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.
  • 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. 🙂

“No, for now”

There’s a statement a very wise woman once shared with me that goes something like…”no, for now”

If you’re a mama who follows me on Facebook as well as one who has attended one or both of my Sunday yoga offerings you might notice that my classes are no longer available on the Studio site or app.

I’ve been teaching Prenatal Yoga as well as Baby & Me Yoga for over a year and I love these practices and the folks they serve so very well. There’s been a struggle to get more engagement and sustained attendance and I think it has everything to do with it being really hard for expectant and postpartum folks to feel as if space in their lives, potentially away from other children, leaving others in charge is okay and even incredibly vital to take for your health and well being.

I taught MANY classes to just one mama, or just one mama and her baby and was privileged to do so. Every time I did a mama would say, “I’m sorry you had to show up just for me!” and I would tell her A.that it’s Renkon Yoga Studio policy that we hold space for even just one client which is what makes it a special and beautiful place where yoga isn’t a luxury or treat,it’s flowing in and out of each and every offering and B.That SHE showed up and that if SHE showed up for herself,I could certainly show up for her.❤️

I have also spent many Sunday’s now away from my people, turning down opportunities to connect and re-fill my cup and after a particularly difficult Sunday where I knew baby was home, definitely upset, Papa bear doing his very best for many hours, and with some exciting opportunities for Papa Bear on the near horizon where my energies will be needed on a higher level as caretaker once again as longer hours and interesting shifts are likely to rule our schedule…I decided that it was time to step away from teaching…no, for now.

Right now, I’m not totally sure what my yoga offerings will look like in the future. I know I want to deepen my practice through continued Ed and I know that the population I’d like to serve is still expectant and postpartum families,mamas in the thick of any and every season of motherhood. Maybe it will be a free pop-up/meetup/community practice where mamas come to connect, practice and breathe together. Maybe it will be a weekly studio space offering. Right now I just don’t know. But I do know that this morning, I woke up..and then went right back to sleep with nowhere to be, nothing to plan, and a baby nestled into me and my heart saying,”Yes, thank you for honoring this. You need needs this. Jo needs you rested. Papa bear needs your support.”

This afternoon if you planned on coming to yoga, I encourage you…TO STILL PRACTICE YOGA. In your home, in a space, wherever. I want to thank each and every mama who I have had the privilege of practicing alongside this past year and a half. You amaze me. You have brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes watching you mother in pregnancy and in the postpartum season. You have encouraged me. And some of you have become dear friends to me, thank you with every ounce of my being!

I’m slowly figuring out how it is I do the things I do and best serve the folks I serve. It has meant several iterations of business names, blog attempts, schedule changes, copious hours of continued education & networking, and so much energy and sometimes exhaustion! So this is just one no, for now….on the road to many yes’s, for right now! I can’t wait to share what’s cooking next, thank you to all the folks who follow our journey and show their virtual and real life support via comments, calls, and epic high fives and hugs. These are the good ole days, surrounded by friends and family, inspiration guiding the way, I’m convinced!

1000 Hours of Teaching Yoga

As many of our tribe knows, via social media and/or attending my restorative yoga class on November 30, I recently reached the HUGE milestone of teaching 1000 hours of yoga, advancing my certification to an experienced yoga teacher at the 200 hour level of certification (E-RYT200).   This is yet another certification for me, with many more to go as I follow my passion of teaching yoga.

Yes… let that sink in…  1000 hours of teaching.  WHOA.

What does that really mean?  That is, aside from a LOT of teaching yoga?  

  • I’ve found my teacher voice and comfort zone… at least for now.   As I evolve in my passion, I hope to always be striving for more, and creating for myself challenges I will overcome.  I predict my voice and zone will change with me as I go forward, creating some pretty uncomfortable moments I will push through.  
  • I’ve taught some amazing classes…  heck, I’ve surprised myself at times with my classes.   This is not simply based on the fact I’ve nailed the left and rights, or cued both sides similarly, or other yoga teacher habits I once struggled with (and still do at times).  To me, this means the class landed well with students, the energy in the room is top notch, and the savasana is sweet.
  • I’ve taught some not so great classes….  Yes, we all do.  While the occurrence has gone down the past couple of years, it still happens…  And I’ve learned to not let it keep me up, worry, or to apologize to students at the end of class, I’ve learned how to constructively assess the class after the face, rework it, and do it better next time.
  • My teaching is a true reflection of my practice.  I think many new yoga teachers try to teach the perfect class that they think their students want, at least I did.  I would like to think this works for some teachers, but I’ve found it doesn’t work for me. What I present to a class, regardless of the type of class, is very reflective of what I’ve done in my personal practice that week.  This has made both my personal practice and my teaching improve – but I honestly can’t separate what has more influence.
  • My students, many of them part of the Renkon tribe, are amazing.  I am blessed to have many regulars at my class, both at Renkon and studios I’ve previously taught at.  No words could ever capture how grateful I am that folks look forward to my class on their best and worst days, when they need a smile or simply a break.  I’ve gotten to know many of you, not only about your lives, but your wins and losses, your struggles and achievements. Thank you for sharing your love and life with me.
  • What I’m known for, and what classes I teach best, is not what I intended to ever specialize in – nor did I practice it prior to becoming a certified yoga teacher.   I love teaching restorative yoga… yet while in my first teacher training, I detested restorative for the first 3 months.  I couldn’t let go, I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t drop in. Fast forward a few years, and I love to both practice and teach it.  The results are immediate, for myself plus I love seeing the difference in students at the end of a class.

Interesting note – I never taught this type of class until Renkon opened, but I was up for the challenge.  I spent hours studying and preparing, creating sequences, and researching poses. I was always nervous prior to and during the class, until savasana.  Now? I love preparing for the class, teaching it, assisting/deepening the poses, and talking with our tribe to see how poses landed after class.

  • I’ve come quite a way, yet I’ve miles to go.  I got goals, y’all!  I am specializing in yoga for cancer and yoga for medicine.  I will be attending a Yoga for Cancer (Y4C) certification training virtually over the winter and finish up in Miami this spring.  Come summer, I’ll travel to North Carolina to get certified through the Duke Medical School of Integrative Health Yoga for Cancer program.   In the meanwhile, I’ve started my virtual work on my 1000 hour certification of Yoga for Medicine, plus I’ve signed up for shorter duration of other certifications.   I hope to mentor another yoga teacher training program with one of my teachers, and of course, take as many classes as possible virtually or in person with my favorite teachers.

Reaching this milestone actually belongs to more than just me.  It belongs to my students and former students, both classes and privates, all my yoga teachers, the studios I’ve taught at, studio owners I’ve worked with, and my friends and family who supported me along this journey.   This doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen in a bubble. My heart bursts with love and humbleness at reaching this, and I appreciate everyone that has been part of this journey.

Cheers to the next 1000 hours and wherever this amazing journey leads me!


Desiring Wanted Connection in an Obligatory Season

As the first snow began to fall outside our small-town home outside Bloomington, I thought to myself “how lovely it was to see everything so delicately blanketed in white” and simultaneously though, “here it comes”. The 6-month season Midwesterners know as winter was once again tapping at the door.

It would seem that connecting with others and the winter months are synonymous at first. After all, no matter what you celebrate, it is often a time for folks to get together, usually around a table of tasty food, and to be in community with one and other.

However, the connection with others that I often feel sapped of in the winter months is outside of the confines of what many folks consider the obligatory appearances of the holidays.

The connection I yearn for this time of year, I think requires more stillness, less anxious anticipation, and a quieter sense of being with those who we are living life beside and ourselves.

Winter feels like this time where I may have gotten the chance to see every aunt and cousin that I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with in some time…but somewhere along the way I feel like I missed out on holding hands with my spouse or taking in seeing my kiddos frolic in the snow.

So how do we do it? How do we connect more during a season that calls us to stillness, reflection, and the warmth of affection?

I think first we need to give serious pause and reflection when we feel that gnawing pang in our stomach before a gathering that makes getting ourselves out the door akin to pulling teeth.

If you are dreading an event or gathering because of the toxicity of the environment, one or more of the people there, or just because you haven’t had a moment of breath in a day, a week, or a year yourself…don’t go.

I know that is potentially WAY easier said than done, but at the end of the day IF you can make peace with the fact that someone might have negative feelings or comments about your lack of attendance and that those feelings and comments mean nothing about you as a person, you truly don’t have to go anywhere that isn’t life giving.

I adore my family, immediate and extended, but there have been seasons where I intentionally didn’t go to certain events and it gave me more energy to enjoy the ones I did attend.

Second, I think we need to carve out intentional time for connection during these months that isn’t obligatory, if anything to highlight the obligatory things that are weighing down our happiness.

Maybe you decide to attend a yoga class, maybe you go to dinner and a movie by yourself, maybe you take your partner or spouse back to a spot where you had one of your earliest dates together and reflect on how far you’ve come. There are so many ways to connect because you want to, not because you have to.

I find that in Savasana at the end of my personal practice or if I’m in a class, my truest desires about what I want for the season I’m in and what I definitely don’t want become shockingly clear.

It takes practice to get deeply quiet and listen to your heart. But once you’ve breathed true breath into those spaces within, it becomes easier to see what’s serving you deeply and what’s taking something away from how you experience each moment day to day.

Finally, I think we need to be daring when it comes to those obligatory events about how we approach them. When I say daring, I don’t mean showing up to the company holiday party with a face tattoo (though kudos to you if that’s your style!).

I mean daring to do things like set healthy boundaries around conversation topics, inquiries, and unsolicited advice. I find it helpful to write these sorts of things down or share them with my partner or a trusted friend.

For instance, if you have a family member who tends to like to ask you why you’re not coupled up with someone yet and providing your family 100 babies to love on, set a boundary before that you think is reasonable. Perhaps, “When Aunt Ethel prods me about my relationship status, I’m going to start talking about all the wonderful progress I’ve made at work this year”…or even more daring, “When Aunt Ethel prods me about my relationship status, I’m going to thank her for her charming curiosity but let her know that it’s not really a topic I have a desire to discuss and smoothly make my way to the table where all the cheese and pie is. Once I’ve reached that table, I’m going to take three deep breaths and remind myself what an utter badass I am”.

It’s my firm belief that when we set healthy boundaries for ourselves and seek out means of connection that our hearts crave, the winter doesn’t have to feel so incredibly long. It can be a season of rest, reflection, and rejuvenation.

It’s okay to give yourself permission to be exactly who you are and connect and love exactly in the ways that feel right and healthy.

Whether yoga, a good book, or a long cuddle with the ones you love fireside…I hope you find something comforting and exciting this winter to help you connect more deeply to yourself and the ones you love.