Category Archives: Yoga

Parivrrita Mix

As requested here is the playlist from today’s twist inspired class:

2000 The Time Of The Turning Peter Gabriel OVO The Millennium Show
1992 On the Turning Away Pink Floyd Momentary Lapse of Reason
1968 Revolution 1 The Beatles The Beatles (White Album)
1992 Ain’t Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around) Aretha Franklin Queen Of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings [Box Set]
2003 Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose James Brown
1959 The Twist Hank Ballard & The Midnighters Say It Loud!
1998 Twistin’ The Night Away Sam Cooke Greatest Hits
1974 Revolution Bob Marley & The Wailers Natty Dread
2007 You Turned the Tables On Me Ella Fitzgerald Love Letters From Ella
1966 Here, There And Everywhere The Beatles Revolver
1968 Circle Round The Sun James Taylor James Taylor
1960 Spiral John Coltrane Giant Steps
 Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season) Pete Seeger Pete Seeger Greatest Hits
1988 In Orbit Thelonious Monk The Complete Riverside Recordings
1970 The Circle Game Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon
1975 Simple Twist Of Fate Bob Dylan Blood On The Tracks
2003 Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me) Tony Bennett and Bill Evans Together Again

Victor

Victor’s Birthday and Tribute to Andy Martin

On November 19, 2004 I celebrated my 32nd birthday. That same day, one of my closest friends, Andy Martin, died as a result of Sino-Nasal-Undifferentiated-Carcinoma (a rare form of nasal cancer). Each subsequent year I have shared my birthday with Andy’s memory and the legacy of his life and work.

Mostly I have remembered and retold the story of Andy’s unique battle with SNUC and helped raise money for Bounce For Life, the non-profit organization dedicated to the continuation of the work Andy began researching his own cancer while a medical student at Tulane University.

While Andy’s story certainly has personal relevance to me, the reason I feel so compelled to share it each year is because of the broader lessons Andy’s audacity, courage, hope, and commitment can teach us all. Here is Andy’s story:

In the summer of 2000, Andy was preparing to attend medical school at Tulane University when he developed intense nose bleeds. He was soon diagnosed with Sino-Nasal-Undifferentiated-Carcinoma. SNUC is one of the truly rare cancers with fewer than 100 cases reported in the scientific literature. It is also one of the most malignant cancers, with a 100% mortality rate within 5 years. Despite the diagnosis, and perhaps in someway inspired by it, for the next 4 years, Andy underwent the rigors of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery several times, while continuing in the medical school program at Tulane.

On the one hand, Andy was unnervingly confident that he could both beat this cancer and become an excellent physician. At the same time I believe that his rational mind understood the odds of his long term survival and that he calculated that spending his time in this pursuit, however potentially futile, was the best use of his remaining life. The inevitability of his passing sharpened his resolve.

While, to be sure, Andy’s battle was a personal one, he was not alone. When Andy lost his hair from chemotherapy and radiation treatment, his entire Tulane Medical School class shaved their heads in solidarity. On the occasion when Andy was almost guaranteed to lose his sense of taste because of an upcoming treatment, a wine-tasting party was held in his honor and Andy tasted his last drops of wine in the company of friends and colleagues. While the people around him came to give him support, I have no doubt that in many ways Andy’s courage and grace served as an inspiration for all of us who were lucky enough to be around him in those years.

Dr. Tyler Curiel was one of Andy’s professor’s at Tulane and became Andy’s mentor, colleague, and friend. Dr. Curiel was the Chief of Hematology and Oncology at Tulane where he ran a lab that specialized in immune responses to cancers. When Andy decided that he would rather, as he put it, “sidestep the clinical duties of a typical third year student and learn how to do the type of research that will further our understanding of SNUC,” he worked under the mentorship of Dr. Curiel.

Andy convinced Dr. Curiel to biopsy the cancer from Andy’s own body and Andy spent the rest of his life working with those samples. “If this cancer’s going to get me, damn it, I’m going to go down fighting, you know, and make a difference, so that future people who are diagnosed don’t have the same outcome that I had.” Andy’s work generated the only known living cell line of SNUC in the world. While research on this cell line certainly may one day inform the treatment of SNUC, its implications are much broader. Because SNUC is such a deadly and ferocious form of cancer, clinical treatments that either prove to slow or alter its development may be gateways in to treating more common forms of cancer. The value of a living cell line for this type of research can not be understated. If nothing else, and even if no treatment ever results from this research, Andy’s persistence, passion, and personal sacrifice will continue to serve those who watched him work and those who hear his story.

Bounce For Life, created while Andy was still alive, was originally a way for Dr. Curiel to help raise funds for the research by breaking a world record: he dribbled a basketball for 24 hours straight while running 108 miles. The organization continues now to help fund the research that Andy began and keep his cell lines, story, work, and legacy alive.

To Support Bounce For Life or read more about Andy go to www.bounceforlife.org.

On Saturday, November 20, 2010 I will teach my regular 10:00 a.m. Intermediate and 12:00 noon Beginning classes. They will be a celebration of my birthday, friendship, and Andy. Feel free to come to class, or just stop by for cake, between classes at 11:30 a.m., or after the second class at 1:15 p.m. We will also collect cash and check donations for Bounce For Life.

Sara’s Birthday Mix

By: Victor Dubin

About 5 years ago the Tuesday night intermediate class and I went out to dinner at Olitas. At the time I was using only “yoga” music in my classes, flutes, sytar, chanting, etc. At the dinner the topic of my personal yoga practice came up and Sara asked what kind of music I listened to while practicing. I mentioned Led Zepplin, Mos Def, among others. She suggested I start using that kind of music in class and I began experimenting with different music mixes. Since then many of you have come to enjoy the Martin Luther King Birthday mixes, and the mixes for holidays, and even just encouraging the sun to shine. Thanks to Sara for the encouragement. This one was for you:

Tuesday 5:30 Intermediate
Someday We’ll All Be Free Aretha Franklin
Track 13 MNM One Shot
One to Grow On UMC’s
Come Together F. Zion I (World Premier! Produced By J.Period) J. Period & The Roots
The Weight Aretha Franklin
Staying Alive Wyclef Jean
Food For The Masses Michael Franti & Spearhead
Sunshine Mos Def
A Brand New Me Aretha Franklin
Move On Muneshine, Raks One, Kenn Starr
Feelin’ Alright Jungle Brothers
All Falls Down Syleena Kanye West
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman Aretha Franklin
Got Mos Def
It’s Like That Run-D.M.C.
Been Thru The Storm F. Stevie Wonder (J.Period Exclusive!) J. Period + The Roots
Love Mos Def
Umi Says Mos Def
A Change Is Gonna Come Aretha Franklin
Shoulder Wordsworth
We Don’t Mind Michael Franti & Spearhead
Drinking Again Aretha Franklin
Try A Little Tenderness Aretha Franklin
Holy Holy Aretha Franklin

Sexual Misconduct Among Yoga Teachers

Posted by Valerie Moselle

I was just reading this week’s article in the GoodTimes Santa Cruz titled Yogis Behaving Badly.  The article is written on the subject of yoga teachers and the specter of sexual harassment that has been known to loom in the shadows of the yoga world between teacher and student, guru and disciple.  The article points out the tenderness of the relationship between a student and  his or her teacher, and how that vulnerability can be, and has been, abused.

Certainly, becoming a successful and inspiring yoga teacher should go hand-in-hand with adhering to the moral foundational principals of yoga (the yamas and niyamas).   But it doesn’t always work out that way.  Yoga teachers are human, tempted by all the same urges as everyone else.  Fear of retribution from an almighty and judgmental God did not make Catholic priests impervious to molesting little boys.  There is no reason to think that all yoga teachers would be immune to the same impulses, especially when worshiped themselves by a roomful of women in spandex routinely in the process of opening up –physically, emotionally, and one would hope, spiritually.

It was obvious to me, as I got deeper into the writing, that one of the author’s purposes in broaching the topic of abuse by yoga teachers was to publicly air the events that brought one of our own local teachers under criminal investigation for the alleged rape of one student, and the sexual harassment of two others.  As far as I know, those claims are still being investigated by the Santa Cruz Police Department.

On one hand I appreciated the explicit (and anonymous, as the names of the victims had been changed) descriptions of what actually happened to these women.  These women felt that they had been violated, and they were willing to reveal the actions that made them feel this way.  For a woman who might be feeling weird or unsure about a suspect interaction with a yoga teacher, reading the description of another woman’s experience might help clarify her reaction.  Women, especially with a history of sexual abuse (1 in 3) sometimes get confused.  Some feel they should give the benefit of the doubt to the abuser, and that they must be misinterpreting the event.  A common pattern is to feel they deserved or even invited the abuse.  And then there is just plain old shame and embarrassment.  To read another woman’s account of harassment spelled out for all to see could (and should) give women courage to confront their own experiences, so that they can make appropriate choices around processing and healing the trauma.

On the other hand this article has caused me a fair amount of discomfort since I first read it the other day.  I’ve been chewing on the ‘facts’ I know about our local situation, as they have been revealed to me over time.  I have no personal history with the accused, but am aware of the scandals under which he left my former professional stomping grounds.  I have heard the rumors that have been floating around the yoga community for years, and have internalized the ‘inside scoops’ from people closer to the source of the ‘troubles’ than I am.  None of this is conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, which is why under the umbrella of news organizations, or even the umbrella of Nourish  the dirty laundry cannot be completely hung out to dry.  We won’t name names, we can’t speak openly about what may have happened, to whom, and because of whom.  But by now I am skeptical enough to steer clear of any involvement with the accused.  It’s frustrating that in most cases of this nature the ‘real’ story is never allowed to come out.  These accusations seem to always exist in the realm of rumor and gossip.  I have to say, though it was nice to finally see at least something in print, it’s frustrating that an article inspired by local events had to be so….generalized.

When we are restricted from talking about rape, sexual harassment, or any other kind of violence the offender is protected, not the victim.  I understand that until someone is convicted of a crime that it violates that person’s rights to speak about them as if they were guilty.  The mechanism for protecting the innocent-wrongly-accused has an important role in our justice system, obviously.  I believe in due process, etc… However, in cases like this I find it unfortunate that a potential threat to women is left vague and yet sensationalized.  Without specifics, we keep the issue at arm’s length, as if it has nothing to do with us.   Or worse, the uninformed assume the yoga world is rife with such problems and allow the fear instilled by the media to color their impression of yoga altogether.

As Judith Lasater so profoundly expressed in the GoodTimes article, this problem is not going to get better when someone gets put behind bars.  This issue won’t get better in any facet of our society until women refuse to be victimized, first by the offender and then later by feeling ashamed to raise her voice about it.  That’s a tall order.  (I know the former statement will have a lot of victims of violence perking up, so give me a moment to elaborate).

A quote came to me through one of my own teachers, Colette Crawford.  It is an ‘ancient Chinese saying’, one of those that has no source that I’ve been able to find.  Please correct me if I’ve got it wrong, or if you know something about it’s origins that I don’t.  It goes like this:

“Mountains will move, wars will cease, when women wake up.”

I’m not saying that we can necessarily end rape and sexual harassment.  With things as they are we have no control of what another brings to the relationship we have with them, whether that is the relationship with a friend,  a date, a teacher, a family member, or stranger on a dark street.  What we do have is the ability to overcome shame, heal, refuse silence, and raise awareness with the purpose of creating an environment where inappropriate sexual advances are never tolerated in any way by anybody.  Ms. Lasater’s fantasy about a woman standing up in the middle of class to announce an indiscretion, and then asking for solidarity in a boycott of the class is now my fantasy too.  My greatest disappointment is the gossipy nature of these discussions, when they come up.  Oh, and the fact that this teacher is still teaching.

My first thought was that there should be an organization for yoga teachers through which complaints can be filed and investigated.  That way, even if there are no prosecutions, at least there is a record of complaints.  You see, there very well may not have been a crime committed here.  Making passes at women, after all, is not illegal (except in the workplace).  But I think we can all agree that yoga teachers should not be making passes at students, any more than college professors, police officers, or therapists should be.  If there were some way to log a complaint, Yogis could be left to make their own judgments about teachers.  They would have a place to go to to look for red flags, or to place a warning for future students.

Then I realized that no governing body can protect us from these teachers, both few and far between, by-the-way.   It’s up to us to refuse to be taken advantage of.  Though I understand the purpose of the article, and the assumptions we have been guided to make.  Though I appreciate the interview with Judith Lasater, and the efforts to give voice to this serious issue–we will not see the end of this, as Ms. Lasater points out, until we, as a community start talking out loud.  We know this is happening.  It’s fine to name names and issue warnings.

My own mother was annoyingly over-protective when I was a kid.  She was constantly reminding me of self-defense techniques, talking with me about abuse and what to do if I feel unsafe with someone.  It was one of my least favorite things about being her child.  “Maaaawwwwwwwmmmm.  Cheeeeeeeez.”  But in my early 20s when I found myself suddenly in a violent situation with a boyfriend of two years, I knew what to do.  I got the hell out of there and pressed charges.  Not because I was angry and wanted to get back at him.  But because I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt.  I knew that whatever the outcome of his proceedings that he would have a blemish on his record reflecting what happened to me.  I knew, even then, that that blemish might in some direct or indirect way, protect another woman from escalating harm.

This is one case where I think we should speak up, even if it feels like gossip.  If you are experiencing, or know someone who is experiencing problems with a yoga teacher, (or anyone else for that matter) you owe it to yourself, and all women everywhere to talk about it.  Share it with your friends, a counselor, or a help line.  Share other incidents in your life that have made you uncomfortable.  Heal your own experiences by bringing them into the light and asking those that you love and who love you to take a look at them, even if it’s the last thing you want to do.

As a student of yoga, tell your fellow yoginis when a teacher crosses the line and disappoints your sense of morality, and by all means stop going to see that teacher.   Share with your fellow practitioners the teachers with whom you feel safe and respected.  As well as the names of the studios in which you feel supported.  The word ‘guru’ refers to a teacher that brings a student from the darkness of ignorance into the light of understanding.  In speaking about this problem out loud, we become gurus by bringing this uncomfortable subject out of the dark closet in which it has lurked, and into the light of our collective awareness.

It is unfortunate that we have to keep our wiles about us as we venture into the yoga world and subject ourselves to our teachers.  But we do.   I for one, have felt relieved to have been nowhere near the teacher that shall remain unnamed in this post, or the studio that supported him despite multiple complaints.  Instead I remain grateful that I am in the fold of an organization that puts the health and well-being of it’s clientele at the forefront of it’s mission (thank you Nourish) and to be teaching among teachers I would recommend to absolutely anyone who asked, male or female, regardless of their history.   Finally, I am grateful to be able to sit with my boss and fellow teacher, Victor, and discuss this serious issue together.  He and Jocelyn have brought this issue out into the light of Nourish by discussing it openly in meetings, and have asked us to share our feelings and insights about it with our students, and anyone who will listen.  Their message is clear.  Sexual misconduct among yoga teachers should not, under any circumstances, be tolerated.  “We want people to know that Nourish is a safe place to practice yoga.”

Jocelyn + Victor Turn 14

In the summer of 1996 Jocelyn and I were married in La Jolla and 2 days later moved to Santa Cruz. We have been here ever since and have celebrated every one of our wedding anniversaries right here in our adopted home town. On our anniversary this year I put together some new music mixes to celebrate our union during yoga classes. Here they are. Enjoy!

12:30 – 1:15 Beginning
Something In The Way She Moves James Taylor One Man Band
Power Of Two Indigo Girls Swamp Ophelia
Boyfriend Cloris Leachman Young Frankenstein
Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours Stevie Wonder Crooklyn, Vol. 2
Your Smiling Face James Taylor JT
Beautiful India.Arie Acoustic Soul
Just The End The Beatles Abbey Road
Grace Me’Shell Ndegeocello Bitter
Angel [Live] / Better Together [Live] Jack Johnson En Concert [Live]
She’s Got A Way [live] Billy Joel Greatest Hits
Nervous? Airplane Airplane
Believe It Or Not James Taylor Dad Loves His Work
Beautiful Me’Shell Ndegeocello Bitter

5:45-7:00 Beginning
Something In The Way She Moves James Taylor One Man Band
Power Of Two Indigo Girls Swamp Ophelia
Boyfriend Cloris Leachman Young Frankenstein Comedy
Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours Stevie Wonder Crooklyn, Vol. 2
Your Smiling Face James Taylor JT Music
Family Man James Taylor In The Pocket
Love Songs James Taylor Gorilla
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) James Taylor Gorilla
Shower The People James Taylor One Man Band
Choppin Brocolli Dana Carvey
Just The End The Beatles Abbey Road Remix
Let’s Stay Together Al Green The Definitive Greatest Hits
Beautiful India.Arie Acoustic Soul
Grace Me’Shell Ndegeocello Bitter
Nervous? Airplane Airplane
Angel [Live] / Better Together [Live] Jack Johnson En Concert [Live]
She’s Got A Way [live] Billy Joel Greatest Hits
Believe It Or Not James Taylor Dad Loves His Work
Beautiful Me’Shell Ndegeocello Bitter

We are so honored to be able to share our continued union with all of you.

Victor

Happy Mothers’ Day!

mystery-called-life-mother[1]Always the requests to post the playlists. Here are the Mothers’ Day mixes from Saturday. Word to your mother!

Vinyasa at 10:00
They Dance Alone (Gueca Solo) Sting Nothing Like The Sun 
Shaking The Tree Peter Gabriel Feat. Youssou N’Dour Shaking The Tree: 16 Golden Greats 
Freedom Richie Havens Resume: The Best of Richie Havens
Mother Father Dave Matthews Band Everyday
No Woman No Cry Bob Marley & The Wailers LIVE!
Your Mother Should Know The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour
Bohemian Rhapsody Queen Queen Greatest Hits I
Woman John Lennon The John Lennon Collection
Great Grandmother India.Arie Testimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationships
Mother Pink Floyd The Wall [Disc 1]
Mothers Of The Disappeared U2 The Joshua Tree
Woman’s Gotta Have It James Taylor In The Pocket 
Mother Nature’s Son The Beatles The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 2] 
Mother’s Maiden Name Ben Carroll Lover Undercover
Woman’s Work Tracy Chapman Matters Of The Heart 
Four Women Nina Simone Anthology
A Child Is Born Tony Bennett and Bill Evans Together Again
Sylvie Sweet Honey In the Rock Folkways: A Vision Shared – A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly
Beautiful Me’Shell Ndegeocello Bitter

Beginning at Noon

They Dance Alone (Gueca Solo) Sting Nothing Like The Sun 
Shaking The Tree Peter Gabriel Feat. Youssou N’Dour Shaking The Tree: 16 Golden Greats 
Freedom Richie Havens Resume: The Best of Richie Havens
Your Mother Should Know The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour
Bohemian Rhapsody Queen Queen Greatest Hits I
Woman John Lennon The John Lennon Collection
Great Grandmother India.Arie Testimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationships
Mother Pink Floyd The Wall [Disc 1]
Mothers Of The Disappeared U2 The Joshua Tree
Woman’s Gotta Have It James Taylor In The Pocket 
Mother Nature’s Son The Beatles The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 2] 
Mother’s Maiden Name Ben Carroll Lover Undercover
Woman’s Work Tracy Chapman Matters Of The Heart 
Four Women Nina Simone Anthology
A Child Is Born Tony Bennett and Bill Evans Together Again
Sylvie Sweet Honey In the Rock Folkways: A Vision Shared – A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly
Beautiful Me’Shell Ndegeocello Bitter

Victor

Yoga Defined

There are so many people practicing yoga these days. But what exactly is yoga? There are many forms of yoga and countless “styles” of hatha yoga. Here are some definitions that I find useful. I hope you will too.

“Patanjali defines yoga as a multifaceted method of bringing consciousness to a state of stillness.” – Chip Hartranft, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

“The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj meaning to bind, join, attach, and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply.” – B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga

“It [yoga] means the disciplining of the intellect, the mind, the emotions, the will, which that yoga presupposes; it means a poise of the soul which enables one to look at life in all its aspects evenly.” – Mahadev Desai, The Gita According to Gandhi

“Work alone is your priviledge, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action be your motive; and never cease to work. Work in the name of the lord, abandoning selfish desires. Be not affected by succes or failure. This equipoise is called yoga.” – Bhagavad Gita

“When the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not – then, say the wise, is reached the highest stage. This steady control of the senses and mind has been defined as yoga. Who attains it is free from delusion.” – Kathopanishad

“The meaning of yoga is union, the bringing together of the various polarities within, in order to reach a state of balance and transcend our limited vision.” – Swami Radha, Hatha Yoga The Hidden Language

“Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are.” – Erich Schiffmann, The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness

“The Sanskrit word yoga means union, although reunion is perhaps closer to actual usage. Reunion implies a reconnection of factors earlier joined but subsequently separated.” – Raeburn Heimbeck, Ph.D.

“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.” – K. Pattabhi Jois

“Whether you are sick or weak, young, old or even very old, you can succeed in yoga if you practice diligently.” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika

“Yoga is a systematic technology to improve the body, understand the mind, and free the spirit.” Timothy McCall, M.D., Yoga As Medicine

“Yoga means acting in such a way that all of our attention is directed toward the activity in which we are currently engaged. Yoga attempts to create a state in which we are always present – really present – in every action, in every moment.” – T.K.V. Desikachar

Enjoy!

Victor

Yoga Unveiled

Yoga UnveiledWhile yoga continues to gain tremendous popularity, there is still often a veil of mystery within which it is shrouded. Particularly the history and variety of expressions that yoga takes are often unknown even to long time yoga practitioners. The film Yoga Unveiled does an excellent job of illuminating the past, present, and potential future of this powerfully dynamic system that we call yoga. From yoga’s roots in India nearly 50 centuries ago, to its spread to the west over the last 100 years, this film explores the depth and breadth of yoga in a clear, relevant, and insightful way. If you get a chance, check it out.

Victor

Chakras

I found myself teaching  mula bandha, the root lock, in class a few weeks ago.   (It hadn’t really been a part of the plan that day.  It just sort of spontaneously emerged.)  I allowed myself to give some very specific physical instructions, which I don’t usually do.  You see, There are some schools of yoga that believe we shouldn’t teach the bandhas or ‘locks’ in the body.  The idea is that as one progresses in the asana practice the bandhas happen automatically, without one having to think about it.  Teaching the bandhas is at best unnecessary, and at worst confusing.   Because of this, I have resisted little more than a mention of  the locks  in an effort to remain true to  my own teachers, especially when I’ve felt I didn’t yet have enough information or experience to warrant making those choices on my own.  Lately I’ve been a little more…well…experimental.

What happened that day was that the class evolved to include the principles  of  muladhara chakra; and we continued work with the root chakra for the remainder of the week.   The following week we focused on the second chakra, and we’ve been climbing up the spine ever since.

A couple of weeks ago, when it became time to move on to vishuddha chakra, the energy center located at the throat,  something changed in me.  In the previous weeks leading up to the heart chakra I was feeling inspired, directed, and clear about what to bring into my chakra classes.  I had been looking forward to the classes, and even wished I had more time to delve more deeply into this work.   But this particular week, when I began thinking about vishuddha, I hit a wall.

The feelings that came up for me were not blaring and loud, in fact it took me a while to notice them.  But they were powerful.  When I thought about teaching, I felt lethargic and bored, as if the sound of my own voice was becoming tiresome…bla, bla, bla.  I was also experiencing a mild sense of dread at the idea of getting ready to teach.  I started to have the ‘Monday Blues’.  And found myself approaching my week with a ‘just make it to Friday’ kind of attitude’.   The feelings were so mild, that I could have easily dismissed them.  But I took notice, and went about preparing to teach about the energetic wheel at the throat anyway.

Later it occurred to me that until that week, I had been teaching about concepts I understood relatively well.  I have infinite work to do in my own practice; and by no means do I see myself as an expert in the subtle energies of the body.  However, up until the 5th chakra I was confident in my philosophical knowledge and experiential understanding.  I had what I felt was more than enough fodder to bring to a few hours of teaching on the subjects.  But the throat chakra...

I see myself knee deep in the mud of vishuddha. My everyday efforts as a teacher, a mother, a wife, a woman, and a human are centered in exploring my voice, living my truth, sharing and moving toward my dreams, trusting in our interconnectedness, and channeling the energy of a passionate heart for the good of my family —and ultimately all beings.  This is my daily work —the very seat of my triumphs and failures.  These are my challenges.  This energetic center is where it gets sticky interesting for me.

Caroline Shola Arewa, the author of Opening to Spirit,  explains, “when energy is allowed to remain in the lower chakras, limitation continues.  The beautiful body temple becomes a prison and we cannot see beyond earthly reality.  As energy ascends through the heart into the throat, our horizons broaden.  Our sense of awe and wonder increases, our path in life is illuminated and our direction becomes clear.”  When I read these words, I feel like she is describing my process.  However, I feel like a babe in the woods, at the very, very beginning of this opening.  Looking up towards the sun through the trees and blinking the sleep out of my eyes.  This is my chakra.

Aaahaaa.  The source of my resistance.  My disinterest.  The doldrums of my spiritual ascension.  I am stalled out!  And then I Remembered (with a capital ‘R’):  Slow down, go in, dig deeper.  Because it’s all in there.  This I really do believe.  The answers are inside of us.  We are whole.  And we are wholly connected to every being that came before.  Even, perhaps especially, the ones who spent their lives sitting in caves contemplating the nature of the universe, mapping the chakras and the nadis, practicing coming into full being-ness.  All this comes from within.

Wednesday morning we slowed down.  I knew it was the right thing.  We began class with three oms, we breathed, we held, we focused, we rested, and we ended with om.  Dear students, I’m not sure what your experience was, but the chanting of om at the end of that class was ethereal (get it? throat chakra?  Ether?).  It was as if we were all vibrating together, like tuning forks resonating to the waves of energy enveloping us.  I can’t know how it was for you, but my own experience was of deep peace and complete wonder at the very extraordinary, almost visible energy in the room.  A palpable sense of connectedness, and a delicious,  deep, lingering shift seemed to be present in all of us.  For me, it was one of those magical moments upon which years of practice and a renewed desire to share yoga can rest.  Another layer fell away.  Inspiration.

The purpose of this post?  It doesn’t really matter what is known, practiced, taught, thought about, learned.  Slow down and bring awareness into your body.  Tune into the sensations there, and all the other things that drift into your awareness.  Allow all thoughts, feelings, and sensations to have relevance.  Let nothing go unnoticed, and the nature of that which is within, the fabric that holds us together: bone, fiber, blood, breath, space, light, light, light…. becomes known.  That knowing, sometimes fleeting, sometimes brief, is…Radiant (with a capital ‘R’).

Keep with the practice.  Practice is good.

In Gratitude, Valerie

Do Not Pass Over This Passover Playlist

PassoverIt was a fun and full class tonight! As promised, here is the playlist with Title Artist Album:

Under African Skies Paul Simon Graceland
Slave Driver [Jamaican Version] Bob Marley & The Wailers Catch A Fire (Deluxe Edition)
Have A Talk With God Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key Of Life
Exodus Bob Marley & the Wailers Exodus
The Weight Aretha Franklin 30 Greatest Hits
Seed Of Memory Terry Reid Seed Of Memory
Freedom Richie Havens Resume: The Best of Richie Havens
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free Nina Simone Anthology
Border Song Elton John Greatest Hits
I Want To Be Free Ohio Players Funk on Fire: The Mercury Anthology
People Get Ready Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions People Get Ready!
Someday We’ll All Be Free Donny Hathaway A Donny Hathaway Collection
My Opening Farewell Bonnie Raitt Road Tested
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right Bob Dylan The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
Freedom In The Air Bernice Johnson Reagon Give Your Hands To Struggle
Obiero [From en Mana Kuoyo] Ayub Ogada African Angels

Enjoy your freedom!

Victor