The morning of my birthday this past Saturday, I taught my beginner Vinyasa class with the theme of “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodhah” (Yoga Restrains Disturbances of the Mind). This early statement from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali has been a powerful promise for me. I did not start practicing yoga 20 years ago because I wanted a cute butt or flexible hips or even a spiritual life. In 1993, my mind was a mess and consequently my life was even messier. All I wanted was to feel better. And yoga brought that relief.
After some years of practicing for my own sake, I started to understand that as I felt better, I was in better shape to show up for others. These days, that’s the only reason I practice: to be of service. In addition, in current life, no matter what hardship I come upon, yoga prepares and reminds me to keep going…at all costs.
So on this 47th birthday and in my 20th year of practicing yoga, I am super grateful for the teachers that guide me toward and influence me on this amazing yoga journey. And I mean ALL teachers – not just yoga teachers. I include the infinite people along the way that made me seek something more whole, more peaceful, more healthy.
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Here is a compilation of reflections from my birthday weekend:
Turned 47 at the end of a sweet evening, walking around my ‘hood, bumping into friends, sharing a great meal, eating cupcakes and learning some new things. Grateful.
(And grateful to still be learning…)
Saturday, 28 July, 2012, 5pm
Bringing it in with yoga, friends, sugar, the jungle and love.
(I taught in the morning, met friends for cupcakes, went to the Botanical Garden and felt/shared lots and lots of love along the way.)
Saturday, 28 July, 2012, 7pm
What better way to wrap up a sweet (and HOT) birthday celebration than a crazy powerful thunderstorm! I can already feeling the temperature dropping. Ahhhh…
(It was so hot during the day, I sweat through my clothes about four times! Especially in the Botanical Garden’s Jungle exhibit!)
Saturday, 28 July, 2012, 9pm
I’m not sure why birthday #47 has felt like a big deal. Perhaps because the past few years of life have been full of unexpected, unpleasant and unwanted (but perhaps needed?) bumps and trials and trips and falls. I’m only just beginning to peek my head (and heart) out from its hiding place – and I will admit, it feels liberating, it feels good. Last year, I had pneumonia on my birthday. That complemented the hiding quite well. The year before, I was dealing letting go of a relationship in which I was blindsided by betrayal. That piled on top of what felt like a lifetime of let downs. This year…well, this year, the month of July has been about looking at those bumps and trials a bit more briefly, then moving on. It’s been about opening up a little more…bit by bit. I’m so glad and lucky that y’all have been there to greet me with your experience, patience, compassion and love. Life can make me very, very weary at times. And although I can usually spark up a flame of gratitude and carry myself with a certain amount of joy despite hardship – even that has been difficult lately. So, approaching #47, I knew I needed to sort of force the celebration. And it worked. Today, I feel grateful and positive. Not over the top. Just balanced. I feel like I’m breathing more easily. Laughing a lot more. I feel like the big stuff is fading into a welcome smallness. Making room for newness. And you – you all make such a huge difference in all of this. Thank you. Love to you. OM Shanti.
(Samtosha = Contentment)
Saturday, 28 July, 2012, 9:30pm
Final birthday post, I promise!
At Summer Camp each year, the kids and staff and I observe my birthday with a big lunchtime get-down dance. Prior years, the birthday theme song was Wilco’s “Wilco (the song)” – a jump-around anthem about feeling loved even when times are tough.
This year, that theme felt stale, wrong. No more pity party! This year, we celebrated with this booty-shakin’, soul-liberating, spirit-awakening anthme of joyous, smiling, uplifting love! Michael Franti’s “Say Hey (I Love You)!”
Year #48, here I am!
(And if that is not an example of Pratipaksha Bhavana – the yogic practice of replacing negatives with positives – I don’t know what is!)
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May the passing moments, days and years continue to bring new lessons, opportunities for growth and the tools to navigate all along the way. OM Shanti Shanti Shanti.