OK so I saw it: Eat Pray Love The Movie. And I liked it, despite my pre-movie angst. As expected, there are so many parts of the book that couldn't be developed in a 2 hour movie, especially people's full personalities (like Ketut's wife), but you fill that in yourself if you've read the book. It's gorgeously done, also as expected, with unbelievable scenery and imagery. The themes resonate (but again I would think only superficially if you've not read the book). And of course, it has Julia in all her glory: exhibiting every womanly emotion beautifully, doing voice overs with quotes from the book, elegantly slurping pasta and shoveling pizza in Italy, looking sparkly clean and fashionably attired during the entire India segment, and tossing her Pretty Woman mane all over the place. EPL was, in essence, the absolutely perfect chick flick.
I realized something about the EPL phenomenon after seeing the movie, something extremely simple about its unlimited appeal. Liz Gilbert's story is about connecting. Connecting is something that everyone on this planet can do, no matter where in the world you might find yourself. Connecting is what keeps us balanced, engaged and energized. We thrive on connecting to others, and being connected to what's going on internally with ourselves (ahem - hello yoga! The translation of the Sanskrit is literally "yoking", or "connecting". And how about this quote from my new fave book, Myths of the Asanas: One way of describing the state of yoga is as a feeling of interconnectedness, in which we experience that a part of us exists in everything and vice versa.). We stagnate when we stop connecting for whatever reason, which is why her story happened; she did something dramatic in order to reconnect, but other than that, there isn't anything that unusual about it. The book and the movie are all about the connections she made during her year away. We all have the potential to create connection, and we all lose touch with that power for a variety of reasons. It's something that has to be worked at, cultivated. It's not easy, in fact it can be a lot harder than just settling for whatever disconnect your circumstances have brought upon you. Sometimes it's easier to numb yourself rather than feel.
I went in to the theater with a bit of a cynical outlook, but I ended up with a lovely visual reminder of why I liked the book so much. It even made me cry. My favorite person in the book/movie was Richard from Texas, and the scene where he takes her up on the roof in India totally choked me up. So, to see or not to see EPL? Just do it.
The definition of the word luxe is: luxurious, sumptuous. Don't you just love that? I have to be careful not to overuse this word, it rolls off the tongue so easily...but I couldn't resist adding it to the name of our last retreat for 2010 - LUXE Cowgirl Yoga is September 16-19 at the amazing Double T River Ranch, which describes itself as follows: 115 riverfront acres, 1 house, 3 cabins, 120 pillows, 1 big barn, and instant memories. Intimate yet expansive. Think luxury, Cowgirl style. Yoga in a restored barn from the early 1900s (so cool, so luxe!). Bocce ball and bird-watching. Hot-tubbing and gourmet, healthy meals, all by Kate (I just hiked with her over the weekend, when she was gleefully gathering fresh porcini mushrooms to dry for this retreat's lovely autumn menu). And did we mention horses? We're also offering an add-on day hike on Wednesday, September 15; alpine lake or waterfalls? We haven't decided yet. What a sumptuous swirl of activity to cap off the season.
September is one of my favorite months in Montana. It's cool and crisp, but the sun still feels warm. It's the perfect expression of Fall, my absolute favorite season. So join me for this last opportunity for Cowgirl Yoga this year. Mention you're a blog reader and we'll extend our early cowgirl discount of 10% off. Yeehaw & Namaste.
Kick up your heels - preferably in a yoga inversion. It's Friday, it's summertime. Thank your lucky stars for all the blessings in your life. That's what I'm doing today, and tonight I'm planning to count shooting stars too, which I've been spotting lately. Happy weekend & Namaste. Photo by Larry Stanley
I'm feeling out of the loop since I haven't rushed off to see Eat Pray Love the movie yet. I love Julia Roberts and her charmed life as much as the next girl, and I love a little dose of movie magic, but I have to admit to being a bit hesitant. There's been so much hoopla over this movie, including backlash, over one woman's choices to find meaning, and her choice to put it in print (see one of my fave bloggers YogaDork for some great commentary on the EPL extravaganza). Let's face it, EPL has pushed some buttons, both good and bad. I've seen more of the good side: I read it right when I was about to embark on my own big journey to move to Montana, and it resonated; I've also been offering EPL Yoga weekends since Big Sky Yoga Retreats began, that revolve around themes in the book. Needless to say, if the book offended you in the least, you wouldn't be coming on our retreat. What I've seen with our EPL groups is women who are looking to make positive changes in their lives - and even if they can't take off for extended visits to exotic locales (well, more exotic than Montana), it has inspired them to explore ways to gain the perspective necessary for change. For these women and myself, Liz Gilbert's journey, and her expression of the journey, has come across as authentic and inspiring.
Back to my reluctance to see the movie. Which I will do sometime in the next two weeks, because I can't lead our upcoming EPL Yoga weekend without seeing it, you know? I think what I'm worried about is that the movie, as movies will do, is going to glamorize it all too much for me. And this coming from someone who typically loves glamor; I used to work in the cosmetics industry, I am easily captivated by slick imagery, I adore James Bond. It just seems too easy - Julia, Italy/India/Bali as the backdrops - too tempting to gloss over anything unappealing. Those parts of the book that balance out the ridiculous glamor of Liz's year of self-reflection/self-discovery. It's too easy to conclude that success comes easily in a situation like this; we don't get to see any of the struggle that took place, only the finished, highly edited package. It reminds me of when I tell people I lived in Paris; it sounds so amazing, and it was in many ways, but it was also one of the most lonely periods of my life.
So anyhow, I'll report back on book vs. movie after I go see it. In fact, I may even incorporate a little exercise on that into our upcoming retreat, to find out what this round of EPL yoginis think (the retreat, btw, is sold out, or I would invite you to join us). Meanwhile, would love to hear your thoughts on all things EPL, please post a comment.
Our retreat was mentioned today in the Washington Post Express article "Eat Pray Love Your Way: Three Realistic Yoga Retreats"; in case you didn't know, I started my yoga career in DC with six+ years running my own studio called Georgetown Yoga. (Don't click on the link in the article, we closed GY in late 2008 and I haven't done anything with the website, my bad.)
It's the middle of August already?! Which means September - September! - is just a few weeks away. Typically August means the "dog days of summer", as in the hottest and most sultry. Interestingly, the name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, the "Dog Star", caused the hot weather due to its proximity to the sun this time of year. Anyhow, we don't get many dog days here in Montana (thankfully, I might add. I am not a summer person). In fact, I was just checking the weather for our last Cowgirl Yoga Ranch Camp of the season this weekend, and it looks like it's going to feel more like fall. Even so, I'd like to honor the dog days with an easy way to get a quick yoga fix with - you guessed it - up dog and down dog.
This simple vinyasa is very effective at working out quite a few kinks. It gets your heart pumping and breath flowing quickly. It's perfect on its own as an energizer, or as a warm-up for other activities.
Start in Downward facing dog. Make sure that you have enough space between your hands and feet. You can check your alignment by coming forward into plank pose from downward dog; if you had to move your feet to get your shoulders to line up over your wrists, your spacing was off.
Keep your hands and feet exactly as they are. On an inhale, come forward into a modified version of upward facing dog (your toes are still tucked under here).
On the exhale, push back into downward dog. Use your core to help lift your hips.
Repeat 5-15 times, with slow steady breaths. Each full breath = one full up dog-down dog vinyasa.
When you finish, rest in child's pose for 5-10 breaths.
This photo of me in up dog was taken in Paradise Valley last week; those are the Absaroka mountains in the background. You can see more from my fave yoga photog Larry Stanley on his Facebook page - become a fan if you like Montana eye candy!
I've been blogging a lot less than I'd like to. In fact, I've been doing a lot less than I'd like to, overall. I came down with the dreaded summer cold, which took hold and refuses to let go. Started antibiotics, which only seemed to bring on an intense coughing phase. Slowly but surely, I'm feeling like myself again. It's always such a humbling experience to be sick. It's a reminder of what a gift it is to be healthy. I've also been reminded of the lesson that I so often teach, yet don't seem to live by as much as I damn well should: being present. I'm always asking my students and retreaters to leave things behind so they can focus on being, and not to worry or anticipate what's next either. Easier said than done, huh. I've mentioned before the delight I find in being a planner, and how it throws me when things don't go as planned...well, who plans on getting sick? Ugh. All plans have been out the window for the last week.
Yesterday, after teaching my regular Tuesday morning yoga class and apologizing for my coughing fits, I took class from the lovely Autumn (who, btw, will be teaching on our August Cowgirl Yoga Ranch Camp and September's Eat Pray Love Yoga Weekend). After a week plus of inactivity, I was desperate for movement, but I didn't quite know how my body would react. What I found was an astonishing openness, not only in my body, but TO THE PRESENT MOMENT. Hooray! I brought very little expectations to the practice; in fact, I was expecting I might have to leave class. What happened was on the opposite end of the spectrum. I felt connected to my body and breath, and to the present moment, in a strongly simple way. I felt good, for the first time in over a week. We get so wrapped up in things and confused by our minds, expectations, and perceptions of past/present - what absolute freedom to just let go. I know, easier said than done, again. But such an unplanned gift reminded me that it's ok when plans go awry.
However, I will admit that I am secretly happy about the re-scheduling of plans for this week. (Wink, wink.)