Reverse Namaskar - step by step

Reverse Namaskar - step by step

I wanted to share the how and why for this sequence... I hope it inspires and contributes to your own process! 

As I said on Instagram, suryanamaskara A is so ubiquitous. I have loved practicing it in my years but I also found teaching it leaves me feeling unsatisfied and not up to my own standards. So often as I look around a class, I see people approaching self-aggression, checking out, and either not paying attention or not knowing exactly where to place their attention. In many ways, the sequence allows for one to move into a flow state of sorts, but it also has some problem areas; the most prominent being the jump back to chaturanga and the step or jump forward. I readily admit I love both of those transitions, but so often in my own practice they have been like a little point of added inner competition that didn't feel necessary anymore. I have wanted to change the script and have been working on several namaskars that do just that. 

So one of those I came up with is Reverse Namaskar. 

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navigating, resurfacing

navigating, resurfacing

Yoga is not a practice of navigating the light. It is a practice of life, which means that it cocoons us in as much presence as we can handle, whether we are soaring in the skies or are so wrought with sorrow that we cannot move off of the floor. It gives us tools, should we choose to use them, to look directly at our joy and suffering, and to attempt to make choices that give us the opportunity to let go and let in whatever it is we are experiencing. Yoga and movement and breath and meditation have, throughout these last years, given me the space to see myself clearly, even when that vision was painful to witness. And in the depths of the dark waters in which I often found myself, that space and insight ultimately gave me permission to keep moving forward and to do what was necessary to take care of my self, my spirit, and therefore my family and all that I love. 

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the eruption of truth

the eruption of truth

For a period of my life, the yoga postures served me well. I grew through them and they offered healing to my wrecked dancer's body for a time. But then, as many of us do, I allowed the postures to guide my physicality and I ultimately suffered because of that. You could see photos of me in postures or practice next to me in class and think, "wow she is strong and flexible". The problem was that I unwittingly pushed myself to be strong and flexible only in the places the poses required and in the end this was not balanced or wholesome, no matter how much alignment and breath and safe sequencing I applied.

When I was in my final months of pregnancy and just afterward, my body was pulled apart where it was weak and disconnected. I am not alone in this experience and it definitely doesn't just happen to pregnant yoga practitioners, although the elevated levels of relaxin in the body along with the increased abdominal pressure certainly enabled this to worsen quickly. Through the process of reconstructing myself in the last two years and working with many other students who I believe have been harmed by yoga, I have realized how insufficient the posturing, and more specifically how insufficient so much of the instruction in this work is. 

I am not saying the postures do not contain insights, for they do, endlessly. I am simply saying that they are not enough by themselves. We have to keep looking beyond, beneath, inside and through them. The postures are patterns we set into bodies that already contain their own patterns, imbalances, incongruencies, imperfections and deeply individual insights. How can we not take the individual into consideration as we apply them? Alignment, as we may witness in some forms of yoga, takes us only so far on a personal level before it causes us to become rigid. Geometry certainly has its merits and beauty in certain yoga styles, but it doesn't break down or build up everything; it doesn't give space for all of the organic nuance and multitudes of asymmetry, in my experience. Flow is wonderful for moving without overthinking but it falls short in the realm of detail and precision, no matter how clear instructions may be. Breath work and opening pranic pathways means nothing if the physical structures are not addressed with integrity and after all, what ARE pranic pathways? What does that actually mean? 

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meeting the enemy

meeting the enemy

Ultimately, as I reflect, the greatest obstacles I have faced in life have molded me in to the person I am. Injuries have made me a clearer and safer teacher, times of financial hardship have given me insight into the value of money and empathy toward others who struggle with it, experience both first and second-hand with depression has gifted me with the ability to hold space for myself and others at their lowest. Moving to a new land where I do not speak the language or understand the cultural nuances gives me a small glimpse into what it feels like to be invisible or powerless. It has also given me a greater appreciation for the ways in which I am incredibly privileged. When I offer gratitude to my challenges, when I meet my "enemies" with thankfulness and compassion, it transforms me. Even if the person or situation is not changed at all, I am. How I see and feel and taste hardship changes. And, in my limited but real experience, it makes a profound difference. 

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the space between, part 1

the space between, part 1

I lie down on a nearly-daily basis and feel my midline with my hands. The space around my belly button seems at times possibly wider and other times narrows to nearly nothing. I have followed its ebbs and flows quietly and with a deep sense of care; perhaps more care than I have ever offered myself in this life. And while I check the width routinely, the residue of this ritual leaves my mind resting not in the space between, but in the quality of attention itself. I am not what one would call a religious person, and I often tend toward the dependabilities of mathematics and science, but through this process I have encountered what feels to be the soft slipperiness of prayer.

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overwhelm and letting go

It's been a long while since I wrote.

I never, in a million years, could imagine the kind of consumption of time and energy and attention that goes into being a parent. It is absolutely the best kind but it is all-consuming. I have been busy in my life before. I have been so busy that I didn't see friends for weeks and I lived and ate and breathed my work. Still, I have never felt the kind of intensity that being a mom has presented to me. I have also never loved anyone or anything this much, not even close. It has been the sweetest, deepest sense of overwhelm I have ever known. And it has required that I let go of a lot, and often. 

I now see that my desire to write in this blog on a weekly basis after my daughter was born was definitely too ambitious for this time of my life. As hard as it is for me to acknowledge that I cannot do it all, I definitely can NOT. My continued aspiration is to keep this going as best I can for now. That is all I can do. One way I have tried to share my work and passions is through instagram and some documentation of the therapy work I have been traversing as of late. If it interests you, please check in with me there.

For now, I at least wanted to write to acknowledge that this time is also incredibly intense and difficult in our world. A lot of people I know are struggling to understand and navigate the huge shift that has happened most recently in the U.S. but that also reflects a larger trend around the globe. Many I know who have been around longer than me say they have never witnessed such division between ideologies and world-views. I surely have not in my lifetime. 

With that acknowledgement, I also acknowledge that I have had to make space within the overwhelming barrage of news and online feeds to take a step back and let go of some of the ways that I was feeling connected to my communities, particularly my people in NYC. Facebook no longer has a place on my handheld devices. I recognized that my desire to be on the ground and in the resistance with so many people I love and care about just does not resonate with where I am in my life and how overwhelmed I already am at times with being a mama. It also underlined, for me, the dark underbelly of living too much of one's life online. I have a few close family members and friends who spend an exorbitant amount of their time and reality on their devices and in the feeds of Facebook, and it is painful to bear witness. I felt myself being tugged in those same addicting currents of information and I realized it was time to step back. 

I am reconfiguring how I interact with my world, mostly because I have a beautiful daughter but also because the world is changing and I must also change with it or risk becoming willfully ignorant. I am dedicated to a path of waking up and for me right now the most important thing I can wake up to be is a present and loving mother to my babe, a present and loving wife to my man, and a present and compassionate teacher for my students and clients. From there, I feel I can continue to walk the path of awakening in the best way I know how for all the people in my life. 

So in this intensity... if you are feeling overwhelmed at all, perhaps ask yourself where you can let go. Where can you make space for yourself in the whirlwinds of information? Where can there be some breathing room? 

May we all have some space to breathe. May we all work toward the benefit of all. 

 

bouncing for fascial health

I recently posted this on my instagram account... it's something I have incorporated a lot more since having a baby. I began to intuit that the bouncing would help me regain the integrity of my fascia after all those pregnancy hormones left me feeling SO lax. It's true! Bouncing aids in the health of our fascia/connective tissue and is said to be good for the lymphatic system and other regulatory systems as well (I read here that doctors are researching super bouncy roller coasters for passing kidney stones!)... 

So incorporate some bouncing into your daily routine as a key component of the health of your fascia. Your body will thank you and it's fun too!

disheartenment and maintaining our vision

disheartenment and maintaining our vision

All any of us can do is stay true to our convictions and pair those convictions with a willingness to stay curious and open hearted. Certainly there are times when we need to shift directions or accept defeat or decide that another way is a better way, but there are many other times when we must continue to face our fears and challenges and disappointments head-on. In those moments we must remind ourselves of our highest aspirations, lest disheartenment get the best of us and the world sadly miss out on our greatest gifts. 

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I've been talking about the five wisdoms or Buddha families in class the last two weeks. I would love to write more about them but I just don't have the time currently as I prepare for the therapy immersion I'm co-teaching next week with Stephen Thomas...  

BUT! If you want to read more on this beautiful and interesting take on the energy of the world around us and in us, take a peek at this article:

Five Buddha Families by Irini Rockwell

My first podcast! Mindfulness Meditation

I told one of my students, Annie, in NYC over a year ago that I would do podcasts for all my New York students when I moved to Zurich. A lot has happened since then - getting married, becoming pregnant, having a baby and moving overseas... but I finally did it! And on her birthday as a surprise. Happy birthday, Annie!

The end cuts off without any fanfare or clear ending, but baby was waking and I thought something is better than no thing. 

I definitely need some help with simplifying the editing process, so if anyone has pointers, shoot them my way!

Much love, 
Anya

Samadhi, awake in the here and now.

Samadhi, awake in the here and now.

What are you doing right now? What is the smell in the air, the taste in your mouth, the feel of the phone or the computer on your fingertips? What is happening with your right knee or your left shoulderblade? How is your breath? What is the quality of light in the room in which you are sitting? 

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