Mar 29 2013

Hometown Yoga Heroes: Kelly Jean Moore

Erica Rodefer Winters

What’s one thing you wish you had known about yoga when you first started practicing?

That teachers, no matter how great, are also fallible people. I wish I had not glorified teachers and studio owners, believing that the yoga community was full of people who had mastered what they taught. That false idea of perfection really set me up for a huge let down and a lot of self-criticism, too… Of course, I can’t blame those teachers and other yogis for being human and in a process, a continuum of refinement. I can only site my own childish fantasies for my disappointment. I now feel at ease with my community because I know we are all on our own journeys and we all are complex beings. The expectation of enlightened behavior is something I have had to let go of, especially in myself.

What’s your favorite pose at the moment? What are you learning from it?

I’m almost six months pregnant right now so every pose is different. My base line is different. To paraphrase the poet Theodore Roethke, I move in circles, and those circles move. I love exploring the animalistic drive to creep through deep squats that lead to starfish-inspired Downward Facing Dogs. At first I resisted my bodies request to move differently. I resisted breaking my own “rules.” At some point I just gave in. What higher guidance could I possibly be subscribing to other than my own inner voice and the voice of millions of generations of mothers and babies echoing through my expanding bones down through the ages?

What’s the best advice someone ever gave you?

When I was a teenager I would come home from school in a tizzy over a boy or some friend drama. I often felt like an outsider and struggled with how the world worked. My mother always smiled and said calmly, “Kelly, this too shall pass.” It is the only truth I know for sure. All things, whether we like it or not, are impermanent. What a relief. Life is not such a big deal after all.

To read more visit: http://spoiledyogi.blogspot.com/2013/03/howntown-yoga-heroes-kellly-jean-moore.html

 


Jan 24 2013

Hometown Yoga Heroes: Trace Bonner

Erica Rodefer Winters

When I first moved to Charleston a couple of years ago I was thrilled that my apartment was only a few miles from Holy Cow Yoga Studio (little did I know that a “few miles” could take up to 30 minutes in Charleston traffic). The first yoga class I went to here was led by Trace Bonner. From the first Downward Dog, I knew I’d found a teacher I’d be able to connect with—this lady says what she means and means what she says. She’s direct, relatable, and funny in a way that comes so naturally I don’t think she even thinks about it—it’s just who she is. This is a quality that, for me, is the difference between a good yoga teacher and a great one. So I wanted to talk more to her about her approach to the yoga practice and find out what makes her tick.
Here’s what she had to say:

What’s one thing you wish you had known about yoga when you first started practicing?

That it is not about becoming flexible. I think in the beginning years of taking yoga I strived toward attaining the perfect posture. However, after some time I realized that it was more about being more flexible in my mind. I slowly let go of the rigidity of things in my life being a certain way. I let go of pacifying my ego’s wants and desires without deeper contemplation. And so, I think yoga has the ability to slowly transform one’s mental suffering.

 What’s your favorite pose at the moment? What are you learning from it?

I have always loved Downward Facing Dog. It remains the most evolving posture I do daily. Something about being tipped upside down and feeling the power of my arms and legs working in unison. I consistently find a deep and prayerful space to watch the breath and mind at play while hanging in there viewing the world from a completely different perspective.

What’s the best advice someone ever gave you?

Truth is one, paths are many. This is the famous teaching from my teacher, Swami Satchidananda. When I was younger I grew up believing that there was one way to connect to my highest spiritual self (God).. And yet, during those years I never bought into that way of thinking. It felt so exclusive, and I didn’t feel God could ever be that way. So, when I met my teacher you can imagine my joy of discovering that it was OK to have varying beliefs, and each one held a valid way of experiencing the divinity of God. I felt a wave of relief that we could each find our own path and they were all equally going to get us to the same place. I continue to share that teaching.

To read more visit: http://spoiledyogi.blogspot.com/2013/01/hometown-yoga-heroes-trace-bonner.html


Jan 5 2011

11:11, The 1/11/11 Countdown, And Sweet Relief From The Typical New Years Resolutions

Kris Ward

How many times have you suddenly stopped what you were doing––just for a split second––to glance at the clock (for no apparent reason, kind of like an impulse or reflex), and when you did, the clock read 11:11, or maybe 1:11?

 For me, it’s an almost everyday occurrence.
 
 
Now I’m not hugely into numerology (and I’m certainly no expert on the subject), but this has always intrigued me.
 
I’ve read a little bit about this phenomenon, which apparently happens to buckets of people, and there are a few theories out there. (Note: When it comes to stuff like this, I always take it with a grain of salt and use it more for entertainment than anything else. But I must admit, it is good fun.)
 
The most common theories I’ve seen say that the sightings of 11:11 and 1:11 tend to occur during times of heightened awareness and that it can be a sort of spiritual confirmation that the person being triggered to see these numbers on the clock is on the right track, aligned with her highest truth. That’s pretty cool.
 
But my favorite of all these theories is that, when the 11:11 or 1:11 appears to you, it is your wake-up call; a reminder to reflect on whatever you are doing for a moment and remember the Big Picture; to take a good look around you and see what is really happening; to see the opportunities that surround you to step into Greater Love.
 
That makes me smile.
 
Because it’s such a feel-good theory, I’ve always loved the 1/1, 1/11, and 11/11 dates on the calendar. I tend to schedule really special, fun, and transformative events and outings on these days. Which is why the Secret Sauce Society officially kicks off on 1/11/11 and wraps up 10 months later on 11/11/11.
 
In my last email broadcast, I explained how I was doing a special little countdown leading up to to the the kick off on 1/11. And that countdown begins TODAY, officially 7 days out.
 
The content I’ll be sharing as we lead up to the big day is dedicated to YOU––geared towards helping you make 2011 the most glorious, delicious, earth-rockin’ year you’ve ever had on this planet. 
 
 

So here is your first little tidbit. Take it to heart:

We’re at the origin of a brand new year. It’s like you have a fresh new ball of clay in your hands and you can mold it any which way you choose.
 
So now is the time to:
 
  • Make amends;
  • Ditch 2010’s bad habits;
  • Decide on what you really want; and
  • Map out your plan of action.
Right?
 
Not exactly.
 
You can do that, but only if you’re okay repeating the same process all over again at the end of THIS year!
 
Look back at that list.
 
You’ve attempted something pretty close to that in years previous, haven’t you? Perhaps more than once…
 
So, just for kicks, how about try something DIFFERENT this year?!
 
Instead of forcing the old, “buckle down, focus, strive, and commit to fixing what’s broken” technique, try this on for size:
  1. Find all the things in your life you have to be grateful for NOW… because what you appreciate, appreciates.
  2. As for all the OTHER STUFF, look at it and say, “Thank you for the lovely contrast. Because of it, I now know what I REALLY REALLY want… and I’m READY for it!
  3. As you define this experience, this circumstance, or this thing that you REALLY REALLY want, focus on WHAT you want, and WHY. Trust that the HOW will show up at the perfect time, in the ideal way, and that when it does, you’ll know it because it will feel so “in your flow”. Claim your desires, own them, feel proud and worthy of them… because you are.
  4. Take action as inspiration, insight, and inner hunches lead you to (never out of obligation). You really can’t get the action part wrong as long as you follow your pleasure, trust your gut, and do what excites you and makes you come alive! And if you ever hit a wall where you don’t know what to do, just engage in something… ANYTHING! And remember to be easy about it because nothing you want is upstream.
  5. At all costs, DO NOT sit and “spin”. Spinning in your monkey mind––worrying, doubting, comparing, fearing, what-if-ing––it’s never your truth. Your truth is likely right behind what scares and excites you the most. So run, don’t walk, straight towards it with an open heart.
If that’s the Secret Sauce Society for you, click here for your next step.
 
If it’s something different. Go get it.
 
2011: Take it…. take it… it’s YOURS.
 
Mmuah!
 

 

P.S. You know that teaching what you’ve just learned, discussing it, or writing down your thoughts on it helps you integrate it, right? So I suggest you do it… NOW.

Thinking about it is one thing, but expressing/sharing this desire of yours brings it another step closer to you. And I want to support you in that so spill the beans.

Leave me a comment below and tell me about YOUR “lovely contrast” from 2010, and what, as a result, you’re now SUPER CLEAR that you’re READY for now…. in 2011!! 

Read more from Kris at www.abundantyogi.com


Dec 19 2010

Mind/Body Harmony

Matthew Foley

I had a really phenomenal experience this past Sunday morning teaching a yoga class to a dance group at the College of Charleston. About a dozen people showed up for the class, which took place in a beautiful dance room located inside the brand new Cato Arts Center on the CofC campus. In preparing for the class, I did a lot of thinking about what a yoga practice might offer people who are passionate about dance and creative movement.

One of the central aspects of yoga is cultivating a harmonious relationship between mind and body. Such harmony is of course essential to creating beautiful and graceful movement in dance. In many Eastern spiritual paths, the mind and the body are seen as equal halves of an integral whole. This is the philosophy of yin and yang: things that appear to be opposites – light and dark, tall and short, earth and sky, spirit and flesh – are in fact inseparably connected with one another.

In Western culture, however, there is a very rigid division between mind and body. In the last year, I’ve stumbled upon a number of brilliant Western thinkers who have addressed this division and the disharmony is creates in individuals.

The first is Sir Ken Robinson, an expert on human creativity, who gave a brilliant address at the 2006 TED Conference on creativity in children and whether or not educational systems around the world do an adequate job of fostering that creativity. (The whole talk is worth watching, but the part I’ll be focusing on begins around the 9:00 minute mark).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY

During his talk, he spoke about the fact that almost all schools around the world tend to place a great emphasis on language and mathematics over the arts, particularly drama and dance. He says: “As children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist-up. Then we focus on their heads – and slightly to one side.”

He goes on to describe what type of person this emphasis on head-only education creates, particularly in the form of the stereotypical academic professor: “They live in their heads. They live up there – and slightly to one side. They’re disembodied, in a kind of literal way. They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads. It’s a way of getting their heads to meetings.”

Another brilliant thinker I’ve come across in the past year is Alan Watts, who came to popular attention during the 1960’s as an interpreter of Eastern spiritual traditions (especially Zen Buddhism) for Western audiences. In one of his talks featured on YouTube, delightfully illustrated by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, he addresses this split between mind and body that exists in the West and how it shapes our sense of self.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAVM_Xk_o9E&feature=related

“I’ve always been tremendously interested in what people mean by the word “I” – because it comes out in curious lapses of speech. We don’t say: “I am a body.” We say: “I have a body.” Somehow we don’t seem to identify ourselves with all of ourselves. We say “my feet,” “my hands,” “my teeth,” as if they were something outside me. As far as I can make out, most people feel that they are something or other about halfway between the ears and a little ways behind the eyes, inside the head. That’s what you call the “ego.” That’s not what you are at all, because it gives you the idea that you are a chauffeur inside your own body – as if you your body were an automobile and you are the chauffeur principle inside it.”

The point that both Robinson and Watts are making is that when we identify primarily with our mind and our thoughts, we disconnect ourselves from our bodily existence. The results are usually disastrous, particularly in our modern culture. We stuff food into our mouths that are deeply gratifying to the mind (products high in fat and processed sugar) but which are nutritionally disastrous to the body. On the opposite extreme, we flock to gyms in order to sculpt our bodies into an idealized mental image of what we should like like – usually based on digitalized media images of the super skinny or ultra buff.

What is lacking is a deep listening to the wisdom of the body. Oftentimes, we only start to listen when we are forced to, usually as a result of an illness or life-threatening condition. Many people then realize that they must flip their entire life-style upside down and start living from a more holistic understanding of themselves.

Many of these people, of course, find their way to yoga classes and meditation retreats.

A great deal of the popularity of such practices as yoga, tai chi, and seated meditation are found in the fact that they help cultivate a holistic way of looking at ourselves and our place in the world. These practices are based on the realization that the mind and body form an inseparable wholeness – just as each individual human being, animal, or plant is an integral part of the interdependent environment in which they live. The process of yoga, in my mind, is a process of extending the feeling of identity outwards, away from the narrow confines of our egos, and connecting with our bodies, our communities, the planet, and the universe.

In the yoga class I taught to the dance group, I continually encouraged the participants to focus on their breath. The breath is an incredible tool for helping us cultivate mind/body harmony. Mindful breathing helps us turn down the volume on our mental noise so that the wisdom of the body may begin to be heard. A yogi or dancer can then begin to truly feel his or her body. They can begin to discover where they are tight or sore, where they hold anxiety or stress, in what movements they feel confident or terrified. This deep listening to the body can give us insight into the ways we live and in what ways we may need to change.

When the body and mind begin to move and function as one, we become more effective in what we do, we become more graceful and effortless in our actions, we become less worried and anxious in our inner lives. This is obviously helpful not just on the yoga mat or on the dance stage, but in all aspects of our lives.

So the question is… What might your body be trying to tell you? And if you start to really listen, what changes would begin to happen in your life?

~ Matthew Foley


Dec 15 2010

Family Yoga!

Willis Tant

There is a class at Jivamukti Yoga on Sundays at noon that is called Family Yoga.  It is intended to be for all people of all ages and can be shared by any and all family members.  The teachings are simple and useful, there is a sense of fun, and songs that help students easily learn the movements.

It is my favorite class that I have the honor of teaching.  I am often so touched by family togetherness that I am moved to tears.  There have been students who bring in their sisters who visit from out of town, there have been father-son moments, and grandparents and small children who delight us all.  But most regular has been one family, who, come almost every Sunday, because they make it THEIR Family time.  Their time to BE and grow together!  Their time to stretch, and breathe, and SEE each other.  Often they go on a picnic or to the beach or even to the grocery store together afterwards.  But for that one hour, every Sunday, they practice together.   I revel in their beauty every week. 

Last Sunday they were telling me how they invite other families to join them, how they spread the word because they have experienced such value from the practice together.  They inspire me and I am so grateful to their dedication and enthusiasm.  They humble me and are a living example of light.  So may this, my first blog, be a sincere offering to this family who has shown me so much love.  Thank you. 

And thank you for coming to practice yoga together in my presence so many times over.  We invite more Charleston yoga families to join us! And look forward to growing, being, and seeing you more often.