Purpose.
Community.
Wellness.

My reflections practicing 365 days of consecutive Kundalini yoga, mindfulness and pranayama. March 15, 2020 – March 15, 2021

One year ago today we began our Stanford DCI Yoga practice online. What have I learned? What feels different?

 

We refer to our experience as the DCI Yoga Lab. Over our 365 days of this consecutive practice, meeting 289 times on zoom, I have looked at everything with an eye towards science, the practical and lived experience. With certainty I share with you my year long results.

  1.  I believe I am kinder, moving through my days with more equanimity.
  2.  Energy levels are high and consistent throughout the day with a positive focus.
  3.  My purpose and priorities manifest easily.
  4.  I am physically strong and my body shows muscular strength.
  5.  I am connected to my breath: my life-force. More and more I am conscious of my breath throughout the day.
  6.  Digestion and elimination are regular, some may know I suffered for over ten years with acid reflux. I still have issues sporadically, but overall I am much improved.
  7.  Muscles are stretching and I am ever so slowly getting my forehead to the mat. My intention: at one thousand consecutive days, my forehead will be on my mat.
  8.  My intuition is keen. I can sense other people’s emotions and states of being. My own internal guidance is strong.
  9.  My sleep is consistent. My dream-state, active.
  10.  I feel connected to our cohort at a very deep level. 279 days of group practice creates a bonding, an anchoring that is life-centering.

 

In Celebration of 365 Days

Our celebration yesterday was bookended by two beautiful poems. The first by Anne-Lindsay Makepeace titled “Downward Zoom.” We closed with a second by Melanie Karsen, “A Poem for Rocky’s One-Year Yoga Lab.” Both can be viewed below. The poems spoke to our shared journey: making time to be on our mats supporting our own well-being and the well-being of our classmates. We learned various Pranayamas/breathing techniques, the names of the Chakras/the seven energy centers of the body.

Downward Zoom

The day is young, the sun shines and it begins,
Rocky centers his mat and he reaches from within.

His legs are crossed, he sits up admirably straight,
He welcomes all – even those who arrive terribly late!

We breathe, twist, and balance searching for our drishti on the wall,
With Rocky’s encouragement we try very hard not to fall.

We raise our arms up, down and all around to the beat,
Sometimes struggling with downward dog on our very own feet.

There is breath work, mental flossing and stretches for the critical life nerve,
For yoga practice does work for those who diligently serve.

From Asanas to Bandhas to silent Shivasanas – there is a whole roster of tricks,
Our guru Rocky works his magic through numerous yoga scripts.

Rocky’s voice never falters, his presence always calming,
His intuition always keen if he senses something at all alarming.

For those who are well, happy and solid on their mat,
He does not at all worry, he will casually chat.

For those who are present on their mat with a worry,
Rocky takes only a moment before he does scurry.

The class will end, in moments the phone will ring,
There he is to comfort with his voice, calmness he will bring.

For 279 mornings in 12 months the Zoom Yoga Lab was humming,
Our guru on his mat working us hard – he is ever so cunning.

To build community, purpose and wellness to boot,
I think we can safely say that Phil’s DCI horn we can toot.

Here is to Rocky, our teacher, leader and friend,
We will all celebrate this year with a downward bend.

Yoginis and Yogis, put your hands together, search for your third eye once more,
While bowing with gratitude – let’s shout Sat Nam from deep down in our core.

______

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With gratefulness to you Rocky
for your generosity, kindness, and encouragement each and every day.

DCI Yoga Lab
(2019-2020-2021)
______
Downward Zoom – Anne-Lindsay Makepeace

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Photo Credit: Kudryashka – Illustrator & Graphic Designer 
Follow on Instagram: @kudryashka_art


A Poem for Rocky’s One-Year Yoga Lab

On March 15 of Twenty-Twenty,
You gathered us virtually to stretch and pose a plenty.
It would be a Yoga Lab; together we would get through Covid, you said.
Indeed we did, all because of the 279 sessions you so generously led.

Sheltering in place became a solo norm,
But connecting via zoom felt familiar, like a communal dorm.
Just show up as you are, no judgment, all will be well,
You were right. On our mats, our Sat Nam did gel.

My truth is my identity; we hear it in every kriya,
Learning terms like gyan mudra and pranayama can be challenging, especially those that sound like onomatopoeia.
We’re now experts at nostril breathing, who knew it was such a thing?
Until you made it part of our practice; now integrated into every fiber of our being.

We pull our spines long as we hold our breath,
“We’re only doing this for a minute,” you say, but are you sure Hypoxia to the brain won’t result in death?
“Make your belly fat,” you say, but Rocky, why would I do that?
It’s how to inhale and exhale, my friends, now do cow – then cat!

Close your eyes, open your eyes, look up, look down,
We follow your directives; our yogic Messiah, of sorts, without the gown.
Chanting mantras, masterfully engaging us the whole way through,
You are such a marvel, dear Rocky, what would we have done this year without you?

Stand up, sit down, lay down, aren’t these asana’s fun?
And oh how we treasure hearing your beautiful voice close with the Long Time Sun.
Indeed, our bodies, minds and spirits are connected because of you,
How lucky we are to have you in our lives; for who you are and all that you do.

We do have just one issue, perhaps petty, depending on your point of view,
Susan Calandra gets to have a pose named after her – can we, too?
Whether it’s happy baby, child’s pose, warrior or plank,
Tell us, what special skills do we need to master in order to rank?

Rocky, one more thing, there’s something you should know,
There is a package en-route to you; when it arrives, please pretend it’s wrapped with a bow.
The gift is white; it’ll even coordinate with your Kundalini togs,
Something for the chakras, resonant notes for when we’re doing our down dogs.

While we are at the one-year mark and pandemic conditions are much improved,
We hope to keep our group practice going – as though nothing has moved.
How sweet to be on this journey together, sharing our wellness goals,
We truly thank you, dear Rocky, from our collective hearts and souls.

– Melanie Karsen

We learned to sit still and just be. We learned anatomy, discipline and bandha strength. We laughed, there were times I cried in gratitude for such a supportive group. We were far flung from the Bay Area, north to Portland and Seattle, the Oregon coast, Park City Utah, Palm Springs, Miami, NYC and Connecticut, Oxford and Shanghai. In the early days of the pandemic we breathed for all those who could not breathe. And we breathed for ourselves to be conscious of this world-wide pause and how it may be affecting all of us? It is a year we will never forget. Our Yoga Lab created an anchor, a soundtrack for our lives. As we enter year two, what will we take forward to be fully alive? Fully present to all that is and all that is yet to be.

“Rocky, one more thing, there’s something you should know,
There is a package en-route to you; when it arrives, please pretend it’s wrapped with a bow.
The gift is white; it’ll even coordinate with your Kundalini togs,
Something for the chakras, resonant notes for when we’re doing our down dogs.”

The above is an excerpt from Melanie Karsen’s poem. As it turned out, the Yoga Lab participants gifted me with seven chakra singing bowls. These magical glass bowls represent the tones of the seven chakras. The word Chakra in ancient Sanskrit means wheel. These energy wheels circulate around the center of the spine and line up with the following parts of the body.  Read More

Purpose. Community. Wellness.

Rocky Blumhagen 3/15/2021