I won a book in a Twitter giveaway! Thanks to It’s All Yoga Baby and Rodmell Press, I have a copy of Sparks of Divinity, a book of B.K.S. Iyengar’s teachings from 1959 to 1975. Since this is a muladhara project, I turned straight to the index, just after reading the forward. No muladhara, but root was indexed. “Correct from the root,” he said. In other words, don’t start trying to open the third eye first. Start from the base. In poses, start with the feet.
In the Tree of Yoga, one of my favorite books, he says, “When you grow a plant you first dig the earth, remove the stones and weeds, and make the ground soft. Then you put the seed into the ground and surround it with the soft earth very carefully; so when the seed opens, it will not be damanged by the weight of the earth. Finally you water the seed a little and wait for it to germinate and grow. After one or two days, the seed opens into a seedling and a stem grows from it. Then the stem splits into two branches and produces leaves. It steadily grows into a trunk and produces branches in various directions with many leaves.”
Also in the Tree of Yoga, he says the yamas, or abstentions, are the roots of the tree.
So much to learn.
I have this little Ganesh that my friend Vasudha gave me a few years ago. When I arrived at her home, she showed me around, and opened a cupboard in the kitchen. Inside were several deities. “Pick one,” she urged. And this little Ganesh just called to me. I attached a brown leather cord and wore him around my neck until the cord broke a few months ago. When I decided to start this Muladhara project, I found him and put him into my pocket.
At work today, I found this beautiful arrangement in the lobby made by Randy. A sweet place for a Ganesh photo.
I like this definition of deity: “A being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life.” ~ C. Scott Littleton, in Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology
Ganesh is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Killed by his father, he was brought back to life with the head of an elephant. He’s the remover of obstacles, and the lord of beginnings. It’s auspicious to begin a project by invoking Ganesh.
He’s also heavy, and earthy, and associated with the root chakra, muladhara.
Starting a new photo a day project based around the chakras. Because Ganesh is associated with muladhara, the first chakra, I’m starting with a photo of Ganesh on my altar. The idea is to explore the chakras and visualize aspects of them. I may or may not stick with muladhara all year.
Toward the end of a road trip to spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family in Gilbert, Arizona, we snuck away to a yoga class. We had searched online for a place to practice, but by the time we finally left that Saturday morning, we realized we would have been late to the studio we had planned to attend. Everything seems extra spread out in Gilbert and the surrounding towns—mile after mile of strip malls surrounded by gigantic parking lots.
Thank Shiva for MindBody, the iPhone app that lists nearby classes by time. Yoga Deva was literally the closest studio we could find that started at 9 a.m. And “warm flow” — the class description — sounded perfect.
Yoga Deva is beautiful, indigo blue with metallic and wood finishes. Shosh, the teacher and owner of the studio, checked us in. We asked about the temperature, because my boyfriend was worried it was going to be hot yoga.
It turns out that Shosh was trained in Bikram yoga and taught it for years, but her approach is much more gentle. Hot yoga depletes people and the stress of the routine actually causes them to carry fat around their bellies, she told us. Shosh has evolved her style, and her classes are much more creative. Not the same 26 poses in the same order, always.
Shosh started by chanting to Patanjali, and led us in call and response chanting of the first yoga sutra: Atha yoga anusasanam. Tuning in, breathing together, I let go of the stress of the 12 hour drive to Gilbert, the worry about the return trip, the judgment over the glutenous holiday food I had indulged in (despite recently being diagnosed with gluten intolerance), and the preoccupation with all that still hadn’t been finished at work and home. For 90 minutes, I was at home, far away from home.
What I love about yoga is how it balances and heals. No matter where I am, whether it’s in a group class or on my own, whether it’s a luxurious long class or a few stolen minutes at home (or lately, at work), yoga hits my reset button.
I’ve often thought about what it would be like to study with the same teacher for years and years. I’m grateful that I get to be a yoga nomad, studying with teachers of many lineages. There’s great discipline in the single teacher, single sequence approach. I get that, and sometimes I wish I could have it.
But then I wouldn’t get the unexpected dance-like variations on half moon Shosh led us through, her playlist heavy on Donna De Lory interspersed with pop music, and I might never practice toe standing and balancing like we did that morning, watching ourselves in the full length mirrors as we teetered, fell, and got back up.
As we were leaving, we talked to Shosh about her path, which has led to Nithyananda, a young Indian guru who says he is the reincarnation of Lord Shiva. We left dreaming about yoga retreats, India, Ayurveda, and people who believe they know who they were in a past life.
Just a couple of years ago I ended a year by wanting to kick its ass on its way out the door.
I ended 2011 sharing a toast with some dear friends acknowledging that year as the best in my life. What changed?
Everything. I attribute it to the people I surround myself with – people who I love, and people who inspire me. To chanting regularly. To singing. To practicing yoga almost every day (for most of the year, anyway). To cultivating positive energy. To being generous when I could be. To teaching yoga. To having a daily artistic practice that inspires me to look for beauty. To theta healing. To Ormus. To growing flowers and vegetables. To working hard and taking responsibility for my actions and decisions. To Pooka. To my terrariums.
Inspired by my friend Cybel, I want to give some thanks:
For singing Purple Rain in the dark 🙂
For taking photos of the 9/11 memorial from the 28th floor and seeing it as a beautiful symbol of progress (and not being afraid of it).
For the Photo a Day project.
For the Maha Shivaratri Puja and the red string that finally broke.
Chatting up Daniel Day Trio outside Stein Eriksen Lodge and sharing the meat plate with them and Heather.
For getting me tickets to the Flaming Lips at SaltAir. “Every single molecule is right when all of the subatomic pieces come together and unfold themselves … in a second.”
For telling me where to put the ten yantras.
For paying off the last of my restaurant debt!!
For stopping to take pictures of hay bales in Colorado.
For yoga on the salt flats as the sun set, and for the time lapse of the moon rising.
For rainbow shakti church and delicious Blue Bottle and Ritual Roaster Coffee.
For laughing off past troubles with Shiva Rea, and for Jennifer Ellen supporting my heart.
For digging up artifacts in a London garden.
For watching “The Golden Circle” and turning my students on to it.
Rediscovering Genesis’ Foxtrot on vinyl. “He’s a supersonic scientist! He’s a guaranteed eternal sanctuary man.”
Hysterical laughter at Element 11.
For you teaching me to play Adventure Time on the Ukelele. And the harmonium.
For making it in to see Phantogram even though the show was sold out.
For the apron teapot photo shoot at the Spiral Jetty.
For the full moon total lunar eclipse on my birthday.
For sitting atop a polar bear on Halloween.
For rediscovering sewing and making Finn/Fiona costumes.
For getting a studio at Poor Yorick and opening my studio to you.
For you coming to my classes at Shiva Centre.
For letting me borrow your truck.
For the pear themed dinner.
For teaching at Salt Lake Community College (and learning more from you than you from me).
For the divine IPO.
For hearing my requests on Dave Morrissey’s show on KRCL.
For Katie. For Danielle. For Adrienne (may she rest in peace). For Tyler.
Originally written January 30, 212