Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On The Table - Why Yoga? Interview with Michael Rice

Listen to our first audio podcast.  Host, Ellyn Gray, explores Yoga with Michael Rice.
Michael is a yoga practitioner of more than 3 decades, he teaches free community yoga at Irene's as well as the 16 week series yoga at Irenes.  Together Michael and Ellyn explore yoga, its origins in the west, why people practice, what the benefits of yoga are and how you can practice yoga no matter what your body type.
Take our podcast with you on your smartphone or MP3 player.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Inside there is a voice, an inner knowingness that is beyond the mental constructs of the mind. The seer. The watcher. This watcher knows all that is and is to come. Some call this the soul.  It is ever perfect, untainted, pure, beyond concept.  The soul is ever one with all that is.  I think sometimes we get glimpses of the soul.  It can take shape in many different ways. Last year two days before an earthquake hit  Appalachia that rippled through  Detroit, I remarked to my coworkers that I felt like I was an observer in my body, like I was not quite integrated into my body.  I felt like I was observing what was happening and not "the doer".  It was a very interesting and peculiar feeling all at once. This yoga thing, I believe, has helped me to become so aware and in tune with my body. This clarity/awareness has not always been a part of me.  Coming from someone who has PTSD and has not always felt integrated within my body, this is a big deal.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Are We Living For?

One Sunday I made it to church very early and had an interesting discussion about God, his role in our lives and why He is not just ever present with us and always taking care of us.  I know that everyone sees and thinks of God in the way that suits their own personal relationship.  And while sometimes I think of God as Mother (most times, because mother is a compassionate loving energy that I've always desired to know) here I refer to God as He.  God is many things to many people and while I don't think of God as an actual person I speak of God in terms that most of the western world uses.

Here are my thoughts.  I hope it can spark dialogue.

I must admit, I have been guilty of wanting God to just give me Himself.  Just make all things right in the world.  We often times think that an all knowing all loving, omnipresent, omnipotent, benevolent God should just take away all sorrows, struggles, pain and strife in this world.  If He is our Father and is all powerful why would He sit and watch His children suffer and struggle?  He should make it better because He has the power to do so and because He loves us.  I don't believe that God wants us to suffer.  However, a diamond only develops under enormous pressure and very high temperature.  Even then it needs to be formed, shaped and polished in order to see its true brilliance and beauty.  We too are such human diamonds. In order to grow and become our more radiant selves, we have to be tested under the pressure of human existence and the fires of trial and error.

It is very interesting that we are more than willing to strive, struggle, and put forth supreme effort to gain all the material pleasures and comforts of this world.  We go to school for many years. We study, we make strenuous efforts, stay up and pull all nighters to pass an exam.  In our careers, we work 80 hours a week and even overtime to get a paycheck to care for our needs and to buy the things that we think will make us happy.  In our personal lives we find someone that we are attracted to, we fall in love,  we make time to show them that we love them.  We buy them expensive gifts, we write them letters, we take them out and even work overtime so that we can take them on lavish trips and enjoy special times together.  However,  When it comes to God, we expect it to come easy.  We expect the Master of the Universe to reveal Himself just because we want Him to and because it would make things better and easier for us.  Do we ever stop to give God the attention that we gave to getting an education?  How about the time and attention that we give to our career?  Do we think of God as often as we do our beloved?  We expend huge amounts of time and energy to things of this world but very little to God.  He's lucky if he gets a paltry pittance.  It is no wonder the world is in such turmoil and constant state of flux.  God wants us to be happy, but in order to have that happiness that we so desperately seek, we cannot look for it in external things.  They are all transient.  They too will pass.  If we want true lasting, peace, happiness, sustained joy, that passeth all understanding, it comes from only one place.... God!  We must turn to Him, as earnestly as we study and research for that Ph.D.  How can we ever receive all that God has to give us if we never turn to Him?  We must seek Him in the good times and the bad.  Through it all, not just when we want something.  We must seek Him not just for prosperity but simply for the love of God.  In Him is all things.  He is always there, He never leaves our side, but when do we take time to seek Him and truly feel His presence?    Take time out for God, it will rejuvenate your life like nothing of this world ever has. Spend more time with God and you will see your world and the world around you change in ways that you never dreamed possible.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dr. of Delusion

This world is a psych ward.  We are all patients using various medicines & methods to overcome our psychosis. Find the shrink that best suits you and keep using their methods until you free yourself of the mental maladies that ail you.  In time you will have victory.  You will triumph!  If they have found freedom, so can you!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy Feet..... Uh not so much

I admit it. I love shoes. I want more shoes. My favorite kinds of shoes to wear are high heels. The higher the heel the better. I mostly love sexy strappy shoes, but platform shoes, colorful shoes or any kind of shoes, as long as they're stylish will do. I am really attached to high heeled shoes. They are stylish and cute. But my feet don't like them. I've tried; I go to shoe stores and look for "sensible" flats, but to me they're all kind of ugly. I haven't seen one pair recently that made me just have to buy them. I actually recently joked that I liked a pair of shoes because they were very comfortable but they looked too dikey (kind of ironic coming from a lesbian)!

What on earth does this have to do with yoga you say? For one my attachment to shoes is probably not what Patanjali had in mind when he laid out the yamas and niyamas of the Yoga Sutras, namely Aparigraha or noncovetousness. Second and more pressing for me right now is.... my feet hurt like hell after wearing high heeled shoes! I notice it when in tadasana for any period of time and mostly in balancing poses. So what's a yogini to do? Do I let go of my attachment to the feeling of pain while on the mat, or my attachment to shoes? Well, pain is a signal to the body that something is wrong and since yoga is about awareness then something else has to give. I try to rationalize that everyone has to have a vice, (I'm sure this isn't my only one), and everyone needs to wear shoes. But no one wants to wear ugly shoes. I'm trying to wrap my mind around wearing shoes that are comfortable, but with that great comfort there is no style, no flair, no panache! I started to think that maybe I should become a shoe designer so that women don't have to sacrifice style for comfort. But that's not very practical.

Just yesterday in yoga class we were doing several balancing asanas and with each one my feet screamed in agony. I kept falling out of the asana. Mostly because the soles of my feet were in so much pain from walking around like barbie! My feet still hurt and I can't find shoes that I actually like. What's a yogini to do?