Art Direction: The Magazine of Yoga.
Bluegrass, a beach walk, and being 72
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST JOANNA HELLER
9 11 10
Is it my imagination or is every Sept. 11 a beautiful open blue sky day? What is this? A message? A reminder that a big stumbling stone is a big opportunity to alter a path?
This is what I have been thinking today.
I saw some new paths today.
I spent the day at the CT Folk Festival in New Haven.
I watched people promoting their own new pathways. A car powered partially by water, examples of wind and solar power, alternative health and healing protocols, and of course careful sorting of trash into appropriate recycling cans.
I spent some time promoting a new path myself, a new cohousing project expected to be reality within a few years.
I sat in the sun and listened to bluegrass music, and I watched a small girl doing her own dance on the grass in front of the stage and then, when the the musicians were applauded, she totally unself-consciously and innocently took a big sustained bow. She was in her place in the world.
9 16 10 | 4 a.m.
We’ve recently had a few cool days and nights and I just awoke – it’s not daybreak yet – with this line ringing in my head -
Sippin’ summer with a little twist of lime
we were singing songs and working overtime …
- a wonderful line from Can’t Tell You The Reason Why by Sarah Thomsen.
That “sippin’ summer” wondrous feeling with its easy uncrushed breathing. I thought I was writing unrushed, but uncrushed actually nails the feeling – the feeling that I work so hard to recapture in yoga.
Why do I so often catch myself suddenly taking a deep breath as though I had not been breathing?
How to just breathe – really breathe – all the time. Would that recapture my childhood spacious full of wonder summer feeling?
Yesterday I spent some time walking along the shore. The air was still summer warm but with sudden streams of cool brushing me from time to time. The coming autumn.
At the edge of the coast was the utter stillness of the dark stones just beginning to be swamped by storm waves. A lone white egret stood steady in the center of it all.
Still stones. Flooding water. Balance. Breathe.
The edge of the land changes. The seasons change. Things always change. These changes are just handed to us. But how about what we do? What we impose on ourselves?
I seem to impose winter on myself way before it has ever arrived.
As the air starts smelling of autumn, my body remembers that winter feeling of hurrying and I start hunching my shoulders against the cold and holding my breath – against what? I don’t know against what but I do it all the time.
How to stay centered and breathe… the ever present issue. Doing a seated twist, doing the daily maintenance of living, or just thinking. Here is where I know that Real Life is Real Yoga.
This Magazine of Yoga has become something like a very centering calendar for me. So many layers and dimensions. I tug on anything and find so much else. Endless resonating dimensions.
John Muir says “Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.” I think so.
9 18 10
I’m still thinking strings.
Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.
For me, the days bring on musing, musing brings on writing and writing brings on more musing and it all brings on reviewing past stuff which of course brings on discovery.
So I was looking through some of my “stuff” the other day and came upon some writing that I had done decades ago during the time that I was a NYC school teacher. At that time, I had plenty to muse about but not the time or energy (or whatever) to know what to do with it.
So it sat , and still sits, patiently in a folder.
The stress of the work and of life eventually brought me to a therapist who happened to ask, have you ever considered yoga?
Well this brought me to consider yoga…
…which grew to be so much more than just a consideration.
Now yoga and more comes to me every day, my musings are nourished. and I get to see them in The Magazine. Is this a wonderful bunch of string or what?
Are the physicists working with superstring theory with all these endless space time resonances considering this stuff? I don’t know.
9 28 10
After 26 years of teaching elementary and junior high school students in the Bronx, the magic year was here. Eligible to retire. I was in my late fifties, and getting a chance to start over. Some of my colleagues were jealous, some were aghast. What will you do every day? One of the younger teachers seemed practically stunned at the notion. Then again, in that school anyway, the effort of just getting through the day every day left us all in pretty much a stunned state. But in any case, I was starting to smile at the immense relief sweeping over me as I began visualizing time and space around me without the relentlessness of this daily destination and focus.
What will I do every day? Maybe just watch the grass grow. I had no idea how true this would or would not be, but I did know that what I had been wanting for a long time was some space to just be …
Have you ever considered yoga? another question recently put to me.
Till then, no I hadn’t. I can’t do yoga, my joints are too tight. But a few weeks later, when I suddenly had this idea, my joints are too tight, I think I should do yoga … well then I did.
A community college class got me started. Quite a start. I could not sit cross legged without my legs crying out to be straightened.. I could not lie flat on my back without my back crying for help. It took months for my body to start to untie the knots of the past decades. But I found that knots do loosen … slowly.
Now past 72, I am still working on loosening knots and just being. The hardest part is still the deciding; how to construct this day and what gets precedence, going out walking and feeling the sun or doing the laundry? Cleaning yesterday’s mess or unrolling my yoga mat and getting down on the floor.
As my eight year old grandson very seriously explained to me, “some things are a ‘have to’ and some things are a ‘choice’.” I’m thinking the hard part is deciding which is which.
Sometimes a really hard decision is unrolling my yoga mat and getting down on it. And the next hardest part is the ending; ending shavasana, getting up off the floor, and taking leave of that peaceful breathing and being space.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.