Wrapping Your Heart Around It

Heart Can Grow Wings
Metaphors are funny things. Sometimes they cross linguistic boundaries, but more often than not, they fail miserably. That’s because they tell us little about the words. Instead, they tell us a lot about a culture.

Last week I was at a café with an acquaintance, and we were talking about her job prospects. She is going through some professional changes and has several interesting possibilities in the pipeline, but she cannot do all of them. As she was explaining all the options, she said, “I just have to go home and wrap my head around it.”

The head. The mind. Modern society loves them. When making decisions, how often have you heard people say, “list the pros and cons, and follow the path where the pros outweigh the cons.” Under that regime, it is a numbers game. It is the number of pros vs. the number of cons. Their weight has little meaning. But it is simple and easy. All we have to do is count (ok, maybe not so easy for those of us who are lawyers, but we can ask for help with the counting if need be).

Lists of all types speak to our logical side. They can be judged objectively. We can ask others for help with making and interpreting them. Plus, we use our heads so often in today’s society, and lists are common in all areas of our lives. We make grocery lists, to-do lists, invite lists, etc. Putting it down on paper (or screen) externalizes our thought process and allows us to objectively evaluate what we are thinking. This objective analysis is well respected in modernity.

But does it really serve us? Continue reading

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Is Your Posture Causing Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder Pain
Have you been taught by your Physical Therapist, Yoga teacher, Pilates teacher or trainer to press your shoulders back and down for good posture?

What if, instead, you were to ease your shoulders up; rotate them slightly back to open the chest; and then allow them to gently drop into place. Then forget about them and move on with your day.

Up and open, not back and down?

Shirley Sahrmann, an influential Physical Therapist, first introduced me to this concept. Her work emphasizes that many, if not most, pain and orthopedic problems are created and maintained by faulty postures and movement patterns.* When I volunteered to be a guinea pig in her continuing ed class, she curtly informed me that I hold my shoulders in an overly depressed position. Really? But wait — I learned to do this as a dancer for good posture. Now you’re telling me that the years-long habit of pressing my shoulders back and down may actually have caused chronic shoulder pain and dysfunction?

Have you never secretly wondered about the instruction to “press your shoulders back and down” — that it sounds, and looks, just a little like the old military instruction “stand up straight, chest out, shoulders back.” Though well-intentioned, it may not be the best advice to correct either internally rotated shoulders or an habitual slouch. Yes, it might facilitate chest opening and elongate tight pectoralis muscles. You may even activate the posterior shoulder blade and postural muscles, like the lower trapezius. Unfortunately, the rhomboids may also become overly activated, too. According to Shirley, shortened rhomboids are not desirable. Besides, you are probably freezing other shoulder blade muscles, like the important serratus anterior, into a chronically tense and overly elongated position. This is NOT desirable. Muscles need to be free and balanced to move bones, especially those of the shoulder blades. Continue reading

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Life Is Like A Cup Of Coffee

Human life is the sum total of the choices we make. If our choices are geared towards the externals of life that is what our life will signify: A strong and accomlished ego but not much more. Is that what we want our life to be? This very popular video with millions of views helps us understand the importance of focussing on the right things: The content of our life, not the external adornments.

You may also like: Other Worlds To Sing In

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Shiva’s Dance

Dancing Shiva

Nataraja


In a recent talk on TED, John Bohannon says that the medium of dance may be better than a PowerPoint presentation in conveying complex ideas. He illustrates this by conveying ideas relating to quantum mechanics and lasers in a beautifully choreographed piece that is worth watching. This idea has now spawned a “Dance your Ph.D.” contest. Here is the 2011 winner.

Lord Shiva is a prehistoric figure and is supposed to be the first Yogi. Let us for a moment step into Shiva’s shoes. Imagine that you are in prehistoric times. Handwriting has not been invented yet and human vocabulary consists of just a few hundred words. Humans are still part-time hunter-gatherers and the age of farming is just about to dawn. One day as you sit under the starlit sky and ponder on the meaning of it all, you slide into a deep mystical state. Words cannot describe what you now understand. How would you convey your discovery to your fellow humans? Would you not prefer to dance rather than speak?

Joseph Campbell has described Lord Shiva’s dance as the “Dance of the Universe”. It was used to convey the underlying energy, intelligence, rhythm, unity, and beauty of the nature of reality. The original dance done by Siva has been lost to time but the statue depicting the dance, known as the Nataraja, conveys the majesty and power of the dance of the first yogi.

You may also like: The Dance Of A Thousand Hands

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Coming Back To That Place

Julie Konrad

It’s been 7 months since I brought my teaching to a screeching halt.

I have been teaching yoga for 6 years at what started as a nice, steady and balanced pace. Then, somewhere along the line, I began picking up more and more classes. One day, I realized that my severe forgetfulness was no longer fair to classify under “mommy brain syndrome” this was a red flag that I needed to slow down. I was teaching more than double time, caring for my three little children and working part-time. I was tapped out, emotionally, spiritually and energetically.

I remember driving to class one day thinking about the students who would be looking forward to their morning yoga and what I would have to share with them. I had this sinking feeling that…I had…nothing. Sure, I had yoga poses I could sequence together to nurture, strengthen and challenge them, but this has never been enough for me. I found myself struggling to come up with a genuine theme. A theme to help connect them to their practice and to their lives. Most of all, I wanted to offer authenticity (never under estimate a students ability to identify truth or lack thereof). I was running on fumes and I knew it. This was not good. Continue reading

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