Monday, July 30, 2012

The Forest Unseen ~ A Year's Watch in Nature: Part II

In my previous post I shared an insight from the author of The Forest Unseen ~ A Year's Watch in Nature which I felt was relevant to the 30 Day Meditation Challenge. But I liked the book so much that I want to share a few more passages.

On the topic of declining wild forest health and the rise of the industrial (monoculture) forest David Haskell says,

The scale, the novelty, and the intensity of this change are unquestionable threats to the diversity of life in the forests. Whether or how we respond to this erosion is a moral question. Nature seemingly provides no moral guidance; mass extinction is another of her many flavors. Neither can moral questions be answered by our culture's obsession with policy think tanks, scientific reports, or legal contests. I believe that the answers, or their beginnings, are found in our quiet windows on the whole. Only by examining the fabric that holds and sustains us can we see our place and, therefore, our responsibilities. A direct experience of the forest gives us the humility to put our life and desires into that bigger context that inspires all the great moral traditions.

I was struck by this quote because I am so strongly in support of preserving our forests that to question the morality of it was surprising to me. Thankfully, the author, who is much better with words than I am, goes on to answer this riddle for me.

Can the flowers and bees answer my questions? Not directly, but two intuitions come to mind by contemplation of a multifarious forest whose existence transcends my own. First, to unravel life's cloth is to scorn a gift. Worse, it is to destroy a gift that even hardheaded science tells us is immeasurably valuable. We discard the gift in favor of a self-created world that we know is incoherent and cannot be sustained. Second, the attempt to turn a forest into an industrial process is improvident, profoundly so.

The problem with our modern forest economy lies in the unbalanced way that we extract wood from land. Our laws and economic rules place short term extractive gain over all other values. It does not have to be this way. We can find our way back to thoughtful management for the long-term well-being of both humans and forests. But finding this way will require some quiet and humility. Oases of contemplation can call us out of disorder, restoring a semblance of clarity to our moral vision. ~ David Haskell

The thoughtful and precise language in this book fed my soul. I couldn't tear through this book as I would a novel. This book is one which deserves a slow, mindful read. Many thanks to the author and to the publisher. Great book!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Yoga Cures

Yoga Cures, by Tara Stiles, offers up advice for a multitude of problems ranging from PMS to diabetes to jiggly thighs. The routines are simple and easy to follow by using the pictures and descriptions in the book.

She has a very conversational style of writing which I came to appreciate. She makes yoga accessible to all people.

At times though, I felt she was a bit too informal, even a bit flip. For example, in writing about diabetes Ms. Stiles says, "The yoga cure for diabetes is first to prevent getting this sickness by keeping a regular practice and healthy lifestyle."

This feels like a judgement to me. Not all people develop diabetes due to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Also, I would have liked to read the science behind each pose. I wanted to know why she chose what she chose for each problem. She does give an overview, sharing her reasoning, but I guess I would've liked something more in depth.

That said, this is still a worthwhile book. I came away from it knowing a few new poses to introduce to my students and I do appreciate the down-to-earth approach of Ms. Stiles.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Recap of Shanti Yoga Workshop

I had a lovely teaching experience at Shanti Yoga in Vancouver Washington. The studio was beautiful, the students were friendly and curious to experiment with the new core learning, and the owner and staff made me feel as welcome as if I were home. (And there were so many props in the prop closet that my mouth dropped open and my jaw just about hit the floor!) Here's a short photo recap.

Shanti's sandwich board on the corner outside the studio.

The prop closet. I was so excited I was almost drooling.

The workshop set up. And the prop closet was still so full.

Shanti Yoga has lots of nice touches like this small corner shrine all over the studio. Really calm and welcoming.

Here's where the teacher sits.

Some students relaxing prior to the workshop.

Me and Sundari, Shanti's owner.
Thank you Shanti Yoga. I had a wonderful time!

Look for more pics on Do Restorative Yoga's Facebook photo page.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Restoring and Rebuilding the Inner Core in Vancouver, WA

I will be teaching Restoring and Rebuilding the Inner Core at Shanti Yoga Center in Vancouver, WA, Sunday, July 15, 2012 from 3-5:30 pm. In this introduction to the Inner Core we will discuss the main elements of the Inner Core, what can cause Inner Core dysfunction, and what you can do to gain or regain positive function. Please pre-register for the workshop with Shanti Yoga as space is limited.

Location: 800 Franklin St. Suite 204 / Vancouver, WA 98660
Phone: 360.750.YOGA 

Visit my workshops page for more information about the Inner Core and what this workshop can do for you.

Looking forward to seeing you there! Namaste ~ Sara

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Forest Unseen ~ 30 Day Meditation Wrap-up

Throughout the 30 Day Meditation Challenge I was reading a wonderful book, The Forest Unseen ~ A Year's Watch in Nature. This book is a cross between meditation and biology. It was not a book to hog down like The Hunger Games. Rather, it was to be taken in small sips, savored and let to bubble inside.

The author, David Haskell uses the idea of a Tibetan mandala, in this case a patch of old-growth Tennessee forest, as a window into the natural world. He committed to visiting this mandala, as often as he could, for one whole year. As I read, I was continually delighted with both the learning I was gaining through his knowledge of the natural world, and with his obvious connection to meditation / yogic philosophy. And, I am amazed at his perseverance; committing to sit every day for 30 days seemed like something - but committing to sit for a year? Wow.

I would like to pass on one of the author's insights, a summing up of his year, based on his idea of taking a meditative stance while sitting in nature:

The interior quality of our minds is itself a great teacher of natural history. It is here that we learn that "nature" is not a separate place. We too are animals, primates with a rich ecological and evolutionary context. By paying attention, this inner animal can be watched at any time: our keen interest in fruits, meats, sugar and salt; our obsession with social hierarchies, clans and networks; our fascination with the aesthetics of human skin, hair, and bodily shapes; our incessant intellectual curiosity and ambition. Each one of us inhabits a storied mandala with as much complexity and depth as an old-growth forest. Even better, watching ourselves and watching the world are not in opposition; by observing the forest, I have come to see myself more clearly.
~ David Haskell

Lovely perspective. Is that not what we are each trying to do as we sit? We are looking to know ourselves better; to know our light and our shadow; to know ourselves as one with all.