Wa Yo Yogi

Leanne Kitteridge's adventures in Yoga

Winter Buddha in Meditation December 29, 2008

Filed under: Japan,yoga — shibuiyoga @ 6:21 pm
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no mo yama mo

yuki ni torarete

nanimo nashi

Joso ( 1661- 1704)


Fields and mountains too,

all captured by the snow

so nothing remains.


The Twelve Days of Yoga December 22, 2008

Filed under: Anusara,yoga — shibuiyoga @ 2:51 am
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I guess most of you that read my blog noticed the rather long time lapse between posts…oops. Let’s just say that the Christmas season has slightly taken over my life and that writing has fallen to the back burner. Luckily today I have found time to write. I thought my chaotic, seasonal dysfunctional life might make for a quick read and hopefully a good laugh…

On the first day of Christmas my guru brought to me…a neti pot

Now really what is it about that first winter cold that knocks you flat on your butt and doesn’t go away for almost 2 months? I have to say though that a neti pot really does help. I have yoga to thank for even knowing what one was. Don’t be afraid- try it. Just don’t talk to anyone in the middle of using it…warning.

On the second day of Christmas my guru brought to me…the Yamas.

The Yamas and the Niyamas are a set of 10 ethical and moral precepts. I decided to teach the Yamas for the last 5 weeks of yoga classes and then start the Niyamas in the New Year. I found it so interesting that every time I went to teach one it was exactly what I was struggling with that week. I also had to teach them from a more Anusara, therefore tantric, perspective which gave rise to some interesting research and thinking. I chose to interpret them as such:

Ahimsa: (non- violence) By loving ourselves and remembering our true nature we are naturally more inclined to love others. We do not obstruct the divine flow.

Satya: (truthfulness) Be truthful to who you are and where you are in your practice. Speak the truth to others in a way that doesn’t hurt them (the first Yama)

Asteya: (non- stealing) Be full in your experiences and let others be full in their experience. Do not rob yourself of the joy of new experiences- do not steal another’s pleasure by being jealous.  People often steal because they feel they are lacking so remember that the first principle in Anusara Yoga reminds of our fullness: purna.

Bramacharya: (celibacy) Yeah- mama. This was a fun one to teach…I went at it this way:  Have the conduct (charya) of God (Brama).  Do not let small things in life take you away from the bigger picture. God is all seeing, can you spread you awareness to encompass more than one thing? We should live our lives in moderation and consideration of all things. We should have integrity in our relationships.

Aparigraha: (non-coveting) Everything has a time and a place and we have to sometimes let things go when there time is over; both people and things. By letting the things that no longer serve us go we actually make space for something else. When we let go of something, or someone, or some idea, we have space in our lives for other things, experiences or ideas to enter.

On the third day of Christmas my guru gave to me… a mala.

Well, it wasn’t really a mala. It was actually 35 feet of tangled gold bead garland for the tree. After untangling the first 10 feet (and deciding to just cut the damn thing since it was already 11:00 at night! ) I instead decided to chant mantra. Every time I came to a knot I chanted, “Om namah shavaya” and so in this way, over the course of an hour, I meditated on a 35 foot mala.

On the fourth day of Christmas my guru gave to me…Hanuman.

I have been reading the Ramayana for the last few weeks when I have time and I plan to do a workshop on the Story of Hanuman in the New Year. It has been a light and fun version to read from Penguin Classics, so if a larger tomb has been frightening you off this one is very reader friendly. Perfect for teenagers…and very busy yogi moms.

On the fifth day of Christmas my guru gave to me…pincha mayurasana.

Yes- I stuck it without a wall in Japan last week…jet lag et al. It only lasted a few seconds but it is a start to the continual fear I have with falling out of that pose into a backbend. Practice, practice, practice.

On the sixth day of Christmas my guru gave to me…Lululemon.

A Lululemon decided to “pop-up” just up the street from me for the Christmas season. I attended a lovely little VIP party there and bought some new things and it was sad to think that it will be gone again January 15th. See? Aparigraha… adapt to change and be happy for what you did have while it lasted!

On the seventh day of Christmas my guru gave to me…new life.

I am pleased to announce that two of my best friends are pregnant and glowing with new life. Having decided that my child bearing is over, I feel this immense sense of both happiness and nostalgia. No one can really explain the joys and sorrows of parenthood to someone that has not been there. It is the most rewarding and yet difficult dharma one is ever given. I know they will be fantastic mothers.

On the eighth day of Christmas my guru gave to me…pranayama.

Breathe. Just breathe. That is what I was saying to myself on the 4th trip to Wal-Mart in 2 days for Christmas lights. My husband decided we needed a bigger tree this year. What I hadn’t calculated on that bigger tree means…well…. MORE. More room, more work, more lights, more ornaments. I under estimated the amount of lights twice and came home once with two broken boxes which sent me back to Wal-Mart at 10:30 at night. It’s 10:30 on a Sunday night- should be easy to get in get out, right? WRONG. It was packed! I had never seen it that busy except on a Saturday afternoon. Breathe, Leanne, breathe. 

On the ninth day of Christmas my guru gave to me…the Himalayas.

Ok- well snow…like in the Himalayas. This has to be the coldest winter that I can recall. The last time it was this cold for such a long period of time was 1971. I have no memory of 1971- I was 1. My girlfriend Lauren taught a practice which echoed the stillness of the snow the other morning- inspired by her walk to the studio through the white dusted neighborhoods with the mountains in the background. Perfect.

On the tenth day of Christmas my guru gave to me…dharma.

Ironically,as I am the one that, as my husband says “makes Christmas happen“, I will not be here for most of it. With all the layoffs of flight attendants, I will work from the 22 of December until January 1st almost non-stop. No, I will not book off: someone has to work it. I will have Christmas Eve night and early, early Christmas morning with my family and I am blessed to have that.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my guru gave to me…meditation.

I actually decided not to bake this year because it has been so crazy. I was ok with that and then when I was meditating after practice in Japan, I thought of my Dad’s shrine and how I put gingerbread there each year for him. It made me sad to not have that silly moose cookie there to share the season with him. So, I baked. I made the dough when I got home from my flight and made cookies the next day. It was actually very enjoyable because I just made one batch instead of the usual two or three and there was just enough for our family. Sometimes when I bake it is like meditation for me- especially icing all the fancy snowflakes- each one repeating until your hand just knows what to do. Things become easier and your mind slows- you can find yoga other places than just your mat sometimes.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my guru gave to me…yoga

Everyday, I am thankful for this practice. Everyday, through the practice of yoga, I learn to live life more fully, more aware, and with more gratitude. In this season of friends and family, I would like to wish all of you that share my love of yoga, Japan, and life, a very blessed and wonderful holiday.

Om shanti shanti shanti………Peace