If You Don’t Become the Ocean

If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick everyday. ~Leonard Cohen
 
The morning after Hurricane Earl kissed the outer edge of Tulum I left my beach side bungalow and walked to the edge of the sea. Despite the howling winds and pelting rain of the previous night, the waters were quiet, the sun shining softly. As I walked the beach the now tranquil waves flowed in and flowed out, the inhale and exhale of the Caribbean Sea. More evidence of the storm, an uprooted palm tree bobbed at the waters edge, displaying how closely intertwined was the cycle of storm and calm.
 
It was not lost on me that nature was a mirror of my inner experience, storm neighboring calm. Two weeks earlier I was shaken to the center by the sudden death of my closest friend. At that moment the inner winds were blowing, my mind swirling, seeking to find peace, meaning, answers. How inconceivable that life can be full and end so unexpectedly. How unbelievable that my practice asked me to ride the tide of loss and find inner stillness. How unimaginable that such tranquil beauty could abut a raging storm, yet how similar to our human experience.
 

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Revealing the Hidden

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Fallen leaves disguise the path, drawing my gaze toward the upper reaches of the forest.
Barren trees open up a landscape of tree trunks and branches in myriad colors of grey and brown.
Fingers of sunlight travel down jagged ravines, highlighting the remaining green and yellow foliage.
Rocky bluffs and cliffs appear, showing the rugged character of rock worn down by time.
The foundation of the earth is unmasked as November slips from colorful glory into quiet release.
Center stage, the forest’s scaffolding is exposed.
The hidden is revealed.

~sm 11-6-16

Yesterday I headed to the forest for a solo hike. Leaves crunching under my feet, the sounds of nature replaced the cacophony of voices, cars and technology. My eye was drawn upward to tree trunks and branches, the building blocks of the forest. With fall color receding, my attention was drawn to things I would never see during the “peak” of autumn color.
 
In yoga, the quiet practices of pranayama and restorative asana are similar to my experience in nature yesterday. When the body becomes still, the beauty of our inner essence rises to the surface. As we move from the distracted world of doing and attend to the subtle sensations of body and breath, we arrive in the world of Being. In stillness the hidden pieces of who we are can be seen. Transparent, there is nothing to hide the quiet beauty of our inner Wholeness. 
 
Meditation, restoration yoga, and quiet practices offer a gift; deeper knowledge of your inner song. Take time to listen to that melody. 
 
Jai Bhagwan. Victory to the Light of Awareness within each of us.
 
Susan
 
 

Leave Before I Stay, Stay Before I Leave

Photo: The first alleyCatYoga Studio, built with much help and support that led to one of the many “stay or go” crises of the past 8 years

This morning’s reading from The Book of Awakening hit very close to home for me. “If you try to teach before you learn, or leave before you stay, you will lose your ability to try.” ~Mark Nepo.

After an intense week of dealing with long held inner fear about safety over my health insurance situation, I found myself feeling like a deer in the headlights and simultaneously feeling like a caged animal, fighting for survival.  Living with a complicated chronic illness from my teens I now enjoy good health, yet the residue of the illness  not only lies in my body that requires care, but in the subtle places within me that store fear, manifesting as a strong need to ground, root, survive and feel safe in order to thrive. This fear, I realize, is always with me in small ways, always scanning for threat, always afraid to STAY lest what I commit to staying with be grasped out of my hands.

This past Friday as I dug through the details of the health insurance changes, the lack of adequate coverage offered in my area sunk in. I felt an anger come over me in a way that I have not felt in years. Anger towards those who have never experienced a fight for their life therefore holding indifference (knowing this is an assumption) regarding the dire need for healthcare for all people. Anger toward those who hold jobs that come with secure benefits resulting in the same indifference (knowing this is an assumption). Anger toward those who write the laws, those who profit from illness, those who hold judgement against me for using western medicine, those who have harmed me, against myself for choosing freedom and a creative life rather than remaining tied to heath care security. Anger towards those who label anger as bad, wrong, and un-yogic. Anger towards those who believe a teacher of yoga must always be centered and calm. Anger towards, Anger towards, ANGER TOWARDS…SO MUCH ANGER!
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alleyCat Yoga Week of Mindfulness

March 12-18, 2017

 
In an age of constant acceleration,
nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow.
In an age of constant distraction nothing is so luxurious as paying attention.
In an age of constant movement nothing is so urgent as sitting still.
~Pico Iyer
 
 The practice of mindfulness is defined by Jon-Kabat Zinn as “the ability to pay total attention to the present moment with a nonjudgmental awareness of the inner and/or outer experiences.”  When practiced mindfully, yoga draws our attention from the outside world of continual thought and action and transfers that attention deep within. The result of practice is a renewed connection to our inner being and a quieter, less reactive mind.
 
A benefit of practicing yoga in a community is shared experience and intention. As we build practice together we support one another through our individual intention and our shared efforts. During this week of mindfulness, join us for your regular yoga class as we share this common focus of being in the now, sharing sacred space and quiet introspection. Leave the busy world behind and experience a time of reflection and contemplation. We invite you to use this time as an opportunity to soothe your mind and body and deepen your connection with yourself.
 
Class will be held at the regular time as usual and teachers will use guided instruction in each class as always. During this focused week of mindfulness, each teacher will bring their own practice of mindfulness, teaching and meditation to the class as we hold the common goal of greater attention to the moment. Please speak with your teacher before class as needed and limit social conversation to the lobby area during this week. You may choose to hold silence as you leave class and in other areas of your life to deepen your experience.
  
 Please enter the studio in silence before each class March 12-18. 
 

Kripalu Yoga

Many of the classes taught at alleyCat focus on Kripalu Yoga. Kripalu Yoga – more than just a stretch…Posture by posture, breath by breath, the mind/body integration that is Kripalu Yoga awakens the deepest levels of self-awareness. For it is through such recognition that a new level of caring and compassion is attained. Kripalu means compassion and this is a yoga of consciousness, practiced not only on the mat, but just as importantly “off the mat,” as well.

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Referred to as a “meditation in motion,” Kripalu Yoga is practiced through a unique combination of disciplines. Asanas (postures), meditation, devotion, and selfless service are intended to establish a conscious communication of body, mind, and spirit.

The practice combines moving through progressive stages of relaxation, absorption of sensation and movement, conscious attunement to experience, and free expression of released energy. Kripalu Yoga begins with listening to the wisdom of your body and then focusing your mind on the awareness of the posture and your internal state, taking into account sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Read More »