3 Positive things to come out of the BP spill

Speaking from a very conservative point of view BP has been spilling one whole Exxon Valdez into the ocean every four days.  It started on April 20 and it keeps going. It is the worst spill in our history.

I pray that the oceans, the animals, the underwater life, and the people living in the coastal areas be healed, and also that our collective psychic be mended. 

These are three things I find can be looked at from the bright side: 
  • It shows us that we are not so in control as we might think we are
The NY Times published an article discussing how the conviction that our technology is capable of fixing all mistakes is being challenged.  I find this very humbling, an invitation to reconsider our  feeling of invincibility, both in a global and a personal scale. 
  • It sends a strong message to other oil companies exactly where it hurts them the most
Yes it is very upsetting to hear the CEO of BP talk about the spill being "tiny", so yes, we get it, oil business people do not care that much about the environment (although I do feel they probably care about it a little), but they do care about profits.  
BP is currently spending a lot of money to fix their tiny mistake.    This has to have the effect of rippling into other CEO's and shareholders greed consciousness, who will begin to think twice about safety, because they can clearly see how it can hurt their wallets, and their reputation.

  • It gives us, the general public, a reminder of how groups together can have a big impact when joining forces
Mounting pressure from the people have led Obama to respond and be fully accountable for what is being called "Obama's Katrina".  This shows that as a group, as a nation, we can stand up together and send a clear message of what we want, and what our priorities are.  This is how a democracy works, we must be grateful to know that we can stand up together, and be heard.


Back bend progress May 2010

It is that time of the month again

As I try to bring the arms over the chest it "feels" like they are aligned.  Funny thing about videos, it shows me how far there is still to go.

I am working at bringing sensation on the legs, I used to completely check out on them, now I bring energy.

Progress was also video-tracked in April, March, January,and December'09.

Why can I not get on headstand?

So I am at work and a headstand contest type of situation pops up. I make nothing of it and even chuckle to myself in the spirit of competition, full of myself,  feeling/knowing  that I will be the best.

The guy two mats down tries and falls on another guy... embarrassing, then the Russian kid tries but does not get his legs up.  It is now my turn, a few people in a semi-circle are watching, but I go pass them to the center of the room, I am interested in having everyone (even those in the far away corner) watch my level of skill.

I set my hands in a triangle, place my head in the center and walk my feet, but, guess what? the legs just wont go up!  How is this possible?

Then I wake up. Phewww...  I tell BF and even go as far as trying it on the floor...  yes I still have my headstand.  I am confused, angry, disoriented.

I have been listening to the audio podcasts from Michael Stone, highly recommended.  He is a therapist/yogi (trained in conventional and Jungian ways) and in the one I was listening to on the train yesterday he talked about dreams.

A few things he mentions about dreams that are worth remembering:

  • having a dream dictionary is really a misdirected idea, that dreams are very personal, and they are only remembered when they need to send a message.
  • Staying with the feeling of the dream is a good way to approach it
  • Playing with the images of the dream (drawing, singing about it, writting about it) is useful
So, then, headstands...

Where in my life, I wonder, can I not turn things around, go upside down, look at things from another perspective?

And what is up with the feeling of "I can do it better"?

hmmm... perhaps this post is getting too revealing already... will have to reflect privately and maybe come back to it.

Picture is me a few years back in Buenos Aires.

Have you had any dreams that you clearly remember lately?  would LOVE to hear


Finally pasasana, and this time it is here to stay.  Been practicing at home on the days I practice here, and today for the first time in the shala.

Here is what surprised me about it
  • How tiring it can be.  The norm seems to be once by yourself and then with adjustment, by the time I was done I felt like I had to take a moment to recover full circulation in the legs.
  • How deep down the wrapping arm has to go, I mean, feels like I was aiming my arm pit for the sheens
  • How it positively affects back bends when done right afterwards.  They felt a lot more open and easy.
  • How difficult it is to keep the balance while attempting to draw the heels towards the floor
I wanted to look at my book on yoga adjustments but a few weeks ago I forgot it on the train, uggg!, funny thing is that while searching for it online I discovered that even E-how now has asana descriptions, we are going world wide web....

Mahele says that the lengthening of the calf muscles is essential to perform drop-backs, hmmm... maybe this will help more than I thought it would.

Happy camper here.

New cycle begins, practice might get even longer.  All good.

How long?

"Know what your duty is and do it without hesitation" Krishna reminds me as I sip the Twinings kind of chai. The gunas (my own psychological tendencies) did not allow for a proper spice boiled brew. (Picture)

Feels as if the voice of spirit screams to my face to just get on with it, to live life.

Sometimes I wonder how long... until I seriously get that it is not me doing the asanas, the yoga, or the writing, but rather the writing is being done through me?

How does one truly get, at a very visceral level, that the work we do, the words being written come not from me but rather from universal material, from the un-manifest ocean of eternal  possibilities which is using this, my physical body, and my current state of mental opening to channel themselves into existence.

How long until I let go of what the results might be, the fantasies I may conjure, the need to be understood or the desire to be brilliant.  And what is brilliant anyhow? if not that which we did not recognize in the beginning cause we had never heard it put that way, but subsequently labeled it "brilliant" because we felt the jolt of the connection with spirit that the writer had while at its craft.

How long till I understand that connecting with the Divine is all that matters, that I can trust and let the results be what they might.

How long till the words of the Gita or Patanjali, or Marianne or Deepak become flesh...

"If you want to be truly free perform all actions as worship" says Krishna,  so be it then.

2:15 hour Sunday practice

Where did the time go?

This breathing for five counts on the in-breath and 5 counts on the out breath sends me into a meditative state, and makes the practice, well, looooong.   By the time I was done I did not even feel like reserving the private rooms for pranayama, nor did I have time to.

I challenged myself yesterday at Pure to keep the dristi (eye direction) focused and the breath long even where I want to escape, and the result was a centered practice, in spite of John's daughter being around and so adorable that I almost wanted to play with her.

The funny thing is that afterwards I was left in a bad mood. I did not feel like socializing or talking to anyone, and I had some social events to attend to.  Nevertheless after a while of being surrounded with people all was well.

Because I've been listening to the yoga matrix (Richard Freeman) again, I am noticing and observing my mind, what it does and what it does not do, how it can change moods and how the practice affects it.

Yesterday on the train I also had an opportunity to revise Kino's podcast in which she quotes Guruji as suggesting 10 count in-breath and 10 count-out breath, how long would that make the practice?

Things I want to remember from my year at the Ganesh Temple

I spent a year with Eddie and now I am with John due to logistics and the move as per the last paragraph in this post, and I have to admit, the energy in the room is very different.

The specifics are not important, I realize now that what is important  is to remember the good things I learned in my year at the Soho shala,  which are:

  1. The breath is even and slow, very slow (as in a five in-count, and a five out-count for each of the five breaths).  Yes the practice may end up taking an hour and forty five minutes, that is OK.
  2. Always 5 breaths, even in the hard poses
  3. Slow.  Even more in uttita hasta
  4. The dristi is key, training the eyes to focus on where they are suposed to focus in each asana
  5. Devote time to the study of sacred texts
  6. Effort in every pose putting energy in the full body, realizing where I want to check out
  7. Quiet mind, silent practice
  8. Slow and steady progress
  9. Sharing space with other practitioners
  10. Surrender

I ate marshmallows, (not the good kind...) and I don't regret it

Oops,  what have I done?, not only did I buy them but I also ate 3 of them big ones (they have gelatin... yacks...) AND, I enjoyed them to no end.

As I drove back from the supermarket listening to Richard Freeman's Yoga Matrix, (for the 6th time or so), I got to thinking about the gunas, the tendencies of the mind to be either Tamasic (lethargic), Satvic (balanced) or Rajasic (altered, anxious).

The interesting thing is that Richard, unconventional as he is, described them differently, in terms of Tamas being the "past" instead of the dull sleepy state, Rajas as being anxiety over the future, as in over planning or being overly excited on waiting for something to come to pass, and Satva as being the point of union in the eternal now.

So there I am driving and remembering how the food I ate in Thailand while at retreat was so satvic, all the time, and how I was about to eat marshmallows, on a cold spring afternoon, which, although romantic, is not satvic at all.

That is when the next portion of Richard's talk came to the rescue.

He says that when we TRY to do everything satvic-ly, then paradoxically we become rajasic, inmediatelly, because as soon as we try to control things  (try to make it all satvic never enjoying a marshmallow) then we produce anxiety about the future and how we want things to be or look like.

INSTEAD, if we just observe the cycle of life and accept the fact that the gunas will come and go, i.e.: if I just observe how I enjoy eating a marshmallow with BF by the stove, we automatically beome satvic again.

Isn't that sweet?  the concept I mean, not the marshmallow  :-)

So I ended up enjoying my treat, and boy did I like it! all satvic me.

Autobiography of you (and me) in five chapters

Reading the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (different from the T.B. of the Death), I came accross this "autobiography".
Haven't we all been there?.  It is so clear to me how this has happened again and again, and why it is so wisely called "autobiography"....  food for thought.
Autobiography in Five Chapters
1)   I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
2)   I walk down the same street.
There is a hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
3)   I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately
4)   I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it.
5)   I walk down another street.

Excerpt from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

Two more teachings from certified teachers

A few weeks ago I wrote a post with 3 sutras, (wise one-liners) from certified teachers that really help me while practicing.  Since, I have come across two more that I believe are worth mentioning.

One comes from Kino, and I learned this one from Susan's blog, specifically from her visit to Thailand where Kino is quoted as saying that "strenght is a decision you make".

I have found this specific one liner very helpful when I want to slack, or when I think "maybe I will skip this jump-through".  Playing with this idea is also helping me in life in general as in when I need to confront things that I wish were not there, is has become a mantra to me.

The second one is from Eddie again, and even though it was a teaching directed to me and only me, and at a very specific point in time (very early last year when my life was caught in a web of change and apparent turmoil), I believe we can all use it from time to time. He said: "you go too fast, don't do that".

As I read through the past couple of weeks worth of blogs, I see  a very distinct trend in the teachings going around, where people are trying to even out their breath and to slow it down.

I have started to do the five breaths while counting five for inhale and five for exhale, in each one.  It makes the practice a lot slower, and it enables wonderful results for the "going within" aspect.  Really worth trying.  It also works well together with the slowing down from Eddie, because as I breath very slowly in a pose like uttita hasta or prasarita D, or kurmasana, the tendency is to run away, to rush.  It also ties in with Kino's teaching, THOSE are the moments were I remind myself that strenght is a decision I make.

Again,  if you are interested in the previous post with the three teachings, the link is here.

Amazing the power of words, just remembering these ones has given me stronger biceps in the past two weeks... words are spells, they are powerful

The bee that flew into my hair

I am all moved into our new place. It is quiet, away from the city, and beautiful.  Yesterday, after the hustle and noise of the move I found myself with a moment alone within the house, (BF was outside taking in the silence), when a bee flew right into my hair and then into the floor.

As is customary for me with animals I started talking to her, telling her the direction in which she could find the door, and to please not "attack" me again.  I am aware that it sounds crazy, then again, I do ashtanga 6 times a week, no surprises there.

The interesting thing is that the bee seemed disoriented, blind, and could barely walk.  A few minutes later she died.

I got to thinking about the incredible coincidence in that I am currently reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead, for my father, and she should be paired up with me, to run into my head right before she died.

I knew what to do. I told her right next to her ear that she must concentrate and focus on the light.

In a way, knowing what to do, having something concrete to say that will help the spirit of the death around me has made the whole rite of death a bit more human, a little more approachable.

It is still painful to learn about the details of my dad's passing, but having something to help him with is proving healing.

Tomorrow is back to yoga in the city, and now I will be practicing in pure yoga as the logistics of Soho unfortunately were proving very difficult.  I am sad  to be leaving Eddie (and his wonderful assistant Iose), and yet also happy to re-join John.  Sad and happy, death and life,  all part of life, nothing ever stays the same, everything is constantly changing, evolving, taking us toward the light.

This too shall pass

The deep rest before we come again

A few days ago I took a nap, and about half an hour into it I woke up and felt my body so deeply rested, so quiet.  If it wasn't for the breath I would have been totally quiet, deeply resting. Made me wonder about how restful the touch of death must feel, not even the constant wave of breathing, just stillness and quietness.

The Tibetan Book of the Death mentions that in the first 49 days after death we are still attached and roaming in the realm of our recently finished life.

As I read the Tibetan Book of the Death to my father, I wonder about this passage, about the deep rest of death.  The book says that spirits are not quite sure that they died, that is important to tell them so, clearly, and to guide them towards the experience of "light" that will be happening to them.  It also says that spirits in this level are 7 times more clairvoyant than a living being, so they hear and see everything, it is important to be kind and loving to them, and remind with a clear and determined voice them to look for the light experience that is about to be revealed to them, and follow it.

Then, after the first 21 (of the 49) days in the bardo, the deep rest comes until the next incarnation.

I tend to think that it would be rather arrogant for us to think that there is no life in other planets, especially when there are millions of other suns in the universe, then how would it be possible that there would be no other planet near a sun with water?.  In the same way I believe this, I also think it is misleaded to think that we would be born, grow up, die, and then nothing... that would be half a circle, and reincarnation completes it.

Now THAT is a realization

When a posture is challenging (drop back, back-bend, prasarita C, fill in your own) there is a psychological fear that precedes even getting into it.

Take for example back bends, I have been practicing every single day,  for a few years now, and not one day did I not dread that moment of pushing up.  There has not been one day in which I could just go into it as if it were a warrior pose, or a triangle, never, I always had to "prepare mentally" before pushing up.



Something has given.  I have read about this from fellow yogis, especially when they talk about kapotasana, how there is a whole psychological barrier, the good ol' mental body, going something like this: "Oh dear, here comes that pose again, could we skip it today? how about just today?" and so on.

But then, one day, there is the realization that we are just getting into the asana as if it was any other asana, the psychological barrier surpassed.

Picture is a 2008 back bend in Buenos Aires.

I read at Susan's blog that Kino said that "strength is a decision we make".  I love it, will add it to the quotes by certified teachers, it is so beautiful, so concise, such a sutra...

Specifically the difference is noticeable in that:
  • I can now "work at the pose", straighten here, push there, rather than just deal with being tired and annoyed at it
  • I can go right into it, no mental talk prep needed
  • it feels OK
Have you experienced this?

The limbs form a circle

Been thinking about the yamas and niyamas (do's and don'ts yogic precepts), and then about the limbs in general (the eight branches of yoga (there are two pages on that link)).  Noticed how the yamas and niyamas have to do with "the other", with our own relationship with all others, people, the environment, our immediate circle, and the planet, but most importantly, for an individual yogi, I believe they come into play in community, in how a yogi lives within the immediate society it occupies.

Take for example the non-violence, and how it relates not just to how much I push my own body in practice but also how much I respect others, let others be.  Or asteya and how it relates not only to not steal a yoga mat, which would be a very gross display, but also to how and when do I steal energy from others, maybe complaining too much, maybe draining others, how I find balance within me, and try to bring as much non-violence into my interactions with others.

I have been listening to talks by Michael Stone and on the subject on the ya/niy-amas, I liked his exposition of how the yamas are not about shanti (peace) but rather a-himsha (non-violence), or asteya is non-stealing, as in "assuming" that there will be stealing and violence, and how the direction is never black and white, and rather each case takes prayer, awareness, surrender, and learning.

I also liked it when, as I was approaching the studio this morning for practice, I heard him say that the limbs are circular, rather than a ladder, we get to think about them every so often, and then we come again to them, we never leave them behind, being human implies we will need to revise them almost daily, circularly, for ever.

May all mothers be blessed

Oh Divine Mother,

may all my speech and idle talk be mantra
all actions of my hands be mudra
all eating and drinking be the offerings of oblations unto thee
all laying down prostrations before thee

May all my pleasures be as dedicating my entire self unto thee
and may everything I do be taken as thy worship

Oh Divine Mother

The yoga of death, and a thank you note to you

Yesterday I was able to clean the house, make the bed, even mop the floor. I have been moving slow. What an enterprise it is to make a bed, cook a meal.  Grief slowed me down.

In 2007 I took the vow proposed by Chopra, the vow of non-violence. Now, as I thread through death and realize what is important in life and try to discard the disagreements, the ugly conversations, the family issues, and try to focus on what is really important, I awake to the fact that it was no simple vow.  Being human is hard enough, adding death into the mix can sometimes bring up so much.

I want to be a bigger person, yet I notice I am only human.  I realize I am not the Dali Lama, nor do I want to be, and it is difficult to stay with the love, to remember that kindness is the test, because sometimes it feels it would be so much easier to just give to the anger, to forget all about yoga.

I work on noticing all the emotions that I feel, yet not passing them around, some work.  I cannot be perfect, but I can notice all the hurt within me, I can work out ways to let the anger be expressed in healthy ways, I can try to not cause further hurt.  I do this by talking to friends, running my thoughts through others first, reaching out, listening.

One thing I am learning on the yoga of death, has to do with life and anger, out of all things.  The one thing I learned is that if someone is ever being hard towards you, at a very personal level, maybe, it could be good to think of it, and translate it as: "I need a hug, the pain I feel is too big, please hold me".  Not guaranteed to work at all,  but worth a try.

Slowly I begin to read other blogs. I am happy to reconnect with fellow writers of yoga.

I want to thank you, all of you who have been reading, for being so supportive, for expressing and sending love and hugs, and thoughts of well being.

I realize now how vital it has been to have this community, cyber community and three dimensional community.  Knowing that someone is thinking about us (me in this case), that they send love is so comforting, and in levels I cannot even describe.  I wish community on everyone.  Thank you for being there.


Yesterday I took a long walk from the 70's to 14th feeling the waves of pain and sadness flow through me, sometimes taking over me, sometimes easing up, but mostly taking over.

I have been wondering who I am, feeling confused in the harsh reality and down to earth pain of death, nothing pretty about it, nothing poetic, nothing inspiring in a rushed accident.

I barely hear about the world, how others are doing, the oil spill that I read through Oriahs' blog in a post she calls "coming up for air" and I can relate to, as she grieves too.  I am not near that place where I can come up for air, I am deep underwater.

Lady's holidays keeps me away from the mat, maybe that is not helping, or who knows what helps.

Back bend progress April 2010

Practice sure is helping my grieving process, I am grateful for it.  I guess I had forgotten the fact that losing a family member hurts in the body,  sometimes in the throat, as if I had been attacked, sometimes in the stomach.  But all in all, I am staying with it, letting it be, remembering what is important.

Backbends are feeling better with the warm weather, here is the one where I do the hang back.

And then this one, forgive the frame, it was the first one, where I go to the floor and back.  I now understand what Paul (Thailand) meant when he talked about bringing the arms and chest closer to the wall (once at the floor). I see now how this will allow the back to really bend, so I am working on that too.

My dad passed away

On April 29 my father died in a motorcycle accident.  I am in pain.  I guess I knew this day would come, and he had a long good life, (was 71), but still I miss him, and he is far away being buried today.

My dad had a keen sense of humor and had very exaggerated good and bad things, like, me?...  he would say things very Guruji like, as in "everything comes" to give me hope, yet at other times he would encourage me to "be beautiful and shut up".  He was from another time, another century.

In his youth he was the Argentinean champion for swimming, and he flew planes eventually becoming a captain in commercial aircraft for an Argentinean company called Austral.  He then retired and became a lawyer, out of all things.

He took lots of risks and lived to the fullest, he had strong convictions and right or wrong always believed in himself.

One thing I know for sure is that he loved his children, the three of us, a lot, and he always did the best he could with the understanding he had and with love.

I miss you papi.

To the memory of Ricardo W. Azula,  October 18, 1939 - April 29, 2010