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People who study yoga (or who just take classes for the fitness aspect) generally want to be nice people; they feel better after taking class or practicing, they want others to know the benefits, and they realize how much there is too learn. But there is no pleasing some folks, or maybe they are practicing in a manner that is increasing their attachment to their physical bodies or their “right way” of practicing.

lotus openingWhat began as an innocent exchange on the comments section of a popular Ashtanga Yoga teacher’s YouTube video quickly turned sour as the original commenter began by denouncing the teacher’s documentation of her personal advanced level practice as a “bastardized version of traditional Yoga exercise” and quickly degenerated into base name calling and profanity. As he seemed to get more agitated with each post I decided to reply with a little Sanskrit which seemed to tone him down a little without deflating his ego one bit (and yet he said nothing useful on what he thought true Yoga is).

Using the exchange as a teaching tool in my morning class at a women’s health club I used my Sanskrit reply of “Tat tvam asi” as a launching pad for the concept of “Sat Chit Ananda” – we are that/Truth, Consciousness, Bliss – and the search for that calm center which watches our conscious mind wrestle with such agitations. The physical practice combined meditations on how the physical body moves and holds positions (via a SLOW sun salutation) as well as how it lets go (or not) of unnecessary held tensions which holds us back from effortless effort.

It’s amazing how much one can cram into a one hour class when you’re on a roll but watching myself teach somehow I had the feeling that I was no longer the one teaching the class. While feeling happy that the students were enjoying their practice I couldn’t really take credit for it; somehow the true teacher was this flaming asshole with a New Zealand email address who refused to hold an intelligent conversation about the nature of Yoga and meditation.

So wherever this jerk is I hope he continues to practice a little every day as his practice will subtly change him over time. May he feel safe and protected, may he feel happy, may he be healthy and strong, may he care for himself wisely.

Lokah samastaa sukhinoh bhavantu.

May all beings everywhere be happy.



Bitmap. my shelter kitty, asleep in her favorite spot

Rescued from the euthanasia table at the last minute, Bitmap was about 12 weeks old when she came into my life as the best Christmas present ever. Affectionate and happy (and a fantastic mooch) she showed a lot of love to everyone over her lifetime.

But every living thing must decline and pass with time, and my baby was no different; suffering from weight problems and kidney disease her joints weakened and stiffened, her bowel control became non-existent, she struggled to walk and even eat but still would purr for me whenever I brushed her wonderfully soft fur. When she developed an infection I had to take her to the emergency vet for several days; they worked valiantly to help her kidneys heal and to reduce her pain enough that I could bring her home, but she could not recover enough to walk or eat enough to stay with me. After one night and half a day at home with me spending as much time with her (spoiling her rotten) as possible, she suffered some sort of seizure and I had to say my goodbyes.

It is never easy to take a beloved companion to the place where she will breathe her last. I had always hoped that she would pass peacefully in her sleep but I couldn’t bear to see her suffer; I could tell that she felt miserable even though she didn’t want to leave any more than I wanted her to leave. The drive back to the emergency vet was short; she awakened long enough to look at me with awareness. The staff prepared her and I held her, stroked her fur, and told her how much I loved her as she was given the drugs that stilled her heart and freed her soul.

Bitmap now rests under my redbud tree in my front yard; I buried her with her favorite toy, which she used to carry around in her mouth while meowing her furry head off (she had claimed it as her own when I had intended it for a friend of mine). I still grieve for her, or perhaps I grieve for the companionship I miss.

The body decays, fertilizing the earth and becoming food for others so they might live.

OM Tryambakam yaja mahe sugandhim pushti vardhanam
Urdhva rukhamiva bandhanam
Mrityor mukshiya mamritat
OM Shanti, shanti, shantihi

May 2010
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