Twenty Percent. That’s the maximum amount I can do of my typical yoga practice—on a good day. Today was a 5% day. And the cracker? He sensed that. He grounded and guided me through a painful practice. For a dog who rarely has 4 feet on the ground physically or mentally, Loki’s a damn good yoga guru.
I can’t help it. I’m fascinated with tiny flowers. Perhaps because I’ve never given them a second glance on my hikes. My fascination happened when I was learning to use my telephoto lens on close-ups. I was blown away by the details in the smallest of flowers. And the variation of color! Nature fascinates me. All my photos are done in a dark forest, with no lighting accessories. When the sun is hitting the flower just right, the colors can pop against a dark background. Continue reading “Living Wild”
I took out my yoga mat after having not officially practiced for about two months now. I started in Savasana, otherwise known as corpse (dead body) pose. I didn’t make it much further than that. Being a bit of a firecracker of a personality, Savasana has always been my most challenging pose. And now, its been the core of my practice. That’s the sweetness of irony. Continue reading “The Practice”
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present. Or in this case, that piece of chicken right in front of us. Continue reading “Doghma”
So much about teaching yoga is about teaching how to create space: space in our bodies, space in our minds and space in our lives. Your space is where you find yourself again and again. Continue reading “Breathing Room for the Soul”
This month’s header is dedicated to my favorite song by Prince that I’ve been playing on my iPod whenever I ride the indoor bike trainer.
Shortly after returning home from Istanbul, I got serious about solving my health problems. I was pretty sick this summer before my London trip in July. Remember how I fell asleep at Tate Modern? In August, Mr. Wild Dingo had to drag my ass around the ruins in Istanbul trying to ignore my sour puss from the constant joint pain, exhaustion and my inability to focus on anything interesting. When we came home, I could barely bring myself to even write this blog. September was a record low for me of only 4 posts. Continue reading “Let’s Go Crazy”
Last week was quiet on the Wild Dingo blogosphere. I was deep into a mind-body yoga teacher training program with Seane Corn, a leading national Vinyasa yoga instructor. There isn’t enough room here on Wild Dingo to write about the brilliance of her theories and practice except to dribble a little bit into the application of dog behavior.
In the mind-body yoga experience, we are taught that our bodies have memory–cellular memory. Each experience creates memory in our bodies on a physical, cellular level. A few years ago, I experienced a severe head injury due to a bike racing crash. For weeks, I told everyone it was no big deal. On a conscious level, I truly didn’t feel emotionally traumatized, and I looked forward to when I could ride a bike again. A week later when I put my leg over the top tube and crawled up on the saddle for a stationary training workout, I looked down at the top tube and a wave of panic and terror came over me and hit me in the stomach so hard, I nearly fell off the saddle and vomited. I burst into tears. The top tube triggered the fear I had forgotten. This makes perfect sense when understanding the biography of the body. What I consciously remembered about the actual accident was glancing down at the top tube and thinking that my entire titanium frame oddly felt like rubber, completely unstable and unsafe. I remembered the physical sensation of the instability, but I never remembered the fleeting yet oh-so-concentrated fear it created, possibly because it happened so fast that my consciousness could only process and remember the physical feeling. There was no time to be aware of the panic it was creating. A week later, the simple glance at the top tube while my body was in a relaxed riding position was all it took to trigger and release the fear that had been dormant in my body. This is an example of a short-lived impact of a biographical incident on my body’s biology. But, consider for a moment how any one incident or repeated incident can impact a person’s biology for the long term, which can lead to long-term tension, stress and anxiety and eventually to behaviors such as rage, over-eating, depression, violence and so-forth. When you can consider how biography and biology works in a human being, you can begin to understand the quarky behaviors of a rescued dog are the result of its biography. Continue reading “Biography Becomes Biology”
Watch this video below. Neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte Taylor, describes her experience of having a massive stroke and as a scientist was able to vividly describe the differences between the left and right brain. Her descriptions are hauntingly similar to two schools of yogic philosophy: dualism (a la Pantanjali philosophy) versus non-dualism (a la Tantra yoga philosophy). Pantanjali’s dualistic philosophy focuses on separating the pure awareness from this world, black versus white, while Tantric yoga philosophy views every single being and thing connected as one. (If it takes too long to load, click here.)
Although Ms. Taylor makes no mention of any philosophy, her descriptions seem like they were written directly from some of our greatest philosophers. It makes you wonder if either dualism or non-dualism philosophies are not independently right or wrong, but perhaps, each exists as true and not necessarily as an either/or approach to living.
Last week, I spent 7 om-a-licious days on Isla Mujeres, an island just off of Cancun Mexico, studying to become a yoga instructor. I’ve been lightly practicing yoga since 1993, but became more of a regular practitioner in 2002, exploring Bikram, Vinyasa and had a little bit of exposure to Ashtanga. Undergoing a teacher training program has been on my “to-do” list since 2004—only 4 years to check that baby off my list. I’m all about completing my tasks in a timely fashion.
Anyway, before the envy hits you, you should know the days were filled with either practicing yoga, in a lecture about anatomy of movement, or doing homework for the next day’s assignments and practice. It was fairly busy week, and throw in the fact that I’m studying Power Vinyasa yoga, a fairly athletic form of yoga that builds strength, flexibility and a little bit of endurance, you can begin to get the picture of how challenging this has been both physically and mentally. You should feel sorry for me. Really.
The days started off fairly gently, breakfast at 7 (huh? what kind of uncivilized person gets up before the crack of noon?) then meditation at 8 AM. Uh, ok. So om it is at 8. Officially, I should receive a big fat F for the meditation, because all I could think about was swimming with the dolphins, cruising around the island in a go-cart, wondering when Tequila Time was or which ridiculous sombrero I should buy. But apparently failing is a huge part of meditation, so I should get a big fat A, since I was pretty darn good at failing it! (Are you feeling sorry for me yet?)
After meditation, we had a 90-minute Power Vinyasa class, each day focused on a different part of the body, followed by a lecture, an hour lunch, a two-hour break for homework (of course you did this on the beach), an afternoon lecture with a some more physical practice (you practiced teaching and taking from another trainee) and ending with a group dinner. (If I haven’t mentioned it already, your heart should be breaking for me by now.)
The last day we had to teach a full 90-minute class as well as take two 90-minute classes, for a total of 4.5 hours of pure yoga strength training. I have to admit, I’ve done a fair amount of endurance activities, including a handful of 24-hour mountain bike races, stage racing and week after week cyclocross racing, but the thought of doing 4.5 hours of Power Vinyasa scarred the lulu lemons out of me. But by the time we finished at 6:30 pm that day, endorphins were running amok and I was ready to rejuvenate with a few adult beverages and authentic Mexican cuisine.
Ya, this pose is a piece of cake. But try doing it while drinking Margaritas without spilling one drop!
So here’s what I learned at yoga camp:
- I have externally rotated feet, knees and hips, which means, I’ll never be able to stand with my feet pointing straight forward.
- My ligaments are quite loose. But don’t tell anyone. I don’t want a reputation.
- They don’t serve alcohol in Mexico during elections (luckily we split before the elections).
- You can catch a stomach ailment swimming in the ocean.
- Mexican men don’t much care if you’re married or not.
- Our thoughts do not define us.
- Never twist a bent spine.
- You can calm yourself down by breathing in through your left nostril.
- It’s better to be “now here” than to be “nowhere.”
- The more I know, the more I don’t know.