Yoga Sola (Yoga Alone)

Sometimes during yoga we feel the energy of the group. A teacher is guiding us, we almost don't have to think, allowing our ears to send signals to the brain which then sends magestic instructions down many nerves in our body. Does yoga at class and yoga at home or by oneself feel different? Of course. Because we must be the guide, making the decision to take the next step. It's really quite a different concept. If you would like to do a yoga class on your own, I recommend the following format as a really rough guide. Let your decisions and desires truly make the practice your own.

Warm up. Find something that is gentle, but brings energy to the back and limbs:
extended spinal balance (where your raise opposite arm and leg)
flowing bridge (on back, raising and lowering hips with knees bent)

Action time. Do some sun salutations, with high or low energy, always taking childs if you want it, not feeling any need to keep pace, or maybe blowing your old pace out of the water, YOU decide.

Strengthen. Try some powerful warriors, I, II, III, maybe throw in triangle, reverse warrior, pyramid. Try to listen to your body and see what it craves, maybe your arms need to power and you seek planks, downdog, or do you feel like inverting? Legs up the wall, handstand, and shoulderstand are all great options.

Balance. Seek tree, eagle, dancer, half moon, maybe try a few linked together on a side, if you feel like one at a time is no longer as challenging.

Release. Pursue some gentle stretching, wide angle, twists, pigeon, slowing down.

Relax. Do you usually relax 2 minutes? Try 10. Normally 15, maybe try 5 and see if it's different.

Bottom line: Yoga is unlimited in its expression, and you have the power to make it your own, and make it what you need right then and there.



Yoga and Robots

What do you think of when you hear the word robot? Roomba, R2D2, Hal? Something that can't think for itself comes to my mind, maybe no ethics. Something not alive, yet maybe it has some sort of intelligence. I recently attended a teacher training where we put together a robot, and programmed it as well. I was intrigued but not enraptured by the complex connection of small pieces over and over as a structure emerged that could carry out a variety of functions. It could roll around, sense distance through IR and ultrasound sensors, even avoid obstacles and certain surfaces. In fact, we could use a computer program to deliver a list of complex commands that it could carry out for while, til the battery ran down. Even with all this ability, I was struck by how much more complex the human mind and body are, and how we are very far from ever creating a machine that can closely mimic our dynamic organic state. Thank goodness.

Why do we create robots? To explore, work, carry out tasks impossible or distasteful to humans. Maybe wander around the moon, repetitive tasks in a factory, or other jobs that are relatively simple and dangerous. I'm not sure we as a society are asking all the important questions though, just because we can, should we? Replacing human jobs with machines might save some money, but it also puts someone out of work. Traveling to the moon and mars are fine and maybe an interesting challenge, but it costs millions of dollars and we have a huge number of problems to deal with on this planet before we start exporting humans and our civilization around the universe. Why does war drive so much research? That's a question for another day.

I noticed at the conference how people are sometimes nice to each other but often they can also be pretty confrontational, bossy, or just downright mean. Perhaps each of us has some inner work as well, before we strive to make further progress as a civilization forging out of the atmosphere. When people in Africa are being ripped out of their houses and raped, burned and tortured (as I discussed with one fellow attendee about his home country of Kenya), and other atrocities are being played out by the second, is it good for our focus to be outside this little blue planet and all our terrible problems of violence? I'm not sure. I know that yoga has helped me to be a better person and I know I still have far to go. I work hard each day to be kind, to share what I can with others, to give what I can to those that have less than I do, to teach students that weren't born with the security and love and support that I have had my whole life. I will continue to practice yoga, and give what I can, and work to be kind and considerate, without blowing small stuff out of proportion. Because honestly, most of us are so fortunate to have what we do, I believe it is our universal duty to give back.



A Poem of Remembrance

During yoga, our emotions often surface, sometimes they can even surprise us. This could occur during a very happy time, with feelings of great bliss washing over us. It might also bring feelings of sadness if we have experienced a loss of some sort and have it on our mind, maybe because of a specific date on the calendar, or because the loss was recent. The poem below was sent to me by my sister, who received it from a friend who lost his dad when he was only 19, he's now 47 and carries it with him always. May it bring you comfort to you for any sort of loss of a loved one that you have experienced.

DEATH is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to
each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak
to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no
difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we
enjoyed together. Let my name be ever the household word that it always
was, let it be spoken without effects, without the
trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the
same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why
should I be out of mind because I am out of sight ? I am waiting for
you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just
around the corner.

All is well

Henry Scott Holland
Canon of St. Paul Cathedral


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