Love in the Open Hand

blossomsMy relationship with my mother could best be described as “difficult” when she was alive. But there was nobody better to have on your side during an emergency that Mary Everett Little-Vance.

“Nobody’s heart is broken, is it?” she might say.  No broken bones. No rain coming through the roof. That we had managed to survive a thing with our hearts intact was what really mattered. Whatever “tragedy” befell us–mostly dealing with worldly security issues–Mama would point to the fact that we hadn’t lost anything truly worth our tears.

(When we were school age, the “crisis” could totally be of our own making but she would defend us first and ask questions later. She might not love what you did but she never stopped loving you.)

To breathe and to love. There’s stuff to want, material stuff, sure, but when you really boil it down, I mean at the end of the day, I think Mama was onto something.

Mary Everett Little-Vance died in February 2014. Not only do I miss her every day but I think I even “get” her a little more every day. I’m sure she’d have something good to say about “regret,” too, so I won’t try to go rearranging the past. I suppose it’s helpful that my mother never became frozen or static in death and continues to evolve as I do.

This verse was among her favorites:

“Love in the open hand, no thing but that,

Ungemmed, unhidden, wishing not to hurt,

As one should bring you cowslips in a hat

Swung from the hand, or apples in her skirt,

I bring to you, calling out as children do:

“Look what I have! — And these are all for you!”

Edna St. Vincent Millay


Just Found: Yang Yoga Flying Dragon Sequence by Paul Grilley

flightThis week, I stumbled upon a Paul Grilley flow on youtube that must be known to his followers. It’s called “flying dragon” and it’s a very elegant and powerful sequence that really moves. Here’s a link to the original performance of the sequence with Paul and Suzee Grilley and then the teaching of the flow (Paul teaches, Suzee demonstrates).

During most of the flying dragon sequence, the head is below the heart so it challenges your heart and your lungs. Honestly, it challenges your whole self and is probably a little addictive like the Macarena (I’m actually imagining I’d be addicted if I ever tried it so no Macarena, no crack). Energy-wise, the dragon fired up my brain at 4 am this morning, clear and alert, raring to figure something out. (I fell asleep again at 6…)

Whether or not you feel moved to try flying dragon, or if it’s even meant to happen in your body, it’s beautiful to watch. Enjoy!

PS As background, Paul Grilley is the inventor of Yin Yoga and I know this because one of my teachers, Douglas Johnson has trained extensively with him and is (I believe) the teacher who brought Yin Yoga to Atlanta. In fact, if you want a chilled yin class tonight, I believe Doug is live streaming and posting some donation classes on his website. Check out www.mahapathayoga.com. Yin is not only an amazing stretch, but it’s also a great intro to yoga and accessible to most people. So if you’re feeling a little stressed, this might help. PPS I just learned that Doug normally (non-coronavirus days) teaches this style of yoga–Yang Yoga–at evolation yoga Atlanta on Mondays at 4:45pm.


Hometown Yoga Podcast with Curt Mann: A Guy’s Yoga Story

CurtMannIn this episode of Hometown Yoga, we’re joined by seasoned yogi Curt Mann. Curt, who has been practicing yoga since 2004, opens up about what it’s like to be the often lone man among a sea of women in a yoga studio and how he processes ideas like “self-care” and “self-love.” Curt also talks about how he and his wife Christine survived a public controversy for building a 50-foot wind turbine next to their historic home in Grant Park in Atlanta and how the couple transformed “fake” news back to feel-good news.


Deepening Your Yoga Practice

classnotesMaking the decision and then clearing my schedule to begin my 200-hour yoga teacher training didn’t happen overnight. I asked questions. Before class. After class. I googled the “G” out of Google (gee-whiz, gee-wonder). There was soul searching… could I just take the training to deepen my practice? Would more serious students begrudge me for taking up a spot in training when I had no intention of teaching ever? Was I too old?

Before I signed up for my first major training in 2017 (and then backed out for scheduling reasons), one of my teachers said, “You are here all the time practicing. Eventually, you’ll be a teacher.” I didn’t doubt her positive intention and encouragement. I did, however, doubt the outcome.

Turns out she was right and I was wrong. Those who practice, who show up every day–or most days–are probably more likely to teach. And, even as I daily embrace my student mind, I find myself teaching more and more–not just as a substitute for my friends but as a regularly scheduled instructor.



Hometown Yoga Podcast with Ndelea Simama: Yoga for Depression

Atlanta Yoga Teacher Ndelea Simama

In this episode of Hometown Yoga podcast, Atlanta yoga teacher Ndelea Simama shares the backstory behind her  Yoga for Depression workshop (coming up again Saturday, February 29, 2020, Mystic Lotus Yoga 97 Estoria Street, Atlanta, GA www.mysticlotusyoga.com/workshops/ 404-921-8375). Ndelea, who completed her 200-hour teacher training at Nirvana Yoga Studios in Grant Park, also talks about the vibrant growing African American yoga scene in Atlanta as well as the need for more black-owned and co-owned studios, teachers and practitioners, and how yoga can help to heal racial trauma.


Four Things That Darken the Heart

Obscured viewFour things that darken the heart from T.K.V. Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga



Avidya: misapprehension, incorrect knowledge, false understanding

Desikachar writes, “These are the four possible ways avidya might be expressed.”

  1. The ego: “I am right,” “I am sad,” “I am a yoga teacher”
  2. The desire to have something whether we need it or not
  3. Refusing things and having feelings of hatred
  4. Fear—afraid of death, we cling to life with all our might

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