Monday, October 31, 2011

On Hallowe'en

Costume party a few years ago... ok maybe more than a few.. yikes!

A few years ago we went to a costume party for Halloween. My husband dressed as a mexican wrestler, complete with full mask over his entire head and face. My eye make-up made me a little less recognizable to some (apparently, well, it was a dark night and people may have been drinking) and so for much of the party we had real fun having people try to guess our 'real life' identities. Especially with my husband it was a thrilling game.. he wouldn't even speak until people figured out his true identity.

As our friends tried to figure it out they sometimes became frustrated... but mostly joined in the fun of the game and of the task at hand. Once they figured it out, laughs all around and all joyful merriment of a Halloween party for grown-ups with no kids yet. Even still, through the entire night, my husband never did take off his mask. It wasn't until we got home that he finally showed his face to me again and I had the relief of seeing that yes, it really was him all along.

Yeah, that's kind of how the One works in this Tantrik system. As you know, the One is in the many. The One is all of us but she is hidden within us in plain sight and so, we forget that we are actually Her. Totally forget it. It's like we all have on our Mexican wrestling masks and don't know or see who we are or who anyone else is. The teaching that goes with this that I love is: The One Citi-Shakti, conceals herself within all of the manifest world simply for the DELIGHT of Revelation. This life is one big giant Halloween party where the One is each of us in our masks enjoying the play of the guessing game and hoping to finally reveal herself as she is. She does it on purpose, for FUN. And so for us, the fun, the candy and the treats come when we learn to see past the mask and even take it off, even if only for an instant, to reveal the Universe sparkling within all that is. But we can also take a lesson from Shakti-Ma and learn to enjoy the Game too. Not just craving the revelation moments, but also the wandering and the guessing. We already know the answer so why not enjoy the search and the waiting for the mask to come off too? And, of course, the power that reveals... the hand that removes the mask for us at any moment is Shakti's Grace.

There is some superstition or maybe it's wisdom, I'm not up on this stuff just yet, that says that tonight, Halloween, and the next few nights, the veil between the world of Spirit and of Humanity, or maybe that the line between Concealment and Revelation is a lot less solid. That there is much more interconnection, maybe even greater instances of Grace in these times. During a spiritually potent time such as now if we are Open to Grace we have a greater shot at removing the mask and seeing all that Is. Tonight when I'm out in the cold and the dark, when I'm not wishing for warmth and light, I hope to fix my mind again on Grace. Open to her wisdom and notice just what she chooses to reveal to me.

Happy Hauntings... may you have many many treats this year!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Clearing

The other day I mentioned that the rhythm of Autumn really is about clearing and cleaning up. I truly am amazed that I've never noticed or thought about Fall in this way. It makes me really excited and happy to finally figure it out.

I thought I'd bring you 5 Fall Clearing tips to use for yourself as you get yourself prepped for Winter this year.
  1. Do Twisting Postures -- If you're a yogi you already know, twists are where it's at to clean out your system. Seated or standing they have incredible benefits for moving toxins right out and balancing the entire body and nervous system. To go for even more cleansing get a sweat on every day or so.
  2. Yoga Nidra -- I describe YN as Yoga Hypnosis. A more accurate description can be found here. But I highly recommend an ongoing practice of Yoga Nidra at this time of year for the profound rest it can bring. Also, setting an intention of release of what no longer serves you might just open up some new space deep in your energy bodies.
  3. Spot Clean -- Pick just one spot in your living space that is making you crazy and CLEAN IT UP. Maybe it's a pesky closet, or a disorganized drawer, maybe your shoes are out of control... whatever it is, take an evening and clean it. I promise you you will be amazed by the resulting mental clarity and ease that will come when you have a little more order in your space.
  4. Food Check -- Even if only for a few days try some way of cleaning up your diet. You don't have to do a full-on detox/cleanse to get some remarkable results. Just add in more fruits or veggies or try kicking chocolate for 3 days straight. Even drinking more water can have profound effects on your mental functioning and physical experience.
  5. Have that Conversation -- You know the one I mean. The one that is bouncing around in your head causing you stress/anxiety/lost sleep/irritation/anger/frustration... etc. That one. If it's in there causing you strife it is blocking you from moving forward. Have it out and see how the air will clear.
These all are falling under the Sauca heading for me. Sauca (one of Patanjali's Niyamas) in terms of not only cleanliness, but purification, and Clarity. I've been at some of these for a while now, but will be trying to keep it going and even add in a little more in the next few days. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Autumn's Reminder

Autumn - how have I never noticed the natural clearing time that is Autumn?

I feel like I have missed out on Nature's great secret -- the Cleaning comes in Autumn, not spring. Spring is to Grow... Autumn is to crash down and tear out and make way.
(We Americans are so backwards)

Shedding, Dropping, Scaling back
Letting go, Releasing, Setting free,
Clearing out, Cleansing, Withdrawing,
Going back to the Source

.... All the work of Autumn as she prepares us for the inevitability of Winter.

It has occurred to me lately that if I use my yoga as just another place to hold on and achieve without steeping in the deeper lessons - if I get the pose but not the sentiment - then I am lost. Because, one day Handstand and Hanumanasana, cute clothes, packed classrooms, and exciting workshops will all be a distant memory. I will shed them with the increase of my years like red leaves finally floating to Earth. Bare bones, empty branches, I'll be like everyone else... still here, still with myself.

I hope this life of yoga will amount to more than mourning the passing of youth and a grasping reliving of the glory days. I hope Grace will guide me somewhere deeper, where the letting go is joyfully matched by a letting in and by Delight in all I've learned.

I hope that by the time the poses are dropping from me like leaves from the trees these lessons on compassion, beauty, wonder, joy, commitment, openness, forgiveness, and especially LOVE are so deeply rooted into the wood of my Being that they stay when all else goes.
Yes, this is more than just a physical practice I'd say. Much more.
This is spiritual training of the deepest sort.
May I be constantly reminded ... let go of the pose. Let go into Grace of Heart... "go there and roam."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rooting to Find Joy!

Cooking brings me Joy!

This fall I doubled my load of weekly classes from 2 to 4. For the most part, I love it because I'm truly loving teaching right now. But sometimes, it's a little challenging to come up with 4 themes for the week. And I know I could re-use themes, and I do, but often each class is doing something different and needs to hear something different.. the same old theme just won't work.
This morning I found myself in my kitchen without inspiration for either of the two classes I am to teach this evening. The sequences and plans are all laid, I just don't know how I'm going to inspire students and touch their hearts. So, I went back to the beginning and asked: What do I want them to feel, and get from this or any class?
and my answer was that I really want people to Love their Lives! I want them to get excited and inspired during the practice and for that to bubble over into excitement and inspiration towards loving their lives!!
(that solved the theme problem)

I think back to what Todd often says which is: The way to happiness is to figure out what you Love and to find a way to spend more time with it. Do what you Love and you will be Happy.

I have to agree. This year has been a year of rooting myself and grounding myself into my own life. A year of finding out what is important to me and letting what isn't important fall away like the leaves off the trees. As I come to the autumn of this year of hugging-in I can tell you I am WAY happier in my life than I was just last year at this time. I'm extremely more at home in my life and it is because I'm constantly clearing away what does not serve me and moving always towards what makes me happy. That means I turn off the TV more often and pick up my sewing projects. I get off the internet and settle onto my mat. I don't bother with people who aren't bothering with me and put my energy into those who I love and adore. And I step away from facebook to give the time and attention to class planning and presentation that is needed for a kick-butt class. My life is rocking in a way it never rocked before. Because I'm actually IN it and am carving out moment by moment the time and space to do what just makes me happy.

Thing is, when we ground ourselves and root ourselves into what brings us joy there is an automatic opening. Our hearts swell and overflow because our soul is getting so deeply fed. When the heart is swollen to overflowing that's when we know we're tapping into Source and making our way, even briefly into connection with the deepest joy, Ananda, that is the ground of being for all of existence. And that, my friends, is a good enough reason for me to get on the mat time and time again.

Contemplate: What brings me joy and how can I do more of it? (and if you don't know what brings you joy... think about when you were 5 or 10 years old, what brought you joy then? it will probably bring you joy now too)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Quote

You are what your deep driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will. As your will, so is your deed.
As your deed so is your destiny.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV 4.5

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just can't Stop!!

Once again, I'll call your attention to a beautiful Anusara yoga teacher on the cover of Yoga Journal. I told my husband that Elena Brower was on the cover and his reaction was: 1. why do I know that name? and 2. ANOTHER Anusara teacher? -- I have to say, that speaks volumes because my husband is decidedly NOT a yoga guy but could tell you anything you want to know about BMWs...
There she is, Beautiful, Vibrant, RADIANT Elena Brower out of NYC but found all over the world these days, I think.

I have to admit, I seriously adore her. At the moment, in many ways, she's sort-of my yoga idol... and I'm amazed at that because I've never had one before. As today is her birthday I figured I'd comment on some of the ways she rocks:

  • She tells it like it is. All the time. And she's been doing that for a long long time
  • She makes Anusara her own
  • When I took class with her at the Grand Circle she took the time to 1. learn each and every students' name and 2. thank all the people who were over her age of 40 for even listening to anything she had to say
  • The next day after class at the Grand Circle she took the time to wave and greet me individually as I walked into a different class.
  • She has a vibrance and radiant light that is apparent even via the internet
  • She is a Woman and a Mother
  • And she openly talks about the journey that Handel Group life coaching took her on and how it has transformed her life.
I want to be like that in my life on the mat and off. I want to be authentic and radiant in my authenticity. Brilliant in my knowledge and practice while kind and attentive of heart. I am in awe and inspired by her on so many levels which I think is a good thing. I'm happy actually to have a positive woman role model in the world of Yoga. Glad she is standing up and becoming a leader so that the rest of us can do it for ourselves too. So, Happy Birthday Elena -- Keep shining the goodness!!

Who do you Admire in your own work or play???

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

3 years

Babe turned 3 today... this morning a little after 10am actually. It marks the 3 year anniversary of the single most sweeping and total change to ever take place in my life. It marks the 3 year anniversary of really needing a yoga "fix" just about every day. And the 3 year anniversary of the beginning of the continuously unfolding experience of the phrase: "living your yoga off the mat." Thank the good goddess Babe loves to dress up in princess dresses and twirl around in a tiara to end her day each day. No matter what has happened in the last 12 hours she is a constant reminder of how to look for the good and live in joy and wonder. Happy Birthday to the princess!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I got confirmation today that Anusara really is an organization that I love and feel I want to represent in the world.
A few weeks ago I was accepted into the workshop John will be offering in College Park, MD. I got my confirmation email, sort-of noted that the payment deadline was approaching, and went along my merry way. Well, all weekend this weekend I kept thinking about that workshop and that I'd better go ahead and pay for it... but, of course, I never did.
Last night around 8pm I opened my email to find I'd missed the payment deadline which was last Friday. OMG!!! And, that I'd needed to pay by 3pm yesterday to reserve my spot. Oh NO!!
This is incredibly embarrassing because I've been making a huge deal about how awesome it is that John is going to be teaching so close to RVA. How great it will be to carpool up there and actually represent RVA with a group of us at the workshop. I convinced a friend to challenge herself to do both mixed and int/adv with me (not a small price tag either) and on and on.... And now, I'm not going to be able to go? OH CRAP!!
I was embarrassed and totally annoyed with myself. REALLY? How could I let this slide. THIS of all things!
Luckily, Anusara is awesome. This morning I called Donna (who handles all things workshop) she pulled me up in the computer, took my payment over the phone and gladly assured me all was well. What was great about it too was that she didn't make me feel bad or even seem lightly annoyed that I was giving her this extra work to do. She seemed genuinely sweet and kind.
And that's what I love. I missed the deadline, I messed up. And yet, I'm granted a second chance, I haven't lost out and am not in big big trouble for it. This is a lovely organization. I'm happy to be a part of it.
And, I'm ready to ROCK with John in a few weeks!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Make Love Monday #13

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.You've heard it a million times before, and it sounds a little crazy.. but I swear to you it can start to change your whole day.

Look into your own Eyes in the mirror and say "I Love You"

(Do it aloud) Watch your pupils dilate, feel a smile creep over your lips and a warmth spread through your body. It is a simple simple practice of putting the vibration of love --not hate and disappointment-- into the fabric of your cells. I tell you, it can change you. And if you're at all paying attention you'll notice, as you change everyone around you does too. So take a few minutes and try it today, no matter how weird it seems. I promise you'll feel better, I know I always do.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Quote

We are meant to move toward whatever gives us fulfillment,
personal growth, and freedom. We are born knowing what activities,
things, thoughts, and feelings are associated with these qualities.
We must learn to trust ourselves and know that we can naturally
move towards that which is healing and fulfilling.

-Christiane Northrup, M.D.
Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom 2010

Committed to Joy

I've been teaching this week from a different space of mind/heart. I'm not sure what exactly made the shift come, but it's there and I'm enjoying it and also feeling more effective... so I'll definitely not complain. Thing is, it makes me really really happy to teach and especially to teach from my authentic heart. REALLY HAPPY!

As I was planning for my new beginner class this week I was thinking about using Commitment as our focus. That as inspiration to come to the midline and stay there. But then I thought, well, why do we want to commit? What are we really committing to in asana practice? What can a beginner grasp as something worth committing energy to the midline? And the answer became abundantly clear: Happiness. Joy. Delight. Ananda.

We hug in with greater and greater commitment to the place in the middle where the Joy lives!
I've taught commitment theme before and gotten great results from students, but adding in the Joy piece took it to a new level. Now we're not just committing to practice committing but also to bring ourselves into greater alignment with our hearts and that (for me at least) equals greater and greater happiness.
Todd says Happiness is an Inside Job. And I'm inclined to agree. The more I stay committed to listening to my own inner wisdom, the wisdom of my body and heart; the more I stay committed to shutting down the ISBC; the more I stay committed to following Grace wherever she may lead... The more blissful I become.
So that's the challenge.. Find what makes you happy, and commit to that. No one else will do it for you, commit and see what happens.
Love, Ya'll.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Make Love Monday #12

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.

This one is kind of tricky but can be very effective for opening our hearts and expanding our brightness in this world. It's tricky because it can feel uncomfortable at times to do this, but I find it very very important.
Today's MLM is to:
Brag about Yourself

Do it with a friend to listen and then switch and let your friend brag back to you. I know, bragging sounds a little crazy. How is that going to make the world a better place, you ask? Well, my feeling is that we keep our accomplishments on the DL and then complain at a high volume quite often. What this does is keep us in a routine of complaint and diminishing ourselves. Instead, if we could each have at least one person where we could talk about how proud of ourselves we are, how amazed and happy we are about any accomplishment (emotional and spiritual ones too) it would brighten the day and the light we are able to share.
It's great to find a friend to do this with because then your friend gets the turn to be happy and proud of herself as well. It's important to do that for yourself, OFTEN.
You are awesome, your friend is awesome... there is plenty of awesome to go around. Let's start talking about THAT and see how much better we feel and brighter the world seems.
I challenge you to start right here (or on my FB page) leave a comment and let me know one thing you're proud of yourself for in the last week, month, year... your whole life. Go for it my friends... I"ll be cheering you on!!