the image on top is "Welcome Home Sweet Sugar" by Kelsey Brooks

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Venice Movement Arts Center: with Alexandria Barrett

Ever had a day where, by 6 o'clock, you've rescheduled your evening meeting for noon tomorrow, then dropped the world and headed yoga-wards? I won't judge you. That was my night.

Alexandria Barrett opened up Venice Arts Movement Center, a community sanctuary right across from Whole Foods (think yoga + smoothie, yoga + groceries, yoga + pretending-to-be-healthy pizza). Her 7pm class featured live music and candles, a soft soothing voice and a welcoming presence.

Earlier today, I learned about the 3P's, Perseverance (moving through the difficult), Persistence (re-awakening your goal) and Patience (letting go and waiting in confidence). That's a pretty accurate summary of Alexandria's class.

Alexandria holds the space with ease as she guides through a simple, hacyon sequence. It's slow flow, which in my opinion is much more difficult than a more rajastic- or fiery- vinyasa. Slow flow invites one to spend more time with the self, to explore the exhausted mind and body, full of hesitation, as it embarks on the movement's path. Usually, I don't get a quick escape from my thoughts, I must work for it through awareness and focus upon the breath.

We move mindfully from one pose to another, a strong set up in Warrior I, each transition coordinated. It was a blessing challenge, knocking my out of my day's 'coast' mentality. Alexandria caught me rushing from one pose to the incorrect other a few times, I'll admit. After a while, I realized I'm going to be holding these poses longer than I may expect ; ).

Our pigeon pose was particularly detailed: Alexandria talked about the structure and nature of the piriformis, after adjusting almost everyone in the class during the lengthy hold.

Half way through the class, however, I remember why slow flow is as powerful as it is. Instead of a quick yoga high, I set my inner metronome from presto to lento. I've played out the entirety of my mental tape, stretched each part of my body, and sank deep into savasanah with lavender pillows.

As I walked out of class, awake and radiant, my mind pushed creativity into the silence; composing stories and ideas. It's 8:45, and I just woke up, I think to myself. Thanks Alexandria!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Isabelle Du Soleil

If you've ever imagined what is it like to do yoga in the french countryside, Isabelle Du Soleil has you covered.

Isabelle was subbing Annie's SMARTflow level 2/3, a class that's always challenging and requires a bit of mental pep talk to get to in the morning. About half way through the class today, I realized that just because Annie wasn't teaching, didn't mean we were taking it easy. That was okay, because half way through the class, I was in the flow and not wanting to back down either.

Isabelle has a charming french accent and an allure of grace and familiarity. Imagine receiving an invite from your sweet cousin in Alsace, inviting you over for yoga kriyas amongst the lavender.

I picked up on a lot of Shiva Rea inspired movement, as well as very Annie Carpenter like precision and attention to the student bodies. My favorite part of the sequence, however, was the hip opening ending. I always seem to forget about hanumanasana (splits) in my own practice, so it's nice to have the focus go there in class. Isabelle shared that hip openers brought her closer into herself, into a deeper truth and connection with the earth. I appreciate that.

Friday, August 10, 2012

glitter flashback

Ruby and I took adderall and polished an entire appartment last night. I would build a temple with Ruby. Or anything else.

Through these past few weeks, she continues to amaze me. So airy, so dreamy; surely so out of this world. There is no way, one thinks, a real human being can so exist. She is like a fairy, and one wonders- how deep can it go?

In three weeks, in such close proximity both penniless, you learn. Her depth, her intelligence, her intentionality. Learned perhaps isn't the right word: I think the right word is something like proved, or discovered supporting evidence for. Ruby under pressure, in decision making and creation, and I, impressed by what I saw. To see someone rock unicorns and reason, air and ground...

May people say the same of me.

As an aside, I am a big fan of all of my friends. And I enjoy expressing this affection.

Well, as I'm attempting sleep, gathering exhaustion yet still restless: my heart pounding in a combination of addy and caffeine I haven't touched since college. And an interesting thing happens.

I remember. So much, years, of my experiences in Manhattan took place with this fluttering, appreciative awed heart. I remember how my life was pure magic, a surreal creation, the physical completeness of fantasy. We lived by a mix of Secret and Absurdity, dream and creation. We discovered the strangest things we could: and I dare say I was the best at it.

In the past three years, I remembered the challenged, the mistakes, the tiny frays and knots in the tapestry of knowledge. But I had forgotten the fabric's glean.   

I remembered what it felt to glitter.

How it feels to have your insides shake with meaning: to be so fully in awe of the beauty of this particular configuration of events. I recalled magical experience after experience, walks and talks and late night musings and early morning grocery runs and the streets, cafes and cuban clubs, ocean and mystery. Everything, everywhere, altogether and all at once.

With so much vata energy, my mind (which rests in the center of my heart) wants so badly to cling onto someone, something, to keep me grounded, tethered to my experinece, oh how it quickly slips away! "Come back!" I beg, "Let me keep you!". And the moment dissolves. Slips away as I inscribe it in my memory, as I take the very first rich sip of individuality.

Coming of age, heart racing in an anxious appeal for each moment to stay.

Lying awake, for the first true time in years, I miss Manhattan. I miss 1st avenue and 2nd street. I miss Lauren and Kate, and the costume box, within and without. 

Thank you for the momento.

It is not a sustainable state. But it's beauty beckons every now and then.

the fleeting texture of experience is yours to keep; yours alone. the weight and lightness is your burden, or brace. no one will ever know what it is to be you...not fully.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Slow Flow

Jolly how discussion brings awareness to core beliefs I didn't even know I held.

Did you know I'm all slow flow? Gentle transition, a downright centrist perhaps.

A recent conversation turned to agriculture, recent government legislature to its annoyance, and the format for moving forward.

"I really think," he said, "that everyone should buy a big supply of rice and beans, and lots of vitamin C, and not go to work for twenty days. That would shut the whole system down."

I shuddered. "I don't. Then you would have a turmoil and chaos, and a bunch of people trying to make gigantic, collaborative decisions, running on rice and beans."

Think about what would happen: hospitals shut down, everyone home with their kids (and their fears) all day, funeral homes closed, medical needs ignored, the elderly abandoned, anyone who defies this proposal wouldn't be able to get gas for their cars, prisoners forgotten,

And a whole lot of nothing dramatic. A whole lot of not too much may happen (for example, fewer car crashes and construction accidents). It may be a rad trip, too, an artistic dedication akin to a 20-day renaissance. But the gamble towards chaos runs high.

So it may be both fun and tragic, but here's the thing:

What happens after 20 days? There's no alternative structure to move into, at least not one that can support a whole population. After 20 days, you'll have a scramble for power as rice and bean people* try to figure out a way to move forward.

And in almost.every.single.time where chaos has come across a civilization, there is a predictable pattern of outcome: a tighter grab on power. Usually a military- or militia based governance. A violent shift to order. A cruel farce against the principles that started a movement.

I respect pattern. Only by observing a pattern can you begin to change the course, shift the next phase. And when playing with powerful patterns: act with care.

When I see such a clear and distinct pattern of events throughout human history; I choose not to go there. I choose to forge a different route. 

Particularly because revolution is a reactive action. It is an opposition to, and often principles for, yes, but mostly an "against" move. It is destruction. It is not growth.

Philosophically they are two sides to the same coin; in action they are not. 

I value growth, moves made in courageous faith of creation. I value small farmers that nourish their land, even in the threat of eviction. I value b-corps and sustainable energy companies, alternative healthcare practitioners that trade their services outside of insurance, every inventor and engineer out there, every psychologist and yogi discovering the pathways that make us brighter beings.

True revolutions in human history are not traced in blood. Transformation thrives off mastery, melioration and prosperity. Cultures that tempt with opulence, the simplicity of enough, the creation of opportunity and open society.

When our 'alternative' lifestyles start to look a lush green in comparison to fossil-fuel-consuming poverty, then you will see the shift.

But these paths are by glamorous world leaders and synchronized collective and mechanical action. There won't be the victory of warfare or the eulogy to the general.

These paths will be forged by small business and tillers of land, by every individual that pushes for their organization to take a different trek, by every individual dedicated to sustainability.

We do not need orchestrated action: we have the power of synchronicity. We have trust and faith in each other, and imperfection of the divine.

It is no longer a question of would I die for the cause, but rather a soft understanding I will die in the cause. I will die, someday, hopefully not soon, without infamy, while the world will still shift and change and hopefully into a more integrated format. I may not live to see solution, ecotopia or revolution. Maybe I will, or everyone won't, but this outcome matters not. I'll live each day in the creation of the sustainability and consciousness. By choice.


*Actually, rice and beans and vitamin C is much more nutritious than many, many, many peoples current diets. If during these twenty days everyone went through a holistic program of juice cleanses, yoga and meditation, psychotherapy and counseling, and if they could just get gonged, too....

Just kidding.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Trust, Lunch and Ghandi

Im in a space where I'm doing a lot of trusting the universe to sustain me.

And its a little bit scary/beautiful/longing/gratitude/insecurity/faith/worry. And so forth.

Being a broke foodie and health nut is very mildly torturous.

There are these dreams, I have, see. But I really want some kale. And parsley. I wonder where I can get some kale. And mango. Thank goodness for these grapes. And chia. I really want some pizza. I don't even eat pizza. I'm probably just wanting a hearty meal. I want a real meal. And a green smoothie. From Rawvolution. Dude, when I get money, I am going to eat a slice of Spirulina pie- and cry.

I am a little bit ashamed of my thought process. I know people who are perfectly happy with one meal a day- people who can live off rice (I want some rice. I want some mango sticky rice and some forbidden rice... and some raw cauliflower rice...). I feel like many of these everyday thoughts are pretty self-centered and trite... and kind of lame. Whew, there, I said it. I think my preoccupation with keeping myself fed and nourished is kind of lame.

There's a wise core that recognizes this sort of thinking as pretty judgmental. Also, I am aware of how HUGE an effect nutrition has. I'm not saying its the only thing, but I will go so far as to say, for the normal person, nutrition and exercise will create the strongest positive shift in their life. What you eat actually forms your cells. And your body. And your mind- you know, that thing that interprets and structures your reality? And when you're undernourished, you suffer emotionally and mentally much more so than physically.

Well, I ask two lovely beings who have also gone so far as to trust the universe.

Ruby starts talking about Ghandi: "See, babe, he knew what he had to bring to the world. He knew what he was here to do- and because he was coming from that place, he shone so bright-"

"Yeah," I interrupt, "and I bet Ghandi never worried about lunch....or dinner".

"Yeah," agrees Ruby.

"And I do. So, I'm clearly not Ghandi. I wish there was something I could do to disconnect and not care so much about food".

Ruby pauses. "Honestly, I think if you did that you would just be a bum".

"Oh, I'm not now?"

"No. Because you're giving back, by bringing forth your truth. And as long as you are doing that, the universe will support you. Besides, babe- and this is important- your understanding of health and nutrition and fitness and stuff- that's your truth. And it's your message. When people see you, they are inspired and you spread the message of Eco-consciousness. And the gong flow is important-"

"-of course it is," I interrupt, "it can help war vets, and-"

"that's how I should hear you talking".


Later in the day, I ask Gretta, who replies,

"Well, people like Ghandi, or Amma.... they are just on a whole other level. They are still in their physical bodies, but they are conscious on another level, I don't think they think about food."

"Yeah, but I do. And I think that holds me back".

"Sweetie, austerity was the theme of their time. And it was necessary then, but they've already done that work- so we don't have to now. Your generation has another mission. Shiva, Saul and Erich, they took yoga from what it was and brought it here now. You"ll have to take it to the next level- and I don't think austerity is the next level-"

And at that point, my attention shifted somewhere to:

Wow, samosas are delicious, I haven't had one in ages. And I love this chocolate superfood- oh my god, it gives me so much energy...

And so forth.