Born on a Thursday #46 – Why the Body? II

The idea for Writing the Energetic Body came to me while practicing yoga. At that time, I knew it was imperative that I slow down, pay attention to, and take care of my body. I was healing from a very serious illness that stemmed from continuous stress that was exacerbated by a disastrous marriage and a job that put food on the table but went completely against the grain of who I am. While coming up with rent can sometimes be a challenge; I am still trying to find my way in the world doing what I love – because I don’t have choice.

Movement (yoga, hiking, dancing, walking, biking), meditation, and pranayama (yogic breathing techniques) bring me into the moment and out of my default patterns of thinking. Many ideas come through while I am moving (or in stillness after movement). It is as if a channel opens, as if some of the filters of my mind have been removed and ideas and/or observations are more clear.

I’m continuing to look at the question of movement and art (or movement and writing). My friend and folk artist/musician, TJK Haywood, aka Wooden Thomas (and one of the first participants of Writing the Energetic Body), turned me on to artist Heather Hansen. She literally uses her body to make art. Her work is inspiring and exquisite.

Fluid intuitive movement.

Hypothesis: Moving into the body to write may facilitate fluid, intuitive writing.

Moving the body is enjoyable, and we notice subtle yet powerful details in our experience.

Why not use everything you’ve got available to you?

painting by Heather Hansen

painting by Heather Hansen

What is the movement and texture in and of your life?

Artwork by Heather Hansen.
Film of Heather Hansen by Bryan Tarnowski.

My next Writing the Energetic Body online session begins on March 1, 2014.

Born on a Thursday #45 – Brother Can You Spare a Song?

So long Pete Seeger! Thank you for your voice and your heart! I never had much, but I did have music, and music is what kept me going when the world was a cold cold place. I remember freezing and starving on the Lower East Side, but the spirit of music kept me going.

You believed music could save the world – and it saved mine.

I am grateful for your life, Mr. Seeger, bodhisattva, and all those you’ve inspired.

I don’t know whether to smile or cry.

Peter Seeger's Banjo

and – The Weavers!


and – Peter, Paul, and Mary


and – Bob Dylan


and – Woodie Guthrie


Woody Guthrie canvas print by Obey

* Forgive me for not posting photography sources – I could not find them. Please message me if you know any of the photographers who created these images.

Born on a Thursday #43 – I Wasn’t Born Yesterday (or, Yoga for the Rest of Us)

Thoughts on Danielle Prohom Olson’s article, Yoga Body: The Backlash.

Yoga Body:The Backlash is a piece about yoga, western yoga culture, the corporatization of the “ideal yoga body” and what happened when one woman wrote her opinion about it.

Olson’s article begins:

Two years ago I wrote a popular post titled Yoga Body: The Conspiracy. At the time it was very warmly received, generating thousands of hits, hundreds of shares and loads of positive comments. But lately the commentary hasn’t been very affirmative. In fact, its been making people pretty angry. One yoga teacher was enraged enough to call me an ignorant, lazy, pissed off “fat chick”.

and continues . . .

This is why the questions I asked in Yoga Body: The Conspiracy, still need answering. Does the yoga body (and it’s shadow) take root in a backlash against a female body that has become increasingly liberated from patriarchal authority? Why, as yoga helped women develop a new sense of positive embodiment, did the yoga body ( and all that it implies) become enshrined as an ideal of feminine virtue? Why do so many western women of privilege, women who enjoy the first world ‘rights’ denied to so many, spend so much free time, energy and money simply keeping their bodies under control?

So to my posts detractors I say this. No matter our opinions on what the yoga body is or should be, lets drop the judgement, of ourselves and each other. As Harvey reminds us, ‘the body beautiful will get us nowhere’… ‘thin-shaming and fat-shaming are not separate, opposing issues—they are stratification’s of the same issue: Patriarchal culture’s need to demoralize, distract, and pit women against one another.’

Holly Troy and the Halfbreeds

Performing with my band The Halfbreeds – I was hardly overweight.

For my whole life I had body issues. As a performer I thought I was too fat – I kept thinking I needed to look like Patti Smith, I hated my curvy hips and slightly rounded belly, and I felt under constant pressure to be petite. Not only that, but, being on stage, people felt like they had the right to tell me how I should look. “Remember, if the camera adds ten pounds, video adds fifteen . . . ”

Growing up, I had the misfortune of being the chubby bookworm in a competitive household that valued athletic ability and a slender, broad-shouldered build over all else. I was picked on daily by family members, and my body and its “imperfections” were often the topic of conversation. By the time I was seven years-old, I was on my first diet! At eleven, when I began puberty, my grandmother angrily admonished my mother for not putting me on hormone therapy to keep me from “becoming a freak, a giant.”

Sharon Gannon

Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti Yoga (photographer unknown)

When I began practicing yoga over twenty years ago, it was such a relief to not focus on what I looked like or how well I was performing in comparison to everyone else in the room. I feel very fortunate that my earliest teachers, Nancy LaNasa and Sharon Gannon, helped me experience my body in a new way by showing me how to work with the breath and the spirit. Both Nancy and Sharon are beautiful women with stunning physiques, but honestly, if the focus of their classes was to achieve a “yoga body”, I would not have continued practicing yoga.

I learned how to teach yoga at an ashram in a room with no mirrors. The teachings focused on feeling our bodies, not obsessively looking at ourselves during asana. We yoga teachers in training had steady practices but different body types. Some of us were thin, some round, some stocky, some old, some very young. Our teachers were as diverse in body type as the students – and they practiced asana for four hours a day every day for years.

In Yoga Body:The Conspiracy, Olson writes:

The taut and toned ‘yoga body’ on display in the media marketplace is a lie. It is NOT obtained from a regular yoga routine (as many would have you believe) – no , its obtained at the price of constant work, a Herculean effort to burn calories, and a saintly denial of carbs.

Many of the teachers I have had with “the taut and toned ‘yoga body'” were dancers before they became teachers. Of course, some teachers do naturally have a “yoga body”. No matter what, all of my favorite teachers have possessed a(n inner) grace that comes from practicing yoga, no matter what size or shape they happen(ed) to be.

Relaxing with my friend Eric who I met at Yoga Teacher's Training - we are wearing the standard YTT uniform

Relaxing with my friend Eric who I met at Yoga Teacher’s Training – we are wearing the standard YTT uniform

I ride my bicycle and/or walk everywhere I go as well as practice yoga. I will always have big legs, it is part of my genetic make up. I actually like having powerful thighs now. I also have a round belly, and, at the same time, a really strong core. I will not spend more time in my day working out, or eating less. I have other things to do. At almost 5’7″ and weighing in the range of 130 to 136 pounds, I am fit and healthy. It has taken a few decades to come to the conclusion that I am fine just the way that I am, despite what mainstream media and/or my family would have me believe.

The real questions no one is asking are these – why do so few yoga teachers admit that they work hard to maintain their fat-free physiques?Why does the yoga world, from the cover of Yoga Journal to the glossy advertising of main stream studios, continue to display the “yoga body “ as a norm? Where are the images of average woman with rounded thighs and obvious bellies, women who practice yoga with regularity and passion?

. . . Women have mistakenly conflated power and control in the world, with power and control over our bodies. And without a doubt, it is an assumption that the corporate world works to exploit and ever aggrandize.

I am grateful that yoga helped me to have a healthier view of my own body, and as a teacher, I hope I have been able to help others have a healthier and more compassionate view of themselves. It blows my mind that a yoga teacher called Olson “an ignorant, lazy, pissed off ‘fat chick'” because of her article Yoga Body: The Conspiracy. Olson’s article fairly asks the question – “Why do we have no other visual language to communicate what yoga is or means – than just the yoga body?”

Rather than setting goals for the achievement of the mainstream idealized “yoga body”, why not allow yoga practice to be a foundation for building inner-strength and self-empowerment?  As we become more empowered, why not allow our strengths to enhance our personal lives as well as our local and global communities? Whether we practice yoga or not, what if we began everyday knowing we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got?

Om shanti.

Check out Olson’s articles:

Yoga Body:The Conspiracy and Yoga Body:The Backlash

Tell me everything you know for sure about your life.

I don’t know where I got this writing prompt from. Maybe it was from the amazing poet, teacher, and adventuress, Maya Stein. (Even if it wasn’t, check out her site and see what she is up to. Her undertakings are inspiring, surprising and fun).

The prompt is this:

Free-write on – Tell me everything you know for sure about your life.

Blue in Red (c) Holly Troy 2014

I know for sure that I have to move my body in order to keep from getting lost in my mind.

I know that there is something special about living in this small mountain town.

I get that I can’t go back in time and experience New York in the 90s over again. I realize now that I can’t even imagine living in the city again – although for a few moments a few months ago, I did imagine it with ardor.

I know I need beauty and fresh air and birds singing and to stop looking at the fucking internet.

I want to remember life before the internet, life before wifi. I want old school – I want pay phones, I want paper letters that arrive in the mail. Wait, I don’t miss pay phones – I am forever repulsed by the surprise of picking up a handset covered in an unidentified, thick, sticky substance.

Fuck public phones – but I do love public transportation when it is not rush hour.

What I love more is riding my bicycle where I need to go. I know for sure I love my bicycle. It keeps me moving.

I know I need the earth, to experience my physicality as much as possible everyday. I know that after 20 years of looking hard for beauty, and sometimes only finding it in the smallest cracks in the sidewalk – I don’t want to look that hard anymore.

I know for sure that I want to have fun, but I don’t want to play games – unless they are volleyball or hockey or scrabble.

I know for sure that I love sex, really good sex, and that I will not put up with bad sex – or be in a relationship with scarce sex or no sex. Fuck that.

I know for sure that I can see bullshit coming from miles away but that I don’t always dodge it very well.

I know I like to put my tongue on smooth stones, to taste their chalkiness and feel the moisture being sucked from my tongue.

I know that I say I want to be near the beach but I keep staying in the high desert because I like to choose when I am around lots of people.

I know I need to visit the ocean soon.

I know that I like to see softness in things that are hard.

I know that I am glad to be a woman, that I love having the body that I have even though I am not always satisfied with it.

What do I know for sure?

I know for sure that I could not have said no to save my life.

Sweetness, Desire, Relationships

I’ve got a Part II to the New Moon post, but tonight, some quotes on the 2nd Chakra, which is connected to the moon.

sweet flower (c) holly troy2nd Chakra: Svadhistana ~ Sweetness • Desire • Power of Relationships • The Right to Feel • Water

“We may think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two because two is one and one. We forget that we still have to make a study of ‘and.’” — A. Eddington

“Every perfect action is accompanied by pleasure. By that you can tell what you ought to do.” — Andre Gide

“Ascetic spirituality is a symptom of the very disease which it intends to cure.” — Alan Watts

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” ~ Bill Nye

“It is said that each time we embrace someone warmly, we gain an extra day of life.” – Paulo Coelho

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” — Plato

“A Revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.” -Emma Goldman

Wanna see more? go here . . .

Born on a Thursday #34: I <3 My Bike

Late Fall in Flagstaff Town
Hotel Monte Vista (c) 2013 Holly TroyWhile riding my bike to meet my sweetheart at Madrid (a Spanish tapas restaurant here in Flagstaff), I noticed the orange of the Hotel Monte Vista sign glowing against turquoise blue sky.

I was waiting for the train to pass, and hoped to snap a picture while traffic was stopped. Of course, that required removing my gloves (which is no small feat with my broken pinky and fitting a glove around the splint), and then getting my phone and trying to see the image on the screen clearly (I smashed my phone a few months back, had initially decided to upgrade and haven’t done it yet for two reasons: financially I don’t have $100 to spare, and, now it has almost become an experiment to see how long I can use a broken phone), opening the camera and snapping the image.

No go! There was no way to get the gloves off quickly enough. So I took this pic as I got to Aspen and San Francisco. The light had changed a tad, but still a magical glow.

I <3 my Bike! (c) Holly TroyI am grateful the weather has been gorgeous this week! More beautiful days of cycling around town. I admit I am a little nervous about cycling in the winter, but, as I love cycling AND it’s my only mode of transportation, winter on bicycle is an adventure to be had!!

Born on a Thursday #27 – Finding Home

I met my friend Stacy on Tuesday night – we got together to write. I wrote this as a warm-up . . . 

Here I am writing on a Tuesday, but thinking about Thursday (Born on a Thursday). Actually I’m not thinking ’bout Thursday at all, I am thinking how much I love my friend Stacy and this gorgeous town I live in – and the people who live here.

Since going to New York and seeing my family I’d lost a little of my confidence – and I am questioning everything now – even though I know it’s ridiculous. I’m sitting with Stacy right now and we are writing!! Oh boy!

Before we started writing Stacy says to me – Of course you’re a little shaky. Don’t be so hard on your self. You’ve just been through a big break-up, you lost everything, you moved to a new home, you didn’t have a job, you started seeing a new guy, then you went back east and there’s all kinds of stuff going on with your family . . . just be kind to yourself. She reaches out and holds my hand. I give you permission to feel a little uncomfortable.

Well thanks, Girl!!

(Whew! Sometimes a little permission is all a person needs, and compassion, and kindness, and love . . . )

God, I love my peeps here. Honestly, I’m not that tough. Or maybe, I’m just tired of being tough. I am surrounded by a lot of people who love me, and that’s my choice. It’s taken years to cultivate my relationships  – and then some of my new relationships have fallen into place so easily I can hardly believe it! Though I do believe it, because I experience it.

I’m sitting here at Rendezvous, a hotel coffee shop/bar on the corner of San Francisco and Aspen. I like this place – it’s the place where I come when I don’t necessarily need to talk to people, but need to be among people. Of course, I end up talking to people usually anyway.

sunset from the front porch (c) holly troy 2013My heart feels so open – and has been for months now. I’m falling in love with Flagstaff all over again. I am in love with this place. The vibes ebb and flow here – the energy is light and warm right now – and I know, since I’ve done this seasonal dance several times already, that soon it will be cold and harsh and unforgiving – almost — it’s still so beautiful! Just when it seems like it’s too much, I think about summer here. No place compares.

I am remembering the cold caverns of ninth street, East Village, NYC. Fuck, that has got to be the coldest street in America – I mean the wind will whip through you so fast, so bitterly penetrating, you will feel like your bones are cold until July! And the gloomy sky is grey and feels like it’s hanging low, and the buildings are looming and stoney grey, and even the snow, is gritty and grey – for months. That won’t do.

Honestly, winter is just tough for me. It’s learning how to roll with it — get some snow shoes, proper clothing, prepare to turn inward. Yoga! Snuggling! Winter gear! Art! Reading! Fireplaces! 

I still find myself comparing Flagstaff to NYC. There is so much to do in NY, but natural beauty wins out today. It always has. I spent half my life living in NYC, and, for half that time feeling wistful about trees and fresh air and quiet. Ah. When I want noise now, I go to it, rather than try to shut it out. I love that.

Today, I sit in Rendezvous, facing San Francisco Street, the sun is setting, one of my best friends in the world is sitting next to me writing, too, the sweet man that I have been seeing these last couple of months is down the street having dinner with his mom, the weather is perfect, I get loads of exercise everyday, I eat well, I have a lot of laughter in my life – life is good!

I just looked at Stacy, she is smiling!!!!


Thanks for reading!
Om Namah Shivaya,