I love doing big, busy spreads with a lot of activity going on. This one was for Cricket magazine. See if you can find the sports-related “wrongs” in this illustration.
(c) Cricket Magazine/CarusAdd a Comment
I love doing big, busy spreads with a lot of activity going on. This one was for Cricket magazine. See if you can find the sports-related “wrongs” in this illustration.
(c) Cricket Magazine/CarusAdd a Comment
Given that we see yoga practically everywhere we turn, from strip-mall yoga studios to advertisements for the Gap, one might assume a blanket acceptance of yoga as an acceptable consumer choice.
Yet, a growing movement courts fear of the popularization of yoga, warning that yoga is essentially Hindu. Some Christians, including Albert Mohler (President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Pat Robertson (television evangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition of America), and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church, warn about the dangers of yoga given the perceived incompatibility between what they believe is its Hindu essence and Christianity. Some well-known Americans, such as Mohler, add that yoga’s popularization threatens the Christian essence of American culture. Hindu protesters, most notably represented by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), criticize yoga insiders for failing to recognize yoga’s so-called Hindu origins and illegitimately co-opting yoga for the sake of profit.
Protesters rely on revisionist histories that essentialize yoga as Hindu, ignoring its historical and lived heterogeneity. By the end of the first millennium C.E., however, a variety of yoga systems were widespread in South Asia as Hindu, Buddhist, Jains, and others prescribed them. Following the twelfth-century Muslim incursions into South Asia and the establishment of Islam as a South Asian religion, even Muslim Sufis appropriated elements of yoga. Therefore, throughout its premodern history, yoga was culturally South Asian but did not belong to any single religious tradition. Rather than essentializing premodern yoga by reifying its content and aims, it is more accurate to identify it as heterogeneous in practice and characteristic of the doctrinally diverse culture of South Asia.
The history of modern postural yoga, a fitness regimen made up of sequences of often-onerous bodily postures, the movement through which is synchronized with the breath, also problematizes the identification of yoga as Hindu. That history is a paragon of cultural encounters in the process of constructing something new in response to transnational ideas and movements, including military calisthenics, modern medicine, and the Western European and North American physical culture of gymnasts, bodybuilders, martial experts, and contortionists. Yoga proponents constructed new postural yoga systems in the twentieth century, and nothing like them appeared in the historical record up to that time. In other words, the methods of postural yoga were specific to the twentieth century and would not have been considered yoga prior.
In short, recent scholarship has shown that the type of yoga that dominates the yoga industry today—modern postural yoga—does not have its so-called “origins” in some static, “classical,” Hindu yoga system; rather, it is a twentieth-century transnational product, the aims of which include modern conceptions of physical fitness, stress reduction, beauty, and overall well-being. Hence recent scholarship on yoga, both historical and lived, attends to the particularities of different yoga traditions, which vary based largely on social context.
Nevertheless, protesters against the popularization of yoga, in strikingly similar ways, are polemical, prescriptive, and share misguiding orientalist and reformist strategies that essentialize yoga as Hindu. Interestingly though, the two protesting positions emerge as much from the cultural context—that is, consumer culture—that they share with popularized yoga as from a desire to erect boundaries between themselves and yoga insiders. For example, protesters participate in the same consumer dialect, assuming the importance of “choosing” a fitness regimen that fits one’s personal lifestyle and serves the goal of self-perfection. The protesters positions, in other words, are as much the products of the social context they share with postural yoga advocates as popularized yoga itself.
Image Credit: Yoga. Photo by Matt Madd. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 via Flickr.
Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) was a nineteenth-century Hindu reformer, missionary to the United States, and Indian nationalist who constructed and disseminated a system of modern yoga, which he called raja yoga. Yoga insiders and certain scholars of the history of yoga have frequently identified him as the “creator” or “father” of modern yoga, but that is just not accurate.
Vivekananda’s first visit to the United States came in 1893 with his famous speech to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago on his vision of the Hindu tradition. The speech was a hit and triggered a speaking tour that would take him all over the country.
Vivekananda, however, had a number of contemporaries whose work on yoga also stirred plenty of conversation. Consider Pierre Bernard (1876-1955), a turn-of-the-century American social radical, sexual deviant, and modern yoga advocate. As a boy, Bernard discovered yoga when he met an Indian by the name of Sylvais Hamati in Lincoln, Nebraska. Hamati became the boy’s guru. As a young man, Bernard spent years reveling in the public spectacle of his yogic trances. He later became a fashionable businessman and community leader, but always remained a teacher of yoga. At every stage of Bernard’s yoga career, mainstream Americans remained suspicious of his teachings. There were numerous attempts by law enforcement, the media, and the Christian clergy to force Bernard and his students to forfeit yoga. Although he received media attention from all over the country, he only attracted a small following of those who could afford, both financially and socially, to be eccentric.
Next consider the tragic case of Ida C. Craddock (1857-1902), another American social radical, sexual deviant (it turns out there are a lot of them in the history of yoga), and modern yoga advocate. Craddock, like Bernard, lived in a period characterized by various attempts to legally enforce fundamentalist interpretations of what it meant to be a “Christian nation.” Most notable of such attempts were those of US Postal Inspector and founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, Anthony Comstock, who used his position in the postal service to censor whatever he deemed a threat to the evangelical Protestant Christian morals he identified as American. Comstock sought to enforce legal standards that would qualify Craddock’s teachings as illegal. In 1902, after being convicted for charges of obscenity, Craddock spent three torturous months in prison and, with the threat of more prison time, eventually killed herself.
So modern yoga has not always received a friendly reception among mainstream populations, and Vivekananda was not the sole person responsible for changing that. Both Craddock and Bernard were Vivekananda’s contemporaries and even interacted with him, but they fought separate, unique battles to familiarize the world with modern conceptions of yoga.
To be clear, Vivekananda also took risks in this regard. His emphasis on self-control, meditation, and psychology appealed to many who sought to counter mainstream institutional forms of religion with new metaphysical movements. He encouraged his disciples to turn inward, toward the self, rather than outward, toward religious orthodoxies. Vivekananda responded to those interested in wedding metaphysics with modern ideas and values as well as the aim of self-realization. In all of these ways, he appealed to an audience made up of individuals with controversial and sometimes scandalous religious interests.
But Vivekananda also prescribed modern yoga in a form far less radical than those of more controversial figures. Craddock and Bernard’s renditions of yoga resulted in persecution because they were interested in the body practices believed to result in more pleasurable bodily experiences. Vivekananda censored yoga of most body practices (he was not a fan of yoga postures, for instance). He maintained that any version of yoga other than the narrowly conceived one he prescribed was a corruption of its true form. In many ways, Vivekananda’s vision of yoga was the antithesis of the body-centered practices that many associated with yoga at the time and was unlike images of yoga as fitness that dominate the popular imagination today.
Vivekananda certainly gained the attention of a substantive audience with his raja yoga, but he did not popularize yoga in any form, much less the postural yoga form popularized across the world today. The development of postural yoga, which would eventually become popularized in the late twentieth century, was made possible by twentieth-century encounters between North American and Western European physical culture and elite, Indian yoga advocates.
Although Vivekananda can be said to have contributed to a yoga renaissance through his wide distribution of his version of modern yoga within and beyond India, he cannot be said to be the “creator” of modern yoga. Instead, he created one idiosyncratic form of modern yoga and one very different from and, in fact, contrary to, the one that dominates the yoga industry today.
Featured image credit: Kirsten Greene (left) in the deepest forward bend of the Bikram Yoga postural sequence, sasanga asana (rabbit posture) and Sabine Hagen (right) in the deepest backward bend in the Bikram Yoga postural sequence, ustra asana (camel posture). Photographed by Michael Petrachenko. Courtesy of Kirsten Greene.
Nearly all of us who live in urban areas across the world know someone who “does yoga” as it is colloquially put. And should we choose to do it ourselves, we need not travel farther than a neighborhood strip mall to purchase a yoga mat or attend a yoga class.
The amount of spending on yoga depends largely on brand. A consumer can purchase a pair of yoga pants with an unfamiliar brand at the popular retail store Target for $19.99 or purchase a pair from Lululemon, a high-end yoga-apparel brand that on average charges $98 for yoga pants. On Amazon, the consumer can choose from a variety of yoga mats with unfamiliar brands for under $20, or she can go to a specialty shop and purchase a stylish Manduka-brand yoga mat, which will cost as much as $100. And all that does not include the cost of yoga classes, which widely range from $5 to over $20 per class.
If a consumer is really dedicated to investing money in yoga, for thousands of dollars she can purchase a spot in a yoga retreat in locations throughout the United States, in Europe, or even in the Bahamas or Brazil, with yoga teachers marketing their own popular brands, such as Bikram Choudhury, whose brand is Bikram Yoga. Spending on yoga is steadily increasing. In the United States alone, spending doubled from $2.95 billion to $5.7 billion from 2004 to 2008 and climbed to $10.3 billion between 2008 and 2012.
Consumers convey the meaning of yoga, however, not only through what products and services they choose to purchase but also what they choose not to purchase. In other words, consumption can require exchange of money and commodities, and the amount of money spent on commodities largely depends on the brand choices of individual consumers. However, consumption can also lack an exchange of money and commodities. Many contemporary yoga practitioners, in fact, oppose the commodification of yoga by choosing free yoga services and rejecting certain yoga products.
For the founder of postural yoga brand Yoga to the People, Greg Gumucio, and those who choose the services associated with his brand, yoga’s meaning transcends its commodities. The anti-commodification brand of Yoga to the People signifies, quite directly, a very particular goal: a better world. It is believed that is possible as more and more people become self-actualized or come into their full being—yoga is “becoming”—through strengthening and healing their bodies and minds. The individual who chooses Yoga to the People still acts as a consumer even if consumption does not require the exchange of money. The consumer chooses Gumucio’s brand as opposed to others because of that brand’s success in capturing what yoga means to him or her.
Some yoga practitioners reject the yoga mat for its perceived over-commodification. The mat, for most practitioners of postural yoga, is a necessity, not just because it allows one to perform postures without slipping or to mark one’s territory in a crowded class, but also because it signifies various non-utilitarian meanings. The mat signifies a “liminal space” set apart from day-to-day life as one participates in a self-developmental ritual of rigorous physical practice. It is also often a status symbol. But yoga insiders who reject mats argue that they are not necessary, that they interfere with practice, and that they are simply commodities without any profound meaning. It is worth noting that the first purpose-made yoga mat was not manufactured and sold until the 1990s. Yoga practitioners who reject the mat choose brands of yoga that do not require the mat, such as Laughing Lotus, because those brands are believed to better signify the true meaning of yoga. For them, the meaning of yoga is experiential and transcends ownership of a commodity as seemingly arbitrary as a mat.
The post The commodification and anti-commodification of yoga appeared first on OUPblog.
Many outsiders to contemporary popularized yoga profoundly trivialize it by reducing it to a mere commodity of global market capitalism, and to impotent borrowings from or “rebrandings” of traditional, authentic religious products. In other words, according to this account, popularized yoga can be reduced to mere commodities meant to fulfill utilitarian needs or meet hedonistic desires.
On the other hand, many yoga insiders frequently avoid categorizing yoga as religion, preferring to categorize it as spiritual or to invoke other non-explicitly religious terms to describe it. For example, Houston yoga practitioner, teacher, studio owner, and advocate Jennifer Buergermeister responded to attempts by the State of Texas to regulate yoga as a career school by suggesting, “Regulating Yoga as a career school detracted from its rightful place as a spiritual and philosophical tradition.” J. Brown, a New York yoga advocate has suggested yoga is “sacred,” is an “all-encompassing whole Truth,” and functions to explore the “self, health, and life.” Yoga studio owner and instructor Bruce Roger definitively stated, “Yoga is a spiritual practice. It’s not a purchase.”
Many yoga advocates avoid the category religion because it connotes an authoritative institution or doctrine in the popular imagination. Well-known yoga advocate T. K. V. Desikachar suggests yoga is not religious because it does not have a doctrine concerning the existence of God. Yoga Journal journalist Phil Catalfo, along with many other yoga insiders, suggests that yoga is spirituality, not religion, yet advocates define yoga in religious terms even if they avoid explicitly labeling it a “religion.”
If one closely evaluates examples from modern postural yoga, however, it becomes apparent that yoga, even in its popularized forms, can have robust religious qualities. Popularized yoga can serve as a body of religious practice in the sense of a set of behaviors that are treated as sacred, as set apart from the ordinary or mundane dimensions of everyday life; that are grounded in a shared ontology or worldview (although that ontology may or may not provide a metanarrative or all-encompassing worldview); that are grounded in a shared axiology or set of values or goals concerned with resolving weakness, suffering, or death; and that are reinforced through myth and ritual.
In the postural yoga context, for example, when Iyengar’s students repeat their teacher’s famous mantra—“The body is my temple, [postures] are my prayers”—or read in one of his monographs—“Health is religious. Ill-health is irreligious” (Iyengar 1988: 10)—they testify to experiencing the mundane flesh, bones, and physical movements and even yoga accessories as sacred. Yet a sacred body nevertheless remains a body of flesh and bone, and a sacred yoga mat nevertheless remains a commodity in the form of a rubber mat. The material and even commodified dimensions of yoga, therefore, are not incompatible with the religious dimensions of yoga.
In the Prison Yoga Project, salvation is conceptualized as a form of bodily healing. In 2002, James Fox, postural yoga teacher and founder and director of the Prison Yoga Project, began teaching yoga to prisoners at the San Quentin State Prison, a California prison for men. According to the Prison Yoga Project, most prisoners suffer from “original pain,” pain caused by chronic trauma experienced early in life. The consequent suffering leads to violence and thus more suffering in a vicious cycle that can last a lifetime. Yoga, according to the Prison Yoga Project, provides prisoners dealing with original pain with a path toward healing and recovery.
Finally, consider the mythological dimensions of modern postural yoga. Yoga giants B. K. S. Iyengar (1918-2014) and K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009) serve as examples of how yoga branding and mythologizing go hand-in-hand. Both mythologize their systems of postural yoga in ways that tie those systems to ancient yoga traditions while simultaneously reflecting dominant cultural ideas and values by claiming biomedical authority. Their myths ground postural yoga in a linear trajectory of transmission from ancient yoga traditions. Claims to that transmission are frequently made and assumed to be historically accurate.
While Iyengar has historically claimed ties between Iyengar Yoga and the ancient yoga transmission going at least as far back as the Yoga Sutras (circa 350-450 CE), he recently introduced a ritual invocation to Patanjali, believed to be the author of the Yoga Sutras, at the beginning of each Iyengar Yoga class. Iyengar also presents yoga as biomedically legitimized as is evidenced by the biomedical discourse that permeates his work on yoga, referring, for example, to the postures’ benefits for “every muscle, nerve and gland in the body.”
In like manner, Jois suggested that verses from the earliest Vedas delineate the nine postures of the suryanamaskar sequences of postures in his Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga system. Simultaneoulsy, he reevaluates the purification function of yoga as resulting, not in the purification from karma, but in the purification from disease.
In the postural yoga world, branding and mythologizing simultaneously involve validating yoga based on its ties to both ancient origins and modern science.
Featured image credit: Yoga 4 Love Community Outdoor Yoga class for Freedom and Gratitude on Independence Day 2010 in Dallas, Texas. Photographed by Lisa Ware and Richard Ware. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
You know that stress dream that everyone has at one time or another? The one where you’re standing up in front of a giant group of people and something goes horribly wrong? You forget your speech, your voice cracks, you’re not wearing pants. Well that dream became a recurring reality for me my senior year of college (not the pants part thankfully). Mine was the singer’s nightmare. The one where you open your mouth to sing and the voice that comes out is not your own.
As a child and an adolescent I loved to perform. Singing wasn’t something I thought about; it was something I just did and as a result I was totally fearless. When I got to college the concept of thinking about singing as a science was entirely new to me. My teachers taught me to release my jaw and tongue, to inhale into my back and belly, to use muscular antagonism of the inspiratory and expiratory muscles, to keep my larynx low and stable, to lift my palate, and many other mechanics of singing. At first this new focus on technique was interesting, but eventually all of the technical language resulted in confusion. Every time I opened my mouth to sing I was afraid I would do something wrong. The result was a voice that was only a shadow of the one I used to call my own.
What happens when we’re afraid? In his article “The Anatomy of Fear,” John A. Call discusses the body’s reaction to fear: the heart-rate speeds up, our muscles tense, and the breath becomes fast and shallow.
The implications of this for a singer are huge. In singing the first rule of the inhale is release low. When a singer releases and expands through the lower body (belly, low back, and intercostals), it allows these muscles to work in tandem on the exhale. This gives the singer the ability to manage the air much more efficiently than if he/she had begun by expanding through the chest and clavicles. If a person is experiencing fear, the ability to take a low and relaxed or released breath becomes quite difficult.
Certainly singers need to learn proper singing technique, but sometimes I wonder, what is all of this focus on the physical costing us as artists? There was a time in my life when I operated solely on musical intuition. But as I learned more and more about the mechanics of singing I began attempting to operate on facts and science instead of artistic impulse. I don’t mean to suggest that I didn’t need to learn the mechanics—I had plenty of technical issues. But perhaps there is a more holistic approach to teaching singing that could facilitate proper technique without the loss of instinct.
After I graduated from college I took some time off from singing. When I decided to return to it I knew I needed a different approach. I had been practicing yoga as a form of exercise for a few years, but I felt confident that with the right guidance it could really help me as a singer. So I sought out a voice/yoga teacher.
My new teacher, Mark Moliterno, taught me that yoga recognizes that tension in the body is often a result of physical or psychological blockages to the breath. The practice of yoga seeks to release tension and free the breath. When properly implemented in the voice studio, yoga can be a pathway to efficient vocal technique and artistic freedom.
Mark pointed out that all of the confusion and fear that had built up during my college studies had caused me to physically disengage from the lower half of my body. So we set to work using yoga to reconnect me with my lower body and help me feel more secure in my singing.
We used postures like Tādāsana or Mountain Pose and Vìrabhadrāsana One or Warrior One to release tension in the body and connect me with the ground. Feeling my leg muscles engaged and my feet planted firmly on the floor helped me to feel more secure. We used pranayama or breath exercises to release tension within the muscles of the respiratory system. We used hip openers to release the tension in my jaw, and shoulder openers to release the tension in my tongue.
We did yoga and made music. Not once in this entire process did I think about any of the mechanics of singing. My technique improved because my body was open and the breath could function naturally and efficiently. Yoga was like this miracle that freed my voice and allowed me to trust myself again. But it isn’t a miracle, it’s a science that takes into account all parts of the person, and not just the anatomical.
When singers start trying to function as anatomical machines, seeking after flawless technique, we can lose the ability to sing authentically. Yoga helped me to learn to sing with good technique without focusing on it, and dissolved the fear that kept me from trusting my musical instincts. It released the tension in my body and mind, unleashing the breath, and offering me a pathway to artistic freedom.
Mezzo-soprano, Laura Davis, is a singer, conductor, and voice teacher. She holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Pedagogy and Performance from the Catholic University of America and a Bachelor of Music degree in Sacred Music from Westminster Choir College. Recent performances include Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Dina in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, and Third Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. After spending 10 years on the east coast conducting, performing, and teaching, Ms. Davis has returned to her home state of Colorado where she is in the process of opening a voice studio based on a holistic approach to singing.
The post Learning to sing: lessons from a yogi voice teacher appeared first on OUPblog.
OMG, this video had me bawling. So great. Love this whole idea of making the sky rain goodness over one person.
Enjoy!Add a Comment
Serving a diverse community can be difficult, especially when you are dealing with diversity across the physical, mental, and emotional spectrum. Often the social aspect of the library can be off putting for children, and parents of children with developmental disabilities. For children on the Autism spectrum, the child’s inability to regulate behavior can be problematic in a highly structured setting (such as a library program). Children with physical disabilities may feel that they are limited in how they can participate in library programs. But often the simplest programs can be the most effective and by offering a new or unique opportunity the library becomes a safe place to engage in something outside their preconceived limitations.
Do you have a pre-set program time for children with disabilities? Do you have a pre-set time for family programs? Consider a family program featuring beginner and child friendly yoga. No matter how you incorporate it, I encourage you to use yoga as a way to bring all your patrons together. If offers the opportunity for all children to interact in a safe social environment.
Children enjoy the same benefits of yoga as adults: increased body awareness, strength and flexibility, as well as stress relief and relaxation. Yoga encourages self-acceptance, compassion, kindness, and discipline. All of this while celebrating creative expression, individual differences, and their place in the community. All of these are extremely important in the life of a child dealing with developmental delays or physical restrictions. Anecdotal reports describe success in reducing obesity and discipline problems, decreasing anger and panic attacks, and enhancing concentration and academic performance. Health problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, constipation, back pain, and colds or sinus problems, are reportedly improved with a yoga practice. (1) A certified yoga instructor can lead and demonstrate proper technique and offer advice and tips. Activities in this program can include age-appropriate poses, breathing exercises, relaxation, and partner poses between parent and child. Even a child with physical limitations can participate in the regulated and guided breathing exercises that accompany yoga practice.
While the research on the effects of yoga in children is lengthy, a tertiary literature review only uncovered a few empirical studies on yoga and the disabled. But using the early literacy principle of “play” and its importance in early childhood development, if you use yoga as an inclusive game, the possibilities for reaching children expands.
A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Yoga examined the positive combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys. (2)
Since 2001, in a north London hospital, Jo Manuel has been providing yoga therapy sessions for children with a variety of special needs, from autism to cerebral palsy. Manuel and her 12 colleagues see around 500 children per week, and while some children do have physical restrictions the simple act of rhythmic breathing can bring a sense of calm and relaxation to both the children and their caregivers. (3)
Consider adding these titles in order to make your program reflective of your collection.
You are a Lion:and other fun yoga poses is a fun interactive title that invites children to pretend to be different animals as they do various child friendly poses.
(Image from Pipin Properties)
My Daddy is a Pretzel: yoga for parents and kids is a great story time title. With it’s whimsical look at yoga practice, it offers great introductions for adults and children.
(Image from Barefoot Books)
Sleepy Little Yoga is a wonderful title that introduces nine poses perfect for preparing your toddler for bedtime.
(Image from Macmillan)
1. White, Laura Santangelo. “Yoga for children.” Pediatric Nursing Sept.-Oct. 2009: 277+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
2. Duraisami, V., K. Jaiganesh, and S. Parthasarathy. “Combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on the selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys.” International Journal of Yoga 4.2 (2011): 100. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
3. Cooper, Catherine. “A calming influence: a yoga centre helping children with special needs has been achieving some impressively positive results.” Nursing Standard 24.50 (2010): 24+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
Lesley Mason is a children’s librarian at the District of Columbia Public Library. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgAdd a Comment
|Month 4 of My Broken Leg|
|Julie Nail (photo by Lerina Winters)|
|The Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill|
|Clicking my heels for a speedier recovery|
|There's No Place Like Home|
|In front of Molly's|
|Catching Throws from the Carriage Riders|
|Glittering Shoes is Fun|
If you order any of the books I have illustrated (click the links on the right margin of this blog), I will personally sign a book plate and drop it in the mail to you in time for the holidays. I am working on book plate designs for "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids", "Little Black Ant on Park Street", and "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!", and will post examples after the weekend.Add a Comment
I've wanted to try yoga for a while now. This wish was inspired by the calm and creativity of writer friends like Liz Garton Scanlon, who is so filled with peace and gratefulness and generosity that you'd think she'd be annoying, except that she's clever and funny and real, and you can't help but love her. The past year or two especially, my brain feels like a pinball, zinging from topic to topic, bouncing from task to task way too fast and violently to actually accomplish any meaningful thought. So, I finally went to a hatha yoga class at the gym one Sunday night a couple of months ago, and I loved it. I'm doing two classes a week now, and I want to add one more.
Lots of the moves aren't all that hard physically, because I'm flexible, and these aren't highly advanced classes. They're very "do what's available to you and don't worry about what the person on the mat next to yours is doing." I'm good at the moves (postures?), but bad at anything that stresses my wrists. I'm pretty wobbly at the balance stuff, too! So some of it's easy, and some of it's difficult.
But the most difficult part by far is focusing on the moment. Not letting my mind wander. Not thinking about my to-do list. Not mentally reviewing the budget. Not wondering if I'll ever sell another trade book. Not worrying about my daughter in her new apartment. Not thinking ahead to the manuscript that's due next week.
So that's what I'm most hoping to get: a refuge from the constant decision-making and chaos of real life, and, eventually, an ability to quiet my mind, focus better, and let my creativity run wild.
Here's my first submission...
Hey, if these critters can do it, why can't I? New Year's resolution #1: Do more exercise.
This is my first post on M.A. - thanks for the invite! :)
visit my blog
When you purchase an item from MY STORE, 10% of your purchase price will be donated to my favorite animal charities; Last Chance Animal Rescue and Horses Haven, both in lower MI. Which charity the donation goes to, will depend on the item purchased and I will love you forever from the bottom of my little black heart. ...and even if you don't purchase anything from me, PLEASE go to their site and make a donation! These animals deserve a chance!
Snuggle up by the fireplace, with a warm mug of something and browse through the pages of my website
Call it a coincidence that Letting Go is the theme at the Wild Lotus Yoga Studio in New Orleans. When I’m in town, I benefit from blissful moments at Wild Lotus, although yesterday’s class left me slightly crippled (what I get for taking a vacation from exercise as well). During the crazy carnival season, ‘letting go’ is an important reminder. Simple errands, such as making groceries (as they say in New Orleans), can be impossible if you lose a good parking spot or are in a hurry to see the next parade.
I began the carnival season with the intention of forgoing the idea of experiencing carnival in Panama. My sister used last year’s dates for carnival when she booked our airline tickets, an easy mistake if you don’t celebrate Mardi Gras or Easter regularly. I told her that I would be spending Mardi Gras in New Orleans with friends and family. She assured me that Carnival in Panama was different than Carnival in New Orleans or Brazil or the rest of the world celebrating the Catholic festival. The calendar mix-up ensured we had a more authentic experience and enjoyable trip to the Panama. She didn’t realize that Mardi Gras and Easter are dependant on the ever wavering cycles of the moon. The festivities last for weeks on end, before Fat Tuesday and the ensuing fast for lent. However, New Orleans will certainly break the lent fasting shortly after Mardi Gras for the St. Patrick’s Day parade next weekend. Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, March 8. Mardi Gras can occur as early as February 3 and as late as March 9. This year leaves very little wiggle room for the lent respite of the St. Patick’s Day and St. Joseph Day celebrations.
As someone who has experienced Mardi Gras for seven years, since before Hurricane Katrina, I know that the city’s people population seems to double in size. Dining at a favorite restaurant like Jacques-imo’s can be a challenge, sometimes impossible the weekend before Mardi Gras day. This year HBO has decided to make things on my block a little more interesting. The Episode Manager left a flyer on my doorstep, “Filming Night Parade, Muses, in Your Area.” The all-female krewe has been a favorite parade for over a decade. Add HBO to the mix and I must be homebound and parade bound for the evening. Although the letter assured us the cable show’s “footprint” would be small, I let go of the idea of accomplishing anything other than parading that evening with the cast and crew of Treme, my neighbors, and all the tourists from the North Shore crowding for a chance to catch some girly throws and plastic beads made in China. I had high hopes of going to yoga today, but I let go of that idea as well.
Next week, Mardi Gras gives way to lent and the St. Patrick's Day parades. I will be driving back to California. On Sunday, March 13, I join the Hitched: Writing in Political Oppression Poetry Series at Beyond Baroque, along with Sholeh Wolpe, Alicia Partnoy, Ramon Garcia, and Bilal Shaw, hosted by Xochitl-Julissa Bermeo at 4pm, 681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291Add a Comment
I have always wanted to be one of those Zen-like relaxed people who nod and listen and never worry. This past summer, a woman I met was talking to me about yoga. I figured if I tried yoga, I would become more Zen-like and calm. Right? Isn't that how it works?
Here is a free coloring page from the book I illustrated for Teresa Ann Power, "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids". In yoga, focus on breathing is very important.