I’ve been thinking a lot about moving (literally and metaphorically) lately. My life always feels a little faster-paced than I’d like it to be, but now is a particularly hectic time. The most immediate move I’m undergoing is also the most literal: I’ve just finished moving my stuff into a new place in town. I’m moving in with someone after making a conscious choice based in love and mutual respect. The new apartment is beautiful, the neighborhood is great, and it’s a lot more convenient for me in terms of getting to work, to friends, and to yoga. I couldn’t be happier.
That’s all great. Except I hate moving. Doesn’t everyone? Moving is consistently identified as one of the most stressful events in life. It requires huge amounts of physical endurance and mental patience. It’s always a longer and more expensive process than you plan for it to be. And, if you’re doing it yourself, you have to figure out *who*, exactly, is going to drive that terrible truck (it was not me this time around, thankfully).
I consider myself an expert on moving, of sorts. Since college, I have moved six times. Just writing that makes me cringe! Am I a glutton for punishment? Or just someone who can’t seem to put down roots? Whatever the case may be, that’s the reality of it, and I know that every time I’ve moved, I’ve had a pretty good reason. That doesn’t make it any easier. But here’s the thing: no matter how bad the move is, no matter how exhausted you are or how much pizza you’ve devoured out of the sheer need for comfort and calories, there is always that sweet moment when you’re sitting in your new space, surrounded by boxes, and dreaming of ways to make it beautiful. Moving, as dreadful as it may be, unlocks potential. It’s a new beginning.
Moving also awakens us to the energy and the love that’s already in our lives. In my teacher training, I often heard: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Moving has been that teacher for me recently. To do it, you must cultivate patience and awareness. You must expect the unexpected. Most importantly, you must reach out to others. None of the many moves I have made could have been done without the help of some truly awesome and supportive friends. These friends have also been my teachers. Some of them are wildly talented at stacking boxes. Others tape up the art I’ve collected over the years lovingly, in heaps of shiny bubble wrap that I will later pop with childish excitement as I bring out paintings to hang on my wall. Some bring me lunch because they know I’ve forgotten to eat. A few swing by after the loading is done to help me sweep. In short, they never cease to amaze me. To teach me something about love, and gratitude, and generosity.
It’s the same on the yoga mat. On one level, my practice is all about moving. I love the flow because it keeps me in my body. I cartwheel my hands, waterfall my arms, spring up into an inversion (or fall out–more likely, and maybe just as fun). And, just as with my move to a new apartment, I meet friends–and blocks–that teach me things. I lean on myself, my fellow students, and my teachers for the support I need to find strength. I get exhausted and wrung out, but I push my limits and I discover that I am stronger than I think I am. I forgive myself for not being able to get into certain poses, just like I have to accept that I can’t help carry the heaviest pieces of furniture. And at the end of a practice, just like at the end of a move, I am overwhelmed with peace, positive energy, and potential.
While I hope one day to find a space that will fit me for life, I know that life, like the practice of yoga, is constantly evolving. And that’s not a bad thing. So I keep moving.
*Ali completed her 200-hr Teacher Training at Breathe Yoga in Pittsford, NY. She is psyched to be a new instructor at Go Yoga. Look out for her class, Slow Flow, beginning next Tuesday (4-5 pm!)*
We’re excited to be a part of a huge group of 100+ yogis shaping the future of our industry. JP and I are serving the greater yoga community through the Yoga Alliance Standards and Ethics Committees. We’re thankful to Pam Weber and the staff at Yoga Alliance for spearheading the process.
Click here for a list of YA Members and Yoga Teachers donating their time and efforts to shape the future. So here we are…Making History
Our children and our families are our greatest teachers. Even with a broken thumb and a bandaged hand, our kids remind us to be LOVE. This is India with her buddy Henry (the fireman) the day after she broke her thumb and had 4 stitches. It was Easter Weekend. She managed to forget all about her suffering and enjoy the moment.
This is the story of the night she broke her thumb. It’s a mother’s perspective. It’s a yogic perspective. It’s something that just poured from my heart onto pages of the story. It’s published in elephant journal. A yoga, sustainability, spirituality and culture magazine we discovered in Colorado.
Please click here to read the story.
By: Wesley Vonn
Traveling can bring stress to your mind and body that can hinder your happiness and affect the overall quality of your trip. Even if you are traveling for pleasure, cramped plane rides, different mattresses, or stressful situations can put a knot in your back or give you headaches. Incorporating some yoga into your travel plans can greatly improve your experience, letting you relax and enjoy yourself.
With more and more people understanding the benefits of yoga, there is plenty of opportunity to find a great place to do yoga while you travel. Of course, a series of sun salutations in your hotel room can work just fine, but maybe take the opportunity to check out a new class while you are away. Maybe you always do Bikram, but have never given Vinyasa a try. Find a studio nearby or even check with your hotel to see if they offer any classes.
Some airports and hotels now even dedicated yoga rooms. According to Jane Levere “Hotels are providing yoga equipment and videos in guest rooms, as well as classes, often for no charge, while airports are offering yoga studios to passengers in transit”. Stepping into one of these zen rooms before or after your flight can ease your tension and nerves about flying or help you reground yourself and refocus. If your hotel does not offer these classes then you could just perform your own yoga in the comfort of your hotel room. When I took a trip to Las Vegas I did my research on all the hotels in the area before I blindly booked a hotel. Of course price, location, and luxury level played a factor in my decision, but so did particular amenities that I care about. I researched by looking through reviews for Las Vegas Hotels here. These reviews seemed to point me in the right direction for a great yoga studio in a particular hotel in Las Vegas. Moral of the story is that if you do a little due diligence before your trip you can take full advantage of the amenities that you want.
If you aren’t lucky enough to stumble into a hotel with yoga capabilities, try to find the time to incorporate some of your daily yoga into your routine. Travel easily throws of our body’s natural rhythm and doing some simple practices in the morning can help you get back on track. The wonderful thing about yoga is you don’t need to pack any extra shoes or equipment to get in a session. All you need is yourself and you can find a way to do your routine.
So, next time you are feeling irritable on a trip or find your body feeling stiff and out of whack, think about doing some simple yoga poses or stopping into a new class at your hotel. Take control of your mind and your body, wherever you may be.
Victory! A weekend immersed in devotion, left my heart uplifted and vibrant. A familiar brilliance illuminates my face, smile, a sigh, an evening of ecstatic chanting with my soul mate.
Our weekend started early. Earlier than most weekends do around our house. Our little angel was camping with the grandparents. The morning began with a pink horizon, signaling a shift in the weather. With dawn blushing in the sky, our embrace seemed to go on for an eternity. There was no separation between us. The yoga has begun. We share a hot shower to shake off the brisk Carolina morning.
There is no joy like giving yourself wholly and completely to love. To take your hands and scrub their body, their feet. To feel the gratitude from that simple act. First the giving, then the receiving. Finding a comfortable spot in front of the fireplace we let the flames warm the oil that will anoint and sooth our bodies.
A perfect day which is to be ever etched into my heart and mind. Our first aurora to be practicioners of yoga in the Space of Love we had been building for months. Coming together with each other-then in a larger community brings a simple sense of satisfaction and happiness to my spirit. Completing our physical asana practice, we found a place for lunch.
Asian comfort food for me. For him a total act of devotion. Miso and noodles a fortune cookie and a day planned for shopping. A give an take of this effect happpened all day as we considered first what he may desire and seek a balance between our needs.
Simple shopping to find the perfect piece for the studio and then a jaunt in the woods. A winter hike in Mills River. A tree that must have been hundreds of years old, hugging the bank of the flowing water-mossy and green. It smeled like Earth. And it was a definate location to find a wood sprite living in the hole under the trunk. An enchanted tree that pointed the way up river to a forest of downed pines and roddedrendum and mountain laurel. Weaving through the forest, we spot a game trail. A buck. Breaking branches with his velvet. Scouting the ground under another old but uprooted tree revealed treasures. The earth in Appalacha is full of Quatrz. The mineral, gem, crystal that helps to remember time. What the tree must have remembered…
An evening of estatic chanting with Jai Uttal completed the perfect day, which was only the start of the perfect weekend. On Sunday we had out workshop. Bhakti. Devotion. Connection. To yourself and the higher self. The cosmic consciousness.
We sleep in. A gift from the gods obviously. Or a gift from our late dinner and cider beer. The runs-also a gift from the gods and hard cider. Perfect for our pre cleanse. Part of the yogic lifestyle is purification. Through fire, austerities, water, rinsing away, abstenance-withholding, air-moving the breath in specific patterns…Our weekly ritual includes Basti (an enimatic cleanse using coffee to rinse the liver nd kidney and rid the body of rubbish.)
First purifying our bodies, we then purify our hearts by opening them up to the Flower of Life meditation. A technique which interconnects you on each plaines of your existance. No that is wrong-you are already connected. It is the cleaning of the window so that you may see through the glass. Joining the workshop as clean as a cucumber we find our selves in utter devotion. A connection to god through the chanting on the name of God. With Joy in our hearts and gladness on our face we sing and clap and sway in a room of 50, eyes closed faces upturned to the heavens.
I realized today that I am not in control. Nor have I ever been. I have been guided to a place where victory lies in your spirit through the connection to the greatness that is the oneness. Within this today I realized also-that the path to devotion can also lead to the lack of connection. And this too is also a tool. For the opportunities that arise from the disconnection, the feeling of lost can only strengthen the feeling of love and joy when you return to your rightful home in Love and God.
Than you JP for a most amazing weekend. I kept telling myself that this was all for you. What would I really do with a Kirtan workshop? But really it was all for me. Thank you for being the North Star that shines even when the sky is cloudy. I love you!
In The Beginning…
The terrace space of 65A Biltmore Avenue is in Transformation. From a basement to a Space of Love. From our hearts to our hands to the floor, walls and furniture…this space is taking form. Like a baby in the womb, the development of a room from conceptional idea to materialized display of matter, is growing and she is almost ready to birth. We are expecting this second yoga child to arrive at the “End of the World” on December 21, 2012.
We opened our doors on December 21 with a 7 person class at 9:30am. This amazing class has only grown thanks to the love you share Asheville. Thank you From our heart to yours.
Mark Twain once wrote “The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
It was springtime. Exactly 44 years ago, April 4th, 1968. An idealistic young man faced an audience in no mood for redemption. Dr. Martin Luther King had been shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee earlier in the day. Around the country, cities were on fire. Not a single person in the gathering storm could know that the words they were about to hear would transform their lives forever. A young mans familiar voice rose from the makeshift tailgate stage of a borrowed pick-up truck. And quiet came over the gathering of mostly black people on the corner of 17th & Broadway in Indianapolis, Indiana.
So much for the preplanned political rally, Robert Kennedy Jr. was given the immovable burden of announcing to the thousands who were gathered that Dr. King was dead. Surrounded by a hostile powder keg of tension he spoke from his heart.
“Martin Luther King dedicated his life to Love and Justice among his fellow human beings” he began. He then asked, ” What kind of nation are we? What direction do we want to move in?” Speaking to the unspoken reality of the night, he said. ” To those of you that are black…you can be filled with bitterness and hatred and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction…filled with hatred for one another. Or, as Martin Luther King did, we can replace violence with Compassion and Love.”
“I too had a member of my family killed and he was killed by a white man”
“I am reminded of my favorite poem by Aeschylus” He then spoke by heart, from the heart, to the heart.
“Even in our sleep,
pain which we cannot forget
until in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God”
“What we need in the United States is not hatred or violence or lawlessness. What we need is Love and Wisdom and Compassion for one another…and a feeling of Justice toward those who still suffer”
“We must dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so long ago and tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world…” with these overarching firmaments of noble principles intrinsic to true liberty, Robert F Kennedy transformed an angry mob bent on destruction into a gathering of neighbors peacefully celebrating their slain leaders life.
Today, April 4th, 2012, we are well into another bread and circus cycle of our electoral process. The words of both candidates and incumbents are filled with pledges and promises yet the principles intrinsic to true leadership” Love and Wisdom and Compassion for one another…and a feeling of Justice toward those who still suffer” are never even whispered.
Both Dr. King and Robert Kennedy spoke out against the direction of our nations economic, social and foreign policies. From his vantage Dr. King saw that ” A true revolution of values would soon look uneasily upon the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth in this nation”. The Light of this great nation will not originate from political parasites who draw sustenance from their corporate host, but from the hearts and minds of every global citizen who knows that the principles of Love, Wisdom, Liberty and Compassion cannot be ransomed at any price. Now, 44 years later our cities are no longer on fire, instead they are in decay. The looting, violence and destruction of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina rings like a fire bell in the night. Wake up America!
Bobby Kennedy was told to stay away from the rally at 17th and Broadway the day that Martin Luther King was shot. His advisers feared for his life. He went because he understood that a fear not faced is a greater threat to liberty than an angry mob. The power of love in his words arched like lightening into hearts those around him. The message, we are one.
Two months later, in the City of Angels, assassins bullets would interrupt the trajectory of Robert F Kennedy, just as they had his brother John in 1963. The storm clouds of the 60’s and 70’s gave way to a false dawn as the excesses of the 80’s and 90’s led to the crashing towers and markets of the New Millennium.
Aeschylus poem echos from the ruins of a lost empire whose most eloquent statesman was also silenced for corrupting the youth with notions of love, wisdom and compassion for all. Like blades of grass reaching up from between the cracks along the road to perdition Love, Wisdom, Liberty and Compassion refuse go quietly. Today, on the 44th anniversary of that awful day in Memphis I am encouraged. This lifetime often appears to have arrived during a degenerative phase on our planet, yet it is in the ripening, even the rotting of last seasons fruit that the seeds of a new way of being are sown.
“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Alfred Lord Tennyson
Four years ago Cassie and I traveled to Park City, Utah to attend a Yoga boot-camp with author/ trainer Baron Baptiste. After several days in a renovated maintenance garage, thousands of feet above our beloved sea-level beaches of Amelia Island, doing hot yoga with the sultan of sweat, we were ready for anything. We liked the energy of our fellow boot-camp survivors. We admired Baron for bringing his son to work with him. We loved getting to know Claire, Kinndlli, Paige and The Africa Yoga Project. As we got to know more and more people within the Baptiste community ,whom I affectionately refer to as Baptistaristas’, we looked for ways of staying in touch with them. To a person they all referred us to Facebook.
I have been a carpenter for most of my life and I value the quality and use of a great tool. I love the feel of a 100 year old jack-plane as it gracefully lifts a paper thin curl of cypress from a stick of lumber. Or the sound of a hand saw rhythmically working its way across the growth ringed grains of a board foot of heart pine. I am trained in the Amish tradition of honoring divinity through working with my hands. I am also a student of the Buddhas’ Middle Path. I am not infatuated with power tools.Although power tools have their place in the tool box of any serious craftsman they are no substitute for a deep and abiding love of the parts that make up the whole.
Technology is simply a refinement of ancient tools and techniques. It is useful only to the degree that it enriches our lives and our relationships. Face book may be one of the finest tools ever developed, or if overused it can spiral us downward to our lowest human potential. As my Amish teachers often said ” blaming the tool for an absence of beauty in the work simply magnify s the sin”
I am honored to have so many friends on Facebook. I do not pretend to know them all. I know of them through an artificial social media network. It is a crude representation of an authentic relationship. As a tool for building friendship it is limited. I am reminded often that the product of any tool is a crude representation of that which the Universe has already made. My concept and understanding of the Universe is incomplete to a monstrous degree yet, I believe there is an elegant process unfolding of which I am. This process is informed by very precise Laws of Nature. It benifits all beings to align with these laws and processes. Friendship, true friendship is, I am sure, in alignment the laws of nature and with our intended way of being. Facebook offers us an incomplete glimpse of ourselves in relationship. It may be a great tool to link our awareness of each other but lets face it, friends don,t let friends live alone on Facebook.
To paraphrase another carpenter from another time: ” Give a person a technologically limited social media device and it might connect them to a friend for a day, allow yourself to be a true friend to a friend in need and you will have made a friend for life”
For the better part of my short history here on Earth I have stumbled from book to book, teacher to teacher, stone to slippery stone, trying to bridge the cultural divide that separates where I stand from who I am. A part of me knows there is more to life than appears. Something big is happening. Wandering the edge of self realization, again and again my path ends abruptly along the slippery banks of a swift western current. I meet fellow travelers with their backs to a world that seems to have turned its back on them seeking the bridge that will complete their journey.
Those who are paying attention realize our systems no longer serve us. The lifestyle of our most industrialized countries no longer nourishes our biosphere. Its not a good or a bad thing, we are simply at a dis-harmonic moment of in-becoming, an evolutionary adolescence.It is an exciting pivotal stage where success depends on each of us taking personal responsibility for the evolution of our collective consciousness.
Although our circumstance has no precedent in scale or urgency we are all an essential part of the solution. We are being called to be Super Heroes. We can no longer afford the luxurious role of spectators. To do nothing is to risk losing everything we hold dear. The evolution of every single person is required. The good news is that evolution loves company and every time an individual is liberated to the next level of awareness it makes easier for others as well.
Unless you are a prophet or someone who has been visited by angels or a recluse who speaks with ascended masters your personal evolution will require your participation. It may or may not be accelerated by hiring a guide, following a guru or paying indulgence to a high priest. Be wary of those who jealously guard their secrets. Their methods afford an opportunity to look back at what has worked in the past and apply it to the present. It is my experience that the proportion of rear view mirror to windshield is just about right for most vehicles, including our lives. Its nice to see whats behind us, for perspective, but I believe it is whats in front of us and under our feet that matters most.
Countless pseudo-shamans, gurus and charlatans cash in on our tendency to follow a well worn trail. The Dali Lama, exiled patriarch of Tibet encourages his followers to let go of traditions that no longer serve to move them forward. His insistence that he is not a Guru, but a simple Buddhist monk is an indication of what I call someone who is “the real deal”. Letting go is difficult but when the old ways no longer serve us, its time to find new ones. My experience is that monasteries, temples and universities are useful but they are no substitute for direct experience with all that is.
As a catholic altar boy, parish priest would often inquire ” have you heard the call of God ? Had I ever considered the priesthood as a vocation? ” Intrigued, I replied, “Can you give me a job description” ? Their response was typical, ” A priest acts as an intermediary between God and the people. A sort of spiritual go between who is often called to perform rites of passage. Hatch em’, Match em, Patch em, and Dispatch em,”. I humbly declined their offers citing serious concerns with the celibacy clause.
Twenty years later, Sister Elaine of the Sisters of Notre Dame approached me after church one day with an entirely different question. ” How long have you known?” she asked knowingly. ” For as long as I can remember” I heard myself say.” Something big is happening, isn’t it? ” I said to her. She had a way of seeing through me that was both unsettling and exhilarating. “You are not alone” was all she said. She told me she was writing a book about it. A huge increase in spiritual seekers among regular people had caught the attention of those who live most of their lives behind monastery walls. She called it the rise of secular spirituality. At the same time fewer people were participating in any of the standard organized religious institutions. Sister Elaine dedicated her whole life to an order of the largest organized institution in the world, the Roman Catholic Church, yet she is an anomaly among her fellow clergy in that her mind is as open as her heart. Her observation was that:
Increasing numbers people are following their own path to understanding and awareness of all that is. They are finding comfort, nourishment and answers to life’s most challenging questions without the benefit of an over arching organization. They sense something bigger than the answers their churches and institutions are asking them to accept on faith. A common thread runs through their tapestry. People are no longer satisfied with traditional answers to their growing awareness that something is not quite complete. They are using interpersonal relationships and synthesized philosophies from every culture on the planet. They are developing theories that embrace quantum science and Zen Buddhism, Sufi poetry, Jungian psychology, and Tantric Yoga. In short, anything to aid in their discovery of truth.
Has it crossed your mind? Do you feel insulted by a culture that routinely refers to you as a “consumer” rather than a human being? As if you were part of a life threatening virus that this planet can’t seem to shake? Is there “something big” that is occurring to you that cannot be squeezed into any science or religion? Are you tired of being forced to choose “the lesser of two evils”? Do you ever feel an overwhelming “urge” to find peace in stillness, harmony in nature or comfort in the silent embrace of a clear night sky? If these or any other of a myriad of symptoms have been occurring to you, take heart. You are not alone. In fact, Sister Elaine s research reveals, our numbers are growing exponentially.
If you haven’t yet felt the inexorable tug of conscious evolution, don’t worry, you will not be left behind. Your role is vital to the process. Your transformation will be the tipping point of a new way of being. Kirtan musician Krishna Das recounts the story of how he and fellow pilgrim Ram Das saved all of their money and traveled to India in search of a guide and Guru. When they thought that they had finally arrived at the feet of a true yoga master they asked him, ” what is the meaning of life, how should we live” the yogi laughed and smiled and told them “be like Jesus”.
We don’t need another Guru. In truth the teacher and the student are one. The Savior and the saved are inseparable. You are the writer, the director, the actor and the audience in the production life. Everyone around you is supposed to be here. The parts and the whole are inseparable. We have simply forgotten in our adolescent slumber who we are. Zen Master Thich Naht Hanh teaches “One Buddha is not enough”. Well, it’s time to Buddha up, to awaken and re-member, re-collect our selves and claim our birthright. The age of Gurus’ has served us well, but now it is time to wade in new waters. This is big. There is a palpable shift, a not so subtle awakening. We are about to leave an old and comfortable abode and strike out for distant shores. We cannot let fear keep us from acting with courage and grace . Questions beg, if not now, when? If not you, who? If not here, where?.
I have not been visited by angels (yet), Nor have any of my meditations brought ascended masters to my beck and call. No aliens ( of which I am aware ) have given me insider tips on the galactic markets and when I use the latest book I am reading for a pillow the only thing I wake up with is a stiff neck. Yet…, I am being urged by something. Something wonderful and whole and without form. Something Big. Something that makes words seem small. Something in-becoming. Something worthy of Hollywood hyperbole, ” something of epic proportions, millions of years in the making, starring every one of us, coming to a planet near you soon.”