Most days a small act you happen to be fully present for can be all you need to make it feel like a really good day. The above photo reflects that moment for me today. I took it while waiting for my boys at their surf lesson in Sopelana, Pais Vasco, Spain. The beach was not very crowded today so people were spread out a bit farther than their usual, sardines packed in a tin can distance. I barely noticed the sweet couple above who were sitting 20 feet away from me, until they started to pack up for the day. It was like a beautiful dance as I saw the couple gently sit up from a reclined savasana position, laying completely flat on the sand, to a slow seated posture. Mind you, I very rarely see anyone over middle age sit directly on the sand anymore, so this was something in itself. Then ever so slowly the beautifully adorned woman gently made her way on to hands and knees as if in a yoga table pose. Next, with tenderness she leaned her hand onto her husbands shoulder, the other on her thigh, and ever so steadily she took a deep inhale and exhaled on the press to stand. The two to three minute process was with concentration, thought and great attention to breath and body awareness. Her husbands assist was sweet, kind and fully present. And then, it was his turn. The floral bride widened her stand to a little more than hip distance and put a tiny bend in her knees. The grace came as she offered her knight a firm hand to assist his rise. From a camel prep position the man raised his bent knee to a thigh parallel with the ground and foot firmly planted next to the woman. There was a pause, a small exchange of words, and a brisk change of legs to prepare for the assist. The man took a few full breaths, looked lovingly in to the woman’s eyes, and with matching inhales he rose to standing with ease. I was awe struck! I really wanted to go hug them both and tell them how much grace and love I felt in their presence. Unfortunately I still struggle as a foreigner to posses genuine emotion in my bumbling Spanish and I actually sensed they knew, by my gaping mouth and bright eyes that my day (and much, much longer) had been made.
Sometimes I wish I knew a little more of others stories or history. This was one of those occasions. But with just pausing to witness their tender connection I think what they revealed to me was all I really needed to know.
Be present, be patient, tender and available.
This week has been gorgeous, sunny, and hot with soft ocean breezes in Getxo, Spain. It’s one of those weeks that you reflect on the length of summer still ahead and how blessed you are to have so much light in your days and nights. Swimming in the early evening followed by a dinner at dusk is just the way it flows during these days. If one could just bottle it all up like a beautiful scent to uncork it again on those cold and dark blustery winter nights would be such a treasure. But alas this is why we work our memory muscle, breathing oxygen in slowly to take in the smells of salt water and orange flower, and savor the tastes of juicy watermelon and sangria. We are living breathing creatures that need to participate in our health and well being in order to revisit those memories, and hopefully first hand accounts, again and again.
My asana practice today was sets of Sun Salutations through out the day to show gratitude to the endless summer sun.
It’s the half way point in my 108 days of yoga. I have been a dedicated yogi for 16 years but this is the first time I ever decided to commit to it for 108 days in a somewhat continuos time period. Why? For the past 19 years I have been a very busy parent of 4 children and in raising them I have also had to have more than one job, and be available to my family in the down times from work. Six years ago I decided to combine my yoga practice and my work and I was invited to teach the children’s classes in the studio where I regularly practice. Along the way I started down the path of getting certified as a yoga instructor which meant getting another job (3) since the yoga income was now going back into the training. Ugh! To my misfortune, the style of yoga I committed to began to unthread as a major scandal played out. Rather than distancing myself from yoga I decided to use a one year sabbatical that my family had already planned (yes, I was saving every spare peso we had for that too) to really become centered in what yoga looks like to me so that I can go home again and be honest about committing to a style that is based in truth and grace. So this is what I have determined for me at the 1/2 way point. Within the next year I will sign up and begin again a training that is in the style of Inclusion without a dictated name. It is a training that will still gain me a RYT title but does not bind me to a particular path. I like this very much and since those I prefer to teach are 12 years old or younger I think it will be better to let “What Will Be”, be explored and determined by each child that shows up to my class. I am grateful to have some grounding and a vision at the half way point of this immersion and am excited to see “What Will Be” my continued path of yoga exploration and education.
I took the above photo at the public boat slips in the Getxo Marina (Pais Vasco, Spain). These 3 fish are so symbolic of my time to regroup in murky waters and to be guided again in new found faith and trust.
My asana practice today was self guided.
Is there anything more wonderful than the smell of bonfire in your hair? OR, Is there anything more wonderful than the sound of a an ocean lapping the shore while being warmed by a bonfire. To my delight I’ve been lucky to have both this week…It must be summer in Northern Spain! It has been a true delight of the senses as we celebrated Noche de San Juan (June 23/24) and the beginning of summer vacation. For the next few months with a house full of children and the beach tempting us, it will be hard to stay focused on a daily mat practice. Just this week I have found my yoga drifting outdoors including a sporadic session of balance poses while touring our town with my son “the photographer”, and while kayaking on the river that threads it’s way through Bilbao working on some arm and core building poses. Yoga is all around us and the mat is just only one place to find it. Don’t let a mat stand in your way is my mantra this week.
Some days are a haunting reminder of the past. As you have made progress on the road to your life there are dark moments or traits that resurface to remind you that you aren’t quite finished yet. I imagine that when life comes to a close, barring tragic death, that you might end life having worked through some of your personal madness and refined the attitude to become your best personal self. Then again this could just be the idea of my ideal, which again leads me in a circle back to the reoccurring dark moments. Funny and true!
The practice of yoga makes me feel incredibly bright and beautiful. Even if for just the time I am on my mat or sharing a genuine and heartfelt moment with someone, if I have yoga in my life I am my best self. Yoga to me is the meeting of the hard and the soft, the body and the mind, and bringing the balance in to a full alive wakening. Practicing in the morning is a gift for the whole day as it kick starts the opportunity for possibilities that lie ahead.
My asana practice today was this beautiful sequence that I hope to revisit again and again. Jo Tastula’s early morning practice @ http://www.yogaglo.com/video_2383_l.html
I took the above photo in the town of Vitoria, Spain last week 6/6/2013. A gorgeous blooming weed was growing in the gutter of the wall surrounding the old city. It was full of shri! Vitoria is the capitol of the Basque region and the old town is worth an overnight. The public murals, old cathedrals, history and people are all enchanting for both the old and young, modernist and historian.
This day ends a year abroad for the first of my immediate family. Our daughter is returning home to the US after completing a year in Europe as a prospective student. It takes a tremendous amount of courage for a young adult to step out of their comfortable place in the nest of a family and face the road ahead somewhat alone. Our daughter entered in to a program she knew little about and had to summon up a ton of strength, balance, effort and courage to face the unknown. In not having a big safety net of support she had to evaluate whether this year would determine whether she could commit or even enjoy a college experience that would lead to a demanding lifestyle and career path. She is a winner for seeing it through, giving herself the time to really think about it and even in her choice to determine that in fact, that was not where she wanted to be. She can not see how she has made this year a success yet by it’s my hope that when she is further down her path, or even advising a friend or child of her own, that this year will be a marked memory of learning, growing and succeeding.
As we send her back and remain in our own location fro the next 4 weeks I am determined to grow my own strength of courage and tackle some of the asanas of yoga I falsely fear.
Today’s asana practice was this video by Tiffany Cruikshank on YogaGlo, a strenuous vinyasa flow titled “Be Courageous” http://www.yogaglo.com/video_2939_l.html.
The photo above is by me taken out our front window of a sweet little bird on a roof top in Getxo, Spain. She is alone, yet part of a group that has already taken flight.