The smell of burning — and sirens fill the air And all that I can do is think of you, alone in there
I call you on the telephone, small miracle, I get through But when your voice comes on the line I realize — it’s not you
You are no longer you, and I am suddenly not me The ground’s been ripped from underneath our 2 clay feet
It’s like a movie — but it’s true And everything sad has turned a deeper shade of blue
Oh ashes, ashes — from steel and concrete We all fall down, we all break down on 2 clay feet
2 clay feet 2 clay feet Life is a dream, life is a dream, life is a dream Are we awake, or do we sleep on 2 clay feet
“Where are our other lives?” she cried to me Something has changed, everything has changed, way down deep
The devil take them, the devil is me There is no devil, there are no angels, on 2 clay feet
2 clay feet 2 clay feet Life is a dream, life is a dream, life is a dream Are we awake or do we sleep on 2 clay feet
I’m honored to have an instrumental mix of “2 Clay Feet” featured on the recording Svadharma, a collection of music published by Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health to benefit their teaching for diversity program.
The Ujjayi Breath, also known as Victorious or Ocean-Sounding breath, is a wonderfully relaxing breathing practice.
This breathwork is based on a steady inhalation and exhalation through the nose, with a mild constriction at the back of the throat.
The constriction creates an “ocean sound” that helps to focus the mind, and create a relaxation response in the body.
If you’re feeling anxious, nervous, or less than confident, or if you are dealing with medical issues, give this simple breathing technique a try. Practice upon waking, when lying in bed before sleeping, or anytime!
This breath is soothing and calming. There are no medical restrictions.
1. Hold one hand up in front of your face—palm turned toward your face—and imagine your palm is a mirror. Next, pretend you are fogging up the mirror with your breath. To do this, exhale with an ‘H’ sound. “Haaaaaa…” This is the ocean sound.
2. Drop the hand, and repeat.
*Notice that compared to a exhaling normally, adding the ‘H’ sound allows you to lengthen your exhalation.
Inhale normally, and repeat. As you empty the air completely, the naval draws back toward the spine. Exhaling fully in this way will allow you to deepen your next inhalation.
3. Inhale normally, and practice the exhalation again, this time with the lips closed. Continue making the ‘H’ sound in the back of your throat as you exhale, but exhale through the nose, with the lips lightly closed.
4. Now, make the same ‘H’ sound with your mouth open as you inhale. You’ll find this to be super uncomfortable! So just do it once or twice. Then, keeping that constriction in the back of the throat, that ‘H’ sound, inhale through the nose with the lips closed.
Once you follow these simple steps, that’s it! You no longer need the above info. You’re ready to engage the Ocean-Sounding breath. Ready to relax.
A few suggestions to support your new breathing practice:
Sit comfortably with a long spine, or lie down. Soften the jaw. Soften the brow.
Breathe slowly and deeply, in and out of the nose. Lips are together, teeth apart.
Begin to engage the Ujjayi breath by inhaling and exhaling through the nose, while gently constricting the back of the throat, using the ‘H’ or ocean sound. Keep the lips lightly closed.
Extend each exhalation, emptying completely.
Deepen each inhalation, filling the body fully.
As you inhale, you may want to imagine the breath moving into the body through the lower belly, or pelvic region, and continuing up the torso, expanding the rib cage all around the body, feeling the breath in the sides and back of the body, then moving higher, under collarbones and into the tops of the shoulders.
As you exhale, imagine this 3-part wave of breath washing down from collarbone region to the pelvis.
Inhale—3-part wave of breath washes onto the shore—
(Up the torso from pelvic region to collarbones, and/or tops of shoulders)
Exhale—empty completely (from collarbones to pelvis) feeling the naval draw back toward the spine as the 3-part wave of breath retreats from the shore, returns to the sea.
Besides being a published author and Songwriting instructor at Project Write Now in Red Bank, NJ, Mimi Cross is a 200+ hour certified Kripalu Yoga teacher. She has been teaching people of all ages Yoga and Meditation since 2001.
Singers, songwriters, authors, painters, I’m sure all of you artists have ways to inspire yourselves when inspiration doesn’t strike like lightning, but if you need something new, you might enjoy Body of Writing.
At the 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, author Patricia Lee Gauch talked about “letting go into story”. When she quoted Yeats’ poem The Circus Animals’ Desertion and spoke of the “rag-and-bone shop of the heart” and how we must go there for inspiration, her message went straight to my heart. I knew it was time for me to create a workshop that connected two of my great loves, yoga and writing.
Developing a workshop combining yoga and writing had been a dream of mine for years. Starting last winter, I began to carefully design a class series that would combine yoga postures, yogic breathing techniques, creative writing exercises, meditation, visualization, and readings, in ways that would inspire participants to get their pens moving and encourage them to open to the wisdom of their bodies.
I also drew from my own personal experiences over the years in art, music, drama, and yoga workshops, incorporating Deep Diving techniques I learned from artists as diverse as Olympia Dukakis, Rosanne Cash, and Julia Cameron, as well as instructors from The Metropolitan Opera Guild and aesthetic education classes at Julliard.
Finally, in May of 2011, I offered the first version of Body of Writing. The classes I created were one and a half hours long and met once a week at River Road Books in Fair Haven, N.J. Over seven weeks I witnessed the thrilling process of people discovering the stories their bodies carried. Some were obvious, like the tale of a twisted ankle in Paris, the stiffness lingering years later, evoking memories whenever it rained, and stories begging to be told. Others were hidden, stories secret even to those who held them. Working together like seekers of buried treasure, we began to dig.
I was introduced to yoga at age twelve, and according to my father, I sang before I could talk. For many years I taught people of all ages and abilities music, placing the emphasis on songwriting when I could. My last position included teaching students who were suicidal and homicidal. Music and lyrics were a wonderful way to connect with those kids, but to help their teachers I used yoga.
One of the most important concepts of Kripalu yoga, the style that I’ve studied more than any other, is the idea of letting go. In other words, allowing things to be just as they are, including who you are, with the idea that everything is really okay already. Cultivating this kind of acceptance one learns to have compassion for oneself, and thus for one’s story.
Kripalu yoga is the style I teach, but I draw from many other traditions as well. Most styles of yoga have certain aspects in common, such as the idea that yoga is a practice for the body, mind, and spirit. Body of Writing simply adds another dimension: story.
Body of Writing can help you find the stories you hold within and teach you how to allow yourself to release them onto the page without criticism or judgment.
Of course later, you’ll have to edit. Now that’s a wicked posture to hold.
Body of Writing will be offered Saturday Sept. 24th & Sunday Sept. 25th noon—5:30 pm as an intensive two-day workshop at Brahma Yoga Spa in Sea Bright, N.J.
Go ahead. Give yourself a few minutes to stretch. Or just give yourself a few minutes. Let go of your cynicism and surrender to Freedom, track 6 of the CD, Yoji Ananda and the Inquisitive Cobra from New Jersey artist Yoji Ananda.
Freedom is a yoga pop song which includes several different Sanskrit and Gurmukhi mantras. The melody is so full of yearning that if you give in to the song, especially just after minute two, when the chorus comes in for the second time, with harmony, you’ll want to listen to it over and over.
Yoji Ananda and the Inquisitive Cobra is a CD for anyone, but yoga instructors and practitioners especially will love the diverse mix of styles used to create this collection of lovely and mysterious songs.
Yoji Ananda and the Inquisitive Cobra is a great CD to practice yoga to. Yoji Ananda has a beautiful voice and plays 12-string guitar. She also does drum programming and plays keys on the CD which features her brother John Navarra—The Inquisitive Cobra—on clay pot, darabouka, and konnakol vocals. Other talented musicians play on Yoji Ananda and the Inquisitive Cobra and I especially enjoyed Chris Finnegan’s uilleann pipes.
So go ahead. Unroll your yoga mat, if you don’t have one just lie on the floor. Breathe deeply, and listen to your body. What kind of movement would your body enjoy? Don’t tell your body what to do, just listen and allow your physical body to reveal what it wants, how it feels. Check in with your emotions. Accept how you feel without judgement or criticism. Allow yourself to be exactly as you are. Be aware of any pulsing in the body, or tingling sensations. Stretch. Breathe. Make a sound.
Stretch. Breathe. Accept. Relax. And tell everyone about Freedom.
PS Click on Yoji Ananda‘s pic and you’ll wind up at her fb page where you may learn some surprising things about her . . ..