Stilettogait

During the Hurricane Harvey catastrophe Melania Trump ignited a media firestorm for wearing stiletto heels on her way to Air Force One. Yes, she changed to sneakers when she arrived in Texas but many questioned such a pronounced focus on fashion on a day when she was to visit with people who had lost everything to the floods. When I saw video of the First Lady walking from the White House to the helicopter that would whisk her to Andrews Air Force Base, I immediately lost interest in these theoretical — be they political or feminist — critiques. Instead, I was fascinated by her gait. Our feet, usually hidden in shoes, are an underappreciated part of our bodies.…

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Being Home

A few days ago, I celebrated Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year on the island of Maui. As I listened to the familiar words that were being chanted in synagogues around the world, my heart pined for the presence of my loved ones who are one or many oceans away. The Rabbi's 16 year-old son participated in the leadership of the service. This in itself was nothing unusual. It’s expected for a rabbi’s son to be well versed in Jewish liturgy. What was unusual is that the Rabbi's son, having been born in Hawaii and also having indigenous Hawaiian roots on his mother’s side of the family, is as proficient in Hebrew as he is in Hawaiian pidgin.…

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What are you going to be when you grow up?

Do you remember being asked the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I have noticed that many people are enamored by watching babies - little people who are far away from being ‘grown up.’ For babies, everything is new; sights, sounds, smells, touch. Babies continuously explore the things around them while experimenting with how their bodies can move. When we watch babies we get to partake in their curiosity and joy of continuous discovery in the present moment. And then, a baby reaches an age when she is considered to be a child. Adults in her life begin to think about her long-term future. Invariably she is asked, "What do you want to…

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One Large Ball of Twine. One Tiny Bite.

I was recently in the town of Darwin, Minnesota, which is world famous for having the largest ball of twine. The twine museum was closed that day and I discovered that I was not the only one disappointed by the lack of access to the twine. I heard a steady meowing sound, followed my ears and soon found a tiny black-and-white kitten. The kitten was clearly hungry and didn't seem to a home, so I decided to take it upon myself to rescue it. I was in a hurry to pick up a friend from the airport so I did what I should not have done; I reached down and tried to pick up the cat. While the…

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Healing

Today is the 23rd of the month and it’s also the end of Yom Kippur, a Jewish observance of contemplation and reflection. Last night I stood in front of over 1000 people and guided them in silent meditation. Today, I had the honor of leading a healing gathering. On both occasions I invited everyone to cultivate a connection with our bodies as a way to enter into a contemplative healing space. In my understanding, healing does not meaning “fixing." It's about coming to know ourselves as whole, even in the midst of brokenness. While we may yearn or pray for particular outcomes and movement in our lives, healing can also be about opening to the resources within us…

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Habits and a Bench by the Lake

I recently walked past a park bench that I remember sitting on about 25 years ago. The wood is a little worn but the bench is still sturdy and the neighboring tree has grown into a lush protective canopy that exudes stable magnificent splendor. I didn't feel like sitting on the bench. Instead I chose to let my mind wander as I walked around the lake – a habit that is also one of my all-time favorite things to do. As I walked around the big circle of water I began to contemplate how our habits shape our lives. I also pondered how common it is to view our accomplishments (or lack thereof) as a measure of our value…

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Why Flexibility?

I've been thinking a lot about flexibility lately and thought I’d share some of my preliminary musings. I've been randomly asking people the question, "Why are we so often awed by flexibility? Why do so many asana practitioners want to be more and more flexible?" Often, the first response is a moment of silence or an upturned eyebrow. Sometimes - especially when it's early in the morning - that silence is followed by more silence. Other responses include: It looks cool. I think would feel good to be able to do it. It's a beautiful aspect of the human form. It connotes a sense of freedom. I want to be flexible so my body is not in the…

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The Joy and Shame of Double Dipping

Recently, while at a brunch I saw a delightful sight. A young boy with a big spoon reached into a big tub of creamy white yogurt and with utter glee brought the yogurt to his mouth and licked the spoon clean. His smile was wider than his face. His eyes brightened as he prepared to launch in for a second time. Just as his spoon was about to reach the container, a woman near him exclaimed in a commanding voice, "Stop! You can't do that! That's double dipping." All of a sudden his wide eyes constricted, his shoulders sagged and his chest caved in. He slumped towards the floor and turned his back away from the yogurt tub…

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Thoughts on the Trapezius and Charismatic Leadership

I find that paying attention to the patterns of our bodies is a fascinating adventure in and of itself. In addition, I am often intrigued by how lessons I've learned from my body can be a metaphor for my own life, my relationships with others and my understanding of global dynamics. One day, while teaching a yoga class a thought came to me: the trapezius is like a charismatic leader! I said this out loud to the amusement of my students. It sounded intriguing, but now I needed to explain it. The trapezius is a large superficial muscle. In anatomical language, superficial means that it is closer to the skin. It begins in the back of the head…

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Handstands and Wonder

One afternoon, after teaching a class on handstands I was sitting on the grass while some kids were playing. They put their hands on the ground, kicked their legs up in the air and then immediately fell down. They were trying to do handstands without giving them any label. After doing this a number of times one of them squealed in delight, it's so much fun, “we jump up and then fall down again.” I was awed. She didn't care that she couldn't hold her legs up in the air. She didn't care that she kept falling down. She just continued to jump up and fall down. I could have interpreted her actions as a story of perseverance…

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