Turn Down The Volume

October 6, 2013

University of Virginia, October 6, 2013

“Turn down the volume on your day.”

That’s how I start most of my Yoga classes when I teach.

It’s pretty much impossible in our world to turn everything off completely – even for an hour. But, turning down the volume a little, well, that’s a start. If only for that one hour of Yoga.

Turning down the volume is the Yogic path of Pratyahara.

To be Fancy Pants about it, the deal of Pratyahara is this – withdraw the senses inward. Close your eyes and look inside. Close your ears and listen to your breath. Close your touch and just feel the air on your skin.

Just find the quiet inside.

Clearing out the clutter in your brain for a few minutes each day can be as rewarding as cleaning all that forgotten junk out of your garage. (Some of the gunk in your brain can be covered with dust, grease, and mouse nests, too.)

That’s why I love this photo I took.

Hanging out at the batting cage, little kid in the center up there, shows his Pratyahara.

Hey, if the crack of the bat gets too loud, just cover your ears.

The batter in the cage is probably swinging away in his “zone”, oblivious to the rest of us, which is simply his Yoga and Pratyahara without all the Sanskrit.

(And, you thought I would never post about Yoga again!)

Bears Don’t Hibernate. Neither Does Baseball.

My husband informs me that bears in Virginia do not hibernate in Winter.  He works at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, so he oughta know. 

It’s a sad day when bears let you down.

I have relied on the wisdom of hibernating bears when encouraging my Yoga students to quiet their practice in winter and in honoring my own circadian life rhythms. 

Bears hibernate in winter, I figured, because they are smarter than we are.  They know the value of rest.  They know that cold, dark winter days demand that they slow down and refuel.  These resting bears became a powerful role model for how we all should care for ourselves in winter … carbo-pack and hibernate.

Now, I find out that this hibernation thing is a big bear hoax.

This bear cub was in the Wildlife Center of Virginia's care. Wide awake ... no hibernating for him.

This bear cub was in the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s care in 2012.  Wide awake. Thanks to WCV for this photo.

As long as Virginia bears find the weather comfortable and ample trash cans to paw through, they’ll just amble through their winter like the rest of us.  Still, they hunker down in ugly weather.  So, while they may not hibernate, they do know the value of slowing down. So, hibernation aside, I guess they’re still smarter than we humans.

I was looking forward to a bit of baseball hibernation this winter. 

162 games is a long regular season.  It’s a reliable, irrefutable fact.  Eighty-two basketball games in an NBA season.  Sixteen NFL games a season.  These are, apparently, games for the short-winded and the short-attention spanned.   

Continue reading


There’s this saying they have in North Dakota: “Thirty below keeps the riff-raff out.”  I’m sure you may have your own variations out where you are.

For the record, I did my North Dakota time. You may now consider me proof that 30-below temperatures will cause some – call me riff-raff, whatever – to flee.

So, I’m reading the new Rolling Stone (and I highly recommend the interview with Bob Dylan which is delightful and reminds you what happens when a crazy genius like Bob Dylan becomes a crazy, irascible, crabby, unfiltered old man … and I mean that in most reverent way possible).

Anyway, there is also an article about how football became America’s number one sport … and how it has completely dominated television with its constant adrenaline-rush, mad-action, carefully scripted production.

And, in a throwaway to make their point, they call televised baseball “lugubrious and soporific.”  Lugubrious and soporific? Oh my! How erudite and loquacious of you, Rolling Stone.

Sure, if you don’t know how to fill the space within the game, then you won’t enjoy the easeful, sweetly slow pace of baseball. And, with so much noise in the world today, if you don’t know what in the world to do with the blank, quiet, waiting moments, then you’ll probably be, at best, bored … at worst, sound asleep.

But, those spaces of inaction are very much part of baseball. Having the time to watch things unfold – to get into the pitcher’s eyes and his careful windup, to get into the batter’s head – can make baseball riveting.

I’m pretty sure it was the Seattle Mariners who many years ago experimented with editing games for television. Snipping out all the quiet, slow spots. They were left with an hour or so of the “action.” I don’t know how many games this lasted, but needless to say … it didn’t last long.

On the other hand, my Yankee-fan Editor/Husband (hi honey!) reminds me of this:

There were some spring-training games that were telecast with a minimal broadcaster presence. I think they had several players and coaches miked up, but no one really in the broadcast booth. And, it was spring training, so it was a game of not much importance, but there was SO MUCH going on. There was the outfielder singing to himself.  And, the first-base coach talking to the base-runner and the first baseman. And, the catcher talking to the umpire and the batter.  And the manager … and the coach. There were ALL of these little centers of activity and interest and tension, while it might seem like “nothing” was happening!

Watching baseball on television isn’t easy, because it asks you to fall into a simple, slow rhythm yourself. Sometimes, you have to sing to yourself. And, for a world that’s super-charged with energy, for a television that offers continuous wall-to-wall action, that isn’t easy.

But, maybe that’s just baseball’s way of keeping the riff-raff out.

(I’ll sing the praises of the best baseball broadcasters – and there are some great ones out there – another time.)

And, by the way, I really do love Bob Dylan. I even have his brand new one, Tempest. It’s crazy sweet.  (And, as I write this, just a $5 download from Amazon … just click here).

Oh, I suppose some would say that the title track – a 14-minute, 45-verse recounting of the sinking of the Titanic, that weirdly entwines both historical fact and fictional characters from the movie – is, well, lugubrious and soporific. But, maybe Bob just wants to keep the riff-raff out, too.

Be Quiet

About a week ago my husband got me a book and said, “Here.  Read this and tell me if there’s anything I should know in it.”  First of all, wasn’t there a Seinfeld episode where George has someone read books for him?  Anyway, the book is about the online media — specifically big blogs — and how they manipulate and overload people to encourage clicks and page views and user activity.

I don’t really like the book or the author — who admits he was a PR guy who did all the same sleazy things he is chastizing bloggers for doing now.  I’m not even sure I believe what he’s writing — he tells such a back story of how he couldn’t be trusted with his copy online, why should this book be any more truthful?

But, here’s what sticks with me.  What’s wrong with a little quiet?

To be successful, he writes, a blog has to be noisy, constantly updated, larded with clicks and provocative headlines.

I got nothin’.

This blog is quiet as a mouse.  I’ve had one click in the 3 weeks it’s been up.  Full disclosure — that one click was me.  And, I clicked by mistake.  Even I didn’t mean to click on this site.

But, I kind of like the quiet.

It’s like baseball.  Baseball is so quiet.  Nothing happens for these long, sweet intervals.  Everyone just stands there, watching and waiting.  All there is … is a green field, a handful of guys, and waiting.

It’s not that the players are standing around stupid.  Instead, they are being present, being ready, and — like a game of chess — have expanded the stillness into all the possibilities that may come.  You’ve got to be pretty good to keep yourself so centered when things seem so quiet.

I love that.

Yoga is like that.  And, it’s what scares many people away.  In the middle of a flowing series, I sometimes ask my students to stand still.  And, many get antsy.   They don’t want to.  They want to DO something else.  You are doing something, I insist.  You are standing there.

According to the book I’m reading, the best blog posts are 200-300 words.   This guy clearly doesn’t understand how exciting extra-inning games can be.  I bet he hates baseball.  I bet he thinks nothing happens.  He’s wrong.

Now, I’ll just soak in some quiet.

For awhile.