Monday, August 27, 2012

Self-Care With A Twist

A friend recently sent me the following quote from the Dalai Lama:

"Take care of your thoughts for they become your words.
 Take care of your words for they become your actions.
 Take care of your actions for they become your habits.
 Take care of your habits for they become your character.
 Take care of your character for it becomes your destiny.
 Take care of your destiny for it becomes your life.
 There is no higher religion than the truth."

This quote came at a very timely moment for me. The bottom line is that you cannot twist the truth. The very nature of being human is maintenance. I need to check my thoughts, habits and actions on a daily basis so that I am able to truly guide my life. Yes, there are meant-to-be's in life, yet many things are within our scope of choice. Returning to a daily practice is what helps to keep my decisions aligned with what I claim.

This time of year, with the change of seasons, reminds us to begin anew. It's clean-up time. With yoga, we check our thoughts and pause before speaking. We take correct action, despite conflicting desires, and we focus on self-care with healthy habits. The foods we eat, the physical exercises and whatever emotional work we may be doing, as well as our actions of service help us to guide our lives gently towards an overarching love of humanity. One tiny action towards loving others can, in fact, be loving yourself.

Yoga incorporates twists to wring out the toxins from the internal organs, improve our ability to assimilate (truths) and digest what we know. Take the time for self-care today with a twist. Instead of twisting the truth to match your desires, try twisting your body!

Add a Reclining Twist for a gentle way to begin and end your practice.

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Heart Remains A Child

Me, my brother Dave, and Felix the cat
Who are you here to be? What is sitting in your heart center that is here to be expressed? It is probably not that different than something you knew and felt when you were little. There is a part of you that is exactly the same as you were when you were three years old. A subtle energy that has been running through you and sitting in your center for your entire life span. A piece of you that no matter what has happened or not happened, regardless of what you have endured or received, still stirs the hope within you. That is you. The real you.

I am astonished and amazed at the innocence of my resilient heart. I feel that sense of faith that allows me to start over and begin anew. Again. And again. This faithful forgetting. This sacred amnesia that I have been graced with, which keeps this heart open, alive and intact. My purity is not untainted and pristine, but that I show up in the day, completely new, despite the events that may have weathered me. This involves being present to my heart's true utterings. Of course, I cannot be sure what is true for you, but I have a feeling that you have a direct line into your hearts truth that is governed in a way that works especially for you.

Today, stay very close to that being within you. That Child Self. That self knows what is right, what it wants, and what brings joy to your heart. Let that be your compass. When I am unclear as to the destination, I close my eyes, I place my hand on the center of my chest (or sometimes tap on that center) and I breathe. I let all the feelings come. Sensing the world around me, I feel the presence I am sitting in, then I connect and trust.

Here's a tip: God is not a genie in a bottle.

Although the trend towards manifesting and creating your reality is valid, guess what? Whatever you can think up in your head, the Universe is better at knowing how to deliver it than you are. You just remember, it's all there for you. It may arrive unexpectedly. If it makes your heart sing, in that 3-year-old way...enjoy it.

I love treats and surprises. I am programmed to receive. I love a gift that is wrapped up, and the not knowing what's inside. So I connect with a feeling, and I trust the Universe to decide how to wrap it up and deliver it to me. As long as I stay connected to that Child Self, I can stay open.

Take this day to be that child in your heart. Dance, play hard, laugh. Cry when you get hurt. Do something that has no purpose other than to celebrate the day.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Act As If...

I don't feel great today. I don't. I know that I will go teach today and I will find a way, an angle, and that I will feel better in the action, but I don't always wake up feeling great when I have a client or when I must teach a class. I remember one of my old students saying to me: "You are always in such a good mood", and me thinking...."Really? Have you met me???" You can not judge your insides by other people's outsides.

As we walk through the world and rub up against each others energies, we assume that people feel as amazing as they seem. Most people are out there, putting on a good face and just doing the best they can. Since I pride myself on authenticity (...and let's just say "cheerful" authenticity, to tip my hat to the 'real' me - light and deep, just the way I was wired.), I very much dislike when someone passes me in the street and tells me to "SMILE", or when I read the chronic positivity on Facebook. Each person's wall an ad for how awesome they are, how great they are doing and why you should watch their (Facebook) show. Each person posting their personal creed and advice as to how you can have a life as great as theirs: here's how.

There is that saying that I learned in acting class: "Act as if..." Essentially we can act our way into correct thinking, but it is less often that we can think our way into correct action. It can certainly take me some time, to get myself into the right head space. When I do the right behavior, it's uncanny that the inside begins to match the outside. That doesn't mean I need to plaster a phony smile on my face and be perfect, BUT I can show up, not cancel my class or postpone any part of my life until I "feel" like doing something. If I allow my feelings to run the show, I am going to be all over the place. My feelings change daily, if not hourly. Like the waves on the ocean. I get to navigate what is there, but not allow it to take me off course.

So here I am. Today. Not exactly perfect. When you walk by me today, you may tell me to "smile!" You may not understand why tears roll freely down my face while I am in line at the cleaners. Or why I am quiet in my own world on my yoga mat with a fierce focused gaze, or is that a glare? One thing I know: I will show up and take the actions of a person who is happy, joyous and free. I will help where I can. Contemplate the glory of nature, and the sounds of children, not my own. I will keep my head up, my eyes open and my heart soft. Because I know that is how I will act the day I fall in love again.

Today: BOW Pose. For those who want it wrapped up in a nice neat little bow. How about assuming the position!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Father, Sun and the Story of My Heart

Mandy Ingber Up Dog
Today, August 8th, marks the 8 year anniversary of my father's passing.The story has been told, and is open for interpretation. I am reminded of the courage it takes to continue to open our hearts in faith, even when we have been pained by loss or heartbreak. There is nothing more heartbreaking than being faced with the inevitable: our mortality, and the remembrance that life is impermanent. This is a reality we deal with each day, and yet the desire to live must carry within it a gratitude of remembering and the faith of forgetting.
Though he is no longer with us, I remember what an example my father was for me. He was the person who brought yoga into my life when I was a child. I thought that he was invincible. It seemed he could do anything. He had mastered some of the most difficult yoga asanas and pranayamas. He was strong and flexible, and had a positive, yet aggressive nature.
In the end, it was my father’s yoga practice that really struck me. His ability to show up at the mat on a daily basis, even as he was dying, was completely inspiring. He would say, “Other than this cancer, this is the healthiest I’ve ever been.” He would also say that the yoga helped to alleviate the symptoms of the cancer and the chemotherapy. One of the greatest gifts he said he received in his last days was the gift of receiving. How open his heart had become to others during this vulnerable time.
What a gift, to show up as we are. Today is a new day. This is the day that I have. Exactly as I am. Right now. Today I show up, brokenhearted … and full of life. How many mornings have I woken up and taken this day for granted when life was just too much? I often feel too vulnerable with my heartbreaks (and I have many). But how to open up and offer my vulnerability to the Universe and give thanks for another day, that is the lesson yoga offers.
As the years go on, I find my shoulders creeping forward just a bit more, perhaps as protection from the inevitable, my human vulnerability. I have protected my heart, physically, by caving my shoulders and my chest in. So as a daily practice, I find a way to roll my shoulders back and down, to lift my heart to the sky and dunk my head back, opening my throat and surrendering to the heavens. Thank you. Thank you, Universe, for another day. Thank you for this heartbreak. Thank you for this cancer, and for another opportunity to have faith. Thank you for another day of forgetting. Thank you for another day of remembering those who have shown me the strength of opening.
To open your heart and celebrate vulnerability and the strength that comes from acknowledging it, try poses such as Up DogSphynxCobraCamel and Wheel. I also like connecting with the beating of the heart in Supta Bada Konasana, my father’s final pose into his last days.