Posts by: harry chauss
Just Stand Naturally…
“Just stand naturally,” Kim said the first time I met her. So I stood naturally–as naturally as I could in front of a room full of strangers. Strangers, and one person I knew.
I’m not sure what Erin and I were doing when I decided to ask her if I could be a Seeing Bodies subject. A cursory check of old emails confirms that we were out for dinner–or maybe coffee. At any rate, for some reason I decided that attending Seeing Bodies was going to be important. It turns out it was.
If I have a yoga practice today, it’s because of Seeing Bodies. It’s because the Yoga Therapy students who observed Kim observing me were so welcoming and kind, but it’s also because being seen is just incredibly valuable. The observations and suggestions that Kim, Kelly, Layne, and others made for me guided my practice for the next several months. Knowing that my teachers had such a deep sense of how I stand and move through the world—from the way I pick up my son, to the fact that the pain in my shoulder is related to my lower back—gave me a huge amount of confidence as I immersed myself in asana. Old aches and pains cleared up. I stood taller. But more importantly, my practice deepened as the lessons and stories my body told gave me insight into my emotional and energetic lives.
Having that starting point gave me a baseline so that my teachers could watch my progress–and so could I, not just physically, but on so many other levels, too. Now that Seeing Bodies is becoming a standard part of a membership at Boundless, the already amazing teaching that goes on here can be even better. I think that we’ll see people accessing a lot more of their potential and gaining an even better understanding of all of our connections to each other, and everything else.That’s what yoga is all about. Learning the more that we can access physically. And, of course, toning our abs. Seeing Bodies can help with that, too.
Why I Practice Yoga
Sometimes, making my way through daily life, it’s easy for me to forget that our beliefs are added onto us from the outside. We aren’t born with them. We are born with a basic humanity that can get lost over our lives as we settle into containers from which we see people with whom we agree and people with whom we don’t—people we call allies and enemies.
I think that if I were to sit in complete silence for a day with someone whose views I find abhorrent, I would forget to hate that person and he or she would forget to hate me. I hope we’d see that basic humanity in each other in the space our silence might create and we’d learn to be compassionate toward each other. The seeds of anger, mistrust, and even hatred are planted deep through this life, but we are not necessarily stuck with them forever.
Practicing yoga gives me the opportunity to exist in silence with those beliefs within me that I find abhorrent, and to allow myself to move towards the realization that they have very little to do with who I am as a human being.
I made you a mix tape…it’s all about death.
I like Stretch. My favorite moment in it is when he’s freaking out about teaching his first class and his wife tells him to “Detach.”
“‘HOW CAN I DETACH WHEN I’M GOING TO FAIL?’ I shouted.”
That made me smile.
In about an hour February will be over and so will Feb.U.Yoga. I made this playlist for Feb.U.Yoga. The other day I realized that most of the songs on the playlist are about death.
“Huh” I thought. “Most of these songs are about death.”
Then I was talking about this with Kelly and she said something like “Yoga is about death.” Maybe she didn’t exactly say that–I wasn’t taking notes, I was eating a scone. But she said something like that.
Anyway, what she said was something to the effect that, being in each moment, we are fully alive, but that means we have to die and transform with each new moment.
“Huh.” I thought. “Kelly is really smart.”
So, anyway, if you want a copy of the mix, talk to me and I will let you know how to get one. It’s good. It’s all about death.
Once, after telling a story to my son for a solid hour, I had an idea.
“Where are stories, Habibi?” I asked.
“They aren’t anywhere,” he replied. “They just are.”
I know. He’s really like that. My kid is Yoda.
I think stories are written on our bodies. Not just in scars and tattoos and aches and pains and (if you are me), creaky joints–those are the stories of our physical bodies. They mean something.They teach us things, sure.
There are other stories written on our bodies, though. Big stories. Big stories about big things. Written right there, and here’s the thing–we are constantly writing them, over and over again.
Here’s a big story:
1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 1:2 Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and God’s spirit hovered over the face of the waters. 1:3 And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light. 1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good…
Yes. I know. But it’s a big story. And it’s famous. Just be patient–it’s getting good.
So, the other week, Kim was telling us about the first two chakras. The first is all about basic survival. Safety. That kind of thing. It’s important. It’s what everything else is built upon. The second is all about desire, emotional, physical. It’s also important. It’s about our drives. So, here’s the thing. Kim was talking about this and she said “These two first chakras are sort of unformed.”
Right then all my years of Hebrew school kicked in and I thought of that story.
It’s as if those first two chakras are the basis for the rest of our creation. Our creating. The raw materials. If that’s the case, then maybe the third chakra, which holds our sense of self, is kind of like, not the light, but the value judgment we place on the light: “that it was good.” As soon as something happens to those raw materials, we put a value on it. Light is good. That’s our ego talking. That’s our third chakra.
And it’s written right there, on us.
Okay–next time I will write about music. I promise.
“And yet we’re able to carry on this normal conversation while all that power is going on,” I said.
“We always do everything while all that power is going on,” Borgel said. “Only most people don’t notice it.”
Daniel Pinkwater, Borgel
This is a quote from one of my favorite books. It’s a bout a kid named Melvin Spellbound and his elderly relative, Borgel. I’m not going to spoil the book by telling you more about the quote and where it falls within the narrative of the book or anything like that. But I will say this: My son, at almost 6 years old, just sort of relaxed when I read this to him. It was as if it somehow confirmed his suspicion that adults miss the point most of the time.
We have a choice within every moment–to notice the power, or not. Kids seem to instinctively notice the power–this may be why they are so bad creating a system for, say, picking up their toys.
I think my practice this month is about noticing the power that animates the world. So far I have noticed it with asana–at Erin, Leah, and Kim’s classes. Tomorrow I think my practice might be just noticing the power. Maybe not all day–maybe I will just check in at points throughout the day. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Harry’s Feb.U.Yoga. Intentions
Hi. I have Feb.U.Yoga intentions. Want to hear them? Sure you do.
- To myself.
- To silence.
- To people close to me.
- To those with no voice.
- Be Fierce.
- Be Gratitude.
- Be Silence.
- Be Music.
- Ground in the air.
- Align upside down.
My intentions for the month are kind of a mix-tape, not of songs, but of the people around me who just keep teaching me stuff. I am so grateful for them all.
Curious about setting intentions? Here’s a place to start: Silence. Stop–even for just a breath or two. Then listen. This formidable yoga teacher I know named Kim Weeks (you should meet her–really) says that to form intentions “You start by noticing where you are and what you’re doing in that place, in that moment.” Then you notice where you might want to be and find the path there. That’s all.
Pretty simple, right? So, what are your intentions?
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