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The New Love Story & Your Spine
Last night, my husband and I were tricked into date-night. Since I had been planning to teach a class, I had a sitter lined up and everything. But my scheduling was off, and so we decided to jet out for a movie that I have had my eye on for weeks, Snow White and The Huntsmen. I won’t give the greatness of the movie away, but I will share one line which, for me, sums up pretty-much ALL that we are working on in our practice.
Gazing into the eyes of the Evil Queen (who is dying from vanity and narcissism), Snow White declares, “YOU CANNOT HAVE MY HEART.”
I am keeping my heart in my body, thank you.
We have been taught, in our culture, that love is about giving our hearts away. We have also been taught to forego the hard work of finding our own spines. After all , if we found them, all upright and easy, our hearts would have the lovely opportunity to rest. Imagine that?!?
But instead, we are taught to rest into the ‘spines’ of things other than ourselves: institutions, lovers, gurus, belief systems, whatever works. Our spines become torked and shlunky and our hearts, with nothing to rest into, harden. They can’t work freely this way.
Maybe that’s why it’s been so easy to give them away.
Good news though! Have you noticed that we are moving toward a new love story? Here’s how it goes: with each breath and with each small decision to stay inside my body, I get here a little bit more. Where? Here! Here.
Now. In this body. In this room, with these people, this job to do. Breath by breath, I am falling in love with being Right Here, no matter what it looks like.
The new love story is about falling in LOVE with Being Here– in your body, on planet Earth.Posted June 10th, 2012 | Leave a Comment
The other night I woke straight-up from a dream. A wave of relief flooded my body. Relief of the funny kind. The kind that comes when you finally get enough perspective on something to truly laugh at yourself. You laugh because…finally, you’re free.
In the dream, I am desperately trying to get to my teacher Sofia’s yoga class. But when I finally scramble my way out of my bathrobe and up the stairs to the shala, the door is firmly blocked. Blocked with all kinds of baby paraphernalia– stroller, boxes of diapers, stuffed animals, a pile. I try to move the items to the side, but nothing wants to budge. After so much work that I am sweating, I finally get my hand on the door. And in that very moment, I hear my baby crying. I must let go.
Awake, I finally understood why Sofia had forbid me to do backbends during the latter part of my pregnancy and the ‘fourth trimester’ of nursing. ‘The front surface of your body needs to be completely available for the baby,’ she said. ‘It needs to be soft, open, willing.‘ These words made sense to the intuitive regions of my brain-body, even if they weren’t what I wanted to hear. Because, still, part of me wanted to be that kind of yogi who is pregnant and backbending. If I am honest, there is always that part of me.
I remembered the way Sofia approached me as I practiced. She put her hands on my shoulders and said, ‘Thank you for sacrificing your body to incarnate another human being.‘ She said it over and over until I felt the sentiment in every cell of my body. Until there were tears on my cheeks. Thank you for sacrificing your body to incarnate another human-being. (Sacrifice : To surrender something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.)
Sometimes it takes a good while to understand profound things. Like great teachings, for example. They take time, years even, to sink through the body’s waters. The head does not help make sense of them; wisdom is a hard-won thing. My eventual A-haaaa: It’s not about getting what I want. It’s about giving what I have. And by way of tons of practice over years, I am thankful for the something that I have to give. Yoga, after all, is not about backbends. It about the invisible things.
So for now, I accept the blocked doors to the shala of my dreams. And, even better, I laugh at my great and desperate attempt to get in there! With great relief and celebration, I conclude this period of the ‘fourth trimester’ with the following offerings…all of which point toward invisibles.
Rolling, Releasing & Allowing: A Yogic Exploration with Jane & Anna
Pelvic Floor 101: Accessing the Center of the Body
Often times in yoga class, I like to remind students that yoga practice is a long journey to the center of the center, the root of the root, the core of the core. In more specific terms, it is a journey to the pelvic floor. If we could all better understand how to consistently access, strengthen, stabilize and utilize the muscles of the pelvic floor, bodies would begin to float (rather than struggle) through the practice. We would be kinder to ourselves. Symptoms would be minimized. Alignment would be attained from the inside out, rather than the other way around. Even our voices would be more doubtless, more connected up with the truth we are living in our bodies. In short, we would have a much greater understanding and acceptance around what it really feels like to ‘let go and let God.’
So, if you are interested in this deep and actual ‘core work’ (abdominals come later!), please join me at Yoga Country next weekend for a 3-hour workshop that will shed light on mula bhanda, and everything else that happens at the base of the body. The afternoon will begin with an educational discussion followed by experiential movements to awaken your connection to this often mysterious area. The workshop is open to ALL levels of practice and can benefit students who deal with pelvic pain, lower back, hip or groin problems, incontinence, prolapsed organs, are about to have a baby or have recently had one…or are just plain curious about why the pelvic floor is to so key to the magic of a good yoga practice.
I’m starting to really look forward to my visit to San Francisco. I love that there is a beautiful city over there that holds so much of my experience and so many of my people. I’m so thankful it’s there. The town feels to me like a favorite, personal song that always makes me remember parts of my heart. Parts that I did not know before I got there. It’s a good poem that sets off the kind of smile that comes from the inside out, the kind that you are powerless from stopping.
San Francisco is a backbend. In many ways, I can honestly say that I did a good job there. We finished on great terms and it’s nothing but a joy to return. That feels good. I can also see, from where I now sit, why I had to leave. Not because Nashville is a better place and not because I got tired of San Francisco either. Sometimes, when we stay in a place and just do the best that we can, things change anyway. If we don’t move, the ground does. Places, I’ve noticed, help us find parts of ourselves.
Anyway, here’s the plan. I’m gonna meet my beautiful new godson, Julian Reed Burgess. I’m gonna spend as much time with Floyd as I possibly can. I’m gonna see my girls and hopefully a bunch of my students. Griffin will play a show on Saturday, Jan 29th. Then we’ll make our way back to Nashville. Back to the supported forward fold that I now call Home.
My dear friend Elisa Romeo, who is also an undeniably advanced, deep-forward-fold herself (and a brilliant intuitive at-that) wrote a very generous blog about my upcoming workshop in San Francisco. It feels really good to be seen by her. It feels good to be seen. So, here it is: www.elisaromeo.blogspot.com. Thank you Elisa.Posted January 9th, 2011 | Leave a Comment