Intention & Attention

July 17, 2014

Gamble Everything For Love

“Gamble everything for love,
if you’re a true human being.

If not, leave
this gathering

Half-heartedness doesn’t reach
into majesty. You set out
to find God, but then you keep
stopping for long periods
at mean-spirited roadhouses.”

~Rumi

At the beginning of class, when your yoga teacher suggests you set an intention, what do you think? Do you come up with a goal for the day? Do you wish he/she’d hurry up and start the asana practice? Do you think about why you are on the mat in the first place?

As we set out on the path of yoga, whether we are there for the physical exercise, the relaxation or the spiritual benefits, we are all on a journey of discovery – of how our bodies can move, how busy and still our minds can be, how our breath can change everything from our mood to our ability to balance. Our intention should be one that arises out of this awareness. Not something we create but something that is innate within us. Something alive with energy and potential.

How do we find this intention? We simply pay attention. We pay attention to how we feel as we move; we pay attention to physical sensations, to emotions, to thoughts and to words that rise up as we sweat and stretch. Presence allows us to discover our intention and, in turn, intention encourages deeper presence. A powerful, self-repeating circle. And yet…

How often do we forget our intentions? I, for example, spend a good bit of energy and soul-searching to pick “my word” (my intention) for the year. And here we are 7 months into this year and I’ve pretty much forgotten to pay attention to this intention for 6.99999 of these months. Oops.

So, yes, intention encourages presence but it doesn’t happen on its own without our energy & effort to remain present. To continue to practice and be aware of breath. We set out to find God, but then we keep stopping for long periods at mean-spirited roadhouses…

What mean-spirited roadhouses are distracting you from your intention?

There Are No Words…

July 7, 2014

A friend just sent me a link to this article in The Atlantic… The title is, “People Prefer Electric Shocks to Being Alone with Their Thoughts”. Wow. Just wow.

Take a moment to read (don’t worry; it is short) and then take a moment to pause and reflect. How does sitting alone with your thoughts feel to you?

Normally, I am all about my meditation practice, but I’ll be honest – over the last couple of months as the little one has tried to kill me with morning sickness there have been MANY times that meditation was the last thing that was going to happen. Trying zoning out to crappy television for 7 hours; thank you very much.

So this article got me thinking about why meditation was the last thing I wanted to do when I was feeling bad. What is the point if you only do something when you feel good? Does that help you to learn or grow? I kinda doubt it. So, this morning, despite the grumpy internal moaning, I pulled out my cushion and sat. Was it amazing and blissful? No. If I had the choice to shock myself instead of sitting in silence, would I have done that? No.

In the end, it was somewhere in the middle. It didn’t end my nausea or help me see passed it, but it was much more helpful to see it and watch it for a few minutes in connection with my body rather than try to complete zone out and ignore it. Tomorrow I will sit again. Will you join me?

Westside OM

June 25, 2014

Update: Westside OM has been so popular that we are going to continue all the way through September!! Woo-hoo! So grab your friends and please keep coming to our weekly classes at this awesome pop-up space. 

Whhhhhaaaaaatttttt??? Octavia Raheem & I (thanks to the AMAZING folks of Lululemon) are so excited to introduce a Summer Yoga Pop-Up! That is right, we are bringing some yoga to the Westside! Check us out:

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These are donation only classes – all proceeds will be donated to Positive Impact! Join us starting July 8!!

Avo & Egg Toast

June 25, 2014

This recipe comes from my brilliant sister (also a brilliant nutritionist) Emma! As many of you know by now, I am about four months pregnant and still struggling quite a bit with morning sickness (also know as all-day-all-night sickness in my house). The nausea has left me with little appetite but I’m doing my best to eat as much as possible to help this little one grow. At the advice of my doctor I try to eat high-fat, high-protein snacks throughout the day; my sister recommended this gem and it has become a favorite:

Avo & Egg Toast

1 slice toast

1 hard boiled egg

1/2 avocado

salt, pepper, lemon to taste

Mash the avocado onto the toast. Slice the egg into rings and layer on top of the avocado. Top with salt, pepper and a splash of lemon juice. Soooo good.

Side note: hysterically, I eat this with a couple pickles on the side. The salt just hits the spot!

July Book Club

June 25, 2014

For July’s Yoga Book Club, we have selected Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices From the East and West. We are meeting July 22 at 8 p.m. for discussion – this group is open to anyone who is interested. Contact me for location details!

About this book:

In this luminous collection, Daniel Ladinskybest known for his gifted and bestselling interpretations of the great Sufi poet Hafizbrings together the timeless work of twelve of the world’s finest spiritual writers, six from the East and six from the West. Once again Ladinsky reveals his talent for creating profound and playful renditions of classic poems for a modern audience. Rumi’s joyous, ecstatic love poems; St. Francis’s loving observations of nature through the eyes of Catholicism; Kabir’s wild, freeing humor that synthesizes Hindu, Muslim, and Christian beliefs; St. Teresa’s sensual verse; and the mystical, healing words of Sufi poet Hafiz—these along with inspiring works by Rabia, Meister Eckhart, St. Thomas Aquinas, Mira, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Tukaram are all “love poems by God,” from writers considered to be “conduits of the divine.” A spiritual treasure to cherish always.

One of the highlights of my week each week is a class I teach for those recovering from substance abuse and PTSD. Each week I am continually moved by the enormous effort these students make in their steps towards recovery. As I was preparing for class last week, I came across a beautiful story by writer Portia Nelson.

This is titled, Chapters of My Life:

Chapter 1: I walked down the sidewalk and fell into a deep hole. I couldn’t get out and I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t my fault. It took a long time to get out.

Chapter 2: I walked down the sidewalk and fell into the same hole again. I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t my fault. I really had to struggle to get out.

Chapter 3: I walked down the same sidewalk and fell into the same hole again. This time I understood why and it was my fault. This time it was easier to get out.

Chapter 4: I walked down the sidewalk and saw the same big hold. I walked around it. I didn’t fall into that hole.

Chapter 5: I chose another sidewalk.

As I read this, I thought to myself, this so perfectly describes the work we do in our yoga practice. The “hole” doesn’t have to be substance abuse; it could be anything – depression, a repetitive argument you have with a parent, sibling or spouse, any habitual response that we wish we could change but so often happens before we even realize it…

Far too frequently, our responses and reactions are knee-jerk and seem to happen “to” us rather than “from” us. We continually travel the same path, making the rut in the road or the hole in the sidewalk bigger and bigger each time we pass through. Our yoga practice, the work of breathing and staying present through the first and 10,000 Warrior II pose is the work of pulling ourselves out of the hole. It is noticing, here I go again… This feels the same, but I HAVE THE CHOICE how I am going to react. Once we build the skill to notice, we will quickly find the needed strength to change the actions we wish to change.

So, this week can we strive to stay present in our yoga practice and in our habitual reactions? Join me at Atlanta Hot Yoga or Sacred Thread Yoga for more discussion and practice!

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