Saturday, February 19, 2011


Yesterday was Friday, February 18, no spectacular date or anything, but it was about as close to perfect as a day can be. I had no classes... and it was 75 degrees and partly sunny.

I woke up early and showered and did a small amount of housework (laundry mainly) and then went to run a few errands. I went to Ellwood Thompson's to eat breakfast and read Yoga Journal (March issue is fantastic) and just enjoyed being by myself. Oddly, I had to sit there for a good half hour before anyone I knew walked in... and then they all came in at the same time. First I saw Elany, a sweet fellow yogini who teaches at Om On Yoga with me. She had her son with her who refused to go to school today! Almost at the same time I saw Jennifer who owns a local coffee shop and Taylor, a former local hardcore legend who is now in real estate (I love how we grow up). I love the randomness of seeing people I know out in public. I have gotten so accustomed to doing all my work (contacts for work, class plans, reading up on yoga literature, etc) from home and being on and off the computer in some way all day, that it was really refreshing to get out for a while.

After that I went to Maymont Park and set up my yoga mat and practiced for a good hour or more under one of the gazebos in the Italian Garden area. There is a lovely, unobstructed view of the area across the James River from there and it's probably my favorite place to practice. And for the first time in a while I felt really, really connected to the flow and had a blast exploring transitions including poses like Vasisthasana, Wild Thing and Eka Pada Koundinyasana. Even Urdhva Dhanurasana felt fantastic yesterday. More and more, I prefer practicing on my own than in a group class. People who read this who don't get to practice on your own~ you should. It's fun to experiment and watch where your attention goes when you're listening to nothing but your own breath and the sounds of nature around you.

After that I rolled up my mat and walked the perimeter of the park, skipping the Zoo. I am not a big fan of zoos. To do this I had to cut through the fox pen and saw this adorable silver fox pacing quickly from one end of his area to the other carrying what looked like a leaf in his mouth! He never stopped the whole time I watched him. I wonder what was making him so agitated. His pen is pretty big, but even so, I'd probably be agitated too if I were him.

Right at that moment a lovely Hindu couple walked by, in full garb and everything. They were both caucasian but the man wore full white dress and the woman wore a beautiful sari in gold and fuschia. The man had a red bindi and I didn't want to stare, so I didn't notice whether the woman had one. I did, however, greet them both with my hands together and "Namaste," which they returned, smiling. Quite a nice moment.

After I left the park I did a little shopping in Carytown and leaving there, saw three mounted police officers. Those horses are so beautiful and so big!

Getting home, I tidied up around the house and waited for Ben to arrive. We went and had Mexican food and then did something we've never done before that was so amazing... went and skywatched! There is a group called the Richmond Astronomy Society that sets up their very elaborate high powered telescopes in front of the Science Museum of Virginia every third Friday, weather permitting. My friend Thomas posted something about it on Facebook which reminded me that I had always wanted to go but never made the time. It was so interesting! There were half a dozen men there with their equipment set up and they were all so friendly and chatty and full of information. We looked very closely at the almost-full moon, Pleiades, and at the Orion Nebula. I think I could really get into astronomy. In my 500 we were studying photos of the universe against photos of the neural network of the brain. It's so stunning how closely they resemble each other. Not only that, but you get such a sense of the relativity of everything.... how large we are compared to neurons, and how small compared to universes. SO nice to know there is a group that gets how big and beautiful the mysteries of space really are. I was telling my friend Thomas that yoga is about creating vast spaces in the body and mind that experience closes off... Seeing these sights made it feel very possible.

After we got home I watched Toy Story 3... kind of a random choice but that's what Netflix sent us. It was actually very good!

Yesterday was a great day for just being out in the world and getting out of my comfort zone for a while. I am always so much happier after I see new sights and faces.

Tonight we're going to Ashland to hear a friend's band play and relax together. It's our Valentine's Day since we didn't have a chance to celebrate on Monday.

Monday, February 14, 2011

for Valentine's Day

If you were to hear me imitating Pavarotti
in the shower every morning, you would know
how much you have changed my life.

If you were to see me stride across the park,
waving to strangers, then you would know
I am a changed man-- like Scrooge

awakened from his bad dreams feeling feather-
light, angel-happy, laughing the father
of a long line of bright laughs--

"It is still not too late to change my life!"
It is changed. Me, who felt short-changed.
Because of you I no longer hate my body.

Because of you I buy new clothes.
Because of you I am a warrior of joy.
Because of you and me. Drop by

this Saturday morning and discover me
fiercely pulling weeds gladly, dedicated
as a born-again gardener.

Drop by on Sunday-- I'll Turtlewax
your sky-blue sports car, no sweat. I'll greet
enemies with a handshake, forgive debtors

with a papal largesse. It's all because
of you. Because of you and me,
I've become one changed man.

~Robert Phillips

I've always loved this poem.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Niyama Challenge, Week Five

Isvara-pranidhana. Up until about 4 years ago I had no use for higher power. Or else, I thought I did. After I recommitted to a regular yoga practice following a debilitating and humbling head injury, I realized that wellness of mind and body aren't enough... and healing was a gift given to me by someone, or something. Personally, a name isn't necessary for whatever it is that guides me every moment of every day... I just know that it is within me and without me all the time. I am stronger, more connected, more aware and especially more joyful because of it. I fear less, love more, and live fully. I make the effort to see it in everyone. When I stumble, I rise again. It's what led me to teach yoga, so that others, in their own time and way, might find in the practice some of what I am so lucky to have found.

This challenge was made all the more rewarding because of the members of my teacher training who went through it with me. I am sure everyone ran up on their own reasons to quit; maybe some, like me, even let loose the reins a bit along the way. But one thing I did learn is that doing something positive is so much easier when you have the support of likeminded people. And even though we are spread far and wide around the country, I feel even closer knit to them than ever.

Coming up in my next blog, I'll talk all about the exciting developments that are taking place in my personal life, with PYR, and with our concluding months in Rolf's program. And try to make sense of what it all means in the bigger picture.