Semantics

Because I was bored and antsy (awful combo) along with the rest of New England, I might have misread a tweet that stated “Part of the yoga oath is….” and I was like wait. There”s a yoga oath? Is it a chant? Is it in yoga mala? In the HYP? I even asked the tweeter, and posted it on FB for clarification (B was the one taker and she was not a serious one). After many boring minutes with no update I sort of realized that the word oath was not being used as a synonym for the word pledge as in a recitation of a promise to be kept by swearing to uphold a promise, but rather as a daily resolve to practice the 8 limbs. SO, did I misread or am I being a grammar Nazi? That is a rhetorical question. I know the answer to that one. Earlier yesterday I also read a post over at Cultfit.com where I found the phrase (paraphrased here) “life can be both very boring and very dangerous” which was sort of perfect for yesterday’s expectation of the storm that never came. Here we were waiting with excitement (don’t lie) for a possible catastrophe, and  worried that we might be bored out of our minds if we could not go outside, and wifi got knocked out, which is probably quite different from how things are handled in other corners of the planet that are not Manhattan or the suburbs of the North East. I was planing to misbehave nutritionally to keep the possible worry/boredom combo at bay. Grateful I did not have to. I am also very grateful for being introduced to Dave Hayes The Weather Nut by Laura and Michelle. He writes intelligently about weather even if he is a few miles off.

Space

…The final frontier. Hahahaha old dork, sorry. I have ended up commenting on more than one site singing the praises of the Kon Mari method. Sometime in December almost every friend in my circle (local & cyber) simultaneously decided to check out this book:

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After finishing it round the first week of January, I still had not developed the nerve to do things exactly as she wanted me to, until now. I had to buy a new tank of gas just from making trips to the goodwill and to the dump. Mostly to the dump. I also realized that I had been used in the past as a dumping ground for well meaning friends and family, who once heard me say I loved pitchers, owls, images of Buddha Shakyamuni, or know that I practice yoga give me everything they find with with the OM symbol. Some of the stuff was in the category of “this is sterling silver/Limoges/100+ years old whatever, and I don’t want it! So I need you to keep it so I can feel okay about it” Let’s be mindful of what we give each other, lest it becomes a well intentioned burden! This book is longer than it needs to be, but you know what? As I was reading it I finally understood why the inhalation and exhalation/ creating sound obsession when doing asana. We are making room for the shape to take form!  If you practice in front of a teacher, they are holding space so you can in turn, create space within yourself to create the movement. Oh, and I wont lie, Marie is okay with taking to inanimate objects and she actually encourages it. I have been mortified since childhood thinking that I was being creepy.

Asana & Geometry

To be honest, I cannot discuss even basic geometry. My dad paid a tutor at the end of the year so I could pass algebra, trig and geometry. There was a kid from an Opus Dei boys high school that made a fortune tutoring secular bums like me during finals. He taught what was predictably going to be in the test, and I performed the tasks again and again until I could do them by rote,  then barely passed and forgot all about it. I just finished watching John Scott (with very distracting beaded beard braid) being interviewed on those purple valley youtube videos and he at some point was discussing  how nadi channels, bandhas,  and chakras can form these geometric shapes such as diamonds and kite shapes that provide the form, structure, and tension to support and make the asana function and flow. Remarkable and fascinating that I was able to follow. It is not necessarily the info or the data that fuels my interest, it is the way it is told that inspired me to wonder and “investigate”. I also read a David Garrigues post where he compares the shapes we make in asana to a yantra. I will veer off course here and mention that I have always had a fascination with mandalas and yantras. I have no illusions, and many of you might not remember or even have owned a coloring book. Coloring books were huge when I was growing up. My collection of crayons, colored pencils, markers, and pastels was and who am I kidding,  still is, epic. I love all those Dover publication themed coloring books. Even before I knew what a mandala or a yantra was, I loved loved coloring them. I find it calming and dare I say meditative. So it makes perfect sense when David says that practicing asana as if you were drawing or building a yantra is a way of entering a meditative state during yoga practice. I hope someone else comes up with the meditative uses of doodling zentangles, because I can do that for hours.

Some Thank You Internet

Or rather thanks to the people who use the internet for good. More specifically, thanks to yogis who use the internet for good. Here are a few things that made a huge difference to my practice and therefore my days which is really the reason to have such a thing as a practice.

I know someone told me  the reason for having a lit candle in the room during practice, but I forget who and I forget why. None the less, Having one in front of you and focusing your attention on the flame, distracts you from the throbbing in your thumb which you almost sliced the top off cleaning the husband’s junk drawer where he kept an exacto knife. Who knew, throbbing thumb leads to a very meditative practice because you decided to focus your drishti on the flame of a candle. Tip: if you have long hair, please set such candle farther from your mat than you’d think. So thanks to the person who explained about fire in the room even if I forgot.

I forgot how long it has been since I get a regular good night’s sleep for many more than just one reason. One of those reasons though is noise. My beloved acquired the behavior of snoring loudly in the recent past, I live by route 106 which means every truck that comes into town has to pass by my bedroom window, and my house, which is 144 years old shakes every time the Dunkin Doughnuts truck or the Pain Quotidien truck chugs up the hill to replenish the treats. Well, I mentioned to the snoring exacto knife owner that Claudia Azula Altucher kept singing the praises of those horribly expensive Bose noise cancelling headphones, and I might succumb  out of desperation after reading that lack of sleep keeps you obese and obesity gives you cancer. I just got them delivered to my front door because I do not know anybody more generous that the exacto knife owner. You actually have to be careful around him when saying something is pretty, or nice. He just gets it for you. Thankfully he is not a good listener or we would be broke broke broke. SO thank you Claudia and Ray.

Finally, Thank you to  all the people that take the time to share what they are learning when they go on retreat or to a workshop/training. I know you are tired after a full day, so when for example Peg Mulqueen from Ashtanga Dispatch shares a clip of David Robson teaching Transitions (jumpback-jumpthroughs) on facebook, you suddenly realize how many weird ticks, complications, and obstacles you have tacked on to “your” method, and immediately try it his way and swhoosh! Off you go. Thanks Peg/Ashtanga Dispatch.

Soup

It has been probably years since I have posted a recipe on a blog. Weird for someone whose idea of a playground is a kitchen and a restaurant. I’m thinking of all of us who do cleanses and whole30s, juicing and the like during this time of year, and I am asking you to consider soup. I forget where I read or heard that smoothies, raw foods, and juices are sort of tough on digestion during cold winter months. If you are curious enough, I am sure that you can look up the pros and the cons to what I just stated. But here are three soups that are quite paleo (whole30) very cleansing (if you use vegan stock), and warming during Kapha season (this is Kapha season right?)

Cauliflower Watercress soup:

4 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken) in a large pot with lid. Throw in a small head of cauliflower chopped, a large bunch of watercress chopped, and bring to a boil. reduce to low heat and cover for 20 minutes. add salt and pepper and puree in a blender in batches.

Carrot orange red chili pepper soup:

saute a small chopped red onion in coconut oil for about 3 mins. add two or three carrots chopped, and 3 to 5 red chilies ( I use dry chinese chilies but use your favorites, I bet chipotles in adobo chopped are great here). add the juice of 2 oranges and cook on meduim/low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, & add a can of coconut milk, salt and pepper. Puree in batches in a blender.

Vegetables in broth:

If you are lucky to have homemade broth (veg or chicken), just heat some up and  when piping hot add chopped grape tomatoes, chopped scallions, chopped, cilantro, chopped avocado and a squirt of sirracha or your favorite hot sauce and some lime (not lemon) juice, You paleo whole30 people can go ahead and poach an egg (a good egg and I hope you know what I mean) in the hot broth while it is heating. How? crack the egg in a metal soup ladle or giant metal spoon and lower deep into the pot of broth and hold it there till it is as firm as you like.

Uncovering Externalism

“I was, in short, what I’d call an externalist — a person who’ll exercise great care over what he puts into his body and never think about what he puts into his mind. Who will dwell at length on everything he can see, in order to distract himself from the fact that it’s everything he can’t see on which his well-being depends. Who will fill his head with so much junk that he can’t remember that wolfing down Buffalo wings is not the problem, but a symptom.”

Pico Iyer

I lifted this from the Sunday Review in the NYT . worth the entire read for those of us who judge the quality of our day entirely on the quality of the care we give our physical form.  I think he is plugging his book but whatever. I’ll take a look.

I also caught Yoko’s full page add reprinting an entry from July 2014 entitled Uncover -from her imaginepeace.com/archives/20557 site. It very gently examines the conceits of considering ourselves ones who discover vs. being ones who simply uncover what has always been there.

Just wanted to share that both pieces will influence the way in which I approach my practice after this moon day.

Also, I understand that the series called Black Mirror is ground breaking like the critics like to say. I however will say that I was able to watch only the first episode and do not know what to do with myself right now. I will never look at at youtube, twitter or social media in general in the same way as I did  before yesterday. I have left a comment/warning about the possible intensity of your reaction to this series in all  social media I partake off except instagram. Not sure why, since my husband warned me that I might be overwhelmed by it and I did not listen to him.

WOWL

Acronym for What Occurs When Learning! LOL (I crack myself up, sorry). I would pronounce it to rhyme with howl.

I used to teach reading to first graders. I am boldly going to say that the steps for learning what reading is for, are interchangeable with learning what yoga is for.

In the beginning you are perfect and capable and enough. You cannot yet read. You are still all those things but acquiring the skill of being able to read moves you from one situation to another. It is fair to say you are not the same. You have changed. If I want to get prosaic, I can say you have transcended ignorance on certain levels. And if you were illiterate as an adult, you can certainly use the word liberation to describe the experience.

Now that you can read symbols you use this to access information, to communicate, to change,  to grow,  to travel both literally and metaphorically. In other words, what you read and how much you read, transforms you. It changes you. More than once.

Now that you are a consistent reader, some reading is easy, some boring, some delightful. Other types of reading are difficult to understand, They may be emotionally draining or painful to read. But you don’t stop reading do you? Or, invent a new way of reading so it is not so hard to read the science books or Finnegan’s Wake. You do your best to understand what you choose to read. We select what we read like most of our actions, we need something and as our skills and comprehension grow, we enjoy finding it! And you not for one nanosecond regret having learned how to read.