Rhythm and Flow

A thought that came to me recently while I watched my husband (still so new saying that!) jam on his guitar with our friend (who was playing bass), is that rhythm is one of the most effective ways to connect with someone. I think that I realized this before, but didn’t really have words to give to that blip of an idea.

I’ve always been filled with awe at how well music brings people together. Growing up, I played many instruments. I think the first one I played was the recorder in 3rd grade, then flute in 5th-6th grade band class, then ukulele with my church’s band. I went to church a lot in elementary and middle school. To me, music was an important part of church. In high school, I got to take a guitar class, as well as learn how to play the viola for a semester. Also in high school, I took choir and musical theater. As you can tell, creating music with others has been a recurring part of my life.

There is such synergy created when people use something so simple together: a time score. Not only does it create a coherent synced piece, but it seems to bring us constantly to the present moment, in a zone of focus and active listening. I think that this could also be called “flow”:

“In positive psychologyflow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.” The Wikipedia Article about Flow

I have found that this synergy and connection with others from being in the same rhythm occurs in so many other areas of life. Of course there’s dance and yoga, which are synchronized activities. But, there are also things like being synced with someone else through something as simple as the weather in your shared location. Or, if you connect with another because of similarly timed life events, crazy coincidences, or serendipity.

Time is what connects us all and it is beautiful when we get a moment to be truly present with someone else, not thinking about the future or the past, just realizing that we are alive together. Right. Now.

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As usual, I like to share at least one song I was listening to while writing: Ian Thornton- Do You Rise

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The Key is to Find Grace in it All

My head is a whirlwind of thoughts, because summer has not brought focus to any one theme really, it has been so many things. So, I’ll use this post as a way to hone in by connecting the many elements that this summer has been into a more comprehensive picture and see how it relates to yoga, because really, things can always relate to the practice.

First of all, I’ve been training with my partner to run in a ragnar relay at Mount Rainier. Many people don’t know what a ragnar is. In fact, the computer is underlining it as a misspelling! It is a relay run, where either the team of runners cover up to 200 miles together on a road, splitting it up and taking turns, following each other in a van, or the team does trail routes that are set up in loops, each person completing the loops when it’s their turn. I’ll be doing the latter with my team. I was so excited in the beginning and I was making true progress with my speed, but something happened where my speed progress retracted, and so I’ve been a little discouraged with that.

On the topic of physical challenges, I’ve set my mind to hiking the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail, going from Mexico to Canada) next spring. I remember hearing about it 6 years ago and my mind has come back to it a few times over the years. It wasn’t until recently that I really started getting into researching gear and getting into other peoples’ stories about their experience on the trail. It’s something in my heart, where I know that I will be faced with tremendous challenges (mostly mental) and I will ultimately be relying solely on my own preparation, knowledge, instinct, and body.

Soon before I plan on getting ready for that trip, I will be coming back from my honeymoon! I am getting married in two months and we plan on taking a round-the-world trip in the spring. Wedding planning requires so much more detail oriented thought than I anticipated! All of the things that have yet to be decided and bought are looming over my head all the time. I really just can’t wait to have so many loved ones around me, all meeting each other.

Though I live in an apartment, I have a small “garden” on my patio that I am proud of. I have a tomato plant, kale, broccoli, lettuce, celery, and potatoes. The lettuce, celery, and potatoes were started just by my leftover scraps and a single sprouting potato! I love giving life to my plants every day through water and making sure that they have enough space in their pots.

I feel like I learned a bit more about gardening at GRuB, a non-profit organization in Olympia. Every time I drop in during the volunteer hours, I feel so accepted and at peace knowing that I’m helping the community by taking care of the farm that feeds so many. I love the manual labor of it, digging my hands into the ground, pulling out weeds, all the while talking with a new friend or just hanging out by myself. I also take pictures for their events, which I love doing with my whole heart. I love seeing the people that GRuB draws in, because they are the people that want to give back. I have gotten a couple of thank you notes from GRuB for my pictures and help, and they made me feel more appreciated than I have in a long time.

At the moment, I’m reading the famous book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. My mom gave it to me a few years ago and I’m finally getting around to it. I like the lessons that it teaches, though I’m not totally keen on the writing style. I find it very repetitive and simple. But, the chapter I’m on right now is the one about not taking anything personally. It comes at a good time in my life because I have subconsciously been making assumptions about things, or having expectations, and the book explains how those things lead to disappointment and miscommunication. I know this too! I have a post-it on my wall that says “Expectation leads to disappointment”. But, sometimes we do these things without even realizing. The book explains that assumptions happen when we don’t have answers to things, so our brain just fills what we don’t know in with whatever information we do have. As humans, we want to understand things all the time. This is why open and honest communication is always key. Asking too many questions is better than asking none.

 

So, how does all of this relate to yoga? I think that my personal summer illustrates the pose Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose). It is a pose, that when broken down, is really a complex map of different actions (push, pull, lift, gaze, breathe) that come together to create this one intense balancing pose. A true balancing act, juggling all of the things at once. The key is to find grace in it, and often grace comes with not taking yourself too seriously and knowing when to laugh at your own mistakes.

[http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/natarajasana-lord-of-the-dancers-pose/]

The Books

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Much of my inspiration comes from music. For my latest yoga class, I was inspired by a band that I’ve come to love in the past couple months. They’re called The Books. They often have clever song titles and some silly dialogue in their music that makes me smile. The overall theme I’ve found is that they primarily use samples in a creative way. Sometimes the samples are from everyday dialogue or from a profound speech or maybe even from some random television show. When I am able to truly tune in to the words, I am usually always left with a sense of awe or enlightenment. I think that it’s because they have the ability to highlight the mundane and make it into something extraordinary. When I was studying photography, we had an assignment to go out and shoot pictures of something commonplace and find a way to make it look interesting in a photograph (the photo above was from that assignment). This is what The Books do, but in audio form.

The way they approach making music is with sense of play. In some of their songs, they delve into topics of the human condition and our strive for knowledge and understanding. As a whole, it seems that they have a curiosity for life, but figure that we’ll never quite know all the answers, so why not have fun? It is the attitude of Open to Grace, the first principle of alignment in yoga. Otherwise known as “the beginner’s mind”, open to whatever happens, full of awe, unbiased, non-judging.

This theme was quite fitting for the month of January, the start of a new year. Fresh year, fresh eyes. The winter can be so dreary, heavy, and sometimes uninspiring, but not with a “beginner’s mind”. For my class, I wanted to focus on many poses that may be overlooked in a general class. There can be a sense of appreciation for a typical sun salutation when you do it over again many times in a row and get an embodied understanding of it’s effects. Or to hold plank and notice how proper alignment makes a huge difference. Or just to experiment with a different version of downward dog. I also wanted to emphasize an open chest and breath, allowing for a sort of “cleansing” and openness.

I would recommend any of The Books’ music, but a fair example of what I have explained may be in their song “Take Time”. One of my all time favorites is “Smells Like Content”.