We’ve been discussing in classes this month the pre-requisites for receiving the teachings of yoga, but really, as I’ve been saying, these are pre-requisites for just making our way through this world. The requirements we’ve discussed are LOVE, RESPECT, AND FRIENDSHIP.
Below are two sutras from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra chapter 3 – the chapter on powers – discussing friendship and love. We’ll discuss more this week 🙂
Speaking of friendship…a bunch of my friends from high school are supposedly coming to the 7 am class this Friday – you should all come too! One of my teachers, Lady Ruth, said this about 3.23, “Power comes, begins with, friendship. Do everything for your friends. Never underestimate the power of a friend.”
3.23 maitry-adiṣu balāni ॥23॥
Through friendliness, kindness and compassion, strength comes.
3.37 te samādhav-upasargāḥ-vyutthāne siddhayaḥ ॥37॥
By giving up the love of power, you attain the power of love.
Latin root “com” = together in mind, “prehendere” = to grasp it, or pick it up
To comprehend something means to pick it up and be one with it. There is no other way to understand something.
Latin Root “respectus”, from the verb “respicere” to look back at, regard. Consisting of “re” = back “specere” = look at or look back
Respect means to look again, to keep looking with increasingly sensitive eyes.
Respect only arises when we can take another look and realize the preciousness of what someone or something has to offer.
From Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Heart of Understanding”:
“When we want to understand something, we cannot just stand outside and observe it. We have to enter deeply into it and be one with it in order to really understand. If we want to understand a person, we have to feel their feelings, suffer their sufferings, and enjoy their joy.
If we are concerned with peace and want to understand another country [or our own], we can’t just stand outside and observe. We have to be one with a citizen of that country in order to understand her feelings, perceptions, and mental formations. Any meaningful work for peace must follow the principal of non-duality, the principal of comprehension [and respect]. This is our peace practice” to comprehend, to be one with, in order to really understand.”
It’s the “Dog Days of Summer!” Ever wonder where that phrase came from?
From Homer’s Iliad:
Priam saw him first, with his old man’s eyes,
A single point of light on Troy’s dusty plain. Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky On summer nights, star of stars, Orion’s Dog they call it, brightest Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat And fevers to suffering humanity. Achilles’ bronze gleamed like this as he ran
The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, which Hellenistic astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. They are now taken to be the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
Sirius is by far the brightest proper star in the night sky, which caused ancient astronomers to take note of it around the world. In Egypt, its return to the night sky became known as a precursor to the annual flooding of the Nile and was worshipped as the goddess Sopdet. In Greece, it became known as the precursor of the unpleasantly hot phase of the summer. Greek poets even recorded the belief that the return of the bright star was responsible for bringing heat and fever with it; it was also associated with sudden thunderstorms.
After much consideration, I’ve decided to make some changes to the schedule for the summer. Monday 6 pm will now take place at 3:00 pm and Saturday 5 pm will only take place on rainy days.
What does this mean? Essentially Saturday night class will be on hold until the fall, but if the weather isn’t great, I’ll send out an email that day to see if there’s interest in a pop-up.
I know that sounds a bit strange, but I guess that’s one of the advantages of teaching on zoom! Unfortunately class size hasn’t warranted keeping it on the schedule – it’s summer and I have a feeling you guys would prefer some outdoor time after being cooped up inside for the last 3-plus months. New Schedule is below.
In Social Reform news…
On Friday I sat in on a live talk with Angel Rodriguez and Gamal Willis of the NYC organization Avenues for Justice, moderated by Jivamukti’s Jules Febre, who also happens to be one of AFJ’s success stories. A little bit about AFJ:
In 1979, Avenues for Justice reached into overcrowded Manhattan criminal courtrooms and found youths who might turn their lives around if they only had a second chance. We presented the courts with an idea: instead of sentencing young people to prison, judges could send them to AFJ for counseling, training, education and employment assistance. This simple tactic — keeping youths out of prison — has saved the lives of hundreds of young lives every year for four decades. At a time when the U.S. incarceration rate is the highest of any nation in the world and a cycle of arrests and imprisonment has become the norm within many low-income communities, AFJ has bucked the trend to become one of the most successful and cost-effective crime prevention programs in America. Read more here One of their key initiatives right now is removing the NYPD from the school system. When I worked as a school counselor at Landmark High School I witnessed first hand the effect police officers had on the students, as well as physical altercations. They do not belong there. If you have been pushing for the defunding of the NYPD, think about volunteering or donating to AFJ.
AVENUE FOR JUSTICE’S GOALS
Keep kids out of prison – That’s how AFJ stops New York City crime. Our goals:
Intervene to divert and reclaim young people from lives of crime.
2. Provide an overloaded court system a reliable alternative to incarceration.
The fight against systemic racism will not end overnight. Some positive outcomes have emerged from the Black Lives Matter movement, but if anything that means we must keep going! There’s lifetimes of work to do.
I sat in on a panel discussion this weekend led by various global teachers from Jivamukti Yoga on the topic of Crisis and Community. From what I know this is going to be an on-going discussion, as it should be, and if you are interested the first discussion can be found on their FB page.
For those of you actively participating in peaceful protests – stay strong, be safe, be smart.
If you feel like practicing this week, I am here. If not, I get it. The schedule is below.
I never expected the person who sits in the White House to make any type of supportive statement about BIPOC, the Black Lives Matter movement, or the horrific actions of the police officers who killed George Floyd. The fact that he ran and hid with the lights of the White House turned off was extra appalling. I won’t dignify those officers or the person who happens to be sitting in the White House by saying their names.
I will say these names LOUDLY. I will support BIPOC in any way that I can and actively stand up for their rights, now and always. These are only the names of the people who were killed by police that made recent “headlines”. There are countless others:
Be well. Stay safe. Stand tall for BIPOC. They aren’t being heard. It’s way past time to listen. See you on the mat.
Suggested donation is $10-20 sliding scale or free if you are currently without income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please be honest about this as teaching Zoom classes is currently my only form of income.
Zoom schedule below. Send me a message if you need log-in details!
In other non-zoom news, I have finally invested in a bird feeder! The box it came in says it could take up to 5 weeks for birds to arrive, but if there’s seed, they will come! I learned (on Google) that there is specific seed that squirrels and pigeons do not like, so I bought a mixture of safflower, nyjer and striped sunflower seeds to keep them away. I had one curious squirrel pop by and he took one sniff and RAN as if it were the most disgusting thing in the world, so I guess the interwebs were correct.
I also had an interested male Northern Cardinal come by already! I was super excited since the only birds that have made an appearance the past 7 years are pigeons, but unfortunately I was so excited I scared it away before he ate some seed 😦 I’ve noticed that cardinals are more skittish than other birds.But I’m sure he’ll be back!
Picture of my new bird feeder below 🙂
See you on the Zoom mat! ❤☀🕶Love,April
Suggested donation for classes is $10-20 sliding scale or free if you are currently without income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please be honest about this as teaching Zoom classes is currently my only form of income.
This week’s teaching schedule has a slight change – the Wednesday evening 60 min class will now take place at 8 am. Full schedule below.
Quite a few people have asked me for recommendations on where you can explore nature and wildlife in the 5 Boroughs, so I thought I’d leave a list here of some of the places I’ve been exploring. Unfortunately unless you have a car, some of these places are more challenging to get to during current times, but well worth exploring if you can. The list below is by borough, and is definitely not all-inclusive, just places I’ve enjoyed.
Marine Park Salt Marsh Trail
Plumb Beach (go during low tide)
North Forty Natural Area (Floyd Bennet Field is currently closed – but putting this here for when it reopens)
Shore Road Park/Bay Ridge Promenade
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
The Ramble, Ravine, and North Woods in Central Park
Fort Tryon Park (one of my faves)
The Greenbelt (High Rock Park and Latourette Park)
If you missed last week’s dharma talk in the 90 min classes, I shared a story that was sent to me by a student (with her permission) about the Greenbelt in Staten Island. Here’s what she had to say in her own words:
“My dad, an environmental journalist, grew up on Staten Island and got his start working at their local paper, the Staten Island Advance. During that time, there were Moses-era plans to put an interstate through the Greenbelt, which sparked local action to preserve the open space. My dad covered it all, and it was probably the first land preservation work he ever did as a writer (now that’s all he does). “Save the Greenbelt” was the slogan, postered all over Staten Island. I even have one of his old t-shirts that says Save the Greenbelt. In the newsroom, it became an adage, “Save the fucking Greenbelt” you might say with an eye roll, as if to say, “just get the job done,” if somebody was complaining or exaggerating (intoned like, “ah, get over it”).”
This story fits in perfectly with the Jivamukti Focus of the Month – Spiritual Activism. If you’d like to read this month’s focus, written by Jivamukti Yoga co-founder Sharon Gannon, you can find it here.
While the first part of the essay focuses on veganism, the concept applies to any cause you are fighting for – whether it’s saving a natural habitat, or fighting for social/civil rights, or protections during an epidemic. (read last 3 paragraphs if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing!) “To think well of another and to want that person’s happiness, even though you do not agree with the person’s current thoughts and actions, is the key to spiritual activism.”
I’ve been trying to use my free time wisely – exploring nature right here in NYC and I’m in awe of what surrounds us.
Did you know there are 2800 acres of natural woodlands and creeks right in Staten Island (with the exception of Moses Mountain – which is man made, but still very cool!)? I have lived in NY my whole life and had no clue this was here! It’s called the Greenbelt, and it’s amazing! I felt like I was upstate yet was only 15 minutes from my apartment in Brooklyn! So crazy, and my new favorite spot! Before now SI was mostly just a way for me to get to the mainland US, and to occasionally attend a Passover Seder or SI Yankee game. Who knew!!
I imagine that this, along with the marshlands I’ve been exploring, is what most of NYC looked like before it was built up. It’s filled with wildlife – just yesterday I met a raccoon, chipmunks, squirrels (of course), turtles, a red bellied woodpecker, bluejays, gray catbirds, great egrets, and canadian geese. Oh, and chickens (!), but I think they belonged to someone. There are deer also, but I did not have the pleasure of seeing one. I can’t wait to get back!
Zoom teaching schedule and some photos from my outdoor (socially distanced and face masked responsibly) adventures.