Your Inner Swan

How Yin Yoga Can Bring Out Our Inner Swan

Anyone who knows me knows I am far from passive. A cheerleader at heart, I love to laugh out loud, crack jokes and yell across the room. I love to have fun!


So why is it that I teach Yin yoga, a passive, dark and deeply still yoga practice?

I don’t know – I just understand it.

I think there is an inner swan in me and I know the practice can bring out the inner swan in anyone. It balances – brings us into stillness and teaches us to linger there. It raises our consciousness and releases our negative emotions – emotions that hold us back from a healthier connection with life.

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Visualize the bird spirit of the swan. Feel yourself there on the pond

Have you ever seen a swan skim across a pond with wings spread open with grace? I see it in every class I teach – in every student. Yin is a beautiful practice. A magical practice. The poses sweep us up into a higher awareness or ground us when needed. The dharanas help to focus the mind.

Visualize the bird spirit of the swan. Feel yourself there on the pond – your soul so beautiful it takes an observer’s breath away. Your breath away.

I’ll bow to you in class. 

No Dummies in DUMBO

No Dummies in DUMBO
aka Finding Clarity in Brooklyn

 

Last weekend I discovered the magic of DUMBO, the trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, or "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass."

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I was with writers. Awwwww. Really good writers. I stayed in Marcia Hillis’s artist loft who just came back from showing her art in Cuba and who lives a Hemingway life – how cool is that!

My friend, Terry Hawkins who was the director for the Yale Summer Conference was our host. He now has a business called TheCompanyofWriters.net. Check it out online.

Anyway, On Saturday, we met in a very hip little poetry shop for classes run by high caliber teachers, Louis Bayard and John Crowley. Check them out on-line too – you’ll see what I mean. On Sunday, we sat in Marcia’s loft and workshopped our novels, memoirs and/or short stories.

If that wasn’t magical enough.

In all eight of my fellow writers I felt (not saw) everything they were. Swear to Buddha I did. I felt so connected to them. A few were in pain. Some knew they were, some didn’t. Some were more stable than whatever holds up the Brooklyn Bridge. Some worried about their worth as a writer. Some worried about their worth as to who they were. I so wanted to get my yoga claws into them.

But I didn’t – Although I talked about the benefits of yoga and Reiki a lot – I mean a lot.

Clarity came for myself. I couldn’t believe how in the moment I felt. John Crowley showed us different shapes stories can take. I know he illustrated this to my class four years ago at Yale. But then I had no idea what he was saying. I was lost and my mind was so cluttered with – stuff.

Not this time. I got it. I got what my story needed. I got all that they shared. And I truly, from the bottom of my heart, believe it was because of my yoga practices – all eight limbs of it – that and my Reiki practice.

I so enjoyed the weekend. Mostly because the grace of all the writer’s at the workshop spilled out all over the cobblestone streets. They were and are amazingly beautiful people. Thank you guys for caring so much.

Um, you sure you’re not yogis?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flurries and Gratitude

Gratitude Warms the Heart on a Cold Winter Day

Gazing out my window, I find myself wishing I was some place warm. I watch the snow falling softly, knowing that in a few hours it will increase to blizzard heavy. So I daydream. I imagine that I am in a place different from where I am. I do that a lot, which doesn’t make me the prototypical yogi – but that’s who I am.

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I am also a writer – prone to zoning out. It doesn’t mean that my gratitude is any less sincere for the gifts the universe has given me. After all, it’s just an environment change I crave. I was raised in Miami – so let’s give a scrawny girl a break. 

Even though it’s in the dead of winter, I’ve found that metaphysical warmer climate in the friendships I’ve established and the growth in my own spiritualism. I’ve been reading as many books as I can.

Just this week I became a Level 2 Reiki practitioner. I’m thinking about how it will fit into my everyday life and my teaching. What gifts can I give to my students as well as anyone who engages me in conversation.  I don’t imagine doing anything else. I love where I am metaphysically.

So as I write this blog post, I will practice what I preach. I’ll accept that I am human and love myself despite my imperfections.  I’m bringing my attention to the beauty and energy of the flurries, forgetting my momentary need for the sun. The more I practice, the more I can bring myself back to the moment, discovering the depth of my gratitude. 

My Sunday with Paulie Zink

You could feel it – Paulie Zink was in the house.

For anyone who doesn’t know who Paulie Zink is, he is the founder of Yin yoga, and he was conducting workshops and a training in Yin yoga at the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health this month. Cool, right?

Dressed all in black, he stood out in the airy amethyst room. He didn’t use a mat, preferring instead to slide around in his socks.  In fact, he prefers not to use any props, explaining that props were originally used only to make postures harder. The differences in the Yin I’m familiar with didn’t stop there, and yet the principles were pretty much the same: Soften your body, don’t force anything. But the postures were based on nature and animal movements, and not on meridians. For instance, we were encouraged to harness the energy and movement of a rabbit and it’s ability for stillness – or a bear, earthy and lumbering (Yin) or large and mighty (Yang). This exercise was fun and designed to get us totally out of our heads and to live in harmony with the environment. As a naturalist, I love that concept because it can't hurt to simplify the Yin experience once in a while and to understand that our roots will always be deeply planted in an organic world.  

Paulie’s knowledge and lack of pretention charmed everyone in the room. He’s returning to the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health some time next spring. And I can’t wait! I loved becoming a dragonfly.

   

Days of Wine and Yoga

A writer's retreat on the New Jersey shore proved to be the perfect spot to meld two worlds into one. It left me wanting more. And ready to start writing the next chapter in my life.

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In October I attended a writer’s retreat in Avalon, NJ. My good friend, Kathy Temean, rents a big romantic house every year to bring together for three days children’s writers from all over and either agents or editors from New York City. It’s a big deal and a wonderful opportunity for professionals to critique our complete manuscripts. It also is a blissful three days filled with wonderful people who love to talk about children’s books and the craft of writing for children.

Wanting to contribute more than a manuscript and a bottle of Prosecco, I offered to introduce Yin Yoga to the group. Kathy thought it was a good idea, and everyone was jazzed to try something new.

OMG – what an experience we had. Pushing back sofas and moving around bodies a bunch of times to find enough space on the living room floor, I wondered if we would ever find stillness. After all, we are children’s writers.

The giggles and self-doubt surfaced. Sufferings emerged. Normal feelings for yogis. And for writers.

But I've learned that, like yogis, writers are prepared to keep moving forward in faith that momentary limitations will be bypassed. For yogis that may mean a deeper practice. For writers that may mean going deeper into the story or a character.

We got through the Yin practice supporting each other – just like the three days. My heart will remain full of memories of new and continuing friendships and the generosity of spirit that allowed me to share a type of yoga that I love. Perhaps next year my manuscript will be better. Perhaps next year I will introduce them to Yoga Nidra. In every way our journey continues.