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Yoga – EVERY.DAMN.DAY

“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.”  Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

I practice yoga EVERY DAMN DAY – just like the hashtag on social media says.  I also teach yoga classes, public and private.  My teaching is not my personal practice, nor is my daily practice my teaching – for the most part.  Each influences the other, and many times my clients are my teachers in ways for which I am most grateful.

People often assume I’ve a sexy, glorious, flexy-bendy personal practice.  Let’s clear that one up ASAP – it’s ugly, brilliant, dirty, surprising, frustrating, astounding – I get mad, I laugh, I cry, I’m ecstatic, and it never ends as I imagined when starting.  Some days it’s a challenge to get on my mat, be it time or lack of desire, some days it’s a sweet relief and over too soon.  Sound familiar?  But I do my best to get in a daily practice, even if its just a few moments of breathing.

My body is not what it was 20 plus years ago when I started this journey.  In most ways, it’s better and I’ve an honest appreciation for the miracle of my body/mind/spirit, and I love it way more than I did in those early days.  In other ways, it doesn’t bounce back as easily nor does it open up as quickly, and I’m cognizant of my known ‘quirks’, like that wrist I broke a few years ago, my cranky knees, and that too much backbending makes my digestion go haywire.

Yet I practice daily in some form or manner, and my go-to practices are the ones I teach regularly.

Restorative and/or Yin Yoga – I do a restorative and yin type of morning practice usually 4-5 days a week, but often have a short night practice to reconnect with my mind and release the day. I choose to do this to bring balance to the fire of my day, by mindfully practicing lunar poses to help set the tone of the day.  Allowing my body/mind/spirit to open and curate a healing sense around sunrise helps me balance the chaos of a full-time job, teaching yoga classes, and constant studying/trainings I immerse myself in. I close my day out most often with a supported restorative pose or two, to release, calm my mind, and prepare for sleep.

Dynamic Yoga – My go-to fire/tapas practice is Ashtanga Primary series, with some Bikram and random creative poses peppered in.  I like the pace, the challenge, the tradition and philosophy behind it – and the fire. This is also educational for my body, as I move and balance through the poses, I am able to tell how I am treating my body with nutrition and rest, good breathing practices, and if I’m meditating regularly.  This is my regular weekend practice and maybe on an easy weekday as its a good way to wake up.   This also can be frustrating, as I can no longer do the jump-throughs like I used to due to wrist issues, nor do I push myself like I did 10 years ago due to lower back issues.  This is the practice that makes my body light up, sweat like no one’s business, and yet I have to watch the fire I light, as I don’t bounce back like I used to.  But, the savasana is sooo sweet and tasty after 90 or so minutes of tapas/fire.

Meditation – I am heavily meditated.  I meditate twice a day, in the morning and at night, and I try to get in a short practice during lunch when I’m at work.  My practice, which I’ve been doing in some manner for most of my life, isn’t overly formal. I sit in quiet and breathe (many times with a cat or two on my lap), I walk slowly outside, I lay in my yard and stare at the stars or clouds, I lay with legs up the wall and my hand over my heart, or sometimes I just close my eyes, feels all the feels, and breathe. This practice is most important to me the older I get, as just being present is the hardest and easiest practice.

Pranayama/breathing technologies – My first yoga teacher training really homed in on this practice, and now I couldn’t imagine my life without it.  Purposely breathing can lift the spirit, slow or speed up the mind/body, calm the digestion, awaken vitality, and simply bring balance.

I don’t physically practice when I teach yoga, but I do practice mindfulness, presence, and restraint, as my focus is on my clients.  These days I am rarely on the mat, unless to demo a pose or show a prop setup, as I’m interacting with the energy of my clients and the space I am holding.  Yet during these times, I am the student as much as I am the teacher.  I learn from my clients, from how they hold a pose, present their energy, how they open up, and what is holding them back, be it body/mind/spirit.  I’ll be honest, I’ve learned some pretty creative hacks from my clients, as we all handle yoga, much like life – in our own way.

What is your daily practice?  What are your challenges in having a daily practice?

“Through daily yoga practice we can become present to our own fundamental goodness and the goodness of others.”  Donna Fahri

Walking in Circles ….a Labyrinth Meditation

The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.  With each step, the wind blows.  With each step, a flower blooms.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

When I was at Duke Integrative Medicine in June, I was pleasantly surprised to see a labyrinth on campus. The setting was serene and beautiful, peaceful and intriguing, and both quiet and noisy from the surrounding trees and nature.  Taking time almost daily during lunch or breaks, I did walking and sitting mediations. This was a new experience for me, and it was delicious to the mind, body, and spirit.

Why are these so magical?

· Labyrinths such as this are a patterned path, usually circular in form.  Historically, circles are considered universal symbol of wholeness, completion, and unity.

· They are created to be unicursal, meaning there is only one entrance and the path leads in one direction.  The path is arranged so the walker moves back and forth across the forms through a series of curves, ending at the heart or center.

· Labyrinths have been found in many cultures around the world, including ancient India, Spain, Peru, Egypt, and China.  Archeologists have found most were created on sacred grounds and used for spiritual journeys or pilgrimages of all sorts.

· As one is walking a set path, this encourages the brain to suspend logical thoughts, analysis, and planning – left brain activity – as one doesn’t have to figure out where to go.  This encourages the right brain to surge forward allowing for intuition, imagination, and creativity on the journey.

· Research has found the walking puts one in touch with simple body rhythms. With the physical movement on a set path, the walker can notice the breath and patterns, the footfall, and reorientation of the body as one moves through the curves.

· The overall pattern of movement in labyrinth walking due to the organization – starting outside and moving in to the heart holds deep symbolic meaning for many people.

· The setting is simple and organized, many times quiet or in a reserved location, allowing one to go deep inside.

I made a simple ritual of my walks.  Prior to entering the labyrinth, I cleared my mind as much as possible, took a few deep cleansing breaths, and clasped my hands in a mudra, sometimes as simple as prayer hands or hands over heart.  During the walk, I continued with the deep breaths and simply observed as much as possible with all senses – listening, seeing, tasting, feeling, hearing.  Upon entry into the heart, if no one else was there, I took a seat and let the vibrations from my senses and walking reverberate within my body.

This photo is me laying the heart of the labyrinth, yoga stoned beyond belief, after a walk and 10-minute seated meditation.  And yes, that is likely a bit of drool from the corner of my mouth.

Have you ever been within a labyrinth?  What was your experience?  I’d love to hear your experience, shoot me a DM, post a message, or email me!

The labyrinth does not engage our thinking minds. It invites our intuitive, pattern-seeking, symbolic mind to come forth. It presents us with only one, but profound, choice. To enter a labyrinth is to choose to walk a spiritual path.”- Lauren Artress

Daily Mindfulness – Why/What/Where/How?

Cambridge Dictionary – “The practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm.”

Lifehacker – “Mindfulness has many synonyms. You could call it awareness, attention, focus, presence, or vigilance. The opposite, then, is not just mindlessness, but also distractedness, inattention, and lack of engagement.”

Have you ever driven to work, a friend’s house, or run errands – and upon arrival, have no idea how you got there?

Have you ever spent a day busy, but didn’t accomplish much?

In our day and age, our systems become overloaded…  much like the Wi-Fi at home…  with the various connections, interactions, demands of energy, output of energy, noise, lights, and more.

The practice of daily mindfulness is being aware of each moment and action, getting the most out of your time and the time of others.  I will be hosting a workshop every couple of months at Renkon Studio on how to recognize ways to carve out moments and activities that will help you focus and become more efficient while stressing less.

Topics will include:

  • How to create a practice for yourself – doing much of what you already do each day!
  • How to calm yourself when it becomes overwhelming
  • Tips and tricks to keep you on task and to reduce anxiety
  • How to capture each moment and enjoy the most of it
  • Physical, mental, and spiritual benefits
  • Hacks on best ways to do it – and easy ways to get back to it when the wheels fall off (and they do!)

I’d love to have you join this discussion, in a comfortable setting, focused on YOU and empowering you to start, continue, or go deeper into your practice.  We’ll discuss the preconceived notions of mindfulness, and get to the reality – meaning, how you can add this to your busy life and easy hacks to get more done (yes, it can happen!). 

Meditation – why/what/where/how?

Have you ever been frustrated with a piece of technology, like your phone, computer, home wi-fi or cable? And after numerous attempts at trying to ‘fix’ it, you end up shutting it off for a few minutes, walking away… then come back to turn it on and magically, it works?

Meditation is similar, but the technology impacted – before, during, and after – is your mind, body, and spirit.

In our day and age of incredible technology, our systems become overloaded… much like the Wi-Fi at home… with the various connections, interactions, demands of energy, output of energy, noise, lights, and more.

What is meditation?

A state in which the body is consciously relaxed and the mind is able to become calm, focused and free from distraction.

“Meditation can be daily hygiene for the soul, clearing out stress anxiety, and emotional blockages from our mind and body. Mediation has been referred to as a “mental shower”, cleaning and cleansing the mind.”

Only good comes from meditation. Only good.

Why is it good?
  • Meditation allows your “thinking mind” to take a break from itself. Quiets the noise of the mind. Gives your nervous system a chance to wind down.
  • Calms the waves – when the swirl of emotions and thoughts stop, clarity begins.
  • Focus improves – first, only get used to focusing on one item, but will help with distractions in future.
  • Love yourself – if you can observe your own thoughts and be a third party to them, and see how badass you are…
  • Awake and present – you can focus on observing life.
  • More relaxed and at ease – numerous articles by smart folks that its good for you.
  • Study yourself. Get to know yourself. Love yourself. After all, you are stuck with yourself your
    entire life.
Benefits
  • Calms your entire being, leading to a calmer you!
  • Reduces stress, able to handle stress better
  • More compassionate
  • Able to see things from other points of view
  • More energy
  • Able to be present
  • Focus on one thing at a time
  • Grounding
  • Stabilizes the mind
  • Increase vitality, emotional stability
  • Develops full awareness – the mind is at peace yet highly alert
  • Harvard scientists saw brain changes after 8 weeks of daily meditation.

I’m hosting a meditation workshop on Saturday, 2.16.2019 1-2:30pm. I’d love to have you join this
discussion, in a comfortable setting, focused on YOU and empowering you to start, continue, or go deeper
into your practice. We’ll discuss the preconceived notions of meditation, and get to the reality –
meaning, how you can add this to your busy life and carve out 5-10 minutes once or twice a day* to turn
off your systems, give them a break, and come back renewed.

*I’m a yoga teacher, know that I will of course endorse longer and more frequent – but let’s start you off
easy. 🙂