Invoking Kali

I wish I could say this was me.

I finished my 40 days of chanting to Ganesh and decided to move up to the second chakra with my next ritual. Svadhisthana. Water. Emotion. Creation. Kali. With Ganesh, I was seriously asking for help removing obstacles, and man, did he. One of my teachers suggested not asking anything of Kali. Approaching her with love only. I’ve been chanting om kreem kaalikaaye namaha, 108 times, every day. I’m getting my creative fire back. Taking photos, writing, and really diving into my practice.

For tonight’s class we got into the hips, culminating with pigeon. It’s a basics class, so nothing too serious, though how can opening the hips not be serious? I love the playlist for tonight:

Om Mata Kali, Shantala

Goddess Invocation, Go-Ray & Duke

Krishna Kali, Bhagavan Das

Kali Durge (Wheel Turning), Suzanne Sterling

Parashakti, Wah!

Ma Durga, Krishna Das

Hey Ma Durga, Baird Hersey

Durga, Shantala

Om Sri Matre, Wah!

I’ve been getting into this passage from the Upanishads. It speaks to intention. What’s your desire? What does planting the seed of desire do in your life?

“You are what your deep, driving desire is.

As your desire is, so is your will.

As your will is, so is your deed.

As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

Desire is the first step.

“And now let’s talk about your heart and your bones…”

That’s what my doctor said to me over a decade ago when she delivered the diagnosis–premature ovarian failure. My ovaries had stopped working, so I needed to be concerned about my heart health and my bones. I felt like I had just crossed over from fresh Spring to dry brittle Winter without the decades of transition. A bone density test showed I already had enough bone mineral loss to officially have osteopenia. So I fought it the smart way (ha) — by totally ignoring it. Except by going a bit mad, living wildly, and balancing it all with good doses of yoga.

So when I got my bone density test results today, I really wasn’t surprised. Last year I broke a toe in a vinyasa class and even broke a rib coughing. Still, the word osteoporosis was like a knee to my gut. I actually said “Shit!” to my doctor. So maybe that’s why Visvamitrasana has been so scary. I have been carrying around this fear that I literally could break my bones.

My hip is just osteopenic, but my spine–my spine!–is more than two and a half deviations below normal, and just across the border into that scary territory where fractures are more common, bones compress and collapse, and you start to slump and lose height. I know this doesn’t have to happen to me. I practice yoga mindfully (especially after that toe fracture), and I know the yoga is helping. I can’t imagine my life without yoga. I started crying, and then told myself I was being a baby. No one is saying I can’t do yoga. Of course I will practice. I will practice mindfully, and I will meditate and visualize my spine healing. I’m taking diatomaceous earth and Ormus and drinking green juice and eliminating most alcohol and my body should be less acidic and it will rebuild.  My bones are holy (with swiss cheese-like holes). What my bones lack in density, I will fill with light.

I feel ridiculous lamenting my spine when I think back on last week and the amazing people I taught.  I subbed for an adaptive yoga class last Thursday at the Salt Lake City Library. I planned the class assuming everyone would start out in their wheelchairs. When I got there, all of the dozen or so people with spinal cord injuries were already out of their chairs and on their big cushy pads/mats.

I know so little about spinal cord injuries and paralysis and the issues these yogis face. I started to learn, though, fast. Almost everyone had someone to help them. Some brought their helpers, and I think some people were there volunteering. I heard one young man talking to his helper about someone putting a gun to his back. Depending on where the break or injury (or gunshot wound, in this case) happened, they had different degrees of mobility. I overheard snippets of conversations as I walked around and helped people deepen their poses.  “L1.” “T12.” Some of them almost died in accidents. The memory of that night shook me out of my slump about a *potential* fracture.

It turns out that sitting on the pad without the support of their chairs was pretty challenging. Next time, I’d have them start laying on their backs, and work up to balancing in sitting poses. I gave their helpers cues to assist them, sitting behind them against their spines, lifting their arms overhead for extension, lifting their legs and holding them for an inversion. They were all so amazing. Willing to try anything.

By the end of the class, I was choking back tears. Humbled by the adaptive yogis and their openness and their happiness.

Valentine’s Visvamitrasana

Planning my yoga class for tonight, I made a playlist with some devotional songs and some goofy love songs. And only one person showed up! The class that starts 15 minutes before mine is taught by our studio’s rock star and was packed. She had roses and live guitar. It’s not a competition, I told myself. It is what is it. And it was this: me giving a private class to my ex boyfriend. He’s never come to my class before. It was just a bit awkward. 🙂

“The subject tonight is Love

And for tomorrow night as well,

As a matter of fact

I know of no better topic

For us to discuss

Until we all

Die!

~Hafiz

We started in a supported supta baddha konasana and breathed. We did a bunch of supported poses. And I decided to read what I had planned. I read Nancy’s Valentine’s post about loving yourself. Not just using props for support, which does make you feel loved, but saying supportive words to yourself. “Love your honesty and your wit, your space and your distance.  Love that you know your boundaries and that you still sometimes push them. Love the places in your body that are less flexible than the person next to you, love your short comings and your strengths.” All of those lines had extra meaning for me, for us. Love your space and your distance, check. Boundaries and sometimes pushing them, check. For whatever reason, I prepared this class, and he’s the only one who showed, so maybe there was something I needed to say to him, or that we needed to experience together.

We did Surya Namaskar A very slowly, holding each pose for five breaths, then three, then one, and I helped him with his alignment and form. We used straps and blocks and blankets. Lots of heart openers.

And I read this: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”~Rumi

That part felt like a subtle castigation, yet it was just as much for me as for him. Starting with love of the self.

Here’s the eclectic playlist:

Bolo Ram, Wah!

I want to hold your hand, T.V. Carpio

Narayana/For Your Love, Krishna Das

I think I love you, The Partridge Family

Because, (Across the Universe)

What the World Needs Now, Jackie De Shannon

Om Sri Matre, Wah!

Heart Sutra Soulshine, Wah!

I hadn’t really perfected the playlist; I was out of time, and it came up a bit short, so we heard a couple of those awkward songs again. (I think I love you… Really?) We ended in supported fish and in Savasana with a bolster under the knees.

It wasn’t my best class. I fell victim to the Hallmark-ization of the day. I felt I had to do a love-themed class. Why should Valentine’s be different from any other day? Perhaps I should talk about love every day. I read that Rumi quote again. And said, imagine the love you feel for your valentine, and see if you can feel that same love for yourself. I still love him that way sometimes, and the challenge for me is to give myself that kind of love.

But the best part came later. I stayed for the next class. The teacher asked us to sit in meditation and watch what bubbled up. It was uncomfortable–hurt ego, self criticism, second guessing my choices of songs. etc. But the asana helped. Twisting and contorting Wild Thing into urdhva danurasana, and then for the first time in my life, I got into full Visvamitrasana! Compass is no problem… but when I lift up my bottom leg and try to balance on one arm and one leg in Visvamitrasana, the weight feels like it’s going to break my arm. But with the leg high enough on the arm, yeah baby! The extension, rotation, and heart opening of Visvamitrasana was pure joy. I had to smile.