Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Wish Fish

A Tale of Contentment

"Wish Fish, Wish Fish, come to me." Sounds familiar doesn't it. We have so much to be grateful for; family, friends, our health, yet we are always wishing for something more. We say to ourselves "If I only had this or that...then I could really be happy." We never seem to have enough. It is human nature to want more, but things and circumstances can never bring true happiness. Happiness comes from a place of contentment within each of us. Oh to be grateful and content!

With Thanksgiving upon us and Christmas right around the corner we couldn't have told a more perfect story this season. "The Wish Fish" is our adaptation of the classic folktale, " The Fisherman and his Wife." Our story begins with a fisherman and his wife living in a simple grass hut by the sea. 

One day the fisherman catches a glittering, golden wish fish. The fisherman kindly releases it and when his wife hears the story she tells her husband to go back and ask the fish for a stone house, she is tired of the grass hut. Her wish is granted and and she is happy for a little while but soon becomes greedy and asks for more and more. The sea gets stormier and stormier each time the fisherman calls to the wish fish. Eventually everything gets washed away in a mighty wave and the fisherman returns to his simple, peaceful life where each day as the sun rises he rows out onto the ocean and gratefully casts his net. Some days he catches several fish and some days only one, but either way he is content. 

Many opportunities for interaction presented themselves with the story. Each time the fisherman paddles his boat we paddled our arms side to side, and as the wish fish swims alongside the boat we made a swimming fish motion with our hands. The children loved calling out, “Wish fish, wish fish come to me.” And could hardly believe the greedy wife asking for more and more, “She should be happy for what she has,” was many a response. Warrior II became our fisherman, boat and fish pose were obvious choices for the little boat and the wish fish. Mel and I enjoyed coming up with poses for the wife’s wishes as well as the stormy sea; low lunge, Warrior I, gate pose, wide angle forward fold, extended side angle, and of course, goddess pose. We ended the session with a grateful Sunbreath.

Gratitude is a hallmark of well- being. It affects not only our happiness but our health. Gratitude changes our perceptions. It changes our experience of life. Fortunately we can cultivate gratitude through story and yoga. Our story is our response to our life experiences. It is not only what we say and do it is also what we feel and think. Through the practice of yoga we become aware of our thoughts and feelings. Not only do we begin to notice our strength, flexibility and balance increasing but also our levels of gratitude and contentment. 

Appreciating what we have is everything. Everything is a gift. Gratitude actually makes us feel good. It is the feeling that we have enough. This feeling that we have enough brings deep feelings of contentment; it calms our bodies and our minds. 

Gratitude, like everything in the universe, is a form of energy. The energy of gratitude draws unto itself. Being grateful for what we have opens the pathways of energy allowing more abundance to come into our lives. Being grateful is a powerful transformative tool and we can transform our lives by being grateful.  So let’s cast our net with gratitude and we just might draw in a glittering golden fish, but either way we shall be content. 

Moving Tales; Kathe and Melanie, tandem yoga storytellers

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bhakti on and off the Mat

What an aum…mazing weekend with Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band! When our yoga storytelling adventure began with a picnic lunch at Lafreniere Park and a carousel ride, I knew I was in for a weekend of enchantment and that is just what I received. May I always remember, thoughts become things.

We headed over to the Bywater Bed and Breakfast and settled into the whimsical old New Orleans home filled with local artwork before setting off for the concert celebrating the release of the band's new cd “Unity.” Friday night’s presentation was held at a Café Istanbul, a quaint little club that hosts live performances, inside the New Orleans Healing Center. Café Istanbul was open to the public as well as the 30+ band followers who were in town for a Bhakti weekend. Those unfamiliar with bhakti and kirtan were given an undeniable delight. Sacred songs, poems, and Sanskrit mantra infused with New Orleans funk, jazz and rock beats. An enlivening experience for all.

Saturday morning teased us with a flavor of fall.  Cool temps and low humidity, a taste to savor for the weekend, woohoo! Something we southerners look forward to after the long hot summer. Our Bhakti yoga session opened with introductions and intentions. My intention for the weekend was to simply enjoy the experience. We gathered around the band for a story.  Sean is not only a terrific yoga teacher, he is a storyteller extraordinaire, along with Gwendolyn and Alvin’s accompaniment I was transported to another time and place. We listened to the “Birth of Ganesha”  and prepared to delve into relationships, creativity, disparity and possibility during our practice. Om Gam Ganapatye Namah. 

The closing session of this fascinating weekend opened with the story of “Sudama and Krishna.” This  story reminds us to trust ourselves, to trust what we have to offer, to remember that the Divine is always with us, to “Remember Who We Are.” Bhakti is a spiritual path. It is the yoga of love, devotion, and surrender to the Divine. The Bhakti yogi is motivated by the power of love and sees the Divine as the embodiment of love. Singing songs of praise one is able to focus the mind, emotions, and senses on the Divine. This creates an atmosphere of unconditional love, an experience of oneness with everything. 

The only requirement for practicing bhakti yoga is an open, loving heart. You only need to surrender doubts, fears and worries and express genuine love. Expressing our devotion to the many aspects of the Divine is a practice of empowerment. The power we receive helps us to perceive and perception is everything. And so I sing, "Open the eye of my heart Lord."

Om Hari Om.