Monday, August 20, 2007

Yogic References in Madonna's "Frozen" Video

So why did I post Madonna's "Frozen" video? Well, any yogi can see the more obvious yogic references. And anyone listening can hear the message, which is very yogic as well. I, frankly, am obsessed with this video, and here's why: it has all my favorite things...Madonna and her enviable musculature, mehndi, mudras, music, plus the Doberman, the black, the hair, the art. I recently told a friend that if I had to choose one video to represent me, this would be it.

But let's delve a little deeper into the symbolism of this video from a yogic perspective. There are a lot of things going on here:
  • Gyan mudra throughout (first instance at 4:14). And it appears she does variations on other mudras in which the fingertips are held in Gyan mudra as part of another mudra.

  • Madonna in Marichyasana (3:48). Not easy to see with the long skirt, but she very gracefully moves right into it. If you click Marichyasana above, you can read more, but here's an excerpt of the history behind this asana:

    "Marichi is the son of Brahma and chief of the Maruts, the warlike storm gods. He's one of the seven seers (rishis) or lords of creation (prajapatis), who intuitively "see" and declare the divine law of the universe (dharma)." An interesting choice, of all the asanas out there.

  • Madonna in Child/Balasana (at 1:49) before revealing a hennaed OM in the palm of right hand (1:36), in a semi-Varada mudra. What's interesting about this? Varada mudra is a gesture of giving, of bestowing blessings. OM symbol in the palm of the right hand...a gift to us? Say what you want about her, but she really brought yoga to the forefront, enlightened the masses about it at a time when it wasn't on every street corner.

There's probably a lot more going on than even this, but it's getting late and I'm getting sleepy. But before I go, here's a cool tidbit I learned in doing this research...you can find this info at http://hinduism.about.com/od/omaum/a/meaningofom.htm:

To type an OM symbol on your computer, open MS Word and key in backslash ( \ ) in Wingdings font. It works!

For more information on mudras, see these posts:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ahhhhhh...Dolly's back!

My favorite, favorite yoga teacher and guru is finally back from her well-deserved summer sabbatical. She came back looking gorgeous, as would anyone, I suppose, after spending a month in their favorite place.

Dolly never ceases to amaze me. She's like this little walking encyclopedia of sutras and yoga. This morning, her sutra was about blossoming, which I think in yoga, we can all relate to, thus it is an astute analogy. Yoga is not something anyone can jump into and rock within a month. It is a slow blossoming on the inside as well as the outside, the quiet unfurling of our souls within our limbs.

To illustrate the concept of blossoming, Dolly brought in the most fantastic Blossoming Leaf jasmine tea. The tea starts as a bud...a little ball of green tea that is hand sewn and contains a jasmine bloom in the middle. Add hot water and eventually the bud blossoms into a beautiful, drinkable work of art, right in your teacup. And as Dolly noted, like that tea, with time and patience, we too blossom into our yoga, and hopefully into authentic selves.

Related links:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How NOT to do Savasana

Took a hot yoga class the other day with a teacher I've not practiced with before. Hot yoga is not my cup of tea, though I must admit I don't loathe it like I used to. I guess running in 95-degree heat and practicing in at least 80, 85-degree heat has finally enabled me to acclimate. But in my heart, I'm a Power Vin girl all the way.

So why was I in hot yoga, then? My sister-in-law wanted to take a hot class (she's a Bikram girl), her first after giving birth two months ago, so who am I not to indulge her? Though I will admit at one point, as we were lying on our mats between Locust/Bow, and I (like the sweat machine that I am) literally dripped sweat in the most inelegant manner, looked over and made eye contact with my rosy-cheeked, slightly perspiring sister-in-law, and promptly, discreetly, flipped her my own little bird of paradise. Not very yogic. But she took it in stride. My altruism doesn't last long, I suppose. But I digress.

Sweat and all, the class is an enjoyable one. The teacher has a nice tone, good cadence, great music. Yes, it is hot as ****...at one point I swear the thermometer was almost 100 degrees...but still, I'm liking it. Until we get to Savasana. We have 15 minutes left and she brings us down to our mats. I'm thinking, great, some good, deep floorwork. I'm as warm as I'll ever get, so let's do it, people! I'm ready for Splits, Pigeon, whatever. She prompts us to lay down on our backs and get comfortable. I'm waiting. No more instruction is coming. So I go into Shoulderstand, Plow, the usual, thinking, why are we already doing this? Then she says something like, "It's 12:00, we have 15 minutes for a good, long rest." What?????

OK. Number one, when we're paying for 90 minutes, we expect 90 minutes in the right proportion. Number two...oh, you're going to love this. So here's what happens next:

I wrap my mind around this "freestyle" Savasana this woman has just intentionally or unintentionally presented. I get comfy. I'm flat out. She turns the fans on and sprays some herbal mist which is lovely. I'm thinking that since it's a small class and there's all this time, we're going to get extra love...a foot rub, neck rub, a chant, hell if I know. Something to justify losing floor time and having too much relaxation time.

Instead, here's what went down: the teacher starts picking up the straps she had plopped by everyone's mat, which she never mandatorily employed in the practice anyway, so why bother? Not that big a deal, except she's not quiet about it, and the straps have metal D-rings on them so they jingle. OK. This is really starting to piss me off. I've been told I have 15 minutes to relax, but teach is going to use it as clean up the studio time? All of a sudden I hear more rustling, walking, movement. I finally give up. I open my eyes and look around, and everyone has rolled up their mats and they are gone! The teacher is putzing around near the sound system and my sister-in-law is looking at me. WTF? We had no closure, no OM, no Namaste, no nothing. Her lack of commitment to seeing the class through to the end, her open-ended Savasana ended up killing an otherwise nice practice. There was absolutely no respect for us as students, with all the moving around. And I was really surprised that she didn't even say thank you or a formal goodbye.

And so the moral of the story is this: Savasana is sacred. If you can't do it right, just don't do it at all. Oh, and this: class should have a definite beginning and end, at minimum. If you aren't into sutras, chanting, and all that, fine. Just sit on your mat, smile, and say thank you for coming. Even that is better than some nebulous, freeform, leave-when-you-want, half-assed Savasana.

OK. I'm done. Don't mean to be so blatantly honest about it, but it was such a shame after a pretty good practice.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Being Present

It's taken some time, but I'm starting to not be so shocked when a concept is stuck in my head, and it shows up in yoga, or when I especially need some words of affirmation, and they come to me through yoga. For some time, I've been taken by surprise when these uncanny "coincidences" have occurred—but now I know they are not coincidental at all. Strip it all down, and it's Law of Attraction, plain and simple. That's what I think, at least.

And what's the point of all this? Well, lately I've had a very hard time focusing on the present because I have a couple dates on the calendar occupying my mind. One is short-term, the other is months away. I've been so hung up on these dates, looking forward to them, that they've begun to play with my mind to the point that I've lost clarity to a certain degree. Nothing crazy, but in a way, I'm living a half-life, kind of holding my breath in anticipation, which really is not good with months to go.

So I head out for yoga this morning. Greg is teaching for Dolly, and his sutra, though I've heard it before from Dolly (and he acknowledged that it came from her in class) is about presence, the very thin line between NOWHERE and NOW HERE. Loved it! It was what I needed to hear, even if I know this. Because that future date in my head is really still nowhere, but I am in the now, here. And I need to keep that at the forefront of my thoughts in order to maintain mental equanimity, to enjoy the here and now while still keeping my eye on the prize, as a friend recently put it.

That future date may never come to fruition (though you can bet I'll be thinking Law of Attraction, Law of Attraction, Law of Attraction, Law of Attraction from now til then). But I can count myself blessed for today, breathe in this glorious summer, and just roll with it. Be here. Enjoy now. I've been struggling with this concept quite a bit, so forgive me for revisiting it again. It's hard for a Type A girl. But I'm remembering. And when I forget, the universe gently reminds me.