Published today on Life in 10 Minutes, my ten…here. Please enjoy and happy festivities and warm Winter Solstice.
I lie in corpse pose, tracing my breath from belly upward,
The rise and sinking of life’s fill while my mother dies in
The next room, eroded to the bone, life struggling to breathe.
The disassociation drifts from front room to back, cold to warm.
The back room, where my mother lies, nearly inert, heats up
The temperature rising with the sun and falling just so too,
While the front room, where I lie as faux corpse, posing, is
Cold as the window faces the backyard, which stays sunless.
Her blood runs colder now, though she always felt the chill of
An early morning, her time, or after dusk, when she’d wish us
To bed, free her to herself, what mothers do as children sleep.
Now, the cold doesn’t penetrate, her defenses gone with decay
Just as I gain the weight I never had, she always had, in our
Twisted turn of events that find her at the head, me at the back,
She never behind, always the leader, me the child, now the mom,
Oh, it’s all wrong as a matter of right, bad timing for an ending.
Please enjoy this piece published in elephant journal today.
What mother hasn’t asked herself what it is to be a mother? Cradling fragile life in the palms of your heart, ever on your mind, on your breast, in your nose, wearing them like perfume, you ask yourself how you could possibly keep yourself from hurting them. You ask yourself how you ever lived without them, as if that time before them barely existed. At least I wondered how.
And even now as their floating circumference widens, their sights set on spaces and places far from the core (and corps)–deliberately so–I question my hand, the child crafter’s touch. Did I spoil them too much, under-prepare them for a world I could not have conceived let alone predicted? Have I taught them healthy respect for life, theirs and others’, as well as their fellow planetary inhabitants? If I built their core properly, they will stand.
I’ve learned in yoga that a strong core lies behind every movement, every asana. Such is life. I think of that time a mommy just like me commented that my two-year old seemed to have a strong core. I recall few complimentary words about my mothering worth noting. That one I remember.
My own mother stands symbolically now, like a white alabaster Greek statue, only emaciated rather than plump-full eternally life. Death could not come slower. But she stands (still, sometimes) rickety and frail, tremulous, palsied, but awake somehow–a matriarchal stance to life. Just.don’t.give.up. Your children live for, through, by and despite you. Even after-breath.
We’ve done our part, passing on the genetic code, dicing up human destiny somehow. We’ll rest soon and long.
Happy birthday Mom. I’ll never give you up.
I’m not quite obsessed but surely determined to do headstand. The accomplishment of this pose drives me each yoga session for the last year or so, the time I started believing I might be strong enough. The end of 2015?
I practice at home almost exclusively. Every once in a while, I’ll do a class a week at my local Yoga Shakti to infuse my practice with new ideas. The go-to poses and routines I rely on daily were stolen from my original yoga teacher, back in 2009, and an influential two-disk box set from Shiva Rhea. The mix and match poses to build your own feature along with set routines for beginners through advanced helped me tons.
I’m 56. Slowly, gravity has taught me what I can and cannot do. The lessons through the decades have stuck. I respect gravity–and my body. Now, I am not ready to call in the cane or “stick to gardening” as one chiropractor recommended. But I don’t crave handstands, cartwheels and flips like I used to even up through my 30s. I’ve enjoyed a right side up world.
So why the craving to turn the world on my head? I’ve thought about it often, in fact, each time I joy in the 4 or 5 seconds I can get both feet up in the air, my arms negotiating weight, blood, balance and universe. Why the joy? Simple accomplishment? Why does it make my day, almost?
I recall my rough pregnancy with my second child. Not real rough. I was grouchy. My first birth was bliss down the trail of new firsts every minute. I waddled the treadmill up to the 36 hours of labor and delivery, practically. But the second pregnancy three years later felt sluggish, loose and irritable. I felt gravity and hormone ravaged. I had heartburn.
While the mood helped me collect outstanding receivables from my law practice clients, it was not suitable for handling the rest of life, namely, a three year old, work and husband. So, I somehow instinctively ended up in a Yoga studio signing up for prenatal Yoga classes. It worked.
A class a week helped relieve growing pressure all over my body. I gained more weight with the second pregnancy, only 4 more pounds but felt like more, so my body needed relief from gravity. The class revolved around safe inversions using straps, blocks and other helpful props. The inversions brought a little bliss back in my body, even as I slightly feared the instability of my blobby, lopsided figure.
Perhaps, the memory of those classes prompted this new fascination with the promise of headstand, a powerful inversion–one I can feel just attempting it. My body reacts vigorously, the need to breathe through it indisputable. Though I doubt it’s the promise of bliss I seek. It’s something more and less.
Perhaps the world is too much with me these days with horrifying unraveling everywhere I turn: chaos and fear. Crazy elections and surprise referenda results merely symptoms of the underlying dissolution in flux, the resolution way on the horizon. Emergence.
But politics are always local and personal. Emerging order from chaotic transitions of my own predate or coincide with the world’s. My life vision, career and family have changed, transitioned to the next phase–whatever that may turn out to be–and so, the world feels turned upside down. It isn’t, but the disorienting loss of a 30 year career, future of marriage and children, and parents who promised to always be there–well, it feels like what I imagined as a child digging a hole to China might feel like coming out the other side, eventually.
So perhaps mastering uprightness on my head, naturally evolved from long-procured balance and strength–a lifetime’s worth–is the only way for a new vision and path to emerge clearly. Do I have to see that vision, that path for me to have it, be on it? No. But I figure I’ll know that by the time I’m able to breathe steadily, calmly, on my head for longer than 5 seconds.
Credit: headstand: Pixabay
According to the Yoga Alliance’s 2016 report on yoga in America, “36.7 million Americans or 15% of US adults practice yoga in the US.”
Of course, yoga is great for you. It promotes well-being through strength, flexibility, breathing and meditation. But is yoga good for everyone?
We’re in the car. I muse out loud, “I want to carry into the world the kindness and caring I feel when I do yoga or when I write about the garden I peek at sometimes through the fence separating our yard from the neighbor’s or when I’m baking apricot and garlic spread into baguette then topping it with sun dried tomatoes that have soaked in Greek olive oil a good long while, for our dinner guests.”
The one in the front seat is silent, but the wise ass in the back seat, snarkily asks in disbelief, “You?” Then she shakes her head slowly and says, “Nah.” They both laugh.
I laugh. She’s a quick witted funny kid. But as we drive a way into the silence, a momentary pause in conversation, each with our thoughts, I frown inside.
I meant it. The kindness does not extend far beyond the mat. I don’t want to manufacture it for myself by motion and feel-good-pat-on-the-back exercises and readings. I want to exercise it, stress test it in the throes of messy, even horrible existence, in the battles on the streets, on the road, in the supermarket, and on social media.
This election circus distracts me (a Trump funk), foments mental terror and pulsing anger that requires the quelling by kindness, everyone’s. But mine is especially important in my world, to the people I touch. Hiding inside words, playing nice with language won’t do. I won’t be jailed by the surrounding toxic vitriol. I vow to melt it, laser it with the heat of my passionate dispassion.
Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love…
Wide open vowels
Robed in us
A library full of late light
Colors of the fading day
Skins of the world, brown,
Ocher, chestnut, taupe,
White bearded sons and
Bright yellow daughters, sun
And moon all gathered
For scriptures’ secrets told
We sit atop a hill, distant
From them, but near–us
Eyes closed to the world
We listen, slide into others
Gentle greetings and wander
Strange tongues we know–
Without words, definition.
I make myself small to let
Others commune, pass by
In a library of love and light.
I yoga’d hard today, long and deep. And I don’t feel as beaten as I thought I would. I had been meaning to up my exercise regime a little, something more cardio than hatha yoga, to which I am semi-devoted daily, meaning only half way committed to hatha. The other half is vinyasa, quicker paced movement.
Recently, my body has gone off to do its own thing, grow where and how it wants despite my steady diet of exercise and mostly conscientious, nearly vegan eating (kind of slightly pescatarian-whatever). My practice hasn’t changed, just the distribution of my body fat. So, I toyed with the idea of a weight loss/exercise program offered at a local gym. A friend follows the program and has lost considerable poundage as well as toned up nicely. His results and the losing battle with gravity inspired me to investigate.
The program relies on classic Jack La Lanne principles of cardio and circuit training with isometrics, you know, old fashioned jumping jacks and sit-ups. Reminds me of the cross-fit fifteen minute videos I tried but never stuck with, not because they’re hard but because they’re boring. While yoga packages the same exercises–push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks (sort of)–or parts of them re-combined, the breath-timed, mind-balanced aspects to the “exercise” draws me. Besides, yoga came way before Jack La Lane, cross-fit or any other 20th or 21st century fitness program.
As a former runner, I had to adjust to the non-cardio temperament of yoga when I first began practicing in earnest 7 years ago. However, now I understand many kinds of yoga, some of which pump the heart as cranked up as any running I’ve done. I guess that’s why I haven’t really pursued any videos or gyms. I have what I need–except for the diet. And willpower to push myself.
I know I need to change my eating habits. I’m getting that swollen middle despite all my yoga-ing. I’m told diet should change every 7 years anyhow. Mine’s over due. But diets too confine me. I hate regimes that remind me I’m weak or suffering. I prefer sensible eating, mindful eating, meaning a keen awareness of every morsel that touches my lips. It starts there, anyhow. Then, it’s up to energetic resistance to kick in–to not swallow that morsel, to refuse the I-know-this-isn’t-good-for-me bite.
Right, I’ll start on Monday.
Jack La Lanne via modernhealthmonk.com
Please enjoy my republished article in Yogi Times todaytoday.
surviving darkness in light of a yoga life
I was a bookish girl from an early age, always about with one under my nose in my Long Island suburb. That early reading passion eventually turned to a career in teaching high school and college English. So it’s no wonder that the first encounter with yoga was through a pocket sized hand book with pictures of a woman in leotard and tights performing various poses. I imitated those pictures as best I could but remember…read more here.