yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gross and Subtle

The past few weeks have involved a period of intense lessons for me, ones I have invited into my life, I realize! That's certainly a way to bring change about and move to another (hopefully higher) level, instead of waiting for life to just happen. My concern lately has been twin: Taking care of my outer, "gross," body, and my inner, "subtle," body.

When I want to seek balance in my health, I look around and when a practitioner or treatment resonates with me, I go forward with it. My "directional" points me and I try to be open so I can see it and follow it. I am in excellent health, but I want to maintain and make adjustments in relation to the seasons, and to the phases of my life. In April, I joined a gym and have enjoyed splashing about in the pool during the Aqua-Fit classes which are wonderfully fun cardio workouts. The yoga classes at the gym are very physically challenging, lacking a bit in the mind and spirit components (yoga is supposed to be an equal number of all three), but I am happily keeping up. And my personal trainer kicks my ass which is the most amazing thing in my life right now. I never thought I would have the "muscle memory" to start again the sort of vigorous program I am undertaking. I hope any of you who feel it is behind you will try again.

What is kind of cool is that my personal trainer, a young guy in his mid-twenties, loves to hear about the many forms of yoga and exercise that I have practiced. I taught him "The Five Tibetans" (simple but powerful repetitive exercises, each done only 21 times), meditation encouragement, and balancing postures. We talk about healthy diets and stress management. And one practice that my old yoga teacher taught my class, to keep the spine supple. I will close this blog with ways to do this. "It will keep you young!" she would tell us.

The other amazing thing in my life lately is my nightly ritual of watching lectures by Joseph Campbell on DVD. Joseph Campbell is the renowned scholar of mythology who masterfully links all cultures and traditions historically, observing that we are all "one." I knew deep down, but Campbell reminded me, that we humans living in our modern society are not in accord with nature. Humans since the beginning of time lived in tune with nature. They had to, to survive. We think we are so clever that we can live above or without nature, but look at what is happening. In speaking about the history and philosophy of yoga, Campbell illuminates on the concept of how we have a gross body, that is, our outer body, our external and superficial selves represented in the tangible body that is our machine, and our subtle, inner body, the soul and authentic self that resides deep in our center core. We can't escape our gross body. It is susceptible to illness and reacts when we treat it well or badly, and ages and dies eventually. But when we take care of our gross body, accepting its phases and imperfections, it allows our subtle inner body to blossom and present itself to the world. That is a joy for others to behold and how lovely if everyone could cradle their physical bodies with love and care and thus frolic in this life with others whose inner souls are allowed to shine!

There is so much more, but I will save it for another blog.

For the care of the spine which supports our gross physical bodies, as well as opening nervous system pathways, keeping the spine supple and youthful, move it through all 6 ranges of movement:

1. While standing, drop your chin to your chest, and slowly, one vertabrae at a time, roll your body down so your hands are near your feet. Keep your knees soft. Breathe in and out luxuriously, and slowly roll your body up, with your head coming up last.
2. Next, bring your hands overhead and breathe in. On the exhale, slowly stretch up and back protecting your neck and lower back by emphasizing showing your heart to the sky. Come back to standing upright.
3. Clasp your hands overhead, breathe, and exhale first stretching to the right and holding briefly.
4. Do the same to the left.
5. Stand with your hands on your hips. Reach your right hand into your left hand on the left hip, stretching your face and eyes to the right, so you get a nice twist in the spine.
6. Do the same to the left.

So, the spine's range of movement is forward, backward, side, side, twist, twist. Six ways. Do this everyday. It will keep you young!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Patience and Faith

These are tough times indeed. The reason I have not written on "Peace & Health" for over three weeks is because I have been very preoccupied with the precarious situation in which I find myself economically and therefore socially. I have felt quite low, disconnected from others and unsure of my self-identity lately. I have been more aware of finding the patience to go with the flow that is not in my control, and have faith that things will not always be this way, that they get better someday soon.

But, through it all, I have learned an immense amount from those with whom I am connected despite the limitations. For instance, my angelic friend Megan tells me how fascinating these times are and what an opportunity we each have to explore and experience new ways of living. That puts such a positive spin on things! It validates how I truly feel which is quite happy and content within the more narrow world I am living within. Within the boundaries I have set up, I am staying physically healthy, mentally active, and finding it is possible by degree to "drop out" of the materialistic, consumeristic dictates of society. As my other red-haired friend Leslye says, "Simplicity is freedom!"

I am driving less, spending less, and have cut off cable TV, memberships to public TV and radio, my gym, and eventually my subscription to The New York Times and cell phone. I am asking friends and family to please stop inviting me to do things as I don't have an extra cent to spend. Instead, come and visit me! I'll always have the essentials, like delicious coffee, healthy snacks, good music, thoughtful conversation and laughs. Hopefully this is temporary. I am holding onto as much of the American Dream as I can right now. But my grip on this expensive lifestyle rope keeps slipping and I am dropping down, down, down. It gets easier as I loosen my grasp and little by little let go of all the stuff.

I know I am not alone. Many of my friends and acquaintances are experiencing a similar vibe. Our government is dysfunctional and actually detrimental. A lot of people are out of work and it is affecting more and more of us in this country. Things are falling apart--institutions, infrastructure, common courtesy. Megan suggests that it can mean a rebirth when the social order is forced into making changes. This is one positive outcome certainly.

In view of Peace & Health, I have found it is necessary more than ever to find ways to experience life as a fascinating adventure no matter what the circumstances, and to act from kindness towards others because we really are "all in it together." Patience and faith are not easy to maintain, but I am finding this challenge, well, fascinating!

Please let me know how I can help any of you out there, and be in touch as it will help me stay connected. Peace-out!