Sunday, May 2, 2010

Letting students grow...

I love and appreciate the students that regularly attend my classes.  Quite simply, they inspire me to be a more regular and devoted student in my own practice.  Each student's attendance may ebb and flow so sometimes I don't see a student for several weeks or months.  When they reappear, they sometimes give me a guilty look and apologize for not coming to my class.  I always smile and tell them, "we're all busy, things happen, it's good to see you, and this is not Yoga Confession."  :)

Teachers should never get attached to their students and students should feel free to attend different classes taught by different teachers.  Though I love seeing my regulars, I ultimately love seeing them exploring their overall practice, wherever that journey takes them.  Today, I practiced with two of my past regulars in the Ashtanga class following my flow class.  I enjoyed practicing with them and loved seeing the strength they both have developed in their respective practices.

Aparigraha is one of the Yamas, which is one of the branches of Yoga.  It means, non-grasping or non-hoarding.  As a teacher, I want to see my students grow and travel on their yoga journey.  All I can do is share my own with them and hope that I can make a difference in people's lives and give back all the wonderfulness I've received from Yoga.

Namaste, y'all!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


First of all, BIG kudos to everyone who is participating in the 40-day yoga challenge, currently at Day 31 or so.  Last night, I attended the quarterly Yoga Yoga teacher's meeting and each person talked about our challenge goal as we introduced ourselves.  Most started out with bigger goals, but migrated toward something simple.  Several were working on a daily meditation practice.  My goal started out to either do 10 minutes of meditation daily or three Sun Salutations, but I admit to quickly falling off the bandwagon.  This challenge brought me face-to-face with something that's plagued my practice lately... RESISTANCE. 

Over the past year, I've allowed myself to become more and more stressed because of work (of the Dell variety) and I've moved away from working out at the gym and a regular yoga practice.  Believe me, I've suffered the consequences.  My health has suffered, my memory has suffered and I'm noticing more and more gray hairs.  I've had chronic sleep issues and my eating habits haven't been stellar. 

In January, test results indicated that I have food intolerances to wheat, gluten and baker's yeast.  In shore, I need to steer completely clear of bread and pasta... and I have.  I've shifted my dietary focus to whole, organic foods and find myself craving fruits and vegetables more and more.  Oddly, I don't crave sweets as much as I used to.  I've lost about 4 lbs and (no surprise) feel better.

During the past 31 or so days, I've thought a LOT about yoga.  I've been reading about it, practicing more and mentally preparing myself for the months of advanced teacher training that lie ahead of me.  I have two lovely, cherished friends come over EARLY Tuesday and Thursday mornings to practice with me in my yoga room.  Getting out of bed and walking down the hall has been a serious struggle, but we've made a pact not to bail on each other and everyone agrees that we feel amazing afterward.  This past week, I've practiced every single day and each practice felt like taking a jog in foot-deep mud.  But I showed up.  I celebrated each daily victory of coming to the mat.  Today I felt a big shift and I enjoyed a lighter, stronger practice.

I am infinitely grateful that I have yoga in my life.  I am infinitely grateful for those with whom I share the yogic journey, regardless of their role in mine.  Last night inspired me to stay more consistently on the path, but with a new resolve.  I want to fully surrender to the warm embrace of yoga for the next six months as I pursue my advanced teacher training certification.  I want to get full benefit from this journey and not merely show up.  Who knows what changes are in store... 

Namaste, y'all!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The 40-Day Challenge is ON!

The challenge is on and started April 1, no foolin'.  If you didn't start then, start now... no worries, no guilt.  This is a gift we give ourselves.  Yoga can change your life.  That's what I was told back in 2003 and it sure as heck did.  In fact, it crept up on me and took me by surprise.  Today I can't imagine living happily without yoga. 

Days 1 and 2 of The Challenge were kind of punts for me.  April 1st, I practiced with my Thursday class.  We went through the spine-opening series I start every class out with.  It took 10 minutes.  I told my class, "THAT counts as a yoga practice."  No joke, it can be that simple.  I saw relief on some faces.  Seriously, you don't need to set aside loads of time and make it complicated.  Just set a reasonable goal, find a quiet space and give yourself a gift.  That's what I did last night. 

This past week has been BUSY with the "Day Job" (aka Dell).  It was busy, but fun and I put on a very successful summit event in downtown Austin.  Yesterday, I relaxed and had the pleasure of being taken out to dinner by one of my favorite vendors.  We had a wonderful meal, caught up on each other's lives and celebrated her closing on her FIRST house earlier that day!  I got home, went into my yoga room and put myself into supta badha konasana.  I focused on breathing and relaxing deeply.  The dog plunked herself down next to me.  I enjoyed this for about 10 minutes and I was ready for bed.  That was my practice for April 2.  Simple, but I did it.

Today, I did a shortened Ashtanga practice after teaching my hatha star class.  My revolved triangles are causing me grief, but I started with the foundation and kicked my ego out of the room.  It felt good.  :)

Anyone out there reading this?  Are you embracing the challenge?  I'd love to hear about it!

Namaste, y'all!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Good Morning, Practice!

Last night my practice was simple and sweet -- 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra (aka Deep Relaxation). My nerves felt frazzled and the muscles were tensing when I started. I listened to the calm voice speaking to me through my iPhone as I laid on my mat with a blanket cradling my neck, my soft, wonderful wubby covering me and my eye pillow gently weighing down on my face. The candles were lit and the temperature was perfect. Ahhhhhh....

After 26 minutes, my nerves and muscles felt better. Not quite there, but on their way to a better place. I slept well last night and woke up at 5:55am to practice with my friend, Tammy. We heated the yoga room and flowed in a silent Ashtanga mysore practice that morphed into deep pigeon poses and shoulder openers (I love me some shoulder openers!) My practice was far from perfect but gave me a lot of information about the state of my body. My hips and hamstrings are tight and my balancing muscles were pathetically weak. But today's practice wasn't about perfection. It was about rediscovery and reconnection -- finding my way to the mat for the third day in a row and re-awakening my body to the wonders of regular practice.

I look forward to more Nidra tonight and crave another night of blissfully deep sleep.

Namaste, y'all!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stepping on the road to "recovery"

I'm embracing the upcoming 40 day challenge... bigtime.  In fact, I started last night.  I cleared the accumulated junk out of my yoga room, got it back into sacred practice shape, lit the candles and started with sun salutations.  I took in deep, deep breaths and made every move with gratitude and intention.  It felt GOOD, but I also noticed the cobwebs that had crept into my muscles and joints.  I took my time in upward and downward dogs, taking in deep breaths and asking my body to release.  Ahhhhhhh....

After about three or four, I settled into prone shoulder openers and held each one for several minutes.  I felt my internal organs and spine.  I made tiny adjustments here and there and noticed how each small movement felt in my body.  I could feel my mind starting to relax.

I followed the shoulder openers with some hip circles in table top (both directions), then settled into deep, deep pigeons.  I used my exhale to release the gunk in my psyche and stress in my cells.  It felt amazing.

I finished by sitting on the edge of a bolster with my palms up, thumb and first finger together.  I lifted the crown of my head to the ceiling to bring space and length into my core and spine.  I sat there for about 10 minutes and tried to think of nothing. 

Coming to the mat is sometimes the hardest part of practice, especially if you haven't been regularly practicing.  I've severely neglected my practice and it's taken a dear toll on me.  I've become stressed out, tense and have developed chronic sleeping issues. I know what I need to do to help myself -- I need to come to the mat.  Every. Single. Day.  The happiest, best person I remember myself being was when I practiced Ashtanga 5 days a week.  I want to be that person again. 

I'm on my way to my special room to light some candles and practice.  My goal is to sleep like a baby tonight so I can get my butt out of bed at 6am and practice with my friend, Tammy (and hopefully another friend).  :)

Namaste, y'all!

p.s.  I could sure use some sharing from those of you out in Blog-Reader-Land!  Make a comment, share your goal for the challenge, or just give a shout out to your favorite yoga pose or class.  It's all good...  :)