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"I turned back to the sun. It was going. The sun was going, and the world was wrong. The grasses were wrong; they were now platinum. Their every detail of stem, head, and blade shone lightless and artificially distinct as an art photographer’s platinum print. This color has never been seen on earth. The hues were metallic; their finish was matte. The hillside was a nineteenth-century tinted photograph from which the tints had faded. All the people you see in the photograph, distinct and detailed as their faces look, are now dead. The sky was navy blue. My hands were silver. All the distant hills’ grasses were fine-spun metal which the wind laid down. I was watching a faded color print of a movie filmed in the Middle Ages; I was standing in it, by some mistake. I was standing in a movie of hillside grasses filmed in the Middle Ages. I missed my own century, the people I knew, and the real light of day."
-Annie Dillard's memory of the 1979 eclipse

There's something magical about
natural events such as this.
Moments where we feel taken
out of time and rather small
in light of the universe.
The wondrously ordered, chaotic
system of which we are a part.
Our very bodies made up of
the same stuff, in ways we are
only beginning to understand.

Stay awake to the wonder
and mystery of your very
being - your physical form
and your inner depths.
Yoga is interested in both.

Come to practice this week,
you who are made of starstuff.



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"I used to like kneeling in the garden;
it feels like bowing to the world
that made me.

My body can't do that kind of work
anymore, but my mind is all garden;
constant bloom and seed and bloom.
I'm looking at the dried-out poppy seed
heads and seeing me. So you get that
whole memento mori, really, don't you?
And that's a very important aspect,
I think, of a meditative or contemplative
lifestyle. I am still gardening,
but I am gardening me."

- Mark Hamer ,66,
gardener & writer from Wales

I finally got all my seeds
in the ground yesterday.
My body remembered all that work
upon rising for my first yoga class
this morning. Oy....
I have friends whose knees
no longer appreciate hours
in the dirt, so they wisely
choose how to modify their
movements, the amount of time
and effort they spend planting
versus simply enjoying what grows
....or doesn't.

The hopefulness of seeds.
The mystery of growth.
The remnants of dissolution.
An endless cycle I get to
witness on the same patch
of dirt year after year.

I'm drawn to memento mori
{Latin for "remember you must die")
in various forms of art and practice.
You are too
if you've ever done savasana
at the end of a yoga class.
Corpse pose is a chance to be
a dried out poppy seed head.
Spent. Finished. Empty.
Yoga has something to offer
in teaching us how to die,
how to live, how to embrace
the cycle of which we're a part.

See what grows this spring.
Inside and out.



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Our bodies are capable of pretty fantastic
ranges of movement. Forward folding!
Backwards bending! Just to name two.

In a forward fold, our back body
stretches to allow contraction of the
front body to move forward and
down. Likewise, when our back
muscles contract to arch, our front
get to enjoy some new length.
This sort of yoga play keeps a
balanced situation in our tissues.

Why do we do these sorts of actions
so repetitively in yoga? Muscles are
designed to contract and relax in
succession. As we pendulate,
we're safely and slowly increasing
circulation to connective tissues,
organs, muscles, and fascia. Yum.

When you cease nurturing these full
ranges of movement, you begin to
lose them. Your tissues contract,
habitual postures solidify, imbalances
arise and often with them, chronic pain.

Keep moving, yogi!
Up, down, side to side,
inside and out.

______________
photo: Anna Shve



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This, from Dr. Michael Greger's Anti-Aging Eight,
was the most surprising finding from the food
studies seeking increased longevity.
Something I already love is good for me? Yes!

What could be better (and easier) than
whipping up some lentils? Dal is divine.
Red lentils, really orange, are my go to.
Yellow, green, brown.... they're all delish.
But when I want to get fancy, I use this
NYT Cooking recipe for French lentils.
[also pasted below]
Oooh la la!
Okay, maybe not so fancy as it only
requires a few ingredients, but I feel
oh so continental and satisfied
when I eat it. Perhaps you will too.
It's serving as my breakfast
this very (slightly chilly) morning.

Here's to a healthy biome
and a supple body.
See you on the yoga mat.


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Oh, the wonders of the knee.
Flexion! (bending)
Extension! (straightening)
And honestly, lots of squirrely
actions in between as the knees
are caught smack in the middle of
the hips and the feet. The multiplicity
of crossing tendons and ligaments
allows us all that mobility, but with
mobility comes vulnerability.

We are mindful in yoga of how
we stack up bones for safety
in weight bearing and movement.
Still, variability of stance changes
the way the knee bones interact.
The way they slide together is
beautifully designed and morphs,
putting pressure on different parts
off the knee depending upon the
position of those bones.
All this action is supported by
cartilage (menisci), which for some
of us might be impaired.
Paying attention to your
peculiarities is smart.

Yoga does all sorts of good for
your knees - building strength
and mobility to support them
in their tireless work.
Still, if anything you do in yoga
hurts your knee, stop! Give a
deep bow of respect and see
how you might alter your stance,
lessen your flexion, or choose
another posture instead.

Your brave knees have served
you well all these years, pay them
the honor they deserve by
listening to what they like and
what they don't.

Yoga is more about
what your body
can teach you
than what you can
teach your body.

Read that last sentence again.
Then, come to yoga this week!



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Edgar Fernhout, Reading Woman in Interior (1951)

"Only when I was young did I
believe that it was important
to remember what happened
in every novel I read. Now I
know the truth: what matters
is what you experience while
reading, the states of feeling
that the story evokes, the
questions that rise to your mind,
rather than the fictional events
described. They should teach
you this in school, but they don't.
Always instead the emphasis is
on what you remembered."
-Sigrid Nunez

Just touching a spine of a novel,
glimpsing the typography or color
whisks me back in time,
into rich sensorial feeling.
This is my finest argument for
innumerable bookshelves.

I also feel this way about asana.
There are certain yoga postures
where, for me, the correctness or
facts of the shape are overwhelmed
by the feeling they evoke.
This may be why there are certain
types of yoga that feel to me like a
scratchy sweater in their exactness.
I want you to be safe, yes.
I want you to understand how
to position your physical form.
But I really want you to get
interested in the experience
you invoke.
That, dear yogi, is yours alone.

Meet me on the mat this week.



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Confession: As I was reading this quote
I had formatted earlier, I was hunched
over at my computer with a collapsed
chest and my head tilted back to better
read through my smudgy glasses. After
realizing the irony of my situation,
inhabiting the exact disaster she is
describing, I decided to stay and notice
what my breath was doing. It was, in
fact, all in my chest and I could sense
compensatory tension in my neck.
What a mess!
Then I decided to stack up on my
sit bones, aright my head, so my
natural spinal curves could adjust.
Now my abdominal muscles are at
least awake yet my belly soft enough
to receive my breath with a less
compressed diaphragm. Sometimes
helping yourself is simple.Sit up!
You know, instead of crumpling?
Bless my heart.

I'll join you in sitting tall
on the yoga mat this week.



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"Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence
is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings."
~ Rumi

A practitioner recently reminded me that
we are always expanding and contracting.
This is a good reminder for someone
who always looks to be making progress,
moving forward with alacrity and purpose.
Am I there yet?

One step of expansion, eager one.
Then a moment to contract and absorb.
Trusting that expansion will come
again in its own time.
If I can remember that this is
what I happily do with my body
every day on the yoga mat,
maybe I can figure out how to
bring this sort of gentle allowance
to all my journeys.

Maybe you can too.

photo: Ian Taylor



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I received this valentine from
A Revolutionary Press in Vermont,
a printmaker who tries to wake up
the world with intentionally placed words.
The above comes from
The Gulag Archipelago, dissident
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 's work
documenting and humanizing how
people suffered and endured Soviet
prisons and labor camps.

In these polarized times,
where I am oh, so certain not only
of my own virtuous opinions but also
the motivations of absolute strangers,
I decided posting this
on my wall might be a good idea.

May your heart feel full this week.
May we consider the complexity
and hidden woundings of
each other's hearts.

We'll bring
the shadow and the light
within our own hearts
to the yoga mat this week.
Come just as you are.



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You've never heard me lead you
into neck circling where you loll
your 12 lb skull 360° around.

I've been invited to do this in
countless exercise classes.
One of the great things about
being a grownup is you can
kindly ignore witless things
well-meaning people tell you to do.

Why should you pass
on neck circles?

1- nerve impingement

Those 7 stacked up cervical
vertebrae house your spinal
cord inside. For some of us,
that bony spinal canal narrows,
for all sorts of reasons. Rolling
your head back and then twisting
could result in compressing nerves.
This will not feel great.

2- wear and tear on cervical facets

This rolling your head in a circle
business is not a natural motion.
Your vertebrae are stacked up
brilliantly with cartilage between
for happy nodding and turning
but not so much for a disco whirl
done repetitively.

3- restricted blood supply to brain

You have vertebral arteries
which keep a healthy blood flow
to your brain. Throwing your head
far back could stymie the flow,
resulting in dizziness. Perhaps
even more troubling if your
arteries are clogged.

Of course, if you love neck circling
and your body tells you
"no problem, I love it!"
then you can ignore this
well meant analysis and advice.

Hope to see you and
your elegant neck
on the yoga mat this week.