A Spiritual Journey, Taken in a Cluttered Station Wagon

I’m not in a huff…I’m practicing Ujjai breathing April 9, 2010

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Personal Reflection or Self-Absorption? — Elaine @ 11:08 pm

Sometimes, it’s hard to take our own advice. As a “note to self,” I copypasta my own words from a comment on YogaDork:

Each of us holds the exclusive power to define and measure who we are. There is nothing that another person can say or do that has the power to define you, to build you up or diminish you in any real way. The power to judge is in ourselves alone. We may strive for peace and stillness, but we are, at our cores, dynamic actors. We shape our own truth through what we choose to do and say, and in the energy we choose to pour in to our world.

Somehow, this philosophy is easier to live when dealing with total strangers. But, what do we do when attacked and judged by the people who are close to us, who are inextricably woven in to the fabric of our lives? I may be the picture of Zen-like calm when under attack from total strangers, but when the negativity originates closer to home? I fail.

So, Prana Mamas and Papas….tell me this….

How do you use your inner strength to stand up to bullies without sacrificing your commitment to non-violence and non-harm?


Short Attention Span Theater March 26, 2010

Filed under: Adventures of a Spaz,Asana Practice,Deep Thoughts — Elaine @ 4:12 pm

Yoga Flow with Awesome Lisa this morning…opened, as is customary,  with an invitation to dedicate our practice to an idea, a value, an individual…if you are reading this, you very likely know the drill.  “Open,” popped in to my mind, and during our warm up and breathing I could imagine my ribs expanding, allowing golden light to pour out from my heart, like through shutters.

Pretty, huh?

However, as can happen to me from time to time, I found my intention shifting over the course of the practice.   This can tend to happen to me…I’m a total Myers-Briggs ENTP, full of Big Ideas that rapidly shift once a new Big Idea arises in my mind.   This time, though, it wasn’t my crazy short-attention span that set me on a new dedication.   This time, it was the practice itself that changed my mind’s direction, and, ironically, it was my distractable nature that fell in to view.

Usually, the Yoga Flow class flows.   Not that we didn’t today, but not just at the usual clip.  Today, Awesome Lisa (who will be delighted to learn that I have embellished her name behind her back)  had us pause a bit to evaluate our technique in each of our Asanas.   Where are your shoulders?   Which areas are bearing the weight of this pose?   Are you trying to get lower or higher or deeper in a bind at the expense of the soul of the pose?

And thus, a new intention was born.  It isn’t just about jumping ahead,trying to climb the mountain “because it’s there.”   It’s about learning and absorbing along the way.  It’s about living in this moment here, in the present.    Being in the now, and all of those mindful practices that elude me on a regular basis.

Lesson learned?     Well, I hesitate to commit to having actually learned ANYTHING….But, I do have a renewed interest in an area that has been a lingering question for me for years.  The Devil is , for me, in the details.   It’s all very well and good to move on to the next stage…but, who is to say that the last stage was actually completed?   And, most confusingly, does a system of approved progression help more people to a disciplined practice, or does it distract them with structure and the desire to outdo one’s classmates?

I massively appreciated the opportunity I got in today’s practice:  that is, to explore and honor the fact that the subtleties in the simplest of poses can make the difference between an effective stretch and a useless one.   Yes, several of my “Oooh, I’m ready for the advanced variation” positions were changed back to “maybe the adaptation for beginners is more my speed,” but, then, it’s a wake-up I obviously needed.

So, instead of just “Open,” I get a dedication to one of my own weaknesses, and, as usual, it applies way, WAY beyond Yoga.   Sometimes, you need to slow down the flow of your life, take stock, and make sure your form is healthy.   Keep reaching further down in your metaphorical triangle, but don’t forget to keep your hips in one plane.

Lesson one had me hold this post overnight to check for typos.   So, you see, I can be taught!

And, now, it’s off to my yoga togs for a quick practice.   I’ll even multitask a bit and put a bottle of wine in to chill while I’m out.   So gifted.

Wonderful weekend, my friends, and stay warm.


Ranting your Way to Peace and Enlightenment, Part I March 23, 2010

Filed under: Adventures of a Spaz,Chattering Monkeys,Deep Thoughts — Elaine @ 9:16 pm

It all started so innocently.    I mean, really…I didn’t mean to lose my inner quiet on everyone, but I had a few days of madness, and, there it was.   An innocent “share my meditation” became a full out screed.   As my friend and awesome Yoga teacher Lisa says, “My brain went on speakerphone.”

But, perhaps I am getting ahead of myself, here.   I’ll start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

YogaDork.   Very fun and lighthearted blog about Yoga.    I love Yoga, and I am a Dork, so, really, it couldn’t have possibly been anything less than love.   So, anyway, the fun folks over there had a little mini contest/contribution rally for cool springtime thoughts, meditations, and favorite asanas.   Now, as a quasi-professional (which is to say:  professional without a current paying gig) writer who can’t resist this sort of thing, I had to post.   But, what?   I skipped reading the other entries, and scurried off to Yoga Flow, as taught by the aforementioned Awesome Lisa.   It wasn’t an easy trip.   I piled my youngest child in to the station wagon and listened to her extensive statement of demands.   Apparently, Miss Thing felt that  there had better be some fun kids at the Y today, because her last visit had failed to meet her exacting standards for entertainment and social interaction.   Plus, I was leaving behind a huge pile of unfolded laundry, a sink full of dishes, and a mound of tax paperwork to be done.   And, really, shouldn’t I be putting my education to use and getting some “real” work?   Why hadn’t I pitched any magazine articles lately?   Clearly, there were many things I “should” be doing instead of practicing yoga today.

But then, during Savasana, it came to me.   This WAS what I “should” be doing.   Not only because I deserve to care for myself and Mama needs a little Prana sometimes, but also for everyone else in my home, my family, and my community.   Because, without light, a prism is just a hunk of glass.   And the energy and unity I feel in a good practice becomes the light that passes through my prism and becomes a full spectrum of beauty.   And, in that room full of other people, mostly women like me, there were about 20 other prisms all being lit by our shared practice.   Together, we were like a massive chandelier that could light our whole community with beauty from within.

So, on my euphoric post-practice high, I rushed home to jot down my meditation.  Surely I wasn’t the only one out there who needed to think of myself as a prism rather than a hunk of glass!   But, before I started to write, I settled in and read this article, linked from an email.     The rage was strong with me, grasshopper.   How patronizing!   How demeaning!   How devaluing of an entire group of people.  (In this case, women with children who work from home.   Like, um…Me.)    The calmness of meditation was gone, and my Brain Monkeys were chattering in full voice.   I was flooded with other slights, other signs that our society is off kilter.   And, as much as I tried to set it aside to write my short meditation for YogaDork, the more the monkeys reminded me of similar slights from within yoga itself!

You see, I’m afraid I stumbled on one of those “AUTHENTIC” yoga types (“If you aren’t a vegan or a Hindu, or a Sanskrit-chanter, your yoga is inauthentic, like that exercise class stuff that middle aged women at the gym do!”) early on in my practice, and the rejection and dismissal was actually pretty hurtful!   No new yogini should ever get the message that “you and people like you don’t belong here.”  Yoga truly can be for everybody who wants it, moms, dads, single whippersnappers and elder adventurers. One of the most beautiful things it can give is a welcoming philosophical home for anyone who wants to unite body, mind, and spirit.

And, so, when I sat down to quickly share a mediation on prisms and inner light, the old brain went on speakerphone…and, well, babbling ensued.   The good folks at YogaDork were kind enough to repost my comments in a whole new post, thus satisfying my decidedly un-Yogic need for external attention and validation.    And, then I felt the need to reply to those comments further, and, well…

Perhaps it’s time to do some blogging again, myself, yes?

And so, in short, this is how PranaMama has come to be.   I’ll post a further introduction to myself soon.   Right now, I need to make dinner and sew a costume for the sixth grade play.  Thank goodness for this morning’s Pranayama-heavy practice with Carrie…my prism needed all the light it could get!