The Smell of Purple: My Spine and the Subtle Body

When I was a young girl, I loved to wander and search for adventure at a nearby swamp. Sometimes I dared to walk tall down the neighboring trail that was rumored to be haunted by a headless turtle. Some days I ventured a climb up the magnificent oak trees whose wide horizontal limbs spread out over the water and told me that if I stood up and allowed myself to be held by an ancient outstretched arm, I could feel the expansiveness and rhythm of the earth. Every summer there were some incredible purple flowers that popped up among the tall grasses on the marshy shore. I remember rustling through the waving green towers to get close to…

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Prana, The Brain, and M&M’s

I invite you to picture in your mind a classic late 20th century office complex; a big room with fluorescent lights, rows of square cubicles and stale air; the smell of weak coffee in styrofoam cups and the soft buzzing whirl of hard drives and printers; offgasing gray-blue carpets and upholstered chairs on plastic wheels. Mixed in with all this sensory input—the ubiquitous jar of M&Ms. This M&M jar would just sit there, hour upon hour, calling on people to have one; daring them not to overindulge. A few workers would proudly resist, but for most, the pull was too strong and the jar would be empty by the end of the day. Why were those M&M’s so…

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Eyes Up To Freedom

Once upon a time two guys were standing on the muddy shore of a huge sea. This was the first time that they had seen such an immense body of water and they didn’t know what to do. They were at the front of a group of escaped slaves who were running for their lives. The world's most advanced army, equipped with swords and chariots, was chasing them. Their people had been enslaved for 400 years and this was their first chance at freedom but now their feet were in the mud. One of these men, looked down and said, “Yuck. My feet are all muddy. This mud looks exactly like the mud I’ve been using for 30…

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She said, “Cut My Spine Off”

A yoga student of mine shared with me her concerns about a loved one. She asks: So what can I do about my sister-in-law? Every time we call and ask, "How are you?" she replies, "I'm in pain." Here’s how the conversation usually goes: I ask, What are you doing about it? “There's nothing that can be done except drugs.” Have you tried everything? “I saw a chiropractor a long time ago but it ended up hurting my neck.” What else could you do? "There's a surgical procedure developed in Germany, but it isn't approved here.” Could you go to Germany to get it? "I'd have to learn German first and I'm not good at languages." Is there…

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Sit and Read with a Happier Spine

  I am fascinated by how everyday habits of movement affect overall health. Sitting is one the top of the list. By now, most people have heard about how too much sitting is deleterious to our health. While it's true that continuous sitting causes a whole array of problems, sitting in and of itself is a natural human movement. The main problem with sitting while reading is that it often leads to prolonged slouching. Eye placement is a major culprit. Vision is a powerful force. The entire shape of our body gets determined by where we place our eyes. For example, looking down with our eyes inhibits the extensor muscles in our upper spine. This means that when…

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Moving Like the Moon

  Living on rural Maui, where there is little artificial light, I spend a lot of time gazing in awe at the abundant night sky. Being able to see so many stars has piqued my curiosity about the celestial bodies and I realize that I’ve held some erroneous assumptions for a long time. For example, I used to think that a full moon was an all-night event that happens about once a month. In other words, that there is one entire night when the moon is completely full. Similarly, when I first started yoga, I thought that the perfect yoga asana (pose) consisted of holding a single, static position for a long period of time. It turns out…

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