Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Few Thoughts

If you have time, watch this Rod Stryker video about yoga.   I also enjoyed listening to his Pragnya video.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Who Made the Stars?

The other day, my daughter & I stopped by a favorite store in Neptune Beach called A World Away.   One of the items we purchased was a palm leaf star valance made in Bangladesh.   The artisan listed for the valance was Prokritee.

When I got home, I couldn't stop from wondering about the spelling of Prokritee & it's similarity to the Sanskrit word Prakriti.   I looked at my notes from a 2007 Rod Stryker lecture and re-affirmed Prakriti's definition.   Rod told us that Prakriti is the ephemeral, everlasting presence - the force that brings everything into being.   As the source of origin, Prakriti manifests through the 3 Gunas:   Tamas, Rajas, & Sattwa.  Rod stated that before something can come into being one of the 3 Gunas has to become slightly more activated.

Before I looked up Prokritee on the internet & found out it was an agency involved in fair trade, I had a whole wonderful story made up in my mind.   I imagined the buyer of the container full of star valances realizing that he needed a specific name of the artist who hand made these stars.   So, the buyer asks the vendor, "Who made the stars?"    The vendor replies, Prakriti.

This time of the year, it's hard to be certain our hands are clean.   I think that's why I initially became intrigued by exactly who made the star valance.   I am like a majority of Americans.   I love a sale and often wait until after the Christmas rush to go shopping for my children's clothes.   While I enjoy the discounts for my pocket book, I regularly think about a song my long time buddy, Kim Kranich, shared with me nearly 20 years ago.   Are My Hands Clean by Sweet Honey in the Rock is a powerful commentary on our connection to the goods created by the world & purchased by us here in the States.

I just let out a big & long sigh.   I'm not sure how we can make a difference in this chain - other than continue to be more mindful of who, what, where, why, & how.   And for me, I'll keep giving my thanks at the feet of the One who made the stars.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!

Today, I walked to Castaway Island Preserve on Jacksonville's intra-coastal.   No kids.  No husband.  Just me & Molly the dog.   You need to know, I was a reluctant dog owner who went through a plethora of emotions for several years prior to accepting the role of care taking for another living being.   I have often felt that I've had my fill of being care giver to many generations of my family.  And it was a big step for my heart to open again to another creature.  My personal practice was a large part of my ability to step out of my comfort zone.

With Molly beside me, I sat on a bench in Castaway & stared at the Florida water & sky thinking - "it doesn't get any better than this."  All the while, I breathed these words sent by Jenny Otto yesterday -

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. 
Krishnamacharya is recognized & honored for bringing yoga to the west.   He is the father of T.K.V. Desikachar who wrote one the first books I read about classical yoga & often return to it to re-read.   In addition to teaching his son, Krishnamacharya also taught B.K.S. Iyengar as well as Patthabi Jois who developed Ashtanga Yoga.

Jenny shared Krishnamacharya's words while she sat inside her home staring at a winter wonderland - the blizzard of 2009 that has touched Maryland and other states.   One of the great things about a blizzard is it gives you time to "just be."   Everyone settles down & allows nature to be the excuse for a reprieve & much needed rest.

Here in FL, we don't get too many weather excuses to be quiet, light a fire, and rest.   So we have to give ourselves permission.   That's what my walk to Castaway Island Preserve was for me - a brief retreat from the world.   Time to "just be."   Inhales and exhales.  Seeing the beauty.

As Molly & I walked out of Castaway, the world came rushing back in.   The race of car engines & loud stereos on San Pablo Road, dogs barking hidden behind fences - all of this jolted me back.

During our times of repose, we often discover peace, ease, and a lightness of being.   Our work is how to hang on to this connection as we re-join the rest of society.  It's our practice.  And realizing even with the distractions, obligations & commitments, we can keep placing one foot in front of the other and continue the journey.   If we are fortunate, we have a faithful companion beside us.

Walking Molly home, I recalled the words on a stained & tattered piece of paper that now hangs in my garage.  I received this paper nearly 40 years ago - as a gift at a childhood friend's birthday party.  Did the mother who gave these rolled up scrolls with wise sayings even dream that any of us would carry these papers with us through a lifetime?   Did she have any inkling of the long term effect of her decision? I'd like to think that she did - that she saw great potential.   Here are the words...

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me and just be my friend.
                                           - Camus

It doesn't get any better than this!  Inhale.  Exhale.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Breeding Ground

This past weekend, I formally completed my Pilates Equipment training (although we never are really "done"). I know. I know. This is a blog about Advanced Yoga Studies. Please let me explain further. : ) At the end of the training, I thanked Vicki Sullivan who has been locally hosting & teaching the advanced Pilates studies. One of the things I joked about was that she was "breeding her competition" by offering teacher training here in Jacksonville. I love Vicki for many reasons - and specifically because we have a similar passion for knowledge & to share knowledge. Individuals who offer teacher training have a unique point of view. They often don't see sharing knowledge as a threat. Quite clearly, these individuals see abundance - and are really excited when people "get it." So, today, I was on the phone with a phenomenal yoga teacher from the northeast, Linda Howard. She expressed how excited she was for our community here in the southeast - and our willingness to grow. She told me, "You know, Lisa, you are bringing one of the top teachers in the country to Jacksonville." She was talking about Jenny Otto. I have goose bumps. I am truly tickled to share the deeper journey with you & am honored to facilitate the offerings here in Jacksonville.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Blessing & Prayer

Please evoke a feeling of gratitude. Grateful that all of life’s experiences have led you to this moment. That this is exactly where you are meant to be.

Each of us honor different paths & lineages and our attraction to the practice of yoga is diverse – may we continue to support one another on our path. In our words & actions, may we continue to respect our diversity.

Each day, may we find time to take good care of ourselves – receiving well so that we may continue to serve. As teachers, may we continue to share our great love & respect of this amazing journey with our students.

With a profound & humble honoring, let’s remember our teachers. Those who have paved the way for us. Remembering our yoga teachers and also our life teachers (school teacher, family member, neighborhood elder). Where ever they may be, sending heart felt gratitude.

Let’s offer a prayer of intent to use the teachings wisely, never taking them for granted.

May we regularly reflect on our personal practice – asking ourselves “Who am I becoming through this practice?” “Am I becoming the world in which I wish to live?”

May we be the light that we seek so that others may see the way. May our thoughts, words, and hearts resonate.

Please take a moment now and express what you are grateful for specifically in your life.

May we continue to be grateful for all of life that comes our way. May we see both our blessings & obstacles as our teachers.

May we continue to serve well. May we know peace.