Monday, February 28, 2011

bathroom yogini or my not so glamorous life

I've shown photos of my sweet little home yoga room numerous times. With old hardwood floors, slanting ceiling, two windows and a large tree that I can almost touch with my toes, all the yoga props I need (including blankets, blocks, strap, and eye pillow), and walls painted the same color light green from my first studio.

I have objects that I love close at hand and inspiring books and poetry. I burn copal and sandalwood incense in here. I do yoga in here. I meditate in here. I write in my journal in here. I come here to sit, to be when I'm feeling happy or sad.

In the warmer months that is.....

In the wintertime it's just too cold upstairs in the Big Blue House. While I could warm it up with space heaters, it seems like a waste of time and energy. Although on the weekend or a more mild day I've been known to heat the space and spend a few hours in it.

All the other time my yoga practice takes place in the most unexpected of places. My bathroom. Yep, it's true.

And the closest thing this space has in common with my yoga room is the walls are a similar color. No windows with a big magic tree. No hardwood floor. No special special items (unless you count the toilet and I don't). The only prop I have handy is my yoga mat. I actually fold a towel to sit at the edge of for meditation.

So not glamorous right? I couple weeks ago at the workshop for February I share this bathroom information. One particular yogini at the workshop wanted to focus on her intention of starting a home yoga and meditation practice.

I patiently listened to her as she explained why she wanted this for herself. It was clearly something important. But when I asked her when she would begin this home practice she couldn't (or wouldn't) give me a clear answer. She had to think about and find the best spot for her yoga practice.

I seen and heard of this many times (I too am guilty). I want to do (insert goal or action of your choice) BUT ______________ (insert reason you have to put it off).

How many of us have....
Put off buying the dress till we lose 10 lbs?
Or taking the trip when the perfect time comes?
Waited to buy a house till we found our perfect partner?
Waiting to quit the job when we take more trainings?
Waiting to start a home yoga practice till we create the perfect spot?

With some things (not all) there is no better time to begin then the present. Perfect case is beginning a home yoga practice.

You don't have to know how to sequence beautifully. Your body knows the way.
You don't have to have a teacher telling you how to relax. Your mind knows the way.
Your heart always knows the way.

You don't need all the fancy clothes, or props. You don't need the candles, music, and incense.

You just need the desire to practice. And the commitment to do so. You just need to give yourself permission to do something nice for yourself. When all else fails, pause, breathe , soften, and surrender.

A few days after the workshop I emailed the group to check in with them. I was so delighted when I got an email back from the above yogini I speak about. What she shared with me was so very moving for me.

You see as teachers we often times want to appear perfect. We don't want you to see our scars, our struggles, and the dark spaces in our lives. We don't want you to see our anger or our hurt. We don't want you to see that we don't have the answer. We don't want you to see our bathroom where we practice yoga. ;)

Again and again I find tremendous power in sharing the imperfections of life. This is the very place where healing, learning, and growing takes places. On both teacher and student end. On the mat and off the yoga mat.

This awesome yoga student agreed to let me share a portion of her email (she was also the one who suggested I blog about this topic). I hope that you too can see that there is no reason to put off that which you can begin now. You might be surprised at what you discover.

"I have to share... while I walked away with many new great tools to add to my yoga toy chest, the tidbit that had the biggest impact on me, was the realization that my yoga teacher practices in her bathroom. I know, we all giggled and joked when you shared this, but it really shifted something in me. Needless to say, I started a home practice Sunday night, and have delightfully practiced every night since.

Surprisingly, I found the perfect spot, too, at the foot of my bed. It's private, it's clean, it's quiet, and it's even spacious! I can even use my bed to prop my legs up for modified savasana.

In 3 sessions, I've already moved into a pose I've never been able to "achieve" in class, I've surprised myself with being able to move without the help of a guided sequence, and after each session, I can't help but run out of the room giggling because of how much fun I had and how good I feel!"

Pretty spectacular, right? Thoughts? I'd love to hear them. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

recap of workshop on attention

I got to spend a full day at the studio on Saturday teaching, and it all felt so very good. The Saturday morning class has long been one of my fave classes to teach. I taught it every Saturday for about two years, then Emily and rotated until she had to give it up, now Ann Dean and I rotate. Saturday morning is a happy time for folks to come in and take yoga and this past Saturday was gorgeous.

I also taught February's workshop on Attention on Saturday. It was such a lovely gathering of yoginis. Delightful, each one of them. And the content that we explored is pretty near and dear to my heart.

We started with an outline of the day, brief intros, hopes for the day, and to stated what we were feeling in our body at that very moment. Great way to tune into attention early on. When Grace (awesome life coach Grace) was here last summer she had us to this and it's been something I've incorporated into workshops and trainings. I recall this past Saturday in the moment I felt a little buzz of energy right at my heart. I felt so very grateful to be there and sharing this information. My hope was to serve to the best of my ability to the gals who had taken half of there Saturday to be at the studio.

I began by introducing the eighth limbs of yoga, as concentration and meditation are two of the limbs laid out by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. I shared the six tools for concentration that Patanjali shares. I also introduced the three step mindfulness method that I share in a previous blog.

Early in the workshop I spoke of how highly I regard those three steps of setting an intention, taking action, and staying engaged and observing throughout the process. Some of us think that when we set intentions, it's not likely they will happen. But just look at the amazing things we do day in and day out. All of us set intentions of some sort throughout the day and we pull off things considered nothing short of amazing compared to other nations. Getting up, taking a shower, driving a car to a job, having the rights that we do. That's all pretty amazing. When we woke up we set small and/or large intentions then we go about our day taking the actions. On a good day we will observe, reflect, and decide make needed changes.

If the Universe supports us in this greatness, why wouldn't she support us in other crazy cool amazing ways?

That was a little bit of me on a soapbox perhaps, but I just can't resist. I feel strongly about all of that.

The idea of meditation is intimidating to a lot of students. I wanted to make it as accessible as I could and give different tools throughout our time. We started with walking meditation. We practiced several different ways:
1. Walking and not at all paying attention to the present moment, which is what we mostly do in everyday life.
2. Walking slowly, mindfully and paying attention to the moment at hand. I gave students the words lift, move, place, feel to use as they walked across the studio.
3. The third we explored walking at a more normal pace but continuing to stay connected to sensations we felt in the moment.

The next tool we used was sustaining attention on breath. We all found a cozy seat elevating our pelvis on two block and a blanket and we used a strap to hold the legs. We explored this at the anatomy training several weeks ago. Happy that Jules shared this jewel. I had typed up a page long script for tuning into the breath, relaxing the body, then using a purifying breath to release tension and stress.

We transitioned in the asana (yoga poses) portion. We moved slowly with great attention to body and breath. There is an article in this month's yoga journal that inspired me in teaching student's to pay exquisite attention to balance, stability, and that order.

The asana practice felt very sweet to me. It was inspiring to see these gals paying such close attention to what they were doing. Truly a beautiful class to witness. We practiced for about 75 minutes, starting with vinyasa then moving into a couple yin poses at the end. Even for the yin poses we used ten breaths to get into the posture.

I led the girls through a short yoga nidra (the one in this month's pdf) then let them drift into happy savasana land for a while longer. I thought the attention placed on the body parts for yoga nidra would be a nice topping off to the practice.

We came back to seated for another meditation. As inspiration, I shared one of my fave poems by Mary Oliver, When I Am Among The Trees. I thought it spoke perfectly to the Light that exists within each of us. The poem was a prompt to go in, visualize a small flame in the heart and focus attention there.

After asana and meditation the gals reflected and journaled on some questions I gave them while I got some snacks ready. We stayed in this quiet, reflective mode longer.

Transitioning into sustaining attention on eating. I instructed the gals on taking 10 breaths prior to eating, noticing the presence of emotions, eating in silence without distractions, and using the five senses to stay present with the art of eating.

It was cute and inspiring to see each gal get her food and find a spot in the studio to sit and eat. Students usually find a sunny spot on the studio floor sitting atop a yoga blanket. Today was no different.

We came back together and had a nice discussion about the different tools we'd used for sustaining attention: walking, breathing, asana, yoga nidra, focusing on the light within, and eating. It's always interesting for me to hear how students react differently to practices. And I always learn a lot from hearing about their experiences.

We closed out our day by identifying one intention to focus on in the upcoming month. They also paused and let themselves feel, really feel what their body, mind, and heart would feel if their intention was happening in that moment. They also wrote down action steps to take to move closer to said intention.

Of course I wanted to hear their intentions. More often than not students are quite vague in their intentions. I take that back, students can be great at identifying intentions, but vague about the actions involved to realize their intention. So I was really encouraging them to get as specific as they could in identifying the action steps.

Just like that four hours come and go. We're all amazed that the time has gone so quickly. And that my friends, makes for a great day at work. I love my job.

**I can not wait for next month's workshop on cleanse/purify. It's gonna be good.**

Friday, February 18, 2011

paying attention to joy

I, like many people that I've talked to recently have had a hard time dealing with Old Man Winter. A student I was talking to a while back summed it up brilliantly when she simply said, "Everything takes more effort in winter."

Brilliant, right? That rang so true to me. It takes more effort to get up and get going when your bed feels so warm and cozy (especially so when you live in a Big (cold) Blue House). It takes more effort getting dressed, piling on all those layers then topping it off with warm albeit unattractive shoes and a big heavy coat. It takes more effort getting somewhere....going out and warming up your car then cautiously driving on the fresh snow or ice.

I find that in Winter I pretty much brace myself and run from place to place. From the house to the car. Car to the grocery store. Back to car. Into studio. Back to car. Continue to repeat. Winter and early spring is usually when I get sick.

Some people thrive in winter, cold, and snow. I am not one of them. It hurts me. When I'm feeling blah, nature is the best soother for my soul. But in winter time I can't even drag myself out to commune with the trees, ground, and sky. I only look longingly at them through the confines of a window. Patiently awaiting the day that I can frolic in tank tops and flip flops.

Now I'll get to the part about paying attention to joy (bet your glad, right). The Yoga Sutras offer us a very no nonsense way of dealing with the blahs. The sweet lil sutra says,

"unwholesome thoughts can be neutralized by cultivating wholesome ones."

More brilliance. I truly believe that we can develop those qualities that we are drawn to. I am drawn to joy. Usually I'm pretty good at accessing joy, even among daily challenges. Lately I've been noticing my joy-o-meter taking a downwards dip. So I'm being more intentional with joy. Meaning that I'm purposefully doing things that bring me joy and I'm keeping my mind and heart open to realize and receive joy around me.

It doesn't have to be the kind of joy of a new pair of yoga pants or a trip to the tropical paradise of Tulum (although I could never resist this joy). For me gratitude is the gateway to joy.

It can be what I refer to as simple joy. Simple joy was stepping out of the studio last night and seeing the most magnificent full moon and me saying aloud, "Oh my, wow, thank you." And it really went just like that.

Simple joy was driving down the street yesterday with my car window cracked breathing in the fresh warm air.

Simple joy was walking in the cemetery two days ago enjoying laughs and conversation with a yogini amiga.

Simple joy was the walk I took this morning to Main & Maple and seeing my very first tree with buds. It literally stopped me in my tracks. After staring at the tree for at least a minute I snapped the above photo. This little tree on Main St in Nicholasville brought me a tremendous amount of joy.

Thank you kindly Tree. You helped raise my joy-o-meter at least three notches.

How about you, any qualities you are working to cultivate these days?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

3 steps to blend mind and body

Greetings Friends,
I hope you are enjoying the beautiful spring like weather today in Kentucky! It's so very good for the soul. I wanted to take just a moment and share something I find super helpful in yoga on and off the mat. I think it perfectly blends our studio themes for January and February, which are Intention and Attention.

I have an process that I follow when I identify a clear goal/hope/intention/sankalpa. I can't take credit for it as it is a mindfulness based practice. It's so wonderful I wanted to share it with you today.

Here are the three steps:

1. Set an intention
2. Follow through with an action
3. Observe what occurs

You can try this easily with a daily activity. Let's say your intention is to joyfully prepare a delicious, nutritious meal for your family. What are the actions you need to take to prepare a wholesome meal? What needs to happen for you to feel more joyful in preparing the meal? Once you are in the process of making the meal stay present. Notice how your feet feel on the ground, observe the sounds of chopping veggies, breathe in the aromas. Observe how this whole process feels.

This is one of the techniques we'll be exploring at this month's workshop focusing on Attention. It's this coming Saturday from 12:00 - 4:00. Would love to have you present!

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy heart day!

"I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love." ~Marilyn Monroe

Today I'm feeling thankful for having amazing souls in my life. I awoke to the most awesome gift I could ever annual Valentines Day poem from Andy. I felt like a giddy lil schoolgirl as I snatched it up and excitedly read it. So touching. So funny. So perfect. So Andy. It's the best part about VDay.

I finally decided that it's time to put the studio laptop to rest. So the day included a quick trip to Best Buy to purchase a new studio computer. I got it all set up with relative ease (which was good cause I realllly don't like doing these things). Set up the username, password and such. Also scrubbed the studio floor by the front door. Winter and the salt sure does make a mess at the studio. It's looking better. Not perfect, but better. I spent a few hours at the studio and left just before Teresa arrived to teach her 4:30 class.

Met Andy at the allergy place (I'm sure it has a name but it escapes me now) where together he and I almost made a complete brain when it comes to the mess otherwise known as our insurance. I got there before Andy so I sat out in my car and spent about 20 lovely minutes warmed by the sun feeling more content reading then I have in over a week. It was a moment of simple joy. And so welcomed.

Had a sweet early Valentines dinner with Andy at Bella Notte. I missed a call from Teresa so I quickly called her back. Turns out while she was teaching the new computer took a snooze and she and Sarah were needing the password as students filed in for the next class.

I couldn't help but laugh when she said "The hint was..."you like it". So I was typing in chocolate, cake, coffee, anything food related I could think of that you like!" Too much! Sometimes I wonder what newbie students think when they come to the studio and they encounter this stuff, otherwise known as another day at Barefoot Works. ;)

Truth be told I wouldn't change a thing. I feel so very blessed. So very thank-full to have these yoga teachers frantically calling me cause I've done something crazy. I met with nearly all the BW's teachers yesterday and realized again how much I adore them. They are so very special to me.

And the BW's students. The absolute best. I truly have the best gig in the world. I literally just got an email from a student and she closed with "Barefoot Works is truly a very special place."

I totally agree. It's a special place because special people bring their hearts and smiles to visit often.

PS - Alright yoga buds I was so very open with the yuckiness of my flu last week. I'm so ready to be over it now. So what I need from you is not a look of care and concern (although I so appreciate it). When I hear, "Ohhh you're still sick and You still don't look well", it makes me feel...well not well. So even if I look or sound sick puhlease just don't even mention it. I'm ready to be known as more than the girl who had the flu. ;) Gracias, gracias, gracias!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

the things you don't see

You don't see me waking at 6:30 this morning, reaching over to turn my bedside lamp on and it crashing to the floor along with a pile of books stacked next to it.

You don't see me hoping and praying to feel better today.

You don't see me going upstairs with a homemade concoction of hot water, honey, and lemon. I've been drinking this "healing elixir" way too much this year.

You don't see me working on the computer on the flyers that should have been posted at the studio long ago. Or the wrong time I put on a flyer for a new class beginning Sunday.

You don't see me sitting, waiting in my bedroom for a call with my business coach, growing impatient and frustrated as the minutes ticked by.

You don't see me on the phone with Andy as tears trickled down my face, feeling a tender mess. Denying that I am sick. Once again. This year. I can see how feeling crappy physcially leads to feeling crappy mentally and emotionally.

You don't see me feeling sad for myself. And my Daddy. And my sister. And all the Mommas out there who not only have to take care of their sick selves, but also their sick babies. I ache for you too.

You don't see me wrestling over going to the doctor or not.

You don't see me in disbelief when said doc says I have the flu. And me saying to myself, "Shit, what's the point of all the green juices and good eats."

You don't see me sitting in the parking lot of CVS with very expensive meds thinkin', "What's the point of health insurance?" Then nearly driving to the coffee shop with pinktop in hand to do some work.

You don't see me coming home and wondering what I'm gonna do for the next two days. Knowing that I'm supposed to rest. Knowing that I'm not good at mandatory rest.

You don't see the email I send to my amazing teachers asking for their help. And the immediate response of "Get well. We got your back." and "Glad to help out. Get rest amiga." and "Absolutley happy to lend a hand to my beloved friend, mentor, sister in consciousness."

You don't see me feeling elated that I have such caring and compassionate people on my side. Reminding me that I'm worthy of rest, just for the sake of rest...even when I have a hard time giving myself permission to do just that.

But I shall let you see me in my perfectly imperfect state. Flu, negative thoughts, restlessness, puffy eyes, and all. Cause that's just life.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

what fuels your fire?

This past Saturday I took a workshop (hoorrahh!)at Open Heart Yoga. Open Heart Yoga is housed out of the Unitarian Church on Clays Mill Rd. and ran by the lovely Whitney Rubinson. The setting and the space are reallly amazing. Imagine peacefulness of the woods and a great circular space.

Lori Lyn was the leader of the workshop titled Finding Your Authentic Self. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I was super happy that the timing worked out. I've had a Reiki session with Lori Lyn in the past and knew it would be great.

There was lots of space for discussion and journaling. Here are some of the things I journaled about:

Where I am and where I would love to be in terms of:
*self esteem
*being busy/overwhelmed
*physical health

I wrote about my spiritual source and attempted to write about how other people see me. I was most challenged by this one.

One inquiry that I totally appreciated was identifying energy zappers and the things that feed and fuel my energy. Here is my list:

Energy Zappers
*too much sugar
*cluttered house
*being cold/cold weather
*staying up too late
*some people
*not having enough quiet time

Fuels My Energy
*green juices
*whole foods
*doing yoga
*being in nature
*going to bed early with Andy
*elevating/helping other people
*listening to music
*hanging at a coffee shop
*being with friends
*dreaming (I even have "hope notes" scattered around the Big Blue House. Above photo is in guest bathroom)

Ironic that as I type this I'm not feeling well. This year has hit the Tessandori's hard with yuck. It's looked something like this:

Andy sick
Sharon sick
Andy gets cold sore
Sharon gets cold core
Andy sick
Sharon sick
Andy gets cold sore (I noticed this as we woke and lay in bed. My cold sore is just now disappearing and I say, "crap, you're gettin a blister..."

We're sorta a sorry bunch. ;)

Would love to hear what zaps your energy and what fuels your fire.

PS - And for you friends....I'll see you in the Light..

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

why ayurveda says we're fat yet made of light

I've been reading, studying, processing, pondering, and exploring my module on ayurveda nutrition this month. I am so finding these two paragraphs totally awe inspiring:

"The ancient Rishis of India who developed the ayurvedic system of living did not know anything about specific vitamins and minerals nor did they know about proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Rather they approached nutrition from an energetic perspective. They learned that if the qualities of a human being were understood and the qualities of a food source were understood, then it could be predicted what effect would occur when they were mixed together. The goal of the ayurvedic practitioner in not to tell a person how much of a nutrient they should ingest but rather to match up the qualities inherent within food to the unique balance of qualities within the individual."

Ayurveda maintains that everything in nature (meaning every single "thing") can be described in terms of ten pairs of opposites. Those ten pairs of opposites are:
1. Cold/Hot
2. Moist/Dry
3. Heavy/Light
4. Gross/Subtle
5. Dense/Flowing
6. Static/Mobile
7. Dull/Sharp
8. Soft/Hard
9. Smooth/Rough
10. Cloudy/Clear

These qualities are also found in all food sources. Ayurveda has identified six tastes. They are:
1. Sweet
2. Sour
3. Salty
4. Pungent
5. Astringent
6. Bitter

We're all familiar with the first three tastes. Less familiar with the next three. Pungent is found in many hot spices, astringenet in present in beans (among other things), and bitter is present in greens and herbs. In looking at this list we can all probably agree that as Americans our diet consists mostly of sweet, sour, and salty.

For just an example (cause this can get a little overwhelming quiet quickly) clearly we have an obesity problem here in the US. Again, we eat mostly sweet, salty, and sour foods.

Guess what, those are the heaviest foods of the six tastes. With the sweet taste being the heaviest of all. It's major qualites (from above) include heavy, moist, cool, stable, smooth and soft. Clearly we have a sweet/sugar problem. We have McDonald's putting sugar into every item on their menu (including salads) and we have vending machine in schools where kids can get yummy delicious processed sugary foods.

Too. Much. Sugar. Equals heaviness. Of both body and mind.

On a lighter and more uplifting note. You are part of the stars, just in case you didn't know. You are the light, truly.

"There is little that people do that is more sacred than eating food. When food is consumed, a person takes into his/her body atoms and molecules that have been around since the beginning of time. These atoms and molecules have played many roles over time. They were the stars, they were the earth, they were the dinosaurs and, upon consuming them, a person is hoping that they will join with them and become them. When food is taken, people are connecting themselves to everything that ever was, everything that is and everything that will be. In doing so, past, present, and future become one."

That is pretty amazing. I love this thought.
Thoughts, agree, disagree, confusing, interesting? Love to hear from You!

Have a delicious day friends....

{Quotes by Dr. Marc Halpern of California College of Ayurveda}

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

my intentions for 2011

I felt like posting my intentions for this year was a proper way to send off our Month of Intention at the studio and welcome the Month of Attention.

I've been working thoughout the month on my list. Working through the same lists that I provided last month, those areas of physical, mental/emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Between the four lists I have over 50 intentions.

Seems like a lot of intentions, eh? That's why I've been spending time refining them. The more I went back and looked over the lists I saw some overlapping, and some themes. With this information I was able to see what is really important to me this year which is:

1. Nourishing relationships
2. Giving back
3. Growing Barefoot Works community
4. Developing/expanding healthy habits
5. Challenging myself in new ways

I've already shared that my theme of the year is Sacred Courage. I want to totally give myself permission to be brave in life. To be the most Me that I can possibly be.

As I looked back over my lists of the four areas and realized the overlapping, I assigned a word for each list. For I am truly a lover of the word. Here are a few things I'm really focusing on from each list along with the theme word:

Physical = Nourish
*grow a veggie garden
*cleanse each season
*take Ayurveda or vegetarian cooking classes
*dance dance dance
*buy a pink bike and ride on the legend trail

Mental/Emotional = Discipline
*complete Ayurveda course
*use the 12 themes at the studio in a practical, fun, and inspiring way
*full ytt in Tulum this fall
*become more of a "numbers gal", meaning budgeting
*study with Seane Corn
*write a book
*create Ayurveda program to teach

Intellectual = Trust
*gather stories from family
*take more photos
*read poetry
*seek out kirtan/yoga yelling
*dive deeper into my purpose
*study yoga sutras

Spiritual = Explore
*day and weekend trips around KY with Andy, Liz and Tony
*camping with the family
*Off the Mat, Into the World with Seane Corn
*develop lil home ritual with Andy
*go on 2-4 weekend silent retreats

So there we have it. I now have some things to focus on, to place my attention on!

PS - Two yoga buds emailed me pics of their vision boards. So pretty, so inpsiring to see. I love the inclusion of the Mexico yoga retreat. Yay!! And look at this sweet sacred spot below.