Winter rains….

Izzy and Soggy steps
Goop and ick sticking all over you?

…grayness…fog….haze…mist…and soggy steps. As I look out my window today there really no other word for the weather but GLUM and GLOOMY. It’s not cold, so it’s raining instead of snowing. As a matter of fact, it is 47 degrees at this very moment outside here! Very odd. Some folks are smiling, and others are frowning, about the warmth. I find it a mixed bag, it is pleasant not to have cold feet and cold sheets  but it is also very odd, wrong, and there is nothing bright, reflective, and pretty about rain. (I know there are indeed beautiful rain days at other times of the year, and there are gorgeous photographs with rain reflections, but I hope you get what I am talking about here.) The reflective properties of snow add a brightness and clarity on a cold sunny winter day that really can’t be beaten. Rain does not.

It is the notion of ‘soggy steps’ I am really fascinated with right now. Clearly there is the literal of soggy steps walking outdoors. What about the figurative, what thoughts come to mind with those same words?  To me, it brings forth that same old theme of “letting go” but now it’s letting go AND walk into/onto new paths. Soggy steps sound like your feet rise and with every step, muck, goop, and other ‘icky’ things we would rather not be carrying around come up with your foot. This goop can stick to our hands as well and even hover overhead! It makes for very heavy steps, hard slow movement and an overall malaise to the day!  I’m as guilty as the next person of heavy steps in the winter. It seems very tough this time of year. For starters it’s often dark, less sun, early sunsets, and everyone is inside much of the time. It is very isolating, with much less human contact than a vibrant spring day.  It seems to take more energy to find things to smile and laugh at, and that’s really horrid! Then, if the dark and isolation isn’t enough, there is often a bitting cold up here in the North! It’s a plain hard truth: it is harder to be happy when your face hurts because a bitter cold wind is blowing and you are out walking your very dear, loyal, and fabulous friends who happen to have 4 legs!

So again the question is- how to get rid of that sticky goop attached to our appendages and possibly even over our heads? Maybe it’s a simple as the Dao of winter states?

 Winter – The Dao of Storage     藏之道

The three months of winter are called closing and storing.
Water freezes earth cracks. Do not disturb the yang at all.
Early to bed, late to rise. (One) must await the daylight.
Make that which is of the heart/mind as though hidden,
as though concealed,  as though (one) has a secret intention,
already obtained. Leave the cold, seek warmth.
Do not leak the skin (sweat).  Urgently hold onto the chi.
This is the winter compliance of chi
and the cultivation of the Dao of storage.
To oppose these principles injures the kidneys.
(Consequently) spring will bring paralysis and fainting
(and) there will be little to offer one’s sprouting.
(Nei Jing Chapter 2) http://www.energyarts.com/taoist-seasons-winter-water-element

Clearly some this is not really possible or do  even agree with … such as “Early to bed, late to rise. (One) must await the daylight.” Most of us don’t really have that luxury most days. (And)” Do not leak the skin (sweat)”  I think movement is very important, it’s all too easy to want to curl up and just sit, or lay, around, in the winter! Movement is good for the mind and body, we all know that!

Whatever it takes- Shake that booty, especially your feet and hands, and shake that goop off! Lighten your steps, hop though the soggy and maybe dance onto that new path! (…or at least try to!)  Stomp out the goop and lets hope for a sunny tomorrow!

 

Stomp down that goop

Intent

After a summer of “busy” we finally got back to yoga class this week!

Naturally Birdelini was there and this evening Rosie went too. Our teacher started the class out, as she always does, with asking to think about and set our intent for the class. Intent takes away expectations – the “shoulds” of the day, the “shoulds” of our minds.  Intent is what you want/need to work with on FOR YOURSELF. You bring yourself to the yoga mat to calm your mind and body, to help manage the stress and the turns of the day – to stretch your body and mind. Intent is not a goal, it’s a process  …Intent does NOT equal expectations. Intent is actually to help erase those expectations, to be a little easier on yourself, to not think it all has to happen, especially not all at one time, season, even year.

Rosie settled right into class and enjoyed it throughly. I am starting my second series of yoga prints with poses that help open the heart, open palm living. This drawing is the first of that series (Series #2.  Series #1 is “Grounding Poses.”)

Rosie and Intent
Rosie in Anjali Mudra.

Anjali Mudra is an excellent way to induce a meditative state of awareness. Start your practice sitting in meditation in Anjali Mudra for 5 minutes. You can also use this hand position in Tadasana prior to beginning the Sun Salutation sequence, contemplating the “sun” or light of awareness the yogis say is resident in your heart.

Benefits

 

Hold Your Space

Hold Your Space
Hold Your Space – palms up and out!

Another week and another sunday morning yoga class gave Birdelini and I food for thought. This times it’s about holding on to your own space, owning and nourishing  that space however expansive or tiny it may be. It refers not to marking out your territory but to truly  holding your own self/space with no harsh negative judgments, an acceptance of your space and peace with your space. In the winter “our space” sometimes feels tighter and more constricted. It’s not really.  It’s our innate human nature of “winterizing”- we tend to stand less tall, fold into ourselves more, rounded shoulders and slouching.  In the cold we bundle up, look down, and walk fast to our destinations. That’s pretty close to tight-fisted living. (see last weeks post). Holding your own space  goes hand in hand (all puns intended) with open palm living. You need to understand you can’t  micro manage your space, you need to let is be, to fill, expand, and contract as needed. You certainly don’t need to try to control anyones else’s space, for that is really fruitless. Your space is what it is- your space, don’t judge it or others and the sides of your space will be so much smoother.

I poked around on-line a bit and found this at Spiritual Awaking Process. I thought he did a nice job of talking about this issue.

“Holding Space: Some Key Attributes
Let me try to break this down a little bit. Here are a couple key characteristics to holding space, and I’ll give an example to help solidify what I’m talking about. Some components are:

    • Letting go of judgment
    • Opening your heart
    • Allowing another to have whatever experience they’re having
    • Giving your complete undivided attention to the situation/other person

Those are really the key elements of holding space. You’re not trying to influence the situation. You’re not trying to fix it, win at it, or affect any kind of outcome. You are simply being with it fully so that it can work itself out. This doesn’t mean becoming a victim to it. Quite the contrary actually, you’re very powerful in this space, and it certainly doesn’t mean being hurt physically by another. By when you’re deep into a space like this, you are far more immune to any “emotional” hurt than you might realize…” ( read more

The Wisdom of an open palm, in Yoga and life.

Sunday mornings I often have a small argument with myself, there are three parts to this “conversations.” The first part is: I am most likely lying in bed, snug and comfortable, and since it’s winter the outside is cold and my bed is warm. Leaving it seems silly.  The second part is from my body:  It is often just plain old tired and going back to sleep is pretty much always tempting. The third part is my mind: You see, the ideal, and the goal is, to get up, get moving, and go to Sunday morning yoga class. The mind says: Go- you will be glad you did…Go-it is always a good idea to go to yoga …Go-you will learn something new, whether it be a corrected pose or a thought. … Go- it’s exercise and stretching, and especially in the winter it’s important to keep the body moving! … Go-you love it when you do. Go-you feel better after class/practice. Go-its self kindness. Im glad to say the mind usually wins these days, and I do get up and go!

This past Sunday my teacher brought  up a topic she has mentioned a few times lately. It’s the wisdom of an open palm. Birdelini and I love this and keep thinking about it.  Read on and we think you will too.

Lets try something. Stop reading for about 30 seconds and make two tight fists. Clamp your hands as hard as you can. Breathe in and out. Hold another bit. Now think about that for a moment. It doesn’t feel very good, your muscles tend to tense up, you may have even scrunched up your face muscles. Did you feel the tension that came with that? Thats a fist that lets nothing in! Now, just put your hands out and open your palms up to the ceiling. …. Breathe in and out. Stay there another bit….Kind of amazing the difference in feelings! One is tight, controlling and stressful to hold. The other is almost relaxing! That’s the beauty of open palm living! An open palm, lets the day take its course it doesn’t need to control everything, for an open palm is open for giving and receiving. “Often we are focused on what we can get for ourselves out of the fear that if we don’t get all we can then someone else will get it and we will be missing out.  We clench our fist and hold on tight.  The Open Palm knows that there is much for everyone…” –http://www.balancedlifeyoga.ca/the-wisdom-of-an-open-palm-finding-balance/.  Open palm living lets it “be” – ebbing and flowing, giving and taking in an open manner.

Birdelini and I continue in our yoga practice….we’re loving the open palm thoughts, and trying to be open to all that comes our way. How about you?

Birdelini Yoga Warrior Pose
open palms here…

camel pose
camel pose-Heart Opening – relieve tension and stress.