And Still I Rise

November 9, 2016

Dear Student of Yoga,
At this time, I'd like to share this life-affirming recitation of Maya Angelou's Poem, And Still I Rise.
Rising each day to practice yoga, and be present to the our individual experience of NOW can carry us through times of crisis, and enhance our mental & emotional strength. Yoga practice can be our refuge. Being present to our own physical and emotional pain is the beginning of practicing compassion for the painful states of others in our universal experience of suffering in embodiment.   It is possible to be present with our own feelings the way one tries to be an accepting and compassionate presence with an upset child. Let the emotion pass, and let it inspire the next step on the journey -- Illuminating the experience, however uncomfortable, allows us to remove our own ignorance.  We bring more of the layers of our selves into the light, and embody the light.  Then we can work to cultivate the opposite quality.  Courage, love, kindness, and compassion in the face of fear, aversion or hatred. Generosity and patience instead of greediness.  We can find the possibility of equanimity in practice.  From Patricia Walden, "When we practice, we are practicing for our own well-being but we can also offer our practice to others, to make of our soul a lighthouse."
This weekend I will be studying with my teacher, Manouso Manos, for his annual workshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I'm very sorry that I was unable to get a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher to substitute teach the Saturday morning class and it will be cancelled Nov. 12.  All other classes are happening-- there is Level III-IV tonight and Level I Thursday at 5:45pm. Please come and join in this practice in community. 
Hope to see you soon,
In yoga,

PS Please join us for a community honoring of Sri BKS Iyengar's birthday anniversary at IYCGR on Sunday, December 11th 4-6pm. Details are here.

coming back to yoga

after a break in classes it can be difficult to return. we can feel the progress that we had achieved, slipping away. it can be hard to face the same work again, knowing the sustained effort that progress requires. 
if the break from yoga has been many months: there is an inertia to leaving class and leaving practice, that is very strong. It’s a heavy solid state of being. In yoga philosophy we might call this quality of nature, tamas.  This is completely normal to experience in the beginning.  We can all agree: it is easier not to do. It is easier to stay in bed and not practice. It is easier to stay home than to venture out after work or early Saturday morning than to go to class.  The natural course is downhill.
It takes extra will to move out of the inertia of not doing into doing again, into making it to class on time, repeatedly, over and over. But once that is started it has a momentum that builds and helps develop a will to continue that grows and grows.  That is why starting the practice is like igniting a fire. Lighting the match out of nothing is sort of a miracle! It takes something to start that fire, and to build it. That is why the Iyengar yoga teacher’s job is to help blow on that fire, to motivate students to move beyond their perceptions of their ability, toward what is possible. Just getting to class is the hardest part in the beginning, and then the teacher can help the student to move forward from there.  
don’t try to start right where you were when you left off. the maximum physically back then was earned through the sustained effort, and we may need to find earlier stages of poses that are accessible. The past achievement and past states are past and not present. If it’s been a long break from class and without home practice, coming to level 1 for a time will help the mind and body work together again, and bring the strength and stability and alignment back safely.  Witnessing the present conditions of the body and mind and breath brings us into yoga. We can start from wherever we are!
be patient with yourself, and have faith that the obstacles you are facing can be surpassed, and if you are facing some that you have faced before, you will have the experience of conquering them once already.  Improvements happen over time, showing up again and again to class and onto the mat.  It takes sustained effort.

Having returned to class or practice after a break, all is not lost from that time.  Sometimes we need the experience of having a break to contrast to our study to understand the value of the classes and practice.  it can renew an appreciation, it can deepen our will.