Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Month of the Mountain

When I teach Yoga classes to beginners I often say that the first class is a lesson in sitting, standing and lying down. The are invariably 3 poses I always do in every class: Sukhasana (easy sitting pose – see my pic at right), Tadasana (Mountain pose, standing) and Savasana (Corpse pose, lying). I’m also known to say that after that first lesson beginning yoga becomes like a game of Twister. Left foot red, right foot green, arms overhead… you get the picture.

Several of my fellow teachers and I are studying one yoga pose more in depth every month starting this month. As practitioners ourselves it is helpful to have a them to our practice or something to focus on. You challenge yourself, you learn new things, your body is always changing so there are always new things to learn. The same things apply when you teach – you want to learn more. The difference is that you also want to share what you’ve learned.

Tadasana, or Mountain pose, is a great introduction to Yoga. If only I had a nickel for every time someone said to me “I can’t do Yoga, I’m not flexible”. That only tells me that they have no idea what Yoga is and just don’t even want to go there (lack of interest, lack of understanding, fear?) The point is, you don’t do Yoga because you are flexible, you do it to become flexible. At least that’s my counterpoint. For further clarification I’d also like to add that it increases strength, endurance, relaxation and a sense of well being. Frankly, I could almost care less about being flexible. As another great Yoga teacher once said “They won’t put on your tombstone ‘she had really open hamstrings’”.

Back to Mountain pose. Mountain pose, in essence, is standing straight up and standing still. OK, there is more to it than that. The rest of it, however, is a practice in subtleness. How am I standing? What is my posture like? How do my feet feel? Where is the weight in my feet? What are my toes doing? How does my back feel? Are my shoulders lifting, slumping forward or gliding down and back? Is the weight of my head balanced? I could go on. You could think of it not as ‘just standing’ but as really STANDING. Try it sometime and you’ll know what I mean.

Want to learn more? Find out what we learned during our Month of Mountain pose.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Yummy stuff

I've finally started adding some recipes to grouprecipes.com (look over to the right for a list of some of my recipes). I love food - growing it, shopping for it, cooking it, eating it. Have I mentioned that before? I want to share some of my favorites so check out grouprecipes for my favorites and favorites of my friends.
Even though I love food it doesn't mean I eat everything. I am foodie, or maybe what some would call a food snob. I'm not a picky eater, because frankly I love many things. I just am very choosy. I have distinct likes and dislikes. For example, I've never eaten a Big Mac from McDonalds or Hamburger Helper in my entire life. I do not like mayonnaise or yellow mustard. Sometimes at neighborhood gatherings I bring items that most people have never heard of. I only eat real butter, unsalted please. I think capers are good on most anything. My favorite dessert is Tiramisu, made from scratch with Marsala and Rum. I could write a whole manifesto on my food tastes.
Over the last several years I've become more tuned in to how food makes me feel as well. Like the time I ate at Burger King and it kept me up all night with gut-wrenching pain. Or there is a certain brand of sparkling water that I can't drink because it never seems to stop sparkling inside of me. Many of us have cravings at certain times of the month (salt for me - make it Sea salt, please). I've known for many years that if I eat too much refined sugar (white flour, cookies, candy, etc.) that I develop headaches.
Have you ever noticed how food makes you feel? Our program, Living Compassionately, is exploring eating and food next month and I've got food on the brain. I used to think just my cravings drove my eating but now that I've paid more attention to it, I realize my moods do too. And not always to my benefit. When I'm tired from too little sleep I get too impatient and lazy to take the time to eat well. I grab convenience foods that are usually not healthy. It makes me feel even worse and creates a cycle of ickiness. Sometimes all it takes is one really good meal (Minestrone?) to make me feel better right away.
Are you a better, nicer person because of how you eat? Does your eating (or not eating, as the case may be) create bad moods or good moods? Want to join me in exploring your relationship to food and eating and how it makes you feel? Did you ever think that how you ate could affect how you treat other people? Make May your "eat better to be nicer" month. Bon Appetit!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I am Selfish

Hello, my name is Marya and I am selfish. There, I've admitted it.
That makes it sound so guilt-ridden, doesn't it? Well just let me clarify. I am selfish and I do not feel guilty.
So I just looked up selfish and selfish I'm not. (Selfish - \'sel-fish\adj : concerned with one's own welfare excessively or without regard for others.)
But you know what? I just don't like the definition. I'm going to make up a new one (is that selfish?) Selfish - \'sel-fish\adj : concerned with one's own welfare before attending to the welfare of others.
Here's what I mean. Do you know how on airplanes they give you emergency instructions and they tell you that if you are traveling with children how you should put on your own oxygen mask first and then put them on your children? Have you ever heard the phrase, "If Momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy?" That's what I'm talking about.
And it doesn't even have to be children. It could be friends, family, spouse or significant other. How many of you give and give and give until there's nothing left of you? How many of you sacrifice things you love just to give your time and energy to someone else? How many of you don't regularly pursue your own interests or have put them aside indefinitely because you "don't have the time anymore"?
What I want to know is, how you can you give anything you don't have? If you don't have time for yourself, how can you give time to another? If you don't have energy, how can you give energy for another? Most importantly, if you don't have love for yourself, how can you give love to another?
I'm getting verklempt. Here's your topic: You can't hold what you don't have in your hand and you can't give what you don't have. Discuss.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The rest of the story...

I've been telling of The Breeze at Dawn poem and where it came from and what it means to me. I've received some questions and am happy to elaborate.

One morning about 9 years ago I went outside our rented house to let our dogs out. There was a piece of paper on the doorstep. White, 8 1/2"x11", folded and a little crinkled and worn. It looked as if it had blown up there where it lay haphazardly against the side of the garage. I do not believe anyone placed it there (we didn't really know any of our neighbors and we lived too far from anyone who would possibly think of putting it there by 7:30am). I believe it was random (in a physical reality sense) yet completely meant for me (in a spiritual sense).

Which leads me to the next question, What else was on the paper? Good question. Here it is:

> When God created, people went to God for every little thing, asking for favors, complaining to him about everything. People would pray for God to come. If he would come they would say, "Don't come now. Come later. You have come too soon." If God didn't come, the pray-er would complain, "I have called you so many times and you have come so late." God grew really tired of this and wanted to go hid somewhere, but this was not easily done. These humans would go to the moon to find God.
At this point God met a wise woman. The wise woman whispered in God's ear "Hide in the heart of humankind. That is where they never go." Since that day, God has hidden in people's hearts. Anyone who goes there will not be able to complain. All complaints will drop away. One person here and there among millions goes to their own heart and finds God. And when that person finds God in their own heart, they have no complaints. < - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

So now you know, the rest of the story.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Breeze at Dawn.2

I've shared what 'The Breeze at Dawn..." comes from and how it came to me. I'd also like to share what I think it means, or more correctly, what it means to me.

"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you."
I'm not generally a morning person. At least I didn't used to be. My kids, on the other hand, truly do wake with the sun. (Daylight savings in the spring is usually a VERY welcome time in our house) At this point in my life I do have more energy in the morning and can get up quickly and easily now at around 7am (I haven't used an alarm clock in almost 7 years). In the past year I've been feeling more and more creative and inspired. The word 'inspired' means to be 'in spirit'. It is often that I wake up and am filled with ideas for writing, creating, doing. The breeze at dawn is like the spirit moving through me in the morning, the ideas are the secrets.

"Don't go back to sleep"
Once you've "awakened", why would you want to go back to sleep? Could you if you even tried? Once you've tasted peace and serenity, how could you not crave it forevermore? Answermethat.

"You must ask for what you really want"
I really figured this out when I took a manifesting class last summer (ala The Secret). Before then it never occurred to me to even think about this. Where do I begin. "You mean I can ask for things?" "You mean I can want things?" "What do I even want?" When I really thought about it and actually asked myself the question, I had no clue. And things does not just mean material things. We're talking everything! Life! Dear God, I had no idea. (I don't mean that in a 'name in vain' way, I really was talking to God there) OK, here goes, what do I want? Love, security, freedom from fear, acceptance (of others and by others), ideas, to feel good, to have fun, happy children, a community of loving, nonjudgmental people, friends, more time to golf, dance, play, do yoga, massages and spa treatments, oh the list goes on. Opened up a can of worms there, huh?

"People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch."
This is a tricky one. I'm not usually one to delve too deeply into my spiritual and philosophical views unless asked or unless with close company. So, here is my opinion on this one, in a nutshell. Take from it whatever you like or move on if you don't.
I believe there is God's world (heaven, the formless, source - whatever you want to call it) and our world (bodies, forms, earth, hell - again, take personal license). I'd like to think all of us are tying to get back to God's world, something so unimaginably amazing and awesome and wonderful that if we'd truly remember what it's like we probably wouldn't be here in the first place. Good to know there is an opening - a door - and we can get back there. Others are there already and they're trying to help us so they sometimes come back.

"The door is round and open"
I know it's open, I'm just not sure why it's round. Must be yet to come.

Just remember - "don't go back to sleep"!

Breeze at Dawn Significance

Only several people know the significance of my blog's title "The Breeze at Dawn..." and a couple of those have suggested (a long time ago, mind you) that I share what the heck it means. It comes from a Rumi poem. It has a lot of significance for me. Are you ready? Here goes...

10 years ago my husband and I moved from the Chicago area to the Minneapolis area. We loved Chicago (my husband grew up there) but the time was right for us to leave. We came to Minneapolis because it was halfway between Chicago and northern Minnesota (where I grew up).
I was 26 and still relatively fresh in the "real world" - job, career, new marriage, responsibilities, blah, blah, blah. All of which created STRESS in my life. Along with STRESS came some of it's hoodlum friends: fatigue, headaches, chronic digestion problems, lethargy, muscle spasms. STRESS and friends loved the idea of moving. Road Trip! they yelled and packed their bags.
Once in Minnesota I found a new job. I loved the work we did (food marketing) but hated the environment (working for a married couple out of their home - yeah, I know, what the hell was I thinking?) I traveled quite a bit and eventually started having panic attacks. 1. because I hated flying, and 2. because I often traveled with the man of the couple and he was like the most obnoxious, sweatpant-wearing, too-loud-talking, inappropriate-moment Dad you hated as a 15-year old. I actually took muscle relaxers when I had to fly with him. STRESS had invited one too many friends to the party so I finally had to start kicking them out.
First thing I did was find a new job. But, alas, new job means new and different STRESS. (The message here is that stress is not always something that happens to you but how you react to those things) The second thing I did changed my life. I started doing Yoga. I had heard it was good for stress relief, so 'What the heck?' I thought. It began as a simple Community Ed class. Then it just so happened there was a Yoga studio down the road from my new job. I began going 3 times a week. WOW! - what a relief. That summer I had many moments of peace and serenity that I now know is possible all the time. All I knew then was that it was heavenly, felt really good and I wanted it. I've been working towards it ever since.
So, what the hell does this have to do with "Breeze at Dawn" you say? Settle down, I'm gettin' to it.
Ever have something happen in your life that is so out of place and unusual that you know it's a sign, and has some greater meaning that you don't fully understand? This is mine.
It was during that time in my life that one morning I went to my front door (to let my dog out) and saw a piece of paper on the doorstep. It was an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of white paper folded in half. No words, just blank. I picked it up and opened it. This is what it said inside:

"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across
the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep."
- Rumi

There is more on the page which I will share another day, along with what I feel this poem means to me (it's meaning continues to unfold over time).
I have it memorized. I think of it often. And I still have that piece of paper.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Patience, part deux

Did I mention that having kids takes patience? Oh good. At least we're clear on that.

Today my 6 1/2 year old son came home from school and said "I have good news and bad news!"
Scary enough when an adult says it, makes you really nervous coming from a first grader.
"Yes..." was my anticipatory reply. "The good news is I lost my tooth!" Good news indeed. This is his first lost baby tooth. It has been loose for a month. Most of his friends are working on 5th or 6th teeth. No matter that, he has strong teeth and they take a little longer. And yet, the new tooth was already half way in. I had just called the Dentist yesterday.
Now, on to the bad news. "I lost my tooth at the end of the day because I tried to bite Jenna because I was so mad I didn't know what to do and I think I swallowed my tooth." Oh. We're still trying to figure out why he would bite his friend (he "can't remember"). I doubt he swallowed the tooth but he doesn't seem to know where on earth it could have gone. I think I'll ask his teacher on both counts. Maybe we can then find out what really happened.