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July 7 2024 Our Best Selves With Actions and Words-Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclined Bound Angle Pose-Making Nim Chow

I have been thinking about kindness a lot lately. Some of my acquaintances and students may be surprised to hear that I must work on that a bit. I have a snarky, sarcastic side that over the years I have both prayed and meditated on taming; there was even a small part of me that sometimes was mean spirited. I have sadness around mean people and would be distressed were that seed planted and growing in me.   The circumstances around what could bring out my snark or less than kind behavior are few, usually happening when I was stressed, over committed and/or dealing with family dynamics. In any event, it is not something I was proud of. I think understanding my triggers helped me find the tools for combating it.

In the past, drivers cutting me off or making mean gestures to me could have been greeted with a similar response. I have found that taking a deep breath and then vigorously waving and smiling makes me feel calmer, better about myself and makes me laugh a little. A few years ago I had a couple of disturbing encounters in the neighborhood while walking with my dog, Zeus. One involved a dog coming down off a patio and biting Zeus (who was on a lead). The owner yelled at me and told me it was my fault because it was a private road -practically every road in Charlestown is private. Another man yelled at me for having Zeus off lead as we crossed onto our property, and he growled at the man’s dog. He informed me that I should have him on lead. I apologized and agreed with him, but he kept berating me as he walked down the path. In both cases, I wanted to yell back and say bad words. Instead, I took a breath, and said about the same thing: "clearly, you have other things going on in your life and I am sorry and I will pray for you", then, I then blessed them like the priest does at the end of mass with the cross in front of me and walked away. While I was still rattled as I rounded the corner, I indeed felt better on the inside for my calm (and admittedly a bit disingenuous) response. Now, in the retelling, it makes me smile a bit.

My friend Deb is one of the calmest, most balanced people I know. One of the kindest also. Maybe because she is a nurse, but more likely it is just who she is-she was nice long before she was a nurse. She totally embodies the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff”. Deb is a passionate person, but about stuff that matters (her family, friends, global warming, women’s reproductive rights, homelessness) and not about things that will not matter in the scope of life. While some people invoke Jesus, when I find my blood pressure rise, I invoke her, and think, WWDD? She inspires me to be more balanced and to be a better person.

Some of the tools I have found particularly useful are found in the readings of the book, The Four Agreements.   In fact, in reviewing some old blogs I realize that I have discussed this several times in the past.  There is an Arab proverb that says that “the words of the tongue should have 3 gatekeepers”; before the words come out of our mouth, we should ask ourselves, is this true? Is this kind? And is it necessary? Another yogic tool that we can channel when we find ourselves in challenging or uncomfortable or toxic conversations, is our using our breath. Simply taking deep breaths before speaking can do wonders to calm us as well as to put some space before our response.


Another important tool I learned in reading the book The Four Agreements,  (and one I need to continually remind myself of) is that I cannot control another person’s comments or actions, I can only control how I react.  We cannot understand how someone else’s life experiences, situations and even their mental health or memory impacts their words and actions. In fact, in the book, Ruiz reminds us of this. “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” 


In short, over the past few years, and even more so in recent months, I try to stay silent in response to inflammatory or silly comments, or things I find offensive. I try hard not to respond in retaliatory words or texts; I have found power in silence or short, kind responses. A colleague of mine once said that in a work situation, when someone says something that you just cannot imagine how to kindly or tactfully respond, just laugh. That works well too!


So, over the next week lets practice our yoga off the mat, taking lots of deep breaths (not dramatically to let the person know), pause before speaking and ask ourselves, is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? (and....WWDD?) 🤣😂😅


I love this article by Krish Murali Eswar which discusses handling toxic behavior with yoga techniques.



Our Practice – Calming Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclined Bound Angle Pose


This hip opening pose helps to improve circulation and stretches the inner thigh and groin area. Hip openers can be associated with releasing stress and bottled-up emotions.  This restorative pose is good for helping us relax, destress and feel better.

  • Lay down on your yoga mat with or without a cushion under your head.

  • Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees bend out to the sides.

  • Perhaps add cushions or blocks under the thighs for added support.

  • Stay in the pose for as long as feels good!


Meditating - Being Mindful with Our Speech


As we think about being careful with our word, we also will come to find that we feel more at peace when we speak to others as we wish to be spoken to. To break this cycle, we have to learn to be patient under provocation.


As Eknath Easawaran says, when “we have removed all anger, what remains is compassion. When we have removed all selfishness, what remains is selflessness. When we have removed all hatred, what remains is love.” 


“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you cannot help them, at least don't hurt them”. – Dalai Lama


Nurturing with Food – Nim Chow


These past few days have been filled with opportunities to socialize with friends and family. Peter has been on appetizer duty each time we leave our house and today is on his third round of nim chow, this time with beautiful nasturtium blossoms visible through the rice paper wrappers. Refreshing on hot summer days!



See you on the mat!


Julia Anne



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