Joel and I have been living in teensy yet infinite Santa, Idaho with Jim and Melody Croft, homesteaders extraordinaire. Since it has become too chilly on the uncovered nose to sleep in the tree house, we have moved into the two-story cabin that is plainly called, "The Annex". Even though we are now between walls and a roof, I can hear the faint bugling of elks, stick crunching of deer, and coyote parties in the distance.
Life with Jim and Melody has an easy pace, even though they are constantly working. Evenings after dark are filled with music. Joel has been inventing paper recipes and learning to make tools. I have been writing, making kale salads from the garden, learning to cook on a wood burning stove, helping Joel with paper making, and practicing yoga outdoors on the wooden porch of the French-Canadian neighbors down the road.
Practicing outside has changed my relationship to the the fall and to yoga itself. I recall one cobra pose in particular in which I was lying in the grass, hands by chest, coiling in my upper back, shoulder blades moving together, and I actually felt like a cobra in the grass!!! The golden leaves sailing to the ground all around me, the grasshoppers, crows and grouses and their callings drew my mind to the silence between their sounds. My breath and heartbeat, muscles, thoughts and tension became like the wildlife, honest in their expression. I listened for the teachings.
By the grace of Nancy Burtenshaw, her husband Mark, Heather Heintz and Lea Black, I get to share all that I am learning about yoga in the wilderness at Nourish Yoga in Moscow. The hearty and gifted community here has welcomed me fully as a visiting teacher. I am humbled by their student-ship and kindness.
More than anything, my experience of yoga recently has been one of participating in an ancient conversation that involves dance, community, and the question, "How may I best be of service?"
I feel a bridge emerging that leads from the Warrior to the Wise Woman.
I feel the presence of opposing forces forcing me to wake up.
I feel the ever-present yet unseen support of my breath and the love of my friends and family.
And more than ever, my practice is informed by Death. The people I have loved who have left their bodies are with me to remind me to savor every sassy sip of life.
Earlier this year, my dear friend Jenn Dinaburg passed away as the result of adrenal cancer. Jenn was a brilliant, kind, witty, beautiful, devoted student and friend. While she was alive, I felt her love, support, creativity and struggle. I can still hear her saying "I love you Ivy Ross!"
While we were living together in Prescott, Arizona, Jenn knew of my passion about women and body image in this world, and she introduced me to a book she had by Christina Sell, Yoga From the Inside Out. I devoured the book and then Jenn told me that the author taught yoga in town! The year was 2005. I took my first yoga class with Christina Sell. I had already been practicing yoga for 9 years, but something about the way Christina taught offered me a respect and acceptance for my own body that will be with me until I die and I will do anything I can to share that with other women.
In 2011, I moved to Tucson, Arizona to immerse myself in the teachings of Christina Sell and Darren Rhodes. I never really meant to be a yoga teacher. But I was swept into a rip current among friends & teachings, and there is no going back.
One year later....I am in Idaho. I am teaching at Nourish. One of the other teachers is talking about a memorial service she is going to, about "showering ashes". Out of the corner of my ear I hear the name "Jenn Dinaburg". Without knowing or planning, I have arrived in Moscow just in time for Jenn's memorial. Jenn was a great supporter of my music. Joel and I are playing a show in Moscow the night of her memorial. We will be able to offer music in her honor to her friends and family. In many ways I attribute where I am today in my life to Jenn Dinaburg. Thank you, Jenn.
The spirit of my maternal grandmother Jean Taussig also left her body this year. Her memorial service was today in St Louis. Here is the poem I wrote for her in memoriam: