New Year Yoga – Don’t Change

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The end of last year was well, quite glorious. I had two weeks to do nothing but massage clients, teach yoga and take classes. Going to school full-time was the smartest thing I’ve done but still a commitment and shit ton of work. And while I am grateful for all of the good stuff happening, I was feeling a little overwhelmed and tired.

I wanted to spend my time off doing all the yoga. My friend Kathleen and I strolled to Jivamukti to take a class with Julie Kirkpatrick on Christmas Day. Class was like wrestling a cuddly grizzly bear. When you move pose after pose after pose after pose you have choices- try to hang on for dear life or surrender to the moment. In savasana I felt myself let go.

Listen, I know that as yoga teachers we talk about letting go (and sometimes we even mean it), but in that moment if the lights went out, and I mean forever- I would have been okay. That may seem like a heavy statement but it’s true. Savasana prepares us for the biggest unhooking of all.

In a Sunday class with Cassandra Rigney at Jivamukti she talked about watching Time of Death, a miniseries that follows terminally ill patients during their last weeks. Seems grim, I know. But Cassandra said it was a powerful testament to how in the end we forget all the bad shit that people have done and only see the good. Why not live like that now? Why not indeed I wondered as I walked home. Fresh off a Serial and Marking of Murderer binge Cassandra’s mention of ToD seemed like a good move. I was wrong.

I wasn’t just a good move. It was yoga. I was riveted watching these stories of life and death. Some of the families graciously let us watch their loved ones transition on camera. Some didn’t and that’s a beautiful and noble choice as well. It got me thinking.

This is yoga. This is life.

Yoga doesn’t only prepare me for living life in the now, it’s also practice for the ultimate letting go. What stuck me most was my reaction. You can’t help but reflect when you watch people die. But instead of thinking about what I would change I found myself thinking about what I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t change a lot.

I wouldn’t change the way I love the time I spend with my family.  Or seeing my brother’s face at Thanksgiving. Or cracking up with my parents and sister at Christmas dinner. I wouldn’t change the way I laugh at Dakota’s spring in her step when she smells the air during her morning walk. I wouldn’t change what I’m doing with my life. I want to do more of what I’m already doing now.

Forget about what you would change. What are you doing right? What’s working?

Do that.

So when I think about 2016 I’m not challenging myself to rock the shit out of the new year. I’m going to fucking be more present than ever in the now.

That’s working. Namaste y’all.

 

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Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.

Misty morning…don’t see no sun. 

I know you’re out there somewhere, having fun

– Bob Marley ‘ Misty Morning‘  

It was a cold, rainy, wet walk to the studio this morning, but I was beaming. The route takes me past the parking lot where my car sits.

It sits because I can’t drive it. During Superstorm Sandy the Hudson River came down the street and covered most of what was in its path. I was lucky. I just lost my car. The attendant watching the cars that night stood on top of a file cabinet, on top of a counter, in the booth terrified of the water because he can’t swim, let alone the floating cars that could have crashed into him. I only lost my car. Many people lost much, much more.

As you can imagine, I’m hoofing it quite a bit. It gives me time to do walking meditation, take in my neighborhood and think about, whatever. Did you know that in movies (at least ones that follow the rules of story telling) rain means change? Given as I am to flights of fancy, I envisioned that I was in the movie of my life. It was raining. And I was changing.

I was off to teach a yoga class.

BOOYAH, as the kids used to say.

I mentioned in my last post that most of what we face in life is articulated in tunes by Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley and Prince. Well, I didn’t actually express my thought exactly like that, but rest assured I meant to.

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With that cleared up and whatnot…

Class was exhilarating. I’m teaching a hot class and there were several students who were new to this style of yoga. It was lovely to see the students hold each other up with their energy. This was my third time teaching. With every class that passes I’m even more in my groove. Maybe it helps that I coached and led people in my previous career. Whatever it is, I know that this is what I’m meant to be doing right now.

People can adapt. I’m blessed that I had a car to lose. There are so many people who are still suffering from Superstorm Sandy without power or even their homes. The human spirit triumphs if we let a sliver of sun shine in.

If we can’t  do that we learn to love the rain.

A student  told me that she appreciated how I connected with the class.

In the end that’s all we really have.

This is yoga. It’s what I do. And I love it.

Namaste y’all. We’re all in this thing together.

Don’t you worry ’bout a thing.

To Be or Not to Be Vegan

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I’ve never considered myself a conscious eater. Like a lot of people I had a stereotype of what conscious eaters looked like – crunchy, Birkenstocks and preachy.

Oh Patchouli is involved. Always lots of patchouli.

For health reasons (at least that’s what I’ve told myself) I have eaten a lot less meat. I’m a proponent of the Meatless Monday Movement and think that eating less meat is better for you and the planet. But I avoided the whole ‘it’s wrong to kill animals’ line of thinking.

And truthfully, I’m not sure why. I read Fast Food Nation when it came out. What shocked me was the conditions of slaughterhouses, for animals and employees alike. For several months I couldn’t eat meat. I cringed at the grocery store. The meat section looked like a graveyard. Inevitably, came the period when the shock of what I read wore off and I went back to eating meat.

I remember the day clearly.

The smell of a grilled burger attacked me in the lobby of a hotel in Arizona. I paused for a moment, knowing that I was going to make a choice that didn’t sit with me morally. Weakness prevailed and the burger was eaten. It’s been this way the few times that I’ve decided to stop eating meat.

I wrote post about my fears of taking the full vegetarian plunge.  Clearly, it must be something that I want to do because it’s on my mind quite a bit. And don’t get me wrong, this is simply my story. I’m not here to preach about not eating animals.

And then I ask myself, why not? I don’t know the answer and it really bothers me. I’m passionate about my politics when it comes to people. Shit, I’m proud of my politics. Why doesn’t that passion for humanity extend to animals? I mean if someone tried to hurt my dog, I’d… Well, let’s just say I’d react badly.

So why am I hedging with this? Because I know I am. This wishy washy stance makes me feel icky. It makes me feel that my politics are self-involved. This in turn makes me feel shitty. It’s important to speak for people who can’t speak for themselves, right?

I watched Vegucated. Here’s the premise this documentary:

  • A filmmaker finds three regular New Yorkers of various ages and backgrounds
  • For three weeks she challenges them to lead a vegan lifestyle
  • After the three weeks they talk about how they feel
  • All three people decided to stay vegetarians. One remained vegan, the other two remained mostly vegan

I loved it!!! Vegucated was fun, honest, informative and didn’t hit you over the head with the message that you are evil if you eat meat. But it did pose some hard questions that I can’t shake.

  • If I know that it’s bad for the planet to eat meat, why am I?
  • If I know that there are affordable ways to live a vegan lifestyle, why haven’t I done the research to give it a shot?
  • If I know the conditions of slaughterhouses, why am I continuing to buy industrial farmed meat?
  • If I know that the labels ‘organic’ and ‘cage-free’ don’t equal humane, why do I still eat eggs?

So I’m not going to for three weeks. But I’m going to do homework, read and make an effort to add to my diet instead of thinking of it as an exercise in subtraction. Why am I not committing to a vegan lifestyle whole hog? Fear of failure, maybe? Maybe I’m just chicken.

I know that I have to leap over the fence. If I believe that everything is everything, there really isn’t another choice.