Spit Your Truth

The trendy rebel. She goes through her day mostly unconscious of the moment but she wears her yoga pants part-time. She doesn't live near a wall and out of a car, but she owns climbing shoes. She doesn't free-style but she will sing along to Notorius B.I.G. unabashedly in the car.

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Some of us talk about her, how she's putting her pose pad too close to ours, crowding up the crag, and creating one endless pop song. Some of us ignore her hard; she personifies the fears we can't be with long enough to name. Some of us attempt to master the balance of doing both, photographing and posting how much better we can do that pose, pointing out that we experience “true grade” because we lead instead of top rope, and that we supported that artist before they were available at Starbucks.

She is not a pronoun for a person, so how we think and feel about her says things about ourselves:

  1. how we deal with what is popular not including our full story

  2. what our relationship is with seeking approval and acceptance from others

  3. how we see our uniqueness among the hundreds of thousands of people who live like us

We may have an easier or harder time with our relationship to what is popular based on our appearance, language, etc. We may have an easier or harder time with our identity and its intersection with a wider community based on our values, location, upbringing, etc. Most of us will be inclined to push back some on what is being feed into our lives.

Shake up Systems and Societies

Resist is not a sign you post. Resistance is applying yourself in opposition to the inertia of the status quo, not trying to ride the sexy edges of “exotic” uniqueness. This is not best done by intention or design but by being present and moving to your heart's song. If you do it “right”?

  If you do it right...

You “purge yourself before you find fault in others.” Present, you will “be inspired not proud.” You are B.K.S. Iyengar receiving Gold Medals for alternative medicines while prescriptions for painkillers increase by 2 million a year.

  If you do it right...

The “most relevant factor in your ability to perform well will come from your love.” You will find “connection to a nonconformist culture” in your own way, only to be measured, compared, and under estimated by conventional culture. You're Lynn Hill pulling on finger tips for a first free ascent that will later be minimized because you were small enough to put those tips in the crack.

  If you do it right...

“God is smilin' on you but he's frownin' too because only God knows what you'll go through.” Most people will not understand what you passionately spit but they will re-mix your rhyme. You're Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five changing the pace and topic of hip-hop but being reduced to a chorus of “it's like a jungle sometimes”.

  If you do it right....

You will change everything around you but not the world.

You will live a deeply joyful life but not an easy one.

You will feel whole and fulfilled but you will often stand alone.

We often try to leave an impression, a sense that an “I” could be somewhat known, seen and embraced. To do that you most be your authentic self. Not just the parts of you that will be immediately accepted by others. Be the unique expression of your highest self-from the parts that seem typically human and cliché to the parts that dare to shake it all up. Whether thousands of people immediately 'like' your post or no one, truly show up. You will use your agency for what matters most.

May you breath, rise, and rhythmically spit your truth <3

Yoga Classes Nearby

Second to “yoga pants” most Google searches on yoga are about finding a class. Perhaps you're considering checking one out, than this guide is here to help!

Yoga is largely self-regulated in the U.S. so someone can teach a class without being certified. That being said, Yoga Alliance is a largest certifying body in the west and they provide a directory of teachers that you can search for by location. Teachers are further broken down by their qualifications:

   RYT 200– means the instructor as 200 hours of learning, the minimum for teaching

   RYT 500– means an instructor has undergone 500 hours of training

   E- found in front of a RYT, this designates that instructor taught at least 1000 hours

Training programs can span years or a week, be online or in-person, and even look like a holiday retreat. Teaching experience can be even more varied! So don't be afraid to ask an instructor about their background or what they might offer you as their student. If that sounds like too much, Yoga Alliance also offers studio searches by area, where you can read reviews from other students. Once you find a studio, you'll still have to choose a class. Some studios offer a wide variety and some stay within a type.

Deciphering

Whether you're reading a class description or a teacher bio, you'll come across weird word use. Top code words include:

Alignment- Expect anatomical direction towards form beyond what can be taken from trying to replicate from looking at someone. An instructor in such a class should be able to address a wide variety of ability safely.

Flow- Like the river taking a path, movement is fluid and continuous. Space between poses are thoughtful transitions, rather than coming out of an individual pose before the next. Many other terms combine with “flow” to give a more complete depiction.

Power- Get ready to sweat. In such a class, expect strength-building to be a focus, likely offering many standing poses and emphasizing muscle toning. The room many be heated or not.

Restorative- Ease and rest. In such a class, you are likely to hold only a few poses, each for a long period of time (about 20 minutes). Props are often used in such a class. The idea is psychosomatic healing.

Vinyasa- and breathe. If you are looking to increase your lung capacity, this is a keyword you'll want to look for. Anticipate moving through poses continuously. A well-balanced vinyasa class will offer breath technique, postures, and movement . There will likely be a pace, though that can be slow or fast. With more rapid movement and a focus on breath, there's often less guidance on the biology. For that reason, it is more important to pay attention to the class level, so speed and difficulty of poses are a good match.

Assist Your Body: Inhale & Exhale

Whether you have been affected by smoke in the air from the recent fires or you have extra mucus in your lungs from a cold or allergies, the following yogic practice ideas can assist you in breathing easier.

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When you begin your practice, bring your hands to your diaphragm (in front of your belly). As you inhale, open your arms, sweeping them until they are wide at your sides, elbows drawing further behind you. With your exhale, return your hands to their start. Continue this breath movement for 5 or so breaths.

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From here, open the intercostals by side bending (tilting with the belly drawn in to bring the rib cage out and up).
 
Camel pose (Ustrasana) will assist to stretch the stomach and intestinal organs to release trapped toxic gas.

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Bridge pose (Setu bandanasana) opens up the lungs and can aid in the respiratory and digestion process.

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If your heart and neck are healthy enough for headstands, such poses may help with allergies (suggest Eagle Headstand Pose, Salamba Sirsana with Garudasana).

And while you are not physically practicing asanas, you can still improve lung function throughout the day - whether with essential oil aids or by simply focusing on creating a lo n g er exhale through the mouth!

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The Ugly of Good or Bad

My experiences as an adult force me to view the right or wrong paradigm as unfit to address the experience of nature and change. When I hike, I don’t want to see every plant and rock look the same, I don’t judge native or abundant plants as good nor dying, dormant pericytes as bad - instead, I appreciate the diversity and its interconnected constant change. I like translating this to human interactions, seeing each individual uniquely navigate their lives and the care they give to others. Within this, I noticed a pattern whereby concern heightens us on a hierarchy of finger waging judgements, whether at ourselves of others.

Let’s take it to the mat: If a judgment is made that the sensations of a yoga pose are good or bad, mental activation is made outside of the pose. Such thoughts might distract enough for one to lose the delicate balance of a pose or not feel into the right moment to come out of it. While releasing judgments is part of practicing asanas, how does it translate to the living practice?

If I judge healthy food to be good for me and tasty food to be bad for me, do I create mental engagement which takes my attention away from the sensations of the food and the way I feel while and after eating them? Could this type of judgment get in the way of my forming a connection whereby I develop taste for healthy food? Could this type of judgment create slipper slopes, “I can’t go without a sugary snack, therefore, I make bad choices and, ergo, I need to eat more sugariness because I feel bad”?

Let’s take it to the exchange: If you want to speak with someone and are fueled by the judgement “that is bad,” your created a diagnose does not invite an exchange. Perhaps, no matter how you word it, the assumed wrongdoer will, at best, hear that you believe their action wrong and, at worst, become defensive. What if you are fueled by “that looks tough” or “I don’t understand that”? Are you more likely to notice surrounding circumstances? Are you more able to offer skills that decompress tensions in the situation? Are you able to address the individual in a way that respects that they are navigating their own life to the best of their abilities?

Certainly, each of us has our own set of root values we operate from, but that does not make them the only values or the “right” values in the broader human experience. Moreover, your way of expressing your values is not the only way. Noticing this can open you up to seeing the array of lived passions and loves. It can also free us from unfairly judging others with the metric we mean to use to evaluate ourselves.

Creative Juices

In yogic thinking, feminine energy is considered that which creates. On this International National Women’s day, whether male, female, or not subscribing to a gender binary, you can access feminine energy to embrace and uplift the image of womyn. This energy (Shakti-prana) is said to be found in the hips, pelvis, and lower back.

Prior to these poses, you may wish to invigorate, warm, and open the lower body in warrior poses, downward facing dog, or you favorite sun salutation. These poses themselves are intended for longer holds, cultivating stillness and presence.

Goddess Pose

Stand with feet wide apart, toes facing away from the center of the body, bend in knees to bring thighs parallel to the floor. Soften the buttock. Keep the torso long, perhaps by placing hands to thighs. Within this pose, you can bring one hand to the floor (or a block) along the same-side foot and the other hand to the sky. If you choose this variation, bring it into both sides.

Malasana

With feet a little wider than hips distance apart, bend knees and squat down. Bring the palms together over heart’s center, with the elbows high on the inner thighs. Press through the palms, draw the elbows energetically long from the wrists. Draw the knees and thighs inward.

Half Pigeon Reclined

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From downward facing dog, bend one knee and draw it between the space of the hands. As you lower down, keep the back straight with toes touched under. Draw the floor to the hips or thighs with appropriate blankets. Lower the torso down, supporting the head so that the neck is long with the spine. Not even slight pressure should be found in the knee. If you notice any pressure, this pose can be taken lying down on your back, one angle crossed over the other leg, just below the knee. The knee will draw in and similarly give space to the hip.

Reclined Bound Angel

From seated, fold a blanket lengthwise, leaving some space between the lift and the bottom, to support the spine (this can also be done with a bolster or even by taking a yoga mat and folding it into eights). Bring the pads of feet together. A strap is great in this pose- make a loop and bring it around the waist; the other end of the strap to go around the outer edge of the toes when the pads are together. Walk hands behind the spine, slowly lowering to the lift. Wrists, blocks, or blankets folded length wise, can be brought to the outward facing thighs.

Seated Yoni Mudra

Seated comfortably, interlace the fingers except for the thumbs and index finger which touch each other. Close the eyes and, with a calm breathe, visualize that which you want to manifest.

Speech After Silience

After living and spending all my time over ten days alongside strangers I never spoke to and who’s names I did not know, I was sought out for two different conversations. Both conversations referred to various times when I acted to be helpful in subtle ways during the shared silent mediation retreat.

One girl sat down across the table from me and beaming in gratitude, said, “Thank you for your help. I couldn’t tell you before, with the silence, but thank you.” She then went on to tell me how she broke her arm before coming to the medication center.

Another girl walked up to me, taped my shoulder and seriously asked, “Can I speak with you?” a request followed by a repeated assertion of “you were wrong” with not much further sharing, no dialogue or question. If the help I offered earlier had come with words, I would’ve looked to them, dissecting vocabulary, culture and tone to try to share responsibility for her mood. As it was, there were no words exchanged, only my pointing to a sign. This allowed me, for the first time, to practice the teaching I was receiving.

The teacher leading the mediation course taught that our work is always individual and internal. From him, I understand my work isn’t to accept gifts of negativity, that is, to not allow my thoughts to criticize others or myself. My work is to not to cling to receiving praise nor fearfully try to avoid verbal spewing of agitation, rather to hold a wholesome internal place as constantly as possible.

Of course, my work also isn’t to understand the difference between the two ladies. It isn’t just to generate love and compassion for them equally either, but to generate more for the girl who experiences the misery of her negativity. Having great compassion for her became easy when I thought about how she held on to the frustration.

Leaving with these contrasting interactions, I want my lack of silence to be a mediation, a thoughtful and loving exchange.

Reacting.

A hundred billion to a trillion neurons fire in a place that takes up 20 percent of the body’s energy. The same space that can process up to 120 bits of information per second. Needless to say, the brain is a powerful organ, that can quickly fluctuate our consciousness.

The hundreds of thousands of accidents caused by driver’s who were texting share a common thought, “I can do both”. We multi-task and think it is impressive or necessary. Then, perhaps without noticing, we become addicted to an increased production of cortisol and adrenaline, chemicals that make us more impulsive and reactive.

If we our daily lives are hard-wiring for instant responses, why fight it?

I guess it would depend on one’s values. I get to observe the struggle of stillness and quiet in last five minutes of every yoga class I teach. I experiment with touch, fragrance and sound, trying to ease each unique being; hopeful that the present moment will become welcoming. I do this because, when achieved for just a moment, there is an observable transformation.

Deep thinking, empathy and compassion all require a calm, attentive mind because the higher emotions emerge from neural processes that are inherently slow. Rush into an important conversation or react to a shocking piece of news, you might misrepresent your deepest self. Valuing thoughtfulness and connection, I need to make the time to practice yoga or mediate when it seems that there is everything else that needs doing or response.

In the wake of an undoubtedly busy life, I invite you not just to recognize your emotions but to sit with them. Whether you process through journaling or playing music, this is sacred time.

3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Sure you’re asana practice provides several means of supporting your immune system, both by lowering stress hormones that compromise it and by stimulating the lymphatic system. If you are practicing yoga regularly, maybe bring a Tortoise pose, Camel and Cow, if the bug relates to bronchial congestion.

But I promised you 3 easy, travel-ready, and waiting in line or traffic ways so…

1.    Dog Breathe

With your chin in and your chest out, stick your tongue all the way out and keep it out as you rapidly breathe in and out through your mouth. Panting this breath for a few minutes. Keep it silly for the effects of an energized immune system. Finish by inhaling and hold your breath for 15 seconds and press your tongue against the upper palate. Exhale. Repreat this sequence two more times.

2.      Node Pump

Slide fingers just beneath jaw to locate tiny, pearl-shaped lymph nodes. With fingers right against the bone, pump the nodes with gentle yet firm pressure. Repeat up to every few hours.

3.      Hands Up

Touch palm with your middle finger, pressing in just above the mound of muscle that is below the thumb and make gentle, slow, circles for respiratory system stimulation.