The cherry blossoms have finally bloomed in Seattle. I have spent every day of the past two weeks walking under their flirtatious, fluffy canopies. I am smitten.
I have also spent every day of the past two weeks preparing for an upcoming workshop that I'll be teaching in two weeks at Seattle Yoga Arts. It’s a workshop about movement and breath and creativity and philosophy. It’s also about how to build a strong butt and strong core.
Here's an excerpt from the handouts and a sneak peak at the posters I’ve created for the event:
I was introduced to yoga not through my body, but through my mind.
At age 9 my stepfather was forced to leave his hometown of Vienna due to impending Nazi occupation. He and his 5 year old sister went together, without their parents, to a foreign country where he didn’t speak the language.
Thus began the journey that would consume the rest of my stepfather’s life. He became a spiritual seeker: How can there be such evil in the world? How does one find joy in this world? What is the soul? What is the divine?
He and my mother met when my mother was in the midst of an existential journey of her own: Coming to terms with the oppression and shame associated with her childhood religion, with the death of her first husband, with the realities of being a single mother.
My stepfather brought books when he moved in with us. Books about Buddha and Jesus. Books about Tao and Chi. Books by Hafiz and Emily Dickinson and Carl Jung and Ram Dass.
When I was 13 I slipped a slim paperback off his shelf. I took the book to my bedroom and I read. As I did, every cell in my body vibrated the way cells do when you encounter something that cuts straight to the truth, the real truth, the eternal truth.
This book, entitled simply “YOGA,” was not about how to perform physical postures, how to twist my spine and loop my limbs. Rather this book was about how to remain connected to myself, my divine nature, while living in a human body in a world that would have me forget my soul.
I was transfixed and I was forever changed.
When I was 16 I began practicing yoga asana, and over decades my relationship to this physical part of yoga has been capricious: I have been in turns enamoured, devoted, fanatic, mystified, bored, hurt, humbled, annoyed, indifferent.
On the other hand, my relationship to yoga as a philosophical framework, as a state of being, a way of living and moving through all of life, has only deepened, steadily, consistently.