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:
but THIS …. this is how it feels … inside!!! … to do that same pose ….
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!
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.
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.
a wondrous moment, a glorious day to you.
much love, lord flea