Lynne

Lynne

2020 Vision

What more can 2020 throw at us? There are so many issues converging at once. I have genuine hope that we will access the strength of spirit and community to find and implement some lasting solutions. Setting the pandemic aside, the issue at the forefront of this moment is racial equality, justice and reconciliation. Abraham Maslow famously said, “ When you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. I pray that this is the moment we set the hammer aside as the main tool used to nail racial inequality. Long lasting solutions will require every tool we have. I for one, have so much to learn but I know I am capable of learning if I have the right tools in my toolbox. I love Emmanuel Acho’s “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”. If you haven’t already checked it out, visit https://youtu.be/h8jUA7JBkF4

Here are two more resources that I found helpful:

Talking about race: from the National museum of African-American history and culture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdwBCXn2Wl8

Trevor Noah on George Floyd, Minneapolis protests, Ahmaud Arbery, and Amy Cooper https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4amCfVbA_c

I’d love to hear of other resources that you have found helpful.

Yoga classes in America have yet to become a bastion of racial diversity. I have had only a handful of black students over the years. My eyes and heart were opened by one beautiful black student in the early 90’s who told me one day over lunch how she never entered a room without first scanning everyone in it to feel if there was any danger to her. It should not have been a shock to me, but it was at the time. I never had to experience that level of heightened alertness simply because of the color of my skin.

I’m currently reading The MindBody Code by Dr. Mario Martinez, subtitled, How to change the beliefs that limit your health, longevity and success. One of his main premises is that the cultural foundation of our beliefs has not been emphasized enough and that it is the link between cultural anthropology and psychoneuroimmunology in how our beliefs effect our health and well being. He argues that we all suffer from archetypal wounds of shame, abandonment and betrayel that are unique to our specific culture. We are seeing how a heavier burden of these wounds are inflicted on people of color in our society.

He continues to say that:
– Honor heals Shame
– Commitment heals Abandonment
– Loyalty heals Betrayal

He offers exercises, clinical studies, and evidence of positive outcomes from applying these principles. That sounds like a recipe for reconciliation to me or at least a start. It will take practice on a personal and collective level. MLK declared, “demonstration must lead to legislation for there to be reconciliation.” I’m excited about the possibilities to grow as a culture and as a democracy.

My yoga teaching schedule is on hold until further notice. The website workshop page will be updated as we evaluate our health and safety requirements moving forward.

I wish you all good health and well-being. Please take care of yourselves especially in enclosed places with groups of people.  We now know that, ”it’s the air we share” that is the main culprit in the transmission of COVID-19. I just heard the heartbreaking fact that 400 healthcare workers have literally sacrificed their lives to treat the infected. We wear the mask to protect them, your families and ours. And of course to look this cool!

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Yoga, the Stress Response, and a Healthy Immune System

We can’t really know certain things by talking about them alone.   Love, happiness, grief are only truly known through experience.  No one needs to hear a verbal definition of stress right now.  One new virus has given us all the experience we need.  As yoga practitioners, I know that you have had the experience of the well being, calm and inner peace that yoga can provide.  If you are on this mailing list, I don’t have to sell you on that.  But it may be a time to strengthen your resolve to practice in order to help get you and your loved ones through this trying time. (This too shall pass).

Why yoga for the immune system?  The immune system includes the tonsils, adenoids, thymus gland, lymph nodes, bone marrow, white blood cells, spleen and appendix.  Immune cells are circulating constantly throughout the body and some are stationed permanently in organs and tissues.  A competent immune system needs healthy skin, lungs, and gut which all rely on a healthy circulatory system.  Immune cells travel through the blood stream and lymphatic system.  The heart provides the pump for blood circulation, but the lymph system has no such pump and must rely on our daily movement to circulate properly and deliver immune cells to their proper checkpoints and target sites.

Yoga asanas move the body in every direction, stretching not only muscle but also skin and organs.  They squeeze and soak the tissues providing healthy circulation of nutrients, hormones and immune cells to every part of the body.  Committing to as little as 10 minutes of daily asana practice that includes a pose from each class of asana (standing pose, forward bend, backbend, twist, side bend, and inversion) can improve circulation and range of motion.  Practicing as little as 10 minutes 3 times a week can provide improvement in overall posture and thus circulation.  I happen to live with someone who is proof of the latter and will probably agree with me!

Perhaps even more crucial in these times is to mitigate mental stress with deep breathing and meditation.  How we react to stress has more influence on immunity than the stressful event itself.  Shallow, agitated respiration is read as danger in the body.  Studies have proven over and over, as I hope has your own experience, that deep, paced breathing and relaxation break the stress response and stimulate the relaxation response. The stress response triggers the adrenals, suppressing the immune system and causing one to feel as if everything is a crisis.  Taking some deep breaths breaks that cycle and brings about the dominance of the rest and digest response.   A 5 minute daily practice (2 minutes of full deep breathing and 3 minutes of sitting ENJOYING the quiet effect) can be a life changer, and maybe a life saver.  Of course these would be the minimum daily dosages.   When you have time for more, the benefits will multiply…but please DON’T stress over it!

Stay well, Be Well

Love,

Lynne

 

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Memories of Mom

 Lynne and her 4 siblings collaborated on childhood memories and Lynne delivered this eulogy at their mother’s celebration of life.

I think we can all agree on two things about Mom, Lil … that she loved to laugh, and that she exceeded our expectations on her longevity!

And those two may actually have a lot to do with each other. We know that laughter is the BEST medicine and mom always took her minimum, and often maximum daily required dosage of laughter right up to her last waking day.

She also inherently knew a truth that I believe comes with wisdom, that there are IMPORTANT things in life but very little that needs to be taken SERIOUSLY. She could laugh at herself and frequently did. In fact, in our last conversation on the telephone she did just that.

My call woke her up and she was disoriented. “What happened to me?”, she asked. Cindy had mentioned that this could happen and how to prompt her to feel safe, so I responded, “Nothing happened mom, you’re in your room. Do you see the family photos on the wall?” She said, “ oh yes, I see my daughter”. I said, “yes and soon someone will come to help you get dressed, and then Thom will come for a visit and take you out of the room for awhile”.

She paused and then said with a laugh, “Well I guess I’m just NUTS!” And we both started to laugh so hard that my husband Jim caught the vibe from the other room and started laughing too.

Mom liked to make others happy. From surprise birthday parties to surprise gifts, to fun family vacations we, her children , benefited from her desire to make us happy. Just one of many stories is from my younger sisters, Julie and Margie. It was a hot summer day in July , about the time when they were in middle school and some vacation boredom had set in. They were out in the yard talking to a teenage neighbor who was out sunbathing. Mom came out with a big brown grocery bag. She, reached in, took something out and hurled it at Julie. The bag was filled with snow balls that she had kept in storage in the freezer from the previous winter. You can imagine what happened next, the unarmed neighbor may not have appreciated it quite as much as mom and the girls did ;-).

Mom was resilient. All of us at one time have commented that mom was such an inspiration in her ability to never complain. She would pick herself up and take charge of her life despite having MS or in the face of the difficulties and adversities she faced in her lifetime.  I recall one conversation from when mom found herself middle aged and single. She said, I’m going to travel. I want to go to Hawaii and China and I’m going to date for a while but within 5 years I’m going to meet someone for a serious relationship and remarry. She did all of those things! (the latter, more than once!)

Mom could be endearingly spacey.  When she finally got her first cell/ flip type phone, she was caught in frustration trying to get it to respond to her commands. Julie looked up and was able to clear up the problem by telling her, “Mom, that’s the TV remote.” Well who hasn’t done that right?

Mom was creative. She played piano and cello, and brought an artistic sense to our home and childhood. The first house that I remember living in, in Hales Corners had a basement play room. It was your typical cement brick walled Midwest basement with exposed pipes. Mom spruced it up with a hand painted mural depicting the counting nursery rhyme. See if you remember this: One Two….buckle my shoe, three, four…shut the door, five, six…Etc. Did I mention, that mom was a kindergarten teacher?

And, If you happened to be on the Christmas Card list, you may remember her hand drawn cards with our cut out heads attached (an early version of Jib/Jab) that we all loved until the ‘tween years when they were EVER so embarrassing.

Mom was supportive. She encouraged our individual interests and studies and celebrated our successes. From dance, to travel, to horses, to swimming, to scuba, to starting a business she was our cheerleader. I can remember several times being woken up after my bedtime because there was a program that mom thought would inspire me to further pursue a current hobby. I remember getting excited watching Juliet Prowse dance on a late night program. Sadly, the dream of professional ballerina did not pan out for me.

Mom knew when to set boundaries. We didn’t get away with being rude, or lazy. Household chores were always part of the weekly routine with a family of 7. The want ads were on display the year we each turned 16. We WOULD find a job.  Although we may not have been grateful at the time, we all grew up to be independent and self reliant as a result.

Mom was a beautiful woman. Lilian Fuss, Kosikowski, Cole, Geisler says it all. She was never long without male admirers or attention. Right up to our wonderful friend and her beloved companion Thom. She didn’t come off as needing the attention, she enjoyed it, but her genuine ability to make her companions feel happy in her presence and her delight in them, drew them to her.

Was she perfect? No, but who is? And today, we’ll forget any imperfections, because we want to remember her and send her on her new journey lightly and unencumbered by heavy thoughts. Let’s take a moment in silence to send her our unconditional love, and know that she is both receiving it and sending it back to us. (Moment of Silence)

Mom was fun. And she loved to Laugh. So, although we’ll have lots of tears today, we’ll soon remember the laughter and join together in that laughter in the memory of our mom and friend, Lilian.

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JOYFUL AWARENESS NEEDED

Lynne consults with an expert on her Cow Face Pose.

Book II. Sutra 41
“When the body is cleansed, the mind purified, and the senses controlled, joyful awareness needed to realize the inner self,  comes.”

From Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar

Some of this blog is excerpted from one I wrote 10 years ago, June of 2008.  Revisiting it now has reinforced the significance of this sutra in my life.

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The Value of Samyama

Book III Sutra 4 – When the three (last 3 limbs of yoga*) are performed together, it is called Samyama.
*Concentration, meditation, integration

When riding the skytrain in Bangkok, Thailand the loudspeaker announces at every stop to “mind the gap between train and platform”. One day, with a smile, my inner voice said, “mind the gap between brain and thoughtform”.

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Runaway Truck Ramp

On a recent van camping trip where we racked up over 5000 miles seeing the beautiful west coast of the USA we passed several runaway truck ramps.   Most of these were on steep downhill grades where heavy machinery could suffer from overheated brakes or loss of power.   They are engineered to slow a fast moving heavy vehicle by diverting them onto an uphill grade with several inches of gravel and often a berm at the end.   There was one however, that seemed to counter all laws of physics and safety in this arena.   We were at first a little shocked and then helplessly laughing at the absurdity of this ramp’s design.  Not only was it slanted downhill, but it had a mere 3 barrels at the end of it after which it dropped off over a precipitous cliff.   Jim said it had to be a ramp designed by the roadrunner for Wiley Coyote!

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Affirmative Action

My feet have been gathering no moss for several months now.  A little frost, some sand between my toes but very little hometown dirt has stuck to my shoes since last fall.   Teaching, family and wanderlust have kept me on the move since well before the fall elections and only now do I have the time and desire to settle in and reflect on what appear to be major shifts in the national landscape.

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Settling for Less

Do you think that yoga can change society? Can it help those who are marginalized or disadvantaged in their society, particularly women?

This question was posed to me in a recent Skype interview with a woman who is working on her Ph.D thesis on Women and Yoga at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. My response to this, and to many questions regarding the effects of yoga practice, is that it depends on the motives and sincerity of the practitioner. For yoga to be transformational the student must be willing to settle for less.

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Being Complete

To have negative traits is not to be flawed, but to be complete. – Deepak Chopra

This quote reminds us that expressing our authenticity means to embrace all of our ambiguity as human beings.  How many times have we pledged to be kind, stay calm, or get up early and do our practice and then lashed out, stressed out or slept in the very next day?  Being authentic, not perfect, is a quality of self acceptance, of being comfortable in our own skin and often, needing to find the humor when we fall short of self imposed rules and regulations.  Authentic joy fills the space of our inner witness when we are neither attached to our perceived good qualities or repelled by the “bad” ones.   This is often followed by a big belly laugh of recognition of our wholeness.

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Calm amidst the Crowds

Yogas Chitta Vrtti Nirodha

Most of you who have studied yoga for any length of time are familiar with this definition of Yoga by Patanjali. Yoga is the calming of the whirlpool of the mind.

At times the mind feels like a busy shopping district crowded with panicked last minute shoppers 3 days before Christmas. Every thought is bumping and jostling for first place in line. All the while trying to find that special something that will grab you with its need for attention, fulfillment, and gratification.

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