Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How Do You Stand in Your Life?

In 5 days I will be leading a workshop with my friend and colleague Jennifer Netherby at a local studio in North Hollywood. We have been doing a series of workshops we call, "Nail It," to dancers and yogis with special interest in learning more about how to move safely in their bodies.

This weekend, we will be focusing on the feet and how we find balance in challenging experiences.

Leslie Kaminoff, my anatomy teacher, says it like this:
"Our feet are the only structures in our body that were designed to have a relationship with the Earth."

I find this completely fascinating and beautiful. Often in my classes I will instruct my students to feel their feet and begin to have a conversation with the mat through them. The way we hold our weight against the Earth has significant affects on our experience of wellness, balance and power.

Naked, our feet are incredibly designed and fashioned for the unexpected. In healthy feet, our arches support every step we take by absorbing the shock we emit at almost 3x our own body weight. Each set of 28 bones helps to organize the dozens of muscles which can articulate with as much accuracy as our hands. Sadly, most people will loose their innate foot power by wearing "cute," but  non-supportive footwear and walking for a lifetime on manicured, landscaped and homogeneous surfaces.

Hatha Yoga, by its very nature, will strengthen your feet, encourage articulation of the toes and increase the supportive arch in the muscle tissue. Without the ability to stand with an even effort of grounding and rebounding, we stand to risk injury (bunions), disease (plantar fascitis) and loss of well-being (joint pain in the knees or hips, poor circulation, lack of mobility in the toes).

For years I never thought about my feet. I didn't like how they looked, I cared more about what my shoes looked like, and had no idea that they were responsible for so much potential energy. Having broken my big and middle toe during the fall of last year, I know that my regular yoga practice and awareness of my feet helped to alleviate a lot of the associated pain, headache and balance issues that come with a major bone break.

This blog post isn't doing much justice for the prowess of our kickers. If you're local to Los Angeles, come over to Aeriform Arts this Sunday to learn the details of how to cultivate strong feet and an even stance. I'll write again soon about some of the cool mechanics of how we actually move about the Earth.


Monday, February 4, 2013

The Poetry of Prana

I am a poet. I love poetry...and I have a real soft spot for spoken word. For me, it is the love-child born from the esoteric allure of oral tradition and the intellectually adept prowess of literature.

Among some of my favorite story-tellers are Saul Williams, William S. Burroughs, and Buddy Wakefield. Lucky for me, I found Mr. Wakefield on my other favorite thing, TED Talks.

I've included a link below to his brilliant idea - noteworthy and acute. He gives a heady, vibrant talk about his experience with vipassana meditation, a form of breath centered meditation found worldwide. The closest training site to us here in Los Angeles is at the Sivananda Ashram in Grass Valley, Ca.

Buddy Wakefield on Vipassana:

This is the dialogue that doesn't end...yes, it goes on and on my friend...

As you may or may not know, the kind of yoga that I teach is based on the philosophies of an "old sage," the "father of Hatha Yoga," the one know as Patanjali. This philosophy outlines a system or path to find "enlightenment," "peace of mind," or "self-realization." One of the ways to get there is through seated meditation. (Fun fact: hatha yoga, the yoga we in the West see as normal yoga..the stuff on magazine covers and in clothing adds...is yet another way to get to "enlightenment," and is also the prerequisite for seated meditation)

The following is a good write-up of some of the benefits and how-to's for your own meditation practice.

Let the conversation begin... enjoy!

Compliments of Yoga Journal Online