Walking home to the train the other day I saw something so cute, I had to double back to see it again. A mom with two boys, each on their scooters, the eldest right near mom, and the youngest being pulled by his good old dog Charlie. What a sight! I was mesmerized to see exactly how this worked. The dog happened to be pretty old and a VERY good listener. For every few steps, the boy was pulled in a gleeful swoosh of movement. However, the leash would come out of the boy’s hand and good old Charlie would wait patiently for the boy to pick it up again. The mom would give directions, "Wait Charlie ... good dog ... okay go ... wait Charlie ... goooood dog ... okay go now." This happened several times, and every time good old Charlie would wait patiently for his chariot driver to again pick up the reins again.
Walking in to Joe's Pub late for the show after a long train ride and some searching for the number of the unfamiliar building ... 460, 417, ahh...425, I follow the waitress to a small table just to the right of the stage. The show is in progress. I smile apologetically to the woman singing on stage ... sorry I am late, but so grateful to be there for the event. She smiles back. What a wonderful gift, the ethereal sound of her voice.
Ashley Davis is debuting her new album (I am dating myself, but I still think of CD's as albums), called Songs of the Celtic Winter. Her mother has been one of my regular students for a long time and introduced me to her music, as it was similar to the music I had played in class by a wonderful yogi/musician named Michael Hewitt.
"I know why the audience is in the dark," I think to myself as she plays a beautiful song and tears run down my face. I don't wipe them thinking it will be less obvious to those around me. I wonder how many other people in the audience are crying too. I imagine it could be many.
On the way to class the other day, I saw a man in front of a shop attempting to sweep leaves in the wind. However futile it might have seemed in the moment, you could tell that this was part of his daily routine, and he wasn't going to let the wind stop him from his daily goings on. A man parked in a car in front of the shop watched for a while and with a smile said to the shop keeper, " Hey... You can't fight the wind!" The shopkeeper smiled back and said, "I know, I know.... but, the more I sweep, the less leaves there are!" And he kept sweeping with a smile on his face and a spring in his step.
A few weeks ago something very unexpected happened, and once again the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Sutra 1.33) came in very handy. A man on the No. 1 Train, out of the blue, came at me and started yelling in my face. From the things he was saying it was obvious he had some mental problems. Why did he pick me? Unassuming petite flower of a yoga and Pilates teacher? I had just stepped on the train and done nothing to provoke a conflict. We found out in the police interview later that he thought my cell phone could take things out of his pockets!
Just posted a video made up of a series of photos that illustrate how to prepare for and sequence into Flying Crow (aka “Eka Pada Galavasana”). We sometimes practice this sequence during the Wood element.. Check out the video below, and let us know if you try out the sequence!
-- Jason Brown
An expression that I often see written and hear discussed in reference to the physical practice of yoga is that it "brings balance to the body." The suggestion seems to be that if you practice yoga regularly, it will naturally result in a more balanced body. But is this really true? What is a balanced body, anyway?
Structural vs. Functional Balance
All of us likely have a variety of imbalances in our bodies, some of which are structural/skeletal and not within our ability to change, and some of which are functional/muscular and within our ability to change. Structural imbalances might include flat feet, leg-length discrepancy, scoliosis, genu varum (bow-legs), excessive carrying angle, excessive femoral anteversion (pigeon toes), etc. There isn't much that we can do to change these conditions, but there are many strategies that we can employ to ameliorate the negative effects of them. And our yoga practice can also help us to find peace with these conditions, embracing our bodies as beautiful and capable bodies even with its imperfections.
Several months ago, at the end of teaching one of my favorite classes one of the students (new to the class that day) said it’s a shame this is the last class. It was a bit confusing to me because I had not been told anything about this being the last class. Obviously, these are precarious times and we are all having to deal with changes that we might not have been prepared for. The management at this particular place had been going through quite a few changes, so it is possible that their failure to discuss the cancellation of the class with me was just an oversight. However, it was still an unfortunate way to find out.
My wife Frances and I went to Maui and Kauai for our honeymoon (in 2001). One of the most amazing adventures we had (and there were many) was the day that we drove to Hana, which is on the north shore of Maui. Fortunately we had been informed that there really isn't anything all that special about Hana... it's just a small town with a couple of diners and shops, and there's not really all that much to do there except have lunch or dinner. However, the "road" to Hana winds through incredibly beautiful tropical rainforests which occasionally open up to reveal some of the most spectacular scenery found anywhere in the Hawaiian islands.
The Road to Hana is the perfect spiritual metaphor, giving real-world truth to the expression: "true happiness is in the journey, not the destination."
When we practice tree or other balancing postures in class, there is a very real possibility that we will lose our balance and fall over. Even those of us with great balance occasionally fall over. If you are a regular in class, you have probably heard me say:
“If you fall over, just fall over. Try not to add anything extra to it. Just smile, breathe and then start again.”
What I mean by this is that if you lose your balance, just allow yourself to fall over without adding anything extra like anger, frustration, impatience, etc. It is all too easy when we fall over to mentally berate ourselves, or even express our frustration outwardly with a few choice expletives (believe it or not I’ve heard a fair share of these over the years).
Jason Ray Brown
Is Yoga an Inherently Balanced Practice?, by Jason Brown