Archive for the ‘hatha yoga’ Category

hi friend,

please check out my latest update to “We Are ONE” on the “page” side of my blog, to the right. every week i’ll upload a few more pages of this picture book for you.

wow, the “brains” behind wordpress have really messed me up! somehow they’ve changed the editing format and i can’t see what i’m typing, so bear with me if things are…weird. i’ll do my best, and shoot them an e-mail to tell them of their well-intentioned, but mis-placed latest updates!

i wanted to share today, the joy of stretching. simple hatha yoga changed my life, literally. yesterday i had the pleasure of introducing a new friend to sun salutes, and today i am with you, too. if you haven’t already tried this easy-to-do, yet life-changing method of stretching-along-with-breathing, i’m encouraging you, right here, right now, to try it.

this drawing is my version of a sun salute. i drew it to illustrate how one must imagine their own “private sun” above them, because i was teaching at the time to girls in prison. even if you’re in a cell, you can bow and honor the source of all life on Earth…the sun. here’s the 12 steps (poses, called “asanas”) of a sun salute, surya namaskar, a yoga vinyasa (series of flowing poses).

1208-ocean-ent-images-009

a series of poses called the sun salute, "surya namaskar"

and here are simple, step-by-step directions, and PLEASE, enjoy yourself!

1. go very slowly. you will increase speed as you loosen up. first poses is standing with hands folded at your heart, breathe in and out, and steady your busy mind by focusing your eyes on one spot. thank you says your body, your heart, and your mind.  end on an exhale.

2. inhale and lift your arms overhead, either to the side, like opening wings, or just up and over your head. keep your legs straight and only bend over backwards if you feel like it. that can come later. on this first round of the sun salute it’s good to stay in each of the 12 poses for several breaths. up to you, but don’t rush. eventually, you will coordinate the poses with your in and out breathing, but for now…just enjoy the stretch and stay with what your body tells you (huh?) it needs, like how many breaths do you want to stretch this particular way.

3. exhale and slowly arch your back and bend forward. let your head and neck completely relax. Hang there. Hang hang hang. let gravity do some work for a change. when you’re ready to go into the next pose, engage your abs so you protect your back.

4. inhale and take your right leg backwards into a full lunge. MOST IMPORTANT here is to make sure your left knee is directly over your left ankle. place fingertips of floor, torso goes downward, as your back gently bends upward. again, enjoy the stretch for several breaths at the beginning of your practice.

5. exhale and bring your left leg back along your right and make a high arch with your butt way up in the sky, into a “downward dog” pose. let your head go completely loose. don’t worry if your feet don’t completely go flat, that will happen eventually. point here is to PUSH away from the floor with your hands (shoulder-width apart) and up with your strong legs (hip-width apart) with your hands energetically engaged with the floor, the index fingers pointing straight ahead. enjoy your breath.

6. here you have a choice! ahhhh, choices. that which makes or breaks our lives. beginnings sink to your knees now, and slowly come forward onto your belly, not moving your arms, into a “small cobra.” more seasoned stretchers, you can, with your elbows CLOSE TO YOUR BODY 9otherwise you’ll compromise your rotator cuff, in shoulder joint), “swoop” your body in an arcing motion, from a bent-knee half-bow to… a beautiful, graceful “big cobra”…with arms more fully extended, but with your pelvic bones still on or nearly on the floor. enjoy your breath. eventually, this will all be accomplished on a single exhale. really.

7. inhale and enjoy the snake pose, bhujangasana, “the cobra.” keep your pelvic bones as close or on the floor as you can, while streching the lower back muscles, gentle!  

8. exhale and push yourself back into the downward dog position. check your alignment (arms shoulder-width; feet hips-width, arms pushing, butt upward…so much to remember, but hey! you’re your OWN TEACHER!!!) EMPOWERMENT…it’s YOU! right within your own self.

9.  inhale and bring your right leg forward into a lunge on the oother side. you may have to “help” your leg get up there at first, so just hop it along, but make sure your right knee is directly over that right ankle. thank you.

10. exhale and push yourself into a forward bend, and fell the difference. ommygod!! you are probably fainting from sheer pleasure at this point. i know i am with each first sun salute of the day. yummmmm.

11. inhale and please engage your abs before you stretch up and over your head with your arms straight, and palms eventually touching, into a small backbend, if you wish only. with ab muscles still engaged …

12. bring yourself from the little standing backbend into your original pose, the moutain, “tadasana.” With hands at your heart give great thanks to the sun (still above you, even if only in your mind!) and the life it shines upon this gorgeous blue garden planet of ours, which grows such delicious things as you, and all the food we need to sustain ourselves.

Repeat the above with your LEFT leg back, and bringing your left leg forward at end of the vinyasa.

By learning to empower your own self, using your body to strengthen your life, center your stormy emotions, and uplift your small-things centered mental faculties, your life will automatically expand. the teacher is within you. your body is a gift. keep it strong, clean, and agile, and you will be honoring the most important teacher–YOU!!–you’ll ever have. the Great Spirit lives within us all! really!

I hope you enjoy this little yoga lesson i’m sharing with you. occasionally i’ll give some tips. lordflea does love hatha yoga, the physical poses, so very much, that i want the entire world to know these ancient, but very effective moves that keep us fit, grateful, and calm (thanks to the breathing, the key to inner peace).

in the Light, lord flea singing our song of ONE

hi friend,

today i’ve started uploading my picture book, “We are ONE” as a gift for you, the reader of my blog. You’ll find it, each day a few segments added, over on the right, on the “page” column.

here’s a sneak preview of the artwork:

drawings-scanned-1108-043

the only hint i’m giving is…yes, that IS a titty-lotus.

Meanwhile, life is pretty busy for me and mine. we had 16 friends from all walks of life here at gobble-gobble time: yoga friends, artists, musicians, a carpenter, a businessman or two, healers, sailors, and of course, my mom, Eve, who turned up with three tasty pies. not too shabby for someone who nearly checked out with a minor stroke just a few short months ago. ahhhh, the wonders of modern medicine, and a lot of acupuncture treatments.

mom’s hearth is also due and many thanks to dori bozung our local, incredibly talented, and very intuitive healer, a great doctor of acupuncture i highly recommend. i’ll give you her phone number by writing me: dearlordflea@gmail.com

gary, the plant man, brought delectable sweet potato pies for the meal and a baby neem tree the day after, which i will cherish and raise as one of my own.

ann and didier, offered our meal yummy organic coffee and drinks, and a pie their son won in a race thanksgiving day. paul and joseph as always, are so well behaved and fun kids to have around.

mridula, brought clean and wholesome grains and simple fixings of her special vegetarian diet. she didn’t take carter up on arm-wrestling, however.

dave and amy, the sailors, brought the good-news breeze, and healthy broccoli besides their good cheer and extreme-laugher.

brian, with his sweet angel grandson Michael, brought delicious pumpkin cheesecake.

kate, ben, and kumari brought a remarkable vegetarian dish, a mexican delight, and something else, a sweet dish with lots of whipped frothy cream and apple-stuffing. yum.

dori blew in at the last moment (whew! after a day of getting healed herself, instead of giving it) with an outtasite pear and greens salad, some outrageous cranberry mixture to die for, a bottle of wine (yes! there was festive vino at our spread), and her big gorgeous smile.

at ann’s urging (thanks, ann!) we went around the table and each of us shared what we were particularly grateful for. yes yes, there were plenty of “good friends, health, love, peace, barack’s victory, etc. etc.” but when it came to my turn, i just had to say how grateful i was to be HERE … at this particular place, at this particular time. it’s heaven on earth for me, these days. but then, i’ve worked hard for what i’ve got. un huh.

but… all that may change any given moment, i know, i know.

cully and fonya and kurt, our kids, were out in montana, while we were here in florida. that’s just the way life is sometimes, apart, but together in Spirit.

so check out the “We are ONE” page, and i’ll see you later!

next time i write i want to share about how i had the opportunity i had yesterday to help a friend of mine who has just heard some really bad news. the understanding i have of how to accept life whether its joys, or sorrows, when life becomes sheer heaven, or when it can–as it does– suddenly change to a challenge beyond measure, is based upon my own experiences. my views represent no particular path, or ideology. just singing the song of lord flea!

breathing in, and breathing out, with you.

pose for the week: how about the side crow. took me years to master, and now it’s like three visits to the chiropractor all in one sustained effort. ahhh, hatha yoga, i love thee and your vigorous energy, which i give to my life through practicing the poses, meditating, chanting…and–most importantly–being in GOOD COMPANY.

in the Light, lord flea

dear One,

yesterday we met on St. Augustine beach and formed a human mala; a rosary bead of intent.  the focus of our 108 sun salutes, followed by 108 chants of Om was global peace.  sending out our prayers as action (hatha yoga asanas) and sound (the seed mantra, Om) was a glorious way to be active, to participate in being part of the solution, instead of remaining part of the problem.

the sound of peace, the sound of God consciousness … the sound of Om:

visualizing the power of Om as its vibrations resonate throughout the atmosphere

visualizing the power of Om as its vibrations resonate throughout the atmosphere

 

try it yourself.  why not now?  or soon.  find a quiet place, all by yourself or with a like-minded friend.  get quiet.  breathe deeply.  set your intention that this sound of Om, this ancient sound that the sages say was the sound of creation that was first heard by those who sought answers to such things, intend to send out your tone with this ancient note.  send it out to the world.  help heal the world with your sound.  forget politics for this moment.  forget the strife.  forget the confusion.  focus on sending out the positive vibrations that are here, for all of us, at any given moment.  all we have to do is listen, and then join in with our voices.

breathe out long.  breathe in long … now make this beautiful sound with your own tone.  make this sound over and over until you feel you have sounded and become One with Truth It-Self.

what an expansive, rewarding feeling.  enjoy!  over and over!  whenever you can.

i send you my loving sound also, Om with me, lordflea

hi friend,

storm haiku ... the ominous atmosphere of the approaching storm

storm haiku ... the ominous atmosphere of the approaching storm

today we woke in st. augustine thinking perhaps we’d be struck by hurricane fay  sometime later today. fey, she’s being called also, which is ironic, as “fe” (pronounced fay) means “faith” in spanish. right now, at 1pm. she’s been downgraded back to a tropical storm, and we’re beginning to relax a little. the beaches are already in danger of erosion. i’ve just returned from there, and the sea foam is still sticking to my feet.

the atlantic coming onto the road at st. augustine beach

the atlantic coming onto the road at st. augustine beach

one last stand on the beach

one last stand on the beach

 

whipped cream-like sea foam so thick it sticks to your ankles!

whipped cream-like sea foam so thick it sticks to your ankles!

for me, who has gone through many eyes of hurricanes (being a tropical-loving sailor, among other things), i know that each storm that arrives anywhere near where i live is an unpredictable organism, likely to surprise the hell out of us humans at any second.

and…like the storms that brew in our own emotional lives (either from our own making, or from others’ or life’s actions upon us) … we can learn to sink softly in the comfort of going through each storm that hits us. how? by first of all, being prepared. and secondly, by relaxing, and not sensationalizing these completely natural events of life, but deadly nonetheless, whether hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones (in the Pacific) or any other type of Nature’s severe weather. or…our own unsettled inner selves.

here’s how i’ve learned to do it:

in the eye of the hurricane

staying safely in the eye--the 'I'--of all of life's hurricanes

being prepared is the key. doing whatever we must do to make sure we’re in good shape to face any storm, whether internally or externally. and, once you’ve done your work (which sometimes takes a lot of effort, demanding years of processing, but it gets easier the more you practice), then the trick of being happy through any storm is — to totally let go.

in ’04 i went through 4 (count ’em, four!!) eyes of hurricanes. that summer i was teaching incarcerated girls in a central flordia lockup. we went through the eye of hurricane charlie together. of course it scared the living crap out of the girls…but…afterwards, after they’d experienced the uncanny calm in the center of the fierce winds and devastating energy…they could understand in a very personal way the common metaphor used to teach the power of meditation. and that is…

within all of us is a center of peace. no storm, no atrocity, no dis-ease can rock us from our center once we’ve learned to tap that inner power, and keep it close to our heart.

the girls in lockup (there for repeat crimes like drug use, stealing, even attempted murder) experienced the heart-stopping horror of being directly in charlie’s eye: three hours of hell, then half an hour of the eerie calm in the center, then another three hours of hell with winds coming from the opposite direction. the girls huddled together in the dark humid heat, with nothing to cling to but each other. thank god the roof stayed on, because their facility was pretty ancient. when we next met for yoga class and it was time to meditate, called the “dead-person’s pose,” or savasana that all good yoga classes end  with, after practicing yoga’s rigorous poses (asanas), they could understand perhaps for the first time what i meant when i said:

go within, reach that place of inner calm that all humans have. and … just like each hurricane revolves fiercely on its center, it’s still-point, we too have a center of calm within us. that is the law of Nature. learn to stay in that place, the inner calm, whenever you need to. don’t allow yourself to be frightened. never let the swirling winds on the outskirts of your center pull you in. stay in the center of your own power. own your own power, not someone or something else’s.

keep safe, my friend! stay in the Light, sing the song of Oneness, lord flea

hi friend,

today i’m going to the second day of my hatha yoga workshop here in st. augustine. can’t write much, but wanted to say, as i say so often inside how much i love doing yoga, being with yoga people, learning the depths of what yoga has to offer. yoga, the poses, the philosophy, the “tribe” is the best thing that’s happened to me. wherever i go i meet the most interesting, open-minded, big-hearted people, and best thing of all, we get to be physical together in a non-competitive way. praying with our bodies, respecting our Iner Self, shutting off the noise, the racket, the double-deal of living in a tumultuous time, a conflictual world. in the inner world there is no doubt that love is the past, present, and future president.

focus on …

the sound of om

the sound of om

see you tomorrow, i hope (unless i kill myself doing one more backbend).

in the Light,

lord flea

hi friend,

in honor of nancy’s request: here’s how to make ghee (taught to me by ayurvedic friends fresh back from years-long stay, studying in India).

start off with frozen (this is my method at least, as i never have time to defrost!) UN-SALTED good-quality butter. please remember that the time you invest in making ghee is returned to you a thousand-fold if you get into the habit of using ghee, instead of butter. (ghee is the exact same stuff they serve with lobsters, by the way, “clarified butter.”)

put small saucepan on high flame as you unwrap the quarters of an entire (frozen or not) pound package. by the time you finish this task, it’s time to turn down the heat. 

when the melted butter starts to bubble, put heat down to a simmer, making sure you don’t leave the room. EVER!!! if you want to ruin the ghee, then leave. otherwise, use the next 15 minutes (or less sometimes) as a meditation. you have to catch the cooked ghee at precisely the exact moment, otherwise it … well, may not burn, but it can get plenty toasty, and it changes the taste from mellow to something nuttier.

as ghee cooks it make a “popping” noise. when the noise finishes, you know you’re close (anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on altitude, humidity, quality of butter). from then on it’s a matter of watching the bottom of the pan, seeing that the milk solids have dropped to the bottom (they appear as … you got it, CRUSTY SHIT!! at the bottom). this is the solid stuff you do not want clogging your veins, ever! when the noise stops, and the color turns a glorious golden brown — but before the crust residue on the bottom burns (it can take on a “burnt umber glow”) then you know your ghee is properly cooked.

pour through a simple tea strainer (ghee washes out easily) into a clean glass jar. allow to cool on your steel, porcelain, wood, or ceramic counter. put top on in a few minutes.

you never have to refrigerate ghee. try to put a tiny bit in your food every day. use on toast, in place of butter (but don’t bake or make cookies with it, it won’t work). the nutritional qualities are magnificent. check out www.ayurveda-foryou.com for more into. lord flea sings the glories of ghee. have made it lovingly for my family for over 15 years!

gotta go! off to a hatha yoga workshop for the entire weekend).

more later. here’s your little visual treat for the day, my beloveds.

in the Light, lord flea

a healthy, balanced person, gives Self the best nutrition, for body-soul-mind, everyday in everyway

a healthy, balanced person, gives Self the best nutrition, for body-soul-mind, everyday in everyway

everyday i do a little bit of what some call yoga, but i prefer to describe what i do as how i’ve learned to pray with my body. it all started with PAIN. excruciating, nerve-clamping PAIN. in childhood i developed scoliosis in the sacrum area. pain became my “invisible friend” like other kids had angels, little elfs, or fairies (no no no to satsquatch!). i was in college when i taught myself how to do simple poses. there were no teachers back then (oh did you guess i’m no generation x-er?). first i did simple things…then…gradually…i relaxed …. 

Just as this person looks doing the tree pose:

this is how it looks...

this is how it looks...

 but THIS …. this is how it feels … inside!!! … to do that same pose ….

how it feels... power-full, out-of-this-world connected to ALL, throbbing energy, Oneness with Breath, with the Pulse of Being

how it feels... power-full, out-of-this-world connected to ALL, throbbing energy, Oneness with Breath, with the Pulse of Being

and so, my friend, this is why lord flea adores not only singing the calypso song of the day, but, as often as i can, to merge with my physical, visit the temple of my body, and allow my Self to become something i can’t in ordinary ways: by going into these (both simple and complex) strange poses, stilling my breath, concentrating on the energy pulsing through my consciousness, my sinewy muscles, my elasticizing tendons, my strong bones…and … holding IT!

in this way, my body has gradually become my greatest teacher. just as i’ve learned that our humanity is the greatest praise of the Divine. does that sound corny? sorry. that is exactly how i feel, after years of “doing” yoga.

oh, and i should mention here that i’ve taught hatha yoga for years to incarcerated juveniles. the very “baddest” of the bad in our so-called civilized society, that are in teenage lock-ups everywhere. i take yoga to them, and guess what? they LOVE it! those who have the guts to appear in yoga class, to the hoots and disses of their bros and sistahs of the hood, that is. but…that’s another subject for another day. they love it because with their own bodies, these kids learn how to tap into the Power Within, and … instantly … they are FREE. Truly. Remarkably. Utterly…FREE. Even while they’re there, in prison.

the pose i’m working on mostly in my practice these days is the handstand. i’m still chicken about getting away from the wall. courage is still not one of my fortes. so i’ve created my own vision to inspire me, help me relax, give me strength to connect both to the earth (with my invisible roots) and to be lifted by the ineffable Source, by holding me up up up to the Ideal–that ideal of successful connection!

getting help with handstand

getting help with handstand

i really wanted to talk about relationships today. i had something entirely different in mind, like love-relationships, parent-child relationships, person to Planet-relationships, too, when i started writing. but i guess all relationships start with that particularly intimate one each of us either has, or doesn’t, or is in the process of cultivating–that relationship with our own bodies. to be at peace with our mind; our physical self; and our Inner Self, the Spirit–that’s the basis of how we relate to the world around us.

lord flea by the red sea, rightside up

lord flea by the red sea, rightside up

this is why i do yoga. of all the methods of getting-in-touch-with-Truth i’ve experimented with (and believe me! i’ve tried a lot of ’em, not all, but hey–enough to know when a good thing’s a good thing, when you finally hit the jackpot), hatha yoga, the concentrated physical movement of coordinated breathe and muscular poses done with mindfulness, is where i find the most benefit, the best place to worship, and…get relief from any pain–mental, physical, or spiritual–in the meanwhile.

yoga, by the way, translates from its sanskrit as “discipline,” or, more precisely, “that to which one yokes oneself to.”

who, you ask, do i regard as good teachers?

well, above and beyond all my teachers is my beloved meditation master, the living saint, Swami Chidvilasananda, to whom i dedicate this blog. if you’d like to know about the ancient traditions of yogic wisdom that i study, under the tutelage of Gurumayi (Chidvilasananda’s nickname), please check out the traditional yogic philosophy, of which Gurumayi is the current teacher in the lineage of Siddha Yoga. www.siddhayoga.org

but the physical hatha yoga (hatha  translates as simply “physical”) that i do is very diverse. here’s a list of some of my favorite hatha yoga teachers.

john friend www.anusara.com

ana forrest www.forrestyoga.com  

shiva rea www.shivarea.com

rodney yee www.rodneyyee.com

baron baptiste www.baronbaptiste.com

all the great teachers they bring to kripalu www.kripalu.org

and in my own community, St. Augustine, FL www.discoveryyoga.com and Didier Razon and Ann Kiyonaga-Razon:  www.didieryoga.com

most importantly, for those of you interested in exploring the yogic way of living, is to be in touch with your breath. don’t forget to breathe! and try to be aware of your breath whenever you can. right now, in fact.

carter in warrior, and he's breathing!

carter in warrior, and he's breathing strong!

a wondrous moment, a glorious day to you.

much love, lord flea