Thursday, June 20, 2013

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

I'm teaching a few special classes in the next couple of days.

Please join me
  • Tonight, June 20th at OMpower (5:15pm) and Flying Yoga (7:45pm)
  • Friday morning, June 21st at 9am (subbing for Rusty Wells at Urban Flow)
  • Saturday morning, June 22nd at 10am (subbing for MC Yogi at YogaToes)
  • Sunday morning, June 23rd at 10:45am (teaching in our brand new Annex space at Flying Yoga, pictured at right)
  • Monday evening, June 24th at 6:15pm (subbing Level 2/3 for Rusty at Urban Flow)

Got it?  Cool.  See you there. (Oh, and happy Solstice! Enjoy these long, lingering daylights.)

On old journals and old selves

Serious question here: what do you do with your old journals?

Every time I move house, I'm reminded (urgently, heavily, annoyingly) that I really need to make a decision about what the heck to do with the million boxes' full of old scribbling. Years of journals and notebooks and looseleaf papers, boxes of soul-spillings that I'd be mortified for anyone to ever read. Scrawlings that have followed me from Nebraska to Delaware to Scotland to Madrid to Florida to not one, not two, not three, but four different (small, urban, closet-space-short) homes in California.

At some point you have to say: really, dude? Why am I continuing to schlep around these old selves? These wrinkled, painfully-earnest windows into another moment in time? What's the point? And what am I holding on to here?

I had this dilemma on the brain already a few weeks ago when someone shared this compelling piece from Danielle LaPorte: "Why I burned my journals & celebrate my insignificance." It's really quite powerful:


Yes, right? I agree so wholeheartedly with what Danielle says about living in the present. Why revisit old selves? Unless you wanna use those old selves as fodder for a book or something, yes? Because, honestly, I don't even recognize the person who wrote some of those old entries. (So, why's it so hard to actually do it?)

Here's the rest of LaPorte's piece:


I love her emphasis on insignificance. How true it is, eh? This might just give me the kick in the pants I need to really burn these puppies and lighten up, figuratively and literally.

What'd you do with yours? Do you still have boxes tucked away in a dusty corner that you just can't quite summon the guts to sit down and sort through? Or did you burn yours years ago and regret doing so, wishing you still had a portal into the mind of your 19-year-old self? More importantly, do you, too, need a tumbler full of bourbon on the rocks in order to bear actually reading through them?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Seriously. That's all.

I don't wanna sell you anything. I don't want you to buy an expensive towel mat with my face on it. I don't want you to splash out on my specially-branded faux-holy water with fancy electrolytes for all the shit you sweat out. I don't want you to buy anything, because you've already got everything you need.

Your body is strong. Your spirit is stronger, even if you forget sometimes.

That old ratty beach towel will do just fine to keep you from slipping. The water from the tap will keep you hydrated just as well as any $4.00 plastic bottle with a French name slapped on it. My voice is no different from any other that has repeated those mellifluous Sanskrit words over the last thousand years. The breath and the asana transcend all of that other crap, and hold within them the power to transform your being, to ease your suffering, to clear your mind.

It's all right there, within you. You're your own best teacher. Did you forget?

And as for me?

I'm just here to remind you of all the deep truths you already know. To maybe, just maybe, help you to feel better in your body — even for a second. That you might walk out of the room a little lighter than you walked in. That you might take yourself a little less seriously. That you might find yourself a little more quick to laugh. And that all of that might lessen some of the hurt, be it emotional or mental or physical, even for a breath.

That's all.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

It's finally here!!

The new flyingYoga Annex opens tomorrow, Weds. June 19th. We've got some great schedule additions for you (including my new Tuesday night class), so please give it a heads-up at www.flyingyogashala.com.

Holler out to Laura, Aaron & crew for making this second studio space a reality. We're grateful.

On Waiting For Your Real Life To Begin

Good morning from, erm, paradise.

Yup, pretty much.

A whirlwind 4 days later, we're moved, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned, unpacked (for the most part), and happily ensconced in the new place. It's pretty much way more rad than we ever could've imagined. I've logged two sunny outside-on-the-deck asana practices already. The fridge is stocked. The chimes are hung. The (mismatched) towels are all folded. Shiva Nataraj is holding court from his spot on the fireplace mantel. The Meyer lemons are busting out on the new tree. The mega-speed internet is finally hooked up. The long-ignored keyboard is set up in the new music studio space so that I can get back to sucking a little less on the black-and-whites.

Happy lady pose.

Last night I had my final Monday evening class at Flying Yoga (our second studio space, aka the Annex, will open tomorrow, and with it, my schedule will change to Tuesdays instead). I got in the car after class around 9:30pm in the usual post-teaching state: buzzing and slightly sweaty and definitely dehydrated and certainly hungry and not excited about the long drive ahead of me, now made longer by 9 minutes (yes, we clocked it) after the move.

I usually don't mind the drive — it's a nice buffer of solitude and quiet in my day — but at night, when you know you won't get home til pushing 11 and you'll be dodging Bambi and Pepe Le Peu the whole time, it's hard to get psyched up for sometimes.

So I sucked it up and plugged in my iPod and dialed up the Tara Brach podcast I was halfway through, and sailed onto the freeway back home from Oakland. I was somewhere through the police-car-lit construction zone around Richmond, wishing away the minutes so that I could get home already, when Tara said, quite matter-of-factly, in the midst of a thoughtful teaching on presence:

Let this moment matter as much as any moment in your life.

I thought: wow, well, hell.

She's right.

It seemed particularly apropos given that I'd just been in a state of vague blah-ness, wishing away the next hour of my life, feeling a heavy sense of blasé in the knowing I'd need to stay awake at the wheel to avoid unexpected deer and twisty-turns and the usual high(low)lights of my commute.

And why shouldn't that moment in the car — wrung-out and hoarse and happy and ready for bed after a big weekend of moving — be just as sacred as any other? Why shouldn't it be just as powerful, as meaningful, as the day I was born or the day I graduated college or the day I die?

'Cause the idea really is, of course, that one moment is no more precious, no more inherently holy or blessed, than any other.

We spend our lives waiting for, wishing for, other moments. Thinking we'll really feel whole (full, alive, achieved, worthy, lovable, content) once we get that job, once we find that partner, once we get the body we think will make us happy. So we ignore all the other moments in between — these sometimes-blasé, boring, unsexy, dirty, awkward bits here and now — thinking our "real lives" are somewhere Over There.

I see it all the time with this whole weird wedding countdown thing. Friends who've got counters running by the day ("Ohh look, it's only 133 days and 2 hours and 13 minutes til I'm so-and-so's wife!").  I know there's a spirit of excitement behind this sort of thing, but to be honest, it makes me crazy. Enough with the countdowns already. Be right here, in your life, right now, as you are, not 133 days from now. Because your life won't be any different in that moment, you won't be any happier, necessarily, you'll enjoy some pleasure in that moment, for sure, and then it will pass, as all things do, but is it really worth futuring for the next 133 days and ignoring the grace and the richness and the holy in this very moment?

I remember working in jobs that just flat-out sucked. Jobs that left me feeling worthless and like a failure and like a big mean judgmental clock was staring down at me and angrily counting all the time I was wasting in my life doing something menial and mind-rotting and embarrassing when I should've been doing something Meaningful and Purposeful and Respectable.

And you know what?

Fuck that.

I wish I'd been more proud at the time of all the ways in which that mowing the lawn and the washing the dishes and the squeegeeing the floor (is that how you spell squeegeeing?) were sacred. I wish I'd bowed with deep reverence to the embodied prayer that is cutting lemons and filing papers and vacuuming under the desk. I wish I'd seen the holy dance in the answering the phone, in the greeting customers, the opportunity to connect in making simple eye contact with the (likely suffering) stranger across the bar or the desk or the room.

We spend our lives thinking life will begin when we get the ring on the finger or the right house or the right job. And those sweet sacred moments in between get so sadly overlooked.

Don't overlook them, waiting for things to line up. Be right here in all of your life's mundane glory.

Moving over the weekend, I realized this, so deeply. We were internet- and phone-free for a good three days, what with the remote location of our new place and nothing having been installed yet, so our days looked like so much hustle and dust, exhaustion and hunger, the weary thrill of moving into a charmed place coupled with the sense of never-ending mundanities like deep-cleaning the bathtub and dusting behind the old refrigerator and trying failingly to get the furniture indentations out of the bedroom carpet.

I sat there with the vacuum Saturday afternoon, a beautiful sunny 80 degree day, spent inside with bleach and brooms instead of out on the beach (that kind of Kodak moment we think more worthwhile, somehow), and hovered the handheld attachment over an indentation in the carpet for 10 minutes probably, trying to coax it back to life so that it might subtly blend in with the rest of its brethren.

I could've sat there and just seethed, been irritable the whole time at how I was wasting a gorgeous day sucking carpet indentations up with a vacuum. I told myself: Ok, Rach, you have a choice here; be super bitchy about how stupid this is and what a waste of time it is, or find the meditation in it. So, instead, I tuned into my senses, hardcore. I thought about the marvel that was that moment, knowing my partner was knee-deep in bleach in the next room scrubbing shower doors down as the water leaked all over the floor, directing my drishti to that vacuum, hearing the sound of the suction, feeling the vibration in my fingers, looking up to see the light fall in through the drapeless windows, and really being in my life.

And it felt sacred in the sweetest, most boring of ways.

Please don't live for your wedding day. Please don't live for the day you get out of this dead-end job and do something that will "make you happy." Please don't live for the day you get that sexy car, or wait to go to the pool til the day you hit a certain number on the scale. We spend our lives with one foot out the door, thinking happiness and pleasure and contentment are Over There.

Be in it, now, with the dirt and the spilled blueberries and the Softscrub staining your pants.

Be in it, now, curled up on the sofa in an old turquoise Urban Flow hoodie wearing sweatpants and unbrushed hair, sleep still in your eyes, a stained coffee mug at your feet, watching the sun burn the fog off over Tomales Bay.

It doesn't get any better than this.


Let this moment matter as much as any moment in your life.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw


Moving house this weekend.

Starting tomorrow, 8am, U-Haul action, dusty boxes, packing up clothes you haven't worn in 4 years that you can't quite bear to let go of because you swear you'll wear them again soon. Even though you won't. You know the drill.

So you may not hear from me for a bit, what with the whole unplug-and-restart-and-install-and-cancel dance that always accompanies moving and its affiliated technologies.

We are so excited.

Did you see this poignant little piece from Dani Shapiro? It's short and wise and tender and honest and real.

While you're at it, click over to my friend Phyllis Grant's blog and read her latest on dash and bella. It's a stellar indicator of how friggin' off-the-hook-sensational her upcoming memoir-slash-cookbook is gonna be.

Speaking of literary genius...

I'm thinking of Willa Cather a lot these days. She who loved the land and found in it her muse, her art, her inspiration. She, too, who fled the plains of Nebraska for the sophistication and the urbanity of New York City and remembered that sweeping land fondly, even as she could no longer ever imagine returning.

(“Let your fiction grow out of the land beneath your feet.”)

You got it, Willa. 

I am inspired by the land and the ways in which it has the power to shift our energies, to shape our hearts, to clear our minds.

I'm on day 5 of a spur-of-the-moment week spent eating 100% raw-vegan and staying booze-free. Not easy at first (I do love my vodka, and my gin, and my wine with dinner...). But, wowza — do I feel clear and fresh and light. Hippocrates was right: let food be thy medicine. Bring on the collard greens and the cashew cheez and the early mornings. Bring on the french press and the pineapple for breakfast in the quiet of dawn.

I am looking forward to the view of Tomales Bay that will soon be my regular wake-up call.

The Adirondack rocking chairs have been ordered and are due for delivery next Wednesday.

Here we go, new little home.

Be well, y'all.

*

“The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers...I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”  
― Willa Cather, My Ántonia

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.




Our July book club selection will be Running With The Mind of Meditation: Lessons For Training Body and Mind, a terrific new book from esteemed teacher Sakyong Mipham. It's perfect reading for anyone who runs or cycles or walks or breathes.

We'll meet on Monday, July 15th at 7pm at OMpower Cycling and Yoga.

Start reading!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Things That Make Me Happy




Some of the crew last night at book club.

(How great are those exposed brick walls at OMpower? Such a charmed space.)

I think this was my favorite book yet. Profound, simple, down-to-earth, absolutely, utterly real.

And such great conversation, per usual.

Thanks, y'all, for showing up so beautifully and authentically, every single month. I'm grateful.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A few pretty pics, Neil Patrick Harris, and your Monday morning reads.

And a fine Monday morning to you.

It's moving week around these parts, so the last few days have meant a lot of Malasana whilst cleaning out the cabinets and Virasana whilst sorting through old paperwork. Not the most well-rounded of asana practices, but you take what you can get.

Happy to say we're decently ahead of schedule — amazing how doing little bits at a time can make everything seem much more manageable. Few pics here for you to get a sense of the new little fairytale world we are about to inhabit. I am crazy about the porch (screams out for rocking chairs), that dutch door, and the chicken coop, in particular. And don't even get me started on the rhododendrons and the camellias.

V. exciting, indeed.




Can't wait to join the deer and the foxes and the hummingbirds in making this lush little knoll our home.


*

In other news:

Our next book club gathering is tomorrow night!

Please join us for all the action at OMpower Cycling & Yoga. 7pm start, 5:15 if you wanna do a little yoga first. I'm just loving The Buddha Walks Into A Bar. In particular, Lodro Rinzler's perspectives on relationships, work, and keeping it real. And keeping it gentle. (Plus, short chapters. Note to self: short chapters make the reader feel very accomplished. Follow suit.)

I feel like Buddhism has really given me that word in a new way of late. Gentleness. It's big on my radar these days. Pema Chodron uses it a lot, as does Susan Piver, as does Rinzler himself. He employs it here in the spirit of gentle curiosity.

What if we could approach that difficult manager with a spirit of gentle curiosity, instead of judgment? What if we could approach that achy lower back with a spirit of gentle curiosity, instead of resentment? What if we could approach that terrifying exam with a spirit of gentle curiosity, instead of abject fear? What if we could approach our own tequila-soaked raging hangover with a spirit of gentle curiosity, instead of self-flagellation?

Every relationship you're in — whether it's the relationship with your manager, your lower back, your schoolwork, or your favorite mood-altering substance — is a teacher. Especially the prickly, difficult, complicated ones. Can you soften enough to see that?

That's our work. To just keep softening.

*

Melon season is in order. Just ate half a cantaloupe for breakfast. The other half will follow shortly. Cherries on the grocery shelves, too, and a farmer's market that starts very, very soon. Good news in the fruit department. 

*

We don't have a TV and haven't had one for a few years (yes, that's on purpose), but I manage to catch what I can here and there (the big stuff, you know, like Super Bowls and Academy Awards and whatnot). So I missed the Tony Awards last night.

That's kind of on purpose, too. Every time I watch a musical anymore I get ants in my pants and want to go drink heavily to numb the nagging underlying desire to rewind back to about 22 y.o. and follow a different life path. Hoofin' it onstage and all, you know. So every time I see a tap dancing bear or a Rockette kicking her nose or whatever I feel these deep twinges of existential sorrow and regret and angst and you know, the usual. Point being, because of that, sometimes I don't watch these shows. You know, to avoid all that.

But this morning everyone's talking about Neil Patrick Harris and what a remarkable job he did. And it's true. He's a marvel. Check it out. So damn good.



*

Here's a beautiful piece from the NYT featuring Mark Morris on dance, aging and immortality. Read it. I love seeing the parallel ways in which mindfulness and embodiment manifest across artistic disciplines.


*

Can I share a little wisdom from two teachers who inspire me?
Anna Guest-Jelley: "Pose modifications should just be called poses. No one's pose ever looks the same, so we should let ourselves off the hook for that."
(Yes! This yoga is not one size fits all. Did you know Anna is coming out with an anthology on yoga and body image soon? Keep an eye on her. She's sensational.)
Judith Hanson Lasater: "Partings are inherent in all meetings. Jai!"
(Right? Yes. We enter into every relationship/job/breath/trip knowing it will one day end. Such is the nature of being. Cue the law of impermanence.)
I follow both of these women on Twitter and so admire their abilities to dispense sage wisdom in fewer than 140 characters. Highly recommend following them, along with the brand new account from one Hillary Clinton herself. (Too cute! Did you see how she described herself? Love the lightness.)

*

    On that grrrl power note: I can't believe I haven't shared this article with y'all yet. It rushes me right back to about age 8, and speaks to me in so many ways. Nodded my head along with it the whole way through. I would like to lend my old dogeared copy of this novel to every little girl I know:

    Ten Things I Learned From Loving Anne of Green Gables
    1. How to read
    2. How to recognize a love story
    3. How to do magic
    4. How to do things with words
    5. How to be alone
    6. How to be amused
    7. How to be a critic
    8. How feminism is in the details
    9. How to be queer
    10. How to have it all

    The author writes:
    "When I talk about loving Anne with dear friends who also love Anne, we are not advocating particular novels so much as we are describing loving words, loving the past, loving names, loving Megan Follows, loving and being loved by your friends even when they don’t fully understand you, loving reading in the corner at a slumber party while everyone else watches TV, loving a long walk, loving, most of all, the ability to find a sense of place. What we are saying is that Anne was our wardrobe, our tornado — our portal to the capacity within ourselves to make the mundane world magical. 'Dear old world,' Anne murmurs, in what is to me her most important moment, 'You are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.'"

    *

    Ram Dass talks about our life experiences as the "curriculum" of our learnings. I love that. What if everything that frightens or annoys or worries you is just your curriculum? Your must-learn lessons that come to you at the right time, just like Cursive Handwriting met you in 3rd grade, and Algebra met you in 8th? Yes. That perspective takes the electric charge out of every potentially challenging moment.

    (Here's a great article Ram Dass wrote about consumerism. Read it the other day. Highly recommend.)

    *

    Thanks to Recovering Yogi for the heads-up on this level of yogic wrongness. Sigh. Just when you think the bridal industry is an insurmountable behemoth as it is, you meet the marriage of bridal industry + yoga industrial complex.

    *  

    Speaking of RY, I've had grammar on the brain of late. This is not a new fixation. But it's been bubbling up again over the last few weeks. If I see one more flagrant misuse of the word "peek," I might explode. Just to be clear: a "peak" is that thing at the top of a mountain. A "peek" is when you sneak a little look at something. Mindful spelling is just one other way to be fully present in your life, yo.

    Fore realz.

    (Heh heh.)

    That's what I've got for you on this cool, grey Monday morning. A melange of this and that, with a little musical-theater booty-shaking for good measure. Love from (moving, dusting, packing, boxing) paradise. Have a beautiful week. I foresee some sun salutations on that wooden porch up above in the very, very near future. And a Meyer lemon cake or two, as well.

    Jai!

    Sunday, June 9, 2013

    Monday, June 3, 2013

    Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.


    Origin Magazine is running a couple of powerful interviews with two artistic-creative-inspired-fiery-unapologetically-activist women whose work over the past decades I have always very much admired.  Here are a few excerpts from both interviews that particularly sang to me:

    Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues, author of The Good Body, and much more:
    CP: Who are the women that have affected you most in your life, and how have they shaped who you are today?

    EE: Definitely women rock-and-roll stars like Tina Turner and Grace Slick had a great impact on me. When I was growing up in the ‘60s, I was influenced by a combination of writers like Toni Morrison, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath. Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, and June Jordan all had an enormous impact on me. A lot of women writers made me aware of the fact that it was possible to say what seemed impossible to say at that time. But I think that it was really rock-and-roll stars, women who were breaking boundaries with their bodies and their voices and their beings and their music. I spent a lot of time at concerts,just watching women rock out. They expressed so much of what I believed could be possible.

    CP: Those are women who are filled with energy and fire—feminine fire.

    EE: Exactly. I literally would go to see Tina Turner any opportunity I had because being in the presence of Tina Turner was like being in the presence of transformative energy, and feminist transformative energy. I remember thinking to myself, whatever this is, it’s revolution. Whatever this is, it’s change embodied in a woman. What I’m really interested in is that embodiment of change. Because political change and academic change and intellectual change are obviously crucial, but they don’t necessarily change society. They can change a particular class and give everybody in that class great arguments, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into the body of the culture. Rock-and-roll was an example of change in the body of the culture. I think it’s really what helped bring the anti-war movement to its peak and moved people into the streets to seize the day—the movement was the embodiment of what was happening in the music. This is what taught me that it was possible to bring art and activism together. Without that piece, that energetic embodiment piece, the rest is just intellectual construct....

    Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love:
    EG: All of women’s stories in the 19th century had either one of two endings: you either had the good Jane Austen marriage at the end and you were happy; or you had the terrible Henry James savage downfall because of your own hubris as a woman, or you’ve made some great error leading you down a path to ruin. One is the story of love that’s successful and the other is the story usually of reckless love that goes terribly wrong that destroys the woman.
    But the reality, certainly in my life, is that we all have love stories that go terribly wrong; we all have horribly broken hearts. And somehow we endure. We’re not destroyed by it. We endure and go on to do interesting things and have worthy lives, even though we carry our heartbreaks with us. That’s a kind of personal story of mine that I don’t think I would tell in memoir but I do think I can tell in fiction.

    CP: How has disappointment changed you?

    EG: It softens me. It makes me be a more sensitive, kinder person. I know what it feels like to be bruised; I know what it feels like to carry things around with you that never totally heal. There’s closure and then there’s the stuff you just kind of like, well, I guess it’s going to be in the minivan with me forever. And you carry it with you and you continue on your journey with your minivan full of stuff, which I think most of us do.

    All the parts of us that we ever were are always going to be with us. You make space to carry them and you just try not to let them drive. But you can’t chuck them out either. I think I have more compassion than if I had led a life where everything worked out exactly as I had planned or if I had never been wounded or if I had never been betrayed or I had never been harmed. I don’t think I would be as good a person. I’m still aspiring to be a better and better person, but I think those disappointments have made me gentler with other people and their disappointments, the stuff that they have to carry around and endure.....

    CP: What do you think the world needs from women right now?

    EG: I think the world needs women who stop asking for permission from the principal. Permission to live their lives as they deeply know they often should. I think we still look to authority figures for validation, recognition, permission.

    I see women who have this struggle between what they know is right, what they know is necessary, what they know is healthy, what they know is good for them, what they know is good for the work that they need to do, what they know is good for their bodies, what they know is good for their families—all too often ending that statement with the upturned question mark: “If it’s okay with everyone?” Still asking, still requesting, still filing petitions for somebody to say that it’s all right. I think that, myself included, that has to be dropped before we can take our place in the way that we need to and the world needs us to.

    The best and most powerful things that I’ve done in my life were when I decided that I don’t f*cking need somebody to tell me that I can do it. To just go and make it myself, do it myself, build it myself, do the project first and not bother along the way to get the requisite paperwork. That requires faith. Primarily it requires a faith in the condition that you are allowed to exist. You are here and you are allowed to be here and therefore you are allowed to make decisions about yourself and the people in your life; rather than sort of backing up and making sure it’s okay with everybody at every turn....

    Read both, all the way through. Be inspired. Then get up off your butt. And do something real.