Self-ware versus Self-conscious

Yoga is all about observation and body/mind awareness.

When we ask ourselves, “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing it?” our minds open. This is self-awareness. However, it is necessary to point out that students should be self-aware, not self-conscious, which will cause you to strain your muscles and exhaust yourself. Self-awareness is the opposite of self-consciousness… 

–“Light on Life” by B.K.S. Iyengar

MY TWO CENTS: And the above quote might be paraphrased a little… but self-aware on the mat means you’re fully looking inside yourself and aware of the stretch and the experience of the asana in your body, not detached from your body and seeing yourself as you imagine others see you or trying to match the shape of your body to the shape of any other body in the room.

That’s not to say practicing in community and encouraging each other to work harder and seek challenges to become stronger isn’t also good. But it’s two different things. 🙂


Quercus Alba: 1868 – 2020

I wanted to borrow a poem from a poet—any poet—to go with these images of a stump I found in Grant Park on a morning walk. But I couldn’t google anything up that would speak to this:



The black Sharpie marker spells out everything you need to know about this white oak anyhow, I suppose.

In a way, I can understand the brevity and I can understand that’s all the author could say because there are no adequate words for what it means to live in this land of electric neon ghosts. We all have this same stain, burned into our souls as if we, too, were struck by lightning.


Nearer by C.S. Lewis

If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.”


Always We Begin Again

DogwoodPARAMOUNT GOALS from Always We Begin Again by John McQuiston II

What is wanted is not that we should find ultimate truth,
nor that we should become secure,
nor that we should have ease,
nor that we should be without hurt,
but that we should live fully.

Therefore we should not fear life,
nor anything in life,
We should not fear death,
nor anything in death,
We should live our lives in love with life.
It is for us to train our hearts to live in grace,
to sacrifice our self-centered desires,
to find the peace without want without seeking it for ourselves,
and when we fail,
to begin again each day.


Busy, Beautiful New York City

This photo was taken on June 23, 2013, though I remember nothing about the day. Clearly I was in New York, busy, beautiful city of lights and people and energy.

To all New Yorkers and your current guests: May you be safe. May you receive everything you need. 


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.

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