Category Archives for "Yoga"
Images from Sri’s beach class. One photo shows a dolphin from a pod that stayed close to shore all throughout the practice. The class did Dolphin pose to salute them.
Dolphins were gliding up and back a small stretch of the Pacific Coast near Point Dume in Malibu when I joined the two-leggeds in the sandy foreground for Yoga On The Beach with Sri Hari Moss. This would be an experiment of a group activity in COVID times.
A couple dozen masked people were unfurling their mats and towels at least six feet apart from each other. The morning mist and ocean breezes kept the fresh air gently moving. Nature’s big studio gave us room to stretch and connect without touching.
Sri’s voice was sometimes muffled because of his mask, but he led by visual example, and his soothing voice was usually heard for verbal guidance as we stretched to warm up. He had us do poses in connection with the ocean we could hear and see—Boat Pose, Dolphin Pose, and Fish Pose. He adapted his routine to the advantages of forgiving sand, not counting on a fixed foundation.
He let us all feel comfortable stepping out to avoid poses we weren’t ready for or to enjoy the dolphins. But he didn’t bore those who wanted to do headstands and be warriors in the winds.
It was luscious at the end, lying in the sand on our backs, eyes closed with the music of the sea and feeling coddled by sand.
From the beginning of humankind, the world has been full of disease — of the body, mind, and soul. And so much of our lives in modern times is full of the stresses of dis-ease. For centuries, “disease” meant lack of ease, before becoming a medical term.
Yoga is a beautiful opportunity to find ease and to feel ease. Kinks and cricks in the body can dissolve. Unconsciously clenched jaws and knotted muscles can relax. Persevering worries that can poison seem to evaporate. And with the right community, there is a gentle joy in being with others who want ease, not disease; “Namaste,” not negativity. Taking good care of self, deep breathing, meditation, connecting in spirit to nature, to others, to divinity can all ease the mind and spirit.
Many people remained after the outdoor class, talking about how good it felt to move, and enjoying seeing human beings against a real backdrop of nature’s beauty, not one of the imposed ones on visual conferencing programs.
You could see people’s eyes crinkled in the corners and knew that underneath those masks were some lovely smiles… smiles being one of the best beach poses for ease, not disease.
To wellness and wellbeing amidst the wonders. –Lisa Sonne
Sri is one of the great teachers at YogaUpstairs.com in Agoura Hills, now offering classes online. You can see more of Lisa Sonne’s writing at LisaSonne.com
Look at most animals on the planet. If they aren’t sleeping or eating, they are usually moving, and stretching. Hunting, gathering, migrating, playing, bathing—it’s all movement. Most of us in modern life spend the largest percentage of our waking hours sitting- often with posture that is detrimental to our bodies.
Yoga gives us a chance to stretch like cats as they transform from slumber to wakefulness, or like dogs as they stretch out their muscles before getting ready to wag their tales and plunge into their puppy ways.
Even the dolphin pose in yoga allows us to recall the fluidity of our marine cousins.
Standing on one leg and bending the other into a sideways V may be called the Tree Pose but when I get my balance right and spread my arms like wings, I feel like a grand bird that could fly at any moment.
Paleo-diets were a big rage in modern times, but we may want to take an evolutionary look at those nomadic ancestors for more than food. They didn’t need to schedule walk dates or pick-up games with their buddies to make sure their bodies moved. Even more recently in human evolution, what pioneers needed exercise pals or classes?
Humans are animals too and posing like cats, dogs and warriors can remind us of the value of flexibility and strength.
Granted most animals had to keep moving or they would get eaten. If they sat around too much they would be prey, not predator. I am grateful we have evolved so that we can sit and pray (or chant) and be safe from predation.
We can pose in a place where we are safe to dream, float leave our sense of corporeal being or really connect to our bodies to help them. We can do all kinds of animal poses and poses with beautiful Sanskrit names, and then “die” for a bit, lying in safety in corpse pose….. to then resurrect ourselves with deeper stillness and more graceful movement in our daily lives. .
Whether we want to take a spiritual approach about connecting with the divine whole for peace, or the medical perspective of how yoga can release “feel good” chemicals that flow in us, yoga balances past and future with true presence.
Yoga can leave us feeling more peace-full and whole, instead of feeling like we are full of pieces and holes.
Yoga can help us move more like animals, and move our hearts and souls well so we can be well ---- and be the highest beings we can be.
Remember Mary Poppins’ carpet bag? Would you like to have a Felix the Cat’s “bag of tricks”? (Read on for video links, whether you want to nostalgically re-visit two classics or you want to be introduced to and entertained by some 20th century cultural icons.)
For me, doing yoga with a group of people I like can be a bit like a magic bag I can reach into and pull out something I need! More clarity? More flexibility? More strength?
Walk past the piano and go upstairs at Suite K on 5308 Derry Avenue in Agoura Hills, and there is a small peaceful studio with a view of oak branches reaching out, a room often filled with yoga mats and smiles.
To get a better idea of why yoga there can be a bit like a magic bag, take a couple of minutes to enjoy seeing what Mary Poppins pulls out of her bag in the classic movie.
In this charming scene, Mary Poppins pulls out of her carpet bag a hat stand, a particular mirror, a plant, and a big lamp — all lovely metaphors for a nanny about to help some irascible children learn about themselves. She adds insights like, “Never judge things by their appearance (even carpet bags),” and “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” And “a little more light please.” Good yoga aphorisms, too!
She next pulls out a tape measure, but like yoga, it doesn’t care about measuring size or describing things in numbers. This tape is about “taking measure” of one’s character as it is at the moment, with kind intentions to improve.
Felix the Cat, with his Magic Bag of Tricks, was able to reach in and turn his bag into anything he needed – a submarine, a can-opener, or escalator – “to save the day.” In absurd escapades, he triumphed over caricature evil. Felix, with his bag, is credited with being (possibly) the first animated character to be known worldwide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amGbBFsiuzc
Yoga is not always quite so instantly transformative, but like Felix asking his bag to change, you can “set your intention” at the beginning of a class. Do you want to de-stress? Strengthen your muscles? Gain flexibility? Have an insight? Find beauty? Grow character? Connect to the infinite?
These things are hardly all on the same shelf at any store, but they might be available on your yoga floor.
I may not leave the studio every time feeling like I have an instant lamp or an escalator to the exact place I want to go, but like Mary Poppins or Felix the Cat reaching into their bags, after I reach inside- things are better than they were before.