Monday, September 15, 2014

Scooby Doo - Where are you?

I do most of the cleaning in my studio, with help from my family & some volunteers.

For the first couple years, I washed the studio floor with a mop.  It doesn't take all that long, but it felt like I never had time to do it.  It felt like just one more thing that I needed to do.

Then I scored a robot floor cleaner for a great price....we named him Scooby, after one of our favorite cartoon dogs.  He's awesome.  Fill him up, turn him on & watch him clean.  He does an amazing job.  And he saves me times. 

Then one day he stopped working.  Nothing major, as it turned out.  But until we straightened him out, I went back to cleaning the studio floor with a mop.

Here's what I discovered...I like cleaning the floor.  I decided that it didn't really take that long.  That it wasn't a big deal.  I love my studio.  And I decided that cleaning the floor meant that I was giving my studio some love & attention & care that it needed to keep it bright & shiny.

Nothing had changed...except my attitude, and so everything changed.

You can do with anything in your life.  Traffic, doing laundry, a weekly meeting at work.  Things outside you don't have to change, but shifting your attitude changes your entire experience. 

We practice it alot in yoga.  Mostly in the poses you've decided don't like.  They're too hard, they're no fun.  Shift how you feel about a pose & immediately the pose feels different.

So now I enjoy the time it takes to clean my studio floor.  That's my yoga off my mat.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yoga or Cross Fit?

One of the amazing things about the internet is that you can share your opinion on any subject with thousands (or more) people all over the world.  Anyone who has access to the web, can write just about whatever they want.  Just about anyone has a chance to be heard.  Pretty amazing.

I see alot of stuff pop up about what people don't like, or what they think other people are doing wrong...why they hate yoga, what's wrong with parents in this country, why you shouldn't be a vegan...the list goes on.

It's cool - freedom of speech, right?  It's empowering & sharing opinions is interesting.  We are a diverse people - it makes life interesting, for sure.  And a really opinionated blog or post gets people fired up, it gets attention, it's exciting.

It gets people talking & blogging & posting's gets people thinking.  And then people begin to take sides.  "I'm right - you're wrong".  We become divided & separated from each other.

Diversity is wonderful - thank goodness for all if it.  Different opinions & contrast make for an interesting life.  But beneath the superficial differences, we're the same.  We are all energy & light & yes, love.  We are all just trying to do our best, in different ways.

Can you voice your opinion without being divisive?  I think you can.  I love yoga!  I love the style of yoga I teach.  Does that mean everyone needs to practice my style of yoga?  Does that mean if you're not practicing my style of yoga I'm better than you?  Of course not!  I like to think that I'm practicing something that helps me be a better person & maybe can help me make this world a better place. Don't we all want that?  Does it matter if it's yoga, or going to church, or doing cross fit?

What if we spent more time trying to find ways to identity what we have in common.  What if we spent more time trying to find common ground, ways to unify.  It may not attract as much attention, but that's my yoga off my mat.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Itchy & Scratchy Show

The other night, as I was teaching class in my studio, I had an itch on my arm & scratched it.  No big deal.  No big deal, that is, until I noticed that it continued to itch...and itch.  And in the spot where I had scratched, hives developed.

Still not a big deal.  And then the other arm started to itch.  And about 15 minutes into a hot & sweaty (awesome!) 75 minute class, both arms were itchy & I had hives.

It was distracting.  The class was hot & sweaty & so was I .  And the hotter & sweatier I got, the more I itched.  It was very distracting.  I wasn't sure why I was itchy...thinking about it was distracting.  Thinking about what had caused the reaction...also distracting.  Thinking about NOT scratching...still distracting. 

All I wanted to do was leave the room (not an option).  Or scratch like crazy.  Also not an option.

So I kept on teaching.  The itching persisted.  Around the 45 minute mark  I remembered that I had carried a big box up the stairs when I came in.  I couldn't imagine what was on the box that would make me itch & break out in hives (the possibilities are endless & all pretty icky to think about).  Still, knowing what had probably caused it was a bit of a relief.  I managed to refrain from scratching.

The itching didn't stop & I kept on teaching.  At some point, the hives & the itch stopped being distracting.  Not being able to do anything about it stopped being distracting.  There was an itch.  It wasn't going away.  I wasn't going to scratch it.  I was just going to hang out with the sensation & keep doing what I was doing.

We all get the itch, in one form or another.  The urge to do something!  To react, to move, to speak.  In class, the itch can be the urge to get out of that uncomfortable pose, instead of hanging out with the uncomfortable sensation.  In life, the itch can be the urge, the need, to say something to fill an awkward silence.  To make a quick change as a knee-jerk reaction to something that isn't quite right in your life.  Not scratching, not speaking, not reacting, not trying to change someone or something...just being present with what is.  That's my yoga.  Still in the studio, but off my mat. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wanderlust... 5 (free) Ways to Bring the Festival Home

In my experience, any time you go to a yoga retreat, it's like being in a bubble or a cocoon.  Yoga, music, like minded people, joy, laughter, enthusiasm - you're surrounded & encompassed by all this.  If you're lucky enough to get all your downward dogs in order before you leave, you don't have to worry or even be distracted by work & the other responsibilities of your every day life.

For me, being in a huge tent, taking class with 399 other people, most of whom I didn't know, was almost indescribable.  I didn't know most of these people, but there was a connection.  Being able to turn off my phone & focus, really focus, on what I was doing...taking care of spirit sang.  I was filled with relief, joy & love.  My heart felt full.  The entire time, on & off my mat, I was surrounded by joy & love.

And then it ends.  And I left.  We all left & went back home to our everyday lives.  One of my friends once said she imagined it was what  astronauts must feel like returning to earth.  No one back home knows just how you feel & there aren't words sufficient to explain it.

So what do you do?  Wait for the next Wanderlust?  Sure..absolutely.  Sign up for the next adventure!  But what can you do in the days until then?  This is what I took from my experience that I hope to use every day, on & off my mat, until my next Wanderlust experience.

1.  Slow Down
I say this all the time, but I was also given this advice at the conclusion of a class at Wanderlust.  At Wanderlust, I never saw anyone running to get to class or pushing someone out of her way because she was in a hurry.  I did hear & see alot of:
"I'm sorry, were you here first?"
"No, that's ok - please, you go ahead of me"
Everyone moved a little more slowly.  No one rushed.  Folks were pleasant & gracious.  Yes, we were all there for yoga.  But you can still do this in your everyday life.  Slow down enough to actually taste your coffee.  Let the person with the full cart of groceries & crying children go ahead of you.  Give someone else the last parking spot.  Slow down.

2.  Drink More Water
At Wanderlust, there were water stations everywhere.  And everyone carried a water bottle.  People laugh at the size of the water bottle I carry everywhere with me everyday!  It's simple, even if you don't carry a water bottle with you, swap out 1 can of soda or 1 cup of coffee a day for water. 

3.  Connect with Someone...up close & in person
This weekend, I strengthened connections with current friends, reconnected with old friends & made new connections.  There was still a lot of texting & social media the middle of class with MC Yogi, he asked everyone to take out their phone, film the class & then post to Facebook & Instagram & tag him.  Most of us did exactly that & it was great & funny.  But people were also connecting face to face.  There were a lot of high-fives & hugging.  Next time you pick up your coffee, look the Barista in the eyes.  Hold the door for someone & smile at them.  Pat your co-worker on the shoulder. Or better yet, give him a high five & tell him he's awesome. 

4.  Focus on What You Love
We were all at Wanderlust because we love yoga...and music, and being outside.  We spent the whole weekend immersed in yoga, music & nature.  It was relatively easy to focus on what we love doing...we were doing it!  And we were surrounded by others who love the same things & were doing what they love.  Back to reality...maybe you don't like your job, or your car, or where you live.  But here you are.  It's ok to not like those things.  And it's ok to feel like you're stuck - I've been there.  But that doesn't mean you have to focus all your energy on the things you don't like or think aren't going right for you.  Do you love yoga but couldn't get to Wanderlust?  Let it go.  There's always next year.  In the meantime, can you get to a yoga class?  Can you take a podcast?  Can you just bust out some asanas in your house?  If you focus on what you love, you can do it.  And it may start small, but keep focusing on it & it will get bigger & better.

5. Be Present More
For me, it was amazing to be able to take class this weekend and not have to worry about anything while I was taking class.  I turned off my phone (except during MC Yogi's class).  There were no distractions for me.  I was fully & completely present & it was amazing.  At home or in my studio, there are always distractions.  I often leave my phone on when I practice at home in case one of my teachers needs to reach me.  Practicing in my studio, I pay attention to the heat, the lights...the dust in the corner.  My classes at Wanderlust fed my spirit because I was fully present for the experience.  It was a reminder to me that I need to be present more often in my life.  Not just during my yoga practice, but for everything I do in my life.  It will be is challenging.  But I know that my life will be better for it.  I know that I will enjoy my life more off my mat.  And so will you...


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Time Flies

"Today is Wednesday, March 18th, 2013.  Here in Northwest CT, it's still winter.  Most of us are anxious for Spring to arrive.  Winter feels like it has been so long this year.  But once Spring does get here, it'll will pass quickly.  And then will come Summer, and that will pass quickly too."

That's an excerpt from a blog I started in November of 2012.  And then revisited  in March of last year. I returned to it again today - Tuesday, May 27, 2014.  The day after Memorial Day, the unofficial start of Summer.

What strikes me when I read it, is how time has passed & how quickly it passed.  We talk about it all the time "seems like yesterday"....

It's the beginning of summer, and people are talking about the summer & school ending.  But they're also talking about Christmas & next year.  Summer will pass. The Fall will come.  School will start again.  Winter will arrive.  It's inevitable.  Time passes.

But how much of the time do you spend talking about what happened or looking ahead to the future? How much of the time do you spend in this day?  How present are for what's happening now, in your life?  

Reminiscing is wonderful.  And so is having goals & dreams for the future.  And it's ok if you look back sometimes & say "where did the time go?"  But don't let that be your whole life.  Start small.  Start paying attention now.  Notice which cup you use for your coffee.  How the cup feels in your hand, how the coffee tastes.  When you say "Good Morning" to someone, look at them - really look at them.  Make a connection.  Practice paying attention in each moment of each day.  Practice being present.  Notice how the air feels, how the sky changes, how people change. 

Time will still pass "fly by" - and that's not really a bad thing, if you're present for it.  You'll be present & you'll be the pilot of your life...rather than just going along for the ride.  Be an active participant in your life.  This the practice of yoga - the practice of being present.  This is yoga off the mat.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sweet Dreams

"The more fear one has of anything, the more a vibrational match to the thing that they fear they are. Help your child discover that if she makes things that are potentially frightening a non-issue to her, then they don't bother." -Abraham

Quite some time ago, our son woke from a nightmare absolutely terrified.  We had to take him out of bed, into another room, where we hung out & watched videos ("How It's Made" - a cool show that explains how things from bubble gum to big ships are made) & talked until he finally relaxed.  He wouldn't tell us what the nightmare was about.  When we finally went back to bed, he was still afraid & wouldn't even put his legs under the covers.  He still didn't want to tell us about it the next day & we let it go, not wanting to make a bigger issue out of it.

A month or two later, he decided to tell me about it, totally out of the blue.  He said it was about a big rat that was trying to "get him" (which explains not wanting to get under the covers again...he thought the rat was still there).  We talked about it.  I told him that when I have a bad dream like that, when someone or something is trying to get me, I turn the dream around when I wake up.  I remember the dream, but then imagine a different ending.  I told him that it was his dream, and now he could remember the dream & imagine himself making friends with the rat.  And so he didn't have to be afraid anymore.

He still talks about the dream occasionally, but now tells it with his spin.  He made friends with the rat.  He's not afraid of the rat.  It has, I hope, become a non-issue for him.

There may be other bad dreams.  There may be other fears.  I hope that we can help him make them non-issues, in whatever ways work best for him.  And as much as the Abraham quote above is directed toward children, I think it is useful for many of us as adults.  We find ourselves afraid of all kinds of things & people - often times, things that are out of our control.  And yet, we direct out thoughts & energy toward these fears.  And so that becomes our vibration - fear.  And we attract to us exactly that of which we are afraid.

What are you afraid of?  Make it a non-issue.  How?  With new thoughts.  Happy thoughts.  Re-imagine that of which you are afraid.  Re-imagine a different, happy ending.  Connect to those feelings & thoughts & people that make you feel strong & comfortable & happy.  Let that be your new, brave vibration.  Face that rat & make it your friend:)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Samskara, Dammit

I often draft my blogs as they come to me, but sometimes (as is this case with this post) it takes a while for a draft to make it to this site... 

I've heard our 3 year old son say to a couple people recently "my new favorite word is dammit".

It's funny, because he has started saying dammit - he's picked it up from the grown-ups in our house.  And it's hard not to laugh when he says it.

What's funnier, is his saying it's his new favorite word.  This is something that I have said a few times to my friends when I thought he couldn't hear me.

Samskara is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates to mean the generalized patterns, impressions, ideas, or actions that make up our conditioning.  Samskaras can be positive nor negative, but it's the negative ones that often hold is back in our personal growth.

My son repeating the "me new favorite word..." just reminds me that he, and all children, don't miss a thing.  They're sponges.  They hear & absorb what we want & don't want them to hear.

And we were all kids once.

All things that were said to us - good & not so good, true & not so true - we heard them.  And we absorbed what was said - good & not so good, true & not so true.

As we grow, we may forget what was said, the actual words.  But we still hold it, in our bodies, somewhere in our minds, in our spirits.  And often, it holds us back.  Especially, when we don't remember it.

For me, I'm not good at math.  I don't ever remember being good at math.  And I often wonder if it's just not my thing, or if somewhere, way back when I was young, someone told me I wasn't good at it.

That's a pretty harmless example - fortunate my phone has a calculator:). But a lot of what we carry is much more hurtful & harmful...I'm not pretty, I'm not smart, I'm not good enough, I'm not worth anything.

The practice of yoga often brings you face to face with these constructs.  In a challenging pose, in a challenging moment, what you've absorbed suddenly comes up.  And you may back away from that challenge & from what comes up for a long time.  But then comes the point that you recognize that it isn't you.  That in that challenging moment you can breathe & you can feel that you are everything you want to be - strong, worthy, beautiful, smart.  And as you breathe in & absorb that - you can breathe out all the rest.

You release the power of the past.  You come present & embrace the power of the moment - your power. 

That's why we call it power yoga. (