Yoga, Cleavage, Laughter & Namaste

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Namaste: My son Luka tells me sometimes, after I raise my voice at him:  Now, calm down and concentrate... He is 6. Cracks me right up, and I start laughing, and can not bring myself to continue the tirade :)
Namaste: My son Luka tells me sometimes, after I raise my voice at him: " Now, calm down and concentrate..." He is 6. Cracks me right up, and I start laughing, and can not bring myself to continue the tirade 🙂

image attribution

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Each day of December, I am being moved to post by Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:
Today is Day
29 Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

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So, this one’s hard for me. I’ve been sitting here thinking about how little I belly-laugh.

Sure, I watch Seinfeld reruns with Jeff, and we laugh until tears come…at the same old episodes. Like the one where Elaine dances like a freak.

Yes, in my family of origin, including sisters, offspring, their offspring, we completely lose it at holiday gatherings when someone farts. Especially my nephew, but I won’t out him here. Now, my eight year-old grandson is taking up the practice, having been gifted a whoopie cushion from said nephew. This Thanksgiving, when my two sisters and I, our four children, and our growing cluck of grandchildren (up to six now, with five being born in the last thirteen months) made sure we brought the Fart CD so we could regale ourselves, once again, with the pure joy that comes from potty humor.

But, all-in-all, I tend to be pretty serious. I tend to feel things deeply. I tend to write deep poetry and take long walks gazing at the beauty of life. I tend to dance and do yoga with a depth of concentration and intensity. So, when my big belly laugh happened this year, it wasn’t so much as a belly-acher or gut-buster, but it was more about the surprise that came when I could laugh really hard, along with others, at my own expense…in the middle of a hard work-out yoga flow class…taught by one of said sisters (the one that said, “Yes, I’ll take it” when asked if she wanted the ‘wicked-sense-of-humor’ gene just prior to conception. Of course, she is the older sister, so it was already taken by the time I was conceived).

Molly Fox, my sister, is quite the fabulous yoga/nia/pilates teacher. She is well-known on the East Coast for her fitness studio that she had in Manhattan for years in the eighties and early nineties.

It was in her Saturday morning class that my laugh moment of ’09 occurred. It’s not that it was that funny…it was funny to me…and to a class full of yogis. This is what happened.

I was in the front row, as I am wont to do in her classes. We were doing some kind of asana (don’t know the names at all) where  we were in a lunge with one knee on the ground. Molly was trying to get the class to lengthen the spine, rising and extending up from the center of the body, lifting the chest from below. She was explaining it, and then to help give people a better sense of what she was talking about, she came over to me, bent down beside me and said to the class, “Here. I’ll show you.” She quickly looked at me to ask if she could touch me, and when I acknowledged yes, she said, “This is my sister, so I can hold onto her breasts. Lift from here.” Of course, she didn’t grab my breasts. She gently held my rib cage and lifted me from deeper within my body. It was incredibly helpful to feel the difference between what I was doing and what she was suggesting.

I suddenly heard everyone break into laughter. I looked in the mirror. I realized I was wearing a pretty low-cut yoga top, and as she held me by the rib cage, being in front of the mirror with my breasts being raised up, much cleavage suddenly appeared front and center within the ‘very’ present awareness of everyone in the room. I didn’t know if they were laughing because of my being her sister, her comment, the sudden influx of cleavage, (couldn’t resist, Kelly) or all of the above, but I began to laugh, too. It all seemed pretty absurd and gloriously un-seriously yoga like. Molly’s classes are the best, ’cause she is so down-to-earth, so in love with her students, so good at what she does, and so damn funny.

Molly loves and respects the practice of yoga to the depth of her being AND she can have fun with it, which, to me, is the sign of a great teacher. Like Luka, the 6-year old son in the image caption at the top, a good teacher brings us back to reality, to the sanity of life that comes from not taking it all too seriously.

It’s here, in this not-too-serious place, that I can sometimes experience the deepest Namaste.

I think laugh will be my verb for 2010.

Maybe my noun will be cleavage, simply loving the cleavage that comes with womanhood. It may be about the cleaving away of what I think being a woman has to be from what I truly discover and experience it to be. Perhaps it might bring a softer, more loving embrace of my womanhood.

Maybe, just maybe, being with it all as it unfolds is the Namaste, the deepest bow, to what is.

What about you? I’d love to know, what makes you laugh? What is your verb for 2010? Your noun? Your ideas for bringing fun, laughter and ease to your world? Your best belly-laugh? Your ’09 cleavage story? Your real-life experience of Namaste?

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Body and Place

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Place.

As I’ve pondered this word (today’s blog challenge prompt is ‘The best place’), I’ve thought of many places I love:

walking in Tilden Park (I live across the street from this wild heaven)

on the dance floor on Sunday mornings at 8:30 in Sausalito with 149 other sweaty and passionate 5Rhythms’ dancers

sitting on the floor in a puppy pile with my three grandchildren, 2 great-nieces and 1 great-nephew on Thanksgiving

doing yoga in my sister’s (the one and only Molly Fox) incredibly physical, and joyously lyrical yoga class

listening intently to my clients on our coaching calls as they share the most intimate details of their ‘one wild and precious life‘ (prostrations to Mary Oliver)

sitting in meditation with the most amazing teachers Lynn Barron, Amma and Adyashanti

simply being with Jeff, the man I share my life with.

I am struck by these things:

how crazy fortunate I am to be living the life I am living

and

how integral being in my body is to the ability to ‘be’ in any place and ‘know’ how it feels to be there. My body is my doorway to place, because I experience place through my senses. I drink place in with my eyes. I touch place with my heart. I feel place through the cells of my body.

and

The ‘best place’ to ‘be’ in is in this body, this sensuous female body that feels deepy and loves completely.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t always been the best place to be. In fact, for many years I wanted nothing to do with this place. I stayed way up in my head, or at times, was nowhere to be found even in the vicinity my body.

Now, after much ‘work’ and lots of great body practices, I know differently. This female body is divine. Not just mine. All female bodies are divine.

I remember being at and Adyashanti retreat when he was speaking about the divine nature of all of life. As I listened, I had an epiphanic experience (fancy way of saying an ephiphany, because I love the word ep⋅i⋅phan⋅ic). I suddenly knew, in the embodied way, that my female body, and all female bodies, are divine. We bring life into life in a myriad of forms. Our female bodies are gateways to this amazing thing we call life. If we are in our bodies, we feel deeply, we connect with the earth.

As this was satsang, when the time came for people to share experiences or ask questions, I raised my hand, was called upon, strode up to the mic, and said, loudly and clearly, “I just got that this body (pointing to mine) is divine”. I suddenly heard a chorus of female gasps arise around the room. I obviously wasn’t the only one who had missed this message growing up.

So in wondering about place, I now see, and taste and touch and hear and feel, that body needs to be in conscious relationship with place, any place, to know it.

As Mary Oliver writes,

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

This post is part of Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge
Day 11: The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook? A BODY!

Image credit: Place of Healing, by Mara on Flickr

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