Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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How to “Progress not Perfection” Together

yoga together

Life isn’t a cake walk. As much as we’d all like it to be. It is all about practice and overcoming obstacles while reaching for our goals. Never stagnate, keep moving. Doing this  together makes it easier. WE.

WE can do things that I alone cannot. Is there an alternative to grumbling over our obstacles and towards our goals? Painstakingly and struggling…? Because, honestly, this doesn’t work. Can we instead frolic and skip merrily over them? Together? 😉

This is a simple lesson on Tweeking (not Twerking)  your week towards your goals by practicing “Progress not Perfection”… Together.

Try NEW BEHAVIOR. Set Goals or Objectives for the week.

We’d all like to be the perfect “Handler of Affairs” in all cases. However, as we are human, this is never going to happen. All we can do is our best and attempt to learn from past errors. If something hasn’t worked for us in the past. It is in fact the definition of insanity to…

“Do the same thing over and over again expecting different results”.

What New Behavior?

Take a good look at what makes you feel good. Exercise, eating broccoli, studying, cleaning your house, meeting with friends… every one is different though here we recommend to:  Eat well, exercise, sleep, and connect with others. Simple. If these simple things are hard for you… our solution is to PRACTICE TOGETHER.

God didn’t surround us with others so we could constantly be at each others throats, but rather… to work together. To help each other. So use the people that are in your life to help!

Make a list of the things you would like to have accomplished by Friday.  It might be a list of “Things to Do” or “Ways you’d like to feel”. What are your weeks objectives? What steps do you need to take to make them happen? Obviously making the list alone is going to achieve nothing. ACTION IS KEY. After you have written you realistic list, share them with a friend, a partner.  Ask them to do the same and to share it with you. You will help each other. Begin to take small simple steps towards reaching your goals. Baby steps. When it gets tough or you struggle… reach out to your partner! When you are making progress… celebrate it! SMILE about it. INTERNALIZE the content and accomplished feeling of reaching for what you want.

DO NOT EVER: JUDGE YOURSELF, TALK NEGATIVELY TO YOURSELF, OR GIVE UP. Keep trying. Remember our aim this week is to practice “Progress not Perfection”…Together.

My personal goals for the week:

Maintain daily meditation and asana practice.

Write a few hours each day, with 3 finalized solid pieces to show for it.

Finish a secret Christmas present project.

Eat one giant salad everyday for lunch.

Take Haddie ,our dog, for a walk everyday (despite the flooding).

Meet with three different friends for coffee.

Done.

Ross, will you be my partner and practice “Progress not Perfection” with me? 😉

Make your lists and get a partner! Enjoy everyone!

Love,

T  桃子

-Thanks to Josef Kandoll for the amazing photo. 

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Katie…oh Katie…2 years gone.

Her contagious beautiful smile shining from her heart...

Two years ago today, we all woke up to a different world. Katie left us.

This year, in reflection… I don’t know really what to say. I still feel the gapping hole in my life where she used to fill it with trips to get coffee, getting our hair done (her doing my hair), BBQs, walks around town, shopping, talking about our life dreams and ambitions…plotting. Lots of plotting.  I simply miss her in my life.

As I prepare for my wedding in January, it is even more clear that she is really gone. She would have been my maid of honor and been right by my side as we make the “big” decisions (accessories, color scheme, the guy to marry)… I’m really missing her. I always miss her.

For anyone that knew her, I imagine we all do.

There are have been times recently, where I just blurt out to someone when discussing the wedding or talking about dear friends, “Yeah, my best friend died”… it comes out cold and awkward and I’m left with the chill of inappropriateness. At those moments, it just doesn’t seem real and I’m ashamed of myself. How could I possibly talk about it so openly? Like it should stay hidden inside and kept secret. But thats not right either.  Then there are the times alone in my room, when I look at her photo watching over me, and just at that moment, her song is on and I can so clearly feel her with me. Tears stream down my face and at those moments, I understand. And it is real.

This week,  I find myself back home in Denver. I have been cleaning out my closets and going through old things. Getting ready for our next move and a trip to Mexico to make final wedding preparations. In the midst of this process, I ran across many old photos of  high school, and of her. I’m going to share them.  We can all think of her fondly and send her lots of love vibes…

We love you Katie!

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My earliest memories of Katie take place at Paris on the Plat coffee shop in downtown Denver. One of our favorite places to go late night with some pens and paper. There we would write and drink coffee in a haze of smoke and whispers. The ambiance of that place seemed to set us free. The Waffle House on south Broadway was her staple. She even worked there at one point, embellishing that lost poet part of her.  Katie was a poet, a beautiful, dark, poet. Ironic considering the lightness and joy she brought to those around her. Perhaps she kept her ghosts for the paper.

At 16 we were already troubled souls, desperate to find an answer for the loss we felt with our own existence. We found temporary solace in many places, the healthiest of which being the pen. She in particular had an incredible ability to shine her heart out regardless of what was going on inside it. Through her pen, through her voice, her laugh, her smile, her tears, her eyes… She expressed herself profoundly.

At 18 Sarah, Katie and I, all three vibrant Scorpios who often discussed our supernatural connection, decided to go to Boulder on a whim. We all 3 got a tattoo based off of a Ute North American Indian rock art symbol meaning“meandering spirit”. I had seen it in a museum gift shop painted on a rock when I was a child and it always stuck with me. Katie and Sarah were my meandering spirit sisters. Katie more then any of us always seemed to have her toe barely touching the earth while the rest of her floated around above waiting to let go altogether. After high school it became clear as we globe trotted in search of purpose, possibility, and ultimately happiness…that our existential angst ran deeper than the average suburban teenager. The struggle with addiction and the loss of self were key contributors to the paths we all ended up taking down the road of destiny. It makes total sense to me that she is gone…  I hate that she is gone, but have to accept it. Knowing in my core that she is in a better place and finally at peace, makes it easier for me to accept.

I miss her incredibly; there were so many parts to her that were simply unique to Katie.  As those that knew her can all agree, her laugh, her smile, her open heart were irreplaceable. She was the funniest person I ever knew and starting from the time we became friends at 14 in biology class, when the four of us girls, Kelly, Maggie, Katie and I were split up to the four corners of the room because we simply could not stop laughing, mostly because of Katie.  Laughter. Jokes. Lightheartedness. Truly amazing. She had the ability to give impressions of other people, totally spontaneous and they would leave everyone hysterical. My favorite was her impression of Will Ferrell imitating Harey Carey, saying,” If the moon were made of cheese, would you eat it? I know I sure would.”

Katie was generous beyond measure, and a total diva. I don’t think any one was more fashionable in high school and beyond then Katie. She had a flare that was uniquely hers and inspiring. She showed me how to accessorize according to individuality and with confidence. She could pull off many looks, which others could not, short hair, long hair, blonde hair, red hair… jeans, boots, high heels, flats… She matched what she was feeling with her clothes. I’ll always picture her with short blood red nails; light brown hair pulled up into her high pony tail (volleyball style) with her voluminous bangs… Her bright eyes glittering, jeans, a t-shirt, with some funky golden Romanesque sandles and a huge purse filled with everything but the kitchen sink, perhaps even a small dog? Her lime green Volkswagen bug buzzing around Littleton. Diva indeed.

Two years ago today Katie surprisingly left behind many people who loved her dearly, and that she loved dearly; her many friends, her parents, her brothers, her sister. I know we have all found it difficult to have an open space where she used to be. Of course we have to try to find a reason for why she’s gone. The obvious message being that we have to live to the fullest, to be grateful for the life we have, and mostly to make the most out of the time we have with those we love. I personally have found comfort in pledging to be more lighthearted, to smile more, and to carry her in spirit so that she lives on. Perhaps I’ll add on the extra accessory, some clanging bangles or eye shadow I know she would approve of. The red nails and dark lipstick. It’s at these times that I know she isn’t far away.

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Hello Love, Hello Future…

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Tears. Stream down my face with Gratitude. Oh what a trip this has been. Seriously… The time of my life. Thanks to the things I have learned and done during these few months, I genuinely feel I have more love in me. It feels…good.

Sadly, this portion of the journey is ending. So, to Uganda, Tanzania, The United Kingdom, and Sweden…Goodbye.

 I wanted to give a proper goodbye to this pivotal time and take a moment to reflect on the highlights. Simply put… I fell in Love. Well, I fell into deeper love, and that is all that life is about… I believe.

I fell in love with my family, I fell in love with Irene, and Ross, and myself. My chest just feels swollen with happiness.

It is hard not being able to HOLD on to these things forever, they are simply times, places and experiences that are fleeting, but oh how beautiful have they been.

Highlights:

In Uganda… This girl… Irene… oh man…. tears. I fell in love with her brightness, her love, the miracle of her being. Gratitude. I  feel so blessed to have had these moments with her, though it pains deeply to not be close to her now, I smile at the fact that she is my little Irene… 😉

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The wall. My sweat and blood went into this mosaic on the back wall of the church at Musana… 2 months of creative energy pouring into it, I discovered a deeper understanding of myself, my own capabilities and the beauty of my unwavering faith that things will turn out alright in the end. This wall… it helped me love more things about about myself, and that is beautiful.

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Andrea my next youngest sister got married to the gorgeous Haril at Sippi Falls in Uganda. What an experience for our family. We were all together on the other side of the globe and it was spectacular. We laughed, and played, and honestly… the time of a life time.

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Handstand… I’m not there yet, but the fact that this started happening is a big personal…yay!

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Friends unite. During this trip we met up with so many different friends, spending time with them and catching up. What a blessing it has been. 

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And Ross.

This picture was taken of us in Scotland and I love it because, we are happy, playing, and it is gorgeous… we are enjoying the time together but separate, and loving the environment. During these last few months, I have really fallen more in love with him as we have learned to be together, while taking in the experiences as our own.

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So… Wow. We are getting on the plane in a few hours and this chapter is officially closing.

 I am going to put all the memories and moments into my pocket and take them with me wherever we end up going, whatever we end up doing. They have helped me to grow more into the person I want to be. Full of love… Though what comes next is unknown to us…I am not scared. It is a blank page and it is wonderful. Hello Love, hello future…

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STRUCTURED IMPROV: Part 2~ Faraaz Tanveer

Taozi Tree Yoga is so proud to present… a special guest post…

Graduation

STRUCTURED IMPROV: Part 2~ Faraaz Tanveer

AIR/ Anahata:

To love is to  pay  attention.  If you love something/ someone, you pay attention to them. Meditation is a way of learning various ways of loving oneself. Different ways in which I can pay undivided attention to what’s going on inside and thus be deeply in love with myself.

In my opinion, the ubiquitous presence of the  stereotypical image of a great master  sitting still and cross legged does more harm than good. It diverts attention towards the outer form and gives a misleading impression that everyone should meditate in only THIS way.  Silent sitting may be  the  culmination point of a more active process  for some people and a starting point for  some others.  You may  prefer  a more dynamic form of  ‘moving meditation’ or have a preference  for  chanting or breathing exercises or just sitting  silently. Traditionally in India meditation is always based on initiation by a  master and the practice given by him/  her is as per the student’s  nature and inclination. Bespoke and private.

Meditation, like love, is an ambiguous term. Any technique that helps in integrating  and focusing one’s energies and turning them inwards can be termed as meditative.   Try out different styles and then choose the one that appeals to you  most.  My  own practice has been ‘traditional ‘ chanting and breath & body awareness . Then recently I  came across ’5  Rhythms’ – a form of dancing meditation and loved it!! There is certainly value in sticking to a path once you have made a choice to  allow for  more depth but  at  the same  time I find that my  regular,  disciplined  practice  gains from  the freedom I allow myself in exploring new avenues as well.

Everyone can benefit by adopting meditative practices into  their  lives. Just like going for a brisk walk every day is beneficial , so  is taking 15 minutes in the morning to sit silently and observe one’s breathing. Then one may decide to jog, get good running shoes and maybe even participate in half marathons  every now and then.  Similarly, one can graduate  to a more regular meditative practice and attend workshops,  retreats and community groups on a regular basis.  Then there are those who want to  run on a competitive level.  They will be advised to join a  training school and regulate their diet & lifestyle accordingly. Similarly, if a certain style of meditation really appeals to you, you may decide to  go  deeper and have dedicated, long term training under a certain lineage and also regulate your lifestyle and other practices to support it. Finally,  some amongst us would be interested  in and suited for international competitions  and  make it a life’s  work.  This required mentoring  from an experienced  coach and long hours of carefully  structured  training. Similarly,  those who want to delve  deeper into the realms of meditation and want to make  it the central  focus  of their life will  do  well to  find a  master who  can provide guidance and support.  Meditation is not competitive, but I guess you get the message that  I am trying to  convey! No effort  in this direction goes waste. Even a small ste  bears  fruit and points  one inwards.

Then there are some people  who claim that, “ You  don’t  need to DO anything. You already  are IT! …” and so on. I agree  with  the  philosophical  premise but also  like  to  point out the fact that  it is not helpful  for most people.  These days there  is an influx of  young ‘advaita’  teachers  who talk  for  hours in workshops  and  write  long articles about how useless the  whole process of  putting  ‘effort’  is. This line  of thinking also seem to  subtly imply  that the ‘practitioners’  amongst us are  somehow spiritually inferior . If someone really ‘gets’  the ‘no  effort – already  is’  logic, that’s it!  I  would expect that  person to  have a  much richer and deeper,  moment-to-moment  experience  of  life.  But what  I often come across are  people  stuck  in the  inertia  of  mental  gymnastics,  endlessly wrestling  with  abstract  concepts  and trying to  fit  them into the  jigsaw puzzle of their  personal  spiritual philosophy.

Gyana  yoga ( Yoga  of knowledge)  is  just  one of the paths among many  that are suggested  by  the traditional systems.  Even within this format, contemplation that  leads to a deeper, non verbal  awareness is the  goal.   So watch out  when you  find yourself  slipping into  intelligent and cool sounding  abstractions which don’t make any difference to your day to day, moment-to-moment living. There is value in these words but also a danger of keeping  us trapped in  ‘head trips’.

SPACE/ Vishuddhi:

We often talk of  the  importance of expression and sharing.  I also  believe that  I  gain a lot from genuine, heartfelt and creative communication. This is a  point  that  doesn’t  need any extra emphasis. What I want to  draw your attention to is  the  limitations  and  pitfalls inherent  in the process  of communication.  In my experience, just like  there  is , “ Lost  in translation”,  there is also a very  real, “ Lost in communication”. The  moment you decide to  communicate  an experience by  codifying it with words, some of its original richness and  uniqueness is  lost. This  is especially true for emotions and  feelings.

Don’t be in a hurry  to describe and capture  your experience  during your practice. Allow some time to just experience it.  You  don’t  always have to answer the question, “ How am  I feeling?”. You  ARE feeling it. That’s  enough. In my experience,  when physical and emotional  feelings are  given the  space to  express themselves and to be experienced fully, they  lead to deep insight and direct  action. As soon as I  bring  in the filter of language  and mind,, they  seem to lose some of their vitality and transforming potential.

This  is one of the reasons why in the traditional yogic system  the students are advised to keep their personal  practice private  and to  only discuss its details  with  their Guru/  teacher.  You are encouraged to  share the  merits of the  practice with others but discouraged from gossiping/ boasting about the details  of  the experiences. Now I  can see  the  value of  this advise.

This  chakra also represents creative  expression. In terms of  creative ideas, I recently  came up with a flowing, moving  meditation sequence that  is  derived from the Ashtanga Vinyasa Sun Salutation A and  the movements in  the Namaz, the Muslim traditional prayer.  These are the  two  most popular vinyasa sequences in the  world, so  I  thought why not combine them! Most students loved it while it  didn’t  do a lot for  some.  That’s the best that you can expect for any creative idea, so I  was happy!

I also  like working with  combining principles of Tai Chi and Reiki  with  Yoga. And new ways  of  structuring classes, like the Chakra  based Yin sequence that I’ve been sharing for the last few months. I think once the basic principles  have been understood,,  there is a lot of  room for  creativity. Creative breadth  and creative  depth.

One of my ideas that I would like to materialize some day  is a vision for  a Mysore  style  practice studio that  offers asana, movement, energy  work and meditation. This is how I  would like  to  run my studio, if/  when  I do  so in the future.

This place works on a membership model. Every new member gets a one-on-one consultation with the teacher, who assesses their goals and requirements and gives them an initial  set  of  practices, spanning asana, breath work, energy work and/  or meditation.  All members  come in  during the ‘self practice’ time slots ( morning and evening). Teachers are available at  hand to  supervise, adjust and support. The class starts  and ends with a group prayer  and chant.  For rest  of the time, all  students are on their mats,  doing their own thing.   There are mid-morning slots available where members  can  drop  in any  time while the  teachers do  their  self  practice in the same  room. There is a review  one to one session for the members every  month.

Having a set  sequence makes Ashtanga Vinyasa Mysore style classes easier to  conduct,  but  I am sure  it can still  be done with a varied  set of  practices. The image  of a  community of practitioners, doing varied self practice sessions in the same room and supporting each  other with  their presence is very  beautiful and powerful to me.  Also,  since  it is not a set  sequence,  there  is no comparison or competition.  We all come together, start  and finish together, while working as per our own nature  and capacities.  This is real structured improv.!

There  are some led classes on weekends, when walk in students  can  have a  taste  of  what is on offer. Also, internally, teachers can work out a loose framework to help  them decide how  to  use their individual strengths to maximum effect and to ensure smooth  progress for long term students.  But corporate style sterile ‘consistency’ is  neither a goal nor desirable.  This system will  invariably be influenced by  the individual  styles of  the teachers. It  will  also foster deeper  student-teacher relationships.

I am sure there are ways in which this idea can be refined. If any of you would  like to  work along these lines, please go ahead and make  it happen!  I  would be happy to brainstorm and give my inputs  if required,  but I don’t expect  to  be involved. My main concern is  with the  materialization of the idea,  not with  WHO does it!  I think this is  a concept  whose  time has come.

LIGHT/  Aagya:

One of the main intuitive insights  for  me  recently has been the realization  that  opposites can simultaneously be true. Free will and determinism.  Unity and duality. Activity and receptivity. And that truth lies in the space  that contains both.

If waves in the ocean represent our individual selves and  various other forms  in the  ocean of  existence,  does a wave have free will?  YES, from a wave’s point of view. It moves around  ‘interacting’ with other waves,  influencing and  being influenced by the  whole  system. And NO, from the  point  of view of  the ocean.  There is  just ONE  movement in this moment, being expressed in the  form of many  waves.  The very  existence  of a wave  as a separate entity  is  in  question here,  so  the  question of free will doesn’t even come up. Which view is  correct? Both. Which view  is wrong?  Both. What is  the truth? It is the space that contains  both ‘views’.  Which view is more helpful in improving the quality of my  life?  Relatively, depends on the situation.  Ultimately,  neither.

So  instead of trying to find definitive answers to existential questions,  I  like to  stay with  the questions themselves. Sometimes that gives  me a glimpse ( for lack  of a better  word) of the space  that contains the questions and  ‘answers’. That,  for  me,  is the real answer to  all  such questions.  Such insights bring about lasting transformation,  even  without  aiming for one.

EVERYTHING-NOTHING/  Sahasra:

………..

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Please feel free to get in touch. My e mail id is: faraaz.tanveer@gmail.com,

Thanks. Namaste!

***This has been a special guest post by Faraaz Tanveer. He was one of my yoga teachers at Rishikesh Yog Peeth, in Rishikesh, India, in November-December 2012. He is truly an amazing teacher, so full of wisdom. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness in this post!

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