Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sirsasana II go

One of the nice things about a yoga asana practice as compared to learning dance technique is that when you're practicing asana, you never have to worry about performing it for anyone. In dance classes you're always working up towards performing your double pirouette on stage in front of a live audience, or preparing for the next audition to get the job to perform in front of a live audience. But with asana, you never have to worry that someone is going to actually see what you are doing and possibly offer judgement on it. A teacher may see it and offer adjustment but that's not a critique of the aesthetic or on you as a person.
You never have to worry about performing your practice, until the owners of your studio ask you to be part of a trio yoga demonstration in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the studio, that is.... Yikes! I'm on board to be part of the "sorceress trio" yoga demonstration on the night of Sept 11th in honor of Yoga Source's 10th anniversary. So far rehearsal has been wonderful and I'm the backbend girl, so I couldn't be happier.
But then she threw in a long holding Sirsasana I with leg variations, no wall of course, and no mat either! What, no mat? no wall? mini freak out right here. It's not that I can't practice Headstand without the wall, just that it isn't as easy as it used to be. In the first rehearsal I definitely couldn't go there without the mat.
This means I have an assignment for myself, Sirsasana anywhere and everywhere. Whenever the inspiration hits, I'm turning myself upside down and staying there (no matter what stranger gives me a funny look!) The timing couldn't be better because the family and I take off tomorrow for a week on vacation in Maine. I've always wanted to go, but have never been. Now I'll be seeing it from an entirely different vantage point as I flip over and see it from the ground up. Wish me luck and have a great week!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Clearing the Clutter

Following up my last post... the thing about being a consumer is that then I end up with lots of random stuff. Stuff that, while at first pleasing, eventually comes to have no meaning to me whatsoever and just takes up more physical, spiritual, and emotional space in my life.
After my realization and shift out of consumer mode, I started the next shift into clearance mode. I've been wanting to go there for a while as I've transitioned away from the 9 - 5 (or 7 -6 as it often was) work life into mom and yoga teacher life. But making the transformation of my things is sometimes harder than even making the transformation of my life.
Yesterday I came upon about 30 or so minutes of freedom. That means, the babe was napping and I'd already practiced asana, meditation, and pranayama. I did not want to bum around on facebook but was at a loss as to what precisely to do that would feel good to my soul.
My eyes fell upon the book Ask and it is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks. I opened it and came almost immediately to the Clearing Clutter for Clarity process. Reading over it I knew instantly it was just what I needed.
Their process is so simple. Just ask "Is this item important to my immediate experience?" That's it. If yes, leave it there, if no box it up. Clutter is cleared. There is more to the process after things go into boxes but I wasn't going full on yesterday. Instead I took out my backpack that was stuffed with papers, and a folder and simply asked that question. If yes, I re-filed in a a way that made sense. If no, it went directly into recycling.
What I love about the process is the absolute simplicity. It is quick and easy. Do I need this RIGHT NOW? and if not, let's make more space in my life for something different or just for more space.
They write: "Because everything carries its own vibration, and because you develop a vibrational relationship with everything in your life, your personal belongings do have an impact on the way you feel... "
"If you could just go through and release those things you are not wearing, release those things you are not using, release them and leave your experience in a clearer place, then the things that are more in harmony with who you are now will more easily flow into your experience."
Contemplation: Imagine yourself in a clutter-free life. Exhale and enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Consumption and Letting Go

In the past few days I've found myself in total consumption mode. I was devouring EVERYthing I possibly could. Food and sweets, of course, but also I wanted to shop and buy buy buy, and I was reading an immense amount, and wanting to watch TV and movies and be on facebook and the internet. Mantra repetition during meditation too. Whatever it was, FILL me with it. I was insatiable.
Something was off.
Something didn't feel right. Suddenly I looked around in the midst of trying to fill my brain and my life with just one more thing and I realized I was way out of balance, but I didn't know why.
So I paused, Opened to Grace, and let it all go.
I took my tush to the cush and sat down to meditate, only this time it wasn't actually meditation. This time it was inquiry into what I was trying to stuff down and hold back by filling myself with all the needless chatter. What was I keeping from myself.
Hello, self? What do you need to say?
When you ask yourself something like that with the intention to just listen to what you actually need instead of judging it or pushing it away anymore, it's remarkable what immediately comes up. For me it was some deep decisions about the direction of my life and some future steps that I'd been letting prematurely stress me out. I can't say I was surprised, I knew I was stressed over it. But I was surprised by the space in my heart and mind when I took the time to just listen instead of plan plan plan. With the space, I was able to let go. I let go of needing to take any steps right now or of even needing to make a decision.
After a deep sigh and a feeling of relief, I reminded myself, as always of the need for more nurturing. More listening to myself in my frustrations and my fatigue and honoring both.
Honoring those is more challenging than just listening in general. But one way I'm attempting to do that is by giving myself a voice and making time for OUTput. Time to journal, blog or connect with friends and family and tell them what's in my heart. Time for my inner child and my inner stressed out mom to air their concerns, get a little love, and feel validated in all my experiences.
In this world, we are offered many chances to consume. Many ways to bury our thoughts and feelings, or to numb them out. But we also have many chances to let go of that consumption and move into deeper relationship with ourselves and others. When we give voice to all parts equally we start to live in a more whole heart space. That is where healing can happen, and where life can feel more easy and free. I'm trying to be there as much as possible, knowing that it's always a shifting dance.

Contemplation: What do consumption and letting go have in common for me?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

A few days ago I caught a re-run of Julia Roberts and Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah talking about the movie version of Eat, Pray, Love. I loved the book and wasn't sure about seeing the movie, but it was interesting to hear both the actress and the writer talk about their reactions to the story.
One thing Liz Gilbert said was that she never quite realized what it was people were getting out of this book, it seemed so personal. The movie made it clear to her that at least part of the story is about getting over a broken heart, and that is something we've all experienced. I thought it interesting that it took visually seeing the story unfolded for her to come to that realization. Sometimes you have to step away from your work or your life to see the universality of your own personal experience.

But on this dreary (almost raining) Tuesday morning I thought I'd share my answer to Oprah's question to Juila and her dashing male co-stars:

"What is your Eat, What is your Pray, What is your Love?"

My Eat is the same as the book... give me fresh pasta or pizza in Rome and let me follow that up with some awesome Gelato and I am a VERY happy girl.

My Pray is pretty obvious too, also along the lines of the book ... stick me on a yoga mat or a meditation cushion, put me in a big bursting Anusara kula gathering and I will find a connection to something deeper. Also, being in nature helps me reconnect.

My Love is family. The family that I am a part of as a sister and a child and a grandchild and the family that I create with my husband and my daughter and our dog. Also the greater global family we can all build.

A little chocolate gelato love in Rome 2007

So what are your three.... your Eat? Pray? and Love?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Personal Practices

Anodea Judith's list of Personal Practices to Open the Global Heart and therefore, heal the world.


"Waking the global heart begins with you. It radiates outward from your daily thoughts and actions. It begins with awaking your capacity to really love, with the joy of giving service, and the inclusion in a higher purpose. It begins with your daily offering, your way of making something - anything - a little better than you found it."
"{These guidelines are} a place to begin, a daily practice to develop. For each of our hearts is a cell in the global heart, giving and receiving love. Each time we create an act of love, we inspire others to do the same."

Contemplation: Which of these practices come easy for me? Which is a challenge? Which do I forget all together? Which will I start today?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reading List: Waking the Global Heart

I recently finished the book Waking the Global Heart: Humanity's Rite of Passage from the Love of Power to the Power of Love by Anodea Judith. It was at once deeply troubling and wildly exciting and encouraging.
Anodea Judith is a well-known scholar on the Chakra system and has at least two other books using the chakras as a guidebook. In this book she outlines the entire world history of the Western World using the Chakra system as a reference. She endeavors to question and and answer things like: Who are we? Where did we come from? and Where are we going? (and will we survive to get there).

I have to say the Where did we come from? part, the history, was pretty astounding. I 'learned' these things in grade school, certainly. But to read about accounts of the type of torture humans put each other through and the types of injustices this world has witnessed was quite emotional for me. I am haunted particularly about descriptions of witch hunts performed by the church in the Middle Ages. But the whole History section was greatly needed as contrast for the next section.

Where are we Going? Here we come to a much brighter possible future for the world. A future in which we relate to each other as whole beings not just as a limited portion of ourselves (white, woman, young, old, knowledgeable) She also puts out the possibility that humanity is doomed. But of course, no one wants to dwell on that idea and instead Hope is so prevailing in the back portion of the book that you can't help but want to get involved and CHANGE THE WORLD DANG IT! It is reading these types of works that makes me charged up to help people in my classes and to just be a better person in general.

So, this one is Highly recommended by me. I think it is a good follow up to the Oprah phenomenon with the Eckert Tolle book A New Earth. This one has many of the same ideas and some hearty, meaty reasons WHY we are as we are and WHAT we can do about it.
If you pick it up, or have read it, please share your thoughts in a comment or email.
Contemplation: What is the one HUGE thing you would change about the world if you could? and follow that with, OK, now how can you change that thing in your own life?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Salutations to you, Nation!

Did you happen to take part in Lululemon's Salutation Nation this weekend? It was a free event of outdoor yoga offered all over North America. If you don't know Lululemon, they're a yoga apparel store and they are just making their way to Richmond. The showroom opens in September, I think.

I am pleased to say that my whole family made it out to Maymont park to join with 95 fellow yogis (counting unborn children and three babies) in the hour long practice. I thought i'd just take my babe and go on my own, but my husband said he'd join in too so we went as a threesome.
There were many highlights of the event for me: standing poses in grass and mud, breathing in the smell of the dirt before cobra pose, hearing the rooster crowing at the childrens' farm as we got started, stretching up into the clearest bluest sky for Vira I, bowing to kiss my daughter as she wandered around from my mat to her own throwing in a down dog or two here and there, and the powerful sense of community that built when we all wandered through this alternately beginner and advanced vinyasa practice.

But my favorite part is that my husband came. He flirts with yoga but hasn't really taken it on, so I love that he wanted to come. And not only that he got Hooked! He said two things stuck out for him: 1. yoga feels really good and 2. I want to be able to do That! And that, my friends makes me very happy and very excited for him and for our family.

and finally, he offered me the best complement he could possibly give me at this point in my life: "your practice is Beautiful" he said. "Beautiful" it's like he sees me and he sees my yoga and it is all Beauty -- Shri. If that doesn't melt my heart, I don't know what will.

Here we are sitting before the centering

Standing,waiting for things to begin. Check out her cute bunny mat!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Path

"The Spiritual Life is Always about Letting Go.
It is Never about Holding On."
- the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Going Live

Now that I'm officially an Anusara-Inspired yoga teacher I'm relaunching my website to better represent how I approach teaching and as a bit of a hub of information about Anusara events going on here in the RVA. I still have some work to do with the design, but I couldn't wait any longer to get it out there to the real world.

Check me out Here.

Pose of the Month: August

August's Pose of the Month: Bakasana

This month let's play with Bakasana! Bakasana, aka crane pose, is not one of my favorites. I have a love/hate relationship with this pose because every time I feel like I'm getting a handle on it something happens (like getting pregnant and having a baby) and it drifts away again. Recently I've put some real effort into building this pose into my repertoire in a meaningful way and I'm seeing some change.

So, for this pose of the month my recommendation is to practice it every time you go to the mat unless you're doing restoratives. Each time you practice bakasana, give it three good shots. If this pose is already under your belt, Woo-Hoo! see how long you can stay in it for the three times. If it is coming along then just breathe and hang in it. If bakasana is not yet your best friend, put out a crash pad for your head and give it three good goes and then forget it until tomorrow. Let's see what happens by the end of the month, shall we?

Some poses that may help you build into Bakasana:
Malasana prep and Malasana

and if you're afraid of falling on your face, doing a few summersaults wouldn't hurt either.

Join in and keep me posted on how it's going with a comment or two.