Bubbe Wisdom Blog

Monday, June 8th, 2020

C. JEWS ARE NOT QUILTERS QUILTERS ARE NOT JEWISH

Taken from A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living by Louise Silk

Available as an ebook: A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living 

Stetl/Community; 14”H X 11”W;
Hand Stitched Silk; Old Quilt Backing 2020

Quilt making generally regarded as an American form, most European-born women learned the skill here. Jews tended to congregate in large cities, associating almost exclusively with other Jews. For most, quiltmaking was an invisible, alien craft. How did Katie come to make quilts, when so many other Jewish grandmothers did not? Could the difference be the result of her assimilation with her “American” neighbors?

Julie Silber; A Family Story in Cloth

Pretty much from the beginning, I understood that quilters were not Jewish, and Jews did not quilt. Because it was rare to find a Jew among my quilting contemporaries, I made the faulty assumption that Jewish women by nature did not have the patience for quilting. In some crazy unknown way, I was the exception.

With this rationale, it made sense to me to keep my Jewish life as a volunteer and my work as a fiber artist, completely separate. There were many examples of this, like that I steered clear of a beautiful gallery at the Jewish Community Center as too Jewish, and assumed Jewish women enrolled in my class would not be able to master the craft.

On the odd occasion I met a Jewish woman who told me there were quilts in her family, I quickly discovered that either she was a convert with a non-Jewish mother, or her mother had grown up in a very small town, isolated from the larger urban Jewish community. 

Some years later, an article by a curator explained that American Jews, like other ethnic groups, lived together in shtetl-like communities practicing the needlework popular in their countries of origin. For European Jews, it was embroidery, cross stitch, knitting, and crocheting. It is not until we get to be assimilated in American culture, that we become exposed to and then involved in the American craft form of quilting. 

This new understanding of the confluence of being both Jewish and a quilter, influenced my quest to find a new and innovative quilting subject. I was the head volunteer for the local resettlement of Soviet Jews. Pittsburgh settled 540 individuals as a part of our participation with the international community. To organize this, I attended regular meetings. Driving home after a meeting, I had an ah-ha moment: the thought that infusing my quilts with some kind of Jewishness, might somehow forward my work.

The first piece was a small applique diptych about the Russians. On the left, the Russians standing in a long line wearing drab browns. On the right, they danced the hora in bright pastel colors. The second was a curtain, representing the fall of the Berlin wall, with patchwork words like freedom and perestroika.

Following those, I made a piece envisioning my authentic Jewish self. I shared the quilt with the JCC gallery director and agreed to an exhibition 2½ years ahead in February 1994. The idea was to develop my personal individual Jewish identity and practice through the process of making the quilts.

Entering The Garden: A Woman’s Spiritual Tent;
8 Ft X 8Ft X 7 Ft; Outside: Machine Pieced Rag Strips;
Inside: Machine Pieced and Quilted Cottons; 1994
Collection of Jaffe Center for Book Arts, FAU

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

T. THE ARTIST WITHIN

Taken from A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living by Louise Silk

Available as an ebook: A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living 

Tiferet/Acceptance; 10”H X 14”W;
Hand Stitched Silk; Old Quilt Backing 2020

Art is an act of the soul, not the intellect. When we are dealing with people’s dreams – their visions, really – we are in the realm of the sacred. We are involved with forces and energies larger than our own. We are engaged in a sacred transaction of which we know only a little: the shadow, not the shape.

Julia Cameron

Increasing my skills was important to pay the bills but it was not enough to secure my mounting desire to be a legitimate fine artist. Having no formal art education, I invented my own rigorous contemporary arts curriculum based on studies from a high school art history class.

I began reading contemporary art magazines cover to cover. I organized visual images from them into a series of notebooks for inspiration. I sought out contemporary art collections in my travels. I explored the works from the permanent collection at the Carnegie and its International Biennials. I studied color via Joseph Albers, fiberart via Sheila Hicks, contemporary art via Frank Stella, feminist art via Barbara Kruger, self-referencing via Cindy Sherman, installations via Ann Hamilton; to name just a few of my favorites.

Somehow, I decided that to be considered a serious artist, I would have to have a one-person exhibition. There were very few places in Pittsburgh to accomplish this, but one possibility was the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (AAP) gallery, then at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (PCA). I set in motion a plan to jury into AAP and apply for a gallery show. I successfully accepted into the organization and was granted the one-person gallery exhibition in 2 ½ years, for July,1987.

To create a related body of work, I settled on what seemed like a liberating idea: to break out of the basic quilter’s block. I started with an odd sized rectangle 6” X 36” and with each additional artwork, moved beyond it. I varied the block’s size; I gave the block three dimensions; I made multiple varied blocks in one piece; I took away the background; I changed the point of view; I turned the blocks into buildings; I added trees; I made ceiling and floor quilts; and finally three-dimensional objects.

The third in the series was a king-size bed quilt of three-dimensional shapes and the shadows reflected from them. The preeminent international quilt competition of the day was Quilt National (QN) in Athens, Ohio. This quilt seemed complex enough to be QN worthy. It’s time-frame conflict with my exhibition, but I decided I would forego including it, if it was accepted to QN. It was.

I had accomplished every one of my goals for this monumental first exhibit, including being accepted into Quilt National, but sadly, instead of feeling satisfied with the accomplishment, I was depressed and disappointed. I felt inadequate and frustrated. It simply wasn’t good enough to have a single one-person exhibition. In the end it was only a tiny step along the path of being a successful artist and I felt like I had a long way to go.


Saturday, June 6th, 2020

A. WHOMEVER DIES WITH THE MOST FABRIC WINS

Taken from A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living by Louise Silk

Available as an ebook: A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living 

Yesod/Longing To Connect; 12”H X 12”W; 
Hand Stitched Silk; Old Quilt Backing; 2020

By definition, a quilt has three layers of material joined together by hand and/or machine stitching. The top layer is an intricate composition of different multiple threads, fibers, and knots. On the back, a gathering of hundreds upon hundreds of stitch indentations display a proud testament to the work of the quilter.

Louise Silk; The Quilting Path; page xi

In 1978, my husband and I moved back to Pittsburgh with a one-year-old in tow. It happened through a series of events: we lost our apartment, he had trouble finding a job, raising children seemed easier to do with family support. While we were winding our way back to our hometown by traversing the United States, my mom found us a house: a two-story red brick on a cul-de-sac. It’s a good solid house, she said. Make it yours.

Once we were home, locals suggested two activities for me: Mother’s Day Out and The Embroiderer’s Guild. I joined both. At Mother’s Day Out, children are cared for separately while mothers attend classes and talks. I taught a class following my Chicago experience using the Our Bodies Our Selves curriculum. Pittsburgh moms, although they were good sports about it, were not quite ready to examine their own cervixes.

I switched to teaching a quilting class, where I struck gold. That class extended into a weekly quilting circle and in time my role morphed from teacher into purveyor of quilting supplies. Eventually, that transformed into a retail storefront selling all things related to quilting. 

At the time, there were no quilt shops. Chain fabric shops sold mostly dress making fabric and absolutely none of the 100% cotton required for serious quiltmakers. There was no on-line shopping. Mail order was a complicated process, sending for swatches and hoarding purchases to get ahead of sellouts. 

One of the members of our circle was contacted by a quilting group in Greensburg struggling to find a local retailer. It was easy to be convinced, with the additional incentive of building our own stashes, we could be that supplier.

We pulled together eight hundred dollars and bought twenty-yard bolts of 100% cotton fabric, along with all the basic quilting supplies. We set up a makeshift shop in my basement and sold materials to the Mother’s Day Out students, members of the Greensburg Quilting Guild and the local Embroiderer’s Guild. Things developed. We reinvested all revenue to buy more bolts of 100% cotton fabric, plus innovations like the rotary cutter, the pvc quilting hoop and an ever-increasing selection of quilt publications. We became the Pittsburgh connection to a national quilt revival movement.

Finally, with an over-run basement of supplies and the investment of a third quilt-circle member, we opened our first retail establishment. Over the next four years, we grew and moved from one location to another, eventually ending at the local mall. At each juncture we added products, classes, and events that placed us, squarely, at the cutting edge of an exciting quilt movement. Unfortunately, we were never able to become profitable and closed the latest retail storefront in 1989. 

Motivated by a bank debt of thousands of dollars, I employed my knowledge and skills to explore the business of quilt marketing and production. I created products for wholesale, solicited commissions, and committed to teaching opportunities that paid down the debt and added to my status as a professional craftsperson.

The other significant influence on my quilting life was the Embroiderers Guild. I juried in as an active member with an original needlepoint and a graphic log cabin quilted hanging. During my tenure, I held many postions in the guild and was instrumental in the name change to Fiberarts. I learned innovative needlework techniques and met many national recognized fiber artists. I learned the business of entering shows, documenting and photographing finished work, and building a resume. 

I was empowered with knowledge and skills as the result of both experiences and that translated into highly innovative quality work. Within my quilting circle, I felt the continuation of value and success that began in Chicago.


Friday, June 5th, 2020

P. From Under The Sheet

Taken from A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living by Louise Silk

Available as an ebook: A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living 

Gevorah/Strength; 10”H X 14”W;
Hand Stitched Silk; Old Quilt Backing; 2020

The feminist revolution had to be fought because women quite simply were stopped at a state of evolution far short of their human capacity.

Betty Friedan; The Feminine Mystique; 1963

The disappointment I harbor that we haven’t come to a place of gender and racial equality in my lifetime is deeply palpable. A religious teacher, observing the look of frustration and disappoint on my face as he explained a Jewish law that excluded women, counseled that I needed to be patient, the women’s movement is young; significant change takes time. 

On one hand, current society is woefully derelict in its vision and practice of all things equal. On the other hand, considering that growing up well into my late teens, I thought my only job was to stand beside my man and look cute, I surrender to the realistic nature of progress over perfection. I admire and support my revolutionary sisters who employ more radical means, but it’s not me.

My feminist trajectory began in the early seventies with a phone call from a neighbor organizing a women’s conscious raising (CR) group to investigate all aspects of womanhood.

During weekly evening meetings, members pursued grassroots liberation, one by one, with an eye-opening series of questions and discussions. Topics included non-traditional living situations, altering gender roles, equal opportunities in the workplace, increasing access in education, body politics and sexual liberation. Every word, piece of writing, and discussion was totally revelatory and shocking for me.

The decision to quilt came from the serendipity of an article in MS Magazine about quilting making as a woman’s art form. I identified with the idea presented that men having little interest in needlework, left women unsupervised to explore the craft on their own.

My Home Economics training and my consciousness raising came together in the creation of my first quilt, a queen-sized machine-pieced hand-quilted grandmother’s flower garden. Over the year and a half, it took to make that quilt, a lifelong passion came into being.

While feeling the dissent festered and gnawed within me but being resistant to change, I clung to my traditional model, finishing my degree in Home Economic Education and marrying my high school boyfriend.

Our relocation to Chicago in 1973, was the prelude to action. Looking to meet people, I answered an alternative newspaper’s ad gathering women to fight for legalized abortion. Through that, I became a member of Health Evaluation and Referral Service (H.E.R.S.) where I learned how to negotiate and evaluate a medical system that had no consideration for women’s rights.

Our focus was on a woman’s right to free choice in all things related to health, exposing medical issues such as faulty health research, limited birth control, inadequate health education, sexual wellness, and legitimatizing homosexual rights.

The main source of our inspiration was the Boston Women’s Collective book, Our Bodies, Our Selves. We sold it, as available then, in a thirty-five cents newspaper print edition. Through its guidance, we explored cervical self-exams, vegetarian diets, self-aware orgasms, and the politics of male-denominated control in all things related to health.

Our main action was evaluating abortion clinics and then making referrals by way of a hotline. There was no government regulation of clinics at that time. In addition, we opened a free clinic where we taught classes, disseminated birth control and monitored legal battles.

This was my first experience with a like-minded women’s collective, offering leadership training and positive reinforcement. H.E.R.S. built confidence. This applied first and foremost to the women’s healthcare system but also spilled over to each of our individual skills. H.E.R.S. showed me that quilting had value and that it was my particular skill set to contribute to the group. We had quilting retreats at a member’s family camp where I taught everyone to quilt. We organized group quilts to celebrate life events. My time with H.E.R.S made me feel valued, both as an advocate for women’s health and as a teacher of a women’s craft form.

Wisdom Congregation; 14”H X 95”W X 1D”; Accordion Book composed of 10 Hand Embroidered Women’s Faces; Clothing Remnants, Text-Embroidery Embellishment; 2003.
Collection of Jaffe Center for Book Arts, Florida Atlantic University

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

A. TRUTH

Taken from A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living by Louise Silk

Available as an ebook: A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living 

Emet/Truth; 10”H X 10”W;
Hand Stitched Silk; Old Quilt Backing; 2020

…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.

 Pema Chödrön

I am the descendent of a particularly action-oriented mother and a singularly open-hearted father, neither of whom expressed their feelings. I wrote a three-volume set, Threads, about their lives to help me resolve life-long unexpressed emotions that had affected my physical well-being. It worked. I created a written legacy for my children and resolved a host of inherited family difficulties that had heretofore harmfully impacted my life. The process helped me to accept my life as it is, with much less judgement.

Writing A Patchwork Life is the next step to acknowledge and appreciate the emotional and spiritual underpinnings that have driven my life-long passionate participation in an art quilt movement.

Over the years, I have produced a mountain range of patchwork quilts. Creating patchwork requires such skills as discernment, vision, organization, determination, practice, patience, and compromise.

Using patchwork as a metaphor for the piecing together of other aspects of life: making dinner, organizing a ritual, having a conversation, writing a blog, making a book, requires the identical skills of combining seemingly disparate things into an aesthetic meaningful whole. My quilt experiences culminate here as a display of my particular capacity to piece together just about anything.

Howie and Weezie; 5” Square;
Hand Embroidery; 1998;
Private Collection

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

My PatchWork Life

A PatchWork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living Piece By Piece

Taken from A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living by Louise Silk

Available as an ebook: A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living 

is a short herstory of my quilt making world. Beginning with this blog entry, I will post pieces of it. Enjoy!

The Cover of A PatchWork Life
Back Cover Statement

EPILOGUE:

THE QUILTS THAT PIECE THIS TOGETHER

This is the time to be slow,

Lie low to the wall

Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let

The wire brush of doubt

Scrape from your heart

All sense of yourself

And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,

Time will come good;

And you will find your feet

Again on fresh pasture of promise,

Where the air will be kind

And blushed with beginning.

John O’Donohue

Fourteen Flags Installed
Flags

I was in process on this project when the world was struck by COVID-19. Our altered daily lives encouraged my deep dive producing fourteen flags, a kimono, and a quilt that visually piece together this writing. 

The textiles I gathered are the leftover silks on hand. Most, my parents brought me from travels, difficult to use, but significant in memories. The idea to use flags came from creating Tibetan flags for our garden and a flag installation on the High Line in NYC.

The chapters follow the letters of the title. For each letter/chapter, I pulled out its underlying theme, searching for a Hebrew word or expression that exemplifies it.

A. Emet/Truth: True Self is simple; ego makes it complex.

P. Gevorah/Strength: Sisterhood is powerful.

A. Yesod/Longing to connect: Every quilt tells/is the story.

T. Tiferet/Acceptance: Integration. Process over product.

C. Stetl-Community: If not now, when?

H. Shekinah/Feminine aspect of G-d: 4 worlds, 5 dimensions,10 attributes

W. Kine-Ahora/No Evil Eye: All change begins within.

O. Netzach/Victory

R. Briah/Acceptance: Life is pure creative energy.

K. Ahava/Love: Synchronicity

L. Besherit/Meant To Be: Wisdom plus understanding

I. Ayeh Hasher, Ayeh/I Am Who I Am: So above, so below.

F. Chocmah/Wisdom: Layers upon layers.

E. Ain+Yesh/None+All: The quilt as metaphor for life.


Monday, April 6th, 2020

Next Year Safe and Healthy

Seder 2012

Each person in our family received the following list to prepare for Wednesday’s Seder. Maybe you will find it helpful:

2020/5779 SEDER MENUCHAT HANEFESH-CALMING THE SOUL IN DIFFICULT TIMES

For this Stay-at-home Seder, you will prepare your own food. While making your choices, keep in mind what the traditional food represents and select an alternative food easily available to you during these circumstances to use as a replacement. 

Candles and matches- any kind on hand

Soup- Chicken soup is undoubtably the symbol of Jewish cuisine but for this, use your favorite go-to comfort soup, something easily made on hand: packed noodle, canned or boxed soup.

Wine– In our tradition, wine represents the life force and the hope/blessing for fertility. Use whatever drink(s) give you hope for better blessings.

Matza- Our bread of affliction (Deuteronomy 16:3) is made of only two ingredients, water and flour signifying poverty and difficulty. As the bread of freedom it represents the byproduct of God’s swift and miraculous salvation liberating the children of Israel. As the food of faith, it imagines our afflictions as a precursor to redemption and links slavery to freedom. For your matza, choose a simple and unadorned basic nourishing food that gives you hope.

Seder Plate-These food together will serve as our main dish.

beitzah(egg)- represents new life and springtime- traditionally a roasted egg, but consider any form of egg, or any kind of seed or nut, an avocado or avocado pit, or even a flower

karpas(fresh vegetable dipped in salt water)- also spring, renewal, along with the tears of slavery- traditionally parsley- consider anything leafy or celery or avocado, or even a onion.

maror(bitter herbs)-the bitterness of our lives- traditionally horseradish – consider anything spicy.  

charoset(brick mortar)- the hardship of slavery- traditionally a mix of nuts, apples, and wine- try a mix of some kind of fruit and nuts like peanut butter and jelly or granola.

lamb shank, beets- bloodshed required to induce freedom- consider any slice of meat or beets or a yam, anything colorful.

orange(equality)- for all genders and races- this is for something you don’t normally see on a seder plate- so use your imagination.

olives (peace)- What represents peace to you?

carrots(sustainability)- a simple, practical, nutritious food.

potatoes(sustenance)- another basic practical, nutritious food.

fish(merit)- something a little extravagant 

chocolate(fair trade)- something that represents the rights of workers

Ezekiel Sandwich– a combination of any of the above to combine distinct flavors into the harmony of Oneness.

Cup of Miriam and Cup of Elijah– two extra cups one for your favorite drink and one for water.

Dessert- something sweet


Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Memory Quilt 2019

Memory Quilt 2019
  • Favorite Deconstructed Denim
  • SilkDenim Flying Geese
  • Steve’s Painting Pants
  • Leftover Shirt Patches
  • Sandy’s Ugly Comforter Top
  • Hemp Shirt bought at Zen Center
  • Nana’s Caftan
  • Black Ribbed Turtleneck
  • Alex’s Table Cloth
  • Gottlieb Fabric
  • created print of Shekinu Embroidery
  • Ronda’s Hemp J Jill Jacket
  • Nicole Miller Pittsburgh Tie
  • Gabriel’s Sweater and Termal Top
  • Jody’s Danish Bread Basket
  • Heath’s Zen Robe
  • Print Shop Canvas Bag
  • Steve’s Indian Sack made into Bag
  • Special Olympics Golf Shirt
  • Tie Dye Tee-Shirts
  • Green Embroidered Tee
  • J Jill Pale Pink Textured Tee
  • Blue Fish Tee
Detail
Backing

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

Schitt’s Creek

It’s hard to get a laugh out of me. One exception has been watching all five seasons of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix. Having admitted this, it is difficult to contain my excitement for the sixth and final season of Schitt’s Creek that starts tonight on POP TV.

It’s a simple fish-out-of-water concept, a rich family moving to a small town after going suddenly bankrupt. In the fantasy of sophisticated meets quaint, they encounter a small town striving to thrive in the midst of middle-class erosion. It all works: the writing, the plot and most of all, the characters.

The family, Johnny, Moira, David and Alexis are all pitch perfect. Supporting them is a treasure trove. My two favorites are Motel clerk Stevie, so deadpan, it’s hard to figure out when she’s kidding and silly Jack of all trades, Bob.

A shout out and a thank you to Schitt’s Creek for offering up such particular corkscrew kindness and weird warmth; making it something to look forward to, finally.


Sunday, December 1st, 2019

God Is A Verb

From the book by David Cooper:

On the verb of God: When we give a name to the nameless it is a stumbling block that trips most people. We think that if it has a name, it has an identity. An identity comes with attributes. So we think we know something about it. This is a mistake.

For thousands of years this mistake has become ingrained in the human psyche. The word “God” suggests an embodiment of something that can be grasped. We have given a name to the unknown and unknowable and then have spent endless time trying to know it. We try because it has a name; but we must always fail because it is unknowable. Judaism is so concerned about this misunderstanding, it goes to great lengths to avoid naming God. Yet various names seep through because our minds cannot work without symbols.

What then is the God that is written about in the bible? Kabbalists teach that the very first line of Genesis has been mistranslated. Most people think it says: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” But the actual words in Hebrew can be read another way. A Kabbalist could say: “With a beginning, [It] created God [Elohim], the heavens and the earth.”

That is to say, there was an initial creation out of nothingness the potential to begin–Beginningness. Once there was a beginning, God (in a plural form) was created–a God to which the rest of creation could relate. Then the heavens and the earth were created.

The implication of this interpretation profoundly affects our entire relationship with God and creation, for it says that all the names we have for God and all the ways in which we relate to God are a few degrees removed from the source of creation that precedes even nothingness. This is called Ein Sof, which is not the name of a thing but is an ongoing process.

On Torah study: The literal account of the five books of Moses is almost impossible to appreciate without assistance. Hundreds of commentaries exist, and, as we might imagine, many offer interpretations that contradict others. Nobody agrees that there is a definitively “correct” way to read the Torah. In fact the oral tradition suggests that there are at least 600,000 different interpretations, representing the number of those who received the Torah through Moses at Mt. Sinai.

This is what makes the study of Torah so interesting. If we simply accept the literal meaning of what it says, then it is merely a book with many unusual stories. If we engage it, however, work with it and use a variety of methods to analyze the text, it yields hidden clues that lead us on to further investigation. Study like this, a continuous give and take, becomes a mystical relationship between the text and the one studying it.

Listen to Cooper’s own words in this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxEaMaOumA0


Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

It Takes A LifeTime-ReBlog

Some of my personal favorites

This is a reblog from 2015 I discovered while researching my newest project. It remains a thoughtful answer to the most often asked question.

The big question that I am getting lately is- How long does it take you to make that? Oh my, what a loaded question. There are so many factors that go into each and every quilt: the purpose, the budget, the materials, and the use to name the most basic. That requires a face-to-face meeting with the client- asking critical questions to understand the needs and goals for the project.

I go through the materials and organize them to make sense for this particular project. I begin with my experience- recalling past projects that fit into the same classification. For example, someone is interested in a curtain- I look back at all of my curtain projects and see what will help me this time.
I search through other pieces of art that will engage my creativity looking for innovations that will help make this piece better.

I decide on the format- do I need a drawing? a pattern? a series of cuttings? Are there different components to the project- does it need a border- will it be used as wall art? What is the backing?
Finally, the work begins, a very organized and speedy process of cutting, piecing, ironing, pinning, observing, correcting, noting, quilting, binding………………..

How long does it take to make a quilt? A lifetime of experience.

Working 2019

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Coming Out Of Shavasana

When the time comes to return to life by allowing your breath to become deeper, longer. Bring some movement to your fingers and toes while you move your head from side to side. Take a moment to move your wrists and ankles in circles, circle in both directions to stimulate energy flow again. (There is an old Daoist saying that if you roll your ankles in circles every day, you will never die of a heart attack.) When you are ready, hug your knees to your chest in preparation for making your body small and round. Take a deep inhalation, and on the exhalation bring your head and knees together, and squeeze. Make yourself as small and as round as you can. Release.

Wake up by stretching out the whole body-this is a natural energizer. Move any supports away, stretch your legs along the floor and stretch your arms over your head. Interlock your fingers and turn the palms away from you. from you. Press your lower back down; flex your toes toward your nose. Now take a huge inhalation, fill your lungs- and stretch. Make yourself as long as possible; contract your facial muscles and make your face as small as possible. Push and pull yourself longer. Then release with a long sighing “Haah”. Once more flex the toes, flatten your lower back, and take a big inhalation. Stretch your body. This time, open your face, mouth, and eyes, as wide as you can, stick your tongue out, touch your chin- stretch. Reach! Exhale and relax with a sigh.

Hug your knees once more into your chest and roll to your left side; pause there a moment and let the energy settle. Stretch out your bottom arm under your head and use it as a pillow: enjoy how this feels. Often teachers will ask students to end the class by lying on their right side to relax the heart. This is a great suggestion for ending a yang class. Lying on the right side helps to open the left nostril, due to the sinus reflex. However, the left nostril is the yin channel. After a yin practice, it is nice to balance the body by lying on the left side, allowing the right nostril, the yang channel, to open.

Don’t linger too long here; coming back to life is like being reincarnated. Don’t stay in the bardo state between Shavasana (your little death) and rebirth too long, or you may decide to stay there forever. When you are ready, spill up to sitting and prepare your your final meditation.



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