Tag Archives: yoga

Back on the Mat

 

yoga mat

This was the week. My Hay House calendar for Tuesday said “Today is the beginning of a positive turning point for me.” I decided to take that seriously and get up and go out into the world of my former life. I went for a 2 mile walk and felt pretty accomplished, a little out of shape, but happier. I considered it a meditation walk, contemplating the houses, trees, birds, dogs out for their morning walks and listening to the sounds in the neighborhood and in my head.

Wednesday I decided to take the big step and return to yoga. I haven’t been since early March, unable to face the introspection and solitude on my yoga mat, but my body craved the stretch, the familiar asanas and the quiet reward of the savasana at the end of class. I walked into the studio and was asked if I had cancelled my membership. No, I’ve just been gone for a while. I’ve had some stuff going on. I have seen the payment going out of my account each month. No problem. Walking into the room I run into a teacher I know who is a member of my community. She knows everything and gives me a hug and encouragement, “It will be good, just what you need, really.” I hope so.

Laying out my mat, I assemble the familiar props, foam blocks, blankets and a strap; I lay down, breathing in the calm. The teacher is smiling and positive, speaking slowly and demonstrating every new posture and walking around the room helping to make small adjustments. The bamboo floor is smooth and lovely, the blue walls are tranquil and the view out the windows is of children playing on a leafy climbing structure. I breathe, arms circling up and folding forward, then fingertips to shins stretching out and folding down again. Stepping back into plank, the most difficult for me, I breathe into the rigidity of the pose and then down, chaturanga dandasana, pushing slightly up to a low cobra and elevating into downward facing dog. Stepping forward on my mat, arms circling, reaching up, I look up at my hands and then bring them to my heart center. There is nowhere else to look, except in my heart.

Today I went to yoga, the second day back was not as dramatic, no questions, just smiles and hellos by name. I settled in and welcomed the calm, the warmth of the room and the returning familiarity of sun salutations. Today we work on balance. Triangle pose and preparation for half-moon, standing on one leg, lifting the other straight out and up using the foam block for support. I need practice on balancing, my leg wobbles and I am glad for the support of the block but it still doesn’t guarantee an easy balance. It still takes work, repositioning and focusing on the breathing through it all.

 

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Filed under Life thoughts, Walking, yoga

Who we were, who we are, who we will be…

There will be emotions in yoga, my teacher quoted tonight, that emerge within the body during our practice, and rise to the surface.  Feel them, let them out.  Do not try to suppress them.

We were children, innocent and curious, filled with hopes, dreams and unrealistic fantasy expectations of the image of a future life.  We read books and believed that anything was possible.  Magic, princes on gleaming white stallions, superheros, pots of gold at the end of the rainbow and mysterious identities.  We dug in the fresh beach sand trying to reach China and bobbed over waves and learned to dive under them.  We imagined the trickle of a garden hose on an asphalt driveway was a river and magenta berries were food in a forest.  We ran out to play and stayed out until dinnertime, later until curfew, 10:00 p.m.  We rode our bikes down to the Boulevard shopping at the Five and Dime, and the corner Drug Store with its rows of candy.  Watermelon Jolly Rancher Candy Sticks were my favorite. We believed in everything and anything was possible.

The emotions arise from the disbelief that enters when all dreams do not come true.

We are adults filled with responsibilities and obligations screaming at us and visions just out of reach.  Dreams bubbling under the surface, ready to burst out if only they are given the chance.  We keep normal hours and go to normal jobs, while plotting elaborate escape plans.  Holidays are celebrated annually and traditions are created and maintained.  Our families grow, expand and contract.  We make many acquaintances tied to our children’s activities, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.  Then our children go away.  To college, to live, starting their lives and acquaintances drift off leaving a circle of close friends and family  unaffected by the changing circumstances.

When we breathe, slowly, deliberately, inhale.  Hold.  Exhale.  Hold.  Vocalize.  Ah.  We release the trickle of emotions.  The river of stress and the waterfall of tears.

We will be walking on the path, our path, of realized accomplishments, adventures planned and spontaneous, connections and re-connections.  We walk together with partners and sometimes with children, and we walk alone.  We will hold onto dreams and see some realized in another form, at another time.  We look at the collections of life as a to-do list of expendable items.   We will look back through tears and faded photos chronicling a span of time that in the grand design is just a blip, but to us, is everything.

The body, mind and Spirit, in the union of motion, stillness, sound and breath gives us the gift of a glimpse within and the ability to, for a moment, ignore what is outside of us.

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Yoga Everywhere

Yoga is the common thread in my life.  It shows up everywhere beginning with the affirmation scrawled on my round, wood-trimmed mirror and ends in the evening when I tear off the day’s page of the “I Can Do It” calendar by Louise Hay.

In between, yoga is my gift to my kindergarten students, who are learning to breathe slowly and deeply when they need to calm their bodies and reset their minds.  Yoga has taught me to move with flexibility and more slowly than I used to move in order to take the day in, to notice the lupines and the succulents blooming.  Yoga is the practice of moving towards simplicity, removing the objects with unneeded energy from drawers and cabinets and to make room for possibilities.

Last week, struggling to think of a nice yoga practice for 27 energetic kindergarten students during our regular Thursday yoga time, I brought out the book, It Looked Like Spilled Milk, a picture book about a cloud taking on various shapes.  I read it slowly, deliberately, playing with the repetitive line: “but it wasn’t spilt milk!”  I told the class it was about taking the time to imagine what shape your cloud would be if it were your favorite shape.  We took the time to take turns sharing what our favorite cloud would look like.  Mine was an ice cream cone of course!

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The energy of the class stabilized and calmed and we ended our day on a positive note with thoughts of fluffy white kittens, castles, puppies and unicorns.  Today a group of girls asked if they could read the “yoga book.”  At first I didn’t know which book they were talking about, but when they held up It Looked Like Spilt Milk.”  Yoga.

Yoga waits for me on Tuesday nights, candle lit, infused with music that I always love. and challenges that stretch more than hamstrings.  Breathing slowly and reset for another week.

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Salad Meditation

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There is a saying about chopping vegetables, something like, if you are chopping the carrot, chop the carrot.  It sounds silly, but the intention is to recognize the act of being in the moment.  Presence.  That is my practice for the day.  I spent the day in the moment, each moment, and I got a lot done!  I wrote and prepared my upcoming workshop:  The Gift of Balance, a workshop designed to help parents create balance in their lives and the lives of their children.  I did the usual email checking, laundry, grocery shopping and blogging for my classroom.  I took a walking break with Charlie in the afternoon, climbing the hilly streets, slowly, at the pace of an aging dog.  I was in no hurry anyway and the air was fresh and warm.

I drank my tea, watched my  Feminine Business Model (Tracy Lee Jones) video for the day and took a little nap.

It was a nice day.  Quietly productive, with each activity started, completed.

I ended the day with my salad meditation, creating a beautifully delicious crunchy salad with kale that was so dark it was almost purple, sweet beets, small grape tomatoes, hothouse cucumbers, romaine lettuce, parsley, and celery and pearl white mushrooms.  Topped with sprouted sunflower seeds, it was crunchy goodness.

Today was a gift for me.  A quiet day of a peaceful practice.  Gratitude.

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Three-Leaf Clovers

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Strolling through the hills on my (mostly) usual afternoon walk with Charlie, I notice the vibrant green bunches of clover dotting the hillside, little yellow buds poking out of the bunchs attached by winding vine-like stems.  I notice the bright green, almost flourescent color, and the perfection of each little clover with its heart-shaped leaves.  Thought of spring come on this Groundhog Day.  It is predicted to be an early one but this cloudy day offers little evidence of the sunny days to come.  Only the clovers springing up through the mud left from last week’s rain give me the light feeling of winter’s end approaching in a month or so.

I appreciate the simple little clovers and only after observing them for a few minutes, realize that I am supposed to be looking for a four-leaf clover.  Perfection.  There isn’t one, of course.  Perfection isn’t always readily available so why do we search for it, scold ourselves for not achieving it and judge ourselves and others with perfection as the barometer?  It is a human condition to reflect on the past and the “if only” that result from those sad recollections.  To worry about the future and the unknown events that await.

Arriving home, Charlie is not content to stay inside just yet so we wander in the yard and relax on his favorite lounge chair.  Here he is content.  I gaze forward at the mountains across the Valley and notice for the first time that I can see a mountain range beyond the first set.  For a cloudy day the visibility is exceptional.  A little sliver of sky remains under the clouds and it is that sliver that allows me to peek beyond the first barrier of mountains.  Breathing.  In and out.  With Charlie resting between my legs, but poised, observing every little bird, every leaf moving slightly in the slight breeze, I am able to rest in the present.

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Filed under Life thoughts, Relax

Breathing

In my yoga practice, my favorite thing is Ujjayi Pranayama.  This is the breath that sounds like an ocean in my throat and is especially satisfying when I can’t physically be at the beach, looking at the ocean.  When time must stand still, in an asana, while showing patience, or while gathering courage, breathing can help.  So, in lieu of a mantra, since I’ve never officially been given one, I create my own.  I am breathing in, I am breathing out.

Teaching this to children, 5 year-olds, is an enlightenment in itself.  Have you ever heard children cheer when told it was time for yoga?  Have you ever witnessed the serious face of a small child gazing over his hand in Warrier 2, or smiled secretly as a little girl in triangle pose looked up at her hand and said, “Hello hand!”

Yoga can mean moving into a posture, noticing one’s environment, listening to one’s body or simple quieting the mind long enough to breathe and be calmed by that magical sound.

Gratitude, like yoga, is a practice too.  I am grateful to my teachers, to have a beautiful space to practice, to have a special place in my home to continue that practice and to share the gift of calm with 27 rambunctious 5 year-olds, who move through out the day, but who are grateful for the opportunity to slow down, listen to their private ocean and breathe in and out.

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Filed under gifts, Life thoughts, Relax, Teaching

Looming New Year

 

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Maria Robinson

I heard this quote during my wonderful Weight Watcher’s Meeting with Michelle Jacob last Saturday, and though I have heard it before, this time it sunk in.  I have been thinking about positive ways to move on, move forward and what I want to change for the New Year.  This is often a time of reflection, my usual pastime, which is accentuated during this time of year because so many others are putting energy in the same place.  I am creating a list of changes and here is the beginning of my list:
 
1.  Write more:  I am happiest when I do this and actually have begun to crave writing time, which must mean it is really something I need to do for my soul.
2.  Practice Yoga (more often):  This is another happy place for me and one that has great physical and emotional benefits.  Turning off my incredibly active “monkey mind” for an hour a day….
3.  Letting go: This is a general category that includes stuff, emotions, weight, and habits.
4.  Look for more natural ways to heal:  A concerted effort to investigate better health through more natural solutions like Save Our Bones, meditation, and a better, plant-based diet.
5. Create what I want:  which includes manifesting, doing, writing and discovering what is important to me.
 
The past is a magnet, pulling at us to look back, go back and revisit old stories, but really, once we have learned the lesson, and gone through the emotions, what good does it do to revisit?  The quote about the past is gone, the future is unknown and today is a gift (present) is a bit overdone, but the message is clear.  For one who thrives on control, I am coming to the conclusion that I can only control myself.  My mission for this new year is to offer the gift of change to myself and see what happens.

 

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Filed under change, Life thoughts, New Year's, writing