Tag Archives: yoga

Cosplay as meditation

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Halloween is a favorite holiday for our clan. The girls love face paint, costumes, and walking the streets of the neighborhood after dark. It’s also the only time of year our house has gobs and gobs of candy stashed in the cabinets. This year, we had double the excitement because on the Saturday before Halloween, the girls dressed up as characters from the British television show, Doctor Who, and Dave took them to a Comicon convention where they could mingle with other science-fiction and super-hero fans. He even dropped some cash for a photo op with the Dr. Who celebrity, David Tennant and Billie Piper.

In preparation for comicon, Dave and I did some internet research. We found that there are a whole bunch of us who spend a few hours and way too much money to put together a cute or even clever costume. But there are also people who have taken this to a whole other dimension. There are a number of professional convention-goers and cosplayers who construct amazingly accurate character costumes. There’s a performance art and role play feel to what they do. They might be hired to make an appearance at the various conventions or to pose for fan photos. Some particularly skilled costume makers construct complicated components for other people’s costumes and make money doing it. We watched a video about a couple that met through their cosplay endeavors and have since married. The young woman talked about why she loves this so much. She spends hours collecting and assembling the different elements of a costume she’s making and she likes thinking about the armor, the weapons and even the personality of person she’ll get to be. She says that when she’s dressed up as powerful, super-hero women, she feels more powerful. People look at her differently. It sounds like some of those super-hero qualities rub off on her.

There are meditation practices that employ religious iconography as the object of focus. If an aspirant spends time, again and again, reflecting on the image, the tools, and the qualities of a figure, then the special figure or diety can have a very powerful influence in a person’s life. Repeatedly thinking about Durga’s lion might inspire courage. Time spent reflecting on Saint Francis holding a small animal or the mudras or hand gestures of the Buddha would offer a different experience. The feelings evoked in this kind of reflection or meditation stay with a person.

Meditation isn’t about “having no thoughts.” A meditative state can come as a result of our efforts to keep the mind directed and engaged with an chosen object of focus. It’s a link, as Chase Bossart says. The stories, images, special gifts, and symbols that go along with the icons can serve as anchors to help us stay connected and engaged and can support the meditative experience. That might be done in contemplation with the eyes closed while sitting on a cushion or in prayer. Or maybe it comes from joyfully recreating every detail of a cosplay costume, thinking about a character’s origin story and adventures, and then spending time embodying the power and the qualities of that character.

St. Francis, Aidan Hart Iconography

St. Francis, Aidan Hart Iconography

Durga and her lion

Durga and her lion

Buddha

Buddha

wonder woman cosplay

wonder woman cosplay

The air we breathe

Nora in a pink wig


On Saturday morning, I was sitting for my morning practice. Nora was up early and she came over to me wearing a bright pink wig and a belted tunic to announce that she was going outside. She walked to the door and as soon as she opened it, this damp, warm, earthy air pushed its way into the room and enveloped me. With my eyes closed, I could almost see this blanket of air moving in. This outside air was such a contrast to the cool, dry, climate controlled stuff I had been in. It brought with it all the wonderful smells that come after a rain and with the morning. I widened my nostrils to breathe it in and softened to better feel it on my skin. I was sad that it only lasted a few breaths. But I reflected on what was really gone — the delicious smells and the feeling of the moisture and the tangibility of the air. But, of course, the actual life-sustaining part still surrounded me and was in me. The air wasn’t gone, but my appreciation and awareness of it had changed.

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Conversion

Willie

On Sunday mornings, our local radio show has a great gospel music hour. The host plays an hour of really moving hymns, Willie or Dolly singing spirituals or some old recordings on a scratchy record player. I’m always happy when I’m in the car at the right time to catch a few songs.

This Sunday, I heard the song, “I saw the light” and it made me think about conversion and about the moment when something is clear – something seems possible that didn’t before or something changes and you can’t (or really don’t want to) go back from this light-filled peace and knowing. You want to eat well, you want to change the way you relate to your partner, you want peace all the time. You want the perks of conversion.

I saw the light, I saw the light

No more darkness, no more night

Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight

Praise the Lord I saw the light

This song might give the impression that once converted, once you see the light, then that’s it. The event is done and then there’s no more darkness, no sorrow in sight and perhaps at some level this is true. Maybe, with a spiritual conversion, you can feel held by a higher power in a way you didn’t before and that brings great comfort and does, indeed, relieve some existential darkness. But that’s not really all that’s required.

If your conversion is of the ‘healthy eating’ variety, then true conversion, real life change, would come from the day to day eating choices that you make. You might see that eating cheetos and icecream in front of the tv every night is having a negative impact on your life. You might see the light, but if you don’t implement the change, then there will still be sorrow and darkness in the form of declining mental and physical health.

If I realize that the relationship I’m in isn’t good for me and have this light of knowing but I don’t take steps to change the problematic stuff in the relationship, then the knowing doesn’t lead to the end of that particular source of sorrow either.

I fully believe that we can lessen our suffering and that of others. It can be born of our own choices and actions and it can come through grace. I’ve seen it happen in my life. But this idea that we can have an experience, even one that truly changes how we behave and how we see, and then there’s no more night ever, is misleading.

At the end of the day, there’s still night. We need it. We need the time to rest and digest and to experience the other stuff that happens in those dark quiet hours. Bats, opossums and many other phylum of creatures do their best work at night. If we try to convince ourselves that it no longer exists, there will be some serious cognitive dissonance.

Maybe seeing the light means that we see more clearly how things are. We see that darkness comes at the end of the day, and we accept it for what it is. We know that some suffering is a part of human experience and rather than pretending it should no longer exist, we approach it with deference. We are kind to ourselves when we feel sorrow and support others when they are going through dark days. Instead of continuing to exist in this dual-idea of light or dark, we can relate to the darkness and through this, we really do see the light.

Graceful parenting

 

dave nora

Yesterday, I was in the car with Dave and the girls, nervously giggling as I remembered an awkward and funny moment that went down last year. We had a friend over for dinner during Black history month (she happens to be black) and Nora was learning about black history in her first grade classroom. As soon as we sat down at the table Nora turned to our guest and with sincerity and interest said, “Did you know that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves?” Our guest responded graciously while Dave and I simultaneously froze in our seats, turned red, and cringed. Only later were able to let out some of our uncomfortable, nervous laughter, talk to our kids about what went down, and explore some of our own feelings of shame and unease around the situation.

But in the car yesterday, something else happened. Conversation reminded me of this moment and I started laughing and quietly recounting the story to Dave. The girls were in the back seat staring out the window, but as soon as we started talking about this they knew it was something juicy—something that was emotionally charged. Kids have amazing radar. They asked what we were talking about.

As soon as they asked, I realized that I was being insensitive. That Nora might feel embarrassed about having said something to our friend that could have made her uncomfortable (it was probably my own discomfort that I was feeling) and that in my laughing with her dad, there was a hint of making fun at her expense. I felt ashamed which meant I would avoid talking about any of it with the girls and push it all aside, but Dave stepped up.

He took time to recount the situation – describing the event at the dinner table without much emotion. Nora didn’t remember any of it and Hazel didn’t either, but I could tell that they were nervous and afraid of being called out for doing something that caused such a reaction in us. But Dave was so respectful and considerate, the way he addressed all of this. With his careful words, he spoke in a way that made it okay for the girls’ to have these feelings, to be curious, and in having the conversation, he acknowledged that he can see their desire to be sensitive and kind to others. He put us all at ease.

He went on to talk about why Nora’s comment was uncomfortable for us. Nora asked if it was funny. Dave said that it was sort of funny, but only because she was little and sincere and didn’t know better, but not funny like a joke that you’d repeat again. He saw the question behind Nora’s inquiry and was so clear in his reply. She took it in. He said something simple about talking about race with someone. The girls listened. It went on like this—parenting win after parenting win. He addressed so many of the important aspects of the situation with clarity, respect, and sensitivity. The girls listened carefully and so did I. I was honored to bear witness to such thoughtfulness. I was grateful to see that parenting with true grace is possible. It was special and reminded me of one of the beauties of relationship…

Sometimes, we get to witness our partner truly shine.

 

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Practical Transformation: Healing Your Life From the Inside ~ Out

If you’ve been thinking about joining me for this wonderful women’s retreat, Sieze the day!!! Sign up this week to reserve your spot at early bird pricing. (Discount expires on July 11th )

Ojai, CA
Aug 30- Sept 5th
Yoga — Ayurveda — Alexander Technique

Transformation occurs when we peel away the heaviness we have accumulated in our life and allow for our True Nature to shine through. It is always there waiting, we just have to let go of the unnecessary. These three disciplines provide the structure and process for transformation and healing to occur throughout our whole system.

www.handson-retreats.com

 

Respite

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Tuesday morning, I woke up, but barely. I was heavy all over. It has been raining for weeks in Austin, and this morning was particularly dark and wet. My body and my mind moved slowly and my heart felt heavy, too. The night before I watched a movie and I woke thinking about it. It made me feel so sad.

I went through my morning yoga practice but didn’t really mean it. Some days are like that. When I was finally at the end, I thought about the story of the woman in the movie who had suffered so much. I thought about women throughout history who have suffered in similar ways, and I started to cry. Sometimes the weight of these things feels overwhelming.

But then something happened. Peace came over me. It wasn’t just peace, it felt like God was there with me and all this suffering that was so painful a moment before shifted and I wasn’t holding it alone. This happened at the exact moment that the air conditioner kicked on in my practice space, and the cool air felt so good, I wondered if i had it wrong and it wasn’t god I was feeling.  Maybe I was just hot. For a moment, I considered going with the air conditioner explanation, but then I remembered that I have an old habit I have of denying anything spiritual. I took a few deep breaths, felt my body cool off, and I noticed that the relief was still with me. So was the feeling of peace.

Philomena-and-Anthony

from ‘Philomena’, the 2013 film starring Judy Dench and Steve Coogan

Balance and self-care sometimes involves brownies

 

kids crossing a stream

Ask yourself the question how as a woman, mother, wife, teacher do you find ways in which to nourish yourself and stay balanced in your life. What are some of the things you do? You can write 2-3 paragraphs. 

I’m teaching yoga at a retreat this summer and I’ve been given this writing prompt as a way of sharing what I have to offer as a teacher during the 5-days in Ojai, CA. I have to laugh, because over the last few months I’ve been kind of hard on myself about all the things I’m not doing. Lately, a lot of my nourishing routines and hard won ‘good’ habits are slipping. As I sit down to write this, I’m finishing off my second brownie… and it is way past 8:00pm.

It’s not just the brownies. On this side of a big family trip, house guests, and a bout of sickness, my body is kind of tired, so I’m not rising before the sun. Instead, I do my yoga practice after I get the girls go to school. I’m not pushing myself to strive and accomplish quite as much during my work-week because the weather has been so beautiful and the garden calls to me. I have an exam that’s coming due, but instead of studying during the 30 minutes before the girls are home from school, I read my first romance novel. I found the discarded book poking out from under a bush as I walked through the neighborhood with a friend. On the cover I could see a little drawing of a cabin and hearts pouring out of the chimney. The title, in its fancy golden script, shone in the sunlight : Manhunt, by Janet Evanovich. I picked it up and slipped it into my purse, deciding to read it all the way to the end. And I have.

There have been times when I prided myself on all of the things I’d do each day in the name of balance and self-care. For about a year, I had an expanding list of do’s and don’ts taped next to my bathroom sink so I wouldn’t forget the recommendations of my Āyurvedic practitioner. I wrote out the prayer that I wanted to recite to begin my day and kept that at my bedside. The details of my yoga practice were in a special binder next to my mat so I could stay true to what my teacher gave me. These routines and special efforts were really important, as was the sense of empowerment and pride I felt when I did what I intended to do. It helped me to see that I can play an active part in how I feel. These routines made it possible to live in a more conscious and intentional way. Through this period, with the guidance of people who know me and care about me, I saw how engaging with simple things, earnestly and sincerely, does truly nourish.

Right now I’m discovering that my path to balance and nourishment doesn’t look the same as it did two years ago. I need to be easier on myself. After all, the occasional brownie at 9pm isn’t the end of a good life lived. And balance isn’t a destination. We don’t arrive at “Perfectly Nourished” and then just hang out there for the rest of our lives. It’s an ongoing process. Just like we have to eat, drink, and breathe every day, we need to continue to nourish ourselves in other important ways, again and again, each day. As time passes and we change, the ways we care for ourselves may change, too. Rigid and disciplined routines, though very necessary to help me establish good self-care and empower myself, aren’t what I need at the moment. Now, nourishment is coming from a schedule that is more spacious and spontaneous. I’m more balanced as I learn to look with less judgment and more compassion at the moments when good habits slide. It comes from time with family, time with friends and a community of people who are also engaged in this process. We support each other along the way.

 

Registration now open!

Ojai Women’s RETREAT

AGY readers receive a $200 discount on or before May 15th! IMG0172

REAL LIFE. REAL TOOLS.

AUGUST 31ST TO SEPT. 5TH, 2016

This 5-day retreat is specially designed to teach you the art of unlearning and letting go of old patterns that have long since lost their usefulness while also providing precious leisure time which allows these new skills and understandings to become more rooted in your daily life.

We teach YogaAyurveda and the Alexander Technique in a practical and meaningful way so that when you return home you will have useful tools to keep this new, balanced relationship going—not only within yourself but with everyone around you.

Carol P. Prentice ~ Amanda Green ~ Sydney Laurel Harris

Enter the code *RENEW2016* in your registration form under questions and comments to receive your discount. (*cannot be combined with any other discounts)

 

This class begins May 10th, and it’s free! Yoga for Addiction Recovery

 

Sister Helen Prejean: A Life Guided by Faith

Click image to visit Sister Helen Prejean's website: Ministry against the death penalty. photo by Scott Langley.

Click image to visit Sister Helen Prejean’s website: Ministry against the death penalty. photo by Scott Langley.

I’m interested in people who live lives of faith. It might be a life of religious faith, but it’s bigger than just that. My fascination is with those who are guided by and believe in something that is bigger than themselves — people who organize their lives around a relationship to a divine presence or a cause or a calling. For years, I’ve sniffed out clues, read books, and positioned myself to catch glimpses of people who live this way. I’m a secret scientist, collecting information and making observations about what it looks like or feels like to be a person of faith.

Last night, Dave and I went to hear a lecture by Sister Helen Prejean. The movie, Dead Man Walking, is based on the book she wrote about her relationship with a man on death row. She says that it was that experience that awakened her to what she now does—she serves the poor, the families and victims of violence, and those in prison. She’s works, writes, lectures and educates others with the explicit aim of ending capitol punishment. It’s heavy stuff, and yet she goes about it with southern charm, infectious conviction, and a sense of humor.

I was there for the whole lecture, but I was really there for the chance to hear any juicy tidbits about Sister Helen’s spiritual life. I want to know how she relates to God. What kind of prayer life does she have? What is her relationship to the Church as an institution and to Catholicism? I want to know where she accesses this joy despite the very serious and difficult work. I want to see for myself what a sister, whose spiritual commitment is so public, is like to hang out with for a couple of hours. Is she nice? Relatable? Is she grounded?

Here’s what I noticed.

She is very much herself. Her personality and her human-ness came through during the lecture and I get the sense that it flows through all the work she does. She’s not lecturing from some higher plane. She’s down here with the rest of us.

She looks for balance.  She says she relaxes. She plays cards and drinks beer. She puts effort into her friendships, appreciates her sisters, and gets enough sleep. She said that when she’s on a plane, she doesn’t talk to anyone. She likes that she can be anonymous in airports.

She spoke openly and freely about her personal experience – but it wasn’t about her. She talked as though the real work was coming through her. She talked about God’s grace and Jesus and the Gospel. She talked about the victims and those suffering from acts of violence and how important it is that we don’t leave them alone. She said those who find forgiveness and love are the real heroes of her stories. She was talking and it was her experience, but it wasn’t all about her.

She said something that really touched me. As in, when she said it, I felt a big gut-response to the words. She said, truth springs from the earth, so if we want to get close to the truth, we have to put our feet on the ground. Of all the calls to action, this one got me. And she is a living example of what she is asking others to do.

She’s on a first name basis with Jesus. Her relationship to the divine is personal and intimate. Sister Helen said that when she first agreed to write a letter to a man on death row, that was “sneaky Jesus #1.” She had no idea where he was leading her. She was willing to open her heart to write letters, which was all she could handle at the time, so that’s what she got. Sneaky Jesus #2 was when she agreed to be this man’s spiritual advisor. It was another single step, and look where it led – it led her to know and fulfill her dharma.

I’m interested in these personal faith stories because I’m still wondering and exploring my own — a story that unfolds a tiny bit more every time I practice yoga, every time I kneel at church, every time I feel some knowing that moves through me, every time I say yes to something that I can’t really explain. It was an honor to spend time in the same room with Sister Helen and to see, so palpably, that she believes her life is guided by something divine. The way she tells the story, it’s because 20+ years ago, she was willing to open to the moment, to what she calls God’s grace, and follow her life in the right direction.

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I’m happy to announce my upcoming class in Austin, TX:

Healing from Addiction with Yoga

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–       Cultivate a positive relationship with your body

–       Develop tools to support you in every phase of recovery

–       Foster well-being
and emotional stability in a supportive small group environment

COMMUNITIES FOR RECOVERY

Tuesdays 12:15-1:30

May 10th – June 14th, 2016 (6 weeks)

10 participants

 ! FREE !

Please contact me to reserve your spot or to find out more

—————————-

Registration now open!

Ojai Women’s RETREAT

AGY readers receive a $200 discount on or before May 15th! IMG0172

REAL LIFE. REAL TOOLS.

AUGUST 31ST TO SEPT. 5TH, 2016

This 5-day retreat is specially designed to teach you the art of unlearning and letting go of old patterns that have long since lost their usefulness while also providing precious leisure time which allows these new skills and understandings to become more rooted in your daily life.

We teach YogaAyurveda and the Alexander Technique in a practical and meaningful way so that when you return home you will have useful tools to keep this new, balanced relationship going—not only within yourself but with everyone around you.

Carol P. Prentice ~ Amanda Green ~ Sydney Laurel Harris

Enter the code *RENEW2016* in your registration form under questions and comments to receive your discount. (*cannot be combined with any other discounts)

http://handson-retreats.com

What my camping trip taught me about yoga…

Camping!

Last weekend, I packed up the kids and the car and went out of town for a camping weekend. When the girls and I found the campsite, it was already amazing. Jenn and her girls had gotten there in the early afternoon and set up. She had coolers full of food by the picnic table, chairs around the fire ring, and hammocks swinging from the trees. We unloaded and settled right in. After Sloan arrived with her bags of food, folding table and another hammock it was like camping at the Hilton.

We spent the weekend visiting, singing, eating and laughing. Hazel dedicated some of her time to making a case for leaving early, but I didn’t give in. The kids braved the freezing cold swimming hole while Jenn and I sat in the sunshine and Sloan read her book in a hammock. Nora and the younger girls traveled to neighboring campsites making friends along the way. The kids floated sticks downstream. They peed in the woods…and all over shoes and pants. We still have some training to do in that department.

There was a quiet moment on Saturday afternoon when all campers engaged in quiet activities and I made my way to a hammock. When I got in, my body conformed to the sling shape and the fabric sides of the hammock nearly closed up around me. I was the delicious filling of a hammock soft taco.

With the sides of the hammock covering my peripheral vision, I could only see a narrow strip of the sky and the canopy of trees above me. In the few minutes that I was taco-ed up, I became more settled and calm. My eyes had a direction to go and something to focus on. I saw so much more of the trees and sky through this narrow opening than I did when everything was wide open.

It made me think about this thing of directing our attention – something that yoga helps us to be able to do. When my eyes weren’t attempting to take in the huge span of what I could see right to left and up and down, I felt different. When I let myself stay and my eyes be still, I  really saw the canopy of the trees. I watched and thought about only that, and I relaxed. Our senses seek stimulation, and each has its own particular ‘foods’—colors, noises, movement, and sensation. The senses wander around looking for this, but when the senses line up and follow the direction we choose for them it feels different. Less frenetic. More purposeful.

There’s a way we can create hammock tacos for our senses when we are wanting to connect to the special things in life. When we direct our attention and can be fully with an experience, our system feels different. Focus and attention feels good. When we are with our friends around the campfire and our senses are listening, feeling, and seeing that, then that’s what we get to take with us. That’s what we connect with and that’s what we remember.

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Registration now open!

Ojai Women’s RETREAT

AGY readers receive a $200 discount on or before May 15th! IMG0172

REAL LIFE. REAL TOOLS.

AUGUST 31ST TO SEPT. 5TH, 2016

This 5-day retreat is specially designed to teach you the art of unlearning and letting go of old patterns that have long since lost their usefulness while also providing precious leisure time which allows these new skills and understandings to become more rooted in your daily life.

We teach YogaAyurveda and the Alexander Technique in a practical and meaningful way so that when you return home you will have useful tools to keep this new, balanced relationship going—not only within yourself but with everyone around you.

Carol P. Prentice ~ Amanda Green ~ Sydney Laurel Harris

Enter the code *RENEW2016* in your registration form under questions and comments to receive your discount. (*cannot be combined with any other discounts)

Piano Lessons for my children… worthwhile or an exercise in self-torment?

Here's a romantic evening shot of our sweet piano, and two of my mom's beautiful paintings.

Here’s a romantic evening shot of our sweet piano,

Do it well.

Do it with a good attitude.

Do it for a long time.

And you will become it.

Hazel and Nora started piano lessons a few months ago and it has been fascinating to see how they are each responding to the piano, the music, and a practice routine.  I’m watching their skills develop little by little each week. Hazel is a good student in all things. She keeps up with her work and doesn’t like to disappoint those that are counting on her. She also loves music. She practices, has a good attitude, and likes what she’s learning, which all help to make her a really good piano student. Nora, on the other hand, is not enjoying piano. It’s parental/child mutual torture to get her to practice even a few times a week. When Wes is here, she does her best to get him to talk about anything other than piano. He patiently keeps her on task. He might be a saint.

The girls have different attitudes about these lessons, but both are progressing. Nora is almost through her first book of songs and Hazel has moved on to some sheet music. Even though Nora is learning stuff and is getting better, there’s a notable difference (pun intended) in how much the music seems to be a part of each of them. Hazel likes it, owns it, and is really proud of what she has accomplished. Even though Nora is spending time at the piano, her real energy is going into avoiding the task. When she’s playing she’s really practicing wearing us down. On days we are very persistent, she focuses on cranking out the minimal amount of practice with as little effort and the least amount of attention possible. (True confession: As much as it annoys me, I can totally relate. I wasn’t much of a piano student and employed many of these tactics myself. )

Watching the girls learn this new skill makes me wonder about two things:

  1. What is my attitude when I practice yoga? Which kind of practitioner am I? Am I practicing with attention? Am I operating with a good and open attitude? And am I connected to what I’m learning? Or am I going through the motions but actually practicing  ‘avoiding what I’m really there to do’?
  1. Patañjali lays out the process of yoga and how we learn something new in Yoga sūtra 1.17 and it totally applies to piano lessons.

This sūtra says…

vitarka-when we first start piano, we have only a gross understanding of it

vicāra- as we practice, it becomes more subtle

ānanda- this process brings us joy

asmitā-rupa- eventually we know the piano so well that we become one with it.  We don’t have to think about correct posture or “every good boy does fine.”   It’s already there in our muscles and on the paper when we sit down.

anugamāt- It’s through this process over a long time that 

saprajñātah – our understanding of the instrument and the music that it makes, becomes a part of us.

If we want to have more of something in our lives, then we need to spend time doing that thing. It’s not enough to merely go through the motions. We practice to have more of the kind of experiences we want and with an attitude that fosters a love of learning, ānanda. The experiences that help us to connect, earnestly and eagerly, to the things we want in our lives, are experiences that shape who we are and who we become.

*******

Registration now open!

Ojai Women’s RETREATIMG0172

REAL LIFE. REAL TOOLS.

AUGUST 31ST TO SEPT. 5TH, 2016

This 5-day retreat is specially designed to teach you the art of unlearning and letting go of old patterns that have long since lost their usefulness while also providing precious leisure time which allows these new skills and understandings to become more rooted in your daily life.

We teach YogaAyurveda and the Alexander Technique in a practical and meaningful way so that when you return home you will have useful tools to keep this new, balanced relationship going—not only within yourself but with everyone around you.

Carol P. Prentice ~ Amanda Green ~ Sydney Laurel Harris

AGY readers receive a $200 discount on or before May 15th!  Enter the code *RENEW2016* in your registration form under questions and comments. (*cannot be combined with any other discounts)

Learn more at http://handson-retreats.com or contact me with any questions you may have.

The raw landscape

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Ollantaytambo, Peru

I’ve been back home for nearly a week, but I’m not settled or back to normal. In some ways, I guess that’s good. Travel has a way of changing my perspective and I wouldn’t want it to wear off in a mere 5 days. I want all that perspective to stick around so I can continue to be more aware of the things in my life that are particular to my life. The special circumstances, this environment, the location, the privilege, my family, and my inborn constitution are just a few of the aspects of my life that shape my experience. These factors don’t look exactly the same for anyone else. As a matter of fact, sometimes they look really different. Some people grow up with llamas and live in the countryside and speak Quechua. Some people don’t have running water and have never been on an airplane. Some people know how to make amazing woven cloth with the most intricate of patterns from wool using natural dyes and a loom-thing that they wrap around their waist.

Yoga gives us tools and experiences that helps us to see things more clearly. I think it also gives us a fortitude to see stuff that isn’t so easy to see. Maybe it’s that I’m entering middle age and maybe it’s that travel isn’t all about the adventure anymore, but I need this special strength to be able to look at my life and the lives of other people. It’s good to be able to see the things that I do that could change. That need to change. I need this space that yoga creates in me so I have the ability to stay with something that might be hard to think about and not get so overwhelmed that I reach for the distraction or the next adventure. Sometimes seeing things without all the personal protective shields in place is tough. Seeing more clearly can be difficult and raw.

There’s also raw beauty. Raw passion. Raw love. That stuff is really amazing, though can be difficult in their own way, without the personal protective shields. It’s all part of the same raw landscape. And it is worth the visit, even if we come back from that place and can’t sleep very well and have stuff lingering in the gut. I’m glad I went and I’m glad I continue to go.

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