Sunday, March 10, 2013

Attending to Tortoise

“Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land.” …The Song of Solomon

Tortoise has been calling to me. Looking from place to place, my eyes open wide, my ears inclined to hear. I watch and listen.  What is it tortoise is offering to me? Tortoise, a symbol of strength, longevity and endurance, a progenitor of life, a bringer of wisdom.

Tortoise saunters confident and capable. In no hurry, steadfast she travels carrying her home with her. She lives a simple life, she has all she needs.  Grazing on vegetation, she knows no lack. She digs down into mother earth and lays her eggs. New life emerges. Withdrawing into her shell, she finds protection and rest. 

Perhaps the time has come to follow in the footsteps of tortoise. Yoga tells us that tortoise pose is dedicated to the maintainer of the universe.  Who is this maintainer of our universe? None other than our true Self. The yogi attempts to withdraw his senses from other objects, as the tortoise withdraws his limbs from danger. Then the yogi will be on the path towards wisdom and know freedom.

So I begin to apply myself to the practice of tortoise pose. The physical benefits are many. The entire backside of the body stretches. The back will relax and the hamstrings will loosen with practice. Blood flow is stimulated all along the spine, nourishing this complex network of nerves. The pelvis and abdomen are squeezed improving the health of the internal organs.

This is an advanced posture (strength) and it will take years (longevity) for me to be limber enough(endurance) to get into the final pose. Yet I practice, balancing effort with ease (life). And here I remember there is no destination, it’s all about the journey. (wisdom)

Om shanti. 


Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Frog Prince and Reluctant Teens

“Why are you crying my honey, my heart, why are you crying my sweet darling?”

The Frog Prince

Moving Tale presented “The Frog Prince,” as a puppet show. A classic fairy tale, the princess makes a promise then is reluctant to keep it. The story unfolded and the audience hushed. About halfway in still no peep could be heard. For a moment fear reared his head. We looked at one another, thinking “do they not like it?” When suddenly truth materialized, the kids were enchanted!

How often do we say we will do something but when it actually comes down to getting the job done we slack off? We change our minds or make excuses. Much of life is appears difficult. There are things we would rather not do. But are we spectators or participants in the stories of our lives? Unresolved issues often keep us sitting in the stands. We avoid dealing with unpleasant situations, and the fears we are unwilling to confront.

So the princess comes face to face with her promise and must let go of her aversions. And in doing so acceptance of the situation emerges. Then before she knows what is happening unconditional loves comes in and fills the space. Letting go is not an overnight affair but once it begins moving you’ll be surprised at the rapid results. Becoming a participant is easier than we thought, and the frog is transformed before our very eyes.

Moving Tale; Kathe and Melanie, tandem yoga storytellers

Reluctant Teens

Today I introduced 8 high school students to yogic breathing and the sun salutation. All males ranging in age from 16-21, these students are part of the public school system’s Community Skills Training Program. The program integrates the classroom in the community by assessing its resources. “Health and Wellness” was their theme and I was asked to give them a short presentation on yoga.

Not knowing what lay ahead, I casually prepared and determined to let things come what may.  We began by sitting on the floor, which was a riot. A few sat right down and I heard a comment or two that I let go in one ear and out the other. Two young men sat on a bench, so resolute a wrecking ball could not have moved them.  Stern of face and shoulders hunched, their demeanor told a stoic story.

I began chatting a bit about library cards and library materials establishing the foundation of the session. I followed this by telling them about the many free programs offered, such as this one. We opened with the meaning of yoga and its benefits for body and mind. I explained that most of the yogis of times past were men, attempting to set them somewhat at ease. Now it was time to remove our shoes and sit in easy pose. Another mutiny almost ensued, looking about I noticed a few who silently refused. Young adult males asserting their independence, who would have thought!

We sat up tall, heads high reaching towards the sky. A demonstration was in order; we placed our hands on our ribcage and belly and gave yogic breathing a try. Glancing around the room I noticed everyone participating. Even the aloof ones now were on the floor. Breathing in and breathing out, becoming aware of our breath. A sense of calmness came over the room. Ahhh…

Ready for a warm up we stood in mountain pose and took a few sunbreaths before these big strong guys balanced on tip toe. Energy quickly accelerated as we moved through a salute to the sun. One young man stated, “This is a workout,” while another said, “I thought yoga was just about meditation and om.” All took part to a certain degree and several were truly paying attention. We closed with the meaning of Namaste,and ended with a bow. 

Everyone went home with a handout and if only one student practices any one thing he was introduced to today, hip, hip, hurray!

Mahalo, I serve.