Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | April 16, 2009

shifting to new blog

This blog started out with the best intentions–practice daily and update daily. Happily, i have practiced daily since I started the blog in January. Sadly, I have been a slacker, not updating.

I’ve recently started a new blog: I Am Blossoming. I hope to see you there!



Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | January 29, 2009

yoga and cleansing

I’m going to Connecticut next month to do my first private yoga/juice cleansing/lifestyle coaching gig. So excited. And so sleepy from day three of the master cleanse. Here’s to thinking and planning it.  Om shanti.

Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | January 28, 2009

yoga instead of coffee

I know i’ll probably get back on coffee eventually — i always do — but this morning, after just one day off of it, and one day of drinking that spicy master cleanse lemonade goodness, I didn’t want coffee. And the first thing I did, after feeding Pooka, and then walking her, was to roll out my mat and just sit and meditate for a while. And then move into one long luscious yin stretch after another. Not make coffee, or even want to drink it.  That is a minor miracle in itself. I didn’t want to stop.  I think it’s the cleanse.

The last time I tried the master cleanse, I wanted to eat my hand. I was so hungry all the time, even right after drinking the spicy concoction. I couldn’t drink enough, and thought i was going to faint every other second. I felt so crazy-agitated also. 

I don’t know what’s different this time, except that I’m consciously using meditation whenever things get uncomfortable. Except that now that I’m thinking about it, I’m starting to get hungry. back to the mat.

Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | January 27, 2009

what you need is meditation

A good friend said that to me yesterday, and I’m thanking him for that reminder. 

Just getting back from volunteering at Sundance (which requires way too much energy to write about now!), getting back to my “real” life, I realize I’ve been in a bit of a funk for far too long now. I talked myself into believing I had ADD, but Ritalin is definitely not the answer for me. I think it made things worse. Lacking health insurance or funds to experiment with psychopharmacology, I’m going back to the basics. Meditation. And good old cleansing.

I started the master cleanse again today. I guess this is about the fourth or fifth time I’ve attempted to do it in the past couple of years. No coffee, no food. Just about a half gallon of the spicy organic lemonade (lemon juice, grade b maple syrup, cayenne pepper, water), lots more water, and some herbal tea. I passed out mid-day, probably due to the lack of caffeine. Getting off coffee isn’t proving to be so bad this time! I didn’t get a devastating headache. And I’m not feeling super-starved like I usually do. 

The hardest thing has been the emotions. So much is surfacing. And that’s where the meditation is helping. Whenever I get overwhelmed by emotion, I sit and breathe and make my way back to a place of non-judgement, love, and connection. It only takes a few minutes, or a couple of rounds of alternate nostril breathing. And I’m okay.

My intention for this cleanse is to get back to a state of equilibrium.  I just want to get back to my normal state and see what that is. Without coffee, without alcohol, without mood elevators or stabilizers. I know they work for some people, and i respect that. I can’t do that right now, for better or worse. 

The longest I’ve made it on the cleanse is 8 days.  I’m not attached to being on it any length of time.  What I want is to feel better. And using meditation as my crutch feels like the right approach.  I’ve taken at least six meditation breaks today.  

Meditation for me is so many things. Sometimes it’s just sitting still, and watching. Noticing what arises, what I say to myself.  Noticing the thought patterns and learning from them. Sometimes it’s using breath to release emotions.  Sometimes it’s repeating a mantra. Sometimes it’s consciously trying to empty my mind of any thought, gazing toward my third eye, and literally seeing what arises.

So far, finishing day one of the cleanse, I feel a little weak and slightly hungry, but it seems like the fog is lifting. I’m doing gentle asana to get energy moving. and letting myself rest a lot. 

I wonder how this will turn out.

Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | January 15, 2009

sundance hiatus

so much for the resolution of updating daily. So much for practicing daily!  

I got a gig as full-time volunteer at the Sundance film festival. Can this be considered my practice? I’m doing some major karma yoga here. Hours of learning how to deal with the maddening crowds, setting up the barricades, and then starting tomorrow, herding them through the tents and lines as they make their way inside, hopefully, to screenings. And learning how to handle the assholes. I am still waiting for my first “don’t you know who i am?” line.  So far, people have been really sweet. 

It’s going to be challenging to handle a new schedule, fitting yoga in between screenings, meals, and work. And sleep. So writing about yoga… not sure it will happen. For the next 10 days, at least.

I’m hoping to get in to see a documentary about music in Tibet. I’ll try to update.

Until then, namaste! loka samasta sukhino bhavantu.

Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | January 12, 2009

feeling bliss — ananda

Maybe it’s the new dedication to my practice. maybe it’s living healthier. Maybe it was building on yesterday’s awesome class (Sunday “church” with Jami at Flow). But today I felt absolutely blissful during this morning’s asana. muscle stretching felt juicy, even joyful. My mind was totally calm. each pose was heaven.

There are days when each movement is painful. But when asana feels like bliss, it’s like an unknown obstacle was removed, enabling me to go to a whole different level. When the body is aching, when the mind is restless, just getting through the asana can be an ordeal. Thankfully, today was different. The only word that made sense was bliss. 

Ananda is bliss. 

Anandamaya kosha is the fifth of the five sheaths. (the other being physical, energy, mental, and wisdom.)  Of course, as usual, I’m trying to jump straight to the fifth, instead of examining the others along the way. 

From the Moksha Gita, by Swami Sivananda:

“Anandamaya kosha is the most interior of the koshas, the first of the koshas surrounding the Atman, the eternal center of consciousness. Ananda means bliss. However, it is not bliss as a mere emotion experienced at the level of the sheath of mind. Ananda is a whole different order of reality from that of the mind. It is peace, joy, and love that is underneath, beyond the mind, independent of any reason or stimulus to cause a happy mental reaction. It is simply being, resting in bliss called ananda.

Yet, even this bliss, however wonderful it is, is still a covering, a sheath, a lampshade covering the pure light of consciousness. It is the subtle most of the five koshas. In the silence of deep meditation, this too is let go of, so as to experience the center.” 

The anandamaya kosha is the most subtle of all five koshas. Yet, the body is important. The physical body is a gateway. Honoring the body and nurturing it helps us get from the gross to the subtle.

There’s a chapter in the Tree of Yoga called “the depth of asana.” Iyengar talks about how Mahatma Gandhi didn’t practice all aspects of yoga; just two of them — non-violence and truth. Yet he mastered himself and led India to independence, just through those two. “If a part of yama could make Mahatma Gandhi so great, so pure, so honest and so divine, should it not be possible to take another limb of yoga — asana — and through it reach the highest level of spiritual development?”

He connects multiple aspects of asana practice, from the effort involved in performing an asana (conative); the perception of the pose — feeling what is happening in the flesh (cognitive); to the communion, where the mind gets involved (mental); observing and analyzing (reflective).  “All meet together to form a total awareness from the self to the skin and from the skin to the self. This is spiritual practice in yoga.”

It’s nice to feel the connection of exterior and the interior. Even if just for a few seconds.

Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | January 11, 2009

aparigraha — non attachment



yoga with the dogs

yoga with the dogs



This is about giving up something that I didn’t want to let go of, and never thought I could — Gogo

Aparigraha, the fifth of the yamas, or ethical constraints, is defined as abstaining from greed (Patanjali’s Yoga sutras). In the Tree of Yoga, Iyengar calls it “freedom from hoarding or collecting, absence of greed, and of possessions beyond one’s need.” Sometimes aparigraha is defined as non-attachment.  In buddhism, it’s acknowledged that attachment is the root, and the cause of suffering.

We hoard stuff. We also hoard friendships, or people, or even pets. Suffering enters in when we fear losing what we think is ours. 

When I found Gogo and his brother on a one-lane road in the hills of Rincon, Puerto Rico, I intended to find homes for them. But then I fell in love with them, and didn’t want to give them up — even though I knew that giving them up meant I could rescue more dogs. Part of that holding onto them was a fear of losing them and the joy they gave me. Also, there was probably a bit of believing that no one could love them as much as I could, or take care of them as well as I could.

We had a crazy bond. I used to say that if I could marry him, I would. I loved him more than anything in my life. He opened me up to love, after a long drought. But then my attachment to him started causing pain. I fell in love with a human, and Gogo was threatened. He bit my boyfriend’s kids. He was trying to dominate me, and usually did. (You can see the way he’s sitting on me in the photo above). Long story short, I didn’t think I could survive giving him up, but I did. 

It’s odd to know he’s out there, in a new home, with a new mom, and still feel the same love for him. He doesn’t have to be mine for that love to exist. And his new mom, who just lost her last dog, is so happy to have him.  

Aparigraha can be defined in other terms as well.  Nischala Joy Devi, going beyond defining something by what it’s not, calls it “acknowledging abundance.”

“Aparigraha gives us the secret to earthly life. Take a moment to feel gratitude for the great blessings that surround you… Even when you acknowledge the bounty, is there still a lingering apprehension that part or all of it may be taken away? That the well might run dry? Just thinking that a resource is limited initiates fear, thereby lessening the joy in the present moment.”

Change is constant. It’s scary. I think practicing aparigraha can help us survive change without experiencing too much pain. 

From the Bhagavad-Gita: “What is it that you lost that you are grieving for? What is it that you brought into this world that you have lost? Whatever you gained, you gained from this world. Whatever you lost, you lost to this world. What belongs to you today, belonged to someone else yesterday and will belong to someone else tomorrow.”






Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | January 10, 2009

full moon

[time warp — sunrise yoga in Puerto Rico] On full moon days, just before dawn, it appeared that the moon was setting over the ocean just as the sun was rising — a stunning spectacle that amazed me every month. It reminded me of the balance between lunar and solar energies, and that sometimes it’s ok, even beneficial to honor the lunar pull and slow down. Even ashtangis take a rest from their asana practice on full and new moon days. 

I opted for a lunar practice this morning, in honor of the full moon. (thank you, Shiva, for the lunar flow on the Shiva/Shakti DVD.)  Slow, fluid movements, synched with the breath. Chandra namaskar (moon salutations), moving matrix-like, deliberately and with precision. Long-held forward bends and twists. And heavenly nadi shodanna (alternate nostril breath).

There are at least two very different versions of chandra namaskar that I’m aware of. One that I learned from someone from the kripalu school, which incorporates a wide-legged squat. That’s not the one I love. I learned this chandra namaskar first from Twee, during teacher training at the Secret Garden. It’s so slow and gentle (knee down in lunge, cobra intead of upward dog), but deceptively strenuous. My favorite part of it was the chanting that goes along with it. You’d think that lunar poses would be paired with gentle mantras, but it was the opposite:

Salutations to she who fulfills all desires

salutations to she who wears the garland of prosperity

salutations to she who is ever compassionate

salutations to she who is fierce

salutations to she who resides in fire

salutations to she whose diamond-like vajra essence is indestructible power

salutations to she whose messenger is shiva

salutations to she who is ever swift

salutations to she whose beauty and virtue is the essence of the kula

salutations to she who is eternal

salutations to she who is adorned with the blue flag of infinite mystery

salutations to she who is ever victorious

salutations to she who is ever auspicious

salutations to she whose essence is the fire which burns through all illusion

When I practiced ashtanga yoga (before my hamstring injury that put that to an end), I felt fierce while practicing, but also wrung out afterward. I love the feeling of the post-yoga glow and exhaustion. But i think that for me, a lunar practice is more nurturing and rejuvenating. Sometimes after a solar practice, I feel irritable and short-tempered. It’s as though there’s a post-practice release that happens, and it can be shocking and uncomfortable. I don’t get that with the lunar practice. I feel calm but fierce. 

During the pranayama and meditation, I let go of counting the breath in nadi shodanna and just let it flow, pausing for just a beat at the bottom of the exhalation, and at the top of the inhalation. Not enough of a pause to stop the flow. It went on and on, smoothly, fluidly, naturally, without thought. 

Shiva adds so much heart to her teaching. And magic. She used the image of the full moon shining into the back crown of the head, shining down the spine, illuminating and rejuvenating. 

The moon isn’t as bright as the sun, but its light is steady. I’m aiming for more of that steadiness.

Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | January 9, 2009

thinking about resolutions

what happens between the time we make them and stop keeping them?  I resolved to be vegetarian again. Then tonight, out with my family, I ate a bacon cheeseburger. well, half of one, and then wanted to throw up. 

then I wished that I had sat with the idea of it, thought it through, and then made my decision about what to eat. is the answer to not go out places where meaty things are served? i don’t think so. If I’m resolved to not eat meat, it shouldn’t matter. Sometimes I wonder if I like beating myself up, or if I just like the drama around failing.

and this icky cold has left me not wanting to do asana. I just did a headstand. That actually did wonders. Just one little headstand. And things feel a little different.

I  learned something the other night, visiting my new friend Lianne. We talked about cultivating intuition (that was another of my resolutions).  She said that imagination is intuition. Things that come into our heads… might they be clues? Guidance?  I’m trying to notice random things, ideas, thoughts, and follow them. Where do they come from? To cultivate intuition, I need to pay attention to clues. I don’t have to be sitting in meditation, gazing toward my third eye to get clues or inspiration. 

There are ways of knowing things beyond reading them in books, or hearing them from so-called experts. I want more of that.

Posted by: Jodi Mardesich | January 8, 2009

samadhi vs. heaven

I officially have the crud, that awfulness going around. I don’t have the energy to do asana. Sometimes if I can just start doing a few poses, I know my energy will build. Not today. I just want to sleep. And sleep.

My mom woke me up from a nap around 4 p.m., saying she and my dad were leaving for my uncle Milton’s funeral. I thought about not going for about a second. Then I fell back asleep. Good thing she came back down and woke me up again. 

Even though my uncle didn’t go to church — he didn’t really go anywhere for the last 40 years or so — they had his funeral at the Mormon church his brother goes to. Compared to my nephew’s funeral, with the 1000 or so people who waited hours to view him, this was a small affair — in the Relief Society room vs. the chapel/cultural hall overflow situation they had with Cooper. My uncle didn’t have friends. He didn’t even want to see most of us, his family. 

Milton was a skilled athlete when he was young. His life had so much promise. I’m not really sure what derailed him. Listening to his eulogy, it wasn’t clear either. There was a lot of talk about his childhood, and his athletic ability. He married, and had a daughter (who is living on the streets, so we couldn’t even contact her to tell her that he died).  He divorced, and married again. And then, with no real explanation, vague references to his troubled soul. We never got the full story. Just “drugs,” in a hushed voice. He hadn’t supported himself in decades. He watched television and smoked. And slowly just faded away.

But now, the bishop said, he is at rest. He said he thought Milton had achieved that state of rest as a reward for his life. Which sounded comforting, but he said that just after talking about Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us, and then quoting a scripture that said that no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of heaven — which i always thought had something to do with repenting. I really felt confused by this apparent contradiction. Milton wasn’t a religious man, though it sounds like he was the original member of my family to get into the Mormon church. In the eulogy, my mom said that he had gone to BYU on a baseball scholarship, but had left after a year. I had never heard that story before. I wondered why he chose BYU? She said she thinks he converted while at school there. 

The bishop talked a little more about rest. He said it is a place where there is peace and happiness. It’s not a place of relaxation — it’s a place of action. Oh, and then he mentioned the bit about how now Milton would have the option of choosing to accept the gospel up there. And that his temple work must be done for him here.  So, on the one hand, let’s say something comforting at the funeral, but in reality, is he really at rest?

This heaven is conditional.  I’ve never heard samadhi discussed with conditions. Samadhi is the eighth of the eight limbs of yoga. If there is an ultimate goal in yoga, it is achieving samadhi.  Mr. Iyengar calls it “a state in which the aspirant is one with the object of his meditation, the Supreme Spirit governing the universe, and experiences unutterable peace and joy.” In another part of “The Tree of Yoga,” he says, “When the soul, which is the cause of existence, diffuses and harmonizes everywhere, that is samadhi. Many people say that samadhi means trance, but trance is not the right word for it. In samadhi you are totally aware. Consciousness diffuses everywhere, through all the sheaths of the body and all its parts.” 

Samadhi is a state of oneness. An awareness of the connectedness of all. 

I like it so much better than heaven.

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