Tag Archives: yoga

The Winter Solstice

14 Dec

Check out this post written by Lori last December.  This year’s winter solstice is next Thursday, December 22!

The Winter Solstice, darkest day of the year, occurred Tuesday.  It was especially significant this year, because at the same time, there was a full moon accompanied by a lunar eclipse.  For centuries, people have held celebrations on the Winter Solstice.  They would bring all of their animals in (for slaughter), as there would be little food available for the animals during the harsh winter months.  They would celebrate and feast.  This has been a time of abundance and celebration for our ancestors.  Celestially, it is viewed as a powerful event.

A friend of mine and I came up with the idea to have a group meditation on this night.  My friend is more experienced in meditation.  I only recently began learning how to do it on my own.  The extent to my “group” meditation experience has been in chanting “Om” with fellow yogis during my weekly yoga practice!  So, I was really looking forward to it.

I read in Yoga Journal that more and more people are hosting Winter Solstice parties.  Some people even incorporate yoga practice into their event.  I went shopping for food and beverages, and planned where the ceremony should occur in my house.  I smudged the room to purify it and make it clear.  I lit candles.

A couple hours before the event, I received a call from my friend, whose daughter was really sick, saying she was unable to come.  I was saddened and started to cry.  I have three children myself, and my heart ached for her, her daughter, and for the thought that the meditation may not occur.  After I hung up the phone, I sat with my thoughts for a moment.

I felt compelled to go on, without my friend.  I was certainly nervous, but at the same time, knew from within, that I would not be alone, and I would receive all the Guidance I needed.

I called my mom, who is frequently my “Go-To Gal.”  She said when I had called her the previous day and said, “You’ll never guess who just called me,” she immediately thought it was about the meditation being cancelled.  Instead, that call was about something entirely different, but it compelled her to do some research.  She found a beautiful guided meditation online, which she shared with me.  I read it and immediately thought it was perfect for our circle.

Seven of us sat in a circle on the floor.  I smudged every one individually.  Then, we proceeded with the guided meditation.  Afterwards, I spoke from the heart (undoubtedly Guided) and we lit candles to diminish the darkness both within ourselves and throughout the Earth/Universe, and let our lights shine.  After the ceremony, we talked.  And talked.  It was amazing.  Deep.  Moving.  Satisfying.  The perfect way to begin a new season.

I learned some things about myself in the process.  I am capable of trusting myself.  I am not alone.  Ever.  When I need help, all I have to do is ask.

I have great family and friends.  I hope to make this a tradition for years to come.

For more information about Yoga Journal, see http://www.yogajournal.com/.

For more information about the guided meditation we used, go to http://www.matrifocus.com/SAM03/meditation.htm.

Inspirational Yoga

23 Nov

I am frequently inspired in yoga and this weekend was more of the same, only different.  There is an instructor at The Yoga Project that I have grown to love.  I say “grown” because I used to fear her and her Sunday morning class. I only continued to go, because it was literally the only class I could fit into my busy schedule.

To illustrate my point, her nickname among yogis has become “The Velvet Hammer”.  She works you on a physical as well as intellectual level.  She challenges you to go further, work harder, find more, never settle, all with ease, grace, and balance.  The kicker is that she does it all with a big smile on her face and a bubbly, friendly tone of voice.

While I feared her before, I love her now.  While I was sweating away this morning, focusing on the negative voice in my mind, telling me I should cry, I should just give up, I can’t do this; I heard a snicker.  I quickly realized the snicker was actually a giggle and it was coming from the woman practicing beside me.  In that moment, I shifted my perception.

In that moment, hearing the laugh, I felt gratitude; gratitude that I am able to practice yoga, gratitude for the opportunity to challenge myself, gratitude for some time to myself doing something I love, gratitude for the ability to shift my perception.

In every given moment, we have the ability to shift, to move, to change our perception.  We fight against ourselves when we allow those negative thoughts to control what we think about ourselves and our environment. The only thing required for peace and happiness is a shift in perception.

Transitions and shifts in awareness on the mat translate to change in real life.  This morning yoga helped me to realize that it was only my perception this morning that caused me to feel I wanted to cry.  Perception is not reality.  The moment I changed my perception, was the moment I could move forward with the class in joy and gratitude!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 40 (Breaking Through “Can’t”)

3 Oct

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

I learned something amazing recently – a true epiphany.

Last week, I was in a yoga class and the instructor called the pose Half Saddle.  I wasn’t familiar with it, so I waited for the directions: sit down with your legs straight out in front of you, bend one leg at the knee behind you, and lay backwards, all the way down.

Immediately, I thought to myself, “No way.  With my crappy knees?  Can’t do it.  Wouldn’t even dream of trying it.  I’ll just do a modification and get through it the best I can without tearing something.”

So I put my leg back and just sort of leaned backwards on my hands.  But then, somehow, something changed.  Instead of listening to my brain telling me “No, you can’t do this,” I listened to the instructor and his reminders about breathing.

I’ve been to lots of yoga classes, so I know the drill: just follow your breath.  When things get tough or you meet resistance, just come back to your breath and ride right through it.

So I did.  For once I just told my brain to shut up and get out of my way.

And boom, before you know it, I was completely in Half Saddle.  I was shocked and amazed with myself, and not in a bit of pain.

It’s like that scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Harry conjures his Patronus for the first time.  Remember that?  Because he had seen himself do it already, he knew that he could!  Well, of course that sort of gives you a headache to think about, but it certainly demonstrates the point.

To use another yoga analogy, a year or so ago I was finally able to do Crow pose, something that I thought looked completely, inhumanly impossible the first time I saw it.  And since then?  I can do Crow every time.  Every single time.  Why?  Because I know I can.  Before I even start it, I’ve already decided in my head that I can—and will—do it.  So it happens.

Sometimes we are capable of more than we realize, if we truly just believe it.  I think that applies to life in general, not just yoga.

So for this week, I’m going to try and identify all the things I automatically tell myself I can’t do…and just try them anyway.  I have nothing to lose, and who knows what I may be capable of, if I can just get out of my own way?

What are you telling yourself you CAN’T do?  Do you think maybe you CAN if you just get that negative voice out of your head?  As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

52 FEATS – NUMBER 36 (Doing Yoga)

11 Sep

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

UPDATE:

This week was a total bust.  I started off strong, doing hot power yoga Monday morning and Tuesday morning.  On Tuesday night I was really tired, but I just chalked it up to my aching muscles and extra exercise.

Wednesday morning I woke up with a nasty, full-blown, knock-me-on-my-butt cold.  My daughter had it, too.  She and I spent 3 bleary days on the couch watching TV.  I could barely stand.  Or breathe through my nose – an important component of yoga breathing, and just generally not feeling like crap.

But I’m not giving up on this one – I’m trying again.  Unfortunately, my schedule is much more hectic this week and I have a sick kid (my son’s got it now!), so I won’t be able to make it to the yoga studio 5 times.  BUT that won’t stop me from practicing at home.  I recently found a podcast done by one of the owners of The Yoga Project, Stacy Dockins.  (You can find it by searching LiveLoveTeach on iTunes.)  I can do the practice I enjoy so much, right in the comfort of my own home.  It won’t be quite as good as being in the warm studio, but it will have to do.

I’m still going to do another Feat for Number 37 (gotta get all 52 in this year!), but I’ll combine it with Super Yoga Week.  Looking forward to it!

ABOUT FEAT NUMBER 36:

I’ve always enjoyed yoga.  Over the last couple years, I’ve taken my practice to a much deeper level by getting into “hot” yoga – energetic, athletic, flowing yoga in a heated room.  I’ve done it so much that I don’t think I could ever go back to “cold” yoga.  I thoroughly enjoy feeling the heat as it gets into my muscles, allowing me to deepen my poses, occasionally taking them to places I didn’t think possible.

Yesterday morning, on National Free Yoga Day, I attended a free yoga class at Velociti Fitness in Arlington.  Instructor Beth Culler offered just the right combination of challenge and insight.  At one point, I remember her making a comment about striking just the right balance between work and ease.  I left feeling envigorated, empowered, and enthusiastic.

Lori, my dear friend and fellow More than Mothers blogger, has been told that 3 days of yoga a week will change your body, and 5 days a week will change your life.  I know that the life change won’t happen over the course of just one week, but I’m going to aim for those 5 days this week anyway to see what happens.

I’ll be going to The Yoga Project, my favorite Power Vinyasa yoga studio.  In a couple days, I’ll probably be so sore I won’t even be able to hold a pencil, but I’m going to keep at it and give it my all.

Namaste!

National Free Day of Yoga!

1 Sep

Monday September 5th is National Free Day of Yoga!  Dallas and Ft. Worth are each holding separate events this Labor Day weekend.  In Dallas, you can go enjoy a free class Saturday September 3rd from 10am to 3pm at Crow Collection of Asian Art located at 2010 Flora Street in Dallas.

In Fort Worth, the events are being held on Sunday September 4th from 5-7pm at the Fort Worth Water Gardens located at 1502 Commerce Street downtown!

Fore more information, see the events’ website at: http://www.dfwfreedayofyoga.com/.

Also, some local studios are hosting “free” days of yoga as well.  Velociti Fitness (http://www.velocitifitness.com/velociti.htm) is hosting free yoga Monday morning September the 5th from 9am 10:15am.  Check your local studios for details!  Namaste!

Change

24 Aug

Yoga is powerful.  Someone I admire once said that doing yoga twice a week will change your body.  Doing yoga five days a week will change your life.

As a busy mother of three, I can only dream of practicing yoga more than once a week.  While vacationing recently, my mom gave our family a beautiful and generous gift.  She hired a yogi to come and teach yoga on the beach (three mornings in one week)!!

It was glorious.  Being outdoors, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, the wind blowing my hair, the coolness of my feet in the soft cold sand, and hearing the waves crashing nearby was surreal.

We had three different yogis that week, by choice.  Two of the three included a guided meditation, which I always love.  One of the yogis had been inspired by an Indie Arie song.  She said the only thing constant in life is change.

Profound.

The only thing constant in life is change.  I started thinking about it.  I am not a person who generally runs from change, in fact, I embrace it most days.  I believe that life on Earth is a continuous evolution; that as people, we are constantly growing and changing.  Plants, birds, animals, humans, cells, energies; everything is changing.

I think back to the child I was, the young woman I developed into throughout the high school years, and the free spirited woman I became in college.  I think of all of the things I would have missed out on, had I not branched out and tried something new: home brew, cliff jumping, artichoke, freshly made juice, skiing, getting a tattoo, overseas travel, hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, chiropractic adjustments, meditation, reiki, and even yoga!

As a mother, it’s even easier to see.  My children are growing, learning new things, developing their personalities, trying new things, testing boundaries, and exploring new things.  As they change, I change too.  I’ve had to alter discipline methods (many times).  I’ve had to change the way my home was child-proofed (I thought it was perfectly safe until my son came along!)  I’ve changed the way I perceive things too, like extended breastfeeding, movie ratings, circumcision, buying organic produce, chiropractics, and teasing.

Philosopher and psychologist Carl Jung once said, “What you resist persists.”  I have found this to be completely true in my life.  The more I try and control things, the more they seem to spin away and out of control.  The more I let things be, the more things fall right into place.

Just like the waves in the ocean undulate and never stay the same, so must we as humans.  If things never changed, I shudder to think of how oppressive our society would be today.  So today and every day, I salute change!

A Hot, Sweaty, Stinky Mess: Or How Power Yoga Saved My Summer

9 Aug

I was afraid—very afraid—of my first Vinyasa (or “flow”) yoga class I took earlier this summer.  Exercising in a 95-degree room with a bunch of women who could easily headline a Cirque du Soleil production made me woozy…and that was from my car!

But one of my goals for the summer was to increase my flexibility, and I knew doing a few stretches at home wasn’t cutting it.  So I bought a pass for 10 classes at Velociti Fitness League, squeezed into my tightest Lycra top and landed on my mat, as my instructor Beth would say.

The class was packed with chicks sporting Madonna arms and washboard abs.  No chitchat before we got down to business, which suits me fine.  (I tend to get very quiet in new or scary situations, and this qualified as both!)

Beth Culler, who owns Velociti, is that rare kind of teacher who can challenge her top students and help her strugglers (i.e. me) modify the moves with a block. She is equal parts Zen goddess, cheerleader and therapist—and she knows her stuff.  The last regular exercise classes I’d taken were a yoga/Pilates hybrid where the teacher did the moves on a mat at the front of class.  Beth, on the other hand, wanders around the room, guiding her students through the sequences and correcting poses.  If that sounds worrisome, it’s not.  She meets you where you are in order to lead you forward.

I’m sure I’ve never sweated so much as I have during these classes.  I learned what I like—squats, chair pose, warrior, tree—and what I aspire to conquer (crow, pigeon, wheel, a headstand would be fun).  I appreciate the emphasis on breathing and the essential nature of connecting your breath to your poses.  I love that my mind focuses entirely on the present moment when I’m pushing so hard.  I also really appreciate the fact that power yoga is the first thing I’ve done in a long time that I’m not good at but still really like.

I intend to keep going to 2-3 classes a week this fall. Who knows? By Thanksgiving, I might just have a pretty decent standing split by then!

www.velocitifitness.com

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