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Paul Gauguin (1894)

The older I get,
the more things I study
or try to learn, the more
familiar patterns I detect.
Philosophers, bodyworkers,
religions, artists, and thinkers
weave meaning from their
own lens yet themes replicate.

I love this. It helps me feel
less worried about all
I don't know
and more trusting of my
instinctual understanding.

This past week I've intoned
to myself again and again
this idea attributed to Rumi:

What you are seeking
is sleeping somewhere
inside of you.
__________

See what your body
has to reveal this week
on the yoga mat.



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Understand that your time
has a limit set to it.
Use it then to advance
your enlightenment,
or it will be gone, and
never in your power again.
-Marcus Aurelius

The Stoics attract and repel me at turns.
This notice to guard one's time rings true.
I remembered a fact I read recently
on cell phone usage statistics:
The average American spent two months
time on their phones in 2023.
With daily average use at
four and a half hours, you've lost
2 months of your life in a single year.
This is astonishing.
[Find more confounding stats below
in a tidy and disturbing graphic
pulled from the statistics link above.]

As yogis, we aim to live with intention.
Rather than mindlessly gratifying
habitual desire, we seek to notice,
sense, and hone our inner wisdom.
I'm starting to realize my time
in this life is limited, and I want to
pay close attention to how I spend it.

Yogi wisdom!
More time on the yoga mat
and with people you love.
Less time on our phones.


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"A garden is always a place of worship,
even if it is a really crappy one."
-Mark Hamer

Amen, brother.
No one ever sees my backyard
where all the digging & dreaming
happens. Just as well, things
rarely turn out as planned.
Most the time, I have no idea
what I'm doing. I'm elated when
something thrives or I learn that
what I thought was a weed can
cure what ails me. Funny how
my yard often offers me just
what I need well before I can
figure out what it even is.

Consider lying about in your
own backyard. You might
discover something beautiful
you never noticed before.
I can almost guarantee
this will happen.

You can throw your arms
akimbo and call it yoga.



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I could learn a lot from a bar of soap
it seems.
Patiently allowing myself time to be,
to shift, to accommodate the atmosphere
that surrounds me.

Therein ends today's lesson.

Maybe we'll find each other
just as we are, where we are, when
it's time to come to the yoga mat.



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I could not resist this book on the shelf
of my neighborhood library. It did not
disappoint. Riddled with highly original
visual representations of data as to how
we are affected by films individually and
communally - politically, socially,
economically, and even physically.
I'm not exactly a pop culture dynamo,
so lots of the references evaded me.
But his dives into science, history, and
the international economy of tv and film
are profoundly illuminating and
explain a lot about where we are
culturally in 2024.

If you're at all like the average
American, you spend a fifth of
your life watching tv and movies.
Gulp! Doing so consciously seems
like an excellent idea.

Scientific studies of moviegoers
documented shifts in more than 100
trace gases from patrons' exhales
depending upon which type of
movie they were watching.
Measurements of brain activity,
internal chemical processes,
galvanic skin response, even blood
coagulants are altered. Your conscious
mind knows it's just a film, but your
involuntary nervous system doesn't.

Something to keep in mind, yogi.
Fascinating stuff. Some of us
love the adrenaline rush of a
roller coaster; others not so much.
What you take in with any of your
senses has effects.
What you may take for
passive consumption
is anything but.

Come to yoga for
a predictable steadying
of your nervous system.



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from Kurt Vonnegut Drawings by The Monacelli Press

"I've been drawing all my life, just as a hobby,
without really having shows or anything.
It's just an agreeable thing to do,
and I recommend it to everybody.
I always say to people, practice an art,
no matter how well or badly, because
then you have the experience of becoming
and it makes your soul grow."
-Kurt Vonnegut

I still have a nice collection of Vonnegut,
whom I read eagerly in my twenties.
Dark, self aware political satire
made me feel oh, so grownup.

The words above appeal to me now.
Practicing an art this late in the game?
Well, mastery is not an option.
Which is kind of awesome and freeing.
Just dipping my toe, or fingertips,
into something with the aim
of simply making my soul grow?
My hidden evil perfectionist shrinks.
The space around me grows.
This, I like.

Your yoga practice
can feel this way too
if you let it.



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Ah, the ubiquitous down dog.
Love it. Hate it. It looms
ever present in a yoga practice.

The tightness you may greet
in your hamstrings can easily
be ameliorated by bent knees.
But what about the tightness
you encounter in your shoulders?

Here's a tip for opening up
your upper back and keeping
your neck free, so happy
benefits will radiate down
the entire length of your spine.

Once your open and ground
your palms and begin to press
up into the shape, ask your
biceps to spin outwards and
your triceps to draw back.

Do this right now from where
you sit. Just throw your arms
in front of you in the air and try it.
Pinky fingers spinning out.
Feel your back muscles drawing
your shoulder blades down?
See? That's external rotation.
It can be hard to keep in downdog.
Many of us collapse. But if you can,
you will be rewarded with a more
comfortable and safe shape so
you can downdog your life long.

Down dog smartly
with me this week!



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a Canadian forest that I can still conjure in my spirit years later

Jack pines … are not lumber trees
[and they] won’t win many beauty
contests either. But to me this
valiant old tree, solitary on its own
rocky point, is as beautiful as a
living thing can be…. In its silence
it speaks of … wholeness …
an integrity that comes from
being what you are.
—Douglas Wood, Fawn Island

You don't have to be
in an enchanted forest
to fall under the spell
of a wise, old tree.
Its deep strength and wisdom
offers its own kind of beauty.
The kind of beauty I aspire to.
That of being exactly
what or who you are.
Maybe not particularly
useful or industrious
nor extraordinarily impressive.
But true.

Let's try on that intention
on the yoga mat this week.



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Nearly 40 researchers signed "The New York Declaration on Animal Consciousness," which was first presented at a conference at New York University on Friday morning. It marks a pivotal moment, as a flood of research on animal cognition collides with debates over how various species ought to be treated.

The declaration says there is "strong scientific support" that birds and mammals have conscious experience, and a "realistic possibility" of consciousness for all vertebrates — including reptiles, amphibians and fish. That possibility extends to many creatures without backbones, it adds, such as insects, decapod crustaceans (including crabs and lobsters) and cephalopod mollusks, like squid, octopus and cuttlefish.

-Evan Bush for NBC News

_______________________

When zoologists, neurologists, and
biologists begin to understand the
heretofore unimagined cognition
of animals along with the possibility
of consciousness and awareness
akin to our own, things start to look
a little different as to how we should
behave in the world of which we are
a small part.

Step outside on this sunny Earth Day
with new eyes to the community
around you, possibly with an aim
towards kindness and curiosity.

Happy Earth Day, yogi.
You're a part of
something wonderful.



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"We must walk according to the highest light we have, encountering lovingly those who are out of harmony, and trying to inspire them toward a better way. Whenever you bring harmony into any unpeaceful situation, you contribute to the cause of peace. When you do something for world peace, peace among groups, peace among individuals, or your own inner peace, you improve the total peace picture."
-Peace Pilgrim

As my mind has been troubled
by all the senseless violence
that is escalating in the world,
I went to look for my old paperback
of transcribed thoughts and actions
of Peace Pilgrim. A woman who
dropped all her possessions and
simply walked for peace all over
North America during the Korean
War, Vietnam, and beyond.

I believe her claim that I can
help affect peace in the world.
Starting with inner peace
(no small project) and then
fostering peace around me
can make a difference.

Don't feel powerless.
Don't feel overwhelmed.
Move in your world with
the brightest light you have.
Radiate a peaceful countenance
that can spread far.
Trailing harmony behind you.

Yoga is a brilliant start.