Learning to Slow Down

Personal Pose of the week: Savasana

This post is for the go-getters, the adventurous and the easily excitable. I think 90 percent of the people I’ve met living in NYC can call themselves at least one of the above, and the pace of this city, filled with vitality and speed, is a perfect location for these personality qualities to thrive. I know that mine certainly have, and I’ve experienced more than I ever could have imagined while living here.

However, this week begins my month long hiatus from teaching, and my socializing will be significantly decreased with mandatory vocal rest. I used to think that living was synonymous with adventure, and while I think experiences are certainly an aspect of life, finding balance by pausing and simply being is imperative, as there is such a thing as burning out. This will be an interesting month as I perfect the art of savasana. I've already learned so much from just a few days of silence, and I look forward to discovering what slowing down has to teach me. 

“There is more to life then simply increasing it’s speed”  ~ Ghandi

Accepting the Impermanence of the Body

Peak pose of the week: urdva muka poschimotanasana, with a focus upon preparing the body for seated meditation

The popularity of yoga has become widespread in part because of the exercise aspect that more vigorous styles have offered in the western world. I think the athletic aspect is fantastic as healthy bodies positively affect the health of the mind. But what happens when the body is injured or sick? And of course, there’s the inevitability of aging and being unable to physically do the things we could at a younger age. This is when healthy minds can positively affect the body, no matter what state the body is in.

Today marks the first day of the 31 Day March Meditation Challenge! The major reason I’ve personally recommitted to a meditation practice is because of a vocal cord injury that will be landing me in minor surgery next week. I’ll be unable to speak for about 7 days and the physical aspect of my yoga practice will have to change significantly for at least six weeks (I’ll have to be very mindful about the way I use my breath and core). None of this is life threatening, but it has been a big bump in the road. I’ll be honest in saying that the injury is in part a result of not accepting what was happening with my voice and a lack of commitment to the physical changes I had to make. What I have found through meditation is an opportunity to witness impermanence and be completely within the changing moment exactly as I am. The struggle, the analysis and the judgment are still there, but so is my will to practice.

Meditation is where we get to exercise the mind.

“Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.” – Pema Chodron

 

 

A Commitment to Learning From Ourselves

Peak pose of the week: Urdvah Danurasana (Upward Bow or “Wheel”)

My motto has always been that the best I can offer as a teacher is to bring to class whatever I am currently focusing on in my own practice. I find that there are some particular principles I’ve learned from yoga that will always be at the forefront for me such as presence, patience and slowing down. However, recently I have found myself at the computer more often than usual looking for extra online work that won’t require my speaking voice, as I’ll be having surgery on my vocal cords in March and unable to teach for a while.  This has lead to a lot of hunching over, and so, my current practice has involved a lot of back bends and shoulder openers to free up my chest and spine.

It can feel vulnerable to physically express and open the heart, but there is an opportunity to practice backbends with a sense of fearlessness IF we approach them as a way of opening up to ourselves. I offer this empowering quote by Judith Hanson Lasater as a reminder that we are our own greatest teachers, and a commitment to learning from the self comes first.

“We accept responsibility for ourselves when we acknowledge that ultimately there are no answers outside of ourselves, and no gurus, no teachers, and no philosophies that can solve the problems of our lives. They can only suggest, guide, and inspire. It is our dedication to living with open hearts and our commitment to the day-to-day details of our lives that will transform us.” 

― Judith Hanson Lasater