Tonight: Strength in Struggle

Tonight at Yoga for Queers, 5:30 and 7pm in Durham

No Yoga for Queers and Misfits next week! Back on December 3rd.

This week holds many potent invitations to engage in–and reflect upon–struggle.  First, the recent passing of transgender leader and warrior Leslie Feinberg has rocked many corners of the radical community.  Leslie is known for so many many things that s/he brought to the world, including the incredible and groundbreaking revolutionary and intersectional work s/he engaged in.  Leslie identified  as an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist, and hir last words were “remember me as a revolutionary communist.”  Leslie will be dearly missed.  Words cannot do justice to the significance of this loss, nor to the legacy of strength in struggle that Leslie invited all around hir into.

Also, this week in many places is focused on Transgender Awareness.  Yesterday was a national day of action named Trans Lives Matter, in which actions took place across the country to draw national focus to the realities that trans* folks face.  This movement seeks to keep the focus on the issues of trans* folks while they are still with us…before we lose them to transphobic violence. Powerful cross-sections of trans* community came together; especially potent were the demonstrations organized by Trans* folks of color including Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement.

So many trans* folks are targeted each year because of their identities that we hold space for them each year through Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), happening tomorrow, which is a time to remember trans* people killed because of their identity. There are two ways you can hold space in Durham: SONG and the LGBTQ Center of Durham are holding silent vigil space, and the LGBTQ Center is also partnering with Raleigh’s center for a vigil tomorrow night.  Please go y’all. I have a mandatory monthly class for grad school and cannot be there in person. Please, please: go, for me. No, go for our fallen trans* comrades. And go for those who are still with us so they know they are not alone, not invisible in life.

Struggle is essential to uphold our dignity and our humanity.  It is the only acceptable response to the daily attacks on human dignity that are all-too-common in this world of alienation and isolation.  Be it personal or political, struggle is the place where the most growth, revelation, and transformation happens. In the tradition that I practice and teach, we view struggle and conflict as opportunities to deepen awareness and relationship.

The idea is: you know that a life worth living (well, really life in general) will be full of the unexpected, the unknown, the unforeseen. There is no way you can stop this or control it. It is part of the nature of the Universe. What you can control, where you have agency and choice, is how you engage with the Unknown. You get to choose the extent to which you will welcome the unexpected gifts and unforeseen miracles that Grace offers you. Struggle is an opportunity to challenge your preconceived ideas, your prejudice and your desire to control or predict the future. All of life is just a dance with the Divine. And the Divine is not bound by the limitations that you are—the Divine can move in realms and ways that you cannot possibly predict.

In the midst of struggle is the possibility for unparalleled growth. But it can’t come easily, and it won’t come without some strife and sacrifice. You will have to learn not to fear the dark. You will have to learn to stay steady in the center of the storm. And the practice can help.

Next week is a holiday week so – No Yoga for Queers and Misfits! So come out tonight and get your fix for the next two weeks.

This week: Spaciousness

Struggle...Growth...LightIn my classes this week: Wednesday and Saturday

This time of year I really start to feel like the walls are closing in on me. The cold and the dark seem pervasive, and my desire to hibernate escalates dramatically.  Likewise my capacity to respond with patience and compassion in the world feels somehow truncated. It is especially important in these times to prioritize the practice–connecting with the infinite inner spaciousness that is your nature.

Just by choosing to practice, spaciousness is supported as you affirm for yourself that there is enough time and other resources to support this choice in your life, always.  Then, through the practice, as you focus on your breath and your posture, on living into the fullness and brightness of your inner body and supporting the radiant spaciousness around your heart, your very being becomes an antidote for the cold and the darkness.

The brightness and warmth of your inner body are enough to make you feel like you can make it through the long dark nights and short, brisk days–and not just survive them, but thrive in them.  The practice supports the feeling of spaciousness in other parts of your life, affirming your ability to invest in other areas–be it discipline, transformation, or joy.

Likewise as your heart softens, you get greater clarity about how your perspective might be limited in other areas of your life.  The sanskirt word upeksha in the Tantric perspective essentially means radiant spaciousness, and it shows up in the Yoga Sutras (some of the most sacred texts of yoga) with respect to the people and situations in your life that challenge you.

The idea is that you cultivate radiant spaciousness in the face of situations that challenge you and might lead you to act in ways that are not in alignment with your higher values and purpose.  You take a step back, or many steps back, until you’re able to see that person or situation as connected to you, as part of the larger fabric of interconnectedness, as a different manifestation of Consciousness.

This helps you respond from a place of compassion even as you perhaps continue to affirm that radiant spaciousness is the best approach to that person or situation.  You do get to choose, and the practice supports you knowing who to hold close and choose as your spiritual companions (kalyanamitra) and who to send loving and compassionate thoughts to…from afar.

All of this from the simple act of choosing your mat, choosing your practice, choosing to cultivate spaciousness in your heart and in your life. Let’s light it up together, from the inside out. See you on the mat.

Commitment – On showing up when it’s really hard

In my classes this week: Wednesday and Saturday

firey heart

Y’all. I’m really feeling it today. The election results not only in our state but nationwide are seriously getting me down.  I don’t even have it in me to process all the feelings of doom and gloom that the (s)election of Tillis and other big money candidates will mean for the people I love–which mostly includes people I don’t even know but I love them because they are people and because I claim them as my people: the poor and working class, the marginalized of every sector, the organizers and fast-food workers, the teachers and undocumented folks, the women and the queer folks.  The recent holidays which mourn the lives of those we’ve lost seem fitting precursors to these days.

I told you. I’m feeling it.

And in the midst of the news that just kept getting worse last night, I found out that a friend and elder lost her long battle with cancer and passed away. She was a mentor to me at a time when I was fresh off of my three-year stint living in El Salvador and needed some help and support transitioning back to life in the States and grappling with the “reverse culture shock” that can come along with such a move.  She herself had lived and worked in Guatemala during some of the most horrific war years.  She was truly devoted to a peace that does justice.  She was a radical musician for the movement and a social justice interpreter.

And she was my first spiritual adviser. She helped me to conceive of a Something Greater with whom I could actually imagine cultivating a relationship.  With her help, for the first time I saw the possibility that a spiritual practice really could be comforting and liberating.  And I know she supported countless people in similar ways, offering spiritual direction, mental health support and counseling, and mentorship around self-care and sustainability in movement work.  So much of the work I do is inspired by the lessons I learned by working with her, and by simply watching her live her life.

So I am really digging deep today. Looking for help and support in every shape and in every form.  As such, I am taking refuge in some of the ancient texts that inspire and instruct us on how to walk the path, lest I give in to my desperation and retreat, withdrawal, disappear.

The Bhagavad Gita, which is a profoundly holy text in many yogic traditions, tells the story of a great warrior in the midst of battle and the central teaching is – will you be your own best friend, or your own worst enemy?  The warrior is your heart and the battlefield is all of life.  Many people took to the work of organizing voters for this election with a warrior-like commitment, in what is the most expensive mid-term election EVER (“thanks” to campaign finance changes which allow for dirty money to literally dictate the outcome), knowing that so much is at stake.  We all know, of course, that so much is always at stake.  Most of us are busy working all the time–election year or not–for concrete justice and transformation in our communities.

The theme for this week is commitment, and it is all about the myriad daily opportunities that we have to stand up and speak out for what we believe in. Collective liberation is not just the inspiration for cool t-shirts and tattoos, and it is not called “collective” for nothing. It takes commitment to continue, day-in and day-out, to take a stand for what you believe in. And it is so much stronger, fuller, more potent in collective.

Now is the time to recommit to the struggle for dignity and self-determination.

Now is the time to fight for justice in ways that lift all people up.

Now is the time to nurture your commitment to building the world you want to see, one which includes justice and dignity not just for you and your people but for all beings.

Now is the time to embrace freedom from the inside out—to free yourself from the confines of whatever self-imposed censorship and internalized self-deprecation keep you from acting IN the world FOR the world you want to be a part of, alongside the folks who lift you up and remind you of your nature.

Now is the time to be your own best friend—and indeed a best friend to the world—and not your own worst enemy.

Now is the time to surround yourself with people you love and to get what you need. To do whatever it takes to do more than just survive but to start thriving.

You can do this by helping to build a container in yourself and in your life to hold the Shakti—to allow the infinite creative power of the Universe to work in you and through you in the service of Something Greater. That ‘Something Greater’ could be collective healing and community care-giving; it could be collective action for justice, fairness, and accountability. It could be as simple as making one good choice that serves your own holistic wellness. It could be as profound as reaching out and choosing connection over isolation.

Our liberation is connected, whether we choose to accept that or not. Can we commit together to showing up for ourselves and each other, even when it’s hard? Even when we’re tired of having to defend our right to live and breath? Even when it’s easier to retreat? Can we stand up together and commit to caring for our communities collectively?

Can we be our own best friends?

You have two chances tonight: 5:30-6:45 and 7-8:30.  I truly hope I see you there.

This week: Fearlessness x 3

In my Wednesday and Saturday Classes
Wednesday at 5:30 and 7pm
Saturday at 10:30am

 

Y’all – I am choosing FEARLESSNESS in so many arenas right now.
Here are THREE amazing ways:

  1. I quit my job and went back to school! WOA! Most of you know this already, but it’s kicking my butt…
  2. I have started seeing clients as a mental health service provider. And I’m ASKING YOUR HELP to spread the word and help me get clients. It is OF COURSE sliding-scale $20-40 per session, and especially for queer, trans*, and LGB folks. I’m also seeing Spanish-speaking clients. Please spread the word! You can go here or here for more info.
  3. Keepin’ It Queer has finally launched their episode on YOGA FOR QUEERS AND MISFITS. Check it out and get inspired to come do some yoga tonight!

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Fearlessness

It has been said that are two main vibrations: fear and love; all our choices come from one of these two sources. Fear of rejection, fear of loneliness, fear of disappointment, these and many other fears can stop us from making choices, from taking risks—from acting in the spirit of love. Love of self. Love of life. Love of creation and joy and expansion and renewal.

The truth is, every choice is a risk. Choosing one path inevitably requires that you let others go. This can be a source of challenge and stagnation in and of itself. Your fear of the unknown can stop you from venturing down unique paths which offer new challenges and places for growth. Your desire to cling to what is and resist the universal constant of change is ultimately what can create the most difficulties.

Challenging your fears is a practice which yields incredible results–on and off the mat.  Among many other things, it puts you in touch with your own innate strength and capacity, and it liberates incredible amounts of energy which you can then choose to invest in love!

As we welcome longer days and warmer nights and gear up for the fullness of summer, it is a perfect time to consciously work on freeing yourself from the ties of fear that bind – the perfect time to put your faith in love and the knowledge that you’re being held. Everything in and around you comes from Grace. You don’t need to fear letting go, because whatever comes after will also come from Grace.

This week, you’ll be supported  in doing poses that will connect you with your strength and help you dissolve your fear.

What do you have to lose?

This Week: Unfolding

live up to the spirit

In my Wednesday and Saturday Classes
Wednesday at 5:30 and 7pm
Saturday at 10:30am

You can’t rush greatness. It is an eternal process of becoming. When you feel a sense of critical impatience at your own “slow progress,” think about a pearl, a mountain, a butterfly. Each requires an incredible amount of time, dedication, and—yes—ritual repetition of a singular process, to become what it is. It doesn’t happen overnight, nor does that process of becoming every truly end.

Your practice of yoga can support you in a continual process of unfolding, each time becoming a clearer and clearer representation of your fullest self. It is about continually digging deep into the present and the past to recall the lessons and cull the wisdom of your experience, so that each day, each cycle, each trip around the sun is more refined and evolved than the one before. It is about continuing to take a visionary perspective of the future, focusing clearly on what it is you want to become in order to manifest it.

You don’t have to make expansion happen, and you needn’t force revelation. You are made of the stuff of the Universe, and the nature of the Universe is expansion and revelation. So that is your nature too. Everything is unfolding exactly as it should, with Grace at the helm and you as the vehicle for unfathomable creation, infinite transformation, and irrepressible joy. All you have to do is steadfastly choose to continually commit to your own awakening by showing up, on your mat and in your life. The rest is the work of Grace, moving through you as you. You can’t rush it, but you can take delight in it. There is beauty in the unfolding.