Can’t Get Up? Time For Yoga

Posted on Jan 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Can’t Get Up? Time For Yoga

I hear it all the time; “I can’t do Yoga because I can’t get up off the floor”. If this is your reason for not taking Yoga you may want to consider a new study by Dr. Claudio Gil Araujo of Brazil. His research supports a correlation between your ability to sit and rise from the floor and life span. This simple test is called the sitting to rising test and scores from 0 to 10 with points deducted for each “prop” you need to rise (props include hands, knees etc.)

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The Face (and Body) of Yoga

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 | 4 comments

The Face (and Body) of Yoga

Yesterday I found myself poking around on Pinterest and of course I searched “Yoga”. As I scrolled through the visual representations of my beloved ancient practice I began to feel troubled and frankly angry. I have been a Yogi now for over a decade and have taught many others in the past several years but NONE of us look like THAT! Of course Yogis come in all shapes and sizes, but something is off when 90% of the images picture women who are single digit sizes and appear to be in their mid to early 20’s. And then let’s talk about the poses pictured – mostly VERY advanced poses. Really? I rejoice when any individual finds peace and health through Yoga, but what do these images do for the person who really wants and/or needs to do Yoga but feels that they are too (insert description here)? It makes them feel excluded and not good enough reinforcing the impression that Yoga is some sort of club that they don’t have any right to join. And that is what makes me angry. I have personally witnessed the transformation that Yoga can bring – not so much in the size of a body, but definitely in the strength and health of a body not to mention the mental clarity. But where are we represented? Where are the bodies like mine and my student’s, strong, healthy and flexible but still a size 14,or over 60, or over 80, or winning the battle with chronic illness? Where are we in the picture of Yoga? We are there, but we are buried under the other 90% so you have to dig deeper. But will that person who needs/wants Yoga dig that deep to find someone they can relate to? My dear Yogis this is where we have neglected our duty. How many times do we refuse to have our picture taken because we feel we do not look “good enough”? Yoga poses are about the body and its ability to move so pictures of these poses highlight our physical form – and we have a hard time dealing with that. So we decline to have our Yoga image displayed, and that is our mistake. We are not present in the depiction of Yoga – because we will not consent to be photographed and have those photos displayed. This is a hard truth, but consider the injustice we do to those who seek Yoga and feel excluded not to mention the injustice we do to the practice of Yoga itself. And even worse consider the injustice we do to ourselves by once again telling our bodies they are not good enough. I know having your body displayed in all its Yogic glory is very difficult – I had to face this reality when I posted this website and included my own images. But it is time that we stand up for Yoga, for those seeking Yoga and for ourselves. It is time that we change the face and body of Yoga on the web and in the media. My fellow Yogis I beg you to strike a pose – photograph it – and then post it! Show the world who we are and hopefully someone will see someone like themselves and finally feel invited into the club....

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Yoga is a powerful tool that will change your life!

Posted on Aug 1, 2011 | 0 comments

Yoga is a powerful tool that will change your life!

It brings strength, flexibility and calm to your body, mind and Soul. I believe in the healing benefits of Yoga and know that Every Body can benefit. My fun, supportive classes create a connected community that is nurturing. My students who are dealing with health conditions find welcomed relief that allows them to move forward. All of my students know the level of my commitment to their individual growth. My goal is to give my students wings. My greatest joy is to watch them soar!! Let’s start where you are and Together we will change your life. Yoga 4 your Body and...

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My Enemy, My Teacher – Part 3

Posted on Jun 14, 2011 | 0 comments

My Enemy, My Teacher – Part 3

The next form of “enemy” is any situation that pushes us to our limits.  By definition these situations would be things that are out of our control and they vary by degrees in seriousness.  These moments “enemies” because they stress us and therefore they are also teachers.  These issues can range from temporary to permanent and everywhere in between. These teachers can come in many different forms and what may be a “situation” for one person may be no big deal for another.  It can range from something as simple as locking your keys in the car to something as serious as a medical diagnosis.  Understand that I am in no way making light of serious issues that arise in people’s lives.  I am only pointing out that even in the moments when your world is rocked off of it’s foundations there is something to learn, and I content that we continue to learn for as long as we breath. I truly believe that the first step must be to ask “what is the lesson here?”.  Then more importantly, sit still and listen for the answer.  This means to find a quiet place and be silent and listen for that voice inside that will help you understand.  Your quiet place may be just a pause in a conversation or it could be to physically leave the space in which the events are unfolding.  I am not talking about running away here, I am advocating giving yourself physical space if you need it.  And the length of time that you remain quiet is up to you.  It could be a heartbeat or it could be a week or more.  The idea is to not RE-act, but to take the time to find the right ACTION for you.  Again this is where meditation comes in real handy.  By learning to sit in silence and identify that little voice, you will be prepared to exercise that “muscle” quicker in times of stress.  And with continued practice you will find that fewer situations will be stressful!  Because you have already learned that lesson (Ah Ha!) so you can save your energy instead of wasting it on keys locked in the car. Another lesson that situations can teach us it to reach out to other people.  We are not meant to be alone in this world.  Remember that we are all inter-connected (through Divinity) therefore we must rely on each other to survive.  All too often I have known people who suffer in silence because they don’t want to appear weak or different  in the eyes of others.  And even sadder are the people I have known in my life who did not share that they had a serious illness because they didn’t want to burden anybody.  I’m not advocating that you walk around with a sign, but do reach out to trusted friends and family.  Knowing that you are not alone can often be the first step in the healing process no matter what your situation may be.  In the case of illness understand that healing is not being cured.  It is possible to heal your life and the body still be sick. As usual I am asking you to do the hard thing.  It is easy to REACT, because we are hard wired to do so, but our ability to deal with things that are out of our control is no different than the muscles we strengthen in our asana practice.  It is only through “exercise” that we strengthen our ability to see difficult situations as our teachers and learn the lessons....

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My Enemy, My Teacher – Part 2

Posted on Jun 7, 2011 | 0 comments

My Enemy, My Teacher – Part 2

We have all had the experience of dealing with a person that either has a difficult personality or who just does not agree with our point of view.  This situation is usually frustrating and most defiantly stressful, so you may be wondering what exactly you can learn from these people. First and foremost we must always remember the true meaning of Namaste; The Divine in Me Recognizes and Salutes the Divine in You.  This means EVERY person, no matter if we agree with them or not.  We must always remember that Divinity resides in them just as it resides in us and therefore they deserve respect just as we do. Just because they see the world in a different way does not mean that they are “bad” or even wrong.  I am not suggesting that you agree with them, but you must strive to understand their point of view especially when you do not agree.  This will actually strengthen your understanding of your own viewpoint and help to clarify your position.  It is only by encountering people that you do not agree with or don’t especially like that you learn the true depth of your beliefs. Secondly it is only by dealing with people who bring difficulty in our lives that we learn how to truly treat all other human beings with compassion and an open heart.  Compassion may be our natural state, but life tends to knock that out of us pretty fast.  It is hard to live in this world and not allow yourself to become jaded.  It is easy to be compassionate and practice loving kindness if you live in an ashram, but to be out in the world and deal with people who are not yet aware that there is a different way…that is a true test.  This is where I like to say the “rubber meets the road”.  This is where we are tested – in the real world.  Can you have compassion of that person who just cut you off in rush hour traffic?  Can you have compassion for the cashier that didn’t even acknowledge you were human?  Can you smile at the coworker who seems to thrive on negativity and better yet…not join in? Lastly these people give us a chance to practice detachment.  It is only by detaching from the situation and adopting the “witness” viewpoint that we can discern what is true and right.  What I mean by the “witness” viewpoint is that ability to detach just as when we meditate and focus on the breath and let everything else fall away.  Again it is easy to detach when the room is quite and you are seated comfortably in a meditative state.  But what about when your boss is yelling at you?  What about when your team leader has called yet another four hour meeting?  Can you detach then?  It is only by practicing in the quite room that you can call on those same tools to deal with situations in the here and now.  And if you never encounter the real deal how do you know if you ever really learned anything? It is for all of these reasons and more that we should all be thankful for those people we encounter who just rub us the wrong way.  Just as difficult poses help to build our muscles and our asana practice, difficult people help to build our Karmic muscle.  Think of it as resistance training for your soul.  At first it can be painful and difficult, but with practice you will get better at it and the results...

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My Enemy, My Teacher

Posted on May 31, 2011 | 0 comments

My Enemy, My Teacher

I had the honor to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak in person several weeks ago, and I have been pondering his message ever since.  So I apologize for the long delay in posting, I hope it is worth waiting for. One of his key lessons is that it is only through facing an “enemy” that we build strength.  I found this teaching to be so profound that I have decided I needed the space of several blog posts to explore it properly.   So this is the first in a series of posts that will explore how we can apply this philosophy to our every day lives. I first want to say that I am not a big fan of the word “enemy”.  In our culture the connotation is of a living person who is seeking to harm us.  There very well may be people who are seeking to physically harm us, but I will not be writing about that type of “enemy”.  These are not the situations where we learn yogic discipline, this is where self defense is useful.  And that is a different teacher. When we are surrounded by people that think like we think and act like we act it is so easy!!  We are never challenged to consider a different view or defend our beliefs.  When life is easy we float along in a wonderful bubble of contentment that doesn’t shape us or change us.  But when we come into contact with people who challenge or beliefs, thoughts and feelings we are forced to really put these aspects of ourselves under scrutiny and be prepared to defend them.  The same is true when life gets difficult.  It is only through these challenges that we strengthen our spiritual muscle. So I will not be using the term enemy, for my purposes I prefer to use the the term “opponent” or “opposition”.  These are simply people or situations that challenge our perception of how the world works or how we think it should work.  I will be talking about the people and situations in our lives that are like sand to the oyster.  Irritating, but in the end forms a beautiful pearl. It has also occurred to me that opponents come in several different forms.  First there is a real live person who just gets under our skin or challenges us on some level.  Second there is a situation that challenges us to think about how we choose to act or react.  And third is ourselves.  We are often our own worst “enemy”. For the next three weeks I will be exploring how each of these “opponents” manifest in our lives and how we might seek to turn the sand into a pearl of...

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Confidence

Posted on Feb 1, 2011 | 1 comment

I have had several conversations this week about confidence.  Specifically about confidence in advanced Yoga asanas (poses).  First let me clarify what an advanced Yoga asana is.  It is any pose that YOU feel is just out of YOUR reach.  It is not full Hand Stand if you are just getting the hang of Plank.  In this scenario it would be holding Plank for five yogic breaths instead of three. Remember that your Yoga is not my Yoga.  Your body is uniquely Yours – there has never been another body like yours and there never will be another like yours.  And with that uniqueness comes limitations and strengths.  So I am talking here about reaching outside of your preconceived notions about what you can do to achieve something you thought was just outside your reach – not doing the impossible.  Though someday that impossible pose just might be your favorite. So the question is: how do you find the confidence to attempt that next level of a pose?  Three things: Dedication, Persistence, and Trust. Dedication is showing up to your mat and doing the poses that build the necessary muscle strength, flexibility and breath control to get to that next pose.  Even if you hate that pose.  Remember that Yoga is a practice that will change your body and your life.  Every pose, every move, does something!  Nothing goes to waste in Yoga.  Plank builds the strength in your core muscles to support your body in Hand Stand.  Ah ha!! Persistence is continuing to work on that pose that you don’t like so you can not only build upon it, but embrace it.  Many a Yogi and Yogini have started out absolutely dreading a pose that later becomes their favorite.  I myself really dreaded Down Dog when I first started.  It was so HARD!  But now – that pose is a resting pose for me.  Who knew?  It is persistence that will propel you to the next level.  Remember just because you are not “good” at it today does not mean that you will not someday strike that pose very elegantly. Trust.  Wow what a loaded word!  Trust is very hard to come by these days in just about any arena.  But how about trust in yourself and your body?  I hear you groaning, but hang with me here.  All that dedication, showing up to the mat and persistence to keep trying that difficult pose culminates right here.  You have to trust that your body is strong enough and flexible enough and can breath enough to move into that next level. I have watched many a student tell me they couldn’t, but with a gentle hand and encouragement they end up in Back Bend or finish Sun Salutation or just get their hands on the floor in Forward Bend.  And they feel great!  They are set free from the doubt and mistrust of their bodies. Now, it would be wrong of me not to remind you that it is very easy to hurt yourself in Yoga.  This is a life long practice not something you “achieve” and move on to the next thing.  NEVER TAKE YOUR BODY TO A POINT THAT CAUSES ACUTE PAIN.  You should be working the body – not tearing anything.So keep showing up to the mat, keep working that pose you dread and know in your bones that with time you can get to that next...

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