Slouching Towards Community

Do you crave assurance that in our deepest sheaves we embody blissfully free, cooperative, spontaneous, egalitarian, and unmanaged intelligence? Would you rather not attend voting result extended happy hour? Are your gammies tired from standing in the suffrage line? Do you just want it all to be over? Look no further than restorative yoga with me tonight at 8pm at Daya Yoga in Bushwick. I'm riding on a body nerd high, having taught anatomy in the Daya Teacher Training today. We'll explore the possibility of radical embodiment as a reauthoring of our social and political landscape. The body wisdom microcosm teaches us that body reality by its very nature is auto-organizing and non-local in its intelligence. Each piece is has its own individual role to play, and yet remains paradoxically non-separate from the whole. Far from the false Cartesian overlay the western world has applied, bodymind, a continuity, is non-hierarchical. The revolution starts within each of us with this knowledge. Eckhart Tolle says, "Body awareness not only anchors you in the present moment, it is a doorway out of the prison that is the ego." The egoic prison writ large is technocapitalism, drunk on hierarchy and subjugation. Get free!

Supta Baddhakonasana

mysterium tremendum et fascinans

Within the limits of ego identity and language, how can we contain non-duality? How can we articulate the unspeakable? How can we digest and integrate experiences that are far beyond our ken, without driving ourselves back into illusion-borne fear?

I'm so very excited to share my latest piece for the Embodied Philosophy blog, Why is God Scary?. It took about six months to write, and it comes from my deepest heart, an attempt to articulate my experiential understanding of the deep and interwoven Mystery that is us and everything.

I presuppose that my readers know a certain amount of vocabulary from yoga philosophy. Otherwise my already long-winded work would end up even longer! If you find Why is God Scary? to be too dense or unfamiliar, you might try reading my expository piece on the Bhagavad Gita first, All Paths Lead to Moksha

LUNATION BRACHIATION CELEBRATION!

PACIFY YOUR MONKEY MIND THIS LUNAR NEW YEAR 

I'm still lurching into the habit of posting highlights of special classes I teach throughout the year. These special classes honor the global community's festivals, holy days, demarcations, and celebrations. I'd meant to post this one more than two months ago, so I'm completing the gesture belatedly, as part of my practice.

In honor of Lunar New Year (commonly known as Chinese New Year) we'll examine the astrological reorientation that is shifting us from the year of the Green Wood Horse to the year of the Red Fire Monkey. As noted on astrologyclub.org (the specific link is below), "following 12 months of the dignified and surefooted Goat, the New Year of the Red Monkey is going shake, rattle and roll!"

In my classes around the Lunar New Year, we'll reassess the intentions we may have made for the Gregorian New Year a mere month ago, infusing them with an enlivening and transformative dash of the fire element. We'll call up Hanuman's fierce courage and devotion in striking down our own demons as we banish the so-called Monkey Mind. Like the spontaneous and freewheeling monkey with its prehensile tail, we'll use radical ingenuity coupled with safe support to take calculated risks, evoking the nimble and intelligent problem-solving of monkeys at play, as we work on hanumanāsana (split pose) and eka pada ūrdhva dhanurāsana (one-legged full wheel). Having stoked a powerful inner heat with this challenging and energetic flow, we'll cool down with a brief restorative practice designed to soothe the metaphorical, experiential, and metabolic inner body fire altar known as Manipura Chakra, our personal core of will, action, and transformation. 

My safe, supported, and enthusiastic hanumanāsana at Greenhouse Holistic in Williamsburg

CLASS SCHEDULE FOR 2/6 - 2/9:

Saturday 2/6, 10:30am, 90 min: intermediate/advanced vinyasa at Greenhouse Holistic, N. 8th location, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Saturday 2/6, 4:30pm, 90 min: open level vinyasa at Greenhouse Holistic, N. 8th location, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Monday 2/8, 4:30pm, 90 min: open level vinyasa at Greenhouse Holistic, N. 8th location, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Tuesday 2/9, 7pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

PLAYLIST:

Pure Drone 1 -- Sheila Chandra & The Ganges Orchestra -- Pure Drones Vol. 1
Pure Drone 3 -- Sheila Chandra & The Ganges Orchestra -- Pure Drones Vol. 1
Intention feat. Morley -- EarthRise SoundSystem -- The Yoga Sessions
Church Gongs -- Michael Baird -- Gongs & Bells
Bhimpalasri Alap -- Nikhil Banerjee -- Afternoon Ragas
Taalmela -- Zakir Hussain -- Icons of Indian Classical Music
Cirrus -- Bonobo -- The North Borders
Jets -- Bonobo -- The North Borders
On the Road -- Skalpel -- Simple EP
Lotus Flower (Jacques Greene Remix) -- Radiohead -- TKOL RMX 1234567
The Pirate Song (Dina Dayal) -- Gaura Vani -- 10 Million Moons
Jingling Bells -- Michael Baird -- Gongs & Bells
Singing Bowls & Bells -- Jane Winther -- Bardo
Pure Drone 6 -- Sheila Chandra & The Ganges Orchestra -- Pure Drones Vol. 1

Further reading: http://astrologyclub.org/chinese-horoscope/2016-year-monkey/

All Paths Lead to Moksha: Reflections on the Bhagavad Gita

I'm excited to announce the completion of my first piece for the Embodied Philosophy blog! It is an honor to be a part of this project, spearheaded by my dear friends and talented colleagues Jacob Kyle and Jimmy Nataraj. In this fairly expository essay on the Bhagavad Gita, I discuss how the Gita reconciles a plurality of sometimes seemingly dissonant approaches to moksha (liberation from suffering). Click below to read the full piece. 

Fancy Footwork

Śiva Naṭarājāsana, BHUJANGĀSANA, Ūrdhva mukha śvānāsana, SUPTA VĪRĀSANA

When we change the language we use around or for a given thing, we change the way we think, rewriting an existing relationship. Sometimes a simple linguistic change can revolutionize habitual dialogue between ourselves and the thing in question. In my classes this week we'll find familiar alignment using terms that are perhaps unfamiliar or confusing to most students in the yoga classroom: pronation (winging or beveling) and supination (sickling). As a teacher and perpetual student, it's taken me a while to understand what pronation and supination look like in my hands and feet, to cultivate increased dexterity and responsiveness in my own body through this understanding, and to find a simple and clear way to use these very technical terms with my students. Remember that when we practice a supine backbend, supta vīrāsana (supine hero pose) or supta baddhakoṇāsana (supine bound angle pose), a cognate mnemonic is built into our terminology. If supination is belly-up, pronation is belly-down. In fetal development, the same embryological tissue that forms our front bodies – our bellies – also becomes our palms and soles – the bellies of our hands and feet. 

This week we'll play with foot and hip movement culled from PNF Patterns (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), searching for more articulate pathways of weight and movement from all the little bones of our feet on up to our pelvic halves. We'll look for a little movement in a lot of places, mobilizing structures that are stuck, and soothing the parts we overwork. We'll apply these newfound-yet-already-existing pathways to familiar standing poses, including utthita trikoṇāsana (triangle pose). We'll use them in service of a more accessible range of motion in prone backbending (cobra pose, locust pose, upward facing dog pose, pigeon pose), supine backbending (reclining hero pose and reclining bound angle pose), standing backbending (lord of the dance pose), and arm balancing (chin stand).  Supta vīrāsana (supine hero pose) is often cautioned against for those with tight hips and tender knees.  Can the bony pathways we explore from foot to pelvic half offer ease and clarity? As a practitioner with chronically troublesome knees, I'm astounded at the difference in the range of motion I can access in supine hero's pose after PNF practice. My knees are like, why haven't you been doing this for us all along? Sometimes the biggest challenge is presented in the subtlety of uncovering what's already there.

Please ignore my cat Wolfy in the middle photo, btw-- that little showoff is doing a variation on parivṛtta sūrya yantrāsana (compass pose) with mula śodhana (rectal cleansing). I'll leave it up to you to guess which one we'll be working on in my classes as the weather warms.

Restorative focus:

Each week in my Sunday night restorative class we focus on one of the chakras. This week we'll visualize maṇipūra chakra – the experiential and metaphorical seat of transformation, action, and will within us. Please see my schedule below for details. 

PLAYLIST:

Awakening -- White Rainbow -- Prism Of Eternal Now
Gaia Nector -- Masood Ali Khan -- The Yoga Sessions: Masood Ali Khan
Wanita -- Rokia Traore -- Wanita
Ghost Dancer -- Gabrielle Roth and the Mirrors -- Trance
El Medahey -- Master Musicians of Jajouka -- Apocalypse Across the Skies
Waking The Cobra 1 -- Baird Hersey -- Waking The Cobra
Lotus Flower -- Radiohead -- The King Of Limbs
Panda Jawn -- Phaseone -- White Collar Crime
Waking The Cobra 9 -- Baird Hersey -- Waking The Cobra
Coconut -- Fever Ray -- Fever Ray
Waking The Cobra 2 -- Baird Hersey -- Waking The Cobra
Om Nama Shivaya -- Singers Of The Art Of Living Foundation -- Sacred chants of Shiva

 

TEACHING SCHEDULE FOR 3/24 - 3/30:

Tuesday 7pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Wednesday 10am, 75 min:  open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Wednesday 7:30pm, 75 min:  open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Thursday 7pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Friday 10am, 75 min: intermediate vinyasa with an arm balancing focus at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Saturday 10:30am, 90 min: intermediate vinyasa at Greenhouse Holistic, Roebling location, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Saturday 1pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Sunday 10am, 75 min: open level vinyasa at goodyoga Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Sunday 12pm, 75 min: intermediate vinyasa with an arm balancing focus at goodyoga Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Sunday 4pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Sunday 5:30pm, 75 min: restorative yoga at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Monday 7:30pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at goodyoga Greenpoint, Brooklyn

 

Freaky Friday: Balancing Darkness and Light with Fluid Awareness

PINCA MAYŪRĀSANA (FEATHERED PEACOCK POSE / FOREARM STAND), GARUḌĀSANA (EAGLE POSE), PLUS! T-REX POSE

March 20th was an especially Freaky Friday. Equinox marks a celebration of balance between darkness and light, and the dawn of the astrological sun cycle. We welcomed the first day of spring, the renewing energy of a total solar eclipse, and a super-charged New Moon in Pisces. These natural rhythms offer powerful symbolic opportunities to wash away that which no longer serves us, manifesting intrinsic alignment with our innermost selves and a greater universe at large. 

Here in Brooklyn, the seemingly relentless snow of winter gives way to spring rain, although not as soon as we'd might like. Seeds of change, quietly germinating under the retreating and terrible tide of March muck, poke their virgin sprouts through the filthy slush. What has changed in the winter darkness that we need to rebuild, repurpose, or banish? What weeds choke that which we wish to sow? What keeps us from feeling whole? And when our minds rehearse difficult times, unable to grasp a bigger picture, can we surrender to body consciousness so that we may continue to grow without being the very block that stands in our way? Through pattern recognition, yoga practice teaches us to watch resonance unfold in our bodies, minds, and lives. In our bones, as in all things, this resonance is encoded in spirals more ancient that our bones themselves. It is written in the very fluid that forms them.

As the weather warms, my body begins to feel lighter, less stuck, more mobile. I get so used to winter's heavy quality that I forget to feel it until it lifts, like a sudden flash of light revealing depths that were once in shadow. That old cliché, "carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders--" I see this in myself and in my students. "Pull your shoulder blades down your back--" I see it built into indiscriminate and over-used yoga parlance. In an era and a city where rising above the competition is valued above all, where fierce independence is sought over seeking support and rest in balance with our activity, how do we uncover intrinsically effortless pathways, by subtraction rather than addition? How do we allow this support to flow continuously through our bones, unbroken and whole, in arm balancing, in movement through space, and in the greater picture of our lives? Is it possible to feel feather-light, even when engaged in challenging work? I like questions more than answers. Bursting forth from the containment of winter, we enter the flowing creative possibility of spring. We embody the fluid possibility of taking on new shapes. We can better balance the metaphorical and somatic known, the brightness of the front body, that which we can see, with the metaphorical and somatic unknown, the shadow of the back body, that in ourselves which we cannot see. With awareness, we uncover less effortful movement patterns already within us. When it is time to rest, we learn to give our weight to receive support. The changes we wish to see are already within our grasp. These harmonizing spirals are already present within our bones and our lives. We only have to look for them. They whisper in quiet natural harmony beneath a louder false dissonant imposition. 

One of my teachers, Amy Matthews, said recently, and I believe she was quoting Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's husband Len Cohen, Change happens in an instant. Getting ready for change could take a lifetime. 

In my classes this week, as we work with forearm balancing, eagle pose variations, warrior poses, and extended lateral angle pose variations, we'll explore the spiral movements we can uncover in an exploration of external rotation in our upper arm bones, internal rotation in our forearms, and pronation or supination in our hands. We'll look at how uncovering these patterns can offer a quality of lightness in movement through space and in weight-bearing, diminished effort and increased ease in placing our arms and gazes in yogāsana. We'll address overworked back and shoulder muscles from the heart, and overzealous front ribs from the voluminous breath of our back lungs. We're gonna dredge so deep that we unearth little known T-Rex pose, a powerful combination of a forearm-stand-prep variation on Vīrabhadrāsana I with Lion's Breath. King of the Jungle, King of the Terrible Lizards-- you get it, right? There might even be a dinosaur-reborn-as-eagle metaphor in there somewhere :-)

Happy Freaquinox, everyone!

Today the one inside you is collecting bones. What is she re-making? She is the soul Self, the builder of the soul-home. Ella lo hace a mano, she makes and re-makes the soul by hand. What is she making for you? --Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Mantra:

Jalāya Namaḥ / Jalāya Svāhā  / Oṃ Namo Jalāya (Oh! Salutations to the auspicious power of flowing water (literally "big river") to cleanse and wash away our stuck-ness)

Playlist (big river mix):

Remedios The Beauty  --  Oren Ambarchi  --  Grapes From The Estates
At the Waterfall  --  Amir Baghiri & Mathias Grassow   --  True North
Le Chant Des Fauves  --  Tinariwen  --  The Radio Tisdas Sessions
Breathe . Something / Stellar Star  --  Flying Lotus  --  Los Angeles
Chocolate Lovely  --  Amon Tobin  --  Supermodified
Hannah's Conscious  --  The Knife  --  Hannah Med H Soundtrack
Slow Swords  --  Deerhunter  --  Weird Era Cont.
Sombre Reptiles  --  Brian Eno  --  Another Green World
18 (Watery Variation)  --  Stephen Vitiello  --  Bright And Dusty Things
Blue Silence (Bonus)  --  GHQ  -- Crystal Healing
An Ending (Ascent)  --  Brian Eno  --  Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks
Soham  --  Mathias Grassow  --  The Fragrance of Eternal Roses

Class Schedule for 3/17 - 3/23:

Tuesday 7pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Wednesday 10am, 75 min:  open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Wednesday 7:30pm, 75 min:  open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Thursday 7pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Friday 10am, 75 min: intermediate vinyasa with an arm balancing focus at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Saturday 10:30am, 90 min: intermediate vinyasa at Greenhouse Holistic, Roebling location, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Saturday 1pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Saturday 3:30pm, 90 min: open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Sunday 4pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Sunday 5:30pm, 75 min: restorative yoga at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Monday 7:30pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at goodyoga Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Recommended astrological support (if that's your thing):

http://astrobarry.com/2015/mar1515.php

http://www.mysticmamma.com/total-solar-eclipse-new-moon-in-pisces-equinox-march-20th-2015/