Posted by Michelle Azar
I get O Magazine.Yes, THE Oprah Magazine. I didn’t subscribe. I don’t know how I get it, who might have gifted me with this, but I have to admit, I like it. I get it, monthly, big and beautfiul in my mailbox. If there is a big ,beautiful check biling me montluy for it, that I don’t see. But O- I get.
And though I don’t really read magazines, save for in the doctors office, I do read this one. And I love the quote page:
ALWAYS ERR ON THE SUNNIER SIDE OF DOUBT.
Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives. And if things don’t work out, TAKE ANOTHER SHOT.
All classes will be suspended this week, as I go to NYC to breathe in my Brooklyn baby, but I will see you all as our schedule resumes on December 2nd!
11.22.13 at 5:30 pm |
11.11.13 at 3:17 pm |
10.4.13 at 2:36 pm |
9.18.13 at 1:14 pm |
8.30.13 at 10:37 am |
8.19.13 at 10:38 am |
November 11, 2013 | 3:17 pm
Posted by Michelle Azar
From mistakes come greatness, or so I have heard it said. Well, I’m not sure my slip of the tongue led to greatness, but certainly a good giggle. And then food for thought…
My 89-year-old private yoga student was just getting out of Sirsasana. Ok, head stand for those non-sanskrit speaking yoga folk. And yes, she IS 89 and she WAS in head stand. More impressed with her I simply cannot be.
Her big blue eyes darted, a mixture of surprise and excitement, maybe a little fear thrown in, and as her breath got shorter and more shallow, I offered, “re-engage your calm.”
Now I meant to say, re-engage your CORE, but calm came out. We had a good laugh about it, but then thought it quite an accurate if not pithy coupling of words. Even more to the point really than the original.
After all, what does core mean? Physically, I know it refers to the belly area. That whole center of the bodily universe that when strong, keeps us healthy. Core is also our center house. Our mind alone takes too many liberties. WIthout a strong sense of grounding, of self-knowledge, which only a strong core can provide, the mind hides in its Cheshire Cat costume and grins its way all over us.
It is the breath practice of yoga that might help reveal the core’s fleeting nature AND potential. How does it change in each asana? Again, come to class if you are interested in what THAT word might mean… What moments threaten the connection and in what positions does it all deepen?
My professor in Drama Therapy, Robert Landy, ascribed to the onion theory of personality that we are all like onions, each layer colored directly through interaction with another, until finally a small core remains. That core is what we are in constant search to relate with, more closely and calmly. The yoga thought might be the peels are the asanas, and the core in the center, the calm purity of breath. Or soul. Release.
PLEASE JOIN ME TOMORROW, 11/12, AT 10:30 AM
5410 WILSHIRE BLVD., JUST WEST OF LA BREA.
FOR A VIGOROUS PRACTICE AT U STUDIO
in peace and calm, michelle
**the rest of our practice remains the same this week!
October 4, 2013 | 2:36 pm
Posted by Michelle Azar
I read this in a class taught by Wendy Haines of Illumine Education this past week. I was fascinated by the concept. It seems simple enough, yet, the messages behind it are plentiful. I wondered how many of us truly believe that- that simply by virtue of being alive we are deserving. Deserving of what is the follow up question I suppose. Those “inalienable truths,” the ones our forefathers wrote to be self evident? Many a wise sociologist could speak on that better than I. But what about the other stuff. The things we got and felt maybe as children. The things we we liked doing. The things we did that made us feel truly happy and free and like we belonged. Are these what determine our worth or make us feel lacking in worth as we get older?
We are often taught that hard work makes us worthy of rewards. Simultaneous is the teaching that it is not how much we own or have but with whom we spend our lives that create worth in a person’s life. Maybe this sentence, when read from the singular perspective of dream realization, can hold a deeper message. The subtleties behind these few words when TRULY internalized might have far reaching effects on our self esteem, and how we choose to further author our adulthood .
Either way, I like it. I like pondering the words in this short sentence. Maybe you will too.
Let me know.
In peace, and wishes for a joyful weekend,
UPDATED SCHEDULE FOR THIS WEEK
10/6 no practice
10/7 9-10 with FANTASTIC sub, Linda Eifer- she is a specialist in Anusara and pre-natal yoga
10/8 6:30-7:45 pm
10/10 8:30-9:30 *****this IS our new time, late comers ALWAYS welcome though!
10/13 9:15-10:15 this Sunday class will meet the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month
September 18, 2013 | 1:14 pm
Posted by Michelle Azar
Round this time of year, we see many little huts cropping up around town. Small and fragile little spots, often decorated by the loving hands of children and their parents, house families and guests for many a meal or daring sleepover for the next 8 days or so.
I’ve been thinking about these huts differently this year. I have been noticing that we build our own huts internally, and if we are not careful, we allow ourselves, our hurts and frustrations, to be the material for the walls and the emptiness we feel from these perceived wrongs from our friends and family the only thing that accompanies us. Instead of using our huts as sources of nourishment we use them instead as means to separation and isolation.
Meta-messages I think they can be called. These are the in between things that we sometimes glean from the spontaneous comment from another. A stranger in line at the bank. The difficult seeming authority figure on the phone. These messages become even more weighty when they come from the mouth of a loved one. “You watching the game?” This kind of query can turn from a simple question into a perceived accusation. “Careful not to leave anything behind, can morph from a loving reminder to a deep personal dig at someone’s irresponsible nature.
Both parties of communication need to take an active part in the dialogue in order for these meta messages to be addressed. The person delivering the message needs to really check in- is there truth behind the perceived judgment? And if so, maybe there is a more specific way to address it with the other? And the person listening- are you really listening with ears in the present? Or are your stored up feelings of accusation causing you to hear even this one simple remark also from that voice?
These messages can underline our personal” huts”, making it impossible for others to be invited in. And that can only lead to suffering. Protection from the hurtful barbs of another of course can be helpful. But not in simple reactive mode. Rather, than build a whole house away from those we love whose messages you might be weighed down with our wrong (or right!) perceptions, we need to learn to take the more difficult road, the road toward honest communication. Hey, what did you mean by that, because this is what I heard you say, and that sort of conversation openers….
Difficult maybe, and worth it. For a few minutes of uncomfortable dialogue might be worth years of happier hut sharing time.
August 30, 2013 | 10:37 am
Posted by Michelle AzarI sat at my little red meditation center last night and gently surveyed its surface. I moved an earthen pot from one side to another, and by doing so I noticed something. Many of the items on this little shelf were gifts from my mother. This took me by surprise, and NOT because she is not the “gift-giving sort” – quite the contrary! To see her represented on this little table though WAS of interest. I thought it housed items for my yoga and meditation practices, neither of which have anything to do with her. Or so I had always thought. She is quite a physical sort, and deeply rooted in both a “spiritual” life quest as well as in traditional Jewish beliefs, but I do not view her as a “meditator”. So why would she show up here, in this spot filled with some worship type accoutrements collected by me from yoga friends and teachers? Maybe the simple answer is: your mother is everywhere. She housed me solely for the first 9 months for goodness sake. Perhaps this is a cord that is not meant to be fully severed. What a complicated and beautiful that connection is. How vulnerable a dance it is to set up a table for the purpose of deepening your individual spirit only to find that your dear ole mom has followed you there. Or even beat you to the punch with her decorating tips! A sense of helplessness was about to set in, but then I re-examined. The pieces from my mother were unique. Strong in the materials from which they were made, yet soft and simple in the feelings they conveyed. They were about quiet embrace, mindful movement, and love. Maybe exactly the elements of meditation itself. So here is to the embrace of the opposites, and to the purity of love, At this reflective but often hectic time of year, I need all the reminders I can get to slow down, move mindfully, and love. Fully. May this be a sweet and healthy time for us all. Michelle
August 19, 2013 | 10:38 am
Posted by Michelle AzarI love chanting Torah. I try to do it often, and BK (before kids) I think I did it nearly every weekend. I did study it formally for a short while, and soon it became the kind of thing that I could just look at fast and do pretty darn well. Less so now. Maybe I am getting older, maybe the kids change things, but either way, it takes me longer to prepare and I do it less. So yesterday I asked my husband to be my right hand guy at Torah time, and back me up with the cheat sheet. Such a mistake. I relied only on the sheet and not at all on my preparation, so I actually made more mistakes and wound up SOUNDING like I knew it even less well than I did. I walked down feeling embarrassed. It is always hard to when you have not done your best. But the embarrassment gave way quickly to a different feeling. I was glad for the lessons, both of trust and imperfection. It was ok in this setting to have been very imperfect. I am not judged there harshly and always have a second chance. In addition, learning and RE-learning that to soar is only possible when we trust our knowledge rather than when we keep ourselves safe by sticking to the page. Food for thought as we go into our practices this week…. See you there. On our regularly scheduled program. In peace, Michelle
August 2, 2013 | 6:00 pm
Posted by Michelle Azar
Some days, it’s all hard. The thing you thought you had taken care of that time still does not work. The thing you wanted, try as you might, feels still so out of reach, and the things that ARE available to you feel not interesting at all. Your brain starts then to listen in on all the nasty rumors it’s hearing about you. That equanimity you work on diligently is challenged by all the negative messages rummaging about that uncontrollable environment between your ears.
Best to breathe in these moments. Sure, there are other options that might also bring immediate relief, most of them not as safe nor as long lasting. The practicing of yoga is to “sit with tall spine” and breathe. Not “get into a funky position in a heated room and learn contortions.” Nope. Just breathe. So that when that hard day (days) come up, you’ve got some options.
Option: make August your “coming back to breath month.” We will still flow, but make a stronger and possibly longer commitment to our breath in each of our practices. And in order to make that commitment more affordable, all classes will be $10 until September 1.
I look forward to a lovely month ahead,
June 27, 2013 | 1:22 pm
Posted by Michelle Azar
We were about half way through class Tuesday night, when I heard a light knock at the door of our studio. To be clear, our studio also serves as a meeting room, sometimes a storage room, and weekly as a house of worship to the Orthodox congregation who rents space at Temple Emanuel.
I went to the door quietly, and the Rabbi, a kind man who I have become fond of, apologizes profusely for disturbing, but in some desperation pleas, “It is a fast day, and we need our Torah.”
My mind was an instant jumble. I’d imagine it’s not often for a yoga class to be interrupted with such a request. First, I was aware of my attire. Though perfectly suited for yoga practice, I had never felt more naked in my life. Me, the wife of a rabbi, standing in my Lululemon’s, restricting a Torah from another rabbi; oy.
Then, my ignorance. “Fast day?” I wondered back to the Rabbi. Too early for the one I knew that usually falls late July. But there wasn’t time for a history lesson. We both had to get back to our flocks. In my effort to protect my women, and prioritze our religious practices, though clearly different in this moment especially, we negotiated. “Ten minutes?” “10 minutes, ” he agreed and rushed off, again with apologies for interruping.
Back in class, we moved through the rest of the asanas fluidly, mindfully, and with a lot of giggling. The awareness of this unique interruption alive in the room. Luckily, one of our class mates was part of that congregation and knew which fast day this was, so she filled us in.
When I asked us all to come to the wall for our last moments, we were all very tentative. Usually the ark holding the Torah remains invisible to us throughout class, but this evening it was larger than the room itself. I felt funny chanting in my usual Sanskrit to close our class, and further uncomfortable to place my palms together at my heart in a gesture of gratitude. Though I had long ago made peace with these practices, tonight they just did not mesh with my Jewish traditions.
We finished class with ease, and I opened the door for the Torah delivery. I knew better than to reach in and take the Torah to him, being the ill clad, female that I am. I sat down outside afterward to take stock.
I realized after a few breaths, that I did not feel ashamed. I had done nothing hurtful to anyone, and instead had only lived out all the roles I have in this community in that short half hour. I am always Jewish. I am always alive with a love and reverance for the traditions, ones that I know about and ones that I am eager to learn about. I pay respect to those around me, and deserve respect to for investing and investigating my practices. The yoga practices and traditions that I learn and teach I try to impart with as much honestly as I can. I never choose them OVER my practices as a Jew, but more in conjunction which always manages to deepen my connections to Judaism.
Integration is the process of unifying with integrity all the different parts of ourselfves. The yogi with the rabbi with the student with the mother with the wife and the actor and the messy perfectionist that I label myself. For years I had tried in vain to keep these personas separate. All that happened from never introducing self to self is a sense of exhaustion. And ill feeling. This was a great teaching for me. Taught me how far I have come, and how far I have yet to go. How much more there is for me to learn, and feel comfortable with in ALL my life’s practices.
And how ready I am to have my own yoga studio.