How do you support your local community, online?

July 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

This post is especially for yogis and teachers, but I’m sure folks outside of the yoga community have creative, mindful and practical tools as well (please don’t be shy!).

I’m dreaming up a web-home for my local yoga community – an online portal to help build and foster off-line relationships, providing a simple and effective connection point for students, teachers, studios and lineages to find and support one another in our education, service, and path.

I have some specific ideas and a shell in the works, but for it to be the connection tool I’m dreaming of, it must be built with the suggestions and feedback of folks who might use it. I’m interested in the thoughts of the wider online community who might have experience with similar sites as well as my local yoga peeps. If you would be willing to take a few minutes to comment on any of the questions below, I would be most grateful:

  1. Are there websites out there with this mission now that I should view/contact?
  2. What would be useful to YOU in your path (study groups? community fellowship? affordable/accessible classes?)
  3. Would you use such a site? For information only, or would you be likely to jump in and participate?
  4. What would you like to see in such a website? (i.e. calendars? profiles? blog posts & discussions?)
  5. Would studio/club profiles be helpful or just foster competition?
  6. Are there ways I could connect participants (student:student, student:teacher, teacher:teacher) without providing forums?
  7. Any other thoughts/feedback?

Thank you!!

Teaching/Learning/Letting go

July 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

I subbed for one of my favorite teachers last week. I was terrified. I forgot or skipped over half of my (admittedly ambitious) opening topic – possibly rendering it confusing or maybe even meaningless. I couldn’t tell my left from my right. I paced. I needed help getting the music to work. I had trouble gauging how hard they were working and when to give them a breather. I told them how beautiful they were, which might have sounded trite, but I meant it with my whole heart – their effort, their receptivity…

The only real measure of how it went would be how the students felt about it. And I would love to know. And also, I’d rather not. Because deep down? I thought it went well. I have a voice and I used it. I embraced the fact that I would be imperfect and I threw my whole self into it. I clarified. I walked around the class while instructing, I used my body to understand and to help me explain clearly when needed. I made a joke. I took a student’s question and used it to show the whole class a sometimes challenging alignment technique, diverting from my plan and really teaching. It went well, at least in my head. And I’m not sure I could stand to have that shattered at this moment. I loved it. I was terrified. AND I loved it.

6 months ago, I didn’t plan to teach at all. Couldn’t even conceive of it. So I’m embracing this, holding it in. Everything that I have to work on, everything that needs practice (both the technical aspects and the ones that involve my own internal work). Writing it to process, writing to remember. And writing to get it out of my head and let it go. I don’t know if I will have an opportunity again, but when I do, it will be a whole new moment, a whole new situation. And I will go at it again with all I’ve been taught, all that I’ve learned, and all that I am. I see how the teaching is a practice. And I see how this applies to everything, my work, my life, my relationships. I see how it ALL is practice and I will throw my whole self into it.

I will be inevitably imperfect. Beautifully so.

BanjOGA

June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Music is a big part of my life, and clearly yoga is too.  It’s logical that these loves would complement one another, breath & movement flowing with the rhythm and mood of the music – it seems unusual to attend a yoga class without hearing music in the background, whether it be kirtan, contemporary pop, or even hard rock! But unlike many of my other loves (yoga+nature, writing+yoga, knitting+meditation, making food+music) yoga and music don’t often intersect for me. At home, in the early hours of the day, stillness supports my practice as I work through asanas, breathwork and meditation*.

Unless I’m feeling like my practice needs some PLAY. Like now!

For a little change of pace here – Just because it’s a little silly, just because it’s Thursday, I present the BanjOGA playlist for your listening or practicing pleasure (Combining my passions for banjo & yoga should place me in a pretty particular population, no?) :

BanjOGA! {Click here for the itunes playlist widget}

The Tourist: Sara Jarosz

Without You: Eddie Vedder

Quiet Little Place: K’s Choice

Welcome Home, Son: Radical Face

Sala: Abigail Washburn

Come Talk to Me: Bon Iver

Generator (Second Floor): The Freelance Whales

Go do: Jonsi

Tambourine Man (2006): Cloud Cult

  • This band is completely independent so the song is not in the itunes list – but I don’t think the list is complete without it. Buy it directly from the band here – it’s from the EP Lost Songs From the Lost Years (I encourage you to seek out this option in general!) The depth of my love for this band and their music and their responsibility and their heart deserves a whole post.

All There Is: Gregory Alan Isakov

Heartbeats: Jose Gonzalez

I Feel Like Going Home: Yo La Tengo

Djorolen: Oumou Sangare & Bela Fleck

A Thousand Tiny Pieces: The Be Good Tanyas

*******************************************************

*Occasionally punctuated by an exuberant pup who loves the sound of her voice on waking, or a tiny cat who behaves more and more like the pup.

Insecurity or Introversion?

June 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

If I haven’t already given it away, I am a classic introvert (and loved this post that @kyliewrites recently called attention to – it’s spot on for me). I can play the extrovert for a bit – But then by god if I don’t get a nap, you may never want to speak with me again! I find the term ‘introvert’ to be a helpful descriptor, even if it sometimes holds unpleasant connotations – which I’ve only recently begun to separate from the introversion in my mind. I’ve begun to notice that there are actually situations where interacting comes naturally to me, where curiosity and warmth flow easily into conversation, and where I don’t feel leave feeling so sapped. Unfortunately, there is the counter to these situations, a disconnection and awkwardness that I always associated with being introverted. Now, I see this as Insecurity – a feeling – distinguishable from this word – Introverted – that I sometimes use to describe myself. Distinguishable from this word, and from myself. Realizing this felt like an epiphany of epic proportions.

Insecurity <> Introversion.

Now it feels a bit like a forehead *smack*! Of course! But it seems useful to acknowledge and to share this, because now I see this awkwardness as a separate thing entirely. And that feels FREEING. I don’t feel doomed to social discomfort or at a loss as to how to mitigate it. I see this insecurity as introversion not well managed, not introversion itself. Introversion isn’t a barrier to human connection – Insecurity IS.

I’ve begun to notice now what insecurity feels like. Physically I mean. And the thoughts that tend to accompany it. The tightness around my face, grinding teeth, and judging thoughts are surefire signs I’m on my way down the insecurity path – by the time my chest and throat begin to tighten, I may as well go home. Noticing and making these distinctions greatly increases my odds of being able to remedy the situation before it shows up externally. Introverted me is still interested in you (maybe TOO interested for polite party talk – it doesn’t seem socially acceptable to talk about what’s lighting you up right now or what is your most favorite place on earth. It should be. I want to know). On the other hand, Insecure me is rather afraid of you. The fear equates to protective behavior – which may translate as awkward, overeager, insensitive, disinterested or even unkind. Wow. That’s plenty incentive to oust the insecurity.

I’m finding that the times when I connect easily are those when I am fully present, fully myself. No surprise, I find that although my daily practices (yoga, writing, breathing, observing) don’t guarantee easier and more enjoyable interactions, they do help set supportive conditions. I don’t want to be an extrovert. I’ve outgrown that longing – at least for now. I am working to be the most present and secure self I can be. I’m starting to think that my life (the life I’m dreaming) depends on it.

Wishing you security, calm presence, and inspiring interactions.

On Practice: Painting

June 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

My friend Peter is an artist.  I love reading about his process as much as I enjoy his art itself. There is something so familiar here:

“What’s interesting about these past few working sessions, I really didn’t feel like painting, but then I just said to myself “all you have to do is move paint around and express what you are seeing in color, have fun” this is a great place to come from and is contrary to the structured, disciplined “mental” approach that I have been using. But I wouldn’t be able to freely express without the “mental” discipline of the past months either. so.. it’s all good.”

Every so often, when my practice gets too deep – or I start to take myself too seriously – I spend a practice (or two or three, repeat as necessary) with a focus on PLAY. I love the parallels, even though I’m not a painter. It’s incredibly interesting to me how a practice that is on the surface so different from what I’m doing with asana is really so similar because of the approach.

Visit Peter’s blog and see his art here.

Making Friends (or, Obsessive Habits)

June 17, 2011 § 6 Comments

Do you ever go back and re-read the stuff you’ve written? Your journal, blog posts, twitter stream etc? I realize that this is a fundamental form of attachment (and I am working on that). But. This is what I experience, and why I do it occasionally.

I lied just now. Twice. Rephrasing: This is what I experience on occasion, when I read back through. Which I do, more frequently than I can admit without further embarrassing myself.

When I re-read my stuff, if it has been long enough, it stops being a critique and it begins to make me feel something. I don’t remember writing those words anymore, but I remember the feeling, and it resonates with me as though it were written by someone else. And I feel compassion for this soul-sister. I giggle at her jokes. I cringe when she messes up (because oh MAN, have I been there). And I can almost tell what she is thinking/feeling in the space that she leaves (I swear I know, I have felt this way too.) And I would befriend this person. She would ‘get’ me. I know she would cheer me on for everything I’ve learned (and forgive me for everything I have to re-learn repeatedly and all that’s still beyond me).

And then I realize what that really means. And I think….. That’s a huge gift.

I’m prepared for this to sound a little… odd… and probably obsessive. Whatever. I highly recommend it. Go read some of your old stuff and see if you don’t find a kindred spirit. And then come back and share please, I’d like to meet them too.

THIS is why I do this.

June 15, 2011 § 6 Comments

I love the humbling moments in my physical practice. They always serve as a potent reminder of why I do this at all.

I touch a pose I’ve been working on for a solid year – of my own accord without assist(!) – and my human mind that has been working so patiently, steadfastly, suddenly reaches out for the future…. A week, two weeks, it will be mine. But then I remember as I come back again. Nope, not how it works.

Two weeks later I am still only catching glimpses here and there. Two weeks later I am ever-so-slightly stronger, the tiniest bit more in control (and in awe) of strange and deep parts of my body I’d never spoken with (Hello ankles. Pleased to make your acquaintance). Two weeks later, I remember (again) that this is how it works. The only sure thing is that when (or if) I can ever “do” this one thing, it will change. It will be different each time. I will still be learning, growing, refining (always). I will still fall (and lick my wounds, and get back up). THIS is how LIFE works. THIS is why I do this.

My body is my teacher. Through this skin & muscle & bones, this heartbeat and lungs, I learn to be present in the beautiful moments all along the way. I learn to set my aim and work diligently, but I also learn patience, I learn to revel in the joy of the experience – in the pose – on the way there – or the loss of gravity on the way down. I learn to love (this moment, my fear, my SELF), I learn to let go and I learn to LIVE. This, is why I do this.

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