Monday, November 28, 2011

To You... My Class Intention & Salutation

Feast on Gratitude... that has been my intention this past weekend.  To give thanks and praise for all the blessings that I experience with every moment.

Near the beginning of class, after our time of pranayama (breath exercise) & centering, I invite all to "bring to mind your intentions for yourselves and others."  I share that an intention is like a prayer or positive affirmation.  As I set my intention for others, I ask that class be an opportunity for growth for those gathered.  That the needs of each individual be met in a way that serves their highest good.

In closing class, we extend the salutation Namaste, meaning the light in me honors the light in you.  As I bow, I extend this salutation to the class gathered, my teachers, healers, friends, family and the divine.  You can read more about the meaning of this salutation in this article by Yoga Journal.

I share this with you on the foot of Thanksgiving so that you may know that this holiday is not the only day I celebrate your essence.  It is with every class I honor you and give thanks to the divine for what you share with me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Thoughts On... Yoga Videos

Let me clarify my opinion about practicing yoga with videos. I believe yoga should take into account your body's abilities, limitations and experiences. Videos do not necessarily address everyone's needs and weaknesses. However, a video is useful when the practitioner or viewer has enough basic knowledge of yoga and their body to make adaptations or variations according to his or her needs. So long as the yoga practitioner or viewer listens to his or her body, a video or CD may prove to be helpful.

Unfortunately, I have found individuals that have used yoga videos are discouraged. There are so many types yoga and teaching methods that it is costly to sample yoga DVDs. People end up throwing in the hat before finding a video or series they enjoy.

If you do find a video or CD that you enjoy and meets your needs, remember to find balance in your practice.  Even though yoga is about balance... doing the same practice, the same way over and over again will create or further current imbalances.  Mix it up and have fun with your practice.

As always I encourage you to practice yoga by checking in with your body to see what is congested or uncomfortable. Allow your practice to unfold releasing congestion by practicing one or more poses from the different categories - forward bend, backbend, inversion, standing, balance, twists, etc.  Don't hesitate to pause the video or CD to add your own pose or sequence.  Feel free to substitute poses for what it is suggesting.

Remember it is YOUR practice.  Ultimately honor your needs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving... A Celebration of Life

Thanksgiving 2007 I embarked on a journey that would change my life.  Just a short four years ago, I was living my life from the couch.  I resigned from my 60+ hour a week job and could barely stay upright for the 20 hour a week position I transferred to.  My evenings and weekends were spent in pain and severe exhaustion.

You know me now as the gal that does yoga and hikes all the time.  Back then I was different.  I didn't hike for over a year and there was very little if any yoga in my routine.  I was an ashen color with thirty more pounds and very little muscle.  More often than not, I was covered in rashes and had some infection or virus you didn't want to catch.  As you can imagine this illness affected my entire life.

There is one consolation in being sick... 
the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.
-Henry David Thoreau

With that quote in mind and hope in my heart, I found wellness through food. The week of Thanksgiving I changed what I ate - everything I ate.  I began eating the green things and all sorts of things that smelled and had weird textures.  I found legumes - not just beans in chili.  I discovered nuts & seeds.  These things made me feel better.  They fueled my hope for life off the couch.

After exhausting so many other possibilities, it was what I ate everyday that gave me life.  It was food that set me free.  Many of my current food choices are because of that Thanksgiving hope from four years ago.  When I talk about food and its healing abilities, it's because I've experience it first hand.  I don't just advocate for a "healthy" diet; I strive to share and inspire you to discover for yourself the healing potential in your grocery store and farmer's market.

Thanksgiving is a time to gather and celebrate harvest... the fruits of life.  For the second year, my celebration will be a gluten-free, vegan celebration.  Continuing many of my choices from Thanksgiving 2007 and the additional release of gluten and dairy 3.5 years ago, I am excited to join friends for my favorite holiday.

This Thanksgiving... I celebrate life, relationships, farmers, choice, knowledge and food - whole food (not that chemical stuff).  I am truly grateful for all that I am and am able to be.  I am grateful to those around me and the gifts they share.  I am grateful for you.

I am grateful.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Through the Eyes of a Child... A Strong Pose

A very chilly Saturday morning at Gray's Lake I shared yoga with Noah, a wise eight-year-old.  After demonstrating the Downward Noah Pose, which looked very similar to Downward-Facing Dog, he shared that he wasn't a fan of the the speed of which the teacher lead us through the poses.  Noah said, "I just couldn't get strong in my pose.  I needed more time."

He had captured a lesson that takes many yogis months or even years to realize, if they even realize it at all.  Our practice is not one of productivity.  We don't step on the mat to see how many poses we can do and how many benefits we can attain.  We practice yoga in an effort to find balance.  Of course, there are many ways to accomplish this and types of balance we may look for and each day is different.  Regardless, balance is often achieved with time.

As I was driving home from an outdoor retreat, I thought about my conversation with Noah some more.  I had been saying very similar things to myself... "I'm just not feeling strong."  It was his words that resonated with me... I need more time.  My emotions were scattered and my body striving to catch up.  He was right I just needed more time to find my balance.  With breath and the affirmation that I am strong, time gave me what I had been searching for... balance.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

An Emotional Shield Softens

Our clothes shield our physical bodies... what about our emotional body?  How do we hide that which we feel so deeply?  Maybe the better question is... why?

I'm in the midst of a divorce... hoping it will be final before the new year.  Through this two year journey, I have been on an extreme emotional roller-coaster.  I can see the positive that has come from this relationship ending.  I honor my growth as a woman, a friend and a lover.  I also embrace those emotions that I wish I never felt... anger, sadness, despair, unworthiness, fear and deep sorrow.  Oh but to express these to another... makes me feel guilty, even ashamed.  The thought that I may bring the other person down by sharing my "negativity" stops me or causes hesitation.  

What has surprised me most in this journey... when I let down my guard... when I share how I feel... that is when I truly open to love, my vulnerability becomes strength.  By authentically expressing myself, I give others an opportunity to truly be my friend not just the person I chat with here and there.

I am honoring my truth and have allowed my voice to be heard.  This has not been an easy task but one that I continue to work on.  My emotional body may never release its guard completely but it has found space... my spirit free.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Things I learned from... The Mat

Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Pain is not a part of yoga... sweet discomfort is ok but not necessary.

It is not the destination but the journey that illuminates.

Perspective and purpose guide you to a place of right or wrong.

Space can be found around and within.

Self love can become love for others.

Breathe deeply.

Honor yourself and those around you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Bubble of Protection

A helpful action in protecting your energy is affirming your bubble this can be done quickly or with lots of time.  It is a great practice that helps block the body, mind, and spirit from taking in negative energy.

I encourage you to take a few moments with breath to focus and find that place of presence or meditation.  Embrace your body with a flexible bubble.  Don't forget to cover your entire body including the bottom's of your feet and top of your head. Affirm that this shield will let white light or good energy in and out as well as stop negative energy from coming in. This is great to do everyday and especially before entering a known toxic environment.

At the end of the day or after a challenge experience, brush off your bubble.  You can even shake off the stuff that may have gotten stuck.  Be sure to indulge in activities that strengthen your innate ability to stay grounded a midst chaos.

Monday, November 7, 2011

To Teach or Facilitate?

A photographer gets people to pose for him. A yoga instructor gets people to pose for themselves. 
-Terri Guillemets

You may hear me say that I like to teach not facilitate class.  I do not qualify my class by the number of people that gather.  In fact, I prefer a smaller group.  At times, when "teaching" a larger class I am limited on how personalized I can make the entire practice for those gathered.  It is at those times I find myself facilitating or "dancing" on my mat.  I feel free and excited to have a smaller group, because I am truly given the opportunity to teach.  I can cater the practice to the individuals' needs without watering down the class.

It is from this perspective that I see a student's growth.  Yes, there is growth in physical ability but more so growth in space, freedom and reduced limitations in the student's mind, body and spirit.  I aim to provide you the opportunity to pose for yourself.  To be in touch with and honor your needs on and off the mat.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Passionate Life

A friend recently asked me if he was holding me back. Surprised, I asked from what. His response, from living. This spurred my meditation of what it means to live. For me, to be mindful of the world & all its beauty... feel the wind... See the stars... play on the earth... listen to a friend... share smiles... embrace ALL experiences, emotions and others... that is what it means to live. To him I responded, I am happily enjoying.

I have been diving into my passions and the cool part - others have shared that they are receiving the benefits of my taking time to feed my spirit. I feel alive and inspired. So with this I ask... What is your passion? What makes your heart sing? Is it an activity, a cause or a dream? When was the last time you did something that made you feel energized and filled with joy?

You'll know something is your passion, because you light up when you talk about it. It may keep you up late at night. Once you start playing with your passion you may not stop so easily. You'll feel alive when you are in touch with your passion.

It is my hope that you take a moment to reconnect with your passion... remember you can do so in small as well as big ways. Of course, let me know if you would like to explore your passion in conversation with me. I LOVE to have these talks.  Would love to share my passion with you at class soon.

With love and light

Inspiration for the Journey

Rock out who you really are in your heart...for those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind. -John Friend

I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being. -Hafiz of Persia

Yoga Nidra
Unfortunately, we may fall into a state of productivity and our passion driven activities become to dos. This place where even in the process of exploring our passion, we become complacent or void of satisfaction. This is often a sign that we may need to step back and take a deep breath from everything - including our passion. I encourage you to try Yoga Nidra. It allows us to free ourselves from stress, anxiety and fear. With this practice you will find deep within an inner radiance and deeper awareness independent of anything else.

I express my authentic self.

I fearlessly express my heart's desire.

I choose to give all the events of my life an empowering meaning.

My joy is a great gift I share with others.