Contentment

I have lived for more than half of my adult life in a foreign country. But now, Japan is no longer foreign to me, it is my home, or at least one of my homes. When my boys left to go to university in the States, I had terrible empty nest syndrome. Did I want to live in Japan or return to the States? Of course, the answer is both ! I love both Tokyo and Chicago and have beloved family and friends in both places. However, moving back and forth presents many challenges, physical and mental, that can be very unsettling.

Yoga helps me to find inner contentment. The poses and breathing in yoga help me to build strength, to purify my body with better circulation, to stimulate organs that help balance my hormones and my mind. This leads me to feel well and content wherever I am.

Here is the quote for the day:

“The world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles…only by a spiritual journey…by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home.” Wendell Berry

Photo by Akihiro Okada

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Perspective

Living in Tokyo can be hectic. When my younger son was only three years old, I had a busy day planned but also had promised to take him to the park. I was running around trying to get all my errands finished, meanwhile his trip to the park got pushed off farther and farther into the day. FINALLY at 4 p.m. I was able to take him to Arisagawa park and we went to the pond to feed the ducks and fish. We were on a bridge over the pond and as the ducks came swimming up to us for their snacks, my precious three-year-old boy leaned over the railing and said to the ducks “Sorry we’re late!”

My guilt was acute. How could I have made all my errands more important than my beautiful brown-eyed boy? What kind of life is this that we have created for ourselves in big cities?

You can use yoga to free yourself from your day’s activities, to be in the moment, to be in your body, to slow down and rest, to be a natural human being again. This break from the hectic will help you to get your priorities right and give you a better perspective.

Here is a quote for today:

“Every now and again take a look at something not made with hands, a mountain, a star, the turn of a stream. There will come to you wisdom and patience and solace and, above all, the assurance that you are not alone in the world.”  Sydney Lovett


Patience

I recently went on a trip to Yakushima, an island off of southern Japan. This is a trip I have long wanted to make.

I first became enthralled with this island when a documentary showed that the Japanese macaques that live there feed the deer by throwing nuts down for them to eat from the top of the trees and showed films of these monkeys RIDING ON THE BACKS OF THE DEER.

The Jomonsugi is another main attraction. It is a giant cedar tree which scientists estimate to be at least 2000 years old and possibly as old as 7200 years, the oldest on the mountain. It is not very tall, standing around 25 meters high, yet it has a massive trunk about 5 meters in diameter. Traditionally, these ancient cedar trees are revered as sacred. This is one of the last old-growth forests of Japan and 95% of the island is designated national forest.

To get to the Jomonsugi, the trail is partly on an old railway track but when it starts climbing it is a tough climb, with gnarled roots, small boulders and some stairs here and there built for climbers. The deer and the macaques have not been fed by humans so do not bother you. They just go about their business, but I imagined, looking into their faces, that they were a bit skeptical of me laboring through on unpracticed feet. The forest seemed to want to prevent me from getting there (this is the forest that inspired Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke’s forest). I was glad to FINALLY reach the tree and be in the presence of such a magnificent being. I sensed its patience and took a lesson from that.

Here is a quote for today:

“Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing speed. Let me look into the towering oak and know that it grew straight and strong because it grew slowly and well.”  Orin L. Crain

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Here we are in front of the old Jomon Tree.

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B.K.S. Iyengar: The world lost a treasure

The death of B.K.S. Iyengar (Guruji) on August 20, 2014 is a great loss for our world. By devoting his life to spreading yoga throughout the world, he brought peace, calm and brotherhood to this tattered planet.

One of my favorite quotes by Guruji about yoga is:

“Each Asana has a beautiful shape, grace and elegance that bestows power and makes the practitioner as strong as a diamond, at the same time as soft as a flower.”

Thanks, Guruji, for guiding us in yoga. Your words guide us still.

Stephanie Fukui, Miho Komine, Naoko Yagyu, B.K.S. Iyengar, Michiyo Aizawa

Stephanie Fukui, Miho Komine, Naoko Yagyu, B.K.S. Iyengar, Michiyo Aizawa