Old-School Yoga

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This month marks the 14th anniversary of my first yoga class.  A couple of years after that first “Intro to Yoga” course in college, I found my niche in a vinyasa class in Ocean Beach, San Diego.  It taught me to breathe through stress, and that it was ok to be uncomfortable.

A couple of years after that, I moved to Missoula and met one of my best friends and favorite yoga and dance teachers, Gillian Kessler.  She opened up a whole new world to me, showing me how to integrate yoga into daily movement or intricate dance routines.

This weekend, Gillian told me: “Vinyasa is my home.”  I loved that image, as it meshes with how at peace her body is in her practice.

Tonight, I dedicated my practice to discovering which poses felt most like “home” to me in this new year.  I’ve come a long way in my yoga practice the past 14 years, and it’s been a curvy road rather than a straight line.  In fact, I’m finding that road has turned full circle — my favorite poses are the ones I first learned.

bri yoga down dogYeah, I can do complicated contortions, arm balances, and inversions.  And I’m proud that I’m finally strong enough to do headstands, crow or three-legged sun salutations.

But I don’t really want to do them right now.

Where I feel happiest today is in good ol’ warrior 2.  And downward dog. Maybe a little triangle thrown in for pizazz.

Why warrior 2, you ask?  Because my bones settle easily here with one knee bent and all my toes spread.  It feels natural and calming.  But it’s  also full of this quiet power, and energy waiting to pounce.

Plus, the pose echos my mental space right now.  My fingers are reaching in two opposite directions — for home and for the unknown.

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My feet are rooted in the earth, but my head is lifting toward the clouds.  My core is perfectly centered and still, but every appendage is actively reaching for a new direction.

My gaze is forward, looking for what tomorrow will bring, but I’m not quite ready to walk toward it yet.

One thing I know for certain: tomorrow will bring more yoga, even if warrior 2 is no longer where my bones settle best.  Tomorrow will frame different poses against new horizons, and those poses will reflect my changing thoughts and emotions as we sail away.

One thing I hope for: that practicing yoga will feel like coming home, even when I’m far from the familiar during our voyage into the unknown.

 

Dancing Adventures

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Dancing is definitely up there with my top 3 favorite things in life.  Especially when I get to pair it with one of my other top 3 favorites: spending quality time with my best friends and family (which, luckily for me, happen to be the same people).

Check out this video of a little Wednesday night ditty with my buddy, “Karamat.”  Yup, we’re wearing random costumes.  Nope, we’re not even slightly buzzed.  Why?  Well, why the hell not?  What else would we do on a dark, cold-ish Montana weeknight?  Plus, I wanted to inaugurate the new Go Pro Hero 2 that arrived that afternoon in the mail (checked it off the list in our Little Red Bon Voyage Bible, thanks to 20% off at REI).  And I hadn’t seen “Karamut” since the last time we donned random wigs and danced around…at least 2 weeks ago.

Saturday night, my sister and dad and I left the wigs in the costume trunk, and went down to the Blacksmith Brewery in Stevensville to investigate the seasonal Pumpkin Ale and the groovy tunes of Tom Catmull.  Both rocked.  Too bad I left the Go Pro at home…the slightly blurry smartphone pics are still pretty fun, though.  Check out the father-daughter duo tearing up the brewery dance floor below.  I got in a dance with both Cassidy and Dad, and also led Ali in a sweet polka spin.  My pink cowboy boots always make me feel like leading a polka.

From Dancing to Dodging Deer – Just a Typical Tuesday

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Community and Culture, Dance, Yoga and Fitness, Reflections on Life
These photos were from a huge African drum and dance festival in Seattle a couple years ago. It’s in April each year, and well worth the trip!

As you might notice, Rob and I don’t really like routines.  We avoid them, actually.  But there’s one thing we don’t mind scheduling: our favorite athletic hobbies.  For Bob-ito, that means volleyball, basketball, and martial arts.  For me, that means dance classes of any kind, usually at the Downtown Dance Collective: Oula, Brazilian, ballet, hiphop, salsa.

Tonight I got the best of both worlds: an unscheduled dance class.  Thanks to my mom, I found out at 4pm there was a 7pm West African class taught by visiting master drummers and dancers from Guinea.  Sold.

I take a West African dance class about once a year, usually when someone from the African continent comes to Missoula to teach (thanks, Unity Dance and Drum!).  Even though I dance almost daily, my body is always wrecked after a West African class.  Somehow, nothing else physically compares to the exertion I put forth flailing, jumping, squatting, and spinning to loud, live drums.

And nothing else can make me feel so completely humble and humiliated one moment, and then exhilarated and affirmed the next.  It’s awesome.

Sidenote: I highly recommend everyone try something that makes them feel this schizophrenically bipolar at some point.  It brings us out of our comfort bubbles and makes us realize we can do interesting–even astounding–things.

Again, this was the big festival in Seattle in April. Everything is free. Thanks to my friend, Saleche (Celeste), for finding it and going with me in 2010.

In preparation for the body-wrecking class, I rode my bike downtown to try and loosen the muscles.  It’s now pitch black by 8:30pm, so the ride home through dark, forested Greenough Park along bear-infested Rattlesnake Creek was its own adventure.  Good thing I have lights on my bike.

Yelling “Hey, Bear.  HEEEYYY, BEARS,” into the dark woods, I turned a corner and literally braked about 4 inches from a huge buck.  Whew.  Better than a bear, but it still got my heart rate up higher than the dance class did.

Just another Tuesday night in Missoula…spontaneous African dance and a near-miss on T-boning a deer on a bike.   I wonder if tomorrow’s more-regularly- scheduled Oula dance class will have anything spontaneous in store!

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