The DNA Of A Tree

Giant banyan tree in Haleakala National Park

Giant banyan tree in Haleakala National Park

Welcome, Friends!

I am writing you from my hometown, Baton Rouge, LA. I will be here for a few weeks, soaking up the semi-tropical climate, exploring nature and spending time with loved ones. I hope to cross paths with my fellow Baton Rouge yogis and I wish my New York yogis a blissful next few weeks. Check out my calendar for the most up-to-date teaching schedule.  In the meantime…

Picture a seed planted in the soil. It rests in the middle of a lush terrain with a variety of vegetation, including many types of trees.  This seed already contains the DNA that will determine the type of tree it will become. Still, it needs to be nurtured in order to grow. It needs the right amount of sun and rain as well as the right type of soil in order to transform into a tree.

Each element plays a central role in this tree’s growth.  Yet, it’s not the job of the sun, rain, or soil to decide what type of tree the seed will become. The DNA is already there. Still, each element contains information that it needs to share in order to help the tree develop. Each element is a messenger. If the sun were to refuse to shine, if the rain held itself back in the clouds, or if the soil withheld its nutrients, the seed wouldn’t be able to become a strong tree. It could still grow, but it wouldn’t have the chance to express itself fully.

In our lives, we all have seeds that we need to nurture. Some of these seeds are ready to become relationships, situations, or other opportunities. We all have our truths— our messages, the information that we can share with others— in order to help these seeds grow into trees. Perhaps some of us can offer the sun, others the rain and others the soil.

Sometimes we hold back from speaking our truths, or from delivering our messages, because we fear or dislike the consequences of speaking up.  At times we want to control what type of tree will grow.  We might think, “If I say how I really feel, this seed might grow into an apple tree. But I really want it to become a pecan tree, so I’ll hold my tongue.”  That is actually beyond our control, however. Perhaps, in a relationship, the other person is waiting for you to offer your words which serve as the spark that will propel the two of you forward in either direction. Maybe speaking your truth will result in a great opportunity for change, or even in two people going their separate ways.  Even that is beautiful, if that is what the opportunity holds.

Of course, we need to speak with compassion and  mindfulness as well as sensitivity to the right timing.  If the sun shines too harshly, if the rain floods the terrain, or of the soil offers the wrong type of nutrients, then the seed will encounter some trouble.

What we can do is offer our sun, rain and soil in the best way that we know how so that the seeds in our midst have the greatest chance of developing into the trees that they are meant to become.

During your yoga practice I invite you to speak your truth through your body.  If you cannot breathe fully in a pose, if you experience pain, or if you are misaligned, then your body is telling you to adjust or to rest. If you ignore that information and try to force a pose, then you are not being truthful. Instead, when you tune into the breath and respond to the information that your body offers you, you can find your true edge in each posture— that place where your energy can flow freely, you can expand and open, safely.  May you practice speaking your truth through your yoga practice on your mat so that you can prepare yourself to speak your truth in other aspects of your life.

Here’s a video to get you pumped as you get ready to speak your truth: Sara Bareilles – “Brave”

Peace, light and Happy, Healthy TREES!

Anne

diverse trees water

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Monster in the Closet

Where the wild things are 1

Take a moment to notice your breath, without judging what you observe.

One night, as a little girl gets ready to go to sleep, she hears a sound coming from her closet, and concludes: There’s a monster in my closet!  She won’t open the closet door, because the fear of what she might find is too intense.  If there’s a monster in the closet, it must be big, scary, and overpowering.  The risk of not being able to handle what’s on the other side does not feel worth taking.  So, the child has to scurry to her bed, pull the covers over her head, and she can’t relax because she has to be ready to run if the monster comes out. The sounds continue to keep her awake.  Finally, the little girl concludes that the only way she’ll be able to sleep is if the monster leaves her closet.  She bravely approaches the door, opens it, and shrieks as a moth flies out.  After watching the moth that was searching for a way to get outside, the little girl opens the window, and the moth flutters out.  The child closes her closet door, takes a proud sigh of relief, snuggles under the covers, and falls fast asleep.

Sometimes we attach a certain meaning to something about ourselves, some factor in our lives, some idea, some possibility.  Sometimes we are too afraid to look at what’s there to even consider what it is.  Maybe, after giving ourselves the space to consider it, however, we’ll begin to see ways that we can deal with what is there.

Today I invite you to increase your awareness, without judging what you see or attaching meaning to it, so that you can truly see.

A yoga practice provides a space to observe without judging.  We draw our focus to the breath, which helps the mind to slow down and helps to take attention away from the stories that we tell ourselves, or the monsters that grow inside our closets.  In addition, as we practice mindfulness with the breath, we also practice mindfulness with our bodies and movements.  We learn to breathe through the sensations that arise and to be present.  Sometimes this means adjusting the pose so that we can find our true best or “edge”, rather than push beyond it to our expected edge.  We practice this constant communication between the body and breath without judging ourselves for not being able to achieve a certain expression of the pose that we might desire.  Through this practice, we train ourselves to remove some of the stigmas that we attach to our experiences in life so that we can embrace them, learn from them, and move forward.

Notice your breath again.  During your physical yoga practice, or asana practice, observe what’s going on within you in each pose.  Observe when you reach your edge, if you need to modify the pose, if your breathing changes and the thoughts that come.   Maybe certain thoughts need to come to the surface, so that they can then pass on by, or so that we can deal with them in another way.

What monsters in your closet are you ready to face this week, this month?  We Got This!!!

Check out my calendar for my up-to-date teaching schedule.  Hope to see you on the mat!

Peace and Sweet Dreams,

Anne

where the wild things are 2

Surf’s Up!

surfer huge wave

Picture the beach. Feel the warmth from the sun kiss your skin. See the blue-green water. Hear the waves that roll toward the shore, then pull away from it. Picture a surfer riding the waves. Even though the water is turbulent, notice how by tapping into the breath, the core, and by staying flexible, the surfer has the power to balance, to find strength and fluidity, and to dance across the waves. Now see yourself as the surfer standing gracefully on the surfboard…

Happy Friday, Friends!

It’s beach time! Although the past few days have been on the chilly side here in NYC, I have seen folks strutting through the streets with their surf boards lately, perhaps on the way to the Rockaways (a peninsula out in Queens with surf-able beaches). Have you ever been surfing? If not, have you ever watched other people hit the waves? I have not yet explored surfing, although I have a feeling this is the summer that I will. However, I used to teach SUP Yoga (Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga). Balancing on a board in the water is an awesome experience in which no moment can be taken for granted, as the simplest movements become much more challenging. I have noticed that in the moments where I try to stay totally still and hold my breath, I actually am more likely to fall. However, once I accept that the water is going to keep moving, and that I am going to keep moving, I can relax and actually become one with the waves. Of course, I must apply effort, as well. When I combine steady breathing with a strong but supple body, I get into a groove with the water.

On our yoga mats, we need to be strong as well as flexible with ourselves.  We must activate the core to keep us safe and to find the strength to practice the poses.  When a posture does not feel right, we need to adjust. Sometimes, we need to push ourselves a bit further, and other times, we need to tweak our alignment or give ourselves permission to rest.  Meanwhile, the breath helps us focus and find ease.

Off-the-mat, we need to be both strong and flexible in our lives.  We must learn when to apply more effort and when to let go of attempts to control a situation.  We need to have a solid foundation as well as open hearts.  A regular yoga practice is one way to train ourselves to balance effort with ease.  Come join me this weekend for class as you prepare to dance across the waves this summer.  When we accept that change is coming, that the water will keep moving and that WE will keep moving, we can find a greater sense of balance in our lives.

Happy Surfing,

Anne

Check out my calendar for my up-to-date teaching schedule.  😀