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In Transition

The days are getting longer, but the temperature still dips past freezing at night and a blizzard could descend upon us tomorrow. And while we can’t pack away those winter coats, I do see those ballet slippers poking their bowed toes from behind the well worn uggs.

Yes, it is March, and we are in transition. I feel the urge to jump into spring, wear a light scarf, and play hooky on Fridays. But my mental boost is not matched physically and my body is still in need of rest, not ready to emerge from hibernation.

Now is a good time to tune into the yoga practice and observe the transitions. How does the body move from Warrior one into two? Is the ankle or hip getting caught in the gears of our body as it changes planes? Can we build balancing poses, like artachandrasana and sirsasana, slow, how flowers bloom, so we are not surprised when we notice them bright and full?

We too are part of these seasons, and maybe now, more than ever, is our opportunity, not to curse the month of March, or merely hope and anticipate the spring, but be present, experience it, and be part of it as well.


Restore Me Please

Perhaps there is a bad moon rising because my emotional state has been
off balance for the past few weeks. In an effort to restore balance, I
took an open/restorative class to celebrate our Presidents.
Restorative involves pulling every prop off the shelf, building towers
of support, and resting in poses, such as supta baddha konasana, for
five to ten minutes. These poses cause my husband’s eyebrows to lift a
little and wonder what yoga is really about.

On first glance, it can seem these asanas are nothing more than
glorified naps, but we don’t sleep on bolsters or blocks. These
postures are often in the truest sense a back bend, forward bend, or
even a twist and help balance the nervous system, lower blood
pressure, stimulate the immune system. For me, however, they also
invoke a sense of vulnerability and surrender that feels like a roller
coaster of anxiety with a deep sense of letting go. Being able to
recognize the fear of surrender or the panic of relaxation is the
first step to recovering from the addiction of the this fast paced,
high stress life. Hi, I’m Emilia, and I am a city addict.

Trying to Fly

In an effort to try new things, I signed up for an aerial yoga class in my neighborhood, Williamsburg Brooklyn. The studio was more like a raw, industrial rehearsal space than a yoga studio. I was nervous, and the twenty foot silks hanging from the rafters did little to provide any comfort.

Class began with a few rounds of cat cow, a couple of sun salutations. All seven students seemed at ease except for yours truly, who couldn’t help feeling anxious, nervous, like standing in line at an amusement park for the “killer-death-ride”. I was soon at the front of the line, and moved off the mat into the silks. I can’t even begin to describe the sequence or recall any specific poses; we practiced shoulder openers, hip openers, all off the ground. It was like nothing I had ever done.

Feeling out of my comfort zone and crazy dizzy, I took a seat on the mat and watched with awe as these yogis hung upside down in baddhakonasana, levitated in pigeon, and floated in savasana. All my teaching, ground down to lift up, was lost in this environment. Poses had no beginning or end but just dangled. The teacher was surprised when, at the end of class, I waved and said, “see you soon.” As my post said, “Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not.”—Virgil Garnett Thomson. One down, two to go.

Valentine’s Day, 2011

Once again, the local drug store has indicated that Valentines Day is here. In high school, my bff and I often referred to it as “Happy *^%# It Sucks Day.” Just a couple of angst driven teenagers looking for a place to focus our aggression, now fairly well balanced adults with significant others, and still the holiday holds little meaning. I contemplated writing a top ten list of things I “love” but only have six, so far.

In an effort to not exploit this four letter word (omg I LOVE your shoes!!) perhaps for each paper heart we spot we can think more about compassion rather than love. Yesterday, one of my teachers said, “compassion is the slight quivering of the heart.” And while I do have compassion watching some New Yorkers quiver in heels. Eek! In snow! Compassion can be exercised by taking a peek from under the hood of our coat and to put our suffering into perspective. The simplest effort might be in a yoga class by putting away your neighbor’s block with yours or quietly stacking props when preparing for savasana. Even though the weather is cold, compassion can warm the heart and soul.

Top 6 Things I “Love”

Top 10 things I “love”. What are yours?

1) Dreamlover by Mariah Carey – it is #1 on my V Day Playlist for class

2) Lace tanks from Target – stretchy but stays in place, machine washable, and cheap!

3) Overnight Intense Foot Cream – cuz those feet are being seen, even in the winter

4) Lululemon Savasana Wrap – Santa didn’t bring me one for Christmas, but maybe the Easter Bunny will leave it with some Cadbury eggs

5) Cadbury eggs – enough said

6) McCann’s Irish Oatmeal – Maple Brown Sugar, baby

Santosha – Contentment

My sinuses have been on the attack this week with an indescribable fervor that could only be combated with a Z-pack. They are rebelling against the weather, and I really can’t blame them. It is likely that, either due to illness, weather, or the pick up of life, we are on the downward crest of the resolution wave and headed for shore.

Hope is not lost and we mustn’t think we failed. Life, just as yoga, is a practice. Often we learn the same lessons over again while other times we are lucky enough to learn new ones. Pantajali speaks about santosha or contentment. We must find the contentment, the acceptance of life, in all that we do whenever possible. I accept my congestion, my low energy, and the high probability that I won’t make it to yoga today and instead will accept the last two episodes of Millionaire Matchmaker will be watched via HD on demand, and I’m content with that.

Watch Your Step

It is a wintery mess and New Yorkers are carefully watching their step. Is it a puddle? Is it ice? It’s both! This cautious approach and effort to ground the feet can directly be applied to the yoga practice.

In any standing balancing pose (Tree, Warrior 3, Dancer) the work begins by trying to find evenness across the standing foot. Engaging all muscles of the leg (remember there at least seven just in the thigh) will help stabilize the standing leg. When transitioning, from low lunge to warrior 1 for example, it can be interesting to watch that back foot turn down and ground firmly and evenly into the Earth.

Off the mat, lets be curious about the step, something that likely hasn’t been considered since that first one taken, oh so many moons ago. For further insights, look at the soles of your shoes. They will show if you tend to roll to the inside of the foot (pronated) or roll on the outside (supinated). An even grounding across a neutral foot will provide us with that stability so desperately needed when maneuvering down 5th Avenue to catch that cab.



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