Monday, February 9, 2015

Reality 2.0

There are rare few among us who enter this world fully actualized.
The vast majority of us see "reality" through the lens of our conditions: our upbringing, situation in life, culture and education play a huge roll in what we believe to be real. Like a piece of software, this view of reality can get stuck in an old process and become outdated; what we really need are better inputs, more experiences with a wider range of people, places and situations and / or more education. When we reflect and assimilate this information, our version of reality is upgraded. Where we once saw the world in terms of black and white, we now may see shades of gray. Reality 2.0.

We experience true empathy, rather than sympathy, when we expand our perspectives this way.

So how do we upgrade our views of the world? First, there must be a desire to do so. That doesn't come from the mind, it comes from the heart. Next, we can study; reading, viewing, listening... these are great tools, but remember that they are from someone else's perspective. In my opinion,

Taking action is the bravest and more effective way to upgrade reality. 

When your entire being - body, heart, mind, breath - are involved, the upgrade is impactful and change is inevitable. Instead of shades of gray, we might even see colors!

Retreats and travel have always had this effect on me. Taking me out of my comfort zone and the version of reality that I'm used to, these trips always change me.

Lorien in Corcovado Park,
Costa Rica
Last year, I visited Malawi, Africa, as part of a yoga and service retreat. I will be forever affected by this country, the work we did, the people we met (with eyes that shine so brightly with love for the world!), and the friends we made. This year, I'm co-leading another yoga and service retreat, this time to Costa Rica. There are expectations that I have for this trip, because I've seen the country before, but I know in my heart that it will be an experience that will change me. From the hanging bridges in the Cloud Forest of Monteverde to the wild jungles of the Osa Peninsula, this country is rich in animals and warm, friendly people. We have some idea of the service work that we'd like to offer, because we are coordinating with the president of one of the smaller towns, and she's letting us know what they need. One of the lessons we learned in Malawi was to really investigate what people need, rather than assume using our outdated version of reality. We have an idea that we'll be installing more of the solar-powered LED lights in a school; these made a huge difference to the people in Malawi! Another idea is that we'll be helping with a garden to make the entire school more self-sustainable. Another idea is that we'll be helping with the sea turtles that come ashore near this town.

We'll go with open hearts and open minds, ready to have our view of reality upgraded.

If you're interested in this retreat, the deadline for the early bird discount is Sat, Feb 14. There is an information night at Breathe Los Gatos on Fri, Mar 6 at 7:30pm. Details about costs are available on my Events page, and you can place your deposit directly with Breathe Los Gatos by contacting Lauren Wierman Palladino:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Yoga Anywhere - Even in Bed

"If I don't do some kind of practice for 10 minutes before I try to get up in the morning, I might not even make it out of bed. Because of my arthritis pain, the practice makes the difference between shuffling (and praying I don't fall) and walking to the bathroom."

My student told me this yesterday, as she was sharing how happy she is to be able to practice every day and improve her quality of life. Not all of us have this type of motivation for our daily practice. For some of us, the difficulty with maintaining a daily practice is finding time. Once we get up, the demands of family and business appear more important than our own self-care.

The following practice was inspired by an email from a mattress company, Casper, who claims to have the perfect combination of memory and latex foam. They wanted to know what yoga poses could be done in bed, for those of us - like my student above, who need to practice in bed, or those of us who just don't want to leave our comfy havens.

Yoga in bed is a way to support ourselves, before the day begins, so that we suffer less throughout the day. Here are my 10 favorite poses to do in bed. Use pillows and rolled up blankets for props; you'll probably want the covers off once you begin moving around.

1. Resting Butterfly - with and without support

2. Windshield Wipers - move side to side

3. Banana

4. Figure Four

5. Sphinx - 2 options

6. Sleeping Swan

7. Supported Twist

8. Open Sesame - 3 options

9. Toe / Ankle Stretch

10. Seated Pranayama / Meditation