Hola amigos and yogis alike. As I sit here eating a homemade, no-bake, vegan, chocolatey- peanut butter oatmeal cookie ( yes, vegan desserts do exist and they are just as delicious) and listening to the Al Green radio station on Spotify, I feel myself beaming with elation and vitality. Although Storm Nemo threw off my center of balance and caused a slight speed bump in my 40 day journey, this past week at the yoga studio not only got me back on track, but felt like a major breakthrough in regards to my personal revolution. In my yoga classes ( I took 8 in 5 days!) I reached many new points of flexibility, strength, and balance. In Kristi's Thursday afternoon Heated Vinyasa Flow, I came close to doing Pigeon Pose in its fullest expression. For those of you who are not familiar with Pigeon Pose, here is a picture:
My head is not close to touching my feet, but I was not able to grab onto my toes from that arm angle three weeks ago. I have always been decently flexible, demonstrated by the fact that I was a hockey goaltender for 15 years, but I now realize that flexibility not only depends on the looseness of ligaments and the openness of joints, but also on strength, specifically core and back strength. I can only imagine how much yoga would have helped my goaltending abilities… only if i had known! Each day I realize more and more that the benefits of yoga are extremely vast and far-reaching. Regular yoga can help lower depression and anxiety, it can rehabilitate serious injuries, especially back injuries, it can help us sleep better and more deeply, it can help us maintain a healthy body weight and toned physique, which boosts confidence, and it increases our mindfulness. Tonight, in her 5:45 TGIF Prana Flow class, Amanda spoke about another aspect of yoga that I had been thinking about all week: the power of yoga to unite. Amanda explained that in Sanskrit, yoga means To Unite. Through yoga, we unite our mind, body, and spirit, which allows us to let go of our ego, or our selfishness. When we attend a yoga class, we unite with others as we all simultaneously let go of our individual selfs, gaining more selflessness. At All That Matters, this act of uniting with others extends well beyond the yoga classroom. Each day at the studio, I find myself having a long conversation with someone new, be it a fellow 40-dayer, a teacher, an employee, a new face in a yoga class. Due to its nature, yoga tends to attract friendly, peaceful, and kind people and this is surely the case at All That Matters. All members of the ATM community have been so welcoming and friendly that it truly has touched my heart. As I sit in the weekly 40 day meetings, I feel like I am part of something meaningful, something revolutionary, something important, something that touches on and reveals what is truly essential in life: a sense of community! Society needs more community centers like All That Matters, centers where individuals can come together to get to know their neighbors. Today's society strongly encourages and even rewards independence to the point that we all sometimes forget the importance of fellowship. I lived on the same street for 15 years and barely knew my neighbors:there is clearly something wrong with that picture. In the end, all we really have are the close relationships that we form throughout life. Go out and get your neighbor today!
While yoga enlightens the body, it also enlightens the mind. Many of the teachers at All That Matters often read poems or excerpts from books throughout or at the end of class. I can think of nothing better than laying in savassana while being read to( talk about being a child again!). I especially like the poem below, entitled Oxygen by Mary Oliver, which was read by Jessie, who teaches Purna Yoga. For me, this poem captures everything that I have been feeling over the past few weeks. It made my heart smile and I hope it makes yours smile too. If any of you have any poems or poets that are near and dear to your heart, please send them my way! These days, I find myself having a strong desire to read more poetry.
Everything needs it: bone, muscles, and even,
while it calls the earth its home, the soul.
So the merciful, noisy machine
stands in our house working away in its
lung-like voice. I hear it as I kneel
before the fire, stirring with a
stick of iron, letting the logs
lie more loosely. You, in the upstairs room,
are in your usual position, leaning on your
right shoulder which aches
all day. You are breathing
patiently; it is a
beautiful sound. It is
your life, which is so close
to my own that I would not know
where to drop the knife of
separation. And what does this have to do
with love, except
everything? Now the fire rises
and offers a dozen, singing, deep-red
roses of flame. Then it settles
to quietude, or maybe gratitude, as it feeds
as we all do, as we must, upon the invisible gift:
our purest, sweet necessity: the air.
~ Mary Oliver ~