Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My intention in yoga this morning was GRATITUDE.

Let's talk about gratitude, shall we?

I'm in Southern California for the week, and I've been practicing at Yoga Shakti in Irvine every day. It's been AMAZING to experience all sorts of different types of classes again. I don't currently have access to these types of yoga studios (I've also practiced at Yoga Works in Newport Beach since I've been here) so this has been such a treat! It's neat to see the way so many yoga instructors blend their own style with the tradition in which they've been trained. I've heard a LOT of cues involving lifting all four corners of the heart, which is a new one for me. I've heard a lot of heart-opening cuing, generally, though, which is something I really need to weave into my own teaching. I've been aware of good cues and not so good cues, and of course, my biggest pet peeve, not safely cuing the release of a pose. Mostly, though, I've been incredibly impressed with the teachers I've had out here. I have a LOT of new ideas and new sequencing to build into my own teaching, and that's exciting. (As an aside, and in case anyone from my Saturday class reads this, I was also vindicated in discovering that wide-stance downward-facing dog really IS a legitimate position and not something I made up because I really dig that specific hamstring stretch - great news! Haha!) I'm REALLY fascinated by the fact that there has been chanting in every class I've been to so far - both at Yoga Shakti and Yoga Works. Some of the Sanskrit I recognized from our morning prayers at Kripalu, some was totally new, but it felt really comforting to hear it again.

I've also given a yoga class to my lovely hosts, Molly and Buddy, which was a lot of fun. Molly has a ton of pilates and yoga experience, so she was easy to teach. Buddy, however, had never, ever, ever, ever, EVER done ANY yoga before. Ever. So that was GREAT experience for me, because I really got to work on how to cue to someone who doesn't have that yoga intuition that really helps us along after we've established a solid practice. 24-hours later he hasn't sued me, so I think it went well. =) No, he said he really enjoyed it and how he felt afterward, so that's a good sign.

In addition to one or two 90-minute yoga practices a day, we've been doing lots of fun things like going out for sushi, eating LOTS of delicious cheese, taking long walks in the BEAUTIFUL weather, going for frozen yogurt at Yogurt Land, and even seeing Dachshund races at Oktober Fest in Huntington Beach. Oh, and hitting the hot tub, watching mindless TV, drinking good wine, having fabulous conversations, drinking even better margaritas and getting LOTS of sleep. YAY!

Grateful? You better believe it. =)

Shanti, shanti, shanti! Peace, peace, peace!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tolerating the consequences.

I'm feeling less than inspired these days. I'm kind of blue. It's disheartening, yes, but just part of the journey, right? Being present for exactly how things are is part of yoga, or so I've been told. That is what I learned from Stephen Cope, anyway. I probably need to re-read his book and/or read his other book and/or actually finish that meditation book I started.

And/or just breathe. (That's what I did last night, by the way. I locked myself in a room to practice yoga, and instead of doing any asana practice, I did Micah Mortali's Inward Diving flow, which is about 25 minutes of pranayama - yes, BREATHING - and then I did a 40 minute yoga nidra practice - yes, flat on my back with eyes closed NOT MOVING - from Jennifer Reis's Deep Relaxation CD. I'm not ashamed. It was exactly the yoga practice I needed.)

So instead of attempting a witty, profound, charming, om-worthy blog post, I thought I'd point you (whoever you may or may not be) to some super-great yoga blogs that I've been enjoying as of late where you CAN read witty, profound, charming, om-worthy blog posts (and please accept my apology that it's not HERE these days....)

Spoiled Yogi - I have automatic respect for anyone who admits to writing their own Frequently Asked Questions.
Daily Downward Dog - one of the DDD mantras is "Mean people suck." Another is "You don’t have to rub crystals and listen to Yanni to get into yoga." I dig it.
Yoga Dork - I'm a proud dork, generally. I'm an especially proud yoga dork.
Naturally Nina - this is the blog of one of my yoga school BFFs, Nina. She is an INCREDIBLE woman. You know when you connect with someone in a way that makes you believe you SURELY know this person in a parallel universe where your paths crossed much earlier and/or you SURELY knew this person in a past-life, if there are such things, and/or you SURELY are from the same planet and it isn't this one? Yeah. I love, love, love, love her. Also, she just got married and the photos of her wedding and subsequent honeymoon in Norway are awe-inspiring. Check her out.

Those should keep you busy for awhile. In the meantime, I'm going to have some ice cream.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Taking stock. And dessert.

In the six weeks since I graduated from Kripalu School of Yoga I have:
  • Taught three yoga classes at the local YMCA and secured my own regular weekly 90-minute class.
  • Taught eleven one-on-one private yoga sessions.
  • Led five meditation classes.
  • Been practicing yoga personally at least six times per week.

I have to remind myself that I'm on track because I so often struggle with feeling as though I'm not doing enough, or not doing enough fast enough. But I really am making progress - and I'm right on track - toward my goal of getting as much teaching experience as I can this fall and winter, and that's exciting. Exciting!! I am also subbing for my lovely friend/yoga teacher Katie the next two Thursday evenings, and at the end of October I'm going back to SoCal (to visit my EXTRAORDINARY Kenyon girl, Molly) and hope to take as many classes as possible with the amazing woman who was (unknowingly) a huge part of all that inspired me to pursue my dream of teaching yoga. When I visited Molly last January I took a bunch of yoga at Newport Beach Yoga Works, and LB's classes blew my mind. It felt almost magical, the way she would float through the room, giving such beautiful, articulate and poetic voice to the body. For the first time in my life I truly experienced yoga the way I think it should be experienced: a deep and transformational connection of body, mind and spirit. More than anything, I want to be able to teach like her (and like Priti. And like Devarshi. And like Danny. And like...) and offer other people the type of experience she offered me. I'm so excited to take classes with her again. LB's restorative class was so intense that I had to sit on a bench for about 30 minutes afterward before I felt okay to drive. No kidding.

I'd really like to start reading and learning more about Ayurveda. That's next on the list.

In other news, I'm watching Top Chef: Just Desserts and, umm, I want to eat everything they are making. I'm an honest yogini: moderation is not my strong point. Working on it. ;)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Oh, October. I adore you.

Madeline. October, 2008. Autumn leaves on Middle Path!
I've been waking up in the BEST mood for the past few days. Even pre-espresso, I just feel GOOD. I feel excited. I feel light and twirly and clear-headed. I just figured out today that OF COURSE I'm waking up in the best mood, and of course I'm feeling generally fantastic all day, every day - IT'S OCTOBER! This is my very favorite month of the entire year. The weather is absolutely perfect: it's not hot, but it's not TOO cold - I can wear jeans and long sleeve shirts (preferably with thumb hooks - I really love thumb hooks) but still get away with my Teva sandals (at least sometimes!) The breeze is decadent and the leaves are starting to turn, the promise of their crunch under my feet in a few weeks a source of blissful anticipation, and it's great weather to do yoga outside, take long walks or drink lattes on the deck. It's also Holiday-Eve - the promise of Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the horizon but it's not stressful just yet. This really is the best month of the entire year, I'm quite sure. If I ever get married, I think I'd like to get married in October. =)

I'm also feeling good because the next three months are an incredible chance for me to really hone my teaching skills before I move back north in January. I am teaching a 90-minute group class at the YMCA on Saturday mornings, I have a few subbing dates set up during the week for another yoga teacher, I have two private sessions a week (and I'm hoping to add a few more - I've been having people sign up for my email list when I teach group classes, and soon I'm going to have a website set up where people can get more information on private sessions) and I lead a weekly meditation group on Wednesday evenings. Meanwhile I'm spending quality time with my beautiful sister (and forcing her to do Power Thought Cards with me every day! Ha!) and my adorable nieces (see photo!!) I've also made a few really close friends here whom I absolutely love spending time with. (For example, my friend Christi, who just started her own sewing business called Thread Head Designs - yes, the reference to the Grateful Dead is purposeful, she's THAT COOL, and also SO TALENTED!! Check her out!) I'm also doing a lot of cooking, reading, and even a little bit of writing. And did I mention that IT'S OCTOBER?!?

I think the best thing, though, is that even in my moments of NOT feeling *this* amazing, I have gotten a lot better at coming back to the breath to find peace in the present. The power of just one inhale and one exhale is sort of mind-blowing. Wanna try? Okay - this isn't a specific yoga breath, per se, but something I started doing even before YTT that I find extremely comforting. I've shared it with a few people who have also found it helpful, so I'll share it with the blog-world now: inhale actively to a count of five, and then continue to inhale passively (just allowing air to go in) as you continue counting to ten. Even if you feel like you have no more room in your lungs, just keep letting air come in. Then exhale actively for a count of five, and continue squeezing out the air as you continue counting to ten. Repeat as many times as needed. If you know Dirgha and Ujjayi breath, you can use them, but you don't have to know fancy-shmancy yoga pranayama, I promise. I do this all of the time when I can't sleep, or just when I feel really off-kilter mid-day and need to come HOME. Let me know if it works for you!

And once again....HAPPY OCTOBER! XOXO

Friday, October 1, 2010


I am recommitting myself to the connections I made, internally and externally, during my yoga teacher training at Kripalu. I don't feel that I've written enough yet about my immense personal growth over the course of the month or the insights I gained, and I need to reconnect with these things before I completely forget and can't figure out how to remind myself in the darker moments.

And that's just it - I'm trying to embrace those darker moments. Devarshi and Priti encouraged us to live in and with our own darkness - it's part of self-observation without judgment - the very definition of Kripalu yoga. Yoga, this beautiful and ancient science meaning UNION ...of body, mind and spirit. Being completely and authentically aware doesn't only mean being aware of the happy, flowy, feel-good stuff, but it also means being absolutely tuned into to the other side of it all...the UNhappy, not at ALL flowy (what's the opposite of flowy?) feel-bad stuff...and knowing that it's okay, too. It all just IS.

Sometimes I hear a strange mixture of Stephen Cope's voice, Devarshi's voice and Priti's voice, with a hint of my OWN voice, asking: Can you be okay in THIS moment with exactly how it is? Can you be okay in THIS moment with exactly who you are? Can you connect through your breath, through prana - life-force - with your own divine nature and honor your connection to spirit? Can you ride the wave of whatever emotion you're experiencing and find out that letting yourself go into the darkness won't actually kill you? That you'll come out the otherside in one piece?

Yes. Yes. Yes. You really can. You can go there - all the way there - and find that little child version of you who only wants to be loved and accepted, and you can love and accept her. And then FORGIVE her.

*I'm excited about the logistical details of this recommitting, which include restructuring my schedule with a 90-minute morning sadhana as the priority, even if it means getting up at 6:30am every day, as well as a minimum of 20-minutes of evening meditation. The answers are in the practice, I think. My friend Kelly's business website says "your yoga becomes you. you rediscover you." It's true. On every breath.

Jai Bhagwan.