tonight I loved the transition from tolasana to urdhva dhanurasana— amanda has an exceptionally compassionate way of coaxing your deepest abominal muscles into their strongest expression yet, then stretching them out, sweetly, languidly, along your enraptured spine.
also loved, in meditation, how (once again) unique and new the experience of transcendence is, no matter how many dozens or hundreds of times you’ve witnessed it. tonight, I first felt the margins of ‘me’ disband, then became the awareness of billions & billions of tiny particles of light pulsing slowly, mellifluously, almost like hearts or stars, then vibrating faster, blurring, quickening finally almost to a fever pitch— brighter & faster— as michael neared in his pilgrimage of oneness blessings. however, once his hands met my head, all movement came to an instant standstill. all particles stretched into infinite strands of stillness— yet full of the capacity to move— and silence— yet full of a readiness to roar— the quiet, unchanging suspension of pure being, the shiva beyond/inside the shakti— floating in an outer space without time, where all conceivable time is only one expansion in an infinite series of expansions and contractions essentially identical to those of the first stirrings of those tiny cells of light consciousness.
loved, finally, the sweet-cold stars so visible in the hills afterwards— orion stretched out across the southern sky, a sigil of winter even at this latitude— and what are we made of but these? on earth as in heaven, in this relative microcosmos as in that wild, immense everything we call love. jai gurudev!
“There is no desire without imagination. No cognition without imagination. There is no will without an action on the part of the imagination. Yoga gives us the necessary exercise for a schooling of the imagination.”— Pierre Bernard, The Great Oom (via thecrowsnestptld)
“Bhakti is love — loving God, loving your own Self, and loving all beings. The small heart should become bigger and bigger and, eventually, totally expansive. A spark can become a forest fire. So to have only a spark is enough, for the spark is also fire. Keep blowing on it, fanning it. Sooner or later it will burn like a forest fire, sending out long tongues of flame.”—Amma
Wow! Hello there stranger. I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know how much I love and am inspired by all that I've found in your blog so far. So much inspiration from a clearly kindred soul. I keep wanting to like and reblog everything! Sending you much love and light on your path. Hope all is well with you and yours.
In All Grace
Your friendly neighborhood yogi,
thank you! this beautiful message comes to me at the end of a long cold drive at the end of a long dark night, so I feel utmost gratitude for the warmth of a new friend. oceans of love to you!
“I would still like to know that these last roadless cores can be put out of harm’s way, forever.
As soon as that’s achieved, I’ll get real quiet.
I’ll walk into the dark woods and sit down.
I don’t know what I’ll feel. But I know that day will come. I just know it.”—Rick Bass, Why I Came West
I asked a trusted teacher earlier today why, in the astanga tradition of yoga, one abstains from asana practice on the day of the full moon. her response: the energies in the body are amplified six-fold, and so any muscular injury sustained in practice on this day will be so intensified that it will take six times longer to heal. so, you let the body rest.
I love the idea that our energies wax & wane in tune with the moon, but could not tear myself away from my mat. really, every time a full moon comes around, I just want to prostrate myself before it and bow, to lift my arms up to gather its light into each of my energy centers & to sing an om into its heart even as it’s connected to mine— and just imagine the worship a blue moon requires!
I found that perfect practice of lunar love, that ceremony of bhakti & mudita in laura dasi’s vinyasa tonight— in that dim yellow room so sweet & hot from the bodies in their rituals of union. I loved her teaching, more than I had before— the way she brought me back to the grace in each unfolding of the spine, in each offering of the heart to the heart of the moon, in each transition between asana, riding the breath like the tides— and no wonder I love her. no wonder I took those modern dance classes in college. no wonder I love the music of the body, the breath, the mind, and the movement. I just love the dance.
it was a celebration.
I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
… as everything on this earth belongs to the moon, joined in this cosmic dance, becoming the dance. jai jai ma! times six.
from behind the front desk here I’ve watched the last of the storm rage across the waters of the pacific, making shin-soaking rivers in the gutters, watched also as the clouds dissolved like spun sugar to reveal the brilliant light of autumn sun. cool wind on the streets, bluest sky. palm fronds and blood-red leaves on the sidewalks, and the way the sun hits the glass sometimes & paints our faces like rainbow warriors.
it’s a good day at work when you get to talk about the triadic heart of siva (quoted below), the blue moon tonight (have you been feeling its power like we have?), and the most uplifting teachers we’ve experienced, or can’t wait to experience— and how much gratitude exists in our hearts for this place, this practice, and this world of heart and light.
“Only the light of the Heart truly exists; in creative activity it is the active agent, and this activity, when it reposes in itself, is the self-referential capacity of consciousness, whereas when it begins to spread outwards it causes the manifestation of the universe.”—Sri Abhinavagupta
lovely home practice with my partner— candles, sage, and an array of violet, white & smoky/dark crystals— we flowed through suryas to build heat (with lots of tigers & chaturangas), unlocked sahasrara with sirsasana II, then opened our hearts in the most powerful backbends we know— in savasana, the charoite on my forehead dissolved my bodymind in cosmic clarity, haloed by stars—
earlier today, the fiery challenge of amanda’s vinyasa, which was so fiery that, leaving the studio, I paused, ecstatic, in a torrent of rain from this pacific storm to lift the heat from the blood thrumming hard beneath my skin
faves: ardha chandrasana, eka pada galavasana, gherandasana, utkatasana <333
parivrtta everything! (is there anything better than twisting? how about catching your opposite wrist in a bind of expansion & exultation?)
in meditation, infinite love expressing as hot tears down my face, chin, and neck
peaceful, quiet shifts at the yoga center— a sweetness unexpected but welcomed after the perfect storm of last weekend!
you know it’s been a good night when, cresting the top of mount soledad under the gibbous moon, you burst into instantaneous & synchronous tears and laughter of pure joy because you’ve remembered to remember what bhakti means, what it means to surrender completely, to give up all the ‘personal power’ you were so afraid of losing in complete submission to the higher and absolute reality that is the greatness of god.
and you burst into a spontaneous lord’s prayer (without ‘our father’, because that’s not exactly right) like it’s a mantra, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done: on earth as it is in heaven, and you feel it lifting from at the bottom of your heart like a beautiful sail as an unassailable truth— there is no power to call mine, for I am completely without, there is only, only, only you, and to you always and only I bow—
on your knees, even when they’re flush with the weight of your upturned heart in eka pada rajakapotasana. with your forehead to the ground, even when it’s pulsing with the gravity of your inverted self in pincha mayurasana (with matsyasana torso! how heart-opening is that?!), yes, even when your bodymind dissolves into the space between and around it in a savasana so deep you become the bowing.
in other words, this body is an instrument of your power only— infinite, boundless, absolute. so, my ‘personal power’, by grace alone, is this:
'I have touched the feet of Rama with my head; I will not bow this head before anyone else.’
“Ask the world to reveal its quietude—
not the silence of machines when they are still,
but the true quiet by which birdsongs,
trees, bellows, snails, clouds, storms
become what they are, and are nothing else.”—Wendell Berry
divide daily meditation into morning and evening practices
phase out the desk-job (I scored a position at my city’s co-op! sadly it will take a while for that to be sustainable on its own— but I can bike there and I’ll get a sweet discount on leafy greens for the bunny & piggy)
practice saucha for the home
container garden on our balcony
'treat' myself to my own health & healing more often, even if it means splurging on strawberry kambucha and yoga international for my lunch break, or going to that yin yoga class instead of the anusara 2/3
skip asana practice at the studio to watch the sun set over the ocean with my love whenever we can !!!
maintain the integrity of the spine in every asana I practice (I’m looking at you, paschimottanasana!)
look for the lesson! because it’s there. finding balance between ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truthfulness) has been a big one for me. you might have something else to learn from your emotions.
in the heat of the moment: relax the muscles around your eyes and mouth and take a few long breaths into your belly (do you have a mantra?), then consciously stop directing your suffering outward, recognizing its roots in your attachment to maya and your small self.
remember to remember that joy is your natural state.
I'm in Bozeman, my friends in Missoula say they're getting snow as well :) Have a great trip when you go, Missoula is pretty rad.
yeah, we loved it when we went up this summer! it’s such a cool town, especially in the summer. haven’t been in winter yet but I’m excited for ice-skating, playing in the snow, and plenty of hot yoga to counteract my body’s objections to cold temperatures.
in the stillness of meditation I experienced an even greater bliss, lovingkindness, and transcendence than I ever would have believed possible
the yoga center had its first anniversary— even though I’ve only had the pleasure of witnessing its expansive & transmissible loveliness for a third of that time, I felt a great swelling in my heart center for this whole beautiful kula
in a short but sweet thai massage clinic I learned some killer moves and (luckily) had those killer moves performed on me :P
sun salutations every day! in studio rooms, mat to mat with dozens of other bodies building, together, that remarkably effulgent heat & light, and on my own, in the shade of my backyard with my palms & soles on the cool dark earth
the sun shone and shone and shone and shines still
in nada yoga, yoga nidra and dream yoga I found pathways to union lit only by the light of the sleeping heart and quiet mind— so bright and so loud and alive
drinking tulsi/holy basil, reading nischala joy devi, signing in ashtanga & anusara folks at the yoga center— just when you’d think it couldn’t get any better, “all is full of love” starts pouring out of the speakers overhead. love you, sunday.
what started you on the path that brought you to yoga and your current beliefs about yourself and the universe?
that’s a good question, and like all good questions it could have many possible answers. how many thresholds do we cross on our way to awakening, you know? in hindsight, the path starts (at the very latest) at birth.
one such threshold: my first direct experience of the divine reality beyond/inside ours happened quite unexpectedly one night on a farm in the mountains in upstate new york. because I wasn’t expecting it, I had no way of processing that extremely pure level of consciousness, an experience which, at best, is utterly mind-splitting and life-altering. after years of glimpsing & verging, I have yet to experience anything quite so phenomenal.
but yoga is a way to be prepared for that expansion when it happens— we might not be able to predict when it comes, but it helps to be ready, and these techniques (all eight limbs of yoga, practiced as a whole) were developed with the express and sole intent of systematically approaching it, and being able to hold onto it when it arrives. nothing more or less.
(confidential to anon: my meditation teacher likes to divide spiritual experience into three categories. the lowest of the three constitutes belief. this level includes reading books about what to believe and listening to people reciting texts about other people who had direct experiences of the divine in the distant past. this is a valid way to begin, but most people spend their entire lives at this level of awareness. the next level constitutes seeking, which is a break from the dominant paradigm and a sincere pursuit of truth. the final level, which is achieved by seeking, is that direct experience of truth/consciousness/bliss/union/god, the substance of which is common to all cultures and religions and which is ultimately love. it has nothing to do with ‘believing’. not to split hairs!)
We knew it was coming, tasted the winds who gathered intelligence
from each leaf and flower, from every mountain, sea
and desert, from every prayer and song all over this tiny universe
floating in the skies of infinite
And then it was over, this world we had grown to love
for its sweet grasses, for the many-colored horses
and fishes, for the shimmering possibilities
But then there were the seeds to plant and the babies
who needed milk and comforting, and someone
picked up a guitar or ukulele from the rubble
and began to sing about the light flutter
the kick beneath the skin of the earth
we felt there, beneath us
a warm animal
a song being born between the legs of her;
tonight, in raja yoga with michele (who signed my copy of her book, the other day, so beautifully: dear jen, thanks for validating the pyramid! may your journey be blessed with divine guidance and strewn with rose petals ♡) we approached only a bare minimum of asanas (for the curious: savasana, supta matsyendrasana, setu bandhasana, supta baddha konasana, ananda balasana, sarvangasana, karna pidasana, makarasana, savasana again) but arrived at a greater stillness & awareness, a slowly moving meditation that softly, sweetly closed in on the divinity of light & sound that we find inside ourselves the moment we close our eyes and our ears to the noise of the small mind.
we started in a seated meditation, tonight, while she rolled a huge crystal singing bowl tuned to the heart chakra, to those waves of frequency so loving & powerful they make your whole body ripple like water— I felt my chest open like a sea anemone, or a galaxy, breathing spirally the light of that loving f#, radiating that love back into the lifeworld, a perfect circle of all that is and loves within the power of sound !!!
in our final savasana, as I felt her walking past me, I was struck suddenly by the memory of my favorite passage in her book— her teacher, walt baptiste, had just finished work on the pyramid he’d built in the jungle in el salvador. that night, he took all of his students blindfolded into its depths, where by its eerie light they endured this initiation ritual & awakened to a deeper penetration into meditation (astral projection, communication with otherworldly beings of light, et cetera); it was my favorite part of the book, a climactic and fascinating part of the story, but there in our final resting pose of the evening it finally became real, I felt all parts of that history in my skull heavy on the earth, in my blood pulsing through my limbs, and in my heart rooting like a cosmic tree into the lights above. and finally, for the first time in my life (even after having studied mayan cosmology extensively as an anthropology major) I really viscerally and intuitively understand how amazing pyramids are, what they are made to do, the powers they hold and awaken in us.
My right leg forward expression is much better than my left. I noticed a severe tightness in my right hip that prevents it from lowering when I lead with the left leg. Interestingly enough, noticing that helped me notice tightness in my left shoulder. Have you noticed one side is much different from the other when you practice hanumasana?
I haven’t noticed one side expressing consistently better than the other— but it seems that the second side is nearly always better than the first.
the best advice I’ve received for this pose was, of course, in anusara instruction. the focus was on tilting the entire pelvis dramatically back and towards the left (if left leg is forward) to widen the sit bones as much as possible, then tuck the tail bone, then move the left heel further forward. this helps me get deeper.
I also don’t understand why my standing splits against the wall is so much deeper than hanuman on the ground— shouldn’t gravity be working for me?
would love any hints you have. actually, would love to practice with you! <3