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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Onion

If you are a fan of the animated movie genre, you most likely have encountered "Shrek", a hilarious "kid" movie with many adult nuances. Shrek, our hero, is a  wonderful, apparently one level being-an ogre that dwells in the swamp. With an ogre you get what you get, right? Or do you look deeper and see what lies beneath the skin of the onion? But one of the best comments Shrek makes is that "ogres are like onions-there are many layers". Multidimensional, yes, indeed we are all like our green friend, we all have layers-layers placed on us through societal expectation, layers placed to protect that inner heart that perhaps we try to hide, layers of depth of character waiting to unfold.
But when you slice into an onion, the biochemical reaction is that the eyes water. They well up, no doubt about it- unless, of course you are cutting a genetically modified" no tears" onion. (that perfect onion without the accompanying mess is not real-nor is anyone that pretends it is all perfect, we all have some crying to do)No thank you, I will go for the raccoon eyes, thank you very much! But, deep inside the onion is the potential to grow-there is often a green shoot ready to reach out and grow from within. But you need to peel the layers in order for the new onion to sprout. The same applies to the human condition. When you slice through and peel back the layers that we place around our heart, it can be messy-if you cut through the thick skin there are going to be tears. Perhaps a lot, the nose will run, it will be messy! But in that dark, protected center part of the heart, there is that potential for growth, if we just peel back those layers and reveal that tender green. Green is the color of Annahata, or the heart chakra. If we can get through the mess and the tears and reach the green center, we connect with self love, we open to ourselves and that reflects in open heartedness to accepting and loving others just as much as we love and accept ourselves. We become open to life and all its possibilities. It is messy, it is a chore, but some dishes are not the same without the flavor an onion brings, just as  life is so much better when  you  cut through the layers and grow from within.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Open your Arms

We just had the three year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake. The big guns went to aid, but things are still devastated, and help is slow to reach those who need it- I have seen the sadness first hand. First, if you are so inclined, there are some good hands on orginizations that are working on the grass roots level among the people to bring change instead of funds trickling down from the top....look into Partners in Development, Amurt, or Yogakids Bridge of Diamonds if you are so inclined, and if you do-THANK YOU!
Having left the country to practice karma yoga, the yoga of selfless service, I can tell you first hand that it changes see the faces of the children and to hear the stories of the adults was powerful, and it has changed my perspective and my life profoundly. It seems that there is a lot of buzz over giving money on TV to sponsor someone in the third world,  celebrities championing their cause,  yogis traveling abroad to make a difference, but the reality is this is not for everyone. I want to go back, but right now my eyes are open to the here and now. Driving through Center City looking in the hedgerows next to Vine St. I have seen homeless tents hunkered down in this damp winter. They roll in to Whole Foods to blend in and escape the cold. Some addicted, some mentally ill, and some just victims of circumstance. I have see countless homeless near Logan Square, a very upscale area; a station wagon pulls up to feed them while the elite drink their $5 dollar lattes. This is just wrong on a fundamental level of humanity.  People accept it and look the other way. What if the shoe were on the other would you feel?  I have recently decided to teach a yoga class at an intensive outpatient drug and alcohol rehab in the shabbier part of north Philly. These women vary in age, size, and willingness to be there, for some it is the end of the road, for others just  the beginning. But for all it is a chance to change, and I hope to be part of that change. I was speaking about taking their power back, and that they are full of "sri"-beauty, abundance, and value and taught them goddess pose, and my heart sang when one of my students truly connected to the posture- she found her beauty in that moment! Her face became light and she was strong and proud, I could see the layers just melt away and no matter what was waiting for her later that day she was in the here and now and it was a joyous moment.  There are beings all around us in dire straits-struggling with  illness, both physical and mental, addiction, poverty, and hunger. All one, we are connected, we need to stepaway from fear of our differences and connect.  We can all do something, even if it is very small, even if it only lasts for a moment  on the local level to bring some change for the greater good.  If we open our arms and reach out we can not only uplift someone else in a positive direction, but manifest that in ourselves by the fruit of our actions.....let us collectively open our minds, our hearts, and our arms to those around us and truly bring about the change we wish to see in the world.
"Lead us from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, from death to rebirth."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

One Size Doesn't Fit All

After the indulgences of the holidays, everywhere you look there are promotions for weight loss, detox, and diets. "Try this", "Drink this", "Take this" and find the new you, makes you feel like Alice in Wonderland with the potion that can change everything! (...mmm, drink me, one sip will make you smaller...) Yea, right, sell us a bridge and some snake oil while you're at it!
WHOA....put that magic potion down, and don't go off chasing white rabbits my friends-they really don't have the answer!  . My  physical makeup is not your physical makeup, bottom line or we would all be walking around looking like clones-what works for you may not work for me. If anyone tells you a general blanket for holiday detox, step away and go back out of the rabbit hole. As an Ayurvedic Practitioner,  we are taught that each individuals makeup is uniquely different, and we make recommendations and treat each individual to find the best path for them . Ayurveda basically  means "life philosophy". Using this system coupled with yoga brings us to a path for optimum wellness, which would be the ultimate goal. No brainer- who doesn't want to sign up for that?  The three humors ... or laughingly ."hey, what's your dosha baby"..... make up everything-Vata is the element of air and ether, Pitta is the element of fire and water, and Kapha is the element of earth and water .Each has a physically different form. Vata types are light, lean, somewhat erratic,  and have a more delicate constitution, Pitta is a go getter, prone to more temper, and pushes themselves, while Kapha is more solid, heavier, and "laid back". Different people, and different seasons-Vata is primarily autumn; changeable, drying, a windy and cool. Pitta is summer, the fire of the sun, warm and oily. Kapha is winter into early spring, wet, muddy,  lethargic at times. What works for a Vata person is going to have a different effect on a Kapha. A Vata person doing Vata things( like eating cold uncooked food and over exercising) in the fall is going become out of balance. Doing things that aggravate Kapha  ( sitting on the couch and eating cold phlegm increasing ice cream before bed ! )in the winter is going to slow down a Kapha. Like increases like, opposites cure, and there are subtle and numerous layers and applications.  Seasonal change effects each in a certain way, and diet and self care  needs to change accordingly. By finding your own unique makeup, you can find the program that fits YOU, not everyone around you,  and  bring you into a perfect state of balance. By  utilizing the science of Ayurveda, you can find the path for you...... one size most certainly doesn't fit all!