Saturday, May 28, 2011

Q & A, Healing Sciatica

Someone asked how they could use yoga to help with some sciatica that they started experiencing during their pregnancy.
Having never met them, this is what I felt like i could safely offer.

most generally, sciatica is caused by the irritation, compression, and/or inflammation of the sciatic nerve.

see, the sciatic nerve comes down the vertebrae and weaves through the pelvis, it passes under a part of the pelvis called the sciatic notch (bone). then it travels down through the glut and the hamstring.

often, what can happen, is through alignment, tension, injury, etc, is that the notch rubs against, or crushes the nerve. this is irritating. also, if there is a possibility that the nerve can get squeezed by the glute and the hamstring pushing, or being stuck together.

the best thing to do it to create space in the jammed areas, and be really mindful of your not making it worse by doing poses that jam up the area.

some poses that might be useful:
*pigeon pose while lying on the back, you can do it the normal way, if your hips are really open
*pascimottanasana with the knees deeply bent and the spine straight, to peel open the tissues in the back of the legs and butt. deeply bent knees, really really
*try putting two straps around your hips, pull one to the left, and pull one to the right. this can help open the pelvis nicely. you can keep them on while you do your practice, and it might support you nicely
*twisting triangle
*easy locust pose that will strengthen the low back muscles

*deep forward folding with legs straight
*deep backbends that jam the sacrum

hope it helps.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Aquiring a Taste for Your Life

Your life might be an aquired taste.  Do you remember the first time you had a glass of wine, how awful it was? Do you remember the dawning of awareness, as you realized the depth, the complexity, the beauty?  Have you ever listened, as a vintner discussed what goes into every bottle, the effects of the soil and the atmosphere and the wood of the casks?  Or as a connesiour encourages you to absorb every last bit of flavor? Have you seen their faces light up as they describe what they love about wine?  
This is your life.  Your life is an acquired taste!  You have created your life.  You have done the best you could, given your particular environment, genetics, and karma.  You have crafted something, that just might be wonderful. Sit back, light a candle, and taste it. Savor it's complexity.  Consider the possibility that nothing in your life needs to change except the way you taste it.  Extract every nuance.  Give yourself a chance to sift through what you may have initially written off as unpleasant.  Allow the flavors to open and reveal themselves to you.  Let the bitterness, the grit, the swarm of seemingly conflicting impressions melt into a harmonious blend of experience.  Marvel at the richness and the beauty.
In my favorite Bukowski poem, 'The Laughing Heart', he agrees, 

'Your life is your life, know it while you have it.  You are marvelous, the gods wait to delight in you.'

Join them, all the gods, masters and holy ones.  Join the winos, and the beats.  Delight in your life.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My response to Yogi Ram's Denouncement of Shiva Rea.

Here is the Original Article In The Telegraph

So Shiva Rea wears stretchy pants and sports bras.  And she teaches wild, undulating vinyasas.  She brings in live drum orchestras.  She quotes ancient tantric texts, and mixes it with her own brand of inspirational cheerleading.  The few times I’ve worked with her, I had an excellent time.  Really enjoyed myself, and also I felt like I grew, spiritually.  I felt my prana flowing, my body opening, my mind clearing.  All good in the hood, as far as I’m concerned.
I was really surprised to hear Yogi Ram’s quote, "Wearing skimpy clothes, glamorizing or doing unusual things definitely affects the dignity of Yoga. The government needs to step in and retain the essence and authenticity of the traditional Indian art."  Shocked really, and saddened.  Saddened, because I naively believed that the yoga culture that I had opted into was beyond the repressive and misogynistic attitudes that I had come to associate with western traditions.  I’ve seen these things pop up a few times before, but this time, I’m really rubbed the wrong way.  Because Shiva clearly hasn’t done anything wrong.  I’ve seen an article or two that has come to her defense, but that isn’t even necessary.  
It seems more useful to address the obvious underlying issue in Yogi Ram’s attitude.  Yogi Ram seems to have a problem with women.   He seeks to deny them of their power, their sexual and sensual agency, their place in the holy mandiram.  He seeks to shame them, to vilify their bodies, and to repress their femininity.  How else would you explain his words?
Yoga is a tradition passed down by a lineage of naked men who cover themselves in the ashes of dead people, hang out in graveyards, drink out of skulls, and smoke massive amounts of weed.  The Lord of the yogis is a naked man.  You would think that ashes and loincloths would fall under the heading of skimpy clothes.  Unusual behavior?  Take your pick.
But they are men.  Men are allowed to do what they want.  Men can choose what to do with their own bodies, can go naked if they want, can hang heavy weights from their members if they want.   Not women, though.  Women need to be kept under control, protected and locked away, like any other piece of property.  We see this often in western culture, but not so much in our yoga, because we have naturally been attracted to the highest elements, of love, acceptance and freedom.  We have been spared much of the dogma and backwoods rhetoric.  But here it is, yogic subjugation of the female, plain as day.
If another man sees OUR woman, while she is dressed in revealing clothing, he might feel lust, he might try to take her away from us.  He might even use force.  He might rape our woman, perhaps contaminating our bloodline.  And, (and this one is maybe even more dangerous to a fearful male ego) if we see a woman that isn’t ours, wearing stretchy pants, we might feel our primal, instinctual urges, we might be motivated to use force, and forsake our spiritual motivations, and act bestial.  Even if we don’t act bestial (pashukarma), we would have to admit that we live in a body that has bestial tendencies.  Animalistic thoughts arise, its part of the hardware.  But what to do?  Best to deal with them honestly, use a yoga and meditation practice to liberate the energy from the thought forms, and move into a loving, accepting place.   You don’t blame hot dancing women in stretchy pants though, just cause you can’t hold your bandhas.  It’s a shallow expression of a victim mentality, and that, if anything, is what would affect the dignity of yoga.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Broaden Your Foot

spread your toes as wide as you can.
now take your attention from you toes, back a little, into the ball of your foot.
spread the ball of your foot as wide as you can, from the center of the ball of the foot, out to the big toes edge, and the little toe edge.
now relax the toes a little, and just let them gently extend forward.
Focus on opening and spreading the ball of the foot.
snuggle the ball of the foot into the ground, and lift from the center of the arch.
this will send more weight to the outer edge of the foot. this is good, press into the outer edge of your foot, but don't loose your connection to the ball of the big toe.
visualize a line that runs across the center of the foot (left-right)
the front of the line reaches forward, the back of the line reaches back.
Draw your knee back a little to press weight into your heel, and lift the calf muscle upward at the same time.
let the heel flower out from the center to the edges.

Friday, July 23, 2010

compostie paintings, composite goddesses

I like these 'composite paintings' from 18th century india. It reminds me of a composite Durga that my friend Dave game me once. Durga was created from the power and the energy of all the Gods. All of the shakti combined made her powerful enough to destroy the evil buffalo demon, Mahiasura. It would be interesting to know if there is any relationship between the Hindu Myth, and these Mughal Paintings.
I found this painting, and many more, on "Journey Round My School"

Also, for your enjoyment, here is a traditional version of "The Mahiasura Mardini Stotram" a song the celebrates Durga as the Fierce Warrior who defeats the Buffalo Demon. Those of you who go to Amma's programs will probably recognize it, it is a favorite.