Thursday, March 28, 2013

mega self love retreat

I'm feeling ready to start a radical self love revolution.

That's right. And I'm calling all women to join me. Yes, you, you, and especially you.

It doesn't matter your age, the size of your thighs, what you do for a living, if you're currently happy or miserable. It doesn't matter if you're feeling lost and confused, or totally on track. I don't care if you can stand on your head or sit in lotus for meditation. I don't care if you single, happily married, or fighting your way through fertility.

What I want to know is this....

Are you willing to start loving yourself right here, right now? 

Mary Oliver tells us this (and she's brilliant so I'm all ears, heart too),
"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves."

I'm about to suggest something radically different. There is a way for you to summon self acceptance, compassion, kindness, and love for wherever you are in your life right now.

There is in fact a way for you to hold a higher vision for yourself and your future AND give yourself some mega love for where you are now. Yes, at the same time.

We postpone our joy (and love) for a later date and time. We think....

When I finish school,
When I have the baby,
When I get a new job,
When life settles down,
When I lose 10 more pounds,
When I master such and such yoga pose,
When I have more money,
When I have more time,
Etc, etc, etc.
THEN I will be worthy to love myself.

Frankly, it's time for it to stop.

Consider joining me and a small group of awesome lovely ladies for the day to explore all things major loooovvve.

We'll revel in our bodies awesome ways to move through yoga.
We'll let someone else love our body up and down with an hour massage at The Massage Center.
We'll eat an awesome organic lunch provided by Good Foods Co-Op.
We'll share stories from the heart.
We'll explore ways to embrace, celebrate, and demonstrate how you can start loving yourself today.

And because it's a day of mega loooovvvve, there will be moments of moving to your own rhythm. That may look like a walk to Starbucks for a latte, swinging outside near the flowers, busting out a spontaneous sphinx pose, or sipping hot tea and doing absolutely nothing.

Decide that this IS the day you stop waiting for love. It's yours to claim. Go for it.....The world is waiting.

Saturday May 18, 8:30 - 4:30
$160 if you pay before May 4
$185 afterwards
Price includes all yoga sessions, massage, tea, treats and other random awesomeness.

Register early as space is limited ladies!

Register Here!

**Sorry men, this one is only for the women out there.**

Monday, March 25, 2013

alternate nostril breathing

Sarah Bowker shares how you can use the breath to create more energy and how to settle down and relax. When you need a quick fix, there is nothing more readily available than your sweet awesome breath. Enjoy Friends.

My “go-to” breath: alternate nostril breathing
Our breath serves many functions.  One of the most important functions our breath has is to move our prana, or energy, throughout our body.

Close your eyes, and take a breath.  Can you feel the skin stretch and the lungs expand as you filled the body with your inhale?  Can you feel the body settle back into place on the exhale?
Now, take a breath, and imagine taking that breath in through your hands.  Feel the inhale travel up from the palms of your hands, along the arms, all the way to the top of your head.  Exhale, feel the breath move back down, from your head, along your arms, and out your hands.  Take a few breaths this way.  This type of breath visualization can help us to move our prana in our body. 

Cool, huh?

Just like yoga poses assist in toning, strengthening, stretching, and balancing the physical body, there are different breath techniques we can use to balance our energetic/vital/breath body. 
Let us take a quick look at the yin/yang concept of energy.

At all times, our body’s energy lies somewhere along a continuum between yin and yang.  However, our energy cannot be completely yin, or completely yang (see symbol below); without the presence of yin, we cannot know yang, and vice versa. Here are the commonly used adjectives to help describe the tendencies of yin and yang:

















We can easily change the energetic balance of our bodies using our breath.  How?  Our body’s access to yin and yang energy is through our nose.  Our left nostril helps to increase the yin energy in our body, while the right nostril helps to increase the yang energy in our body.
The breath exercise used to balance the yin and yang energies of the body is called nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing. It involves exhaling and inhaling through one nostril, and then switching sides to exhale and then inhale, and so on.  The fingers can be used to lightly seal the nostril not being used to breathe, or just visualization can be used.

Yoga journal has a great tutorial:
Alternate nostril breathing is a quick and effective way to prepare the energetic body for meditation.  It also helps to slow the breath down.

Feeling sleepy?  A few breaths in and out your right nostril will give you an energetic boost!
Feeling jittery, and unable to relax?  A few breaths in and out your left nostril will mellow you out.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

steadiness and ease

Misty Pittman has a bit of an obsession. Read on Friends.....

Sthira Sukham Asanam.  Asana is a steady, comfortable posture.
~ The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

If you have taken any of my classes in the past month, you are all too familiar with my fascination surrounding this topic.  In fact, it is starting to become a bit of an obsession.

Patanjali tells us that any posture that allows us to feel steady and relaxed is a yoga pose.  Say what?  Yes, absolutely.  It is as simple and difficult as that. 

Meditators practice the yoga poses with hopes that physical ease and suppleness will be achieved, so that they may sit for extended periods of time in meditation, without having the distractions of physical discomfort.

But what about the rest of us?  Those of us new to yoga that find awkwardness and resistance in every pose?  Those of us with injuries and cranky bodies?  Those of us who push past our limits, trying to achieve perfection, bypassing steadiness? 
And why is it so important to be aware of this concept? 

Because if our aim is not steadiness and ease (both on and off the mat), then we are only struggling and resisting.

As yoga practitioners, where do we start?  We know that in the course of a 75 min yoga class, many opportunities will come up that will challenge us. 

Begin by honoring your body.  Don't ignore pain.  Keep your ego in check.  Keep it simple. 

Stand in tadasana and feel the four corners of your feet pressing into the floor.  Lift your kneecaps and firm up through your hamstrings.  Feel that energy lift your spine tall, open your heart, and close your eyes.  Even as your body sways, can you feel stable through your feet?  Can you feel the lightness of your upper body?  Can you feel the fullness of your breath?

Of course, not every pose is this simple.  Many poses will challenge our strength, our balance, and our flexibility.  I experienced this myself in a recent class.  I couldn’t even hold my hands together in prayer without them trembling.   I took my attention to my breath, and even though my body shook uncontrollably, I found that I could detach and find steadiness through my inhales and exhales.  Not easy, but amazing to feel that ease amidst the chaos of my tired body.

I encourage you to play with this.  Pick a pose that is mildly challenging for you and then ask yourself how you can invite both states of steadiness and ease into the posture.   Maybe you simply loosen the grip of your toes and soften the muscles around the face.  Maybe you imagine reaching your tailbone down into the mat, as your spine effortlessly grows tall. 

The possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

radical change

What a perfect baby bump? As most of you know, our beloved Julie is now taking a break from her Sunday class as she prepares for her biggest adventure yet.....mamahood. Julie is such an open hearted woman and I couldn't be happier for her. You'll want to read this....there are takeaways for all of us.
Well, the time has come for me to roll up my teaching mat and explore the wondrous world of motherhood for a while. For such a long time, I have been anticipating this moment- when I would teach my last class and step into my “maternity” leave of absence. 
As I walked into the treehouse Sunday, I felt a powerful emotion wash over me that I would feel several more times in the couple hours I was there. The next time was when fellow teacher, Sarah, walked through the big wooden door with a sweet, supportive smile on her face. The next time was the sight of my students faces as they snuggled into their mats for Savasana. 
The final time was when I was alone again in the treehouse- the energy of our practice still in the air, I sat on my mat, shed a few tears, and walked out the wooden door.

Change is really radical. Good or bad, it’s never very easy. I have some huge changes looming in my close future: I’m leaving my full time job of 7 years and I’m going to have a baby. I’m leaving what I know which is so comfortable and starting a journey that is very unknown. 
So how am I going to do it? 
Am I going to regret leaving my job? 
Am I going to be a good mom? 
Will I ever sleep again? 
How will teaching yoga feel after I’ve had the baby? 
How will DOING yoga feel after I have the baby? 
There’s so many questions swirling in my head on a daily basis.

But I’m waking up each morning and asking myself this: How can I quiet my mind and connect to the authenticity of my heart?

And a different piece of me softens each day. If it weren’t for the great wisdom of yoga, I wouldn’t have the tools to ask myself important questions like this. And if it weren’t for yoga, I wouldn’t be taking on this change with a sense of acceptance.

So while I take a little break from teaching, I’m going to take the time to DO yoga, be yoga, and delight in yoga in a whole new way. 
And when I come back to teach in a few months, I’ll put my whole, new mama heart into it!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

how to be calmly active and actively calm

Words to soothe your body, mind, and heart this March by the awesome Laura Whitaker. We just love her.
"You must be calmly active and actively calm. Be intensely aware of everything you are doing." -Yogananda
I think this quote basically sums up what we're constantly evolving toward in yoga. Well, to be honest, I think that about almost every great inspiring quote I read :) But seriously, this is a good one, and it served as inspiration for my classes this week. 
Just think about it: 
When you're calmly active on the mat, you flow mindfully from pose to pose. Transitions come with {the intention of} grace. When a pose feels completely overwhelming, you try to reign in your ego, settle your mind's chattering, and simply be in the pose to the best of your ability in that moment.
So how can you bring this calm action off the mat?
When you are busy running from place to place and moving from task to task, slow down, notice, and appreciate each little (or big) "to-do" as it's happening. Move from place to place with grace and peace. Stay aware of your stress level and attempt to create positive energy not only for yourself, but for the people you cross paths with, too. 
Active does not have to be synonymous with hectic.
When you're actively calm on the mat, you simply watch your breath as it moves through your body. You check in with sensations you feel in your body while you're centering. You are aware of the length of your breath and the energy moving through your limbs immediately following savasana.
When you step off the mat and into your day, you can maintain this sense of active calmness. When you have that moment of peace, soak it up with awareness and gratitude. Notice the slowing of your breath and the relaxation of your muscles as you crawl into bed at night.
To me, active calmness means we don't let our monkey minds control our thoughts. We can stay calm by actively telling our mind we'd rather focus on our breath, our body, or the thoughts that are serving us in a positive way.
If you're calm, it doesn't have to mean you're being lazy, inattentive, or passive.
May your March be filled with a happy balance of calmness and action. And lots of yoga both on and off the mat!