Love Yourself

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A Love Letter to All Yoga Students.

 

 

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Yoga belongs to you.

Its not from some other time or place.

It doesn’t belong to your teacher or your teacher’s teacher.

Yoga is for you to savor, and to infuse every cell of your being with its taste.

It is for you in your waking state and dreams.

You must wear it like a full body costume of your own flesh and bones.

When you chant Om, let it fill you up completely and it will clarify your thoughts and speech.

You will become more of yourself and you dont even know what that looks like yet.

Your feelings will explode inside of you, and there will be times when you’re not sure if you can hold all of that.

Trust me, you can.  

Your yoga will teach you how to hold everything, and you will trust it, and you will know that the universe lives inside of you,

and it will blow your mind.

There will be times when your heart gets broken, and you will hide in the cave at the bottom of the ocean and cry.

These will be sacred tears that come from the longing in your heart to connect to your life in a way that is beautiful.  

You might not know how to do this for a long time.  And it might reveal itself immediately, and you might not pay attention yet.

There will be other times when there is so much joy inside of you, and your heart is singing a million love songs at once, and you’re

flying in outer space with celestial beings sprinkling stardust all over you, and you don’t sleep for a few months. 

These are the special moments of awakening that will reveal your wisdom and radiance.

Yoga will meet you exactly where you are and it will show you what you are ready to see.

Yoga will introduce you to the people who have known you forever; the ones who see your potential and still love you right now.

Yoga will show you how everything that’s ever happened to you was so perfect, because it brought you to this moment, right now.

When you know that yoga is yours, on every level of your knowing…. you will become exactly yourself.

And you are a supreme being of absolute magnificence who is here to share your special kind of love with the rest of us.

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we are made of stars…..

 

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When I really listen deeply to the song in my heart, it tells me that I really want us all to know this; 

-we are made of stars-

We are nothing less than magnificent.  We are pure magic, pure beauty, and radical amazingness.

For 2014, my deepest wish is for each being that lives on this earth to remember who we are.  

In my home life, my teaching life, and all the places in between; I will do my very best to honor the magnificent beauty and the

auspicious goodness of life.

I devote 2014, to the full realization of Shri.

Shri is the auspicious goodness of life.  It is beauty, nature, and everything that inspires us to gasp in awe.  

I bow to Beauty, I bow to Art, I bow to Elegance and Grace.  

And I bow to all the ways that we forget, becuase forgetting gives us the wonderful experience of remembering again.

 

 

 
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A Solstice Blessing…

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close your eyes.

what do you see in this dark space of infinity?

it is the place where anything can happen…

where the mysterious unfoldings of the universe whisper secretly to you.

she wants you to know who you are, and that you are the one that she chose for this.

there is not another who can reveal her power in the exact way that only you can.

you are the perfect emanation of her deepest wish to be.

only you can.

close your eyes.

what do you see inside?

how many times have you beat yourself down, and beat yourself up?

how many times have you diminshed your life, your body, your thoughts, words, ideas???

now is the time to stop.

now you understand that you are the perfect emanation of the most precious jewel.

you are a divine and sacred gift who is revealing a particular kind of beauty

in only that way that you can,  by being exactly who you are.

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A playful backbend to inspire your practice…

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a sequence to pull yourself together

Marni Sclaroff Yoga Session in San Francisco

photo by www.joelongophotography.com

Here’s my 18 month post-post-natal yoga practice for pulling myself back together.  I thought that some of you might enjoy this practice of standing poses and arm balances.  Feel free to message me with any questions and let me know how it goes.  You can take about 5 breaths for each pose unless I listed it otherwise.  enjoy!!!

down dog

high lunge with fingers interlaced, palms up and arms stretched over head.

repeat other side

vira 2

parsva K

Trikanasana

ardha chandrasana

repeat this sequence on other side

parsvottonasna into standing split

ardha badha parsvakonasana into ardha badha trikanasana

prasarita padotonnasana

repeat other side

10 breaths in utkatasana 3 times with block between thighs ( i use the 3 different levels of the block here.  begin with the widest, then medium, then skinny)

twisted lunge 2x each side

plank 10 breaths

1 leg plank each side 10 breaths

twisted plank (both hands on floor, stack feet and come to the outer edge of one foot) 10 breaths each side

side plank both sides

handstand

pigeon thigh stretch

bakasana

parsva bakasana

eka pada galavasana

maksikanagasana 1 (dragonfly 1)

bakasana

down dog

setu bandha sarvangasana

urdva danurasana

shavasana

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the turning in….

I love this time of year….The turn of the seasons from summer to autumn is especially ripe with a buzzing magical kind of energy.  Its the time of year when we have more of the potent and powerful, dark evenings to simmer in our own creativity.  Its the time for telling stories and for sharing warmth and food.  Its the time for planting seeds in our heart which will rest in the dark fertile soil of winter.  Here is a poem I wrote 3 winters ago about an encounter with the Dark Goddess Kali.  It still holds so much power for me.  Enjoy!

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Kali Ma

In the bushes I lay there dead
exploded
like shimmering stardust
melted wax
a sailor’s knot
your face right up close
familiar
with eyes wide open
a mouth full of space
and a garland of letters around your waist
the bright sun brings it to light
In the center
the midline between
who I was and
will be
I sat there with the seed in my heart
that never changed
even as my limbs were strewn
amidst the heap of days gone by
you sat there right in front
cheering me on
as I crumbled to
pieces of whole
and cried tears
of infinite sadness
infinite joy
and everything else
in between.

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Guru Purnima

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Tonight is the special full moon called Guru Purnima. This is the moon that reminds us of all the teachers in our lives…

the teachers of our birth: our family, our ancestors.

the teachers of our daily lives: every moment and each experience.

the teachers of our death: all the endings, all the ways in which things dissolve, all heartbreaks.

the teachers that are close by: our friends, our families, even the little mosquitos who hang out really close by.

and the teachers who are beyond the beyond: the mystery, the things that we dont know that we dont know, the things that blow our minds.

Our yoga practice invites us to be open and receptive to every moment of our lives, because there are teachers here, with us all the time.

Today, I sang the eensy weensy spider to my children for the gazillionth time, and today was the first time that I actually heard the words of the song.

the eensy weensy spider climbs up the water spout
down cam the rain and washed the spider out
out came the sun and dried up all the rain
and the eensy weensy spider went up the spout again.

You see, this song holds a powerful teaching. The spider goes up, and down comes some crazy powerful rain that just ruins her day. She gets all wet and is thrown down the spout, head first, into the pavement. Not a good day. But then, the sun comes out and it dries up all the rain, and she goes back up again.

The sun always comes out again. No matter how many times we get thrown, head first into some crappy stuff, we’ll get up again and climb whatever thing we gotta climb.  This song is so beautiful because it tells the truth.  It shines the light on the way that life  goes up and down and all over the place, and still, the sun will always rise.  Light triumphs over and over again.

I just love it when I finally wake up to something that was there all the time, just waiting for me to notice.

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This Most Amazing Day.

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I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
e.e. cummings

I recently re-read this poem and no matter how many times I read it, it inspires me.  It’s so easy to forget our place in the world.  It’s so easy to forget that there is magic in every moment.  I so often get lost in smallness and short-sighted vision, and I lose track of the expansive mystery that is this life.

Amidst my daily work as a mother of twin toddlers; dishes, diapers, meals, and various cleaning tasks, I make sure to bring in activities that help me remember my connection to the Infinite.  Motherhood can feel lonely sometimes.  Sometimes, you feel as if all you do is pour your energy into a black hole of babies.

So, in order to fill my own cup, I do these things….I read poems like this, I walk in the woods everyday with my kids and we listen to the birds and look for deer,  I sing songs and we play drums with wooden spoons and tupperware, I let them eat dirt and pick up worms, we play with tape and stick it all over each other, and I put on ridiculous performances that I would only ever do in front of a 13 month old kid.  These things fill me up in a way that I have never experienced before.  Motherhood opens up so many new doorways for us; its just a matter of saying yes to walking through a door that looks like an insane person lives on the other side.  But, instead of an insane person living there, you find yourself.  You find parts of yourself that you never even knew existed.  You find a fullness that you didn’t know was there, and you realize that every single day holds the gift of the Infinite and the Amazing. You realize that your yoga practice is much bigger than you ever knew, and that being on the mat is only a very small part of saying a huge YES! to this magical life.

 

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Yoga for Real People.

 

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Yoga is magic and it gives us the Universe, but not in the way that I had orginally thought.

I used to think that one day, if I practiced diligently enough, I would eventually be free of all my neurosis’s and all the other uncomfortable and difficult things in my life.  I practiced and practiced and studied with incredible teachers all over the world.  My life drastically improved;  I felt better about myself, I experienced more ease and joy, and I actually felt excited to get out of bed in the morning.  However, a few things didn’t change.  Some days I still felt sad. Other days I felt completely confused. I still injured myself sometimes, and other times I ate too much sugar or drank too much coffee.  I could go on, but I’ll spare you.  Anyway, the point is, is that I never became perfect.  I truly believed that yoga would somehow transform me into this perfect version of myself, and the “old me” wouldn’t exist anymore.  I even secretly felt bad about it.  I thought that maybe I wasn’t doing it right.  I felt confused because even though there were so many things that improved about my life, I was still a little bit funky in a  lot of ways.

Over time, I began to realize that yoga wasn’t what I thought it was.

Yoga wasn’t going to give me anything that I didn’t already have.

A close friend of mine who is also a mother, sent me this torn-out page from the Velveteen Rabbit (see the picture above).  She sent it to me because she knew that I would understand it, and because it describes what I now know to be true yoga.

Being a mother of twins has rocked me.  I haven’t slept  for more than 4 hours in a row in over a year.  My asana practice is completely different than it once was, because now I squeeze it in between putting the babies to sleep and the other numerous tasks of motherhood.  I never had tight shoulders before, and now, from holding two 20 pound  babies all the time, my shoulders are fricken’ tight.  My abdominal muscles are is still recovering from carrying two heavy babies and having a c-section.  In the midst of all of this, I am still doing good yoga.

Yoga is the process of becoming real.  It is the process of loving ourselves in a radical way;  not in spite of our imperfections and challenges but because of them.  

There are times in our lives that are full of expansion and sparkles and shiny things, and we feel like we are flying in a cosmic soup of deliciousness.  And then, there are times when we must dive to the depths of the ocean and meet all those weird creatures who live in the world of no sunlight.  These times in the dark ocean are uncomfortable, a little scary, and wildly foreign.  It usually feels like we’ve lost ourselves completely, and  if we’re not courageous in a certain way, we spend the whole time wanting to get out.

Its so easy to love ourselves during the sparkly times.   The harder part of yoga is to also love ourselves (and others) during the deep sea diving times.  This part requires a radical kind of courage and strength; it is a willingness to stay open, awake and in love, even when it gets really uncomfortable.   We must be willing to stay awake during the transformation.  We must be willing to receive ourselves fully even as we fall apart.

This is the path of unconditional love, where we love, regardless of the conditions.  

We can’t have the sparkles unless we’re willing to dive for them.  Otherwise, they are like those fake plastic gemstones that quickly lose their luster when you rub them a little.  Some people like the fake, plastic gemstones, and when they lose the luster, they just buy another one.

My yoga is the yoga of the Real.  I know that its not the easy path, but I like to dive deep in the ocean sometimes.  I know that its worth it, and the jewels that come from the depths are much more beautiful and interesting.

Like the Velveteen Rabbit, I’m a little shabby these days.  Parts of me are getting loved off from this whole experience of mothering twins.  But, I wouldn’t change it for anything.  I wouldn’t choose something else.

Here I am, and I’m gathering jewels.  I’m chillin’ with the funky creatures who glow in the dark and sparkle in the sunlight.  I’m devoting myself to this incredible experience of  watching my children become Real.

I’m awake right now and I’m not waiting for something else to happen.  I’m Real and I’m in love with this part of my life too.

 

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