Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why they call it present...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Static muscles?...I don't think so!

I was in my yoga studio last night doing my own practice. I love when I’m given the time to come to my mat...just me. I was so excited all day, and had been looking forward to doing some much needed postures.

As I was in some of the poses I tend to talk it out in my head, thinking about how I would teach it. I like to work on my skills as a teacher. I feel I use to talk a LOT during a posture, and now I give them some specifics, geography of limps, and muscles, but ultimately let them find their own way. I do make sure I keep a close eye on what’s happening with everyone’s bodies and assist when and where it’s needed.
I tend to get very focused during my practice and realized how in tune I actually am with my body compared to just a year ago. I always remember this one specific time during teacher training where we were working on Dandasana, or staff pose. I remember the woman I was working with telling me to root my femurs into the floor and hinge forward at the hips. She asked me to push my thighs into the ground and feel my hamstrings lengthen underneath me and draw the inner groins toward the sacrum.


I remember thinking to myself…how do you do that, and more so, how does one feel that inside their body. I think I told her I felt it when in actual fact I was SO confused.

Yesterday, sitting in Dandasana I was able to “GO” to all my body parts that needed to adjust and actually move them one by one. If you were watching me you probably wouldn’t have even noticed that so many things were going on inside me. Lengthening, moving, spiraling, rooting, supporting.
It was pretty amazing to observe, and the sensations of being able to mentally and physically go to those separate muscles, ligaments and bones and move them into position made me VERY thankful for how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned.

On another happier note: I am able to do Eka Pada Rajakapotasana completely on my right side. My hips are a lot more open and my ankle is feeling a lot less tight. It only took 2 months of hard work, positive thinking, and lots of love.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Detachment leads to freedom.

Again life is trying to get me to learn my lesson. I sometimes feel there are two parts to me. The one who KNOWS the answers and the truth, and the other who wants to not necessarily wants to play with fire, but feels the need to prove something…and not even to myself? What the hell is THAT all about?
I heard about a story about a jar that you drop nuts into for the monkeys. The monkey then comes along, reaches in and grabs a handful of nuts and tries to pull his fist out but he cannot. If he would just let go, he would be able to escape.
I guess they were trying to prove that “letting go=freedom” and I’m sure it does. However I can’t help but think, what if he only pulls one nut out at a time, little by little, he’ll get to enjoy the nut for the time being, and come back for more later?

What happens when there are no more nuts left? What happens when he becomes too greedy and wants more…he gets stuck…again.
Really, how important are THOSE nuts, can’t he look somewhere else for nuts?
I’m working on and learning to understand detachment.

When everything is going well in our lives, we feel strong and positive, we're healthy and inspired. When we're happy and in love, it's effortless to appreciate the discussions regarding detachment; however when we're faced with loss, anguish, and/or failure, it looks much more interesting and then becomes a salvation that can move us out of misery and into serenity.
For me it’s the fear that is stopping me from moving forward. I imagine a different life, one without the drama. I pause as I write this and think about how maybe it’s the drama I enjoy???

Inevitably, attachment can lead to suffering and detachment can lead to freedom; Or like I learned in the Bhagavad-Gita “When a man dwells in his mind on the object of sense, attachment to them is produced. From attachment springs desire and from desire comes anger." This again brings me back to the nuts and how the monkey probably got really pissed off when he couldn’t have the nuts….been there…done that! Ok sorry, enough with the nuts.
We all have our own journey to live, our own karmic debts and lessons to be learned. This is especially hard to detach from when it’s a lost love, a child, a family member because not only are we attached, but emotionally invested and ultimately it becomes a part of us, it’s who we think we ARE.
So instead of letting desire and anger get the best of us, we can learn to take one day at a time practicing the art of detachment, and surrendering ourselves to what is.

Baby steps, 5 of them actually...

1. Acknowledgement: The first step is actually realizing and understanding what you’re going through…and LET yourself go through it. Allow yourself to cry, scream, sit in silence, but actually allow the FEELING come to the surface.
This doesn’t just mean JUST recognizing the thoughts and feelings, but actually FEELING them and breathe through it.

2. Self Inquiry: Once you’ve acknowledged and felt those feelings, it’s a matter of tuning inwards and allowing those scars to show themselves. It about acknowledgment, but this time don’t let it get to you. It’s finding the middle ground to be able to be beside them without having those feelings have such an effect on you. Seek guidance from where ever you want and can, and ask to be healed.

3. Processing: This is the part when you can reflect on the journey you just went through (or have been going through) and pick out the positives regardless of how it all turned out. I truly believe we’re all here to learn lessons…sometimes it takes a few tries before we actually learn it.

4. Inspiration: Without processing we tend to sometimes become depressed because of the loss we have experienced. We feel we have lost control of our lives. Obviously allowing ourselves to mourn as well as ample time to move through the process at our own rate. Once we can get through the processing stage we can allow the creative juices to flow, the positive energy to release back into our system and give ourselves permission to get excited about starting fresh again. This is when you will feel most inspired to get out there again.

5. Freedom: you know you have reached full detachment when you can allow yourself to think about the things you’ve lost, AND what you desire without having it affect your wellbeing. “I feel a weight being lifted off my chest” Have you ever heard this phrase? This is the feeling of detachment. Nothing holding you down, nothing keeping you locked up.

I’ve gone through these steps many times through different stages of my life. I’ve even gone through them in the same circumstance…more than twice. Nowadays I tend to skip past the first step as I am already quite “aware” and go straight to the “Processing” part. What NEW lessons have I learned? Has anything changed? Will anything change? And most importantly will I be happier and fulfilled if everything changed back to the way it use to be? After the last question I usually jump straight to FREEDOM…as I already know my answers. I guess sometimes a check in is nice too.

I wrote this blog as recently I’ve had to go through these stages, again. I was also lucky enough to meet a young inspiring woman who I believe was brought into my life for a reason, at the least a great friend to practice yoga with. I still find it amazing that the universe does that sort of thing. I’m dedicating this blog to her and hoping she’ll also find peace and happiness in her journey as well.

“Kind nice attractive lady talks about her yoga class….and I come from behind, bag their heads and drag them into the studio”


Thursday, October 7, 2010

NEW Planet Workout Poster.

Thank you to Matthew Campanile for ALL your help, inspiration, guidance and most of all support.

check out for more information and follow me on Facebook @!/group.php?gid=131766196852958

OH how I LOVE sweater weather.

This Thanksgiving I really do have a LOT of to grateful for. I really do make sure I remember to be thankful every day of my life because I’m alive and well and that’s really a LOT compared to other people and places in this world.

I’ve come a long way; in my career, my yoga, and especially with myself. A friend made the comment the other day “You made it!” I laughed and responded, “Getting there” Al though I’ve accomplished a lot and really have received a lot of the things I’ve wanted and asked for, I’m not finished yet. Like I said I’m very grateful for everything I’ve done as they have only brought me closer to accomplishing my new set of goals.

Remember to be thankful each day of your life. The little things DO really matter! Tell your friends and family how much you love them and how grateful you are that they’re in your life. Give your pets extra hugs and kisses; spend some time throwing a ball for taking them for a nice long walk. Donate your time, clothing or food to those less fortunate than you, and wake up each day with a smile and thankful that you were given another day to spread your wings and fly.


“Give us thankful hearts ... in this the season of Thy Thanksgiving. May we be thankful for health and strength, for sun and rain and peace. Let us seize the day and the opportunity and strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities, and let us ever remember that true gratitude and appreciation shows itself neither in independence nor satisfaction, but passes the gift joyfully on in larger and better form.” W.E.B. Du Bois

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Kali in the house"

Lately I’ve been really thinking about the last year. Mostly about the fact that it’s ONLY been a year since I moved back home and my life was transformed. Have all of these changes really only happened in a year?! Time really does move fast. I can’t believe how much has happened, how far I’ve become, everything I’ve accomplished, and EVERYTHING that’s changed! Although saying that, there are a few things that haven’t changed over the year as well.

Over this past weekend my parents moved out of the house I grew up in. 27 years of memories, parties, fights, laughter, love, happiness, sadness, holidays, family and friends. I stayed with them over the weekend, and slept in my “bedroom” for the very last time, and I left this morning saying goodbye to the best house ever. My mom reminded me that it’s not WHERE you live that makes “home” it’s who you’re with. I wish I had learned this about 2 years earlier. Then again I guess I DID have a lesson to learn, and everything really does happen for a reason.

Why are so many of us scared of change? Sometimes even repelling it so much we dig our heels into the ground and refuse to have it any other way. We suffer through each day of things not being what we think they “should” be. How do we get through it? Whether is be positive or negative, how can we make the transitions easier for ourselves?

I think we first have to take away the control, the fear, and the belief that it’s a negative thing. Change can be wonderful and very beneficial.
I was reminded of the goddess Kali by my roommate/Yogini Lindsey. “Kali is considered the goddess of time and change.” “Kali in the house!” is how Linds actually put it, which just made me smile, and really appreciate how great things really are. As ones spiritual devotee, Kali can be summoned to assist others appreciate the natural phases of birth and death.
Kali acts as a guide to help those in need to remember that change is required because from endings come new beginnings.

If change wasn’t a part of my life, I wouldn’t have experienced the love, the happiness, and even the heartbreaking sadness. Without ALL of these, I wouldn’t be where I am today, accomplished, proud, knowledgeable and successful!
The universe will never give you more than you can handle, so welcome change with open arms, no need to fear when something is taken away from you, or leaves your life, it just means that there’s more room for something more incredible to come along.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ending your practice but not your awareness.

I’ve always heard about Savasana or Corps Pose being that hardest posture to “get”.

This is how we typically end each practice. Lying on your back, shoulder tucked onto your back, palms facing up, and body....RELAXED! It’s easier said than done. I personally LOVE this posture, but that's also been a learning experience and I've had to do just that, learn and practice.
All that’s being asked of you is to just LAY there, LET GO, breath, and surrender your body, mind and soul for only about 3 minutes, in my classes that is. To some this can be the longest 3 minutes of their life as they have SO much to do when they leave the studio, especially being at a gym. This is the difference between teaching at a studio and teaching inside of a gym. When people come to the studio, their main focus is yoga, and that’s it. When people take a yoga class at a gym, I feel it’s more of an enhancement to their workout. I hear a lot of “I just need to stretch” but unfortunately not a lot of feeling the need to be less stressed, more focused and present. This is fine as they may not know what it means to feel these types of things and ultimately...that’s where I come in.

Yesterday night during my class of 10 people (AWESOME!) I themed the class on the breath. Breathing through the postures like breathing through life when it puts you in a tough position. At the end after I got them into Savasana, I read the poem I posted last year called Breath is Enough-By Robert William Service. I let that sit, or in this case lay with them while they relaxed and enjoyed Savasana. I remember two of the girls in the back who had never taken a yoga class before. Their heads popped up and they looked at each other as if to say “are we done??!!” I continued to guide them through Savasana, letting them know it was ok to relax, let go and surrender each part of their body deeper into the mat. They had full permission to just lay there and do nothing.

I feel having a hectic mind is an outcome of pushing too hard in yoga postures, concentrating too much on what you must and mustn’t do, not breathing through the posture trusting yourself. Then there’s its opposite; a deep sleep during corpse pose, day dreaming or dreaming and letting your thoughts take over because dreaming is often way easier then surrendering to a posture. While sleeping seems to be the most ordinary occurrence throughout this pose; sleeping keeps us from the depth and refinement of Savasana. I am one of the world’s biggest day dreamers and I am NOT saying there is anything wrong with daydreaming or even sleeping, it’s just that those states are considered unconscious; and that makes it’s much easier for one to dream than to surrender. Without even knowing it you might even actively engage the mind's eye in order to avoid the release one might have during Savasana.
It’s about finding that sweet spot right in the middle between sleep and effort, observing rather than chasing, and letting go rather than holding onto. This to me…is Savasana.
So is that it? Are we scared to LET ourselves LET GO? Are we worried that we might let go of something that we may think is holding us together? We live in a world full of distractions that we tend to repulse; Most of the time by pushing things deep inside us and not surrendering to them. This isn’t usually done on purpose but more so because we’re so busy we don’t think we have time, not even understanding that we actually don’t even HAVE to deal with it, just don't engage. When finally given the chance to rest, all of these feeling arise, our mind races and we feel we’re forced to deal with them, trying to figure out a solution to everything that VERY moment. When in Corpse Pose, if we're given the permission to let ourselves “briefly die” or “a small death, every moment, every day,” says Pattabhi Jois. We allow ourselves to experience the world as it is in that very moment. Learning from this example allows us to suspend those distractions and surrender to the feelings that we have been avoiding. This surrender gives way to spaciousness within the mind, body and soul. When one practices this way there is space enough for everything, especially love and appreciation.

I am too still learning to let go in Savasana, as well as other parts of my life. Little by little I have actually extended the life of my “small death” learning to come back to the breath each time my mind wanders and tries to deal with things that I’ve usually already let go of…or so I thought. It’s one of the most important parts of my practice. If I find myself too much in my head, I turn my focus to being grateful. I figure if I can’t relax my mind enough for the time being I might as well use it to focus on being thankful, and releasing some positive energy.
If you find yourself getting distracted or agitated, you can always come back to this basis. Just undo, unwind, breathe, get out of the way of those thoughts and JUST observe.

I read an amazing line today “When you roll out of Savasana, do not let Savasana roll out of you.” -Brad's Iyengar Yoga Notebook

Thanks Brad! If this were facebook…The “LIKE” button would be pressed! ;)