Letting Go

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P1230587Letting Go

I am walking down from one of the short walks (Camino de San Miguel) right off the monastery in Montserrat, at the top of which is a crucifix overlooking the Basilica and Monastery, when I see the embellished trash bin. It makes me smile, this bit of graffiti.

Practice is like this. We all have our crosses. We bear these things, carrying it laboriously up the mountain. And then we mount them, making them into monuments of our suffering, reminders of our sacrifice–which is, to a point, fine, when it’s all part of a process.

Because we must eventually come down from these peaks and return to where we and others live. And when we do, we must ask ourselves, is there more to leave behind, what subtle energy or feeling is piggyback riding its way down with me?

Up or down, this road of surrender is not easy, but it is also littered with opportunities to let go, to throw away that which is no longer necessary, and to lighten the load on the long walk home.

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Snakes & Ladders, The Game of Practice

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Surely as we develop strength and flexibility, both in the body and in the mind, the practice should get easier. Right?

Practice doesn’t always work that way; it isn’t black and white; it isn’t so straightforward.

Since last week, for example, I’ve been struggling with kapotasana (pidgeon pose), a posture that I had thought I’d gotten to know, gotten comfortable with. Kapo and I made friends, I thought…

But between deepening my relationship with my leg behind the head and the winter weather here in Barcelona (it’s mild I know, but I am have been living many many many years in the tropics), what was once manageable has gotten a whole lot harder. In fact, backbending in general, which I really love, has changed so dramatically over the last two weeks, it’s been startlingly humbling.

I realize, however, that I have a choice: I could despair, I could get frustrated or angry, I could give up this crazy leg behind the head business and preserve the postures that I’d worked so hard  for, that I was admittedly very attached to–the later of which may be one of the reasons, along with tight hips, why it’s taken me so log to get here, this awkward place–

Or I could just practice; practice with acceptance that my body is adapting and that it’s not always easy; practice with patience that these openings take time; practice with understanding that moving forward sometimes comes with its share of backsliding–that practice is an interesting game of snakes and ladders; practice with trust, with faith in this system which has just about turned around every limited thought I have even had about the bounds of my own physical body; practice with love, showing up everyday with an open heart and mind…

Guruji, Pattabhi Jois, said it best: “Practice, practice, all is coming…”

PHOTO: This photo–like practice, like life–taken in “black and white” is full of subtleties in tone and shades. We will be talking more about the struggles that come with practice on the Sunday, March 1 workshop on the Bhagavad Gita, Pazzifica Ashtanga Yoga, Barcelona. More details on www.pazzifica.com.

Full-ness

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Full-ness

This is a time to fill your cup and drink.
Drink as much as you want,
feel free to quench your thirst.
Like the moon, this cup is
is always full,
is never empty.
PHOTO: 14 Febrero 2014, Full Moon & Valentine’s Day. Fitting for a day of fullness to come during a celebration of love. Full on, full power Mysore-class schedule this week. Mornings are Monday-Friday 7am-9:30am. Evenings Monday/Wednesday 6-8pm; Tuesday/Thursday 6:30-8:30pm.

Practice: The Lonesome Road

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Practice: The Lonesome Road

Yesterday, Full Moon Day/Valentine’s Day, I took a day trip to nearby Montserrat, famed mountain of Catalan dotted with sacred sites, hermitages and churches, as well as the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria de Montserrat. I got up the easy way, taking the Aeri, which just zipped a cable car full of us tourists up the mountain.

In the late afternoon, an hour and half before sunset, I decided to walk down to the pueblo of Montserrat, where I could take my train back to Barcelona. Easy enough, I thought.

It’s interesting how I little understood the hugeness of Montserrat, the height of it, until I took the time to walk it.

Not even a quarter of the way down on a narrow, zig-zagging dirt path on edge of the cliffside of the venerable mountain, looking at the dot-like municipality of Montserrat far far down below, I start to freak out just a little bit. I start to wonder: can I get there before sunset? What if something happens to me, what if I trip and twist my ankle? I am out here on my own and have not seen another soul on this little road.

I debate whether I should scale back up the path, take the Aeri or the furnicular down, like the rest of the reasonable tourists–none of whom seemed to hatch up the same plan as myself.

This is when the yoga kicked in for me. This is when I start to breathe slowly, when I start to bring mindfulness back into every step. I reason with myself: isn’t this, after all, what I wanted when I set out that morning, to spend time with myself, myself and the mountain?

Like yoga practice, some paths are meant to be walked alone. There are times when we have companions and times when we have guidance. Then there are the other times: when practice is a lonely road. It is useless to panic and counterproductive to back track. We simply need to move forward and enjoy the gift of isolation.

Had I not moved forward, I would not have seen the view from the side of the mountain, not seen the beauty of the world below, not understood the scale and grandeur of Montserrat or have developed the reverence I have for it now. And then, there’s the relationship with myself, with my self-belief and trust in my own abilities…

Practice can be a wonderful community experience, one connected to the collective. But it can also be a lonesome road. When that time comes–and it is a sacred and precious time–we must be brave to walk that path alone.

PHOTO: Spectacular view from Montserrat, as I start to make my way down this awesome mountain.

Danza Interioir en La Floresta // Inner Dance in La Floresta

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Danza Interioir en La Floresta // Inner Dance in La Floresta

INNER DANCE – DANZA INTERIOR es una practica que tiene el proposito de ayudar el ser humano a desmantelar patrones de pensamientos y comportamientos, alcanzar la expanción interior y cultivar una relación sana con el YO, su entorno y el planeta.

A través de la ciencia de la musica, la vibración y la meditación en movimiento, utilizaremos esta poderosa practica con el objetivo de cambiar y eliminar bloqueos físicos, mentales y emocionales de nuestro cuerpo energético.

La musica y la conexión con el nuestro interior, nos permitirá observar los movimientos sin pensar. La danza no tiene una estructura, forma o reglas. La danza puede ser dinámica o estática, silenciosa o ruidosa, suave o intensa. Cada danza es una apertura y una invitación al aprofundamiento personal y universal a la vez.

La practica será impartida en LA FLORESTA – BARCELONA, por KAZ CASTILLO.

16 Febrero, Domingo

Programa:
11:00h – Encuentro.
11:30h – INNER DANCE – DANZA INTERIOR
14:00h – Comida.
15:30h – Paseo en el bosque de Collserola.

Aportación: 12,00 euros

Comida: Invitamos a cada participante traer comida para compartir.

*** TRAER ESTERILLA – YOGA MAT***

Lugar: La Floresta – Barcelona
Punto de encuentro: Estación de Ferrocarriles – La Floresta (FGC)
Hora de encuentro: 11:00 – Se ruega puntualidad.

Para más información e inscripción llamar al teléfono:
639 059 919

o escribir un correo a : js.julianasimoes@gmail.com.
(Las plazas son limitadas que se reservarán por orden de inscripción)

To JOIN or see FB EVENT details: https://www.facebook.com/events/365800606891115/e

Poco a Poco

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Poco a Poco

“Poco a poco” is a Spanish phrase that I’ve used noticeably a lot in class here in Barcelona. Translated in English it means “little by little.”

I’ve used it in all sorts of contexts, referencing the pace that we learn to practice, the depth in which the postures are taken, the time it takes for the body to open, the steps one takes as we move forward in practice.

The essence of the words, however, are the same. With practice, we want to go slowly, take a little at a time, savoring each soulful step. This is a sound way to practice.

PHOTO: Panoramic view of the Espacio Vacio, the daily setting for Pazzifica Ashtanga Yoga mysore classes here in Gracia, Barcelona. I take time with Marta in the end. After a month of practice, she is learning janu sirsasana. It’s a joy to teach the series in this way. It feels really right to be able to help someone grow their practice slowly with a lot of care and love over a period of time.

The Mysore Movie

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The Mysore Movie

The mysore space is like a movie. The independent kind with its own special narrative woven into one frame, a unified theme: practice.

Each mat contains a different story, a different protagonist. A different antagonist too. Some are dramas, others are comedies, and since this is ashtanga, the thriller and action variety are very much alive in the mix.

I am not the director, though I come to assist here and there. Somehow, I have been tasked to piece the montage together, to hold the space in which all the stories can run their course, tell their tales.

Really, though, each story is independently created. And together, as a whole, it is a collaborative process, act of co-creation.

And like many art house films, it does not have a typical ending. It just goes on and on…epic little stories, both continuous and totally new each and every morning!

PHOTO: Second day of the month of February here at Pazzifica Ashtanga Yoga, Barcelona. It’s always exciting to see the room fill at the start of the month. It’s a joy to see more and more of the regulars recommitting to regular practice.