Saturday, June 18, 2011

This is my note from this week's LA YOGA Newsletter...


Amanda stood at the sandwich counter with a firm look in her face, gazing at me.

“But wait,” I said. “I’ve been coming here for ten years and I always order the same thing.”

“Even more reason to choose the Cabrese today,” she continued, undeterred. “Pesto, fresh tomato. And it’s perfect with avocado.”


“You can’t always get the same thing. And if you don’t like it, go back to your usual next time.”

You may be able to guess what happened next. I liked it. Of course anything with pesto and avocado and toasted bread is hard for me not to like.

My exchange with Amanda was one of those reminders of how easy it is to slip into autopilot, to live in an endless cycle of wash, rinse, repeat, without always questioning the sequence or the outcome.

Yet life asks of us to shake it up, to order something else off the menu, or to move in and out of the poses in an unfamiliar way, as we did in class this morning when the request of one of my students was, “To do something new.”

It’s a dance we do in life, partnering the familiar with the unfamiliar, the old and the new, the comfortable and that which stretches our boundaries, remaining still and soaring through the air. And it is the breath that mediates the moves. Sometimes we need support, a cheering section, an Amanda behind the counter, our teachers and students to remind us.

Now I just have to order something other than the veggie burger with the works and kelp noodle salad at the Golden Mean.

Change happens one meal at a time, mindfully. And every day, every Friday, every breath, we have the opportunity to pause and ask ourselves, “Are we on autopilot?” and “How am I making this choice?"

Because, of course, change just for the sake of change is not the answer either.

Monday, April 04, 2011

It's been a while since I posted here. Life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately, a shamanic journey of fevers, and cleaning and moving and seismic shifts.

Here's my note from this week's LA YOGA newsletter.

As we enter April 1, I’m in the midst of moving—still, it seems. Sometimes we don’t do things until we have to—until the deadline is looming, until the pressure is on, until we must make a shift or a change. The rising temperature of the fire is sometimes necessary to burn off the old detritus from our lives and make room for the new.

I’m reminded of a quote I often hear my friend Sean Johnson say, that is attributed to Joseph Campbell, “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” It is so true.

May we all have courage to dive into the life that is waiting for us!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Here's a recent note I wrote for the LA YOGA newsletter. Something this morning made me think about it again, so I thought I'd post it to this blog. Whether we're in class, or pouring coffee or serving tea, how are we practicing Yoga?

You don’t have to be a Yoga teacher, in a studio, with a mat, to really teach Yoga or to embody the practice. I was reminded of this recently when out to breakfast at one of my usual haunts, where I typically meet a girlfriend for spicy cinnamon tea and the early bird special. We always have the same waitress. She always remembers what we order and she’s invariably cheery. Not cheery in that dripping with saccharine sticky-sweet, you need a wet washcloth after she talks to you kind of way. But cheery in that redhead early shift here we are, we might as well have fun with it sort of morning tone. I can see her slouching with a cup of coffee, a cupcake, a tilt to her eyebrow, wisecracking.

I don’t know if she practices Yoga formally; I’ve never asked. But I notice, in every morning interaction, the practice embodied.

Christen and I inevitably smile when she comes to our table, takes our order, jokes with us, moves on and repeats. It’s a simple interaction that’s meaningful in its simplicity and sincerity. She’s present, focused, ready with a quip and a smile. And therefore, so are we.

After all, Yoga is the union, it’s the relationship. It’s the interaction that we have with our own breath, our own bodies, and by extension, with everyone in our spheres of influence and interconnection throughout the day.
We can practice Yoga throughout the day, no matter our profession. Whether we’re tending bar, writing computer code, composing music, teaching kids, pumping gas, taking breakfast orders  and so on (you get the idea). And in these interactions, in being present, in the action of practice, with or without a mat, the impact is profound.