You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Synchronicity’ category.

It’s Saturday, it’s sunny, and things are a bit synchronous.

It started with a recollection of a dream I had last night. This was one of those dreams that you don’t remember you even had until something innocuous sparks the memory. I was doing my usual morning stretches and general rolling around/yoga/dancing in the living room when the Grooveshark playlist I had on switched over to Tina Malia’s “Heal This Land.” The first time I heard this song was back in October, during a Let Your Yoga Dance (LYYD) class. The instructor, Nikki, was training to become a certified LYYD teacher and was doing the practice teaches required before returning to Kripalu.

When Nikki played that song, it reminded me instantly of Megha, LYYD’s founder and director, especially in relation to the workshop at Kripalu I attended back in 2008. The program was titled “Let Your Yoga Dance: Heal Yourself, Heal the Earth,” and many of our sessions revolved around the importance of not only keeping ourselves healthy but the earth as well.

We danced barefoot in the grass outside. Planted sunflowers. Went out as a group to the labyrinth to move meditatively through the never-ending rock-lined loops, claps of thunder sounding in the distance. So hearing a song with lyrics like “My body is the mountain, the ocean, the river / The sand and the soil, the life giver” was just so, so Megha.

When the song played for me this morning, it hit me. The dream. I had dreamed last night that I was back at Kripalu, awaiting my chance to once again dance with Megha. In the dream, I had been promised a chance to review some of my choreography with Megha, and I couldn’t wait to show her my work. (This dream is also an embarrassing indication of how much Dance Academy I’ve been watching.) But the timing was never right. Our schedules kept interfering, and I never had the opportunity demonstrate my dance for her. The most I was able to do was meet with her briefly, stroke her face, and reassure her that she was “a wise woman.” (And all of this is completely normal, of course, in dreamland.)

So with that memory in mind, my dance to “Heal This Land” this morning was passionate, soulful. I felt connected to Megha, to LYYD, to the way dancing at Kripalu makes me feel…

…which then led to me opening my e-mail and finding a new Google Alert, which I have set up to let me know when the term “Kripalu” pops up on the Internet. The link led me to this YouTube video:

created by one of the musicians from KDZ, the drumming group that performs at Kripalu. Coincidentally, Megha usually leads the dance portion of these Saturday-at-Noon jams. It’s not an official Kripalu-affiliated video or anything, but it was so exciting to remotely be immersed in the sights and sounds of the dancing and jamming that goes on over there in the Berkshires. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more about my yoga teacher training, getting a 200-hour certification or spending my free Saturdays dancing with live drumming! 🙂

So now that I’ve found this great video, man, do I miss me some good drumming…

…oh! What’s this other e-mail in my inbox?

A day-long drumming retreat right here in New Jersey? With Jim Donovan, who I had just written about in this blog post?! You don’t say!

Thanks for the synchronicities, Saturday! You’ve reminded me that somewhere underneath all the commotion and chaos of life, there is a universal hum that keeps us all singing and dancing together.

It feels like it was forever and a day ago, but last month I had the opportunity to take a 2-day yoga workshop with one of my main facilitators from my Kripalu yoga teacher training, Rudy Peirce.

During my month at Kripalu, we were introduced to a wide range of teachers and variations on the Kripalu style, but it was always after Rudy’s classes that I felt the most content, still, and focused. We meditated a lot during those 28 days, but I felt like I always sunk just a little deeper when Rudy was at the front of the room. Rudy is also a master at offering modifications and adjustments, and although I jotted them down in my notebook during my training, their importance was never a great as they are now, when I am constantly looking for ways to make certain postures accessible in light of my hip limitations.

Five years after my training, I consulted with the universe in perhaps meeting up again with Rudy, and the universe answered by bringing Rudy to a yoga studio 45 minutes from my house.

It was a Big Deal for me to attend the workshop, because it meant I’d have to drive–by myself–out of my comfort zone, on unfamiliar roads and highways that kind of scare me (for no reason). This is usually the dealbreaker for me and out-of-town events, but there was no way I could ignore this awesome act of synchronicity. I printed out directions from Google Maps, slapped my husband’s GPS on my dashboard, and set out on the road. My first commute on Saturday was a bit hairy, because my directions led me through a not-so-nice part of Philadelphia. Fortunately, before I went home that evening, the ever-so-gracious owner of The Yoga Garden studio sat down with me and mapped out a way-friendlier route, which I used the following day and arrived without a hitch. Thank you x 1,000,000, Mark!

(By the way? The Yoga Garden is such a fantastic place! I wish I lived closer because I would love to have it as my “home base” studio. Everything from the entranceway to the bathrooms to the lobby was so perfectly zen and aesthetically pleasing. It definitely helped to walk into such a pleasant environment after sweating through a nervewracking drive.)

I saw Rudy in the lobby before class, and he swore that he remembered me from back in 2006 (apparently my last name runs in his family as well). In case he forgot what cohort I was with, I brought along this photo of all the teachers/assistants from Fall 2006:


He kept the photo alongside his notes for the whole class, which I found so endearing!

I didn’t know it coming in, but Saturday’s class was a backbend workshop. I thought it was going to be a general yoga class, and when I found out I got nervous–but for all the reasons why such a class would benefit me: I feel stiffness in my thoracic region, standing backbends don’t come so easily to me anymore, my lumbar spine aches at times. But Rudy’s approach to exploring backbends is slow, simple, and mindful, meaning no Wheel or anything crazy within the first hour of class. We did a lot of warm-ups, several forward bends followed by rising to standing via a straight spine, rather than rolling up. Rudy’s instruction was to “bend the knees, take the curve out of the spine, and come up straight,” as he noted that “rolling up” and stacking the vertebrae can cause strain over time and sometimes is just plain old dangerous for older people with aging spines.

We rose up from every forward bend by either rising the arms overhead or elongating them in a T position out to our sides, palms up, lifting sternum, pressing pubic bone forward, and tilting the head back while gazing to the ceiling in a slight backbend. The first time I did this I felt so stiff, but after several rounds, this move felt delicious. I found myself wanting to hold the backbend for just a little longer, plus I was actually breathing in the bend, something that is usually difficult for me. No longer did my inhalations stop once I dropped the head back.

We did some work with Eagle arms too, which I think really helped work some kinks out of my trapezius and neck. Even though most of us could wrap the arms in Eagle without assistance, we used a yoga strap to hold the arms, which took away any excess strain and helped us focus on our backbends. Pressing the hands to forehead, we went from a backbend to a forward bend, while still holding the arms in Eagle. Have I ever done a forward bend with Eagle arms?? I don’t even know, but it felt great. (Side note: Since this workshop, I’ve incorporated some Eagle arm stretches into my post-swim workouts.)

I knew Camel was coming eventually. When I think of Camel, my mind goes back to Bikram class, when Camel kinda feels like sh*t. But here, we did a lot of prep work leading up to the full pose, including a “Camel dance” (bring right hand to right heel, rise, left hand to left heel, rocking back and forth with breath) and then a one-sided Camel during which the right hand comes to right heel, opposite arm extended up, pubic bone pressing forward, slight backbend. Repeat on opposite side, and continue side to side in your own flow. I tried some prop assistance during this pose, including placing a cushion on my calves instead of reaching all the way down to my heels and then placing a blanket under my feet to raise the heels closer to my hands. Of course, there’s also the option of placing blocks between your feet, but I really liked the cushion-on-the-calves modification. By the time we got to the full expression of the pose, I was fully alive. Gone are my visions of puke-inducing Camel!

Some other modification pointers I took home with me were really, really simple (like, Why didn’t I think of that on my own?!). One is placing a folded blanket under the hands during table pose. I’ve seen the folded-mat variation of this before, but I like this option because it doesn’t shorten your mat. Another was placing a rolled-up yoga mat long-ways across your knees during seated meditation to allow the hands to rest comfortably on the knees. I especially liked this one because I generally sit in hero pose for meditation, and I’ve found it difficult to find a comfortable/natural place for my hands to lie. The yoga-mat option allows my hands to rest beyond my knees as though I were sitting in sukhasana.

As expected with any Kripalu class, we ended with pranayama. I was so excited to be led through kapalabhati with retention, something I learned at Kripalu and never saw after that. Yet it is so invigorating! Rudy also led single-nostril kapalabhati, in which we did 20 expulsions on one side, 20 on the other, and then alternating-nostril kapalabhati. Yowzas! My brain felt cleared of any junk, and my body tingled with oxygenation.

Rudy closed class with his usual “Hari Om, shanti, shanti, peace, peace,” which brought a smile to my lips. I hadn’t heard his voice utter those words since 2006, and it reminded me of Kripalu and the time when one of my classmates asked him what “hari” meant, to which Rudy had replied, “It means Yay!” 🙂

After class, I hung around to talk with Rudy’s wife, Joyce, who had tagged along as his assistant/sidekick. She is a dancer herself, and we spent some time talking about the challenges of being trained in dance/flexibility yet never in strength, as well as the challenges of carrying the “teacher” label and finding a balance between being a student and leader. It was comforting to learn that Joyce also struggled in adapting to being a “teacher” and how it tarnished the innocent love and fascination of yoga that came along with just being a student. And why is there always a tug to become a teacher? Can’t one just be a lifelong student? Why is there a guilt that comes along with practicing yoga for oneself? My husband runs four times a week but is not going out to become a track coach or personal trainer. Is it something about being a woman that makes us feel guilty for being just a tad selfish? Or perhaps it’s the huge sense of responsibility that Kripalu places on its trainees, that Here is this gift. Now it’s your mission to spread it to others. It is something Joyce and I both still struggle with, but it was so reassuring to talk with someone who understands. (This all reminds me of a woman who led belly dance classes at my gym. She always said, “I don’t like to say that I ‘teach.’ I’m not a guru or anything. I prefer to say that I ‘share.’ I just take what I love to do and share it with others.” I love that mentality! It feels so much less burdensome to say “I’m going to share some yoga with others” rather than “teach.”)

Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodhah

(Yoga is the cessation of the modifications of the mind; yoga is the cessation of thought forms in the field on consciousness; yoga is to still the patterns of consciouness) ~Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, 1.2

I returned to The Yoga Garden on Sunday for Rudy’s meditation workshop. The first half of class was a lot of yoga philosophy and talk, much of which I learned at Kripalu. However, Rudy has such a mellow voice that just listening to him induces a peaceful, meditative state. I swear, he could be talking about burgers and I could drift into a wonderful meditation.

Rudy summed up the act of meditation like this: The mind is a media center–movies, slides, songs, photos, memories, books–more channels than cable. Meditation is stepping back and seeing that it’s all just a movie, that you don’t have to be actively engaged in all these media swirling around your neural circuits.

We reviewed the three main components of meditation:
Dharana: Concentration on one point.
Dhyana: Witnessing (dropping preferences, evaluation, and identification with thoughts).
Samadhi: No differentiation of pain and pleasure (non-dual awareness).

Unfortunately, Samadhi was nowhere to be found for me that afternoon. I made the mistake of starting my meditation sit in sukhasana, which my hips were not pleased with. By the time I made the effort to shift positions, my entire left leg from my sacrum down to the toes was asleep and tingling in pain. I tried to breathe through the discomfort, and by the time I settled into a space of ease, our time was up and we emerged out of meditation. Needless to say, my mind never really escaped the “media center” mentality; however, I did learn that just because everyone else in the class is sitting in one position does not mean I have to do the same, especially when I know that it will eventually cause pain! I totally, totally knew this going into the sit, but I succumbed to “peer pressure,” just wanting to be like everyone else.

So, not the best meditation ever, but I still left the studio feeling pretty mellow and chill, a perfect way to commemorate the anniversary of my training with Rudy on the same weekend I graduated from the program 5 years ago.

2006

2011, Super Serious

2011, Smiles!

(And yes, the head scarf I’m wearing in 2006 is the one I’m wearing around my neck in 2011. I bought it during my YTT, so I consider it my “Kripalu scarf”!)

One would think that having 4 days off from work would lend itself to large chunks of time devoted solely to blogging, but I seem to have been too busy eating my weight in various forms of carbohydrates to sit down and commit myself to the keyboard. I’ve had blog post ideas stored in my brain for the past week (things I’m thankful for! 5Rhythms recap! yoga weekend!), and now they are all just melding together like the sweet potatoes, corn, and stuffing on my holiday dinner plate. That said, consider this my “Thanksgiving plate” post–a whole bunch of everything, all mashed together (and hopefully you’re not one of those people who can’t stand their food touching).

Four Days of Consumption: 2 pumpkin spice lattes, 1 hot chocolate, 2 green juices, 1 full Thanksgiving dinner, 2 mini cupcakes, 1/2 giant chocolate peanut butter cupcake, 1 full diner breakfast + 1 full homemade breakfast, 2 glasses red wine, 1 margarita, 1 mimosa, pumpkin pie, plus a burrito thrown in to make it an international weekend. A random slice of pizza, too. And several Tums.

Looking Forward To: going back to eating soup for lunch. And not feeling like I have to walk 3 miles after every meal to keep my pants from popping.

I’m Thankful For ___: the random stranger who pulled over as I was walking to inform me that I dropped my glove a few yards back; road-widening projects that require the cutting-down of the PITA sycamore tree outside our house whose roots back up our sewer and whose gangly limbs scare me ever since one fell through my car window; not being in college (a thought that crossed my mind as I watched Felicity via Netflix); the New Guy at work, because as much as I loved working with eager-to-learn interns, their impermanence in our office was a bit tiring; closely reading our new car insurance paperwork, during which I discovered that instead of taking Bryan’s old/dead car off our policy, they took off MY car, you know, the one I had been driving every single day (all fixed now–whew!); choosing to skip swimming in a crowded gym pool on Tuesday and going on Wednesday instead, because Evening Before Holiday = Empty Pool.

One Geeky Thing I’m Totally Not Doing Right Now: Tracking PHL arrivals via FlightStats.com as airplanes fly over our house.

Before Setting Up FlightStats, I Totally Wasn’t: Planning out a hypothetical 2-day solo getaway to Disney World at Christmastime for next weekend.

Living Room Conversation Piece: This guy:

Buddhst dharmapala, whose terrifying appearance is actually meant to frighten forces of evil.

I Fear: that my cellphone is dying. I hate getting new phones, especially because they’re all smartphones now, and I’m 80 so that scares me.

TV Series Recently Completed on Netflix: Twin Peaks.

TV Series That Will Forever Give Me Backward-Talking Nightmares: Twin Peaks.

Appropriate decor for a Halloween party

Non-Edible Products That Smell So Good I Kinda Want to Eat Them: pumpkin-scented soy candle from the farmers market (seriously, it makes the living room smell like a bakery for two days after it’s extinguished); gingerbread-scented Method countertop cleaner.

Approximate Weight of the Newspapers + Black Friday Circulars Sitting on the Kitchen Table: 3 pounds.

Gatherings and Meet-Ups This Weekend: Thanksgiving dinner with Bryan’s family; breakfast meetup at the diner with 3 high school friends; holiday tree lighting with my favorite toddler ever and her parents; burritos and margaritas with our favorite double-date couple; and Thanksgiving weekend breakfast with my family.

Silly Photos From Said Meet-Ups:

Silliest Emma picture EVER.

Sisterhood is serious. Or we’re just super-bloated from four straight days of non-stop eating.

Nonsensical Notes From Last Friday’s 5Rhythms With Some Explanation in Parentheses: synchronicity (I asked the universe for a certain dancer to attend class, and the universe obliged); traveling amoeba (we all huddled as a group, back-to-back/side-to-side and just allowed our little jumble to move around the room on its own accord, like a traveling amoeba); tipping point from subtle to full-blown run-around-the-room Chaos, unleashing! (because sometimes I start Chaos with very small and subtle movements and then out of nowhere, there’s a tipping point of energy, and I go from standing in place to leaping across the studio as though I’ve been thrown over the edge of a cliff).

One Day I Will Totally Write About: the yoga workshop I took last week with Rudy Peirce.

By the time this is posted on Saturday, I will be in Pennsylvania for what is shaping up to be one of the most coincidental full circles of my life.

On this weekend back in 2006, as I have been documenting so fastidiously, I was saying goodbye to Kripalu and my yoga teacher training family, which included facilitator Rudy Peirce. Today, I will be returning to Rudy, exactly five years after he pressed sandalwood on my forehead and acknowledged me as certified yoga instructor.

The way this all unfolded tickled my soul and reinforced my belief in universal connectedness, that somewhere under all the muck and distraction and chaos of everyday life there is an energetic hum that we all sing and dance to.

One month ago, when I started the process of transcribing my notes from Kripalu, the more and more I re-visited that time and place, the more my respect and admiration for Rudy grew. He was one of the two main facilitators for my program; Megha Buttenheim was the other. As a pair, they have been described as yin and yang, Tigger (Megha) and Eeyore (Rudy), due to their opposing personalities. When Megha bounced, Rudy sat still in meditation. When Megha belted out songs and chants, Rudy sang with a simple, subtle voice.

Megha (Tigger)

Rudy (Eeyore)

With Megha being a dancer, I naturally gravitated toward her as my “favorite” of the two, although looking back at my journal notes now it’s obvious that every asana practice, meditation, and pranayama exercise that Rudy led affected me deeply. My consciousness soared to new heights with Rudy leading a meditation, and my lungs danced to his breathwork instruction.

Rudy is known for his gentle approach to yoga; in fact, his nickname is “The Gentle Yogi.” Kripalu yoga in general stresses the importance of adapting or modifying poses to be accessible for all bodies, abilities, and limitations. I feel that Rudy, however, goes the extra mile to make sure that even if you’re using two blocks, a blanket, and a bolster to get into a pose that you’re experiencing and living the pose, not just struggling with some props while everyone else around you has some amazing transformation while in folded picture-perfectly in pigeon. Transformation is for everyone, and there are all different routes to get there. Rudy makes sure that happens, not only through his words and instruction but simply his overall demeanor of compassion and reverence.

I didn’t realize how important this was until my hips started to get all funky two years ago due to some torn cartilage and an unstable sacrum. Poses that were once “regulars” in my yoga repertoire suddenly became painful, uncomfortable, or simply inaccessible. It was at this point I understood why I had gone to Kripalu; if not to teach yoga to others, then to teach myself. To be able to go to classes and find other routes into a pose or alternatives altogether. To create a home practice with modifications and poses that may not look “normal” but still allow me to sink into satisfaction. To remember that when my body doesn’t want to flow, I can still achieve peace of mind through meditation and breathing. My Kripalu training has always served me well, but it wasn’t until I recently began re-reading my journal from that time that it finally dawned on me just how important Rudy was in the overall picture.

I would love to take class with Rudy again, I thought to myself a few weeks ago after transcribing a journal entry. I don’t think I gave him my full appreciation at the time. I thumbed through the most recent Kripalu catalog to see if he’d be leading any workshops in the winter. He was, but I don’t even know why I looked in the first place. Kripalu costs money. Kripalu in the winter may require 4-wheel drive. Kripalu requires vacation days that I don’t have right now.

Two days later, I logged into my long-abandoned Yahoo! account to resolve a pestering e-mail issue. There, among the 200+ e-mails (mostly spam) was a newsletter from Rudy I had signed up long ago to receive. It announced his workshops at Kripalu ($$), a special yoga retreat in Italy ($$$$), and…wait, what? A weekend workshop in suburban Philadelphia, the Philadelphia that lies 30 minutes from my house?? A studio I can access simply by car and $5 for the bridge toll, not a 5-hour road trip into the potentially snowy Berkshire Mountains or a trans-Atlantic flight to Europe?

Needless to say, the universe was speaking to me, and I signed up. It was only recently I realized the workshop coincides with the 5-year anniversary of me saying goodbye to Kripalu. Today, I will return—not to the physical structure of Kripalu, but rather the spirit within its walls and the energy that emanates outward. Today, the circle becomes complete.

Lately I’ve been discovering that some of my best workouts happen when I’m just winging it, when I leave the house for work in the morning with not a clue of what I’m going to do for that evening’s workout. I’ll always leave with a bag of random gear in hand–yoga mat, sneakers/socks, shorts, combination lock for the gym. Sometimes I use ’em, sometimes I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, structure is great. In fact, it is somewhat scary for me NOT to have a solid plan, because I am normally a very.structured.person. I like to be home by 8 on weeknights, ensuring me enough time to stretch before bed, get the next day’s outfit together, prep the coffee maker, make tomorrow’s lunch. I wake up by 5:30 every morning so I can do my “routine”–more stretching, some breathing, a little yoga, a few hip exercises before hitting the shower. I have difficulties being spontaneous, because in my mind, I already have a plan.

When it comes to working out, though, I’ve been finding that I get discouraged if I start the day at 8 a.m. thinking, “OK, tonight you will ride the bike for 30 minutes and then do 10 minutes of abs and an upper-body workout.” My body doesn’t respond well to repetitive motion exercises like biking or the elliptical, so the instant I tell myself that’s what I have to do, I already start hating it. Nine times out of 10 I’ll still follow through with it, but I’ll leave the gym feeling meh instead of yeah!

As I mentioned in this previous post, sometimes just tossing a medicine ball for a few minutes sparks a spontaneous and exhilarating workout. So this week I’ve been making an effort to just wing it, or–to tie in with my blog’s mission statement–to go with the flow. Here’s what happened:

• I woke up early last Saturday because I thought I’d go swimming before my friend’s pool party later that evening (hey, what’s wrong with a little double dipping?). But as the morning wore on, it was clear that I was never going to get my butt to the gym; also, it was beautiful out that day, and I hate wasting sunny skies and summer weather by being inside. So instead of a bathing suit, I slipped into some shorts and sneakers and headed out for an aimless walk. Two bathroom stops, one organic juice purchase, a red iPod Nano on the fritz, and 7 miles later, I arrived back home, in just enough time to clean myself up and change into that bathing suit for my friend’s party. There, I played around with a kickboard in the pool and treaded water in the deep end for a bit. Long walk AND some light swimmy-swim. Score!

• With my hair still heavy with chlorine from the previous night’s party, on Sunday I headed back into the pool for a lap workout. But because I got a decent night’s sleep and had coffee recently infused in my system, my body was primed for anything but light swimmy-swim. A huge burst of energy came out of nowhere, and my normal ho-hum out-and-back lap routine turned into fast-forward, high-powered workout. In my workout log, I actually termed it the “Woah, Speed!” swim.

• Monday was probably the most satisfying of winging-it days. It was the day before the summer solstice, the weather was warm, the sun was brilliant. I felt like I had to honor this day and soak up as much daylight as possible (aaaah, the bittersweetness of summer solstice, the commencement of my favorite season yet also the beginning of the end of what feels like round-the-clock sunlight, happiness, and rainbows). I drove to the nearby Red Bank Battlefield, which is ever-so-gradually becoming my go-to spot whenever Mother Nature is dressed to the nines (Side note: It’s a national park, so there are rangers on site. Rangers, with government patches on their shirt sleeves, wide-brimmed ranger hats, and official-use golf carts to drive around the property. I love rangers! It makes the place feel so official. It reminds me of Ranger Rick magazine!) There, I threw together an impromptu workout of walking around the many winding pathways, climbing the steep steps several times, doing some triceps dips on park benches, and attempting to do a chin-up on a tree branch (FAIL, because the branch ended up being a lot higher than it looked).

The sun wasn’t ready to set yet, so I set up camp (plopped down my yoga mat) on the big lawn that faces the Delaware River.

I did some basic yoga stuff (lots of sun salutes), but I had on my iPod and the music was calling for me to dance. I did stand on my yoga mat and do a lot of dance-inspired asanas, but the sprawling lawn, glowing sun, sparkling river, and overall beauty of the day were just begging me to bust out some free-form moves. I’m ashamed to admit I was held back by fear of what others in the park would think of me, this girl dancing in the grass. My body ached to express itself in such a picturesque environment, and even though I felt insulated by the iPod ear buds that separated me from any passersby’s comments, I held back and did not dance how my body was requesting to. I moved and grooved with reservation; it was nice, but not 100% fulfilling. How come I think it’s acceptable for someone to sit on a park bench and play the guitar while singing along, but I fear that dancing is totally weird? Argh. Still, a pretty decent combination of random stuff that made me sweat and get my heart rate up.

• Tuesday morning, I was listening to my otherwise chill Grooveshark playlist as I did my morning stretches when Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” clicked on. Suddenly, I was on my feet and dancing. Hard. What was supposed to be a few minutes of gentle yoga postures turned into a spontaneous dance party, and by the end I really needed my morning shower. (Note: This happened again this morning as I was listening to Florence and the Machine’s album [Lungs] for the first time. Seriously, how can one NOT be moved to dance to “Cosmic Love”?! Note II: It’s the song they’re playing with the trailer for Elephants for Water.)

• Thursday night is supposed to be my non-negotiable hot vinyasa class. The studio is 2 minutes from my office, I love the teacher, and it’s one of the few studio class I get to take each week. I had my mat and change of clothes packed, but when I left the office I suddenly just didn’t want to go to class. It was insanely humid outside already. I wasn’t looking forward to getting home no earlier than 8:00 p.m., missing the group number of So You Think You Can Dance as I showered, and rushing to make dinner. I still wanted to do yoga, however, so instead I came home, took the laptop upstairs to my yoga room (which, given the weather, already felt like a hot yoga studio), and did a 75-minute Jivamukti podcast. I love that the classes are recorded live, so when I Om, other students are Omming along with me! (Many thanks to all the yoga teachers out there who record their classes and put them online; taking a “live” class is so much better than listening to someone speak into a microphone in a recording studio.) I still feel like I’m getting that community experience…plus it makes for a wild experience when the music the podcast teacher plays during savasana is the same as what my hot vinyasa teacher would have been playing at that time!

I was winging it, but that security blanket of familiarity was still rolled up under my knees, supporting me along the way.

Last week I posted about getting back in the flow of the universe, which for me is evident when I start experience a lot of coincidences/moments of synchronicity. The three I mentioned were all positive moments, like dreaming about iced coffee and then it manifesting in real life on my desk at work. Another uplifting moment of feeling “plugged in” happened this weekend, starting when my friend Carrol’s e-mail went haywire and sent out a bunch of old messages, so that on Friday night I opened my inbox and found an e-mail from her dated October 2010. I was perplexed but shrugged it off as an accident…and then the very next morning, Carrol calls me and asks if we can get together, because she has a gift for me!

The gift was awesome–it was a metal spiral pendant Carrol bought at Kripalu during her recent R&R. It’s made by Allison (http://www.prasadaspirit.com) from the KDZ drum ensemble at Kripalu, so Carrol noted that it’s nice to wear something made from the hands that play a djembe all day. The sounds of a drumbeat will play along with our heartbeats whenever we wear our pendants!

The next moment of synchronicity happened as Carrol and I were chatting about her training as an art therapist. I was trying to describe to her a drawing that I had made at the end of my yoga teacher training (the result of being asked “Draw what your future looks like”), when suddenly it dawned on me that one of the recurring elements of the artwork were spirals. As soon as I got home, I texted Carrol a photo of a portion of my drawing and the spiral pendant she had just brought home from Kripalu for me.

2006 Kripalu drawing with 2011 pendant from Kripalu.

It’s really wild when stuff like that happens, but not all synchronicities are necessarily ones that you want to acknowledge. For example, when I wake up on Thursday and my hip feels weird and wonky, I do not want to come into work, pass my coworker’s computer, and see a medical photo of a torn hip labrum displayed all big-ass on her monitor for an assignment she was working on. It could have stopped there, but no! Then I find out this particular coworker’s brother is having hip surgery the following week for his busted cartilage. And then–oh yeah, there’s more!–I read the latest posting from The Happiness Project blog on my Google Reader, and it’s an interview with author Meghan O’Rourke. What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?, the interviewer asks. “Taking a walk,” Meghan replies. “I used to run a lot, and that always made me happier (even if I was unhappy lacing up my shoes to do it). But I tore the cartilage in my right hip and need surgery – so I can’t run anymore.” Womp-womp. So it didn’t surprise me later that night when, during hot yoga class, the teacher decides to lead us through upavistha konasana, which, after pigeon, is one of the most painful and nearly impossible poses for me to do with my hip issues.

What made this super-weird was that, on top of all the hip stuff I had been encountering earlier in the day, I had just been thinking to myself, “Man, I’m so glad the teacher never does upavistha konasana in class!” Because seriously, for the past nine months I’ve been taking her class, never–NEVER!–has she done this pose. We’ve done prasarita padottanasana (difficult, but easier than sitting poses)…

…but never upavistha konasana. ::sigh:: Oh, synchronicity, you’re not all smiles and rainbows all of the time, are you?!

I struggled during the pose. I used to be able to flatten my chest to the ground, stick my arms out in front of me, and slide through a straddle position, ending with my legs straight out behind me. Now I was barely able to lean forward. Sometimes I like that it’s a hot yoga class I go to, so when I feel my lips start to tremble I can grab my hand towel and wipe the tears sweat from my eyes. After what felt like 20 minutes in the pose, the teacher guided us into the next pose.

Pigeon, of course.

I was thisclose to leaving the studio for a crying bathroom break. I have struggled many times in class but never to the point where I used the bathroom as an escape. I thought back to Kripalu and the whole Breathe-Relax-Feel-Watch-Allow prescription, and here I was, totally attempting to bail out of the Watch and Allow elements. So I stayed, lying on my back for my substitute pose for pigeon, draping my ankle over the other bent knee and drawing the legs toward the chest. I took deep belly breaths, focusing all of my efforts on inhaling and exhaling, trying not to let the mind take over. Living in the moment, even if the present is an uncomfortable asana that punctuates a day full of sucky synchronicity.

One way of knowing that I’m truly engaged in the rest of the world, plugged into the matrix of the universe, is how many moments of synchronicity I experience. Back in the day when I was doing 60+ minute yoga sessions almost seven days a week, I was totally in the flow–not just a juicy physical flow but immersed in the flow of the world around me. I experienced coincidences all the time: I’d run into people I was just thinking of; a song would come on the radio just as I wishing that particular song would play; I’d contemplate a big trip to China and then come home, switch on the TV, and come face to face with a travel documentary about China AND get a phone call the same day from a Chinese woman (true story!).

I find that as my yoga practice dwindles, so do these special moments of connection. Maybe they’re still there, but my receptors just aren’t on. Life without yoga and breath is like living in a house with the blinds shut all the time: Everything is still out there–those people, that music, those opportunities–but I’m just closed off to them. I can go about my life just fine, but I’m shrouded and shut off from those moments of brilliance and clarity.

However, for the past few months I’ve been very committed to beginning each day with some meditation and pranayama. Nothing crazy–no more than 10 minutes in the morning–but I just have to do it. I missed being in tune with myself. My brain felt foggy from my stifled breathing and lack of oxygen. Plus, I recently listened to an interview about pranayama with Larissa Hall Carlson on a Kripalu Perspectives podcast; I took a few classes with her during my YTT, and she freakin’ blew me away. She is the Queen of Breathwork, and I remember feeling like I was dancing on clouds after 90 minutes with her. Her podcast interview was very inspiring and reminded me about the importance of those two little words: inhale and exhale.

So each morning, I do little nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), right-nostril breathing (the “solar” side), and then finally kapalabhati (cleansing) breath, which is like the extra-caffeinated version of breathing exercises. (I took time this morning to use my neti pot beforehand, and WOAH, each breath was like a shot of espresso in my brain!)

What I’ve found is that as I am getting reacquainted with my breath, those much-appreciated moments of synchronicity are returning. Slowly and gradually I am getting “plugged in” again. For example:

(a) The Dunkin Donuts Dream.

Earlier this week I had a very innocuous dream about being very tired and bored at work, but then looking up and finding an iced coffee from DD on my desk. The coffee made everything seem so much better, and I sipped my cold treat with joy. For me, this dream is actually very odd because I usually don’t have normal dreams. My dreams usually involve terrorist plots, friends turning into aliens, nightmares about taking hundreds of photos in Disney World and then having the roll of film fall out of the camera into the destructive daylight.

The next morning (in real life), my husband calls me from the road and tells me he is stopping by my office to say hi. I greet him outside, complaining about the broken air conditioner (“I’m hot!”) and my lethargy (“I’m tired!”). And then Bryan–having no idea about my dream, and even I forgetting about it–asks me if he should go to Dunkin Donuts to get me an iced coffee.

Suddenly alarms went off in my head, and I may have even pushed Bryan in disbelief in an Elaine Benes “Get out!” kind of way. And then 10 minutes later I was sitting at my desk at work with an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts sitting on my desk, helping me get through the afternoon.

(b) The Black Woman.

During lunch on Tuesday afternoon, my coworker and I somehow got on the topic of how women of different races carry themselves, specifically how Black women exude so much confidence. I talked about my love of African American hair, black skin, and just my overall fascination with women of color.

That evening, I went to yoga class as usual. The only difference this time was that a new student dropped by that night. As you may have already guessed, she was a beautiful Black woman, smooth cocoa skin, and the poise of a yoga model. Up until then, there had never been a Black female in that class.

(c) Egypt.

When I stepped out the front door on Thursday morning, it smelled like Cairo. Perhaps there was a fire somewhere in the area, but the aromatic smell of burning instantly transported me back to Egypt, that  smoky and hazy blanket that constantly covered the city. It’s incredible how strong the sense of smell is, and how one whiff of something familiar can take your mind back years ago. A rush of images flooded through my mind every time I inhaled: the green lights strung on the minarets, the dusty streets lined with sheesha pipe-smoking men, the perpetual haze that stuck to the sky and blocked out the stars’ natural glow, the neverending flow of traffic, the browns and beiges of the landscape. I was half expecting to hear a muezzin sing a call to prayer or see the outline of the Citadel in front of me.

That afternoon, our company had a summer picnic. A coworker introduced me to the new IT guy…who just so happens to be Egyptian. He still has family in Egypt! He visits Egypt every summer! “I was in Egypt in 2005!” I exclaim, and suddenly I was engaged in a 30-minute conversation about the country I smelled so vividly that morning.

Bottom line? It’s nice to be back in the “sync” of things. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air. 🙂

About the Author

Name: Jennifer

Location: Greater Philadelphia Area

Blog Mission:
SHARE my practice experience in conscious dance and yoga,

EXPAND my network of like-minded individuals,

FULFILL my desire to work with words in a more creative and community-building capacity;

FLOW and GROW with the world around me!

Archives

Categories

Tweet, tweet!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 410 other followers

Member of:

YIOM

Yoga Inspired Online Movement

Top 100 Yoga Blogs