I’m off on the other coast this week. We spent a few days in New York City, saw some shows, ate fine food, & sweat like fools. Now we’re in upstate New York at the Omega Institute. It’s deep green here, and like Corvallis, trees grow like weeds. Chipmunks and cottontails meander in and out of the brush and the bugs don’t bite too much. The food is vegan and it is a bit like Breitenbush, but bigger and without the hot springs. There is an east coast leisure clothing aesthetic that I rarely see at home, a bit more upscale than Breitenbush is, but a good number of hippies none the less. I do feel more at ease here than in the city, at least some of the women are make-up free.
While in New York I took a couple of yoga classes from J. Brown. He coined the term ‘Gentle is the New Advanced.’ I listen to his podcast. I was really excited to meet him and experience his class in person.
The space is sweet, about the same size as Live Well. It’s in Brooklyn, a short L-train ride from our Airbnb in the Chelsea district. The neighborhood appears to be working class, with the addition of a juice bar and a yoga studio.
I took two wonderful nuggets from Js class: First, stop practicing yoga to achieve something. Culturally, we Americans are strivers. We push for the pose just out of our bounds. We push ourselves farther in meditation in the hopes to achieve… enlightenment, stress reduction, an illusive peace? Js advice is to stop using yoga to achieve anything, and instead to use yoga to be healthy and functional just as we are. Yoga is a tool to live a healthy good life as the ordinary human beings that we are.
The second sweet nugget was Js tree pose practice. He said that tree pose wasn’t about improving balance. You don’t need to balance on one leg and reach overhead to have a healthy life. But you do need to be able to laugh at yourself when you fall or fail. So, we practice tree pose to practice laughing at our falls. We practice tree pose to stop taking ourselves so god-dammed seriously. Try it right now: Stand on one leg, bring the other foot to rest on your inner shin, knee or thigh, and lose your balance. Smile, giggle, chuckle as your lifted foot comes to the floor to catch you. You can fall. You can fail. And you can laugh at yourself. Now that is a useful skill. Thanks J.