Friday, November 18, 2011

"Asteya": We are Among Giants

Recently, I looked through a few of my old photo albums. One was from last summer when I went to King Canyon's National Park. I saw the "largest known single stem tree" [the late General Sherman] in the world and some of the tallest and fattest trees I have ever seen in my life. I remember standing under one of them and feeling so incredibly young, so infantile, compared to the long life that that tree had lived. Along with the magnitude of the Sequoia's beauty, I took with me a great reminder of how massive our world is, how incredibly diverse it is, and of how relative my placement is to all of it.

The Sequoia's are ancient - literally, hundreds and hundreds of years old. These trees have lived through an incredible array of experience! Breaking through the surface of the earth, collecting nutrients, growing, enduring weather patterns, seasons, pests, animals, people, construction...

Tonight I am reminded of this magnitude. How often are we intimidated by the prospects of something that seems so much bigger than far beyond our talents, our perspective, our resources? How often do we feel shrunken by the light of someone else?

Yoga teaches us a lot about not comparing things in a way that devalues one or the other. It's called "asteya" and it means "non-stealing." I'm finding that when I use my energy comparing myself to others, it takes away energy that I could be using in a creative way. I read once an interesting take on Asteya - that even trying to separate people is a form of stealing because collaborative energy is lost, because we are all connected by a universal element that requires us to recognize our unique differentiation.

In a less magical light, this universal element is not as proverbial as it sounds. Everything in our perceivable world has it's source in the element Carbon. Everything that we can see and feel in the physical world is a result of a unique and diverse configuration of carbon-based elements. Layers of other elements configure to create our life - people, objects, animals...but striped to the bare minimum, we are all simple carbon molecules suspended in space.

So when it comes down to it, we are all the same, just as we are varied. In some way, I am the magnanimous General Sherman spreading my canopy of branches over smaller yet equally carbon-rich beings. In another way, I am the person whose qualities intimidate me most, I am the idea that appears groundbreaking, I emit the same brilliance as the other person who seemed to outshine me.

Nature, like truth, is a great equalizer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaching at a new studio

I am very excited to share that I will be teaching regularly at a brand new studio in North Hollywood! There is no other studio like this in the city - aerial yoga! burlesque! pilates! The entire vibe of Aerial Artforms is playful and exploratory and I hope to see all of you there for a class! I've never done aerial yoga before, but am stoked to try it out...think: yoga + use of a strap or resistance band + suspended 10 feet in the air on a silk hammock...!!!

There will be a grand opening THIS Saturday, Novemeber 19th, with free classes, prizes, promotional deals, etc etc etc. and an after party with a DJ, door prizes...should be fun.

Starting next week, I will be teaching in the early mornings on the "earth," not in the "air," so check out the site [] for "Foundations Yoga" with me.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

"is yoga hard to do?"

My teacher told me once: "have at least one difficult conversation a day."
Another of my teachers told me: "speaking from the heart is one of the hardest to do."

Today, each of these teachings comes to mind simultaneously.

There are so many times in our lives where we have to speak really candidly with ourselves, to be really straight and honest about what is happening in our lives, about how we feel towards someone, or how we feel about something. These kinds of conversations can be difficult to start, and scary. Sometimes, our highest mind knows what needs to happen, but another part of us comes on board - the part that we practice too often, the part that keeps us comfortable and unchallenged. This part is usually a habit or behavioral pattern that serves a kind of protective purpose.

It's a funny cycle...

On the mat, there are behavioral patterns, and even deeper than that, muscle memory, that brings the body into misalignment over and over again. For instance, turning your index fingers slightly toward each other while in downward facing dog (instead of parallel to each other). This will eventually lead to wrist pain and other discomfort, and it can take a great deal of present-moment focus to undo this habit,but it's necessary to ensure that your body is taken care of!

So why is it so hard to do?

I suppose it's a little subjective...some people can simply make up their mind and the entire behavioral profile can change - like quitting smoking. There was a time when I smoked cigarettes, and then there was a time when I decided I was done, and in a matter of weeks I was no longer a smoker. I was done with the habit. But that is not the case for many people who smoke. And this kind of swift change is not the case for many people regarding many issues. So what do we do?

... We continue to have difficult conversations with ourselves. We continue to return to a place of honesty. We have faith that the results we need will happen. We speak from the heart. We practice. We seek out examples of this courage in others. We keep practicing.

It is hard to speak from the heart. We have literally built layers of protective shields over it because it is so valuable. But if we are to ever grow beyond the boundaries of our old selves, we have to at least begin the difficult conversation.We have to say, "this is hard," and then keep going, non-violently, and persistently.

When I asked my teacher how to begin, he said, "Well, I always find it helpful to just say the obvious - 'This is awkward for me to talk about, but...'

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

aMUSEing: spoken word

"Life as A Dali Painting"

listen two this twice, with a smile ;)