Tag Archives: Hilary LIndsay Nashville yoga

Messages From Your Mother

 

My friend’s kid got roofied at a bar in Santa Monica on Halloween. She spent the night in the E.R. I told my mother who snapped,

“What was she doing in a bar? Girls don’t go to bars to stay out of trouble!”

“WHAT!” She’s a quiet girl, a delicate girl who mostly stays home with her dog and worries about everything. I ask my mother why she isn’t supposed to go to a bar and why it’s her fault someone put something in her drink.  She was having a glass of wine with a girlfriend. They were in costumes to celebrate Halloween. Did they have to stay home in Burkas?   “She should have known better says my mother. Everyone knows what people are doing these days. It’s all over the news.”

This is the attitude of someone born in an era when men were in charge and women were taught to use female skills to manipulate, deflect and manage them. My mother was taught that men will be men and it is a women’s job to be smart enough to navigate that world. It was a weird combination of male worship and a testament to women’s superior wit

Why were men worshiped? Because they had the power.  Men have been in power since God was declared a man.

In a pre-feminist world where the men were in power, a smart woman would be wise to tether herself to one of them like a lobster crate to a buoy. Getting that man was a competitive field and more than that; every women knew what another woman was capable of because all women were taught to be manipulative. Women were taught implicitly or directly that worth was tied to seduction and seduction was a competitive art. The enemy wasn’t an aggressive man. Aggression in men indicated courage. The enemy was the siren who was after him when you’d already planted your flag.  That woman’s aggression made her a hussy.

That was the case in the socio-economic metropolitan New York I was raised in.  Things may have been different in diverse cultures around this country but I doubt there wasn’t some provocation for women to sharpen their  skills.

Here in Nashville Bible Belt values aren’t exclusively chauvinistic I guess but many faiths are a memorandum to women to please and place their men first. If you really believe it is God’s will won’t you resent the woman who tows another line?  I mean that woman could be trouble.

Even sister wives fight for the head seat at the polygamist husband’s table. Being favorite is fleeting and you don’t get a say but an ambitious sister wife isn’t going to roll over so fast.

On the other hand, a friend who describes her family as Appalachian American tells me that the women did all the work and the men were shiftless. There was no competition among women to win a man. Who would want one?

Me too applies to most women to some extent. Most women have had men prevail upon them at least once in a way that was unsavory.  On the other hand almost every woman I know has purposely made herself attractive to get the attention of men. I remember the first time I realized that no man even glanced at me as I crossed the room and I felt like part of me had died. I was no longer desirable. And then what was I? I am aware that even though my husband loves me and probably will forever that he has been proud of having a woman who turned men’s heads. Will I seem less valuable?

 

Women stronger than me, women who run the world, no nonsense women will say you are as valuable as you believe. Your worth is not defined by others.  Well, yes and no. Personally, no, my worth is not defined by you. But in the marketplace hire me world where we are selling ourselves for profit so to speak………

Oh I can hear the gasps of horror but tell me this. Why did the women who hated Hillary scream, “How dare she” when clearly Trump was a hundred times more a criminal than she could ever be.

How dare she

And then they’d go after her pants suits. 

You know what that sentiment indicates?  It indicates a competitive bias as if life is a game of duck duck goose and some woman is not going to have a chair and it’s not going to be you. It’s a sense of paucity. How dare she think she can get to the head of the line? We’re not even in the line why should she be? Who does she think she is?!

 

It is perhaps jealousy. We know our places who does she think she is.  To some extent sexism. She’s a conniving manipulator. But Trump the man who made a fortune as such, who stole and preyed on the poor and bragged about prevailing on a system that let others take the fall for his greedy mistakes? Nope, no how dare he for Trump. He is Trump. She is Hillary. See?

Why?

He’s a man doing what men do.  He’s a fighter and a fighter is a hero and a fighting woman is a screamer.

What woman has not been accused of screaming at a man when speaking emphatically to a man who is screaming his head off?

But men have been allowed to be bullies and bosses since God was declared a man and it’s time they were called on that. That’s more than sexual transgressions. It’s a transgression of power.

Sexuality and attractiveness play a huge part of our market value. There are calls for change and from my industry there are plenty but look at the yoga community. Even the damn Yoga Journal couldn’t keep up its attempt to be a beacon of change by celebrating “regular” bodies. Back to the bendy babes because people want to buy a promise of the future that is better than their present.  In a buyer’s world where magazine pictures are for the imagination more than reality it makes sense that there are only a sprinkle of average bodies to placate the P.C. police. And just shoot me but I don’t really give a damn because I don’t expect us all to wear olive green uniforms and greet one another as comrade. That’s not in this country’s DNA. I think our mission it to disabuse the abusers of their right to abuse the power of the louder or the luckier or the most ambitious.

In a country where continuous “progress” is the goal, even the human body is expected to step it up and up and up. It’s not my dream. Was it dreamed of by men only? Capitalism? I wonder. Is that entrepreneurial spirit also the spirit that qualifies us and frightens us that we will be left behind? Is that responsible for men’s power over women?

 

We are not the same. We will be assessed and even willfully suspending judgment we will be judged. Men and women will hopefully not be the same but preserve the best of our differences for a glorious attraction, a synchronized dance to prolong the species.

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I’m here in an upscale resort. La Costa has been the home of the well tanned and well healed for decades which now includes the douche bag poser Deepak Chopra who’s made his yoga center here.

I come to see my folks whose home is on the grounds adjacent. They keep a membership to the place so I make use of the fitness center. I don’t generally enjoy other people’s yoga classes so I disregard the wealth of yoga offerings and spin instead as Toli, the Greek god of a spin coach brings playlists of dance trance mash ups that give an hour of sweat and effort purpose.

 

He’s talking to a member when I walk in and hear, “I’m sick of all this political correctness. Men are dogs. We’ll always be dogs. We’re animals. Look at nature. You can’t change nature and women are who they are too.” I stick my nose in like an uninvited puppy and notice the irony.

But we’re not animals, we’re people, I say. No difference, he counters.

 

There is difference of course and other than facts of specific limitations of species I can say with certainty that the thing that separates us is manners. And I in fact have taught my dog manners as well.

Manners are a funny thing, perceived as stuffy and superficial now by many but I was raised and continue to believe that manners are kindness. Manners are respect. Manners mean self control and concern for others. Manners require sensitivity. Slow down passing someone walking a dog. Don’t use your cell phone when you’re with other people. Return phone calls. Purposefully show appreciation. Hold the door for the next person. Use your blinker. Make way for other cars on the road. Ask me if I’d like some of what you’re having and offer a drink to the guy working outside your house on a hot day. Elbows off the table? O.K., so what. Leave the toilet seat up? Hell no.

And you don’t get to act like an ape in heat when you feel like it. You manage that shit. Manners are management.

But it’s not all on men.

I’ve come to the class again. It’s a different group today. All women.  All middle aged women who seem to know each other and they know Toli too.

He takes his sweat shirt off as class begins and the women confirm their approval with cat calls. They carry on for much of the class in what you’d call innocent flirting but it’s kind of obnoxious. He doesn’t seem to mind. Then the door opens and a woman rushes in with a mad grin on her face. I have seen her do this before. It’s her thing.  Hard stocky muscles strain her lycra costume to its breaking point. She could offer any one of the bird like women on the bikes half her bottom and have plenty left. She’s aping a hip hop routine to the pounding music flinging her ass in Toli’s face like Angel Food McSpade to Mr. Natural.

She looks like a woman you’d never notice among the pickup line moms, the woman ignored by the clique who talks loudly and constantly anyway in her attempt to be noticed.  The aerobics teacher from the studio she escaped from rushes in and hauls her out. She’s dancing all the while. (I am a writer and my job is description. Don’t discredit me for the above unless you want a world where people go unnoticed just to avoid harsh depiction.)

Class is winding down and Toli trades the rave music for a slow soul George Michaels. “I’m never gonna dance again, guilty feet ain’t got no rhythm.

 

“OOOOOOh  Toli,you want to make out?”  They all giggle and join in the jeers. I picture crows baiting a hawk.

So what’s going on with women?  Is this the new female bonding?  I don’t trust it. Is the power of women the sorrow of feminism gone awry? Because feminism was a wake up call for both women and men but there were some short sighted back fires as is natural in any effort of collaboration of a body greater than one.

 

For years women didn’t speak out because they were as afraid of being attacked by other women as they were of being dismissed by the men. You might be familiar with the term slut shaming. Those oppressed have a history of siding with the oppressor over the victim if they think it will save them. It’s not all and not always but we’ve seen that side of our humanity made famous by Nazi collaborators.

Adherence to fascism continues today in other regimes and one can see it clearly in the present by studying the forgotten American who stands by Trump.  And of course that’s not just the “weaker sex”. It’s the weaker mind. Look at the Republican lapdogs that are an example of the coward crawling under the shrouds of the totalitarian to save their skins. Still, they are mostly men and the men still rule the nation and what woman feels powerful enough to fight that alone? Better to stand with the powerful.

 

Many of Trump’s followers are women who hated another woman so much they threw in with the guy who got drunk, fucked them on a one night stand and then pretended he didn’t know them when he saw them on the street.  Yes, that’s Trump, the entitled celebrity pussy grabber, the guy bringing back Christmas.

 

A common behavior of abused dogs is to crawl into the lap of the perpetrator in an effort to win favor. It’s a trait humans share. Enter Omarosa.

A woman who considered herself no one’s lap dog fell at the feet of the man she possessively called Donald when others called him Mr. Trump.  Omarosa was relegated to presidential pit bull after displaying, stanch loyalty and a sociopathic level of ruthlessness in his show The Apprentice. She was a symbol of the worst qualities of the “weaker sex”. There was no one she wouldn’t destroy to make her way to the feet of the dictator. I watched that show the season she was on and my interest in low brow television as I’ve told you before makes me a reliable source for sociological studies on the worst of us.

 

I don’t know what messages mothers are sending these days. Our kids have grown up online. They are depressed and neurotic. Relationships have new rules for many of them, modern rules.  I don’t think there is a real clear idea of what a man should be to a woman or a woman to a man. The lines are blurred and maybe that was the idea.

My sons are in their late twenties. They tell me that most women don’t ask them out but wait to be asked. They say they like a confident woman who isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants. They aren’t intimidated by someone making a good living and they like the small percent of girls who take the initiative. They tell me these are the girls who might be considered hippies and feminists. My oldest tells me that women he meets don’t seem capable of loving relationships because they don’t believe they are worthy of love. They are then suspicious of anyone loving them. After all, it’s got to be insincere. What messages are girls getting today that makes them feel so unworthy?

 

How should a girl, a woman act? How will she trust anything in this power worshiping world?  Will she go from one called victim to one called bitch? What would I tell a daughter? There’s always a game whether you realize it or not, whether you want that or not. Life is a series of calculations and relationships in which you are only in charge of your part. Find good friends and be a good friend. As for the mate she looks for? She needs a hero. And so does her man.

 

 

 

 

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Downwind From the Crematorium

It flows from the top. Rogue winds carry the stench of decay. Trolls climbed on willing shoulders to the once hallowed house on the hill.  Now shoulders bow under the weight of our missteps. Some minds blown and others twisted.  Handcuff the free press. Release the free radicals. Banish charity. Dishonor agreements. Taunt, flaunt, violate. Ceaseless cycles of venomous discharge desecrate, devastate ravage and rage against the fabric of our country. That fabric that was flammable, flawed and fragile is being shredded and replaced with funereal shrouds.

Layla my dog and I head down the fire road toward the farm.

What’s that smell in the air? Chemical? Decay? The death of the E.P.A.?

Here at the Agricultural Center a group of four unlikely like-minded women from different worlds walk, talk and run their best buddy dogs. An unpleasant smell dismays me on this otherwise fine first crisp and dewy day of autumn as Layla and I round the lower field waiting for the others to show.

I smell disaster.

Bouncing between sleepless nights and stressful days, for the second time I’ve got symptoms of flu that disappear after a final collapse into a night of exhausted surrendered sleep.

It’s a virus that’s going around. Like wild fires, floods and opiates.  Warning bells toll in the ether. The force shields are down. We are subject to invasion.

Glenanne arrives with her dog Lucy. Christine is behind her with Chelsea. They want to walk the fire road I just came from. “There’s a weird really strong smell down there”, I tell them. I don’t want to go back.

Glenanne tells us the little red brick building down there is a crematorium for road kill. It’s not public knowledge. Carnage quietly turns to ashes under the ancient oaks amid serene white domed wooden barns and meeting halls. Moms gather to exercise, babies on backs and in strollers. Visitors amble among slave quarters and along paths beside the idyllic horse pasture that houses the police force’s tremendous and gentle beasts.

The surface is serene but listen to us as the dogs play and witness the rumbling underground.

We are all downwind from the crematorium.  The stink comes from the rotting head of a once youthful body that declared itself open minded, open hearted and democratic. It is clearly corrupted. It stinks.

On the other hand, under the oaks a group of friends share the rhythm of a turning season. There is a hint of new in the air. Change is always there and change cleanses the past. History is absolute but our impressions and focus shift. Rumbling leads to action. Action leads to change.

Here downwind from the crematorium, I smell decay but above me a lone hawk soars like a Phoenix.

 

 

 

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Stupid, Useless, Guilty! A Tribute.

My friend died.  I hadn’t seen her in awhile as we travel in different directions most of the time. She had spent much of the last years caring for her sick mother and sister a few hours away in Birmingham.

I took a too rare trip to my yoga home a few months ago and she was there.

“It’s been too long, how are you?”

“I just found out I have stage four cancer! Can you believe it?” She waved her hand over herself. “Me!”

She didn’t whisper as people with horrific news often do. She shouted it out as if to dispel it by force. We are all friends there after all.

She was astonished by the possibility of a clean life fostering that disease. She is a calm and capable and happy woman. She teaches restorative yoga and heals students with singing bowls. She is a painter, an artist who lives an artful life. Who lived an artful life.

She had digestive issues and found there was cancer there that had metastasized. She felt so fine I think she believed she would denounce that cancer and send it running. I believed that.

She suffered through chemotherapy, lost her hair, kept going to the studio and kept teaching her own classes. Her hair grew back. She had another art show.  She had departed from her signature work to something more formed, brighter and simpler. She offered a spread of the same favorite foods she always served. Other than the show being in her yoga studio rather than the usual gallery, all seemed status quo. She was lively, resplendent.  I thought she was mending.

A month or so went by that we didn’t cross paths again.

I got the news by a group mailing. At first it seemed untrue. Surely I would have known a different way. She and I had shared yoga time and painting time and healing time together. My bookmarks are all the birthday cards she made me over the years.

She had been on my mind daily as it’s the Jewish holidays and she is an observant Jew, one of my few Jewish friends who feel what I feel right now. This is a heavy holiday as it heralds a week of reflection and forgiveness. I can’t say why I felt it portend to something heavy with her but I did. She died on the Jewish New Year.

I chanted all I could remember of Yizkor, the Mourner’s Kaddish for the dead. Yizkor means remember. I lit a candle beside a wool basket she had made me filled with her signature painted sculptures.

I called a friend who was her student to tell him. He already knew.

I said, I don’t know what to do. I feel stupid and useless and guilty.

Chris, always a wise guy said, hey that’s a great hook for your business card.  

I was grateful for the laugh.

And the perspective.

I have the flu. I thought I was past it but a night of grief and memories left my lungs with lead weights and a brain sodden and spongy. I will blame my self deprecation on that.

I am not stupid or useless. And maybe I’m guilty of not living a life as full of potential as she did and as she saw in me. And maybe I was guilty of believing she would live and not sending her flowers or cards as I did my last friend that died in a similar way. I had a heads up with that friend that she was not for this world. I had heard Kaaren was challenged again but I knew she was still teaching and wrongly assumed she would go on.

It’s still hot in Nashville. There’s a dry breeze in the slowly dying trees that tells us things have changed despite the temperature.

I slowly walk my dogs on fully stretched leashes. The puppy is pulling me forward. The elderly dog holding me back. This feels like limbo and I note the irony of my observation.

So much more time is behind than before me. To move directionless is wasted time. It is a prison.

What could be crueler than to be a being conscious of your own inevitable demise? We are all on death row. We know the history of death. But all of nature screams keep moving and to scorn that is to scorn life itself.

When loved ones pass they leave us the gift of gratitude for each free breath. Yizkor also upholds that the soul gains additional merit if the memory of its, of her, good deeds spur loved ones to improve their ways.

Kaaren Hirschowitz Engel, you continue to inspire me as you always did. Though life ends, the legacy of you who nourished everyone you touched lives on with us.

May you rest in peace.

 

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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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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