Thursday, December 31, 2009

Projects for the new year

I don't like making resolutions, because they only end of being broken, but at the beginning of the new year I do make a list of projects to work on. Here is (most of) this year's list:

  1. Train for a triathalon.
  2. Asana: work on abs, forward bends, back bends
  3. Pranayam: I'd like to decrease my resting breath rate to one per minute. I don't know if that's physically possible.
  4. Drastically cut back on my television watching
  5. Eat local/organic meat only
  6. Writing project? Not sure what. Maybe one that I've contemplated in the past but haven't had the courage to start.
  7. Visit Berlin and/or Paris and/or Ireland and/or... somewhere else
  8. Read all of Jane Austen's novels
This is a much larger and more complicated list than I usually make. Fortunately, I'm not much attached to whether I accomplish these things. I do seem to be happiest when I have challenges to work on, though.

Welcome, 2010. Arthur C. Clarke would be so disappointed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

asana sequence

I taught this on Sunday, and I think most of the class didn't know what hit 'em, so I want to record it for posterity (and so I can teach it again):

Start in down dog. Inhale forward to a plank.
Take side plank (vasistasana) on the right side. Left hand grips left big toe in yogi toe grip, and left leg is extended to the ceiling.
Inhaling, lunge the left foot forward and come onto the ball of the right foot. Take a few breaths in the lunge, both hands on the floor.
Then lunge the right foot forward and past the left foot, taking the right big toe in yogi toe grip with the right hand, and extending the right leg forward as you come up to stand. (padangusthasana).
Inhale - open the right leg up to the right, bringing the gaze to the left. Breathe.
Exhale the right leg forward, back into padangusthasana, then inhaling, sweep the right leg behind you, taking hold of the top of the right foot and extending the left arm up to the ceiling. (dancer pose - natarajasana).
Transition into half moon, ardha chandrasana, by releasing the right leg, extending the right hand to the ceiling, and bringing the left hand to the floor. Hips stack, shoulders stack.
After a few breaths, bring the right hand to the floor and the left hand up towards the ceiling for parivrtta ardha chandrasana.
Then bring both hands to the floor, and extend the back leg (right leg) up towards the ceiling for standing split (can't remember the Sanskrit - something eka pada something).
Then, bending in the left knee, jump back to three legged down dog, move through a vinyasa, and return to down dog.
Repeat on the left side.

Monday, December 14, 2009

and now, a few words from Woody Guthrie

I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose, bound to lose, no good to nobody, no good for nothing, because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim, too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and your work.

more scribblings

A list of reminders to myself I have written on a card in my wallet, which I never remember to read in moments of need:

  • Passion. Beauty. Joy. (I took this from an interview with Bill Nye, the Science Guy - it's his response to a question about what motivates him.)
  • Prayer doesn't pay the bills.
  • Go where going takes you.
  • Save the drama for your mama.
  • Soldier on.
  • One hand for yourself, one hand for the ship. (I tend to pour myself completely into things (like work), leaving nothing left to give if anything else arises with which I need to deal. So I end up totally loosing my shit over tiny little things. I need to remember to keep one hand for myself.)
  • Make hay while the sun shines.
  • Build what you cannot borrow, buy what you cannot build. (My adage on frugality.)
  • Show up and see what happens. (You can do all the planning in the world, but it still won't make you completely ready for whatever happens.)
  • Live like a yogi. Die like a Buddhist. (This is probably my favourite. I think I came up with it during a session with my therapist a few years ago. I'm less fond of the second half of this imperative than I once was.)
  • You'd do well to recognize when your anger is masking a well of sadness. (Cause, you know, it usually is.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

an offer I couldn't refuse

A few weeks ago, my best friend from high school called me and asked if I would be willing to be godfather for his daughter. I was kind of shocked at first; partly because I know he's not religious, partly because he knows that I'm not religious, and partly because I don't think I'm the obvious choice to be responsible for anyone else's spiritual well being. Yes, yoga and all that, but I don't even really believe in anything that's easily recognizable to the average bear as spiritual. I just ask a lot of annoying questions. Guess that makes me a Saganist.

My friend's mother is religious, though, and I imagine that she lobbied hard to have her granddaughter baptized. The way it plays out in my mind is that I was the concession. "Okay mom, we'll agree to dunk her head... but F's going to be the godfather." Probably (almost definitely) not true, but it makes me smile to imagine it so.

The ceremony itself... h'mmm. The priest passed out scripts from which we all read; somehow, my new goddaughter got her hands on one, and had a terrific time swatting it against mine all during the ceremony. Eight months old and already causing a ruckus in church! I couldn't be prouder. I guess if I were more inclined to approach religious ceremonies with an air of solemnity, I could have moved out of her range, but her distraction and delight made the baptism much more meaningful for me.

I was honoured that my friend asked me to be a part of his daughter's life in this way; actually, I teared up a bit when he first asked me. And although a lot of the script we went through with the priest as part of the ceremony left me cold, I do like the idea of having a role in someone else's spiritual development. And perhaps I am a good choice, if not an obvious one. I made a promise in that church that I would guide her development as a Christian, and I will do that... if it's what she wants. But I'm going to make absolutely certain that she knows what that means first, the history of Christianity (both the light and the dark bits), and what her other options are. If she chooses one of those other options, or like me, decides to figure out for herself what makes sense, well, I'll be happy to help her with that too.