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looking at Eshu's hat + xmas day yoga

Hello friends,

I hope you’ve had a meaningful Thanksgiving. Mine was filled with lounging {finally watched Moana with my family}, eating white bean and rosemary dip, refreshing my non-yoga playlist, and sharing a story, from the Yoruba people of Africa by way of Joseph Campbell. Here’s how I remember it:

One day, the trickser Eshu decided to play a game on two friends who had adjoining plots of land, one just to the east of the other. Eshu wore a beautiful hat – it was 3 feet tall, and adorned with ribbons and bells that clanged as he walked between the two fields while the men tilled them. Later, one farmer said to the other, “What did you think of that red hat that Eshu was wearing?”

“You mean the white hat?” said his friend.

“Umm, it was definitely red.”

“It was white!”

“Are you going blind? It was red.”

“You’re crazy - IT WAS WHITE!”

And on and on in it went. The men came to blows, only pausing when Eshu reappeared, hatless, before them. “Eshu, you must settle this once and for all!” they cried. “Were you wearing a white hat or a red hat?”


“I was wearing my hat that is red on one side, and white on the other,” Eshu said.




Maybe you too have experienced these white hat/red hat moments, where a situation looks very different from your vantage point than it does to your boss, your partner, your child. Sometimes, if it’s really something as small as the color of a hat, it’s worth letting go of our need to be right. Or maybe we can acknowledge that something is more complex and multi-faceted than how it appears to us. But when the stakes seem higher, and there’s no trickster Eshu behind the conflict or able to offer a verdict from on high...what’s a yogi to do?

I don’t think there’s only one answer. But in so many conflicts, keeping the peace by going silent doesn’t actually solve anything. In this moment of reckoning in America, how grateful I am for the women (and men) who have chosen to name their experiences, to tell us what they’ve seen, even when it seems unbelievable that a treasured actor/writer/comedian/journalist/politician/(pick any occupation, there’s probably an exposé coming…) could be capable of such behavior. I hope that in these situations - and the ones that arise in our own communities and workplaces - when our cultural upbringings might cause us to have kneejerk reactions of disbelief or downplay what we’re finally hearing, we’ll listen and believe the accusers. And do the work of changing our culture, so that no one has to wait decades with secret shames, hiding in the shadows of those who have wronged them.

When I told this story last week, I also meant to share this poem from the Persian mystic Rumi:


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing -

         there is a field -

               I’ll meet you there.


When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn't make any sense.


It’s a beautiful poem, one I’ve read before savasana many times. Comforting. How badly sometimes we might want for this all to be over, to lie down in that grass where we don’t have to deal with the troubles of the world. But if we never deal with the conflicts of our times, while we’re here, we’ll just be leaving them for the next generation. So this practice demands that we don’t escape into fantasy for long – that we take breaks to recharge, but that we come back to examine how our present is in fact affected by the past, and that we act mindfully and compassionately to not become stuck in it.

May we use our mindfulness practice to train us to listen carefully & to speak truth.

May we practice courageously & full-heartedly.

May we practice tenderly, giving ourselves space & time to sort out all that is.

May we practice.


ps. I'll be teaching fewer weekly public classes in 2018. I'd love to keep our work going one-on-one or in a small group, and I welcome staying in touch over facebook, especially if you have cute pets that you share photos of!

xmas day!

flow and restore at simon says yoga in bethesda

·  mon dec 25 / 10 - 11:30 a.m. /  simon says yoga / flow and restore

this christmas, give yourself the gift of mobility, stability, and tranquility. we'll build awareness and strength through movement skill work, see how that affects our flow practice, and mellow out on our mats. fellow members of the tribe: there is a chinese restaurant 3 doors down from simon says :) register here.