Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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If we were having coffee this weekend I know you will want your beverage on ice because we have hit triple digit heat. I don’t really mind it too much, but it is too much for most people. I am drinking a lovely white pear iced tea with a hint of fruity aftertaste that cools the tastebuds if not the entire body. If we were drinking tea this weekend I would tell you I did manage to write my first tea review, and found it to be easier than I thought it might be.
If you want to know the most interesting part of my week I have to tell you about my friend Gita. I was invited to a pot luck dinner party in honor of an old friend who now lives outside Guadalajara, but lived in Tucson for years, and visits here frequently. She was my mother’s lawyer, and a brilliant one. She had been a fancy tax attorney in Chicago when she decided to become a yoga teacher. She studied at Kripalu and later moved to Tucson where she developed a large following of devoted yoga students. She practiced law on the side, and was doing very well in life when she learned she has Parkinson’s Disease. She lost much of her physical strength and abilities, but still she persisted.
She became a teacher of laughter yoga, and developed a following in that innovative for of yoga, calling on her vast experience in al forms of yoga. I admired her greatly for shifting to accommodate anything that came her way. Since she moved to Mexico I had not seen her, and I assumed her Parkinson’s would be much more difficult to handle with time. I did not make the dinner party, but scheduled a private visit to catch up with her. She fit me into her busy social schedule for a visit before her donkey photo shoot.
Much to my great surprise I found my friend healthy happy, and showing no symptoms of her disease. She now spends her time studying and dancing the tango. I was shocked to see how great her recovery has been. She found a Mexican doctor who put her on the right drug, and then performed brain surgery. After ten years of pain and downhill slide, she got her life back. She drives, lives on her own, and will join a group of tango aficionados on a trip to Buenos Aires in the fall. I asked her if she felt bitter after 10 years of failure with the medical pharmaceutical industry. Her response has blown my mind and made me think about what it really means to be a yogini. She said she had been bitter during the 10 years, but then medicine gave her back her life. Parkinson’s taught her patience and gratitude. Once she got her strength and ability back she knew he just wanted to dance for the rest of her life. Gita is by far the greatest yogini I have ever met ( and I have known many great ones). Yoga is not flexibility of the body..it is strength of mind and character.
Her custom now is to meet a donkey in each city she visits and have a photo shoot. I had not planned to go along for the donkey photo shoot, but it turned out to be the icing on the cake. Here is a woman with a donkey, but not just any woman. This picture captures an ascended master with a donkey, enjoying the great cosmic joke. Dance on, Gita. Your insight and sense of humor are precious. You embody the meaning of yoga.
Let me pour you another glass of iced tea while you tell me about your week and your writing projects. I enjoy keeping up at these digital beverage parties. Read or contribute to the party at Nerd in the Brain’s party link. This movable feast takes place every weekend, rain or shine. Join us.
I have been using my vibration platform for at least 15 minutes each day for a few weeks. Some days I do it in different positions for 30-45 minutes. I have been experimenting with speeds, and programs, as well as positions. I have been enjoying it and think it is having a positive effect on my general health. I found a couple of good videos to teach me various new options. This smooth moving sequence above looks like a vinyasana…constantly in motion. I like the idea of using a mat for traction on the floor behind the platform. I am going to incorporate some of these ideas and positions into my routine.
My neighbor Heidi has been using it also and we both like it. We talked today about finding more material to try on our platform. I am crazy about the Philippine version below of vibration plate class. This is used like a vibrating step…wild!! He also does an eight count then changes position. I have been holding positions as long as I can, like squat, backward bend, etc. I see the fun of changing positions constantly, but we will use different music. There are other demo videos on Youtube with more ideas for those of us who love to vibrate. These new ideas keep it fresh. I am a big fan. Have you tried the power plate, gentle reader? It is an efficient way to get a great workout in t short time and drain your lymphatic system at the same time. I bought it for the lymphatic drainage, and now I find I love it for the way it makes me feel. FUN!!
I am pumped, gentle readers. I am embarking on a road trip to one of my favorite destinations on earth. I love Cardiff-by- the-Sea, California. This suburb of Encinitas has everything I want in a destination…..beautiful beach, a classic biker dive bar with great rock and roll ( right across the street from the beach), and many good friends who live in the area of North County San Diego.
At home in Tucson I rarely go out and night and have not been out dancing for ages. The music at the Kraken usually suits me to a T, and there is no need to choose a partner in order to dance. It is not that kind of bar. It is a bar for locals, bikers, and everyone who wants to preserve 1975 for eternity…..my kind of place. I have found an Airbnb accommodation that has everything I every hoped for in an accommodation. I can park ( this is a very big deal in this neighborhood) and walk 5 blocks to the beach and/or the Kraken and walk right back up the hill to go home. I will have a balcony with an ocean view ( pretty excited about that aspect).
The big event of the weekend is a Bar Mitzvah celebration for my good friend’s son, Ben Levy. After the service we will go to a trampoline park in Vista for the party. This will be the best Bar Mitzvah party I have attended…I know already. I am really into trampolines, and not that into your typical after Bar Mitzvah party. I have attended my share, but never been offered a chance to trampoline. Go Benny, what a great decision!!!!!!! I will be very happy to share your special trope and tramp day with you and the family. California, here I come!
I was lucky to find a perfect celebration for my birthday this year. I just discovered my local beer garden, Tucson Hop Shop. I am not a big beer drinker but am enthusiastic about supporting local business and local craft products, including beer. This classy yet casual spot is perfect for our neighborhood, located in the Metal Arts Village, a space for metal artists’ studios. The Hop Shop has developed a following and has instigated new events that bring the community together for fun. My big birthday gift this year (besides Medicare) is a visit from two Swiss ladies on vacation. I have been enjoying showing them around town because they are really open to culture and ready to party. The SyncHOPation event not only happened on my birthday but was walking distance from home.
Spiritual Gangster is a team that teaches yoga classes around the city in pop up locations. I have never seen yoga with a DJ before, and now I am a complete fan of the idea. I have taught and taken plenty of yoga classes, with and without music. To have a creative DJ work the class is another level of wonderment. The other aspect of the pop up that can be very popular is beer. The participants in the class at the Hop Shop were presented with a pint of beer when they turned in their class tickets. The $5 fee for both yoga and beer is a screaming deal.
My visitors and I had a fine time meeting people, drinking beer and dancing. The art studios were open, the parking lot was blocked off for the event, and the crowd was in a very good mood. Pizza and popcorn food trucks were serving delicious snacks. We enjoyed both with our beverages. My friend Steffi took the yoga class while Pia and I watched from a table on the patio. We toured the studios, did some dancing to the DJ, then walked home. There could not have been a better way to celebrate. If you like beer I highly recommend a visit to the Tucson Hop Shop. It is the perfect place for a party.
All of us have the victim archetype in our personalities. We may not see it, but we all have suffered and caused others to suffer. What the victim archetype teaches us in life is how to draw boundaries. While we can’t go through life without any suffering, we can recognize the causes and address them. Yoga is a complex system that offers a path to enlightenment and soulful living. Physical practice of asanas and breathing is a powerful and effective way to begin to draw the appropriate borders and rules for yourself and others in your life who may take advantage of you. The above explanation and remedy are simple to understand and practice. Bend over backwards to find your own limits and expand on what you have now.
Kripalu is a yoga school and retreat center in western MA that is leading the way in yoga instruction in the US. With a long background, checkered, then revised, they had the head start on yoga when it hit the competitive mainstream of American fitness. I have several friends who are certified by Kripalu in yoga, and they are all very well versed in the whole system and philosophy. I enjoy yoga practice, but have been out of the habit of taking classes for years. I like my yoga room at home for the freedom and variety that I practice.
My reason for spending a weekend at Kripalu was to be in a workshop taught by an author I really admire. Thomas Moore instructed a group of about 40 students the difference between soul and spirit. This seems like a small technical issue, but it is much more basic. We had about 8 hours of class with him, and a special evening was offered to all Kripalu guests with his wife and daughter. The Kundalini yoga session with live band chanting was a perfect counterbalance for the intellectual work we were doing. They are quite a stunning family, described by Thomas as a kind of monastic group. Each is a monk in a certain personal way. The ladies are Sikhs with turbans and sheepskin mats, the distinctive look of the Yogi Bhajan followers. They teach Kundalini yoga. Tom is an expert in the world of religion who has his own way of practicing reverence. They radiate the power of individualization. If nothing else (and there is plenty) they teach the value of following the individual call to a specific path without regard for anything else.
The alchemy of thought, dreams, poetry, and the ritual of Kundalini yoga were all thrown into the still and worked. The distilled result is wisdom, the kind that sinks in and becomes useful over a long period of time. The time and space expanded to allow a remarkable level of teaching to take place. An artful, and soulful lesson was delivered as if they were translating directly the language of the sky. We now have a lifetime to absorb our new insights. Although in the last few years I have walked out of a couple of workshops I paid for and attended because I felt the teaching was unethical and possibly harmful, this one made up for all of that. I notice that the presence matters more than the material to me.
What does the word restore man to you? Do you think of groceries, batteries, credit, or your spirit? When stress exhausts your spontaneous zest for life, how do you recover ? If bombed out cities can be restored, so can your severely wiped out spirit. There are many methods available, but restorative yoga is an easy to learn, simple to use sequence that brings bliss to most people almost instantly. A good class will introduce the props and the various poses. The teacher can make sure the student is properly aligned and taking personal limitations graciously. This YouTube teacher gives a good guide to the uninitiated.
After some instruction one can decide which props to own. This collection can grow over time, and none really wears out, so the bolsters and straps are good investments. I also have learned how to deconstruct a hotel room to create the temporary props I want in the moment. Folded blankets and pillows work well when they are all that is available.
The undisputed queen of restorative yoga is Judith Hanson Lasater. She is a delight as a teacher. If she comes to your town I highly recommend that you seek out her workshops. She has that yogini presence that is precious in and of itself, but her compendium of knowledge is unique and powerful. She is a physical therapist, was thrown out by Mr. Iyengar (I always love the heretic) and a brilliant author. Living her yoga, indeed, is her conduit for teaching. She is a shining example of balance between the active and the restorative parts of life. If you are not lucky enough to see her in person, all of her books are excellent.
“[Let] go of your attachments: your attachment to being right, to having total control, or to living forever. This process of letting go is integral to the process of becoming whole.”
― Judith Hanson Lasater
In ancient India the practice of yoga developed as taught from guru to students. The Yoga Sutras were written by Patanjali including some aphorisms and wisdom from the past with his own observations. Modern schools of yoga can be traced, in many cases to one man, Krishnamacharya, whose son, TVK Desikachar is teaching yoga today. The voice of Krishnamachayra accompanies BKS Iyengar in this video from 1938.
The student was not only physically challenged, but also was a scholar of ancient texts. Sanskrit chanting was part of the daily discipline. It is possible to attend the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram today.