Ch-ch-ch-changes

By Annie Moyer

landing.JPG

Just before my senior year in high school my summertime friends and I carved our initials on the wooden landing by the sea at Cape Cod. We stood there, posed for a photo, and then memorialized our youth at the top of stairs leading down to the beach we’d played on and swam at every year since I was nine. I hadn’t been back to visit until this summer, the one before my daughters’ own senior year, coordinating the trip around their exploratory college visits. We arrived to find not much changed in our friends’ cottage, the warm and welcoming beachfront destination for so many of us across generations, but the big shock was the re-built landing. Our initials were gone!

After the initial disappointment, it seemed silly to give it another thought. Did I really expect that weather-beaten wood on the New England coast would have withstood 30-plus years of beach-bound children, rowdy teens, and happy-hour celebrating adults without ever being repaired? The house not having changed brought comfort, and yet the contrast with the shiny new landing, untouched by our youthful imprint, stung. The Yoga Sutras identify five causes of suffering, the last of which is fear of losing the status quo, or an imagining that things don’t or shouldn’t change. But the ability to identify the causes of suffering isn’t meant to be confused with the ability to erase it from our lives. A life fully-lived is one that encounters the full spectrum of human emotion. To be human is to be hurt. To live is to lose.

Yoga practice provides a framework to sort through the spectrum of life’s experiences and to reconcile the contrasts of presence and loss. In the midst of a pleasurable time, enjoy. If the ending is sad or painful, grieve the loss. In the midst of unpleasantness, bear its presence and rejoice its end. Through it all, examine closely and inquire what circumstances are within our power to alter if we choose to, and which ones are beyond our control. If we can reasonably extend a pleasurable time, why not? If a difficult time can be averted or mitigated, take charge! As our teacher Erich Schiffmann says, practice on the small stuff: mealtime, traffic, yoga postures – thereby building skills for the bigger and biggest stuff: navigating career changes, feeling relationships shift, moving to a new home, honoring the lives of lost loved ones.

Clearly life is a string of changes, comings, and goings. But is something gone simply because it’s no longer tangibly present? The initials may not be visible in wood any longer, but I can read them, clear as day, in my heart.

Really, Really Listen by Amir

We start every yoga class by practicing “centering” as way to our relax mind and body so that we can focus on the lesson to follow. We do this ritual so often that we may not grasp its importance, but developing this mindful state makes a significant contribution to our health and well-being.

When it comes to yoga practice, focus is everything. When I see articles about how people can injure themselves in yoga class, I hardly consider this news. I believe there are basically two ways to practice yoga: ‘wrongly’ and ‘correctly.’ The fact is that when you do anything physical ‘wrong,’ you risk injury. Can you injure yourself by sitting in your office chair? Yes, if you’re not paying attention. Try sitting in your chair incorrectly for ten years and see if your low back hurts.

The root source of a ‘wrong’ movement in any posture is a lack of focus on what your individual body is telling you about itself – like an inner referee watching the game intently, always on alert for infractions. Without this referee, we move habitually without any regard for how the challenge of the pose affects us. And even worse is simply ignoring strains and pains that arise – the referee who blatantly turns a blind eye to obvious fouls. The single and direct statement in the Yoga Sutras about asana practice dictates that a pose should be held steady and with ease, neither one of which involves hardship-inducing pain or strain.

 

This means really, really listening to all the details, down to the smallest. Small and simple movements repeated over and over can have a profound effect. Sometimes the most experienced students are the ones who have stopped really listening. In my therapy work, it’s quite common to work with an advanced student who suddenly starts experiencing pain in a joint. I ask if they are practicing correctly – and the answer is always yes. And I believe they think they are. Then I suggest a pose that would usually exacerbate their problem and ask if they feel any strain. The default answer, because of their experience and knowledge, is ‘no.’ But when I ask again, if they feel ‘any little strain at all,” the answer becomes, “well a just a little, but it’s nothing and I’m used to it, I hardly even notice.” And then there’s the eureka moment – how not listening to even just the littlest strain every day for years on end will eventually turn into a chronic problem.

With ‘correct’ yoga, we scan and listen to every internal message as we move in and out of poses, making the adjustments that the body needs as we find our own proper alignment. When we listen to the body, we create the conditions that lead to healing. And practicing this alignment over and over creates new habitual and 'correct' alignment patterns that spill over into your daily life.

Maybe you’ve heard the tale of the frog who jumps in the pot of hot water and knows immediately to get out before he’s boiled, as opposed to the other frog in the cold water that gradually warms to a final boil. This frog didn’t notice the temperature rising, because he wasn’t really paying attention to how it felt when things were heating up. Practicing yoga asana with a keen sensory awareness to every detail, every shift, every metaphorical temperature change becomes a life-long habit of awareness that can be applied to any area of life – work, relationships, eating, and daily habits of living. 

Try the practice of really, really listening. Start in yoga class, and bring it with you after you roll up your mat.

About Spring...

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Yoga practice has all the qualities of the seasons, and in Rilke's terms, it calls us back to a primordial knowing, just like when spring knows it's time to bloom. This glorious, sometimes-challenging, oftentimes-healing, always-beckoning practice comes from deep within us, hibernating like winter when we're not in the moment, gloriously beaming like summer when we're in the flow, and bursting with anticipation when we're embarking on a new phase of practice, or a new session of classes. We're here for you at Sun & Moon to point the way inside yourself, and to inspire a spring-like awakening, this April and beyond.

Link here to our spring schedule and registration page. 

Join our 300-hour Dharma Program

Visiting Master Teacher faculty demonstrates movement of the spine in downward facing dog pose.

Visiting Master Teacher faculty demonstrates movement of the spine in downward facing dog pose.

An advanced teacher training for anyone with a 200-hour certificate looking to earn a 500-hour RYT.

Program highlights include:

  • ten afternoon immersions focused on specific topics on The Art and Practice of Teaching
  • weekend workshops with hand-picked and nationally-respected visiting master teachers
  • curriculum focus on anatomy, practice, teaching skills, and yoga wisdom
  • deep bonds with the Sun & Moon community

 

 

Community. Fun. 

Community. Fun. 

Annie does a daylong focused on the "king" and "queen" inversions.

Annie does a daylong focused on the "king" and "queen" inversions.

Engagement: Post-Election Yoga Thoughts

"The action is not where the action appears to be" – an election aftermath consideration by Annie Moyer. 

This is not about a diamond ring, but it is about another sort of union, and it’s a really difficult one.

We are in the aftermath of a Presidential election unprecedented in bitterness. The result has left many in our community feeling emotionally devastated, intellectually stunned and physically ill. And, indeed, there are those who feel happy, optimistic and relieved. How to square this? And what does this have to do with yoga? To both camps, and to both questions, I believe the answer is the same: we must dig as deeply and as relentlessly as we can until our common ground is revealed.

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The Boys Are Back! Yoga for Boys, Tuesday evenings in Arlington

If your boy thinks "yoga's for girls," tell him to think again. Thousands of i elite athletes, performers, entrepreneurs, and public leaders credit yoga for helping them reach peak in their field. 

We've got the fabulous and experienced Mike Ricker on board to set the example for our boys class starting this fall.

The adolescent boy will learn ways to focus his mind, condition his body to help avoid athletic injuries, build flexibility to balance his emerging strength, and manage emotions. The class is designed for middle and high school boys seeking a peaceful environment without the distraction of girls. 

A great alternative or complement to traditional sports.

Tuesdays 6:30p to 7:30p

Arlington Studio