss of power can become a prison that separates the inmate from light and love and faith. For a parent with an at risk child these are the elements of a living nightmare. In The Superman Years, Buzogany navigates her nightmare with selfless insight and unruffled compassion.

 

The book is divided into six chapters titled: Dreams, Coma, Powerlessness, Sleep Deprivation, Imagination, Seizure and Vision. Within these Buzogany relays intimate accounts of a life as it is unraveling in real time. Buzogany who is a psycho-therapist herself does not leave the reader depressed by a story of sorrow but buoyed up as by her example it is clear; we can help ourselves and we can help our loved ones despite sleep deprivation, spiritual exhaustion and insurmountable odds. Her account is a cool comforting hand on a furrowed brow.

 

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Whether you are looking for support and information as a caregiver or parent or you simply wish to read an engrossing autobiography, I cannot recommend this book enough. The covers are worn from reading and rereading and it has an honored place on the shelf where I keep my favorite books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She Moves In Mysterious Ways. It’s All Right.

Or Is It?

 

This pear is too pretty to eat but there’s an order to things

Fulfill your purpose or rot

So I do the thing that makes sense

To me

Kiss it

Take a picture, say goodbye and thank you

Cut it up and eat it covered with shiny flax seeds and sprinkled sprouted almonds

What would you do for love?

beautiful pear

 

I used to kiss my knees every time they rose to greet me in a yoga pose

Just a yoga teacher doing what came naturally and I taught them to do the same

I didn’t second guess myself

Some of you remember that

Would you do that for love?

 

I rode a wild horse through the woods that bolted and charged for the stable

Fearless friends raced to save me but that horse threw me hard as it could

I didn’t move for a long time

They thought I was dead

Bounced and bounced and still

I didn’t bother to get checked out

It made sense to me at the time

In hindsight, to you, it may sound foolish

You may be right

Or not

 

 

I took an untamed path down a ski slope and landed on my shoulder

My arm hung suspiciously behind me and refused to move in any way for many days

I didn’t bother anyone about it

Which made sense to me at the time

I was young and wild

I didn’t noticed that shoulder was wrong till a yoga pose brought it to light

But it didn’t really bother me for almost 40 years

Till a foolish yoga teacher brought me down

 

I hold the pose called mountain

Eyes closed I notice I’m not standing on my bones

My muscles are doing the bone’s job and I’m getting exhausted just standing here

I lack the grace that is balance

How long has this been going on?

 

I think of the poses that aren’t in this plane

You know, the cockeyed ones, the twisty ones, the ones that turn part of your pelvis forward and part of it back

I wonder what’s happening to my spine and am I standing on my bones or are my muscles being used badly

What would you do?

 

I want to live a fearless life, like you.

I won’t know the consequences till I make the action

Your body is not mine

You may suggest something to me but you don’t know for sure

I may suggest something to you in your wild life

But you may not listen

Here in zero gravity we are trying to hold on and we are hoping to let go and we never know for certain what will happen before we jump

 

You are a mysterious person, doing mysterious things

Like motherhood

Every child different and you don’t know how to be but there’s an order to things

You do what you think best so they don’t go bad

You are trying to affect energy you’ve never seen before

It moves in mysterious ways

You will become energy you have never been before

It moves you in mysterious ways

 

We are all kin and sometimes I am the mother and sometimes the child

In all ways the student and mostly the teacher

But no matter

Mystery is when you don’t know the outcome

What would you do?

 

This pear is too pretty to eat but there’s an order to things

Fulfill your purpose or rot

What would you do for love?

rob lindsay photo, roblindsaypictures.comP.S. When my husband Rob Lindsay takes a picture of something he loves, he turns it into art. 🙂

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