Saturday, January 28, 2012

Out Of Breath

January 28

A few months ago I told a teacher, who was talking to me and a friend about breath and yoga, that breath-work – pranayama – made me panicky. I get anxious in the state of trying to control my own intake – the feeling would well, suddenly, that I would not be able to breathe, that there is not enough air. This is a little ironic, I suppose, as the purpose is to learn how much expansiveness there is – in our breath, in our breathing, in our bodies…

Over the last week I have been focusing on that fear – the exercise is one of expanding breath – to longer and longer inhales and exhales. To pause at the top and bottom of each breath.
It is not when my lungs are filled with air that I am afraid – but when they are empty. At moments, I have emptied all of the air and am still… I feel as if the world is closing in. I feel as if I am suffocating. And I am working on the few moments when I begin to inhale again not to be greedy with the air – to maintain composure and discipline even with the fear not yet subsided – even with belief not yet restored.

Sweet teacher said today, can you make a practice of surrender? Can you make a practice of giving up.

Giving up, she said.
Is it the giving up with the understanding that I will breathe again? That being without is the basis of being with?

Lately, breath work is one of my favorite parts of the day. Each morning I am amazed at the space inside. At the way fear can be worked through...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Practice for life.

January 16

This morning I came to the mat distracted. I resisted the beginning. I started late. I missed the breath work entirely trying to work on half lotus at the same time.

It is amazing that I can begin to work on half lotus. I injured my hip in 2010 and through the middle of last year I couldn’t even sit cross-legged.

I am wavering in my dedication to something else today. Something I believe to be right and true.

So I thought about Sweet Teacher – her voice telling us this is a practice for life.

In wavering on dedication I lost the enjoyment and the benefit of the breath. I lost the peace of the moment. The resistance to what I have set in my path is fruitless then. I am here. I am sitting and I am breathing. I can feel what it is life to find the expansive space inside me – I can feel what it is life to work in coordination with the body and living… or I can resist.

I kept waiting for my daughter to walk in this morning. Hoping I could ask her to take a seat on my mat…
She is fast asleep in her bed.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


January 15

For the past two weeks I’ve been quietly assessing what personal practice means to me…
I thought, at the beginning of this project, that this endeavor might have a profound effect on my life – it has. A week ago I went to another workshop on personal practice. This time, it was less warm and fuzzy – more practical. More practiced.

Devotion. Discipline.
These were the things she said that hit me most.
What do you really want your life to include.

Somehow at that moment something shifted for me.

For the past week I have been really strong at home. I have been writing practices ahead of time. I have missed one day and shortened another from going out at night – a few glasses of wine later I found myself needing sleep I couldn’t get up… that leads me to ask this question again – what do I want in my life… to what am I devoted, what does discipline mean. I know that I need to be social. I know that I need to relax with friends. So what does this mean – what do I need to miss or make up… Life feels crowded on those days. How do we find the time for the things that are most important?

Mostly this week I have been in a really good space, despite it being an externally difficult week..

But this morning I woke up uncomfortable. Edgy, sad. Creaky too. I decided to work on my hips. I decided to try to hold warrior. I overshot. I couldn’t do what I’d hoped – and I was annoyed at my own resistance.

My daughter woke up and came in. interrupting as I was closing the practice. I didn’t feel radiant. I still feel edgy. I still feel sad.

It’s disappointing. I’m disappointed. In myself. In the practice, I suppose. Where is that feeling of peace I left practice with so many times this week? Why didn't I look up, smile, ask her if she wanted to join me?

I’ve taken to reading Rumi as part of the morning – this morning a poem said, people cannot withstand the understanding of the darkness within people… something like that.

Sweet teacher is back – which is such a relief. She talked this week about the practice being practice for life…

How do I accept disappointment? What do I do with that moment? How do I ride out the sad, with the peace to accept the day?

Well, blueberry pancakes are a start. I burned them a little though...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good Morning!

January 2, 2012

Last evening I went to a two hour yoga workshop aimed at marking the passage of the year. It was a relief – I had somehow frittered away the actual midnight passage being cranky at my children who, though too young, insisted on staying up. My last bad mommy moment of 2011.

I was amazed to look back at the year. What do you bring with you? she asked. What do you leave behind…

What is your intention for the New Year?

I was amazed at the strength I found, as I looked backward. At the wisdom. At the growth.

I noticed another thing, too.
For the second day in a row I was in that room, filled to capacity. Two days in a row we were two inches apart from one another. People turned away…
Yesterday was much warmer – candle light and mantras ending in peace…
shanti, shanti, shanti…

But I missed Sweet Teacher even more, and noticed her lessons most through her absence.
When I started going to her class in September I hated the forced interaction with my neighbor. It felt invasive and forced and hard.
Strange, isn’t it, how hard it can be to acknowledge the person next to you. Don’t say Sorry when you touch someone, she says, say Good Morning.
In the two amazing days at the studio this weekend, neither beautiful brave teacher had us say hello to each other. Because it is rare, isn’t it – the encouragement of connection.

Good morning.

Some amazing people have written me this year because of this little project of mine. I have been grateful for the warmth. It has been far more personal a thing than I have published in years, and has forced me to let go of a lot of who I like to be in public… Thank you for reading. It feels strange to write that – this is, really, mostly internal ramblings of some small bit of what is going on with me one day... 
But I think I bumped into you by accident this morning. 
Good morning!