Sunday, September 30, 2012

letting go

Make a steamy cuppa hot chocolate, pull out your mat and blankets and savor the season to let go. Please enjoy this thoughtful guest post by Julie Ransdell. Lovely words from a lovely yogini.

Let go of your attachments: your attachment to being right, to having total control, or to living forever. This process of letting go is integral to the process of becoming whole.
(Judith Hanson Lasater- Restorative yoga queen!)

It is the most perfect time of year to settle into the softer side of your yoga practice. I know I know, but you want to sweat and flow and challenge your body so that moment you rest into Svasana is all so worth it. I get it. Believe me. But maybe it would feel nice to slow down a bit.

Temperatures are dropping, nights are getting longer, leaves are changing and the universe is tapping you on the shoulder and saying, “let go. it’s time to nestle in.”

I cherish this time of year- pulling out my jeans and hoodies, spending more time at home, hot chocolate, and mums on the porch. I especially love resting into my yoga practice- pulling out my blankets and blocks, spending more time closer to the earth, folding forward, letting go, and closing my eyes.

Restorative yoga gives us the chance to linger in the quiet of our soul, providing simple rest and relaxation. But it also takes a little preparation. It’s easy for new yoga students to be intimidated by the restorative practice because of the amount of props and the quiet nature of the practice. But remember, there is no ego in the yoga practice, only love and acceptance.

Take your time with this new type of practice. Allow yourself the opportunity to take your practice to a new level. And when you notice your mind not quieting down or you find you just can’t get comfortable in that restorative forward twist- take a deep breath, let go of control and remember that with practice and time, you’ll find a place of contentment within these poses and that is what yoga is all about- calming the mind and accepting the present moment as it is.

I never thought I would love “resting” so much in my practice but oh do I ever! Making use of my props, taking the time to find comfort in each pose, letting go, and simply resting is an integral part of my practice now.

Sound like an experience you would like to try? Join Sarah Bowker and I for a restorative workshop next Friday, October 5th @ 6:30. Start your fall season nurturing yourself on the mat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

do you have a plan for your life?

Enjoy this wise and witty, humorous and heartfelt post from the fantastic Kate Dorvel. Aren't we lucky? Join Kate on Tuesday at 5:45, Level 2 and the many times she graciously steps in to  sub for me. Which is often these days. ;)
Do you have a plan for your life?

 It seems like a silly question, I’m sure. Well obviously, Kate. How else do you get through your weeks and months and years?

Coming from type-a, planner, to-do list maker, seemingly got-it-together moi, you need to know: sometimes it’s pretty frieken awesome to not have a plan, to take a chance and see where it takes you.

My parents had it pretty easy with me. I was the “good child.” Let’s be honest, my brother made that title pretty easy. So clearly, after high school came college, after college came graduate school and after graduate school came a perfectly rewarding and successful career. Oh and along the way, I would re-unite with my old high-school boyfriend, move in together, eventually most likely get engaged and get married.

Well I will tell you, that I was cruising right along on this well paved path, with my smile on of course, because I was supposed to be happy, correct? Many people would think so. I started hitting a lot of pot holes. These began manifesting in my physical and mental health. I was able to put on a great fa├žade. The fact that my life was seemingly happy because I was “on target” was what mattered.

It’s probably not much of a surprise to any of you that it was yoga that brought my life into perspective, as I’m sure it has done for you in one way or another. I had a plan that I followed to the tee and I was, quite frankly, miserable. Most significantly I wasn’t happy with myself, I didn’t love myself. And I do attribute this to “my plan” that I had molded myself into.

The life I was living was passing me by because I wasn’t aware day to day of what I could be offering to myself, to those I loved and to the world. I also wasn’t aware of what those entities were offering to me, so they passed me by. This is not to say that my education, my past career, or my experience hasn’t contributed to where I am today, but I do feel, without regret, that I could have lived those years better.

It took me physically removing myself from a relationship that was not good for me, a few years later moving on from a job and career that weren’t fulfilling to me, and a significant move to a new geographical location for me to evolve to where I am now. All of these took the love and support of my family foremost, as well as a bit of blind faith and courage. I was scared to death. And I will tell you that I did each and every one of those things without a plan. I just did them, and told myself that I would make it work.

Now please, please, don’t go quit your jobs or freak out because you don’t think you are on the right path. I ask you instead to do a bit of introspection. Reflect on your plan – do you have a plan?  Where are you in your plan? Do you feel that you are “on target?” Do you feel that you do many things because you are expected to do so – either by yourself or by others? Do you feel that you have a list of things to do before you can be happy? Do you

Start small, start with days, then maybe weeks. So potentially, your Saturday would look as such: get up 5am, run 9 miles, coffee with friends, home to take the dogs for a walk, feed the dogs, make the bed, do the laundry, mow the front lawn, go to Whole Foods, go to Target, unpack groceries, vacuum, clean the bathrooms, open bottle of wine, prepare taco ingredients, make tacos, watch movie, go to bed 9:30pm. Instead pick two or three things that you need to get done for you and your family – yoga, laundry, grocery shopping etc. – and then let the rest unfold naturally – if the lawn gets mowed because you feel like mowing it, wooohoooo! If not, it’ll be there tomorrow, and the next day.

I give a lot of credit to my boyfriend, Craig, for keeping me balanced. As I’m working myself into a tizzy over nothing he will absolutely take me gently by the shoulders, look at me and say “Katie, it’s ok if we don’t get to the grocery store today, we’ll make it work.” And that’s the truth for many, many things. There are always exceptions, but if you can step back and be aware and honest with yourself I guarantee you can begin to weed through the necessary and the unnecessary. Use your family, and your friends as sounding boards, but make sure that you are listening to the voice and the intuition within yourself.

You don’t have to believe in fate or destiny to allow yourself to let go a bit to move forward. It can be a very freeing, and yes, scary experience, but it will feel more natural than sticking to your life to-do list. I wish you all the best in your journey. Keep in mind that life is the journey and not the destination (somebody else said that, but I’m not sure who J) Above everything else, remember to have faith in yourself! And sometimes if you get stuck in a rut a little Scarlett O’Hara is just the ticket: “I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.”


Thursday, September 20, 2012

your wisest teacher

Please enjoy this fantastic guest post by Misty Pittman.
By the time you read this, I will have taught my first basics class at Barefoot Works.   But at this moment, the class is still 3 days away.  I’ve been thinking about this class for a long time and asking myself, “What are the best tools to give these students so that they can move forward with a safe and healthy practice?” 

I’ve also been spending a lot of time thinking about my own personal practice; how it started and what it looks like today.   I am reminded of the struggles I’ve had on the mat, as well as the moments when my practice supported me in the most loving of ways.

Over the last few years I have dealt with various physical injuries, limitations, and discomfort.  Let me preface this by saying, I am 33 years old.  I have a cranky hip that talks to me daily, knees that ache for no apparent reason, and most recently an injury in my back that has left me lying crippled on the floor.  I’ll admit, I have wondered on more than one occasion… “Did yoga do this to me??”

It is no secret that people can experience injuries while practicing yoga.  Just like people can injure themselves in an aerobics class, playing sports, or doing any other activity that is physically demanding.  But yoga, like all other forms of fitness, is rarely to blame.  Instead, how we approach the practice and how we honor our own limits often has everything to do with it.

My body has been conditioned in a certain way from years (and I mean years) of sitting at a desk (not good for the psoas or IT band).  My hips, pelvis, and glutes are tension central… this is the area of my body where I hold the majority of my stress and emotions.  Some people hold it in their shoulders or their jaws.  It’s important to be aware of where you hold yours.  And let’s not forget our unique anatomy that ensures that no two people are alike and no two people will look the same way or feel the same way in a yoga pose.

While I often get frustrated at my body, (why won’t my knees settle on the floor already?!), I realize that my body has also been my greatest teacher.  It has taught me respect and patience.  I have experienced the freedom of letting go and working within my limits rather than painfully pushing against them.   I am learning how to use my practice therapeutically.  I am appreciating how my practice can support me, not just physically, but mentally and soulfully.

In the early years of my practice (over 10 years ago), my teachers did not talk about modifications or honoring the body.  Flexibility was the goal, and the only way to get there was to pushpushpush, holdholdhold.  I practiced in studios surrounded on all sides by mirrors, so that we could be constantly reminded of how “imperfect” our poses looked while the teacher demonstrated them beautifully.  My how things have changed…

So do I think yoga is to blame?  No, I truly don’t.  But I think my desire to look as good as the person next to me, to impress my teacher, and to push myself beyond a safe edge during my practice are all examples of how mindlessness on the mat can add insult to injury.

And so I return to thinking about my upcoming class.  I am prepared to teach my students safe alignment principles, how to modify in a way that is suitable for them, and how to use props effectively.  I’m ready to introduce them to the mysterious world of Sanskrit and teach them the tricks of transitioning from pose to pose.

What makes my heart really beat with excitement, though, is teaching students…

·        What it means to “honor” their bodies. 

·        How to listen intuitively.

·        What unhealthy pain feels like versus an uncomfortable, but healthy, stretch.

·        How to follow the breath and know that it will take them exactly where they need to go. 

I know that if these students can begin to bring these skills into their practice, they will have a solid foundation that will sustain them and evolve with them throughout their lifetime.  And it is my biggest hope that over time those skills will move beyond the mat and permeate into all areas of their life.

I am so looking forward to the fun we are gonna have!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Living your yoga

Sweet Greetings Dear Yogis and Blog Travelers! My name is Meredith Swim, and I’m honored to be cyber space downdoggin’ on the Barefoot Works blog!

​ “Live your yoga off your mat” is one of my favorite life philosophies. This phrase invites you to breathe deeply in the check out line at Kroger, show compassion in 5 o’clock traffic and be present as you listen to love ones. The mundane blossoms into infinite opportunities to express consciousness.

​I re-awakened to this piece of yoga wisdom this fall. I craved a smooth, easy transition from the sweet days of summer to the academically rigorous days of my senior semester, and living my yoga off the borders of my pink mat has gently guided me back into the swing of school. My thought scattered races to campus have transformed into a mindful walk of admiration for the autumn sunshine, the subtle beauty of the old houses neighboring my own, the crystal blueness of sky. Weaving my way through the throngs of students on campus, I’m no longer tempted to get annoyed and judge others when I remember that we’re all connected.

Living yoga off the mat reminds me that those chemistry majors, fraternity brothers, the English teaching assistants (especially the super cute one) are reflections of myself, and me of them.

Living my yoga translates to redirecting my irritation toward the loud freshmen in my biology lecture and channeling it into compassion. Once, I was a freshman, and in the course of life, I’ll probably swing through that role again; so, I’m exercising tolerance and compassion for those talkative, inquisitive freshmen.

​Yoga is even a helpful friend in another role- the actor’s role! I’ve been living yoga off the mat in the backstage and front stage world of UK theatre and have discovered that the theatre and yoga worlds overlap.

A few years ago, I visited a yogi friend in LA. I was surprised to learn that most of the instructors at his studio all pursued acting careers. In LA, though, even the policemen are aspiring screenwriters, so I thought it was just the Hollywood bug. Now, as I stand behind the curtain in mountain pose and breathe deeply to ground into character, I understand how the acting and yoga realms beautifully blend.

Taking yoga to the backstage eases the transition into my character role. In the play, I’m a Spirit and enter through a portable door. This has become my “yoga room.” In the quiet darkness, hidden behind the door’s wooden box frame, I inhale and sweep my arms up and exhale, place my hands to my heart. Breathing away those butterflies, seeping my feet into the black stage floor- grounding into character. I interlace my fingers, roll my shoulders back and open my heart, activating heart energy. On stage, just like on the mat, I am present. I’m listening to my fellow scene partner, aware of my movements. Mindfulness in theatre spotlights.

​From the mat to biology lecture to the stage, living yoga is breathing new vitality into my day. I’m curious to see how it will stretch into other aspects of my life. So, invite your yoga to journey with you off your mat. It’s your back pocket friend that can support, surprise and foster a re-awakening to life’s every changing sweetness and beauty.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

helllloooo goodbye

Greetings Friends,
I'm just poking in to say hello.
And goodbye. I'm leaving tomorrow for Sonoma and I'll be back at the studio in October.
I've spent the last few days dedicated to caring for my self and getting ready for yoga teacher training. I'm leaving in the morning to spend 16 days at Sonoma Ashram. I'm looking forward to being in the sweet, sacred, and healing space of the Ashram. I'll miss my yogababy daddy. The baby bump is officially here. Clearly.
I'm packed my yoga props.
Gathered my books.
Folded all my yoga clothes.
Printed tests.
And done all of the other lovely tasks of getting ready for an intensive yoga teacher training.
While fully expecting I will get there and realize I forgot something.
Please think of the awesome souls I'll be gathering with to explore all things yoga.
I believe passionately, wholeheartedly, in this work we'll be doing.
It's important.
It's healing.
It's transformative.
And it's fun!
I'll be peeking in and hopefully posting a few words and photos. You can also look forward to reading guest posts from the lovely teachers at the treehouse.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

why yoga teachers love love love trainings!

Please enjoy this guest post (including pictures!) from Sarah Bowker, beloved teacher at Barefoot Works.
“The land of healing lies within, radiant with the happiness that is blindly sought in a thousand outer directions.” ~Swami Vivekananda

I am still on a high after spending the past weekend in the yoga treehouse immersed in a Yapana training called Structural Assessment!

We hosted another Yapana teacher training from Leeann Carey Yoga.  This time, the focus was on how to assess a person’s body structure.  Once you know how someone’s “insides” work, then it becomes easy to apply yoga poses and stretches to therapeutically address their unique needs.

Chrys Kub was our teacher, and she was every bit as knowledgeable about the topic as Leeann and Jules have been with their teaching.  I simply love her personality.  She is upbeat, fun, and you can just feel and see how much she loves to teach yoga therapy.
One special treat was the two (yes, two!) Yapana classes Chrys taught.  We had a lovely Saturday morning practice with the Barefoot Works yogis and yoginis while the rain softly fell outside.  And a 15 minute Savasana.  
Ohh, how nice to have a 15 minute Savasana!
Our Sunday class was nearly three hours long.  Three fantastic hours of an upper body focused practice…
There are so many things I will take away from this training…we learned a ton of neat arm stretches, more ways to incorporate props into the practice to create joint mobility, and so much else.  I look forward to incorporating some of Chrys’ wisdom in my classes!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

should i go to yoga?

I was thinking this on my drive hOMe last night after prenatal yoga.
In the hours/minutes leading up to class I debated going. I was in a bit of a cranky mode. And sometimes when you're in a cranky mode some part of you wants to linger longer for some crazy reason.
Should I go to yoga? I asked myself. Over and over.
Conversation with myself sounded like this....
"Do I reallllly want to go? I did yoga already this morning at home. Do I realllly need to go? Gosh, traffic is gonna be bad when I leave. What if my belly starts growling during class? My appetite is on overdrive these days. I'll probably have to go to the bathroom like 9,000 times. Do I reallllly want to do that? Or just go home and get cozy on my chaise lounge? Hmmmmmm."
Ultimately I decided I didn't want to stay in cranky town. What I wanted was to feel a mental shift. I wanted to spend some time with myself and with yogababy.
And you know what.....
My belly didn't growl.
I didn't have to go to the bathroom even one time.
Traffic wasn't crazy driving home.
Most importantly, I felt tons better.
I felt more at peace.
The pieces of me felt more whole, like pieces of a puzzle had been put back together.
Body, mind, heart, yogababy.....
All better integrated.
Not a surprise to me, but a wonderful realization in that moment.
Then I realized, not once can I ever recall leaving a yoga class feeling worse than when I started.
(Actually there was that one time years ago at a gym, but that was totally my own doing. That's it. Promise)
Has there ever been a time you left a class feeling like you shouldn't have gone? Or left feeling worse than when you started?

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

meet kate dorvel

I'm delighted for all of you to get to know Kate Dorvel today. Kate started teaching at the studio several months ago when she took over the Level 2 class on Tuesday at 5:45. I remember seeing Kate on the mat for the first time at the studio and feeling inspired by her beauty, her practice, and her smile. The girl has a fantastic smile and she's very kind and gnerous in sharing them. You are bound to break a sweat and have some fun in Kate's creative classes. Enjoy.....

In 2008, as a very busy Bostonian, I would briskly walk up and down Boylston Street,
eyes focused forward, minimal eye contact, concerned only with getting quickly to my
next destination. Every day I would walk by one of the most well known yoga studios in
Boston, see their sign, become secretly intimidated and continue on my perpetual rush
forward. It wasn’t about the journey for me at that time.

One late winter, Sunday afternoon, I was out exploring my home town on foot, using this
time to clear my head of a lot of anxiety and built up emotions. I, yet again, walked by
the studio. This time I stopped. I decided, right then and there that it was time for a
change. I wanted a challenge, something to derail me from my current course. I was
surviving and successful but, no, I wasn’t happy.

That afternoon changed my life. I walked into a class taught by one of the most astonishingly wonderful women I will ever have the chance to know and call a
dear friend, Kate Greer. As her challenging and playful class was ending, she said to us “always know that you are entirely perfect just the way you are.” Many of my students know that is how I close my classes now. That phrase, that realization,
turned my relationship with myself around.

I achieved my 200hour RYT certification from Back Bay Yoga Studio, on Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts in 2011. I am still a student myself, but I try to be kind to my spirit and my body as I continue to learn. I was transplanted to Lexington later in 2011. It was this move that allowed me to pursue leading others in their yoga practice.

I try to bring a balance of athleticism and grace to my practice, which brings harmony and joy into my life. My practice includes asana, pranayama, meditation, running, biking,
hiking, swimming, tennis, beach volleyball, walking my dogs, mowing my lawn, tending
my garden, and loving my partner, Craig and my family. It is all yoga to me

Sunday, September 02, 2012

current love

I downloaded a new app last night and I LOVE it.


I can do two of my favorite things.....combine quotes & photos. I did upgrade so I can use more text and my own photos.

Get ready. ;)