Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Playing HOOKY

Mermaid (in stretch jeans, yeouch!)
at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO

I'm totally not going in to teach class tonight even though I'm on the schedule to do it. I'm SO playing hooky. (Responsibly. I did get a sub way in advance and told the class I wouldn't be there). I'm sitting here at home... taking the night OFF. I love to teach. And sometimes I still need a moment when it feels like I have a break and I'm off the hook. Ah.

Well, this night off break is well deserved after my weekend. I had a fun time being with my brother and his family in Colorado. My daughter and I shared many sweet interactions and then flew back last night, landing around midnight. It was super fun but made particularly more fun because I didn't have to worry about planning a class for the day I got back. And I didn't have to worry about keeping up my practice while jet lagged so that I'd be ready to demonstrate anything the day I got back. My brain and my body and my heart all appreciated the break. Taking this little night off is a big step towards taking care of myself. And, it's OK. Thank goodness.
Who knows what the sub will bring them, but I know the students are in good hands. And I, personally, feel super wonderful to linger in my vacation just a few hours longer.

Contemplation: What does it look and feel like to you to "play hooky?"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Friday Quote (on Thursday)

You get your Friday quote a day early as I'm heading with my daughter to visit my brother and his family in Colorado for the Memorial day weekend. After reading the motto of the state and the explanation for the motto, I think I'm going to the right place. Have a great long weekend!


the state motto of Colorado:

"Nothing without the Deity"
(Nil sine Numine)

The Latin phrase Nil sine Numine is commonly translated as "Nothing without Providence," but it was specifically stated in a government committee report that the original designers of the state seal (which includes the phrase Nil sine Numine) intended the translation to be "Nothing without the Deity."

Numine is Latin (meaning any divinity, god or goddess); God is a purely anglo-saxon word

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Practice

image courtesy of Todd Raviotta - Natural Science Production

Some days I don't feel like practicing and I get on my mat anyway and I crank through. I usually end up feeling a little bit better but down deep I'm still irritated, annoyed, and cranky.
Some days I don't feel like practicing and I don't get on my mat. I end up remaining cranky, irritated, and annoyed. And my body doesn't feel so hot either.
Some days I don't feel like practicing and I get on my mat and lay down for 5 or 10 or 15 minutes with my eyes closed and my arms over my face. And I breathe. And at some point some poses will come into my head and I suddenly feel like practicing precisely that. And then a long practice unfolds without force or over-efforting. I end up feeling totally shifted and good in body, heart, and mind.
Today was one of the days I last described. Thank goodness for those days.

Contemplation: What do you do when you don't feel like practicing?

Monday, May 23, 2011

With a little help from my Friends

The Hindu Society of NC in Morrisville, NC
where John Friend workshops

The first time I took a workshop with John Friend was in North Carolina in the fall of 2007. It was a lovely lovely event filled with lovely lovely people. I so enjoyed being in the Kula there. They are wonderfully sweet.
The first time we came to sit with John he talked about things like "The Secret" which was becoming more popular then, and the laws of Attraction, Shakti, white magic, and enjoying ourselves on the mat. And, then after the invocation and blessings, he said something to the effect of "Let's get high."
"Let's get high" I thought that was so completely awesome and funny. Here's this yoga guy saying we should be getting high. And I do think he meant that we were going to catch a buzz from the backbending practice he had planned for us. And we probably did get pretty high then. The photos reveal wildly shiny faces and ear to ear grins on our faces.
But, now that I've been in this system for a longer time, I think there's more to it than just the physical experience of being "high." I think he means that we should use this practice to uplift ourselves and each other. Literally we should raise our moods and our awareness and our love, support, respect for each other as high as we can possibly get them.
At times we all get low. And if you're like me, those are the times when you're tempted to skip the practice, and skip class. But, those are the best times to actually step onto the mat, Open to Grace... and see if transformation might really take hold. I am now committing to encouraging myself in those low times to go to class. Because even if I'm feeling low, my neighbor may be on a total high that day and I can ride her wave until I feel better.
John says things to the effect of "if you're low, I'm low" and so it is our responsibility to help uplift each other. And the other thing he says which I love is that 'There will always be someone further along on this path than you, and there will always be someone further behind on this path than you.... so you reach out a hand in front and you reach out a hand behind and together we all take a step forward'.
So, yes, we use this practice to get "high" but it is in the broadest use of the term. And then everybody gets a hit to the heart, and opening into the depth of who we really are ... and the entire community benefits. What could be better?

Contemplation: How do you get your 'high' on the mat and what does it look like?

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Real Deal

"The Action is always more important than the Outer Form"
- Lila Pierce Brown

In my mind... that is to say, what's going on on the inside is way more important than how things look on the outside. The outside is a direct result of the inner workings.
Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

a TEACHER came to class

Remember, Lila and Mark were in town and they rocked our little kula's socks off. They totally did that all weekend long and it was totally fabulously amazing.
Oh yeah, then there's the other thing about the weekend. Lila, (aka a 6 year Certified teacher) came to my class. And "evaluated" me. Yeah, hmmm. It was a lucky coincidence that she was coming to town and was able to fill out my form and I didn't have to send anyone a video. But what a load of pressure to take on for that one single class. Yikes!
Let's just say it was certainly not my most incredible class ever. Nowhere near it. But, to be fair, it was also not my least incredible class ever. (I didn't have anybody walk out never to return, so that's pretty awesome, and yes that has happened, twice actually ...and once was only a month or so ago)
There are plenty of reasons that my class was not up to where I'd hoped it would be, and they're valid. But oh well. What I think is pretty awesome is that I feel like, because my class was not super amazing, she (and I) maybe got a more clear picture of where my skills actually are. Like, if you peel back hours of preparation and all the centering and practicing time ahead of the class and just throw me into a room of yogis ... on my worst day... what are the skills that are so deeply ingrained that they show up automatically.
I will tell you, I have the 5 UPAs down COLD.
It is a good learning experience. And, of course, watching Lila was an incredible learning experience. One that renews my commitment to this practice and to deepening my skill set. "I so want to do THAT! "
I have not yet gotten any notes back or any real direct feedback (other than "it was good") which has me in a bit of a worried tizzy. It's different than being in YTT where criticism is wrapped in so much immediate love you cannot walk out of the room without imagining how totally awesome you're going to be at this. The waiting has me playing the guessing game and 'coulda, shoulda, woulda'. But now I know that next time I will have to get 5 or 10 minutes immediately after the class with Lila for feedback to calm my nerves.
Either way, I'm glad I'm done. I'm so grateful for the opportunity of having Lila there. I'm so grateful that I was worse than I'd hoped because it is such a reminder of the skills that I do have and all that I can do from here. I'm so grateful for the fabulous community that we have.
And I'll anxiously await the eval. form knowing there is so much space to cover on this journey. But that's just it, it's a journey and I'm in it for the long haul.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Listen In

Hey ya'll ... the sloppiest post ever just so i can share with you in a timely manner....

I will come back to this but i've been listening in to the Yoga Teacher Telesummit (you can google it). and yesterday they had Laurie Gerber from the Handel Group and Bernadette Birney from Anusara world and her awesome blog. They talked about linking your yoga and life coaching.

If you read Bernadette's blog and Elena Brower's blog you know that they both use the Handel Group for life coaching, and are seeing amazing results. This appears to be a very practical method for how to literally take your yoga off the mat and DO all the stuff you dream. It is the step-by-step how to method for creating the reality you desire. (and it doesn't just have to be for yogins ya'll, it can be for anybody with a dream)

Well, this call is like a jump start on doing this kind of life coaching, and it rocked! AND, you can listen to it RIGHT HERE. the only thing is, and the reason i'm doing this post as an on the fly submission is, the audio recording of the call is only guaranteed to be available for about 48 hours after the original call.... so that means it will only be available until 1pm EST Thursday (tomorrow) SO that means... stop reading this blog or any other thing, get pencil and paper and listen to the call RIGHT NOW please. (it is about an hour and a half, and totally totally worth it) OH and did i mention, it's FREE. the entire Telesummit is free. more to come on that though.
Anyway, i highly recommend it, especially if you are feeling stuck and incomplete in any area of your life. And please leave a comment if you do listen to it and let me know your reactions.

and now i am going to go take care of my 2 year old and my sick husband.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blast of Sunshine

Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun
and I say, It's alright - George Harrison

Ah! The ever so lovely and talented and truly loving Lila Pierce Brown came to town this weekend with her surfer musician school teacher partner Mark Dragon and the pair of them offered our community a huge blast of sunshine through some rainy rainy days.
Um. Awesome. Few. Very Few people live up to my idea of what Anusara yoga should be and should feel like... Todd, Ann, John ... Well, Lila lives up to it entirely. If you are ever able to study with her, DO IT. Anyway, can you tell we had an amazing weekend?

They offered two studio style workshops on Saturday. The first was hand balancings with a little bit of backbending and full pigeon. Super fun and inspiring. The second was hip opening and hamstring opening... working towards Surya Yantrasana and other fun poses like that. On Sunday they came to a local health club and offered a fun 90 minute practice focused on play. I think the play came across loud and clear and everyone had a "rockin" fun time.

When I think of this kula here in Richmond I imagine us like a little tiny tiny seedling. We've been in seed form for quite a while and then when I got inspired status last summer and we started building into a somewhat organized community the tiny plant cracked the shell and started to come out. It is just a teeny tiny little seedling of growth, with not much showing above the level of the soil, but we are here.
This weekend felt like we suddenly got our first real bright and sunny day with the full force of sunshine radiating on all of us. It was very sweet and magical. Our seedling just sent down deeper roots and got a massive craving to grow grow grow.

I have so much gratitude to Lila and to Mark for being the amazing people who they are for making this happen for us. I also have tremendous gratitude to my friend, Niki who, well, ROCKS! She has been building an Anusara outlet for a long time and has so graciously supported me in all the that I am doing. And of course I have so much gratitude to all the students who came out and supported Lila and Mark and supported Anusara this weekend. It was a shakti-filled magical moment right here at home. So. Sweet.

Friday, May 13, 2011


"Nurturing the Good in the world is nothing short of a privilege ...

You are writing the story of your own life every single minute of every single day"

(and Happy Birthday KGJ)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


You know they say it's Fight or Flight. I seriously just freeze. Maybe it's like I'm playing possum or something. Which if you haven't seen that technique in action, (like my hubby and I did a few years ago when our dogs cornered a possum) I'll just tell you, it doesn't work well.

Tomorrow I'm inheriting a level 2/3 class from a senior teacher who is moving out of the area. It has not been an Anusara-Inspired class (as I'm all we've got in town). But it is a class with a teacher that have been around FORever! It is actually the class I've been choosing to take lately. And to be honest, I'm a little daunted at the task of taking it on. Dude, these students really know what they're doing. I have to be ON MY GAME. And, this is the first class that I've ever inherited, all others I've built from the ground up. This teacher is an extremely tough act to follow with many years of experience. So, I'm a little frozen when it comes to class planning.
I kind of want it to be exactly just right and Perfect. And, the problem is, Perfect doesn't exist, so maybe I'll have to settle for doing my best instead. All I know at this point is that I'm going in there with the theme of cycles of life and of nature. Everything is created, exists, and dissolves... even our favorite yoga teachers in our favorite classes... this is the cycle of life, and yoga is about getting in tune with life, saying Yes to life, even when we'd rather say No.

With that thought in mind, I guess I'd better go find a pose or two to teach to any lovely lovely student who dares brave the substitute teacher in the morning. Not that I could teach them anything they don't already know.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Repertoire

It occurred to me lately that my own home practice is at a little bit of a stand still. I'm working deeply and subtly and am learning quite a bit that way. But at the same time I've reached a place where I have a level of competency in some poses and I'm "satisfied" with them, but am not particularly reaching out for more. Of course, there's no reason I have to reach for more. But why stop here?
In the past my excuse would always be "I don't have a teacher to lead me there." But that's kind of bunk. I don't have a Certified teacher, it's true. But I do have a mat, and the Syllabus poster, and Light on Yoga, and I do have some working knowledge of the general actions and principles needed for each class of the poses. Seriously, not having a teacher has in many ways been a huge gift and learning experience in relying on myself as the lead researcher in the experimentation that is getting on my mat each day.
I think I just don't go for more sometimes because it's easy not to. And because, if I am unable to do it right away, somehow I think I'm not meant to ever do it. One of the downsides of not being in classes regularly is that I forget the benefits of slowly working towards an eventual outcome.

It's time to commit to learning a new pose... or even an entire new level of syllabus. Levels 2 and 3 here we come.

In my experience, building the repertoire of poses (or life behaviors) takes only one thing. Repetition. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Repetition in the sort-of approximation of behavior sort of way. As in, get as close as you can to the pose you want and do it over and over and over again. I mean, it is called yoga Practice, right?
So if it's a handstand press-up (yes, I'd like to do that one day) stand there and try to do it with educated alignment, and also hang out on the wall for a while to build more strength and inversion time. Or if it's a deep hip opener like lotus, or leg behind the head... do the preparatory work to open the hips and then get as close as you can without force and strain and just hang out. The only two poses I ever really really wanted to add to my repertoire (my friend calls this pose lust) were Bakasana and Handstand kick-up to the wall. And the only way I finally got them into regular use was by trying over and over and over again. I literally committed to doing them each and every time I got on my mat. Over and Over and Over again. No judgement, just commitment. And move on when done. And then one day I just did the pose and it was done. (years after starting in the case of Bakasana)

And so I write this post as a reminder to myself to commit and get experimental on the mat again, and as a little reminder to you to do the same. Commit, try it out, and be easy on yourself. Let's see what happens. Anyway, just my thought as you start your week. Maybe you have a pose you're thinking of adding to your bag of yoga mat tricks: commitment and Grace and lightness of heart seem to be what get us there.

I think I'll pick 5 and see what happens. Here they are in random order:

Pinche Myerasana with no wall assistance
Surya yantrasana

(Ok, I probably should have picked from different categories, but this is what I'm pose-lusting after at the moment. And they are all ones which will require slow deliberate and committed practice to master. I'll let you know how it goes)

Contemplation: What poses are you jonesing to add to your repertoire and what are you doing to get there?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

for Mother Earth

"We're sitting on our blessed Mother Earth from which we get our
strength and determination, love and humility -- all the beautiful attributes
that we've been given. So turn to one another; love one another; respect one another; respect Mother Earth; respect the waters - because that's life itself." -- Phil Lane, Sr.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mommy! Mommy!

October 2008

When I first moved to town almost 10 years ago I held a job for about two years at a preschool. I was in the 3-year-old classroom and I particularly remember one day when a child came in and was very upset. She was standing in the corner with another teacher just crying over and over and over again: "I want my Mommy. I want my Mommy!" It wasn't an angry lashing out but a deeply deeply sad mournful cry. As if Mommy would never return. And I remember thinking as I watched my co-teacher assist her "I know exactly how you feel. I want my Mommy too."

Last year I was away at Teacher Training and everyone seemed to be having one crisis or another (YTT is a serious personal growth experience crammed into 5 days of HARD work). And I was there feeling that I was both in need of some mothering and not able to ask anyone around me for it. None had any to share (this is total fallacy I'm sure, but it was my feeling at the time). I could have called my own mother but somehow that didn't cross my mind.

Instead, as I was walking up the long hill towards the dorms where I was staying I stopped and ventured into the grass. Then just flopped myself down, almost face down, and literally poured my soul out to the Earth. Tears, some words, and the depth of my soul leaked out into the ground. And I felt totally and completely supported. Totally and completely safe. Totally and completely heard. And totally and completely nourished. Almost instantaneously.
A few moments later I rolled to lay with the back of my heart supported by the green grass and looked into the clear blue sky. As my breath deepened I was almost perfectly at peace.
That was the first time I really really felt and understood the name: Mother Earth.

From that experience of literally being mothered by the Earth I've gained a huge respect for Nature and our planet. And I worry about how much my life is disconnected from Nature. How hard it is to seek out wildness in the world. How difficult to get away from the noise of the city into open air.

I spoke to my mother lately about how we as adult children still really just want our Mommy, we want to be able to call or visit home and be kind of babies again. "Mommy Mommy please feel sorry for me and tell me everything is going to be alright." That we don't always want advice or problem solving or for her to worry, more just an ear to pour out our aches to. what a relief to have an ear like that to turn to. That's kind of a tall order for anyone, especially for a Mother. Mother's job description includes helping to solve all dilemmas, protecting your child from pain, never seeing your child in anguish, and worrying that your child will be alright at all times. To really be that ear that just hears and absorbs all the sorrows of life without necessarily trying to 'fix' is like the ultimate in difficult jobs. But on some level isn't that what we want? To be totally accepted as who we are as people, and to be able to be completely loved through our deepest of challenges. Maybe that's just what I want from the world.

And I think this is just what the Earth offers us. A chance to be completely ourselves. A chance to be the true animals that we are to show our true colors. And to be loved and supported and nourished at all times. As our society slips further and further away from our connections to the Earth, maybe we are losing this vital space of deep love and peace that is totally free for us to receive. Just thinking this way makes me very sad.
I hope to rekindle my connections to the Mother of us All, as she takes the form of Earth again and again and again through my life, and by my example lead my daughter to do the same. And in exchange to offer her the deepest respect, honor, and safeguarding I possibly can.

And so, as Mother's Day approaches this Sunday I honor my mother, and her mother and her mother, and all mothers who came before.... all the way back to the Mother of us All. I deeply deeply bow and honor you, Mother Earth. Namaste

Contemplation: What is your relationship to Earth as Mother?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Housekeeping: Connections

OK. Once in a while you get a housekeeping post. Nothing super crazy inspirational but more just here's what's up.... here's what you should know.

So, here's what you should know if you're wanting to stay connected with anything I've got going on, and with KulaRVA. (the Richmond Anusara peeps) Super easy!

  • Facebook it -- you can join the Richmond Anusara Kula on facebook. This is great for keeping up with the larger RVA Anusara stuff. AND I now have my own facebook page at SarahFischerYoga join me there to get little mini-reflections on my classes, short quotes, inspiration, and teasers for upcoming classes
  • Monthly Email -- Every month I send out the KulaRVA email that tells the schedule of anything going on that month or planned for the future. If you want to be added just shoot me an email at kulaRVA@gmail.com or leave your email address in the comments below.
  • Kula Jam! -- Come out! Every 3rd Saturday we have a kula practice party from 2 to 4 at Yoga Source. It is a gathering of all of us who are interested in Anusara and want to continue to play with it. It is totally informal and meant to be fun and community building. We keep it as a donation based class with a $10 suggested donation but as I say we'll accept $100 and we'll accept $0, we'd just love to see you.
  • My Website -- I don't do SO much with my website, but I do keep a calendar of events of anything local or regional going on. It's worth checking in there from time to time. I try to get things onto the blog, but often they go on the events calendar much further in advance than they go on the blog.
There you have it. Four ways to keep up with me and the rest of the Anusara peeps around Richmond. (And of course, the best way is always to get yourself to class and keep coming back, you'll make friends for life) Let's get together soon!

On Tendencies and Balance

This week's Sunday Level 2 practice was a deep hip opener class with emphasis on placing boundaries in order to experience greater freedom. A wonderful theme and sequence borrowed heavily from the John Friend DVD: Growing a Lotus. I'm finding that this theme of Boundary and Freedom has the capacity to really stir students up, especially if they're in a somewhat conflicted space already. And it can stir from either end.. either it challenges the student to build more boundaries, or it challenges the student to release boundaries and explore greater freedom. Both are scary, on the mat or off. And just to be clear here, it stirs me up too, it's not like because I'm the teacher I'm immune. No quite the opposite, I teach it perhaps because I'm struggling to get a grip on it somewhere in my own life.

So that idea of boundary/freedom reminded me and a friend about John's theming in PA (Nov 2010) on setting clear boundaries to enjoy freedoms in life. What he said that stuck out was: "sometimes you say No to say Yes" As in, Yes, I will be in a relationship with you, but NO you can't treat me that way if you want me to stay. Yes I will take this job, but NO i will not work more than 40 hours without compensation. You see how it goes. And we do this to become more skillful at living our lives and living from our hearts very clearly and directly.

Now if you're not much of a boundary setter, or you're an over-boundary setter, (and you'll probably find yourself on one of these spectrums) it can feel challenging to start to move towards healthy Yes and No Saying, healthy boundaries and freedoms. When we try to change our habitual behaviors it feels pretty icky! And that's why we often start trying something new and easily give it up OR we don't even try at all.

So thinking about this reminded me of John speaking on finding balance. He said, that to balance oneself you actually have to move into the areas you are not quite so comfortable in. And the reason to do this is because Balance equals Health. An unbalanced system is unhealthy and more susceptible to breakdown. It's like always brushing your teeth with the same hand, if you switched hands daily, you'd have a greater balance between sides. It feels weird to brush with the non-dominant hand, but it is leading to greater balance, not to mention stimulating the brain. Same as sitting with the opposite leg in front when crosslegged, or crossing the opposite fingers over top when hands are clasped. It feels weird, but brings balance. These are small examples but imagine if you only did lunges on one side when you practice Surya Namaskar, your body would be so completely out of balance you would become injury prone and probably pretty cranky very very quickly.

And so it is worth it to go out there and try some new ways of behavior that are leading towards a deeper alignment with your heart. Initially it may feel actually quite crazappy. But over time you're building a new skill that will hopefully help you to come into a greater place of balance... with yourself, your partner, and anyone else you're in relationship with. It may not be easy, actually, it WON'T be easy and it WON'T be a linear path. But it's all in the service of moving towards the true you living loud and clear.. I think it's worth the struggle personally.

Contemplation: What is my relationship to the themes of Boundary, Freedom, and Balance?

Edited a little later: This fabulous article is another way of talking about it all.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Workshop in Town

I am super excited to say that one of my favorite Anusara Yoga teachers, Lila Pierce Brown, is coming to town. So if you're in town it will be totally worth it to get out and come to one of the offerings she'll have during the weekend of May 14 and 15.

Saturday 5/14 will be at Om On yoga for two workshops
Sunday 5/15 will be at ACAC Midlothian for a 90 minute public class type workshop.
(Call either place for more info and to register)

What will also be fabulous is that her partner, Mark, will play live music for all of the sessions!

AND they and their doggie will be staying with me and my family for the weekend. Lila is a total sprite of loving Shakti and I'm so excited to share her with the community here, but even more excited to have some time to host her in my home and possibly to pick her brain about teaching and life etc

Along with her teaching gigs, she's also going to take and evaluate my Sunday morning class that week. We have to do a yearly evaluation for Anusara. I have to say I'm a little nervous, but I know Lila is totally loving... and I respect her greatly, so bring on the feedback.

Either way, I'm getting excited to have some good Anusara right here in town to participate in. What's coming up for you in the next few weeks?