On letting go of rules: words of wisdom from Devi Daly

Yin yoga is like the punk rock of yoga; it’s the yoga where we don’t like rules very much.

Thus spoke Devi Daly in the middle of Dragon pose during her live-streamed Yin yoga class this morning.

She went on to explain that there is a lot of physical variation from person to person; we don’t all have the same bone structures, the same hip joints, the same flexibility, etc. So when it comes to yoga postures,

We really need to have a lot of variation, a lot of permission, and a lot of willingness to break the rules. For those of us who have done a lot of other kinds of yoga that have strict rules we need to let go of some of these alignment dogmas that we’ve learned in order to honor our bodies properly.

I’d add that for those of us who have done a lot of ANYTHING that involves strict rules or even unspoken or not-so-strict codes of conduct — it pays to at least question what we’ve learned in order to honor ourselves properly. Because we’re all different, in terms of values, motivations, and inclinations. Thanks for reminding me of this, Devi, I really needed that this morning ❤

If you’re looking for some excellent online yoga classes, taught by someone who’s really on it as far as the technology goes, do check out her awesome yoga channel and consider subscribing!

These are generous times: some online yoga offerings from my favorite teachers (etc)

Be Kind Stay CalmAs tempting as it may be to focus on what’s falling apart, I’m in awe of the generosity I’ve experienced and witnessed lately, and doing my best to pay it forward.

Even
After
All this time
The Sun never says
To the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look
What happens
With a love like that.
It lights the
Whole
Sky.

Ashley Sharp invoked this twice during the yoga class she streamed yesterday from her Pudding Creek refuge. Whether written by Hafiz (Hafez?) or Daniel Ladinsky, these words released an enormous sense of… relief? gratitude? after weeks of feeling so incredibly fortunate while also wondering: “Am I doing enough to help?” Not to mention the more frequent thought, “I know I could do a LOT more, but wow I’m exhausted.”

I am beginning to recognize that my desire to keep doing more and more is an attempt to avoid feeling certain emotions: anxiety, grief, confusion, overwhelm. I would like to trust that we’re all doing as much as we can with whatever edible, technological, financial, and emotional (etc) reserves we’ve got available.

A remarkable gift emerging from these times is that we suddenly have unprecedented access to healing practices offered from afar, so we can continue to fill our own cups! I am so grateful to many of my favorite yoga teachers from my California days for making their teachings available online (see list below).

Last weekend I had the immense privilege of taking Devi Daly’s first remote yin yoga teacher training course — thank you thank you thank you Devi for a lovely and inspiring three days! — and yesterday I taught my own first remote yoga session ❤

If you feel you would benefit from a bit of yoga instruction in your living room, here are a few resources from teachers I love:

I haven’t actually tried these yet, but you might find the yoga offerings on these sites useful?

  • Yoga for the People offers free live-streamed classes, videos you can watch whenever, and even a podcast if you’d prefer a simple voice to guide you.
  • MyYogaWorks has a massive online class library, and you can sign up for free for the foreseeable future using the code “ONLINE“.
  • DoYogaWithMe is offering their premium subscription for free for 2 months.
  • Down Dog (and all associated fitness apps) are offering their courses free through May 1st for most of us, and through July 1st for K-12 teachers and healthcare professionals.
  • Yoga with Adriene has been teaching yoga on YouTube for longer than just about anyone… check out this awesome Yoga for Uncertain Times playlist! ❤
  • Fitbit offers streaming yoga classes through their app as part of their premium offering; if you haven’t already taken advantage of the trial offer for newbies, you can get 90 days free at the moment.

There are probably many, many more online yoga options available; I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments and I’ll be updating this post as I hear of new resources 🙂

A yoga sequence to cultivate compassion from Chelsea Jackson Roberts

I found this lovely heart-opening yoga sequence several months ago while putting together a class on the Heart Chakra:

Heart sequence.png

Since then, I’ve incorporated it into just about every class I teach, and it’s become my go-to movement practice… so I figured it was about time I shared the love!

It’s quite accessible in that it is easy to practice anywhere, without a mat or specialized clothing. It’s also easily adjustable to fit any timeframe. I usually start with a version in which I hold each pose for two full breaths. Even if that’s all I have time for, my mindbodyheart feel so much better for it; even better if I have time to go through several rounds, timed with the breath.

I’m convinced that this sequence was exactly the loving kindness that I needed during a recent retreat that was very challenging, both physically and emotionally.

Thank you, Chelsea Jackson Roberts, for sharing your inclusive practices and experiences with us. They are truly gifts that keep on giving!

Choosing to walk my own path: the beginning

HilmaafKlint-Altar.jpg
Group X, Altar paintings #1. Hilma af Klint (c) Hilma af Klint Foundation

I keep thinking about the months of January through June of 1998. I struggle with how to label this period, because to say something like “this was a massively influential time for me” or “it was the most pivotal inflection point of my life” feels like an understatement.

Looking back, I genuinely believe that choosing to leave the life I had known up until that point allowed me to begin to discover who I was. And because I was, for the first time in my life, evaluating the world around me based on my own lens / my own value system / an expanded sense of what might be possible, I discovered several practices and perspectives that have been with me ever since.

What happened (in a nutshell)

Two and a half years into a Bachelor of Science degree at McGill University, I had become disillusioned with science as a way to explain the world. I fell into an existential crisis that called my entire approach to life into question: Why was I working toward a degree that reduced everything I loved into numbers and statistics… particularly when all the trends seemed to show that everything was doomed?

More importantly: Why was I in university at all? I certainly hadn’t made a conscious decision about the matter. Twenty years into my life, I suddenly realized I had been blindly following the path that had been laid out for me, with little regard for what I actually wanted to do, much less who I actually might be.

Then “Ice Storm ’98,” one of the worst national disasters in Canada’s history, hit…. right at the beginning of McGill’s winter semester. Continue reading “Choosing to walk my own path: the beginning”

The Well of Grief, a poem by David Whyte

Every time a crack appears in the dam that keeps my sea of grief at bay, I am reminded of this David Whyte poem:

The Well of Grief
David Whyte

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief,

turning down through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe,

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering,

the small round coins,
thrown by those who wished for something else.

Source: David Whyte’s Facebook page, accessed 6 November 2020.

The audio of the video below* features David Whyte himself reciting the poem, and talking about how it came to be. The imagery is irrelevant, and I’d suggest ignoring:

I love hearing him tell the deeper story about the bottom of the well, and how he repeats certain lines, certain words, and then the entire poem in entirely different ways!

*That said, I have mixed feelings about sharing this video as it sets of an alarm related to “not taking that which is not given.” Continue reading “The Well of Grief, a poem by David Whyte”

Your Money Or Your Life: one of the most influential books of my life

vicki
Of course this woman is one of my role models (Source: yourmoneyoryourlife.com)

I finally had a chance to read the new edition of Your Money Or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, a book that had a huge influence on me when I first discovered it back in the late ’90s.

With this book, co-author (and now friend!) Vicki Robin sparked the FIRE, or  “Financial Independence, Retire Early” movement… though few people were aware of this until relatively recently. She is a huge inspiration to me, and I definitely aim to be like her when I grow up!

The new edition includes a wider range of examples from Millennial types, and the chapter on investing is FAR better aligned to today’s investing climate.

YMOYLIntrigued? Vicki has generously shared a VERY detailed summary on the fancy new YMOYL website, but I still suggest you buy the book, and spend some time with it!

In addition to calculating how much money we’ve earned over our entire lives, and what we have to show for it (aka our net worth; this is Step 1), we’re instructed to calculate our real hourly wage, a function of our life energy, and track every cent that comes into our goes out of our lives (Step 2). And we get into the habit of tallying up our spending by categories that are relevant to our lives, and we regularly convert those monthly spending totals into hours of life energy (Step 3).

But my favorite step by far is Step 4: Three Questions That Will Transform Your Life: Continue reading “Your Money Or Your Life: one of the most influential books of my life”

Self care and art as acts of resistance

It’s hard to deny that there’s a lot of shit going down in the world right now. As the daughter of two immigrants (into the US) and an immigrant (into NZ) myself, what’s happening at the US border hits me in a particular way, and there are so many other examples we might point to around the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to stay open to and present with this sort of unpleasantness, for a couple reasons. First, I believe it is important to actually SEE and GRIEVE these atrocities, rather than pretending they don’t exist or that they don’t hurt. And more importantly, I believe we must be present to what is going on if we might hope to effectively address any issues that are not in alignment with our own values.

And so I have been super inspired by a few things that my friends have shared this week. They remind me that there are so many ways to contribute to upending the status quo, and so many ways to take care of ourselves as we do that work. Continue reading “Self care and art as acts of resistance”

There are many truths: on multiple perspectives and (too many?) modes of communication

Whatever it is that I’m tapped into right now reminds me a LOT of a similar period I went through back in 1998 (dropped out of University; went to Australia to chart my OWN path; “discovered” art symbols God yoga Buddhism and so many other things that remain very important in my life…)

I still have lot of questions about how to make correspondence work in an era when we have too many communication choices. And I’m still hoping you’ll interact with me via this YouTube channel!

You can read more about the Paradox of Choice and the actual details of the jam sampling study here; I didn’t quite get the details right during the recording.

On privilege, intersectionality, and how a Trump presidency could affect New Zealanders

While I chose not to join my friends and hundreds of others in Auckland who marched in solidarity today with the Women’s March on DC, I was very much there in spirit. Rather than marching, I spent the day researching this essay; consider it my contribution to the very important work that is currently happening around the world.

***

Last night as my yoga class was closing, the topic of the March came up. Another student, a white woman in her early 40s, asked if it was an “anti-Trump March.” I tried my best to offer a different perspective, in the spirit of “When they go low, we go high:”

“I prefer to think of it as a march FOR women’s rights, and for the rights of people of color and immigrants and people of all sexual orientations and–”

That’s as far as I got before she interrupted, “so, it’s an anti-Trump march.”

Her interest in simplifying this for herself only started to get under my skin (consciously, at least) after my post-yoga bliss wore off.

I’m going to give my yoga classmate, and most other Kiwis I’ve spoken with about Trump’s election, the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are inherently good, well-intentioned people. Indeed, the average Kiwi that I have encountered thus far seems to be FAR more politically aware and progressive than the average Americans I encountered at home.

But there’s something about their flip dismissal of what the election (and now, inauguration) of Trump actually means that has really been bothering me. Continue reading “On privilege, intersectionality, and how a Trump presidency could affect New Zealanders”