Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day

‎"The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy,
and after all our most pleasing responsibility.
To cherish what remains of it
and foster its renewal is our only hope."
-Wendell Berry

Happy Earth Day and have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Forward

Yesterday was my birthday. 33. It was a sweet day that started with cuddles in bed with my sweets. That was followed by much relief of my mom duties in favor of being able to do what was in my own heart to do. So though it was a very low key birthday, it was also quite sweet. I am rarely at leisure to do whatever I feel like whenever I feel like. Yesterdays freedom was a gift. (thanks, Max).
The other thought for yesterday would have been to celebrate in true Anusara style with 33 dropbacks. I don't practice dropbacks just yet, not on my own that is, so I thought I'd go for 33 Urdhva Dhanurasanas. Then, naptime didn't happen and so yoga practice didn't happen and that plan was scrapped for the time being.
But I do want to try it. Sometime in the next week or so. 33 UDs. I was thinking instead of just practicing and doing them all at once, I could probably get them in pretty easily if I do them in sets of 3 -- 11 times throughout my day. Thinking of it that way seems pretty manageable. The only thing I worry about is not being 'warmed-up' enough for them.
This reminds me of something John taught on in one of the last workshops I attended. He said "make every breath count". He told a story about having to do a demonstration with only about 10 minutes warning that he would be doing it. With no time to warm-up it was imperative that he soften, and also become very attentive and then move very clearly with the breath. Make the breath count he said, as he led us from one down dog and zero sun salutations into 1-minute handstands. Make every breath and really every moment count he reminded us as we left the workshop for we do not know when or even if we will meet again.
I guess that's the whole point really. Why practice 33 UDs in sets of 3 throughout the day? To celebrate a milestone, certainly, but more to remember to make every moment of this life I've been given count. To attend to every breath, come back into the present moment, and never take one instant for granted.

Contemplation: What could you stand to add a little breath awareness into in your life? And, wanna do one of my backbends for me? please do!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Home Practice Motivation

Utthita Parivrtta Trikonasana at home in 2007 {don't you just love that pose?}

You may recall that I took part in the first run of Amy Ippoliti's 90-minutes to Change the World online webinar course for Yoga Teachers. The course is designed to inspire, motivate, and build up us local yoga teachers. I found it fabulous and am looking forward to the level 2 version coming in May.
One of the things Amy suggested first off for yoga teachers is making sure you are personally getting enough time on your mat. If you are on your mat and getting your practice in, your teaching stays more fresh. So she suggests getting to class and also practicing at home, but ROLL OUT THE MAT! This is good advice for everyone even if you're NOT a yoga teacher. Roll out the mat and get to it (as soon as you're done reading this post, or even RIGHT now if you want to). You will almost definitely feel better for having done it.
Amy also knows, as many of us do, that it is all to easy to skip practicing, and to let other things keep you from doing it. Many many suggestions came up as ways to keep yourself going to the mat... listening to good music, using yogaglo, using podcasts, good videos, pulling out yoga clothes, even just setting a timer for 10 minutes of asana (knowing you'll probably want more once the little bell dings).

I'll add my own. Keep a Log! Keep track. It is amazing to keep track of what you are doing. They say if you want to lose weight, keep track of what you eat, if you want to remember your dreams - write them down, if you want to increase the abundance in your life - keep a gratitude journal.... Well, if you want to practice more asana -Why not write down your yoga practice?
I've been doing this with MUCH success since fall 2006 (yes, that's right almost 5 years!) It started with my first teacher training when I was required to turn it in each month to make sure I was practicing enough to earn the 200 hours. Then, afterwards, I looked at the requirements for becoming a Certified Anusara teacher. At the time they listed 4 years of asana practice at a minimum of 1-hour a day, 4 days a week; and 2 years of meditation 15-minutes a day 6 days a week. It seemed daunting but I just started writing it down and trying to make it my goal. To make that writing down easier I took from my initial log from the YTT and made my own little monthly spreadsheet. It has a column down the side for day of the week and date then columns for each: Asana, Meditation, Teaching, Class, Reading/Journaling, Chanting/Pranayama.... and now in the margins I put in Yoga Nidra/guided Savasana and sometimes other things like going for walks, doing pilates, or movement/dance time.
I started just writing down the amount of time I practiced in each column. It felt good to see the days filling in, like a little reward for getting myself on the mat. In the beginning I would struggle to get in 4 hours of asana (and forget about the meditation). But each week as I looked at my spreadsheet I could see, 'ok, I'd like to skip practice today and just eat bon-bons, but I have only done 3 hours, I should probably do it today.' And over time it grew easier and easier until I didn't worry about making sure I had 4 hours on my own each week. Now, it still feels like a simple but super big reward to write down my practice. I take pride in having a home practice that is going strong.
My struggle isn't usually about motivation to get on the mat, it's more about time. But having this log does help when the motivation is wearing thin. I can just look and see how it's going. Usually even if I don't "feel" like doing my practice... by realizing I've been off my mat more lately it's enough to get me started, then 10 minutes in I'm hooked and before I know it I'm an hour in and going strong.
So it seems really simple, but it may be worth giving it a try. I recommend keeping a log of whatever practice you feel is most important. Then setting a reasonable "goal" and using the log to stick as close to it as you can. Tell me if you give keeping a log a shot and let me know how it goes for you.

Contemplation: What simple things motivate you to stay on your mat?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reading Along

I've picked up Poser: my life in twenty-three yoga poses by Claire Dederer from my local library and am making my way through. I'll save a full review for later since I'm only about a third in so far. For me, it's really interesting to read into the goings on in the yoga student's head... I forget what it's like not to know so many things about yoga. And it's a little fun that it came from the library as there are editorial notes here and there from a studious previous reader. Last night's reading brought me to this passage noted by my friend:

"I didn't know it at the time, but it was at this moment, when I decided that I couldn't be bothered to learn the right way to do yoga but that I would instead continue doing it, following my teacher and doing my work to the best of my ability, that I began to reap the fruits of yoga. Submission, trust, transmission from teacher to student, imperfection, the release of the ego -these were the things that would save me from myself, even if they were as unfamiliar as Krishna with his blue face. You can't go deeper and know what you're doing the whole time."

I love that last line.... "You can't go deeper and know what you're doing the whole time." It pretty much speaks to me in my life and teaching journey right now. Beautiful.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Personal Invitation

So, this was in my inbox this evening....
... I can't make it to Lake Tahoe this year, the dates are a conflict. But how cool is it to have John Friend in my inbox... SO COOL

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good Eats

I think, in general, there has not been enough talk about food around this blog. Food is pretty darn wonderful and right now I am loving it. And I am re-loving getting into making food for myself and my family. Steamed kale, home baked muffins, plenty of cookies... you name it, I'm making it. So let's chat food, shall we?

In the last week we've ventured into at least 3 new recipes with wonderful results. First, Kale Chips. You know know how if you hear something more than once you're supposed to pay attention? I heard about Kale chips 3 times in one week so I knew they were worth checking into. The March 2011 Yoga Journal (the one with the dude on the cover) has a recipe. I tried a slightly different one but essentially you put a little oil on a baking sheet, line the sheet with slightly seasoned (salt, garlic salt, vinegar or something) Kale and bake it at 300 for 15 minutes or until the edges are good and crispy flipping once. YUM! The mom I first heard about this from said that it is the only thing her 4 year old cheers about... "Crispy Kale! Crispy Kale! Crispy Kale!!!" That's exactly how I feel too! I liked the recipe in the April/May 2011 Natural Health magazine.

Next we tried making our own veggie burgers. My husband severely dislikes mushrooms (they're fondly called "the devil" around here) so that somewhat limits our buying of veggie burgers. It definitely has limited my making of them. But again in the March 2011 Yoga Journal they had a great recipe for Black Bean Oatmeal Burgers. I was a little worried that they wouldn't go over well, but they DID. We made them on Monday and have happily snacked on them ever since. I will definitely be keeping this recipe.

and finally, Granola Bars. We get slightly addicted to Cliff and Luna bars around here. I think they're not SO bad as eating just a plain old granola bar, and certainly not as bad as eating a candy bar when I need a sweet fix. What bothers me about them is that they're individually wrapped (as they must be) and so it creates so much excess trash when we eat them. I feel like I'm always picking up Luna bar wrappers. So we tried a recipe that is from an old Yoga Journal, sorry I don't know the date on this one. It is adapted from a recipe in Petit Appetit by Lisa Barnes (blog here). UM. Yum. And totally irresistibly delicious! Totally IRRESISTIBLE. I made them yesterday and there are two left.

That's why there aren't any pictures of any of these treats. There really aren't any left for me to photograph. Next time I'll document the process for you.

All in all I'm using spring to get back on track in eating in a way that really fuels me, my life, my family, and my practice. With options like these I'm very happy each time I sit down to eat. YES! it's a win in all directions. I think there will be more food talk to come on this blog. Just seems like a good thing to talk about.

Contemplation: What's fueling you and your practice lately?