Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday Quote (on Saturday)

Friday Quote: A regular offering of some words to ponder over the weekend. If you do the same in your space, leave a comment with a link so that we all may grow together.

I know, it's Saturday, but enjoy nonetheless....

"My own philosophy is love.
Yoga was a part of me reaching that full realization that
love is the ultimate thing, the only thing that lasts.
And yoga helps us realize the big questions of life,
and yoga helped me realize love is the answer"

- Ziggy Marley
Quoted in the September 2011
issue of Yoga Journal

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wild Thing, I KNOW I Love you!


Wild Thing in 2007

Wild Thing, Camatkarasana, the ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart -- is seriously, one of my most favorite poses in the entire world. I could practice this one all day from any angle and be happy happy happy.
I'm starting to teach it a bit more often as I find it is a wonderful pose for playing the edge. And I love it for introducing students who are new to Anusara to the joy of truly fully expanding into the play at the heart of this practice. I thought I'd share some tips for unlocking the pose if you're having trouble with it.

3 Tips for a Rockin' Wild Thing Pose:

1- Step back FAR -- on the bent leg side, step back way away from yourself. It's ok to go off the mat here to really get the reach. This will build a bigger, wider foundation to stabilize from. As long as you can still access Muscular Energy from that foot up into the pelvis, I say GO FOR IT!

2 - Step UP - also on the bent leg side, step not in alignment with your shin on the straight leg side, but step more towards alignment with your knee or even a little more. This allows greater leverage to push your hips towards the sky. It also sets you up to shift into Urdhva Dhanurasana if that is your next play.

3 - Elevate your Hips - Get them in the sky! from there you can drape your entire upper body up and over with a deep shoulder loop and curl yourself back towards the floor. But if the hips don't elevate, you're stuck because you're too close to the ground to have any space to back bend.

Those are the hints I've been giving students lately and I've found they've been more successful and found the unfolding more fully when they try these things.
So, if you get WILD in the next few days, let me know how it goes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Let me Help You



This week marks the beginning (again) of one of the big rites of passage for me and my daughter as we start (again) the process of potty training (her not me by the way). I say (again) because we've started this a few times in the last several months only to have it be cut short when she absolutely refused to do it, or when she got sick, or when we were to travel by airplane and that just didn't seem an appealing place for accidents to happen. Because this training process is full of accidents and laundry, you know.

In the past I wasn't quite in the right mental/emotional state to help her through what will be a big transition in her life. Some how I thought she'd just pick it up in 2 days and be done. And I figured she wasn't motivated and so that's why she would argue against it. And when it didn't happen in a few hours (have we talked about how I have ridiculous standards?) I thought maybe she just wasn't ready yet. But that wasn't the case.

Instead, this time, I'm ready. I'm totally open and ready and willing for this process to take as long as it takes, even if that means we don't leave the house for 3 weeks. And this time, I really really know and believe she can do it, and so I'm ready and able to support her and to apply a little loving pressure as needed.

In the past few days, we've had a little bit of success. Hooray! Conventional wisdom (and all my friends on facebook) says that when the child has success you instantly GO NUTS with excitement. Jump up and down, smile, scream, yell, hug, cheer, high five.. GO CRAZY!! and all of this is meant to encourage the child to do it again to get just the same amazing positive reaction.

Well, we went crazy and she sort-of freaked out. Instead of wanting to jump up and down with us, she wanted to keep it a secret. Instead of a party, she wanted to run away and cry. (sound like anyone you know, mom?)

Yesterday the truth came out that she is very very afraid. Because I was in the right mental/emotional space I was able to respond with love. To tell her that it's ok to be afraid, that she's trying something new and that's hard and I feel afraid when I do that too. To say the things I want to hear when I'm afraid myself... and to ever so gently encourage her again to try. I say what I've heard before... I know this is hard, and I know you can do it.

And so today, when success came again (hooray!) I let her keep quiet, I let her "not tell dad", I gave her a big hug and acknowledged her bravery, and we kept it on the DL (other than this blog, oops!) And a few minutes later she did her own celebration dance which I got to join in. And a few minutes after that she proudly told her dad who also reacted not with a giant party but with a hug and a high-five.

All of this finally brings me around to thinking about how we offer support. How often do I offer the support that is what I want to offer. A lot of times, I give the support that is easiest for me, or that I feel would most help in a situation but is not entirely tuned in to what is happening. In some way, I start to meet my own needs by trying to meet someone else's. If I'm offering only what I want to offer, or what I think is needed then, no matter my intention, I'm making it totally about me. Offering support and encouragement is not about me, period.

Instead of doing what I want to do, what I find is that I have to back off, to listen, and to ask. Sometimes people don't know or can't say what they need, and then I have to listen more to the other things they're saying and intuit what is needed but always, I have to get myself out of the way. When I'm out of the way, when I'm in the heart space of service no matter what is asked, I'm much better at giving support in a way that it can be received and is of value. I offer the actual support that is being asked for, that is needed for the situation. When this happens, people learn I can be trusted and I really love them, because their actual needs are getting met. (not the needs I think they might have).

So that's my plan for this week (and possibly the next and the next) get myself out of the way, so that I can be in service to support my daughter as she transitions up into the big girl world. And it's my plan for this life (and possibly the next and the next) get myself out of the way so that I can be in service to support all those I love, all those who cross my path, all those who step onto the mat in my care as they transition into the beings they wish to become.

Contemplation: How do you best offer support to those around you? What kind of support do you need when you are challenged?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Make Love Monday #4

Make Love Monday -- a mission to create a more loving world by being aware of how we interact with each other and choosing connection. Choose to connect with the offered practice sometime during the week and report back on how it goes.




It occurred to me lately that while many of the Make Loves will be about how to connect with people outside of yourself (my personal journey) plenty more could be about how to connect with the person who lives inside of yourself. You know, make Love to yourself. In honor of that realization, this week is a personal week.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is:

Have some Fun

For real. When is the last time you, as an adult, set aside an hour or two to do something not because you're supposed to or it makes you healthier, but just for the pure enjoyment of it. (ok, so it might just be 20 minutes) Caveats include that watching TV or using the internet, or going to the movies don't exactly count. Are you at a loss? If so, think back to when you were 5 or 8 or 10... where did you spend your day? What was your main mission? What brought you Joy? Try it. And if it's being in nature, don't just "go for a walk" actually sit on a swing or roll in the grass until you giggle, or dip your feet in a stream... well, you get the picture. Anyway, court yourself in the way only you know how. (and if you want to bring along a friend, please do, but don't get into heavy stuff, light, laughter filled conversation only, please)
Let me know how it goes!

Have a Make Love Monday tip? Hook me up! Send me an email at spack2@hotmail.com with MLM in the subject line. I'd love to share it (and if you get up on the blog you'll get a free class with me if you're in town, and something else awesome if you're not)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Away

video

I'm on vacation. See you next week!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Quote #8

Friday Quote: A regular offering of some words to ponder over the weekend. If you do the same in your space, leave a comment with a link so that we all may grow together.

Today, a little longer, almost a full poem, but where do you begin to cut and paste from a master??

Excerpt from Sunrise by Mary Oliver

... and I thought
how the sun

blazes
for everyone just
so joyfully
as it rises

under the lashes
of my own eyes, and I thought
I am so many!
What is my name?

What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it

whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter
fire.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Abundance

YUM!

These lovely tomatoes (and about as many more that have already been eaten) came to me by way of Mary yesterday. Mary is yet another lovely and inspiring spirit who comes to class each week. She said she was literally over run with tomatoes in her garden right now, so she brought some to me. What is so cool to me, other than how awesome that Mary thought to bring them, is that a few weeks ago I was thinking of telling the students that I'd take unwanted veggies --because due to the shadiness of my yard I can't grow them (and possibly my brown thumb has something to do with it too). So here she comes in with this great bag of tomatoes for me to totally relish in eating. So sweet.
Tomatoes as a gift of abundance, fullness. There was a lot of talk at the Grand Circle about fullness, purna, and abundance. This fullness of garden reminds me a lot of what Hareesh explained as the creation of all that is. In a paraphrase, he said that Shakti is so full, literally so entirely full of herself that she overflows. It is this overflowing that creates all that is manifest in this world. It is not created out of need, necessity, or desire. We exist simply because she is so full she chooses not to contain herself, and is totally delighted to continue to create without restriction, well past what is "needed."
I think any vegetable gardener this time of year in Virginia can completely relate to the overflowing quality of abundance. All I can say is I'm so grateful for it all... and doesn't it taste good?

Contemplation: Where is your cup overflowing today?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Holy Sweat!

I took a pranaflow class this morning. And, like the title of this post, what I can say is : Holy Sweat! Pranaflow with the windows open in Richmond in the summer -- even at 9:30 am -- is a very sweaty practice. Which is precisely why it was totally wonderful.

Some days and months and years I practice all in my little box. I LOVE Anusara (obviously) but there are times when I get so spun up in the principles and locked into my favorite sequences that the practice becomes dry, blocked, or just plain boring. I know this is a reflection of not being Open to Grace. And if I were attending class regularly I think this wouldn't happen quite so often, learning from an actual live teacher brings so much wisdom into my body. But as I'm not practicing with a teacher on a weekly basis right now, I have to do something to break through the binds.

Pranaflow class this morning offered that little shake up. There simply isn't time to luxuriate in slow in-depth movement through the 5 principles and 7 loops. There is barely time to breath one breath before diving from one posture to the next in a sequence that would hardly be John Friend approved. And that's why it is SO much fun for me. All the rules I follow go out the window and I am able to literally follow the prana around on my mat until I am totally exhausted in a sweaty, open, hot-mess on the floor. It is liberating and a little rebellious. Throw the rules out the window into the 90 degree day. ALL of them and just sweat and enjoy moving. Ah!

I am not particularly inspired, I am not moved to make myself and the world a better place, I don't hugely feel connected or even aware of the others I practice with, I could honestly hurt myself if I didn't know how to align. I am definitely not anywhere near having a spiritual experience in the way that I have come to know having them. BUT when I practice in that class and leave it I am so deliciously IN my body, and in movement, conversation, and pulsation with all the cells in my body, none of that stuff matters. I'm not giving up Anusara anytime soon. I will, however, be frequenting pranaflow class every time I could use a little shake up in my body and practice.

Whew! Pass the water please!

Contemplation: How do you break free from ruts in your practice? What shakes up your life (in a good way)?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Make Love Monday #3

Make Love Monday -- a mission to create a more loving world by being aware of how we interact with each other and choosing connection. Choose to connect with the offered practice sometime during the week and report back on how it goes.




Today's tip comes from Audra. She's a lovely lovely lady who also happens to practice with me often, so I'm extra lucky to know her in person, not just online.

Audra's tip for sharing more love is:

Write a handwritten note

This one is timely for me because just yesterday after class a student brought me a print out of an email he'd received. On the email he wrote a kind little note reminding me again of how he has connected repeatedly with a teaching I offered back in the spring. It struck my heart that he took the time to print out the email and put it in an envelope for me, but it struck me even more that he actually included his own thought with it. So very kind and totally personal.

I think that's a part about the offering of more love. It is taking time to give personal recognition and attention to those in our lives, or those who cross our paths in the moment. The personal attention is something that we seem to be short on giving and receiving these days, so if you can do it with a tiny little note or a super long letter this week, you just might make someone you love's day. Let me know how it goes, and I'll keep you posted too.

Have a Make Love Monday tip? Hook me up! Send me an email at spack2@hotmail.com with MLM in the subject line. I'd love to share it (and if you get up on the blog you'll get a free class with me if you're in town, and something else awesome if you're not)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dive In

I'm sitting facing the wrong way, setting up to teach my Sunday morning class. Some students have already taken their seats, others are milling about not paying attention. Why am I facing my back to the door? I notice someone with white hair come in and take a seat. Holy Crap! It's John Friend. John Friend is in my class! This is new, he's usually spinning me around by my wrists, or teaching me something amazing, or passing me on the street.
We take our seats. John Friend is in my class. I begin, only I don't bother to unfold my theme and heart-virtue, I just launch right into eyes-closed centering. Some students still aren't even in their seats. What am I doing!?! I finish, we open our eyes, and John launches into reminding me that I didn't introduce the theme... and all the other ways I did not start the practice properly.

Thank God I wake up and take a deep breath.

To say I am intimidated by John would be the understatement of the year. I assume he's awesome and a wonderful teacher to be in direct relationship with. I've also heard stories that make me quite afraid to out myself to him as a prospective Certified Teacher. It's all good, he has standards to uphold and I totally respect that. I see my fear as a way of letting me know I'm probably not quite ready.

But it's on the way. One day I WILL have to out myself. I will have to stand up very firmly and uphold my belief that I can be a Certified Teacher, to prove to him and anyone else that I am worthy to be a Certified teacher. Right now, though I just completed all the hours I need and technically could go for it, right now is not yet the time and I know it. I figure when I feel confident having any Certified teacher walk into my class without it throwing me off my game, and my game being a Rocking Anusara Class, that will be the time to tell John I'm ready to go.

Two days after my dream the first teacher I'd ever had in this method walked through the door and into my class. It's the closest I can get to having John walk in right here in Richmond. Shock, Awe, Humility.... A big reminder from the Universe. Time again to dive in even deeper. The student molded again and again into the teacher I am meant to be one day.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Quote #7

Friday Quote: A regular offering of some words to ponder over the weekend. If you do the same in your space, leave a comment with a link so that we all may grow together.


photo by Andrew Eccles

"When we dance, the leg doesn't want to always go
happily into the air - frankly, it would rather be on the ground.
But there's something about the effort it takes
to achieve beauty that makes magic."


-Robert Battle,
Choreographer, and new director
of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Quoted in O July 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Apologies

John Friend describes apologizing after teaching his first class. "I'm sorry" "I'm so sorry." That's how I feel after I teach Hip Openers. I don't know what the deal is but I feel like I have to apologize for teaching a big long hip opening sequence. What is funny about it is that John says that those students in the first class enthusiastically thanked him for the practice... and, that's exactly what happens to me after I teach a Hip Opening sequence. People look at me with a far off dreamy gaze and utter words of thanks in a way that let's me know it was an effective practice for them. It's usually something along the lines of: "That was SOOOO good." and it's said in a way that might make my husband suspicious if he didn't know what we were up to. I assume they then make the way home and off into bed and hopefully into a deep deep sleep with a deeply soothed body and mind. (this would be for the evening classes)

And so, comes the confession. I've been a Hip Opening slacker in the last few years. As I've attended fewer classes and been on my own for practice, I just haven't done them as often. It's partially because my hips are pretty darn open, especially after having a baby. And it's also because I haven't seen the value. And I hate to confess to not seeing the benefit, and even to being remiss in any part of my practice. But, after probably almost 3 years of slacking on Hip Openers I'm finding a new appreciation for them in the life of my practice.
Here's what Hip Openers have been doing for me lately:
  • Increasing circulation in my legs, hips, pelvis, and lower back
  • Increasing range of motion in those places
  • Promoting a general sense of calm peacefulness and even groundedness
  • Releasing stored creative energy
  • Improving digestion
  • Increasing apana and therefore decreasing anxiety
  • Increasing my energy level in a very calm way
  • Calming my brain enough that I get quiet enough to actually let go for a while (soothing my nervous system and deeper into my koshas I believe)
  • Promoting stillness in my body, which I seldom experience except if I'm asleep

And well, I just feel better when I make sure to keep them as a steady, regular part of my practice. They aren't super showy. They aren't a huge aerobic workout. The general ones don't particularly challenge me (but that's just in my mind, taking class with Desiree Rumbaugh two weeks ago alerted me to my own negligence on building power through hip opening). But they do calm, relax and re-energize me every time I practice them. Who wouldn't want that?

And so, I think it's time to introduce hip openers more regularly to my classes and to stop apologizing for it. Ya'll get ready... creativity and peace are about to crack wide open in the seat of your hips!

What is your favorite Hip Opening posture and why? And what benefit do you get from a hip opening practice?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Make Love Monday #2

Make Love Monday -- a mission to create a more loving world by being aware of how we interact with each other and choosing connection. Choose to connect with the offered practice sometime during the week and report back on how it goes.


Today's tip also, a sweet and easy one.

Welcome Others

Try it when you're sitting in your normal class and somebody new comes in (especially if you're not the teacher). Do you remember back to middle school, being in the lunchroom and not knowing who to sit with? Yeah, it's not such a great feeling. So welcome others into your yoga class, your lunch table at work, your home if you know a friend is struggling, your girlfriend date, or into your holiday plans if you're celebrating today.

This is one that I struggle with because I think of myself as Shy. But after spending time with some amazing Certified teachers I see how much of an impact it can be to feel welcomed into a group. Lila put it beautifully: I don't like to be exclusionary of anybody.
So look for a chance or many chances to welcome someone this week and see what happens. You might just make a life long friend! Leave a comment to let me know how it goes.

Have a Make Love Monday tip? Hook me up! Send me an email at spack2@hotmail.com with MLM in the subject line. I'd love to share it (and if you get up on the blog you'll get a free class with me if you're in town, and something else awesome if you're not)