Coyotes and . . .
As the drought continues everywhere, it seems that water will become our most precious commodity. This is what countries will fight for. When the rain forests are cut down in Brazil, it affects all of us; we are not alone or separate. As I watch the raccoons hanging from the trees in my yard and see that they've eaten all the rest of the lettuce I have so carefully grown, I realize, I am a guest on their land; we live here together.
The wildlife comes closer each year, and, along with coyotes and raccoons, mountain lions and bobcats boldly walk through the neighborhood, approaching people walking domesticated dogs on leashes, perhaps expecting a treat to be pulled out of a pocket, or ready to snatch a small dog away from its owner. Tonight I saw two raccoons climbing up the tree on the other side of my neighbor's fence, and a friend has been sleeping in her barn with the lights on to deter the mountain lion that has been stalking her horse. I see them all and feel them, following the rabbits and ground squirrels with their eyes; I follow them with mine as they search for food.
The rabbits and squirrels have been nibbling foliage recklessly on the hillside and infuriating me by consuming all the greens inside my fenced raised beds, coming closer. The fences don't seem to matter, but couldn't we at least share? Annoyed and frustrated by the destruction in my garden, I think to myself that it is no wonder those bunnies are so fat. The coyotes are hungry too, though, and greedy, and the thin fencing I put up when I moved in years ago will do little to keep them out. They are very cunning.
I admit, there is something wonderful about the sound and sight of those coyotes, reminding me of the wildness just over the hill. Beyond the potted plants on my deck and the terraces of native California shrubs I have carefully planted for drought tolerance, they are there, watching us. I am reminded that it is I that am the intruder. No matter how much landscaping I do, it is for their sake as well as mine.
Green Yoga encourages us to recycle responsibly, to compost when possible, and to limit the amount of waste we dispose of. It encourages these questions daily: If I buy that thing covered in plastic, how will I dispose of the plastic? Is there a way to buy it without the plastic? Do I bring my own bags to the market? Do I need to buy another shirt or pair of jeans or yoga pants, even if it is on sale, or do I already have plenty of those things? What am I doing with the space inside and outside my home? Is it clean, and am I pleased when I look around me? Is the car that I drive efficient and is it possible to walk, ride a bike, or take a bus to where I need to go? This is all yoga, too, and since we do exist, shouldn't we think about these things?
Within a yoga practice, there are efficient and practical ways to choose which asanas (poses) we choose at any given time. For instance, starting a practice with Sun Salutations is a wonderful way to begin the day, opening to the early morning, greeting the sun. But, are Sun Salutations appropriate in an evening practice, after a day’s work? Perhaps better choices for the evening hours would be quiet, thoughtful poses such as seated forward bends, which help to restore energy and prepare you for sleep.
Some people love the feeling of being upside down, but just as doing inversions while menstruating is discouraged, it is also important to be aware of the moon cycles when choosing which asanas to practice. Have you ever wondered why doing balancing poses such as Warrior III or Half Moon are easier on some days and nearly impossible on others? The yogis of long ago knew that our hormones are influenced by the moon cycles and that the fluctuation of hormones changes how we think and feel. I had a direct experience of this when I was very young and living on the beach with a female roommate. Before then, my periods never came regularly; sometimes months would go by before I would bleed. When it came, it was a surprise, like an unwanted guest, to be endured. Once I moved to Malibu, where the crash of the ocean's waves was a constant background, my periods began to synchronize with the natural world around me. Both my roommate and I menstruated like clockwork every month on the full moon; it was a reset, of sorts, directed by the moon. I could count on it. This was the first time in my life I felt completely connected to the world at large; I felt the power of the ocean and the heavens within my body, and I became a part of it—the blood, the ocean's pull, the draw of the moon—all in a synchronized dance. I was no longer an outsider looking in, but an important part of the natural world.
The yogis advise that, instead of practicing very challenging balancing poses every time you put down your yoga mat, practice them during the moon's mid-cycle, leaving them alone during the new moon and full moon cycles. At the new moon and full moon, we are less balanced emotionally and physically, and attempting to do balancing poses at these times may be frustrating. Practicing this way also keeps you in tune with yourself and the universe, opening boundaries beyond your front door and, at the same time, whether you practice yoga or not, making you aware of the subtleties and wonder of our existence.
The classic way to step into Warrior III, a powerful pose that asks you to be on one leg while the other is raised behind you, is from Warrior I. Here's how to do it:
- Step your left leg forward, about four feet, and turn your back foot about ten degrees, aligning the heels; turn the right hip forward, until it stops, so that both hips face the same way. Make sure your weight is balanced in both legs equally.
- Inhale, and raise both arms up toward your head, allowing the shoulder blades to drop; exhale and sink into your front knee, keeping it above your ankle at ninety degrees. Take a few breaths and settle into Warrior I.
- To shift into Warrior III, bring all your weight forward into your front leg as you bend from the hips and reach your torso and arms parallel to the ground; when secure, raise your back leg off the ground, turning the foot down and balancing the hips.
- Take a few breaths, settling into Warrior III, feeling the power and strength of the pose, allowing the front knee to extend completely. To return, step your right leg back to the ground where it began, raising your arms and torso perpendicular to the ground, back to Warrior I. Take a few more breaths, and repeat on the other side.
What I Do, and Why I Do It
I became a chiropractor in my forties, after practicing for years doing Structural Integration Bodywork, the work of Ida Rolf and Joseph Heller. My first yoga teacher, when I was in my twenties, was a student of B.K.S. Iyengar, and his style of teaching was very much as a healer, focusing on structural balance to maintain health. I delved deeply into both these modalities, knowing that when people use their bodies well, they stay healthy—at any age. Add good nutrition to this way of living—another passion of mine—and you understand the experience of how I work. I truly believe in this work—yoga, nutrition, Structural Bodywork—and although it is tedious at times, and time intensive, it gets results if people are committed to learning. This is not quick fix chiropractic, but rather an intense, thorough experience...
Come in for a summer session, and of course, referrals are welcomed and appreciated!