The Breath

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I’m on the couch with a heating pad and a dog and a laptop. The snow, still more snow, is swirling around outside and I just stumbled on this beautiful short film.

reathing is at the essence of being human, but not just because it keeps us alive. Like laughter and facial expressions, breathing is something of a global language, capable of communicating a surprisingly wide and nuanced range of emotions without a single word.

This collection video from The Mercadantes, the husband-and-wife filmmakers Daniel and Katina Mercadante in California, explores the human breath and its innumerable forms – from the first gasping cries of a newborn to the sighed relief of a well-earned chance to rest.

If you haven’t taken a deep breath today, I highly recommend it.

Watch the film here.

Vanity Helped my Headstand

Shame and vanity hardly ever serve yoga. Except when they do.

The other day I was demonstrating tripod for a friend of mine. We were talking about the transition from crow into tripod headstand (which is not something I can currently do) and I couldn’t express what I meant. So I got down on the floor and got into tripod.

Another friend of mine asked if I could go up from that position into headstand – also not something I’d ever done before. I figured I’d try. But as soon as I was upside down my shirt slid down. Oops! But here comes the trick.

I was worried that my belly would stick out, so I instinctually sucked in, pulling my stomach up and in towards my spine. And what does that do – besides giving the appearance of a flatter belly? Strengthen and engage the muscles for core stabilization.

With a stable core, my legs just floated up. I wasn’t even wobbly. My attempt at hiding flab engaged my core, and my legs just lifted up on their own – stacking on top of my body in perfect balance.

All three of these gorgeous images come from the Lululemon blog post titled 5 Steps to Headstand. They do a great job of breaking down the various stages of headstand.

Boy You Turn Me

As soon as I saw this image, I starting singing this song. And, yes, I’m playing it as I type this.

Inside out. And round and round.

Doesn’t life do this? I’m feeling it for sure. This morning I needed a little shift of perspective. Sometimes I sit and try to feel my feelings, some times I try to shake it off and put them away for later. This time, I just wanted to turn it all upside down, and breathe. Handstands were the thing.

Also, I hear they’re good for a hangover. Really!

This image from Tumblr on F*&kyeahyoga.

Kripalu: What I Pack

This is what I pack when I head up to Kripalu for the week. Of course there are the requisite yoga pants, tanks and a hoodie (even when it’s warm, it’s always good to have a layer). I’m not going to tell you that stuff because I trust that you know what you like to wear.

But there are some things I’ve learned after going on a lot of these trips that really help make things more comfortable.

A Tote Bag
For years I’d pack my duffle bag and have purse and that’s it. Then once I’m on the retreat, I’d be flip-flopping my way from session to session with a folder of info under my arm and my water bottle and my hoodie – it’s too much. Finally I remembered to pack a canvas tote or roll-up reusable bag to haul my things around. So easy.

Water Bottle
Those metal Sigg bottles are great, but when they get knocked over onto the wood floor (and they will get knocked over) they make a huge racket. So the best water bottles have tops, and are quiet. I bought mine of won’t-kill-you-plastic at Duane Reade for $5.

Toiletry Bags within Toiletry Bags
At Kripalu, I stay in the dorms. That means a big room with bunks and – hooray – a shared bath. So, it helps if you have one bag that you can bring into the shower with you. And then a different bag to keep your dry things separate. It’s good to note too that a lot places suggest you bring toiletries without added fragrances.

I know, this is a little weird. But if you’re in a lecture or workshop session early in the morning the tootsies can get a little chilly.

Swim Suit, Shower Shoes
Kripalu has a lake. And a whirlpool and sauna, which are more my speed for underwater activities. Some folks prefer to go in the nude, but I like to wear bottoms at least. Showers are shared, too, so a pair of flip flops dedicated to getting wet are a good call.

Tinted Moisturizer
I’m not a glamazon in general, but even less so on retreat. That said, au natural can make me feel a little too exposed. I’m vain. It’s a whole thing I could be working on. But for now, tinted moisturizer does the trick. Covers me up, and it’s low maintenance.

My Pajamas are Yoga Clothes
Depending on what kind of program you’re going to, your morning session could be yoga or lecture. And chances are, it starts early. Sometimes I plan my PJs strategically so I can roll out of the dorm and into the workshop without really waking up.