“Good posture can be successfully acquired only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control. Graceful carriage follows as a matter of course.” -Joseph Pilates
Every object and being in the universe is a jar overfilled with wisdom and beauty, a drop of the Tigris that cannot be contained by any skin. Every jarful spills and makes the earth more shining, as though covered in satin…
You knock at the door of reality, shake your thought-wings, loosen your shoulders, and open.
-from The Gift of Water by Rumi
Be courageous and discipline yourself.
Work. Keep digging your well. Don’t think about getting off from work. Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice. Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door. Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who’s there.
-from The Sunrise Ruby by Rumi
This time last year I had one of those pivotal moments where I hit a wall and was faced with the reality of my life and the choices that lay before me. Things were going relatively well. A third teacher-training group was about to graduate from my Yoga Birds program and the studio was chugging along offering valuable services to the community. I had a nice house, great husband, awesome dogs, and loving family all around me.
My practices of daily asana and meditation were steady, life at home was good…but something was missing or just not right with me. I prayed and I meditated and finally realized that I was not where I wanted to be or doing what I truly wanted to be doing.
It was one of those God-moments when I realized in full force the finite nature of my time on earth, the importance and impact of every choice I make, and the preciousness of every moment that has been given to me.
I started making plans to close my beloved little yoga studio and to get back into film acting which I had left in 2008 when I moved to Fairhope from New Orleans. So, in case you were wondering, that’s where I have been all year…. In acting classes in New Orleans. More on that later…
I have not abandoned yoga. Or, more accurately, yoga has not abandoned me. I have taken a massive break and rest from daily vigorous asana (poses) practice. It was not intentional and happened naturally as I stopped teaching so much. I am still a firm believer and advocate that asana yoga teachers should be practicing what they are asking of their students. I asked a lot of my students ergo I spent a lot of time on the mat in my own personal practice doing sun salutations and warrior poses, etc.
This break from the physical yoga for me has been utterly healing and informative…which is essentially what our practices should be about. So yes, my chaturanga and my pinca mayurasana probably SUCK right about now, but really…. I don’t care. And this is cOMpletely LIBERATING for me!
What I do practice regularly is Restorative Yoga. Apparently my nervous system needs a daily re-set to truth, consciousness, and joy. My husband Burke who is a brilliant wordsmith dubbed Restorative Yoga a practice of ‘pillows and gravity’. It is absolute heaven and gives back to me ten-fold in the currency of connection to Spirit, relaxed groundedness, breath awareness, clarity, patience, kindness, happiness, contentment, and vibrant energy. All it asks of me is to stop, become still, and hang out there for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. And BTW… it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.
In these past several months I have explored different neighborhoods –literal and figurative. I miss my friends and family and community of yogis in Alabama and further east. I have made some incredible new friends in the acting and film and fitness communities of New Orleans. Life is a constant paradox. But it is certainly wonderful.
I am ready to start teaching again with a fresh new perspective on how yoga can support day to day life and courageous choices that foster the manifestation of the sparkling, healthy, vibrant lives that are our birthright.
Next month I will be in Fairhope at Prana Health and Wellness Sunday, November 24th. Becky Ardrey and I are co-hosting an open house and discussion about the collaborative 2014 Yoga Birds Teacher Training being held at Prana. Stay tuned for more details about the open house and about the training.
Also in the works in New Orleans is a yoga class in conjunction with the indoor cycling classes (called RIDE) I have been teaching at Romney Pilates Center on Magazine Street. More details TBA.
On Sunday morning, November 17th I am presenting a Restorative Yoga Session at the Mahabhuta Yoga Festival. I can’t wait to immerse in yoga for the whole weekend with so many friends and teachers! I hope that you can join me there for my class or to attend some of the fantastic classes of other teachers with me.
That’s all I have for now. Please be in touch with a comment below or drop me a line or a ‘like’ on my personal profiles at Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And if you’re interested, check out my new acting website at www.melaniebuffett.com. Hope to see y’all soon in a festive and joyful place!
Much Love and Peace,
Friday I had the great honor to attend a lecture given by the Dalai Lama in New Orleans. Even though I have been twice to Dharamsala where he lives in India, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to hear him speak live. One of the things that is most striking about His Holiness is how funny and down to earth he is. I’m still a little bit awed from the whole experience. I feel really lucky and blessed to have been there.
The city has been preparing for his visit for a year. In the last couple of weeks New Orleanians have draped homes and business in every neighborhood, and churches of all denominations with Tibetan Prayer Flags. I had a fun day cruising around the city on my “#BuddhaBike” doing a photo essay of the flags. All the pics are on my Instagram page. Have a look! You don’t have to be on Instagram to see the photos.
The main thing I have taken to heart from this auspicious audience is that compassion has the power to unlock the suffering and trappings in our personal lives. Practicing peace and compassion in our own lives is the key to bringing more harmony to the whole global family. With so much suffering in the world, how can we not work to become more compassionate beings?
It’s my favorite song…Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
IN PEACE & COMPASSION,
If you’re interested to read more information and details about Friday’s lecture and His Holiness’s first ever visit to the Gulf Coast, this is a great article from Nola.Com about the historic visit.
It’s festival time! Every year for almost 40 years, there has been at least one (if not more) member of my family present, out ‘in the Gumbo’ of music, food, art, and culture that is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritge Festival. This year my cousin Savannah and I are carrying the torch. We have been festing together since we were kids.
The fairgrounds can seriously tap energy stores if not adequately prepared. From experience and lessons learned we know to carry a bag of survival essentials to deal with sun, mud, port-o-lets, and logging miles on the track. It takes practice and stamina to work it right.
Along with the festival comes about ten straight days of incredible night shows all over town that run into the wee early morning hours. A big fest day can literally mean 18 hours.
Considering that one of the main reasons to be out in all of the wonderful madness is THE DANCING, it’s essential to keep our bodies feeling good and well. This year at the fest I heard more than a few folks talking about aching backs. And this just breaks my heart. No suffering allowed at Jazz Fest!
But, I can relate and it’s totally understandable. My back gets tired and aches after doing anything strenuous for an extended time and a New Orleans party is no joke! Whether it is the joyful occasion of a marathon of music and dancing, or any event that calls us into full mobile action for a considerable duration of time, we can and should participate fully without it taking a massive toll on our bodies. This is about enjoying life after all, right? So how do we do it all and still feel great for another day?
And yes, my answer is once again yoga. In this year’s scenario of epic Jazz Fest stamina, I have been extra diligent about weaving 5-15 minutes of restorative yoga breaks throughout my days. When I do the poses, if it’s possible, I give myself the full treatment of bolsters, blankets and an eye covering. If that’s not possible (or if I am out on the fairgrounds) I simply lie on my back with bent knees and cover my face with a hat or t-shirt or something. I turn the cell phone ringer off, and use the cell phone as a timer to make sure that I stay in the pose for a good amount of time–at least 3 minutes, but preferably 10. Using a timer actually helps to calm and quiet my mind more deeply and quickly which leads to the deep relaxation of the muscle fibers that restores them. Then the timer lets me know when it’s time to resume with activity.
This past weekend I did a supported bridge pose for 10 minutes before leaving for the fest. After a full day of walking lots and dancing in the sun to funk, blues, and rock-n-roll, when I got home, my back was tired. I did legs up the wall and reclined cobblers pose. And voila, the ache-y tired back was completely restored in a matter of minutes and I was ready to go out for another round of fun. Saturday night required a few supported poses too, and the payoff was great. I had enough energy to stay up and watch one of the greatest music lineups of the year which started at 3am. Yes. Oh yes I did stay out all night long dancing! Which I have not done in as long as I can remember. My alarm clock (that wakes me up) went off before I went to bed. I can safely say that has never happened.
I even surprised myself that I was still up with energy to spare! No aching feet or back. And I am ready for another 4-day full weekend of it starting tomorrow. It hasn’t always been like this for me. There was a time when at this point in the festivities I was having to force and push myself into unhealthy places to endure the fun. That’s one way to do it, but I am much more happy and healthy (which is really what it’s all about) this go around. It’s all yoga and dancing and art and culture and most of all good company that fuels my fire.
At 40, I am more vibrant and have more stamina than I did in my 20’s and 30’s. This year’s Jazz Fest I feel better in body mind and spirit than ever. The longer I explore the art of restorative yoga as a daily practice, the more I believe in the healing and supportive gifts it offers in every scenario that life presents.
So…Get thee to a bolster, and then meet me ‘in the Gumbo’ for some dancing!