Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Breath in the Bluebonnets

Spring was just sleeping they often say, for when daylight returns the world comes out to play. The spring equinox brings us a balance of light and dark, waking the resting earth. Roused from slumber plants stretch and open their sleepy eyes. New life emerges taking its first full breaths. We too stretch and breathe ready for new adventures.

Drizzle followed us the length of the way, grey clouds hovering low overhead. Seeking release from the confines of winter we headed to the Texas hill country. Wildflowers were beginning to break ground and we looked forward to more than a glimpse of Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush in addition to the fresh spring air. Yet where were the sunbeams we’d yearned to see? Good yogis know we ought to surrender to whatever is to be, thus should the sun refuse to shine we’d roll out our mats then settle in to enjoy family.

The next morning dawned bright and clear however and a cold biting wind greeted us. Bundling up, we set off eager as ever to discover our treasures. Bright blue faces with sweet little smiles covered the countryside mile after mile. Vivid orange splashes popped up here and there. We snapped photos in the blustery breeze. Drinking in the wild air we were filled with the energy of life.

Breath is life. In yoga the conscious control of the breath is called pranayama.  Prana means breath and yama means control. Pranayama affects our whole being; body, mind and spirit. This awareness of the breath brings us closer to controlling the mind and directs the energy of the body. Yoga science gives instruction to the practice of pranyayama; it is good to begin breath work in the spring. During spring the air is pure, neither too hot nor too cold. Wisdom is asleep in each of us and pranayama awakens this slumbering insight.

It is spring, time to wake up, the light welcomes me and I remember to breathe. 


Monday, April 1, 2013

Forever Friends

“Forever Friends” was our Moving Tale for March, Mel and I adapted “Elephant and Dog” a Jataka tale from Ancient India. Moving Tale empowers kids connecting body and brain through the social interaction of yoga storytelling. Kids leave nurtured, feeling self-confident, with focusing skills and a sense of emotional well-being. This month we included healthy relationships to our healthy body and healthy brain message . Our brains are wired to learn and grow from human interactions, our every social relationship. “Forever Friends” an endearing story of friendship is overflowing with eternal truths. So...just what does it take to be a forever friend?

Yoga  gives us the yamas to follow.  The yamas are the  attitudes and observances fundamental to a life lived in unity. They lead us down a path toward a place where we can be a forever friend. Our first step is kindness, ahimsa. We must be kind to a friend. It is often much easier to recognize the unkind thought or word directed toward another but what sort of thoughts and words do we offer to ourselves, for to be kind to another begins with being kind to ourselves. Are our words kind? Are they helpful? The second step leads to truthfulness, satya. Honest communication based on what we know to be true, not gossip, supposition or exaggeration. Commitment to truth is not always easy but at the end of the day, how do we feel about the words we say? Next we hop over to trust, asteya. We take a leap of faith, trusting that our needs will be met. We are not greedy and share what we have. Then comes moderation, brahmacharya, using our energies wisely. How do we express our energy? Do the things we say and do bring us closer or push us away from our friends. Finally we come to generosity, aparigraha. Here we let go of how we expect our friends to be and allow them to be as they are. Each step on the path brings us closer to understanding our relationship to others and our relationship to ourselves.

Story too help us understand the world in which we live and ourselves. The stories we tell; the thoughts we think, the words we say and the actions we take all tell a story. Storytelling and yoga unite our minds to our bodies. Bringing us into the present moment, this is where we experience the relationships of life. We begin to become aware of our stories. Are we being kind and truthful? Do we trust that we are cared for? Are we moderate and generous? As we listen to our own story and practice our yoga we might pause and ask, “Am I becoming the kind of person I would like to have as a friend?”

Mahalo, we serve.

Moving Tale; Kathe and Melanie, tandem yoga storytellers

The Magic Pear Tree

“For it is in giving that we receive.”--- Francis of Assisi

Artists Extraordinaire
What do you do when you finish telling a story about sweet, juicy pears? Eat some, of course. The story ends with everyone laughing as pear juice drips from their chins, so we decided that it would be a luscious way to conclude our first Moving Tale of the season. Yum.

Our Yoga Storytelling Adventure took us to China this month as Mel and I presented “The Magic Pear Tree”. Here is a short but sweet summary. The story begins as an old man wanders into a small village. He has no belongings but his eyes sparkle with tranquility. A Harvest Festival is being celebrated, hot and thirsty he asks for a small pear but the vendor is stingy and refuses. A kind young man steps forward and purchases a perfectly ripe pear presenting it to the old man. Thankful, he savors the pear and proceeds to plant the seed in the dry earth. When magically, it sprouts and grows into a full grown pear tree. The astonished villagers are encouraged to partake of the sweet juicy pears until the tree is left bare. The excitement diminishes and all depart. As the stingy vendor turns, he finds his cart empty. Understanding arises and he realizes that perhaps he should have shared a pear.

Blossoming Trees
Warrior II was our old man, we stood strong with a sparkle in our eye. Wandering into the village we practiced triangle pose. Refusing the request for a pear we sat in a low squat with arms crossed as the stingy vendor. In child’s pose we rested as the seed was planted. Magically sprouting and growing was a natural for tree pose, our branches grew upward and our hands opened wide as flowers and sweet ripe fruit formed.  The excitement diminishing we departed with side angle pose. Namaste with a bow took us to the perfect ending as understanding arose for the stingy vendor.

As always when I am preparing for a tale I listen to what the story has to say to me. These timeless tales steady my feet as I wander on my adventure through life. Yoga philosophy offers us a firm foundation. The yamas are guidelines for living well with others. The virtues of kindness, truthfulness, trust, moderation, and generosity guide us along the way.

The story of “The Magic Pear Tree” is a tale of generosity. Generosity, the act of being generous, liberal in giving or sharing. This quality first arises from our thoughts, then becomes more tangible as we speak words of generosity, finally manifesting in the physical act of giving or sharing. Seems simple enough. Thinking thoughts of generosity sends this energy out into the quantum field ultimately returning it to us. Hmmmm.
Yoga asks us to delve deeper into our thoughts, words and deeds. Here we come to know the very nature of our minds and begin to recognize our free will, life is a choice. We choose what we think, say, and do. Our personal reality is shaped by our personal choices. Our thoughts, words and deeds are energy. What we outflow we inflow, we reap what we sow.

Truly we know we are here to help one another. And when we remember this, we too shall have the sparkle of tranquility in our eyes. 

Moving Tale; Kathe and Melanie, tandem yoga storytellers

Originally published 4/20/2013