Tag Archives: yoga practice

Go Ask Alice Why Yoga Isn’t Enough.

“This one makes you taller and this one makes you smaller.”

 

I began this post a month ago and like many of my projects it went the wayside. It was a view on taking CBD oil and personal power. I learned something I want to share about that. I will make that a separate post to follow this.

 

I picked this up because Michael Stone the Buddhist teacher, yoga teacher, activist died suddenly. I knew him from his writing and from reading a manuscript that was an intimate look into the soul of the man through his ongoing correspondence with a friend. I could feel his broken heart. He was so smart, so clear and yet lost. It’s hard to explain. I never knew him but I felt like I got him. Maybe I recognized something I knew from myself. Maybe I’m not alone. He had thousands of followers and friends.

He was broken for the last time and in trying to put himself back together seemed to make a desperate choice to take a street drug. It killed him. He had bi-polar disorder and apparently had tried many avenues of treatment over the years to manage it.

 

I write this now because this morning I recalled my first friend in Nashville who was a yoga teacher of great skill and lineage. I remembered her shock when I told her I was getting a massage which I did a few times a year as a treat. She asked me how I could do yoga and not get bodywork as she did every week. I was surprised.  Although I taught and led strong classes I didn’t feel like I wanted bodywork. I didn’t need it. And I wondered why someone doing yoga was so needy for outside help. That circle of yogis engaged in a practice of psychotherapy as well. They were upturning stones for answers at a time I was not questioning much.  I was content.

 

I eventually got hurt which lead to compensation that took me down a rabbit warren I couldn’t retreat from. I understood the need for help. I couldn’t see myself objectively. I just felt pain.

 

That pain correlated to what I felt was the degradation of the practice of yoga in a place that had been the Holy Grail here in Nashville.

My physical pain became tied to emotional pain that never resolved except through acceptance which in my opinion is limited.

 

So I’m publishing this with a different bias. My thirty years of experience working with people through movement and yoga revealed that people come to yoga to be unbroken. Yes, they come to be fit but in my experience, in my classes even in the day they were pure power, I found hunters looking for sustenance.

It aggravates me to see the sea of mainstream conclusions written about yoga and meditation solving the human condition. I do both and I advocate both. Yoga and meditation make profound shifts in our consciousness toward awareness. I’m a fan of awareness but it’s not always pleasant and a person who is awake can also be hyper sensitive.  Sometimes yoga is not enough.

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Filed under Healing, meditation, new age enlightenment, politcal action, social action, social commentary, yoga, yoga and blogging, Yoga philosophy, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

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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Filed under American culture, nature, new age enlightenment, poetry, social commentary, Uncategorized, yoga, yoga and blogging, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga therapy, yoga wisdom

Body Sharing and the Prana Vayus

I Am a Very Small Animal

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 I was the Tennessee Titans yoga teacher. Defensive End Kevin Carter was one of my dear students. I got to spend some one on one time with him and I shared a secret born of Pokémon.

In Pokémon; a cartoon I watched with my children, the animals had special powers that shared their names and they would command them to service that could save the day in dire situations.

The Titans thought I had superpowers. My longtime Running Back client, Eddie George was quoted in the papers saying I was stronger than most of the guys on the team. Of course that wasn’t true but I knew what I had to harness for dire situations which is what I would consider many of the postures I had to demonstrate to teach. As Winnie the Pooh’s friend Piglet once described himself;  I am a very small animal.

I used my mind to fire muscles. Glute power; ON! Ankle power; GO! That’s how the Pokémons did it and it worked. When I had to perform on the 40 yard line before 50 men and their coaches and news cameras I didn’t have time to wobble. It wasn’t my yoga, just a picture for the others.

I watch the show Sunday Morning. A confessed multi-tasker, I do my Sunday practice watching that show because I have three hours before I go to work and six hours of stuff I want to accomplish. And I love that show because it’s information about wonderful things that people do instead of the context of contending news shows that assure me what a bunch of assholes we are.

There was a segment on sharing. People are sharing their homes, their cars, and their stuff. It’s making it easier on everyone. It’s good for the economy. It works. I’m reminded of an initiative in my son’s town of Seattle where people are growing free food for anyone to pick. Sharing is not the game for those playing survival of the fittest. It’s the game for people who know that the fittest don’t survive, we all survive and we all survive to thrive when we work as nature does, for the greatest good for the web.

I’m in tree pose. I imagine I can feel all 26 bones in my left foot arguing over turf. I think of sharing.  My hip is hurt and the rest of me is trying to share the job of the hip but damn it hip it’s time to step up. The others can’t do it and the adductor is starting to get pissed off and snap at the Iliopsoas which will surely be the destruction of all.

So I turn on some muscular action with my mind and attend to my breath. I should have put that oxygen mask on first before saving the others but I was preoccupied with a bit of an impending crisis. Hands to the sky inviting prana, I notice an impediment. I’m doing my damndest to save all that I can and I can’t get a proper breath out. The quality of the last exhalation will set me up for the next breath, some might say, the next life. Without that I am lost and all systems will fail.

How many folks devote, share, themselves for the good of the whole without noticing their own breath.  Divine people die of awful diseases and others wonder how someone so good, so pure, so generous could be taken if there is karma. Could it be that our intention behind the exhale will be the quality we ensure for the next breath and without attention to that we are unwittingly dying without noticing? Did we abandon ourselves inadvertently?

I am in the mind of the winds of the breath as described in the Upanishads and later refined by Ayurveda because I just did a study on it. Maybe I’m overreaching. Forgive me. But also take a lesson from it if you want to because I’m offering one from experience. Generosity and love only go so far when you are neglecting yourself. If you want to share yourself with the world remember to allow the world to enter you as prana; as life force which moves everything and pay attention to how you manage that in your own universe of flesh, bone and mind. I am still here but somehow I imagine my last breath as one who has not paid due homage and I do not sense an easy end.

It’s what I have to share today. With love and humility, Hilary

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Practicing Failure

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My Subconscious is Getting Me Down

One son describes his younger brother:  “He’s stopped playing music because he’s afraid to fail.”

I knew that. He never finishes a song. His frustrated band mate complains that his  amazing music never leaves the room.  It’s never good enough, never done and he won’t perform it. He trashes what seems irrelevant after a tussle and seems bored by the process. He drives me nuts: probably because he’s just like me.

I tell him that most art could be perceived as failure but we have to finish it out and we have to go on to the next thing.  I tell him it doesn’t matter if it’s crap. Everyone produces crap. It takes a lot of crap making to make something you like. Who am I kidding? It’s like my yoga dharma. It’s mostly directed at me.

Some of us perceived before grade school that life was overwhelming and that we might not measure up to the job. Our consciousness is a blank page as we enter the world. What do we know of the world’s rules or ourselves in that?  We first take in messages from a hypnotic state.  We unwittingly form a program.  Much of it is not by design but there it remains.

 Some of it has to be erased.

 I’m working on erasing mine. It’s not enough to write crap and toss it in the trash. There’s no courage in that. The failure comes from putting my name on it; to look judgment in the eye and say, who gives a shit.

 I’ve got to help my kid get past this and I don’t know quite how to do that myself. But I’m going to be an example, even if he doesn’t care or doesn’t see it.  I’m going to start writing again. I’m going to paint again too. I’m going to practice being alright with failure.

It’s liable to be a real dung heap.

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Guilt and Grace Unfolding With Ben Affleck

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 Yesterday I heard that Ben Affleck will eat for a dollar and fifty cents a day to bring attention to the plight of 1.4 billion people in the Eastern Congo who live on less than that.

 

That same afternoon I made my family a decadent dessert; which I burnt.  In my non-sequitur fashion I had noticed dirt on the stovetop when I closed the oven door and began a cleaning frenzy. I guess I hit the temperature control. It seems like the smoke would be a giveaway but I’m so used to my old appliances acting badly that I didn’t bother to wonder why steam was rising through the grate on the stove about a half hour into the hour it was supposed to bake. Actually, rushing and tired and sloppy I had run off several other random tasks at the same time. My multi-level chore style  usually results in a bunch of half assed shit though it suits my disposition.

 When I took the charred mess from the oven amidst the sorrowful stares of my family, I thought guiltily of Affleck’s initiative and that someone in the Congo could have eaten for ten days on what I wasted on that self-indulgent treat.

 I couldn’t let the thought go though I went back to the store and bought the ingredients again, not to be a quitter or let my guys down. Affleck’s initiative nagged at me though I wasn’t sure how his gesture would help the people in the Congo any more than me eating my peas as a youth would help the starving children of China whom my parents invoked at the dinner table.

I was still in a foul mood all day today and though I’ve been cutting myself slack through months of mood swings and exhaustion and the Who gives a fucks, I was feeling like a real pisser. I couldn’t get right and couldn’t blame Ben Affleck for invoking that initiative or myself for not saving anyone or anything or any domestic event gone wrong. In truth I was just sick of myself being so scattered, so pointless lately.  I headed for the woods to get a fix; to get right or maybe to just get away from myself and my first world problems.

An hour without a human soul in sight including my own was a nice respite. It was hot and I raised my arms to retie my hair. Pain shot like a knife through my hurt right arm. It does that when I raise it carelessly ever since I hurt it last winter. Seems there is some damage to the scapula and the clavicle and the rib heads that insert into the shoulder.  I eschew further medical help and pretend I can fix it with the help of yoga and my limited knowledge of rehab and massage. Medical bills aren’t my priority and I figure I’ll be fine some day when I least expect it.

I sat down to take a breath and rub my arm on a weathered bench that sits beside the trail overlooking the lake. I noticed a small silver plaque that read:

A heart with passionate curiosity

And unfolding grace. Namaste

In memory of Vernon Sharp

 In my self- involved stuck in the past way I momentarily wondered that I didn’t know the name Vernon Sharp harkening to a time when the yoga community was so small that we all knew who each other were. Kind of in the way you see a stunning 30 year old in spandex and think that you look just like that because you forgot that you lived twenty something more years than that now and you didn’t notice that time changed you. Or that time had presided at all.

I placed my hands behind my hips, planted my feet in the ground and raised my chest through my arms in the pose called purvottanasana.  I didn’t give my shoulder a chance to weigh in. The soul of Vernon recommended it. As the backbend unfolded and my chest willingly rose to receive the breath, my head fell back and I got an eyeful of chartreuse filtered leaf laced sky. My weighty thoughts took wing.

I bid a fond farewell to Vernon with gratitude for his hospitable seat. Home, I remade that dessert and then dinner from a recipe I’d seen on a cooking show. I didn’t feel guilty but was conscious of my humble riches and bowed my head to the hungry, the sorry and the unsheltered. I thought of Ben Affleck who is worth a reported 65 million but knows that all the money in the world won’t fix the world’s problems and asks us to stand as one heart and mind toward a fairer tomorrow.

I had stood on the bridge on the trail home, thinking about old folks who break a hip and never live again. That had never made sense to me. But after a year of feeling put out by an unrelenting hip pain and then an arm that took my grace and enthusiasm I think I suddenly got how defeated, how hopeless it feels when an aging body weakly lingers in pain and demise. Maybe that’s why I keep pushing past pain. I want to be bigger than this body.

 Last Sunday I cranked up a heart stomping play list after the last student had left and I hit the mat. I brought down some old school Hilary dancing/ yoga interspersed with handstands at the wall to take it down a notch despite my injury.  The right elbow bent to protect the shoulder every time I went up and I knew it wasn’t the best situation but I wouldn’t use a strap because I know that sometimes something has to give so something else can soar. Anyway my soul was so happy I couldn’t imagine it would leave a lasting scar.

I don’t know how the hungry and battered maintain in a way that one once privileged cannot when broken.  I wish the same thing for all of us because maybe it’s the one thing that can’t be taken away; that we know that somewhere in our selves the light always dances in the trees and the music always plays. May discomfort or despair or fear not shut that out before the last light falls and the last notes fade away.

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Don’t Like Crazy? Find a New Planet.

 Originally posted on the Journal Pages of Active Yoga

Sunday, July 20, 2008 – 10:11 pm


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It is five years later. My lame joke about guns and holsters for all occasions may soon come to be a reality. America has noticed an insanity problem. America has declared it will not give up its guns. The discussion is on the table. I felt it was time to pull out this old and formerly private post.
Here are no statistics on  the prevalence of pharmacueticals  prescribed  for anxiety and depression or statistics on gun sales. I have not railed about the challenges of adapting to a technological and potentially isolated life. Or maybe I just did. Guns are now allowed in our parks.

I just tossed a fifth of gin
Now I’m going to dizz knee land
I just got cuffed again
Now I’m going to dizz knee land
Shot my gun into the night
I’m going to dizz knee land
I just saw a good man die
I’m going to dizz knee land — Dada

I heard the news today oh boy. The NRA is putting pressure on Disneyland. Employees should carry concealed weapons to work. It seems those employees put their lives on the line every day. As a person who has an unhealthy horror of anything plush or otherwise with an oversized head or hands I can see that.

Once a week I teach at a tennis club. It’s a diverse crowd and I saw an opportunity for real growth last week when I brought up the NRA concern. I instigate where I can. There are so many opportunities for us to dislike each other but we don’t which is simply amazing.

Someone added that the NRA is pushing to allow concealed weapons permits at all national parks as well and though she didn’t seem too concerned a couple of college students gasped with horror. An older woman known for her terse and take no prisoners attitude snapped,

 “Well it’s supposed to be a free country. We should be able to do what we want. In the old West everybody wore a holster and had guns right on their bodies! I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

I made a bad joke about the opportunity for marketing  guns and holsters to suit a modern woman’s changing wardrobe needs.

I imagined getting pulled over by the police for a bad tail light and getting a ticket for not wearing my seat belt but the weapon would be allowed. In fact I could wear my gun to a bar, get drunk and stagger down the street as long as I didn’t get in my car and drive. For that matter I could get in my car and drive with an arsenal of prescribed drugs in me as long as I wasn’t carrying pot. But I digress.

In 2003 in the state of Tennessee there were about 217 requests for concealed weapons permits and in 2007 that increased to about 217,000 requests. They have a gun, I need a gun or maybe they have a gun and why shouldn’t I?  I live in the South and there is a sense of entitlement to guns that we didn’t share in the general non criminal population of New Jersey. I have friends who have guns and as I write this I’m wondering why I am friends with people who believe it’s good to have guns but I’ve gotten used to it. I should heed the words of my Nana who once admonished me for dating what she saw as a loser,

You can get used to anything, even a wart at the end of your nose.” A woman of impeccable appearance, this curse was avoidable as anything could be cut out or off or made reasonable with the help of a plastic surgeon.

Still, there is a peculiar poetry to the insanity in the South which both disturbs and pleases me. I unlike the Chinese who recently issued a statement that mentally ill people would not be allowed at the Olympics have come to expect unreasonable behavior.

The Chinese have whole cities devoted to making products like mattresses. In a mattress city the country folk are imported to work and in return they are fed and crowded into small apartments where they live on top of each other. How crazy is that? Aren’t you harvesting crazy people? How can people who have cities like this talk about mentally ill people?

And how will they know who is mentally ill anyway?

If you’re not drooling and screaming perhaps something in your toiletries kit will offer the information they need. Anti-psychotic drugs are widely distributed as are drugs for depression. And then there are drugs for general anxiety and drugs for pain or sleeplessness that have the side effect of making one wild eyed. Are you going to keep out right wing folk singers?  How about Jews for Jesus? People who chain dogs in their fenced in yards?

And who would fill all those seats? I would consider about a third of the people I know more than a bit off. My husband and I had three people to dinner the other night and two of them were barely orbiting the planet while I have automated voice turrets. Anytime any automated voice addresses me I go crazy with verbal assaults. I am the most reactive yoga teacher ever and worse still, I don’t care, I delight in it. So what do you expect China?

Will it be O.K. to carry concealed weapons into the Olympics? How about Capitol Hill? Why not?

That’s all.

re-posted on elephantjournal.com

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Sandbagged by Shadows.

from the Journal Pages of Active Yoga

 First posted on Monday, August 3, 2009 – 8:34 am

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Teaching yoga in a windowless loft bright with fluorescent lightI glance up as I assist her into camel pose, shins and knees pressing into her arched backHands stretching open her shoulders, as a shadow crosses the room.A cloud passing over the sun and I instinctively look up to the skyBut I’m surrounded by walls and no sky and the shadow is a mystery.

Days afterward shopping for groceries, she’s there.

Tells me of her rage, how she destroyed her bedroom after yoga class.

Tells me of her addiction, her therapy, her bulemia.

She’s afraid of the yoga, afraid of what it brought up.

I tell her to keep it moving.

Come back.

She does.

So many years later she’s a shiny, happy mother and wife.

Healed like a warrior.

She did the work and cleared the darkness in the arms of an army of supporters.

And me?

Supported or set up?

I feel the shins and knees in my own back, friends whispering into my ear, things that will hurt me.

Things I will have to clear.

Knee or is that a knife?

Face and heart thrown up to the light I’m

Sandbagged by shadows that slip through my porous, not holy heart

and drop to a rootless floor.

Until I recover.

Until I dispel the cloud.

Teaching yoga in a windowless studio last week and

A shadow flits through the room.

I recognize it.

Who’s in trouble here?

Is it me?

No, I don’t think so

And I’m vigilant to protect the group.

Still, the shadow world is not all bad as it offers fertile ground for progress.

It’s there one identifies the monster in the night.

Shake out the people, the memories, scenarios that drown out the light.

Make peace with the land and keep growing.

Hilary


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