A cool message from Rush to this yogi: keep the fire lit under your dreams

28th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony - Show 28th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony - Show

Think the last time I heard Rush play was a good three decades ago, as my brother enacted an impressive air guitar performance to Tom Sawyer. I liked them, but whatever. I soon followed my pals and jumped on the New Wave bandwagon (bands that weren’t exactly bands. More like synth-popsters with black eyeliner).

Fast forward to last weekend. Nothing on TV, I remote-surfed my way to a re-broadcast of the 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Awards. In between far too many unprepared presenters relying on expletives (Foo Fighters) and self-adulation (I love you Oprah, but this is Quincy Jones’ moment already), Rush was inducted. I watched and listened with growing awe over the fact that:

a) Tom Sawyer is still a rockin’ cool song. I almost stood and got out the air guitar.

b) Apparently, the trio has been rockin’ together since I was in diapers.

c) And they ripen like fine wine. Geddy Lee’s pipes were crystal clear. Rock star or tenor in La Boheme? While multi-tasking between the bass and keyboards?? And Neil Peart’s whip-fast hands showed no signs of slowing down.

I got a little background lesson from my Rush-fanatic boyfriend after the awards, and learned that Peart also writes the lyrics, which, my boyfriend declared, I really oughtta listen to. Me being a yoga instructor constantly starving for inspiring messages and all.

So I did. And quickly landed on the fist few lines of Mission:

Hold your fire, keep it burning bright, hold the flame, til the dream ignites, a spirit with a vision, is a dream with a mission…

I love this. How many times do we kiss off our dreams because we simply give up? Stop believing? Instead of letting go, why not keep a fire lit under our dream, keep working at, taking action, until it ignites?

Congratulations, Rush. And thank you for providing a powerful message to share in my class.

(I even opened class with Tom Sawyer at the top of my playlist. Almost had my students bust out the air guitars, but this is yoga).

*photo credit: Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Re-Joyce! Her spirit lives on. In my heart.

Breast-cancer-awareness-breast-cancer-awareness-5965352-500-375Been thinking a lot about breast cancer this week as a group of caring yogis from Yogasphere (my home studio where I teach and practice), are raising money and preparing to participate in an upcoming outdoor yoga event and fundraiser in Philly this weekend (check it out here: YogaOnTheSteps).

It was about this time five years ago I was raising money and preparing to walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. As my dear friend Joyce trod through an exhausting routine of chemo and radiation appointments, her family, friends and I walked in her honor, donning powder pink tee-shirts with Re-Joyce! boldly emblazoned on the front. Our group, I should note, included more than a few large men. Men who would have greatly preferred a more masculine look to the pink tees, complete with dainty flowers and a lucinda calligraphic font on the front. But we loved Joyce. And would do anything to support her, so onto the streets of downtown Seattle in solidarity to beat breast cancer we went.

One year later, our group larger, we wore the shirts again. And walked. Only this time, Joyce was gone. We were rejoicing her spirit, but heartbreakingly, no longer her living, breathing presence.

Joyce gave me good reason to Re-Joyce! Older and wiser, but very much a contemporary in her ability to understand my current state of thought, fears, hopes, and frustrations, she encouraged me always to be true to myself. I came to know Joyce through my ex-husband. Came to know her in my past life, really, as so much has changed for me: new home on the east coast, new relationship, new focus on living my passion (yoga teaching vs. the corporate path). Many friends from my past stayed there, in the past, as naturally happens in cases of divorce. But not Joyce. Even if she were alive today, I know full well she’d be a friend for life. And as time marches on, she’s still very much in my life.

It’s interesting. She passed while I was still trying to navigate my way through a crazy maze with no foreseeable exit. I didn’t think of her much at the time. I didn’t think much about anyone, or anything, except if, or how, I was ever going to find the door to happiness. But as I made my way through, she kept popping into my head. At times when no one else’s words or sentiments brought me solace.

Alone crying, wondering if I’d be able to support myself financially, she came to me. A memory in earlier, happier times, relaxing on the bow of my ex-husband’s boat, reading and relaxing. “You are smart and capable, Shannon. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what to do.” Huh? This came out of nowhere. I didn’t prompt it, or mention anything about my fears. But Joyce knew. And assured me in a clear, succinct fashion, that should anything happen, I’d be just fine on my own. Should that ever happen.

When I felt crappy about myself not too long ago in a dress I didn’t really like (but bought because the mannequin rocked it), I took it off and put on a longtime favorite black number, recalling an evening with Joyce years ago.  At a gala auction, wearing the most beautiful beaded peach colored gown she insisted I borrow, she leaned in next to me and said, “you are special, and should always wear what makes you feel special.” I did feel special. Particularly special wearing the gown of a sophisticated, gorgeous, wise woman I was blessed and privileged to call my friend.

Now, years later, she comes to me more often. Comes to me when I question my strength. My resolve. She reminds me that life is short. Precious. And mine to seize and ReJoyce! in.

Thank you Joyce. I love you more every day.



Teach the teacher daily lesson 5/9/2013

YogaOnCliffRockDaily lesson from May 9, 2013 (Teach the teacher): “Go to your edge!” How many times have we heard this in class? I stopped counting. And admittedly, stopped listening. The reason? It’s another one of those ubiquitous phrases that just starts to grate after a while. Phrases that too many teachers prattle off in class because they’ve heard it somewhere before, and therefore they oughta pass it on down too, like a hot potato or chain letter.

But here’s the thing. After my weekly meeting with a few awesome teachers at a studio I practice and teach at (YogaSoul) to share/inspire/help/gently point out when we’re starting to sound like Darth Vader while cuing, we landed on the subject of the “edge”. And someone in our group suggested we consider an alternative meaning behind the “go to your edge!” direction. In other words, instead of referring to the “edge” as we typically do – as that point just before face-planting out of an impossible arm balance or passing out from holding our breath too long in Warrior III – how about exploring our edge in the other direction?

Huh? It took me a minute to wrap my head around this one without help from Yoda. But once I did, WOW. I considered what it would mean to stop at a certain point in a pose and stay there, even if my body is able to take a deeper, much deeper variation. For me, and a lot of yogis I know, this is a tougher edge to brush up against than the typical one. For me, I’d rather fly over and land in a heap from a misaligned handstand than simply take a forward fold. But many times my body is better served with a forward fold. When my shoulders are aching from yesterday’s inversion work. When my sleep pattern is disrupted. When I just need a break already.

There’s a saying by one of my favorite yogis (and the tradition I practice and teach in), Baron Baptiste, that lately, I’m not resonating with. The saying is “if you can, you MUST.”

For all the reasons stated above, even if I can, sometimes I musn’t. Because to do so would be ignoring this new, fascinating edge we talked about in our meeting today.

So think about it, yogi friends. Can you go to your other edge? The one your body is begging you for? The one that’s calling for you to back off? Try it and let me know how it feels. May the force be with you!

Namaste and see you in class 🙂