Love for and fascination with movement, alignment, and the body has only deepened since beginning this dance with the Pilates reformer. Alignment based yoga is not (as commonly thought) a static practice. A common thread running through both alignment based yoga and Pilates is the pursuit and practice of finding the most agreeable relationship between parts of the body and infusing those biomechanics with expanded breath or Prana. Alignment is the clear unobstructed flow of Prana through the body. Alignment in asana (yoga poses) becomes more refined and intuitive with study and practice. The same is true in Pilates practice. Alignment based movement practices can literally enhance the intuitive intelligence of the body’s systems as well as clear the inner-body energetic pathways for a heightened sense of comfort in embodiment. Over time an alignment based practice moves from physical to subtle-body awareness. This introduction of feeling and sensibility to technique evolves into art.
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“O profound, silent tree, by restraining valour with patience, you revealed creative power in its peaceful form. Thus we come to your shade to learn the art of peace, to hear the word of silence; weighed down with anxiety, we come to rest in your tranquil blue-green shade, to take into our souls life rich, life ever juvenescent, life true to earth, life omni-victorious.” ~From ‘In Praise of Trees’, by Rabindranath Tagore
“A lamp does not flicker in a place where no winds blow; so it is with a Yogi, who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him. When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is still for the practice of yoga, the Yogi by the grace of the spirit within himself finds fulfillment. Then he knows the joy eternal which is beyond the pale of the senses which his reason cannot grasp. He abides in this reality and moves not therefrom. He has found the treasure above all others. There is nothing higher than this. He who has achieved it, shall not be moved by the greatest sorrow. This is the real meaning of yoga – deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.” ~BKS Iyengar
“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
“The Buddha taught that the mind is wild and the human experience is full of unpredictability and paradox, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. But through good meditation techniques, a simple attitude, and unconditional friendliness toward ourselves, we can work toward taming the one thing that causes our suffering: the mind.”
Even ordinary people like us with hang-ups and confusion have this mind of enlightenment called bodhichitta. An analogy for bodhichitta is the rawness of a broken heart. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we are arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart broken open is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all.
The openness and warmth of bodhichitta is in fact our true nature and condition. Even when our neurosis feels far more basic than our wisdom, even when we’re feeling most confused and hopeless, bodhichitta – like the open sky – is always here, undiminished by the clouds that temporarily cover it.
-from Comfortable With Uncertainty by Pema Chodron
Being able to stop and be aware of the present moment is part of the definition of happiness. It is not possible to be happy in the future. This is not a matter of belief; this is a matter of experience.