Monday, December 31, 2012

One of the Best!


My blog project, Root Wisdom Yoga, has received a New Year's blessing! Check out It's All Yoga Baby's top 15 yoga blog posts of 2012! Yes!

A quote I like:
"I always appreciate her feminist and thoughtful writing, and in 2012 she got really into the pelvis, empowerment and the colour orange."

 Read more over there! Lot's of good reads, to be sure!

 Happy New Year! Yes to 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Consent, Self-Determination and Respect in Yoga.

Do the concepts of consent, self-determination and respect have a place in yoga class? I think so! Read more at Root Wisdom Yoga:
Consent & Yoga Class.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Choosing to Participate In Or Create Something Sexual.


Examples of consent:
Enthusiastically agreeing, asking permission, and giving permission, or to be given permission to do something is to be given consent.

"Yes, I want to!" "Yes, I want you to..." are examples of consenting words and can also be enhanced by physically moving closer, eye contact, a full and pleasant breath, and other non-verbal cues...

Not consenting:
Includes saying "no," "I'm not sure," "Not today," can also be expressed by breaking eye contact, a pause in breathing, moving away a little or a lot, or other non-verbal cues...


Consent can be withdrawn at any moment, even after something has started.
In a consensual situation, if someone changes their mind, then the activity stops.


Consent is respectful, self-esteem supporting, and pleasure supporting. I really have trouble understanding the impulse to do something that affects someone else without including the other person, including finding out what they think and noticing how they physically respond, in the process of choosing to go forward, or deciding not to do it.

Choosing to consent, or enthusiastically and mutually agreeing, can include choosing to participate in or create something sexual and also to take ownership of what is happening. This can be difficult if someone is a female-bodied person and they were taught that women should be innocent, which can necessitate checking out in sexual situations, because on some level they are convinced, perhaps not totally consciously, that they will be more likable and more likely to be a valid candidate for protection and safety if they maintain a patina of innocence in their psychology. What a false situation this might create! Because meanwhile this person might have real needs including expression of sexuality, but at the same time having been taught that staying little girl-like might mean that they would be safe. And besides that, the idea of being safe because of some idea of what someone thinks is a crock!

I've put some ideas about Creating a Consensual Culture at Root Wisdom Yoga. Root Wisdom Yoga is my chosen baby, and I plan to publish a new article there every week. You can "Like" Root Wisdom Yoga on Facebook. Thank you! You can "follow me" on Twitter. Thanks so much!

And you can read my latest article at Root Wisdom Yoga: Creating a Consensual Culture. Yes! I am celebrating us figuring this out together!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Visions of Female Sexual Power…

And a World Without Rape… the subtitle for a book I've been thinking about again recently:

'Yes means Yes!'

Here's my post at Root Wisdom Yoga that includes info on consent:
What is Sex? I Thought I Knew…

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Great Bursting Forth! ...A Queer Healing.

This picture was taken at Nuts & Bolts election night 'American Queer Party' where I represented the 'Orange (underwear) Party' supporting self-determination for all people including people with vaginas, in a mini-performance.

I am feeling a touch reflective with approaching holidays/year end time…

2012 has been a year of great bursting forth in so many ways! I started having fun, after a period of not as much fun. I did not blog as much: I was living and exploring new ideas with other people much more. And I do want to start writing it down more. Some assumptions have changed. I am in new territory. I am happier. Things are making more sense.

Things I was semi-privately believing/thinking about have become things that I have now had opportunities to meet with others to talk about, personally express, and listen to what others are thinking. Something that is dear to my heart and vital to my sense of self is the concept of self-determination.

I have always felt misunderstood, and felt that gender-based assumptions that guided the way others related to me were off. This only led me to feel bad and ashamed of myself for feeling different. This is compounded in my case by traumatic childhood circumstances that required strength, yet I also received pressure to play with dolls because I was a girl, and eat candy because I was a kid. I even got teased because I liked salad without salad dressing, the reason being that everybody likes salad dressing. I was also coerced into saying I believed in santa, I suppose that was because these people wanted what they thought was a normal kid. They didn’t want me.

People I have met who seem to have a sophisticated understanding of self-determination are people who identify as queer, because they have had to decide how they want to present themselves. Queer expression is not something we are automatically fed through media sources; it is something that must be actively pursued and explored for individuals. This form of expression is something that is determined by the individual with the body expressing, rather than the culture at large, or the oppressive concept of “norms”. In many cases people who identify as queer have faced rejection from people closest to them, sometimes facing a period of homelessness or other disenfranchisement.

Mainstream culture is built on assumptions of normalcy and standards that are generally believed to work, so in asking the questions I’ve been asking of myself there is at times a real fear of deviance. How will the more authentic me be accepted? What will I continue to discover about myself? Where is this going?

So far I have experienced great healing through this pursuit through tools of queerness (radical welcoming, community support, honoring personal expression that might appear different): it’s okay for me to do things that are true to myself, and say how I feel. And I have had so much fun. I have also had glimmers of a vision of a world where I have a place, and where my expression is welcomed. …so far, so good.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

In Case of Death. (Trigger Warning for the Subject of My Death.)

I’m in no hurry to die. But I’m thinking about it and I thought I’d share. I realize that almost nobody knows what I’d prefer in the case of my death.

I’m sure to die! My body is aging. My mind ripening… I celebrate myself on this macabre and gorgeous journey!

At a recent wake honoring the life of a young person who left their body, I realized that I had not thought too much about what I’d like in the case of my death.

But first! A casual short-list of things I want to do before I die:
1. Get a tattoo.
2. More sexual things, exploring consent and sexual action.
3. Practice handstand away from a wall.
4. Resolve financial stress.
5. Make a nice house (wherever I am): comfortable and welcoming for my self and others.
6. More connections in the world, community healing.
To be continued…

Okay, let’s say I died. I’d like everybody who feels connected to me in some way to have an opportunity to gather, but to also know that it’s okay to mourn privately if you'd prefer that. I would prefer that my body is not there. It can be cremated, placed in the earth or buried at sea, but don’t bother much with my corpse, it doesn’t have a lot to do with me, so it does not need to be present for the party. And I do not want a plot of earth marked and reserved for me; I’d like the earth to be enjoyed by those who are alive!!

At the gathering, I’d like you to do exactly how you feel, whether it seems appropriate or not. It is not necessary to be solemn or to act the way one thinks that one should act at an occasion like this. I just ask that you are mindful of not hurting others who are also there. In fact in honor of my playfulness, I’d like you to celebrate in a way that you’d like as long as you are not hurting others. You can dress in an unusual or colorful way, or not wear much! That would honor me as long as you are expressing yourself. At my wake, it’s okay to laugh and cry! It’s okay to honor yourself and your needs at the time. It’s okay to dance and smile and feel good. It’s okay to sit and think, or talk quietly. At some point in the evening (I see it happening at night.) I request silence: a moment (minutes long) for being together to honor the great mystery that is suggested by someone dying. It is okay to cry into this silence.

Remember what you want to accomplish while you are alive.
The above picture is a pic of a polaroid from an art installation. I like it because it looks like I am being born. In considering death, or even experiencing the death of aspects of self that I choose to leave behind me, I get an opportunity for a fresh expression of myself, and am renewed for the journey ahead.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grateful for Queerness.

I am grateful for opportunities to explore my queerness.

For me, queerness has something to do with questioning the power structures supported by the notion that 1 man + 1 woman = marriages/families/privilege, and power imbalances that often exist within this kind of contractual situation. And the reality that I see includes many people, like myself, who are choosing to live their lives differently from this model.

I really do not want my life to be seen as legitimized by the presence of a male-bodied person. I should be allowed respect for my self, even in my female body, and my life as it is now: an independently living person. This in itself for some people might be seen as kind of queer.

Queerness in my mind is not based only in sexuality. I think it might be based in freedom: freedom to explore ones self based on perceptions and self-definition instead of trying to make a life that conforms to traditional hierarchy and historical images of power. These systems and images generally disregard people not living as 1 man + 1 woman, and tend to crush women’s power and ability to determine self in any case.

And yes, I want to claim the power to explore consent-based intimacy, love and sexual experiences with people I want to. I am thinking that what is important to me is the person, not necessarily the expressed gender of the person, that attracts me.

So, yes! I am grateful for queerness, and opportunities to explore the topic personally in relationships and life-choices, and socially in art, performance, poetry, spoken word, music, parties and activism. It offers me hope that there is the potential and vision for a more just world for people to live, be heard, and express themselves in.

Monday, October 8, 2012

At Peace Right Now…

Peace can exist only in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say "Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace." What is "this"? A diploma, a job, a house, the payment of a debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another "this" that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only "the hope of peace some day."
~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

I’ve been revisiting this piece on peace by Thich Nhat Hanh. It is one that I’ve referred to and revered over the years.


This time I see it differently. In the past I think my mind oversimplified the message. In an older interpretation I thought that this excerpt meant that daily on-the-earth life actions and happenings were not as important as the concept called “peace.” (And I realize that there are people who believe this to be true.)

But, when interpreted in that way there is a possible warp in ones commitment to life, and a preference towards spiritual practice or whatever a person feels connects them to peace—it could just as easily be drugs or another addiction. This take on the importance of not feeling anxiety or anger (opposites of peace) could be used as an excuse to escape life.

Can we have peace and debt? Can I have peace and unmet needs? Can I be angry and be at peace? I think so. I think that the situation is that challenging. I can’t afford to neglect the calls of my life in deference to a fantasy of peace. That just closes me off: isolation is not an appropriate response to my life.

I think that what is being asked for here is a level of engagement with life that exceeds a casual acknowledgement of what is happening. So even in moments of emotional turmoil, an aspect of myself is patient, and I am present to experience that. Even in moments of anger, I feel the spark of love. And when I’m really sad, I also know and trust that the storm will subside.

I used to imagine peace as a pure, clear, undisturbed state of consciousness, almost as one could imagine deep sleep or death. If someone is going for that kind of idealized peace it might be almost impossible not to neglect one’s own life—one of the most precious gifts of life around!

One can get spiritual, physical or chemical highs that are experienced as pure ecstasy or total peace where someone might say to their self later, “I got it!” or “I had it!” While those experiences are awesome, those things are not the total “it.” The bigger picture includes one’s pains, ordinary pleasures and sufferings. The bigger picture includes living ones whole life with dignity and grace, or whatever words you might describe your best offering to the world.

So “living in peace right now” right now for me means that I am present for the full variety of experiences, always (as best as I can) trusting that there is peace along with my joy, anger, resentment, lust and jealousy. And perhaps with an openness towards fuller and deeper understanding I can make the best choices and say the most helpful things based on where I am at the moment. And when I completely loose it, I am there for myself to pick up those pieces and commit to the healing I need then.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Self-care is important!!



I have just suffered a deluge of self-doubt! Ugh!

I really rode it out, and fully experienced all of its total nastiness (not the good kind…).

Seriously. Choking sobs that were close to puking. Mental turmoil, almost a state of delirium, that would swell and calm. And I decided to weather the storm, and then what I would imagine to be sessions of coma-like sleep. Events had happened that brought up flotsam of past incarnations, practically, and I had the opportunity to process a big chunk of my psychological shit!! So a part of me is excited because I trusted the adventure, and today I am back and better.

During the storm, I even noticed that my posture was different, more child-like: I just didn’t feel like myself…

And I think I feel better, at least partially, because I just remembered that sometimes people snipe at me when they are feeling inadequate!! It has nothing to do with anything ugly in me...

I had been really letting myself experience all those old wounds as I suffered, and I also believe myself to have experienced a sort of healing for having gone into the darkness as I did.

And at the same time I am also reminded of the importance of self-care. The best solution, I am convinced, is to take excellent care of my body, mind and spirit in all the ways I know how to so I am strong as others feel weak (too) and sometimes act out in ways that can unsettle me.

I had gone out a bit far, and forgotten my mooring, or connection to my sense of stability, and was tossed around in the sea of inadequacy, inner poverty, insecurity… And perhaps it was really a good reminder for taking good care of myself, and remembering that I can know myself.

Some may read this and say “oh no!!” And I know what you mean perhaps… But know that I am saying “oh yes!!!” I am back, feeling good and ready for more life!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Snub x 3. And Self-Love…


It happened first at the party of a friend. I was staying late. Someone was leaving. There were three people in the room when they came in to say their goodbyes. I was one of the three people left in the room when they came into it, offering a lavish hug and warm smile to one, and a joyful squeeze and a few words to another. Then they paused and looked in my general direction, but not at me, really. The gaze dispersed as if they were perceiving a pocket of empty air just above my head and a little off to the side. So full was the evening (apparently), and so warm the night, that even a pocket of air, full of glorious nothingness, in itself was worthy of generous acknowledgement! But I, the person sitting in the chair below and slightly to the right of the empty air, was not worth a nod goodbye.

No, I don’t know this person well. We had talked a few times earlier at the party, and I had reached out and started a conversation when they arrived. We don’t share a past, or an argument or anything that I understand to merit such a demonstrated lack of acknowledgement. But we do share friends.

And just a few days later, I saw them again at another gathering and once again I saw that same look on their face, offering the same gaze that was possibly seeing some interesting air in my general direction. It’s strange because as much as I know that there is a lack of acknowledgement being communicated here, I also think I see that they are aware that I am in the room. So maybe I should feel important that I am deserving of such non-attentive attention. It makes me a little nervous, though. We were in the same space long enough that I begin to feel like I am in cahoots with this behavior, as if I am also choosing to ignore this other person. But I’m not. I see where they are, but I couldn’t really find a way to break the silence then. ..maybe I didn’t want to, suspecting an unfriendly response.

This story has another “3” because just a couple days later I saw them again, a third time within a week. This time they arrived with a friend I thought I was meeting at the bar. And this time the silence was broken at two interesting times. The first was almost right away. I had greeted my friend at the bar when they were getting a drink. It was crowded and I didn’t yet know that they had arrived with the one who is not acknowledging me. But then, back at the table, suddenly my friend has to go get another drink for the quiet one, apparently because they had lost theirs. When they left to get the drink, after a pause, the silent one gestured to a drink on the table and said something like, “this might be my drink,” and a half smile started to grow on their face. And then somewhat later after we had all had other adventures like dancing and talking to others, we were all back at the table again, and there was a pause before this person said, “Hello…,” directly to me, and I proceeded to ask questions about their art, seeing it as an opening to talk, and why not? But then, with an unfinished sentence this person turned to focus on our mutual friend. And that was it for our talking.

I think that if this pattern continues I may choose to just ask this person, “what’s up?” or something… When I consider what I’ve written, I wonder why I was so passive in my recollection, as if the world is just happening to me, and meanness just happens to me. When another way to see it is that I, too, am happening to the world, and I, too, seek to assert demonstrations of what I am seeing.

The picture in this post is of a black box with hearts that were spray painted on it. I chose it because I’d like to think that if I am holding a placeholder in someone’s mind I’d prefer to be thought of as a space that contains love. Whatever negative projections I might hold occasionally for others are just that, projections. To know something about me, you have to know me. This is a process that takes time, kind regard, communication and an open mind.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Orange Inspiration.

I recently came across this description of orange:
"Orange is the color of joy and wisdom. It stimulates feelings of sociability. It is tied to our emotional health and to the muscular system of the body. Orange can assist in healing conditions of the spleen, pancreas, stomach, intestines, and adrenals. Individuals experiencing emotional paralysis or depression can be helped by this bright and uplifting color. It can be used to revitalize the physical body and assist with food assimilation. It makes a good tonic after a bout of illness, for it is good in eliminating negativity from the body."
~Ted Andrews, 'How To Heal With Color'

I say "Yes" to orange! :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pretty Hair and Social Norms.

So yesterday I was at a party and someone noticed that my hair was different than the last time they had seen me. They said something like, "Yeah the last time I saw you you had that pretty hair…" And, "What inspired you to do this to your hair?" Does this someone not see that this is an insensitive line of questioning? …even mean or rude? But I see that this person may not have realized the meanness of this. It was kind of like I was experiencing a tentacle of correction coming out of the dominant power norms of our times: pretty hair is long hair, when I really like exploring different hair for myself right now. It's fun. I like it. Meow.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Note To Self: Heart Has Value.

It occurs to me
that you do not value my
receptivity.

Heart-space given 'way—
not asked for, I see. You missed
the value in me.

Eager to hold your
beauty in my heart, I grabbed.
Mind attached to smoke.

Free trial, if you will.
Fear not: no belated bill.
Only my withdrawal.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vagina Manifesto to Promote Human Sanity.

I'm happy to say that I've written my Vagina Manifesto for humans. It goes way beyond the people who we commonly perceive as having a vagina. Read it at Elephant Journal:

A Vagina Manifesto for Males & Females.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sexual Wings.

I saw this beautiful cicada, still soft having just left its previous outer shell, and it reminded me of myself. This being was waiting, vulnerable, new…

The wings were gently flapping with the breeze—not stiff enough to fly, yet. And I looked on, admiring this precious kind of nakedness.

As I am being true to my own process, and continuing to blog myself even into a state of vulnerable newness, I hope you will visit and enjoy:

Queering My Sexuality.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Facebook profile not really mine.

In the Facebook app for my iPhone, the pictures have been mixing up here and there for a while…a device-based phenomenon. But this is too much! Mark Zuckerberg's headshot is where my profile pic is supposed to display. It seems to be a strange reminder that my profile is not really mine.

P.S. I'm easy to find on Facebook:
http://facebook.com/yogabrooks

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Caring for the Pelvis with Vaginal Massage.

Read more in my latest article at Elephant Journal:
A Revelation About Massaging My Vagina.

The article includes my recent exciting trip to New York City to teach 'Pelvic Empowerment' as a part of Leslie Howard's 5-day pelvic floor yoga training.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Healing Rape-Trauma With Yoga For The Pelvis.

And celebrating the female pelvis with truth-telling. …and sharing a truly healing, must-read book for all pelvises, hearts and minds.

This is probably more than you ever thought you'd know about me, and I also know that this scenario is not just about me. So I've shared in the interest of honoring my story, and in the hopes that others might resonate or get something helpful from reading it…

I dated a rapist

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Newly free haiku!

Emotional fount
heartened me. The sham is cracked!
Now free. Belly crawl!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Springtime beauty haiku.

Springtime beauty caught
me for a moment. Then I
went back to normal.

But I keep going
back to remember those blooms,
lifted pink balloons.

I float with them as
I remember their sweetness,
pink transportation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Recent reenactments related to the story of Jesus.

In light of recent reenactments related to the story of Jesus I offer an excerpt:

I have already argued that the most popular storyline is probably that of 'boy meets girl'. But Christianity has been supplying us with quite a different storyline for the last two millennia. 
The Christ story is one that gathers most of its intensity around the extensive torture, humiliation and public execution of a man who is the Son of God. Its narrative depiction in the form of the twelve stations of the cross is to be found on the walls of Roman Catholic churches. Each illustrates an individual scene of Christ's passion, such as the crowning with thorns, or the bearing of the cross, and they increase in pathos to the culminating point of the final crucifixion at Calvary. 
We know that we enjoy identifying with a dynamic hero or heroine who overcomes the odds and triumphs over enemies, who ends up getting the girl or boy. But what is less admissible is how much pleasure and meaning is gained from identification with a body in pain. Christ is always worshipped as a figure nailed to a cross, bleeding and mutilated, scorned and betrayed. This is also a cherished, though generally secret, vision of ourselves.
~Anita Phillips, A Defence of Masochism

Is this a true dynamic in the story? I know it's so hard for me to let go of the painful bits of my personal story. Is it because I secretly cherish and enjoy the stories of my suffering? If I really let them go would my life loose meaning? Life certainly seems to contain all the different textures of experience, and I am in awe of my joys and pain, totally enraptured and unable to say that fascination with pain and suffering does not exist. Look at what is chosen to be shown on the news so often: violence and suffering! This is what has been shown to attract viewers. Are we sick, or just fascinated with our mortality?

I think that the propensity towards idolizing pain and suffering in religion and media (movies, TV, news) is a worthwhile subject to consider. Simply the magnitude of this phenomenon is reason enough to try not to sweep it under the carpet and forget.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Not crying haiku.

She is not crying.
She is telling her story.
I am crying, now.

(After seeing 'Enemies of Silence: A Night of Poetry and Performance' to benefit Rape Victim Advocates.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A funny clothesline haiku.





A funny line clothes
something truthful. Earnestness
pockets a secret.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Power Dynamics in Yoga Teaching Relationships





This is just a little peep…
See the whole article at ElephantJournal.com:
Sexy, Cultish Power, Yoga & Healing


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, March 2, 2012

4-Week Intro to Yoga with Brooks starting March 4!

If you or someone you know might like to do an intro to yoga class series with me you can sign up here. Welcome beginners!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pelvic Happenings Starting this week with Leslie Howard.

"Ruby"—Leslie Howard's female pelvis.

Hello. I'm just writing today to let you know about some pelvic happenings starting this week in Chicago with Leslie Howard. There are lots of great choices across six days and two yoga studios. You can go co-ed or with just women. There are open classes, and there are also special intensive classes for teachers and serious students happening early next week at Yogaview on Elston.

The fun starts on this Friday Feb. 10th at 6pm at the Yoga Circle with:

The Pelvic Floor and Mula Bandha 

Many men and women have issues (from incontinence to sexual dysfunction) rooted in the musculature of the pelvis. Come learn about the anatomy of the male and female pelvic floors, and explore locating, accessing and engaging these muscles in one’s own body. This foundation is essential for the more esoteric practice of mula bandha, an often misunderstood practice, originally meant for serious (and traditionally male) practitioners of yoga. Mula bandha is a deeper and fuller refinement of the process of learning where and how the pelvic floor muscles work. We'll unveil the mysteries of this practice historically and anatomically.

Instructor: Leslie Howard is a San Francisco-based yoga teacher, specializing in all things pelvic. She leads workshops and trainings nationally and is co-writing a book about awakening the female pelvis.Her own struggles with healing her pelvis led her to intense study of the anatomy, physiology, cultural messaging, history and energetics of this rich place. Her teaching is informed by over 3000 hours of yoga study with senior Iyengar yoga teachers, notably Manouso Manos.

Call or email the Yoga Circle to sign up for this class for MEN AND WOMEN. 312-915-0750 info@yogacircle.com

------
For the rest of the pelvic workshops with Leslie Howard we move over to Yogaview where during the weekend there are open pelvic floor classes for women, and next week there are teacher/serious student intensives.

Yoga and the Pelvic Floor for Women with Leslie Howard at Yogaview.

Please visit Yogaview's Workshops page for more details about the classes on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11-12, 2012.

Now for the intensive classes...

The following three days, Feb. 13 - 15, at Yogaview will be deconstructing the Yoga and the Pelvic Floor workshop, going deeper into all aspects that were taught.

*History of the female pelvis: Cultural, medical and historical contexts of women and the pelvis and how they translate to our current understanding of the pelvis, sexuality, misconceptions and modern medical care.
*In depth anatomy of the pelvis, hip flexors and femurs and connective musculature and how they translate into pelvic health.
*Experiential anatomy
*How posture affects the pelvic floor.
*Identifying the difference between hypertonic and hypotonic muscles and the difference between a strong muscle and a tense muscle.
*The role of breath and emotion in the pelvic floor
*How to teach breath and asana to women who need tone in their pelvis
*How to teach breath and asana to women who have too much tone in their pelvis
*How to hold a safe environment for women
*What to do with the pelvic floor during all stages of pre and post natal
*Restorative yoga for the pelvic floor

For teachers, teachers in training, and serious students.

To attend the three day training you must have attended at least one of Leslie's pelvic floor workshops. There will be homework and participants are asked to read, Witches, Midwives and Nurses by Barbara Ehrenreich and to bring with them a copy of The Female Pelvis by Blandine Calais-Germain. There will be handouts and a homework assignment to complete the training.

For more on this intensive training see Yogaview's Workshop page.
-----

Cheers to your healthy pelvis and yoga!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Imbolic, Groundhog Day, Birthday!


In Gaelic, Imbolic means 'in the belly' (of the Mother). It is right in the middle of the dark part of the year that is moving toward light. And it's a great time to reaffirm resolutions or just to honor what you are bringing into the world at this time.

Blessings, for the first stirrings of Spring!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Labyrinth, a Gauntlet and The Science of Yoga by William J. Broad.

I love great science writing.

When I was in grade school Nana (who lived in another state) would always send me the Science Times section of The New York Times every week when she and Grampa were done with it. I think that's why I scored in the 97th percentile in the science section of the ACT standardized test I took when I was in high school. When I was in college, I consciously decided to pursue art because I thought my life might be more interesting socially, and I probably didn't believe in myself enough to take myself seriously. I feel certain that there were gender-related dynamics limiting my ability to imagine a future Brooks. And my chief advisors, Nana and Grampa, wanted me to be like my Mother, who had pursued art.

Now I'm a yoga teacher and writer. And a creative life-liver.

When I found out about The Science of Yoga, by William J. Broad, senior science writer for The New York Times, I was excited and immediately said "yes" to a preview copy from Simon & Schuster. I was also a bit hesitant to the content because of the colossal misstep in the Times’ presentation of the adapted excerpt from the book. It seemed to upset both teachers and students of yoga, and no matter how it affects sales of the book the preview held a rather alarmist and incomplete message.

But I found the book to be really interesting and informative, even if I don’t always agree with the way Mr. Broad extends non-yoga related data to make up numbers about yoga dangers. To be fair, “beauty parlor syndrome” where people have suffered from stroke after their head was thrown back in a sink at a beauty parlor has been compared to yoga in a few places, and Mr. Broad is also referring to the warnings and worries of a highly credentialed neurophysiologist (Mr. Russell) from 1972 regarding yoga and the danger of stroke. It is worthwhile to consider this information. I am definitely having more respect for the fascinating way that blood flows to the head.
In traversing the neck, the vertebral arteries go through a bony labyrinth that is quite unlike anything else in the body and quite different from the soft easy path that the carotids follow to the brain. The sides of each vertebra bulge outward to form loops of bone, and the arteries penetrate these loops successively in moving upward. The left and right vertebral arteries enter this gauntlet at C6 and run through the loops until they reach the top of the neck, at which point they start to zig and zag back and forth as they move towards the skull. Between C2 andC1, they usually bend forward, and then, upon exiting the bony rings of C1, usually curve sharply backward toward the foramen magnum—the large hole at the base of the skull that acts as a conduit for not only blood vessels but nerves, ligaments, and the spinal cord. Anatomists describe the final journey of the vertebral arteries toward the brain as serpentine and report much variability in the exact route from person to person. It is not unusual for the tops of the vertebral arteries to branch out in a tangle of coils, kinks, and loops.
A view from within the labyrinth at Kripalu.
This presents a pretty exciting idea of how the blood flows through the neck, including a labyrinth, a gauntlet (with connotations of inherent danger), and serpentine aspects with coils and kinks… I almost had a yogasm when I read this description! A thrilling adventure… But, does tightening the screws on the story of blood flow really serve the subject matter?
Where Iyengar saw benefits, Russell saw danger. The postures, he said, “must for some people be hazardous.” His choice of the word “must” betrayed the speculative nature of his worry…
Mr. Broad goes on to paint a “big picture” for us reaching for some big numbers for people who might die from having a stroke from yoga, considering his estimates reasonable “given all the neck twisting and bending.” But at least one of his numbers introducing the topic is incorrect according to a few places I looked. He asserts that the neck “can rotate on its axis about 50 degrees.” This is lower than other sources. So how much weight should we put on Broad’s terrifying account?

At one point he says (and the subject goes on for pages…):
…the medical world had exactly zero evidence about the frequency of such damage.
And even though this is written in past tense, I didn’t see that there was any conclusive evidence offered in this account.

But it did make me want to sharpen my eyes in teaching, and my practice. So that’s okay. It’s good to have more information, and a reporter’s ideas on a subject. But to have such a long and terrifying account of the subject of stroke and yoga, based on so little evidence seemed irresponsible especially in the excerpt that was published in the Times. It indeed painted a big picture, but what was it of? It seemed somewhat sensational, even though it is easy to recognize that there is the potential for danger in any activity. So that’s why it’s hard to completely refute Broad’s account of things. And it made me suspicious of The New York Times and perhaps how they perceive yoga that it would print such a biased piece with goofy photo illustrations that only served to make the subject matter more strange and even macabre.

So there it is, I resisted talking about the dreaded article, only to end up talking about it.

And I’ve spent time reading and considering the book, and find it good. It is well put together, and full of interesting studies that have been done on aspects of yoga that show benefit:
The 2010 paper examined more than eighty studies that compared yoga and regular exercise. The analysis, by health specialists at the University of Maryland, found that yoga equaled or surpassed exercise in such things as improving balance, reducing fatigue, decreasing anxiety, cutting stress, lifting moods, improving sleep, reducing pain, lowering cholesterol, and more generally in raising the quality of life for yogis, both socially and on the job.
There is also a strong sexual thread in the book that I wrote a bit about at ElephantJournal.com:

The Science of Yoga: from Ritual Sex to Yogic Hypersexuality. A Book Review.

And I don't agree with Mr. Broad's recommendation:
But to have a hope of exerting greater influence on the organization of global health care, yoga must come into closer alignment with science—with clinical trials and professional accreditation, with governmental authorities and their detailed evaluations, probably even with the insurance companies and their dreaded red tape. Yoga could become a major force. Or it could stay on the sidelines, a marginal pursuit, lost in myths, looking to the past, prone to guru worship, fracturing into ever more lineages, increasingly isolated as the world moves on.
No thank you, on the governmental authority over yoga. I could go on... But, that's enough for now.

I guess it's not because I also need to say that yoga is definitely not on the sidelines. Clearly it is being recognized. This book is evidence of that. And I hope that this book helps more men get into yoga. The focus on men's sexual health could help that. I also hope that this book will encourage more scientific studies of yoga. I found the results presented in The Science of Yoga to be really interesting, and it's nice to be able to tell students that some of the claims of yoga books have been proven in a scientific setting. And that there are some benefits that may surpass what has been said before.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Post Sex Yoga?

Is this image about yoga or an invitation to have a sexual thought?
Read my latest article at Root Wisdom Yoga.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Root Wisdom Rocket Blasts Off!




Take a peek at my most recent blog project:

rootwisdomyoga.com

On January 3rd I put up a post to get things going, and announced it on Facebook and twitter, and had some visitors. Then yesterday, January 9th, I received hundreds of referrals from Facebook. And more beautiful and informative comments, to boot! So I'm not sure how that happened, but cool. Welcome, readers!

Now that I've blogged for a few years, I find it to be a great way to work out ideas. So I'm planning to do some more "root" focused posts at Root Wisdom Yoga, and hopefully offer some more workshops this year, as well as teach some more pelvic-focused private yoga lessons.

I just think that it is such a great topic and focus: I hope you like it!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Level 1 Yoga with Brooks at Yogaview on Division Street


Yogaview on Division Street is at 1745 West Division Street. It is one of Yogaview's 3 beautiful locations in Chicago and Wilmette.

The level 1 yoga class happens at 4pm on Mondays at the Division Street studio. The floors are beautiful, and the place just has a good feel. When people come in for the first time who have been going to the Elston Street studio (which has more of a loft-style feel), they just seem to fall in love: this boutique space is just so sweet! And sometimes it seems like a well-kept secret. You gotta check it out if you are in Chicago, whether you live here or drop in just for a visit. Welcome!

In Level 1 Yoga with Brooks there will be some attention to form, alignment and posture! We want to practice yoga in a way that will cultivate all of the health and vibrancy that yoga promises. But if we are practicing yoga in ways that threaten to compromise our backs, necks or breathing then the process is not beneficial and can be harmful.

Beginners are welcome in this class. Also welcome are more seasoned practitioners who want to cultivate their form. Sometimes yoga students find that they are just moving through everything, and they are not sure if they are doing the postures in the most beneficial ways for their bodies. This class is a place to work on those fundamentals of form. Questions are welcome. If you want to work on something specific, just let Brooks know before class starts.

Brooks delights in fun, and hopes that students will enjoy a class of great, healthy, full, relaxed breathing and movement, including challenge and nurturing.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Yoga for the Pelvic Floor.


This article is for you if you are wondering or ever have wondered: What is a pelvic floor? or: Why do yoga for the pelvic floor?

It includes an exciting announcement for an awesome pelvic floor yoga intensive training for teachers, teachers-in-training, and serious yoga students coming soon!

My latest article at ElephantJournal.com :
Yoga and Pelvic What? …You Know, "Down There."

Enjoy! Power to the Pelvic Populous!