Gentle is strong.

April 23, 2015

The gentle overcomes the strong.

I am looking at a river flow; a steady, slow, stream. There are heavy rocks anchored beneath the pulsing  river. I lean forward to sense the depth and touch the movement of this moment. Up close, I see the rocks worn, clearly effected, transformed even– by the ambling unhurried dance of water passing eternity after eternity over them.
In this instance I am reminded of the Tao Ching:
“Тhe gentle overcomes the rigid. The slow overcomes the fast. Everyone knows that the yielding overcomes the stiff,
and the soft overcomes the hard. Yet few apply this knowledge.”

I look to the river for the wisdom and courage to apply this knowledge.
River speaks to me in whispers and slow rhymes. River says, “Watch me. I am unhurried, and I have been for millions of years. I know my rhythm and the very drum beat of life.  I am soft and fluid, yet I change every thing I touch. I am changed by every thing that touches me. I resist nothing. Most years, I am gentle.”

childs bow

Photo by: Thu Tran

Here I am. By my river. Being changed. Effecting change. When I left my previous career to teach yoga full time and “see” what else I’m here to see I was literally known as the “power sweat hard core yoga teacher lady” in my town. Acknowledging a series of personal and relentless truths and real deep healing experiences via yin, restorative, and alignment based yoga with one of my teachers in Atlanta- Gina Minyard–my flow changed. The course of my river is following a new bend. As I’ve become a different yoga student, I’ve become a different yoga teacher.

The shift has resonated with some. Others have scratched their heads.  Some days I want to pretend that nothing is changing or has changed about my practice, teaching, learning: me.

I have gained and lost both teachers and students.

I offer my past to the river.

I stand here in the present being washed over, yet fully participating in the shift.  As I am cleansed. I am worn.

For tomorrow, I carry both the wisdom of the river and the soul of the rock in my heart.
Honestly, I am afraid.
Truthfully, I am still brave.
There ain’t no turnin’ round.

Lazy Yoga?

January 25, 2015

I once had a student refer to yin as “lazy” yoga. Then when I explained the difference between yin and restorative yoga he said, “Oh, so it’s even lazier than yin.” I have to admit, I laughed!
My response was two words- intentional- commitment.
I appreciate my student’s perspective. It invited me to think even more about what is often a misperception of the restorative yogic arts- that it’s a whole lot of nothing and just kind of idling around.

Ultimately cultivating awareness and presence takes great discipline and commitment. And most of us work so dang on hard that we don’t know how to rest. In order to learn or remember how, then, would mean we need to practice, show up, and decide to actually stay present.
That’s the opposite of lazy.

What we do at a CHILLshop®yoga session, a practice grounded in both yin and restorative yoga is best summed up by Danna Faulds:

“Go in and in. Be the space between two cells, the vast, resounding
Silence in which spirit dwells. Dive in and in, as deep as you can dive.
Be infinite, ecstatic truth.
Be exactly what you seek.”

‪#‎bestillandknow‬

Chillin’ with my mama!

January 11, 2015

I think my southern yogi folk can relate:

My mama is a super church going lady, reads The Bible for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And I told y’all she keeps “Jesus on the main line.”

My sister and I lovingly call my mama “our holy high roller” when we think she can’t hear us. When I started practicing yoga in 2003 she had lots of questions about whether or not it was a religious thing, was I chanting, if so, to whom, what did the poses mean, etc?
My feisty 20 something self gave flippant responses or just disengaged.
Over the years that transformed into actual dialogue and communication about my experiences with yoga and her spiritual practices. That gave way to more conversations about faith, grace, healing, and the place of practice, ritual, and community in it all.
That transformed into understanding each others paths and deep reverence and appreciation on both of our sides. Not to mention the relational/ancestral/generational healing {I reckon that’s another post}

20150110_203130

Our blurry “we-fie” or whatever you call more than one person in a selfie. Post CHILLin’!

That is just to say that my mama’s attendance at yesterday’s CHILLshop®yoga session was at least a decade in the making.

She said this about her experience yesterday:
“I felt the kind of peace I only feel in the presence of The Holy.
I also realized it’s really really okay, to sit down and rest for a while on the journey. If you are really on YOUR path, then resting ain’t time lost. It’s time to strengthen yo feet, clear yo eyes, and connect with yo heart for the joys and turns in the road ahead.”

Y’all that’s the best endorsement ever and
Yes, God is real, real in my soul.

Welcome 2015

January 2, 2015

“There is a river near where I live. It meanders slowly, peacefully. It doesn’t ask itself why it isn’t an ocean, or a raging river, or some other thing. It just surrenders to what it is. Maybe we just need to surrender more to who we are. I think I will lie down tomorrow beside the river. And take a rest. And sweet surrender.”- Jeff Brown

These words inspired me to turn my phone & computer off, head to the North Georgia mountains, and CHILL.
I was sleeping when the clock struck 12:00am Jan. 1 2015 and woke up early the next day to go for a hike with my husband.

On long hikes I feel like I’m walking around barefoot through God’s big living room: That vastness takes me through all the seasons of being;
the necessary cold and isolation of winter,
the wildin energy of spring crawlin out the mud and dirt,
the raw- the ripeness- the untamed hot sweetness of summer,
the shakin loose- the rich harvest-then quiet undressed time-the season of my birth- autumn.

I went through some “stuff”-every season and emotion on that journey/hike yesterday.
And came out with this:
Here’s to a year of putting one foot in front of the other, to awakening more fully, to resting when we need to, to building the muscles of deep love, faith, and surrender.

To a year of feeling and being with every season and emotion as we walk {with each other} through God’s big ole living room.

Welcome- 2015.

Yoga Dreamin’

December 9, 2014

The other night I had this tripped out dream-
I was some place teachin yoga to like 500 people. That wasn’t NECESSARILY the scary part, just a part. Anyhow at one point I was walking around, giving instructions, tryna teach, and share what I came to share.

I looked around and noticed that folks had body parts hanging off and stuff oozing outta the body parts. I wondered when that started happening and why I was just noticing it.
Despite all of that, they were still flowin, movin, and jumpin in and out of poses. At some point, one side of the room broke out into a dance off of some kind!

Lawd!

There was a small core group in the center who just sat down and began to meditate, amidst all of the other noise.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one woman going into wheel pose in a hella wild way. I could see her heart about to break and fall out of her chest. Mind you, this was not “shinin” out y’all, but breakin and fallin out!

That was it.
I yelled STOP as loud as I could!

Slowly, folks began to stop. I asked them to gather around the woman whose heart was about to fall out. I asked her did she want to work on the steps to get to the back bend, to support her body and heart, or just to be held where she was. She shrugged, rolled her eyes, and said “not really”.

We all sat there for a while. Some people laughed. Some people played with their hair or toes. Others looked away or reached for their phones to text, take pictures or otherwise capture, but not feel, the weight of the moment.

The “heart fallin” woman began to cry. First quietly, then loudly, then sobs filled the room from all directions.
Those meditating just sat. Their eyes were still closed. They cried silently.

Then I woke up. Just like that. No resolution inside the dream though it was quite the synthesis of ways I’ve practiced and been with myself. It called to mind what I have both witnessed and experienced as a student and teacher of yoga over the past 12 years.

Today I went to Gina Minyard’s  class and the closing message was essentially this:
“ Our practices have to be more powerful than our habits. Otherwise we are just stirring up our sh!t and sitting (asana-ing) all fancy like up. in. it that mess.

Dear Yoga peeps, come get me. Clearly, I/we need to talk!
ha!

Gratitude.

December 1, 2014

There were people here. They walked this land before it was called “country” “united” “states” or any other such possessive thing.
We sometimes remember them in feathers, magic, dreams, and flutes; they are so much more than that. We are all standing on their bones and shoulders.
For the Indigenous of this land, I am grateful.

There are folk who survived a passage called Middle. Who, when pressed down, rose up again, and again, and again. They still rise every morning, when I do. I hear their chants, stories, and prayers in trees and rivers, open fields, street corners, and church pews. The fabric of my being is woven from their blood.
For my Ancestors, I am grateful.

There is a man in our kitchen. He is cooking. He knows how to sew and grow green things. He can fix broken cars, doors, and hearts, to. His breath is my favorite song. For his love and partnership, I am grateful.

There is a short brown woman who can make a dollar out of two cents. She has Jesus on the mainline (all the time). She loved me before I existed. She can comb out the tangles in my hair and mind. For my mama, I am grateful.

There’s a lady who tucks my dreams under her heart and carries them everywhere. She used to let me steal her clothes and her cool back in high school. She taught me how to look fear square in the eyes and cuss fear and nem’ the f@ck out, then move on. For my big sister, I am grateful.

That’s a whole lotta words to say, I am grateful for what holds me: truth and love.

What are you grateful for?

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