Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Off My Mat

This summer I started practicing handstand on a daily basis.  I've been practicing handstand for quite a while, but never with any real consistency.  I like handstanding, it's fun, it's just not the focus of my practice.  I was also posting my handstands every day, but that got to be too much.  It went from practicing yoga in a handstand to "oh no! it's 10pm & I haven't posted a handstand today - quick, lets do a video so I can go to bed".  So it was a handstand, but there was no yoga involved.

I've continued to practice handstand - not everyday - but alot.  I practice it within the framework of my yoga practice.  For me, that means not just throwing my legs up (although sometimes it looks & feels like that).  But being in my body, feeling my hands as my foundation, using my breath, focusing my gaze, connecting all the parts of my self to bring myself into a handstand.

It may look the same, but for me, it's different.  It's a pose, just like any other.  For some (me included) it's challenging.  For others, it's effortless.  It's another pose, another opportunity, to practice yoga. 

When you think about it, our days & our lives are made up of poses. You can call them moments, but aren't poses moments?  Aren't those moments then poses - it's just that they happen off our mats.  Sometimes I practice handstand within my daily physical practice.  But most of the time I practice it as I'm getting things ready to teach in the studio, or as I'm leaving.

For me, it's become a good reminder to keep the continuity of my practice - breath, focus, full body awareness - even when I'm off my mat.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's No Secret

Back in August, I picked up a copy of The Secret for $1 at a library book sale.  I'd never read the Secret.  I'd heard about it & I had read The Law of Attraction & other books by Abraham/Esther & Jerry Hicks.  But I figured, for $1, how could I go wrong.

We left all the books we bought that day in a pile in our den & I just sorted through them the other day.  There was The Secret again.  I pulled it out & put in the bathroom, so that maybe I could read a page (or even just a paragragh!) here & there. 

Like I said, I had never read The Secret, but I had read books by Esther & Jerry Hicks, with the teachings of Abraham, including The Law of Attraction.  So it wasn't that I thought I would learn anything new in The Secret.  I was just curious.

I talk about the Law of Attraction alot.  I share it in my classes, I teach it as part of my Yoga Teacher Training.  It's a practice that has become as much a part of my life as my yoga practice.  For me, they go hand in hand.

When I started the reading The Secret, I suddenly realized that I haven't been practicing the Law of Attraction for the past few months.  I thought I had been.  It was pretty subtle.  I simply realized that my thinking wasn't aligned with my actions & my intentions.  I had been worrying more & even giving attention to things that weren't going to quite right.  Instead of focusing my thoughts on what has been going right & creating more of that.

The Law of Attraction & The Secret (and other works) say, quite simply, that what you think about, you bring about.  And I know that.  And it's not that I'd been walking around thinking how bad things were & complaining & being unhappy.  It was much more subtle. 

Thoughts can be big & thoughts can be small & we all have thousands of them every day!  This was a reminder to me to watch the small thoughts. To watch my intention.  To intentionally create my thoughts.  To intentionally shift & focus & refocus my thoughts every moment of every day.  And to take space from my thoughts at least once a day.

Which is the same as being present.  Which is what Yoga teaches us.  

It's not a secret.  It's another piece of your practice to take off your mat. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My handstand Practice

I've been practicing yoga for over a decade & practicing handstand for almost as long.  Mostly on & off practice of handstand, nothing really consistent.

Last week I decided I would practice my handstand every day & post my progress on social media (instagram, FB & twitter).  Partly because I wanted to try to attract some more followers, partly because I wanted see what would happen with my handstand.  Partly because I don't post my daily practice & I wanted to give folks something tangible to "see" each day.

For me, practicing handstand every day isn't about perfecting the handstand.  It's about practicing every day to see what happens.  I have a daily yoga practice, it just doesn't usually include handstands.

In the 5 days since I started, I missed one day.  I've noticed what happens when I rush it, just to get it done. I've noticed the difference between practicing on my mat in the studio & outside on the grass.  I've noticed the difference when I'm focused & present, and really distracted.  I've noticed how I can feel super graceful or totally out of control.  I've noticed I can laugh at myself when I fall.

As I'm writing this, it occurs to me that I need to encorporate my handstand practice into my daily yoga practice, instead of seperating the two.  Only trouble is that I often practice first thing in the morning.  No sure I want to show up on FB with bedhead in my pajamas:)

My daily practice has become a part of my day & my life.  It allows the opportunity to notice how I feel. To slow down, get grounded & get connected with myself & my Source.  It's a commitment.  My physical body benefits from the physical practice, but my whole being benefits from the whole practice.

There's a whole lot that goes into a handstand.  It's not just the physical.  Especially if it's part of your yoga practice.  What you see in my posts are really just physical.  But it represents a daily practice of commitment, breath, focus, meditation in motion, intention.

It's my practice on my mat.  But I do my best to carry all of it off my mat.

If you'd like to follow my practice, you can find me on Facebook (heather rems korwin), Instagram (heathersanctuary) & Twitter (heather rems Korwin @sanctuarypower)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's All About Attitude

The other morning as I was walking into the studio, I noticed a clean cut, grey haired gentleman pulling empty bottles out of the dumpster next to our building.  He had his bike parked along him, with a basket & a bunch more bottles in the basket as well. 

We collect alot of recyclable/returnable bottles in our studio (www.sanctuarypoweryoga.com) - sometimes my family returns them for the deposit, sometimes they just go out with the recycling.  

I waited for a few minutes to talk to the gentleman.  I told him I had a bag of bottles in the yoga studio - would he like them?
He said he would absolutely take the bottles. He then enthusiastically told me that he was 63 years old, retired, and collecting Social Security.  He has a roommate who "sits in the front of the computer all day", while he himself takes his bike all around town collecting bottles (people leave them out for him).  He told me he takes care of an older gentleman (90 years old).  He told me "I'm so lucky - I feel like a kid!".

I ran up to the studio & grabbed the bottles for him & told him I'd leave them for him as we collected them.  We talked for a few minutes - and he repeated how lucky he felt.  And then he was off to continue collecting bottles before it got too hot.
Now, I don't really know much about this gentleman & the "truth" about his life.  I'm sure some people think he's a little crazy, collecting bottles on his bike.  But I know that running into him that morning pretty much made my day.  He was pulling recyclable bottles out of dumpster & he was happy.  He was clean, polite & articulate.  He's 63 but he feels like a kid & is taking care of an "older" man.  He clearly was enjoying his day, his life & not letting anything slow him down or get him down.
If that's not yoga off your mat, I'm not sure what is.
If you change your thoughts, you can change your world.  But you also have the opportunity to change someone else's world too. 


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Not Enough Pillows? That's Easy

We spent the night in New York City, just for fun.

We didn't have enough pillows, so I called down to the front desk & asked if we could get a couple more.

" no problem, we'll bring them right up" was the reply.

Wow...so easy.  I said to my husband " wouldn't it be great if everything was that easy?"

One of my students told me he was going to new York state for a week or two.  He used to live there & wanted to make a change, so he was going to see what was going on there now & if it would work for him.

The next time I saw him, he told me he had a bought a house, reestablished old connections & got work...all in a week.  "it was so easy!" ( his words)

So....why can't it all be that easy?

I know what you're thinking..."Heather, this is all well & good, but it's not my reality.  I have a mortgage, I have kids, I hate my job...but I've got do it if I'm going to live."

It is your reality.  But I believe we create our own realities.  Including the reality that everything is hard, not easy.  Having to work harder & more to have a better life...well, it's cultural reality.  And by that I mean our culture has conditioned us to believe that this is our reality.

So how do you shift it?  Quit the job? Run off & join an ashram?

It doesn't have to be drastic.  It starts small.  "Today is going to be a great day."  Period.  No matter what.  "Today is going to be a great day."

Hate your job?  There has your something about it you like.  Something.  Find that thing that you like & focus on it.  And then focus on finding that & more in your next job.  It'll happen. The more you shift your thinking, the more you shift your reality.

I am repeatedly stunned & amazed by what I manifest in my life.  The things that I create in my mind & give thought to...sometimes they manifest quickly.  Sometimes, it takes years (like my studio).

I know I am creating my own reality.  I know that the more I believe that something is possible, even if the whole world thinks its impossible, it's going to happen for me.

Think about about airplanes, cell phones, cars...all these things were deemed impossible at some point in history.  But the person who created it believed it was possible.  They didn't buy into group think.  They believed & created & manifested.  And no, they really weren't any different or better or luckier or smarter than you & I.

Start to believe that too.  That you are smart enough, amazing enough & worthy of all the good things you desire.  And then it'll be easy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Yoga? Religion? Harry Potter?

It's funny, because as I started to upload this blog, I saw my last blog which was about a quote tying together yoga & religion (and Harry Potter).  And that's what this blog is about too, in a different way.

I recently read an article in which a yoga teacher was quoted as saying yoga is a religion.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I was pretty surprised by this.  In my time as a teacher, teaching & learning, I don't recall hearing anyone describe yoga as a religion.  And for me, I certainly don't teach yoga as a religion.  (I'll talk about "namaste" & prayer hands next week.)

Yoga as we are most familiar with it here, in this culture, is a focus on the poses, or "asanas".  But there's certainly more to yoga than the poses.  That's what I try to get at in this blog...I'm not suggesting you take your yoga poses off your mat (although that does help sometimes!).  I'm suggesting you explore the other pieces of yoga & take them off your mat.

What are the other pieces of yoga?  The poses, or asanas, are part of the 8 Limbs of Yoga as laid in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.  If this is new to you - hang on!  Stay with me!  "Sutra" can be translated as "thread" & these "threads" talk about the practice of yoga.

In these threads are the 8 limbs.  And asana is one of them. I'm not going to list the others now - you can easily look them up & each of them is worthy of their own blog.

For me, the best description of the Yoga Sutras & the practice of yoga, is that it is a practical guide for overcoming daily suffering.  Not a religion.  A practical guide. (and yes, if you have knowledge of the Sutras, I realize this is a pretty simplified description).

You might say "daily suffering?! I don't suffer daily!". 

Do you worry?  Are you stressed?  Do you gossip?  Are you distracted?  Are you missing the joy in the moment & in your life because of these things?  If you answered yes...you're suffering.  Or at least, there could be more joy in your life.

And that's part of how I approach & teach yoga.  As a practical way to improve the quality of your life.  Even if you just come for the physical practice, the poses, the asanas, & you feel better because of those.  You feel better - you're not suffering - you're improving the quality of your life.

I say that it's part of how I approach & teach yoga because I also mentioned in my last blog that yoga is about opening yourself up.  And for me personally, yoga is a spiritual practice.  I bring as much of the Sutras & the 8 Limbs as I can into my teaching.  But I also bring in the Law of Attraction & other ideas that are important for me - I think every teacher does that.  But I also try to keep it practical.  And my hope is that some of what I practice & teach lands with you & you can take it off your mat.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Harry Potter & Yoga

One of my students recently shared an article on my FB page "Yoga Leads to Satan, Says Northern Ireland Priest".

I don't usually respond to articles like this. For me, it's the practice of the Law of Attraction.  I don't want to focus on negative stuff because I don't want to give it energy.  I want to focus on the positive & give energy to that.

But this article had a few interesting comments that I couldn't resist responding to:

1.  Reading Harry Potter leads to evil.

2.  A yoga teacher from Derry, Ireland who was quoted saying "In all the time I've been teaching, not one person has ever expressed an interest going deeper into the spiritual elements of yoga"

3.  The one that really caught my attention & got me thinking: "those enjoying yoga...are taking risks with their spiritual health opening themselves up..."

Ok, so honestly, I included #1 just because I think it's funny.  I've read some of the Harry Potter books (not all) & I definitely don't feel inclined to evil.  But maybe I missed the turning point because I stopped reading just in time!

#2 makes me a little sad.  I love the physicality of yoga, especially the power practice that I /we teach at my studio.  But there's way more to it than that.  And to hear that someone has been teaching & never been asked by students about the spiritual piece?  I don't know...maybe shes only been teaching for a couple months (joking!).

And then #3.  The most-noteworthy for me.  Because for me, a big piece of yoga is all about opening yourself up.  And it sure is risky all right!  Seriously.  Obviously, you open up your physical body - nothing too crazy there.  But you also open up your mind & question the way you live your life.  You open your eyes & see things differently or things that you've never seen before.  You open your heart - that's the riskiest of all.  You let yourself love others, you let others love you, and you love yourself.  Unconditionally.  And that's something this world needs more of.

I'll take it.  Yoga & the risks.  And I'll continue to encourage everyone I know to do that same.

(and I may even finish reading the Harry Potter books too!)