Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Blogs 'til Christmas?

12 Blogs 'til Christmas - #8

About a month ago I got back to writing my blog & proposed that I would write 12 blogs before Christmas rolled around. 

So...here it is Christmas Eve Day & this is only Blog #8.  Clearly, I'm not getting 12 Blogs in before tomorrow.

It was pretty obvious to me a few days ago.  I thought about it.  I thought about just posting a blog a day until I was done, just to get it over it with.  I thought about my intention.  It really was my intention to post 12 blogs before December 25th.  I thought about all of you reading these blogs.  I thought about what you might think.

So what happened? 

Well, quite simply - life happened. 

Just a whole lot of stuff going on & not enough time to write 12 blogs.

And...I decided to roll with it.

Honestly, it's another example of taking my yoga off my mat.  Yes, I'm disappointed that I didn't get all the blogs written...it was a fun idea & I've enjoyed writing them.  But here I am.  On Blog #8.  On Christmas Eve Day.  I can stay stuck on that.  Or I can move on. 

I'm going to move on.  I'm going to go with the flow.  I'm going to keep writing blogs until I get to number 12.  And instead of 12 Blogs 'til Christmas, I think I'll go with 12 Blogs of the New Year (not as catchy, but it'll do).

(Yes, I realize I'm fortunate that I don't have a boss or editor imposing deadlines on me.  But still...)

Life happens.  For all of us & in different ways.  And you have to decide what you want to do with it...

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Big Screen TV

As we drove home on Thanksgiving Day, we drove by a big box store with a line pf people out front...all waiting for the store to open to buy, I imagined, a new big screen TV.

I joked about it in class today.  I compared wanting to buy a big screen TV to wanting to master an arm bind. Thinking that once you have that big screen TV or that arm bind, you'll be happy.

Now, I'm not knocking you if you have (or want) a big screen TV.  Or if you really want to master that arm bind.  I like cool stuff as much as the next person.  I am questioning whether or not you'll really be happy.

You stand in line for hours for that big screen TV.  You take it home, set it up, invite your friends over.  That's fun & cool & you feel happy.

Then the TV gets old.  A bigger, fancier one comes out & your friend buys it & everyone goes over to his house.  You're sitting alone in front of your TV & you're not happy.  Next thing you know, you're waiting in line again next Thanksgiving for another, bigger TV.

You see the pattern?  When does it stop?

I'm even reluctant to say yoga makes you happy.  I know I'm happy when I practice.  There are days when I would love to stay on my mat all day long so I could stay happy...because I have unhappy stuff going on & I would love to avoid it.  But the reality of my life is that I have to get off my mat & deal with that stuff.

And for me, that's the real benefit of yoga.  It's great to be happy when you practice & step off your mat.  But the challenges of life don't go away.  Yoga gives you the tools to deal with those challenges: your breathe, your balance, your focus.  You may not be happy when you're dealing with those challenging situations.  But maybe with time & practice, you'll feel a little less stressed.  You'll be present a little more often.  You'll let the challenging moment go more quickly. 

Are you spending your whole life chasing after a bigger TV?  Are you spending every day waiting for the next time you can get on your mat?  Keep getting on your mat, every day.  But start also start taking your yoga off your mat, every day. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Nobody puts Baby in a Corner"

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner" - Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing

Did you see the movie? Remember that line?  I remember the line, but it's been a long time - I actually watched the youtube clip when I was writing this (made me want to watch the movie again!)

Sometimes when I teach, that line pops into my head.

But this isn't about Dirty Dancing or Patrick Swayze or Baby.

As I move through life, I see alot of people in corners...they put themselves there or they've let other people put them there.  They're small, they want to fit in or hide.  They don't want to be big or better or special or stand out.  They want to be accepted - not even for who they really are, but just accepted.

When I teach, I encourage my students to be be Big & Bold.  To physically take up space on their mat.  To be calm & confident & let their light radiate through them & out from them.  To let their light shine.  I encourage them to get comfortable with that, with being Big & Bright & Shiny.  Not to worry what anyone else thinks about that.  I encourage them not to hide. 

I've been that person who doesn't want to be too bright, or bold or shiny.  Because I didn't want to outshine someone else, because I wanted to fit in.  Because I didn't really know that I could be any other way.  Until I found yoga & some great teachers lit the way for me.

When you shine, you literally light the way for others.  You have the possibility to inspire others.  Being in the middle of the room, the front of the room, being anywhere but the corner & being the center of attention, can be scarey.  But it's something you can practice on your mat & then carry off your mat.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Follow Your Bliss

Blog #3 was titled "Find Your Bliss".  When I was looking for an image to include with it, I found this, "Follow Your Bliss":

I found it very interesting...the subtle difference between find your bliss & follow your bliss.  Subtle, yet it makes a world of difference.

How do you "find" your bliss? Your joy?  Your Peace?  I don't think you can find it, because it's not out there somewhere.  It's within you.  Your bliss, your joy, your peace - all within you.

You're looking, you're looking, you're looking.  You think you know what you're looking for.  Maybe you're looking for what someone else has.  Someone else who's already following their bliss.  They're not looking anywhere.  They're on their own track.  They're unafraid.

Yoga has helped me to follow my bliss.  When I'm on my mat & I'm still & quiet, I can feel that bliss.  I can feel that I'm on my track.  From the outside, I think it looks pretty obvious - I teach yoga, I own my own studio, I love what I do.  It wasn't always so obvious & I wasn't always on my own track.  I spent alot of time trying to find my bliss, not following it.  Then I found yoga.   And then I spent some more time trying to find my bliss.  I was on my track when I was on my mat & I don't know what the heck I was doing when I was off my mat!!  And then one day...I was off my mat & on my track.  I was, and still am, following my bliss.

I don't have a magic recipe or specific formula.  It's different for everyone & that can be frustrating to hear.  My only suggestion...practice.  Yoga, meditation, whatever it is that does it for you.  That's the beginning of following your Bliss.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Find Your Bliss

"Find Your Bliss"

"I'm lovin' it"

"Live Life Deliciously"

These are just a few of the slogans I heard the other day on TV.

It seems like whatever it is that you want or need, someone is selling it.  Especially this time of year!

But can you really buy this stuff?

Can you buy a delicious life?  Can you buy bliss?

The short answer.  No.  At least not in my opinion.

You can buy alot of stuff.  Really cool, fun, exciting stuff.  And that's cool & fun & exciting.  And for a while, it might even feel like you've bought bliss.

But then...it gets old, it breaks, you lose it. Something newer & cooler & more exciting comes out to replace what you have.

Bliss, joy, happiness - the real deal.  It comes from within you.  You have to find it within you.  You can't buy it.  And you can't pay someone else to find it for you.  You have do the work.  You have to look at yourself - who you are, where you are, what you've said & done.  The good, the bad & the ugly.  And then you have to love yourself.

You can want to change.  And you can change.  But you still have to love who you are in this moment.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

You hear it alot at this time of year...and in my world, you hear it alot from yoga teachers:)

Thanksgiving isn't just one day out of the year..it shouldn't be just one day.  The act of Giving Thanks. Thanksgiving should be every day. 

Every day we have something to be thankful for.

When our 5 year son wakes up in the dark at 5am & wants to get up & I'm feeling tired & grumpy, I try to remind myself how lucky we are to have a little boy who is so full of life & wants to run & jump & play & make lots of noise.

When my husband does our laundry & folds my shirts the "wrong" way, I try to remind myself how lucky I am to have a wonderful husband.  To have a washing machine.  To have a husband who uses the washing machine:)

When its time to empty the dishwasher & I just don't feel like doing it, I try to remind myself how lucky we are to have a dishwasher.  To have running water.  To have food to put on the plates that go into the dishwasher.  To have a roof over our heads.  And then I think...if we didn't have these things (food, a home) how lucky we are to have an amazing tribe of family & friends who would never let us go hungry or sleep in the cold.

It's a simple practice.  It can be a daily practice.

Thanksgiving can be every day.  Thanksgiving Day, the Holiday, the 4th Thursday in November, is a nice day to bring special attention to the idea of gratitude &  Giving Thanks.

Notice if it becomes just another day that you "have" to get together with your family.  If it becomes a day where you just eat so much you can't move.  If it becomes a day where you park yourself in front of the TV.

Let Thanksgiving Day be a day, really, of giving Thanks.

For what you have.  For the people in your life.  For who you are.

Let every day be Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lay Down Your Arms....

"Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place" - A Course in Miracles

Even though I've never read A Course in Miracles, I've read about it & this line in particular really resonates with me.  I shared this quote with my students in class the other night.

"Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place"

Now, I don't carry a weapon, so of course I don't have actual armaments to lay down (and I'm pretty sure that's not what this is referring to anyway!)  But most of us do spend a lifetime building up our defenses.  

Yet, when you get on your mat to practice, that's exactly what you're asked to do...lay down your arms, drop your defenses - allow yourself to be open & vulnerable.  Come into that quiet place within yourself, where there's peace & compassion.

If you've spent a lifetime building up your defenses & reinforcing them every chance you get, you may not even realize that there is a quiet place that exists within you. But with time & breath & practice, you find it.  You learn that you can drop your defenses.  You learn that you can be vulnerable & open.  And sure, it's scarey at first.  But it allows for so much to happen....change, growth, love....

When you become accustomed to laying down your arms on your mat, you can explore doing the same in your life.  Instead of sitting down at the Thanksgiving table with a snarky comeback to something that you're just waiting for your sister to say...lay down your arms.  Be full of Grace & Gratitude.  Recognize that if you are different, it can create a ripple effect in the other people at that table & in your life.  Now, it may not happen the first time.  The first time, everyone may think you're just plain nuts!  But with consistency & strength, its inevitable that change will occur.  Either the people at that table will start to change.  Or you'll change so much that you find yourself at a different table with different people next year...you'll find yourself someplace better.

Your mat is a safe place to practice laying down your arms.  It the perfect spot to practice coming into that quiet place.  It's amazing to feel that transformation within yourself.  But it's even more amazing to take this practice off your mat & experience the change that can happen around you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chia Seed Mousse


I love chocolate.  I love raw chocolate, or cacoa.  I put it in my smoothie almost every day - it's a super food & its really good for you.

When I was at Wanderlust this summer, one of the food vendors, Pizza to the People (http://www.pizzatothepeople.net/), was selling chia seed mousse.  It was amazing!  I had experimented with chia seed puddings before, but their's blew mine away.  (check them out if you're in CT - great, great food!)

The first day I had it, I was starving!  I wolfed down one serving & almost immediately went back for another.  Why not?!  It was delicious, it was good for me:)  I got about half way through & realized...I was full.  I realized I was actually full after the first serving.  I just hadn't paused long enough to feel that I was full.

This happens alot, to alot of us.  We eat because we can.  We eat whatever we want, just about whenever we want.  I say I was starving that day at Wanderlust, but I wasn't really.  Thankfully I don't know what it feels like to really be starving.  I was hungry, sure.  But I had eaten once already that day.  I didn't eat so fast that I didn't even taste the mousse - I tasted it alright.  And it tasted so good I wanted more!  But then I just rushed on to the next serving. 

Mindful eating can be a wonderful, enjoyable experience.  What I realized that day, was that we don't do a whole lot of that.  I know I don't do alot of that.  I eat because I want to, not because I need to.  Most of the time, I do actually taste my food.  But there are times when I'm rushed & distracted & I don't.  I know I take food for granted.  And so it becomes a practice.  Mindfulness when eating is just like mindfulness in anything in life - on or off your mat.  It's being present for the experience.  It's feeling gratitude for what you have.

I was very grateful for that chia seed mousee & for the recipe!!  By request, here's my adapted recipe:

1/4 chia seeds
1 cup milk (almond or coconut)
1-2 TBS raw cacoa
1-2 TBS melted coconut oil
1-2 TBS maple syrup

Add chia seeds to blender & run blender to break them down.  Then add milk, cacoa & maple syrup & blend thoroughly.  Once blended, add melted coconut oil to blender.

Yup.  It's that simple.

I enjoy topping it with a sprinkle of raisins, cacoa nibs, nuts & even chocolate chips for an extra treat.

Try it!  And savor each bite!!

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 more...it'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.