Tricky Trikonasana: My Travels with Triangle Pose

When I first started practicing yoga, Triangle (Trikonasana) was an iconic pose. Those who could get their hand all the way to the floor were considered to be advanced practitioners. Having a bit of hypermobility, I was able to accomplish this fairly quickly and thought I was doing good for my body. Then I began to learn more about alignment and realized that lengthening the spine is a fundamental aspect and benefit of modern postural yoga. Yoga instructor Matthew Sanford puts it succinctly, "it's all about the spine – stupid." With this insight, I adjusted my practice to make the length of my spine a central focus of my practice. On days where I felt tighter, I reluctantly…

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Why I Moved to Maui

When people ask me why I moved to Maui, I have a very quick answer – for the fresh air and the lilikoi (passion fruit). It sounds funny but the thing is, it’s also very true – at least the first part. The next question people ask is “How did you move to Maui?” My quick and somewhat glib response is “I just did.” Which is also true. While I don’t usually write publically about my personal health concerns, today I’d like to share a longer explanation. My hope is that sharing my story will be beneficial to others with similar experiences. For a number of years before moving to Maui, I had been suffering from fatigue and…

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On the Edge of a Hurricane

The bamboo is swaying, the rain is blowing sideways and the soaking wet chickens look like a new hybrid species as their feathers are matted to their skin. It's a wild, bold and beautiful day. The air vibrates with excitement and possibilities. I feel I could stand still and breathe forever. Right now, living on the edge of a hurricane, I am wishing this day would never end. I have never lived in the tropics before, so this is my first hurricane. Tornadoes and earthquakes are old friends, but hurricanes are new. I know of them only from the stories of the devastation and suffering that they have caused. I am fortunate. The island of Hawaii, more commonly…

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Active Challenge or Passive Burden

  After spending the day exploring Vancouver in the freezing cold rain, I was so happy to finally be ensconced in a warm and cozy bed. I wiggled my warm toes, exhaled, closed my eyes and smiled in anticipation of good sleep Then I heard it – taP tAP TAP! I rolled over and grumbled. It was already 1:00am. I was exhausted. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to get up and deal with noise because I was so tired that the sound wouldn’t bother me. I kept trying to convince myself of this through the rest of my fitful night of sleep. When I woke up the next morning, it was still pouring rain.…

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Of Luaus, Chairs and White Bread

In 1778 British Naval Captain James Cook came upon a fascinating and beautiful place that he called the Sandwich Islands. The local people called it Hawaii. Soon after that, whalers, missionaries and explorers from the United States and Europe came to the islands and brought many of their cultural ways, including the ubiquitous use of chairs. The drawing above shows a luau honoring French sailors in 1836, just 58 years after the first documented contact that Hawaiians had with Europeans. It illustrates a profound yet commonly overlooked cultural difference: Chair sitting verses floor sitting. You’ll see in the picture that almost all the people in European dress are seated on chairs and all the people in Hawaiian clothing…

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It’s Time to Kiss My Asana!

For the fifth year in a row, I invite you to Kiss My Asana! The Kiss My Asana Yogathon is an opportunity for me to reflect on why and how I teach movement while raising money for Mind Body Solutions, a Minnesota based institute that is successfully helping people to transform trauma, loss and disability into hope and potential by awakening the connection between mind and body. As many of you know, I moved to Maui because of my own health issues having to do with chemical sensitivities. I’ve now been here a number of months and the fresh ocean air, along with more outdoor living is helping me tremendously. I am thrilled and grateful to be feeling better. While here, I’ve…

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On Adaptation, Nēnē and Us

Photo by Barbara Craig 500,000 years ago some Canadian Geese got a little lost and decided to take a rest stop on the Hawaiian Islands. It was an area with plenty of food, fresh air and no predators so they decided to stay. As the terrain of the islands was different than what they were used to the geese adapted to their new surroundings. There were few trees in Hawaii so they became ground nesters. There were few lakes to swim in, but a lot of lava to traverse, so the webbing of their feet receded and they developed three toes on each foot—more suitable for walking on jagged terrain. There was an abundance of berries on land…

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Inner Turbulence

On a recent airplane flight I was seated next to an impeccably dressed woman. She wore high-heeled shoes, elegant jewelry, expertly applied make-up and was well coifed. After I sat down, I said, “Hello, How are you?” I know many people don’t like to talk with their seatmates but I think it’s important to acknowledge the existence of a human being with whom I will be sitting in close proximity for a few hours. She glanced at me quickly, barely nodded and then turned back to her iPhone. I immediately felt a frosty tension and remained quiet the rest of the flight. I was feeling rather disheveled that day. I was wearing a bright pink sweater, had unkempt…

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A Well-Intentioned Intrusion

I was recently walking on the Mahana Ridge Trail, a beautiful windy path in Northwest Maui. About a quarter-mile down the trail I saw a family with a young child who was being carried backpack style by the mom. As I'm interested in how people carry their children, I looked a little closer and noticed that the child's legs were splayed in an extreme external rotation, and the backpack pushed his legs against his mom’s back so that they were immobilized. He looked like a flattened frog. It was clear to me that this was not a good position for a child—or anyone—to be in for anything other than a very short period of time. I don't want…

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Not All Walking Is The Same

Walking near a body of water on a warm day exhilarates me. I especially enjoy walking barefoot on grass or sand. I love breathing in the fresh air and feeling my ribs expand and contract.  I treasure the opportunity to gaze off into the horizon and challenge my eyes to look even further. A few weeks ago, I went for a walk at Baby Beach in Northern Maui. On my way home I saw a sign at a gym advertising a yoga class. After being under the beautiful clear sky and imbibing the fresh open air I was feeling a great sense of vitality. I was excited about the possibility of trying a new class. I took one…

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