Facebook and other social media have been filled with intense expressions of anguish, violence, sorrow, hate, unity, despair, hope, and higher consciousness following the flurry of pain and counter-pain that sprung into our global consciousness last week.
I’ve been on a strict “info diet” since last Friday, consuming controlled portions of all the messages floating around — and that includes the posts that are about light and love in the face of tragedy. That’s because sometimes it appears that yoga and other so-called paths to wakefulness are about escaping the cold, hard truth of the world we live in under the guise of “enlightenment.”
But that’s never been how I roll. I’ve never used my yoga practice to escape. Maybe I never had that luxury. When I landed on my first yoga mat in 2003, I was nearly dead. Whatever was happening during those classes didn’t make me feel worse and, every so often, even brought some relief. So I kept showing up in my utterly wretched state, mostly for lack of a better idea.
Since then yoga and mediation have been one of the cornerstones of how I cope with the harsh circumstances of being human in a capricious, unjust and painful world. It’s because of my Kundalini yoga practice that I’m able to see the facets of existence that uphold love and light and to choose the kind of person I’d like to be as I walk around (or crawl, depending on the day) on this third rock from the sun. So at first it was about not dying and surviving whereas now it’s about something more elegant and happy.
But I’ll tell you what my practice is NOT: it is not about platitudes or sticking our head in the sand or hopping onto soapboxes of higher consciousness. It’s also the underpinning of my approach to teaching. In my classes, we don’t stare and obsess over the rough stuff, but neither do we pretend it’s not part of life. If you want to join me for some breathing and moving and meditating in the middle of it all, please come out for class. I’ll be happy to see you and I’ll hope that it will bring a little comfort.
I’m planning a three-hour workshop at Indigo Lab in Los Angeles on how to teach yoga to seniors. The date has not been set but we are discussing December or January. If this topic interests you enough to attend, please let me know in a comment below.
The workshop would be:
* focused on bringing yoga to seniors with moderate to acute physical, auditory, visual and/or cognitive impairments
* geared toward practicing yoga teachers as well as caregivers or family members who are not teachers but would like to work with a senior
* would be the first workshop offered as part of developing my Yoga For Real Seniors© program
If you know of anyone who would be interested in this, please share this post/information and ask them to contact me!
By popular demand (not really but it sounds good!) I’m now teaching Thursday mornings at The Yogi Tree in Toluca Lake. Join me each week at 10:30 am for kundalini yoga and gong so you can de-stress and reset your nervous system. For my full teaching schedule, look to the left or click here, and for the full class schedule at The Yogi Tree, check out their website.
The key to prevent drowning in negativity, in my experience, is in locating my authentic gratitude in the middle of the bullshit.
So, a while back I had a day that kinda blew. I had money stolen and it began a chain reaction of chaos that was eventually resolved but was not fun at the moment. We’re often under pressure as yogis and people who promote awareness and healing to only share the good stuff. I believe in emphasizing and amplifying the good. But I don’t believe in pretending I feel great when I don’t. Human beings with awareness are still HUMAN BEINGS. Life happens and it spans a broad spectrum of feeling: joy, tragedy, disappointment, injustice, victory, laughter, tears, boredom, fulfillment and much more. So in keeping with that complex reality, while that day sucked, I want to share some sweetness from the day that immediately followed it.
Shirley has always been one of my most faithful, feisty students during the past 3 years of teaching seniors at the assisted living facility. She practiced yoga when she was young and I do my best to include her expertise in our class even though it’s from a completely different tradition than the one I practice and frequently doesn’t really fit in with what we might be doing in a given situation. Doesn’t matter. It makes her feel relevant and I care a lot more about that than whether we know the same breathing techniques. Anyway, in the past couple of months, she’s gotten into this rather odd habit of bringing me bits of her breakfast that she didn’t finish. One week it was half a bagel with a makeshift go container of cream cheese. Last week it was the most horrid looking “danish” I’ve seen in some time. She proudly hands it over as if we’re exchanging state secrets. I always thank her sincerely for her generosity even though I have no intention of eating this basically unappetizing food. But something in her wants to give me something, wants to nourish me in the only way she can and I think that’s so extraordinary and kind it moves me to tears!
The day after I was robbed, I taught the seniors. Shirley presented me with a styrofoam bowl of fruit covered in cellophane. I thanked her as usual and thought it was interesting that not 24 hours after my bank account froze due to theft, she brought me an offering that I would actually eat. This tender, bemusing cycle of giving we established in the weeks prior was in place during an otherwise crappy financial moment to help me feel cared for, fed, remembered, and happy to be me. So Shirley “made” my breakfast that morning and that made my day.
That’s definitely worth sharing.
Sunday morning is your monthly opportunity to practice Kundalini yoga surrounded by original works of art. I really love teaching at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. Hope to see you there March 18 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Click here for more information.