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Photo by Piero Sierra

Oprah once said:

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more.
If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”

It’s almost Thanksgiving—a time when we as a country collectively give thanks. Thanksgiving and Valentines Day are both celebrations created to ensure that we become mindful of the people we love and the life that we live at least for one day.

I love everything about Thanksgiving from the colors, food, family time and football. Being mindful is the process of being completely present. Take time this season to be present. Look at the sky, feel the cool, crisp air, smell the aromas of the food cooking in the kitchen, listen to the leaves  crunching, children laughing, football on TV. Take in and appreciate the moment instead of being anxious about the turkey, fretting about fitting everyone around the table, worrying about the family dynamics. Stop and think about what you have and be grateful for those things.

For some, this beginning to the holiday season is not accompanied by joy and excitement but rather by anxiety and sadness.

Whether the holidays bring pleasant or unpleasant reactions, bring yoga with you to help keep you centered.

This Thanksgiving bring yoga and mindfulness to the table and see if being grateful comes more easily. Imagine what it would be like to be mindful every day we live and every moment we have with those we love.

I am so grateful for my family and friends that provide me with love and support. I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my body that has taken me on some great adventures this year. I am thankful for my yoga practice for always changing and encouraging me to grow. I am grateful for you, my readers, and all my little and big yogis for allowing me to teach and learn and share.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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Photo by H. Koppdelaney

I was recently asked to participate in a grassroots initiative called LASS (Ladies Attaining Self-Sufficiency). The mission of LASS is to model, teach, and support young ladies (sixth grade city school girls) in attaining self-sufficiency. The program’s goal is to increase positive identity, break down social barriers and define personal values at this impressionable time of these girl’s lives.

The program includes a variety of after school activities that were chosen to help foster relationships and thoughtful decision-making.

I am so honored to be included in this pilot program. Yoga has the ability to transform a person both internally and externally.

Yoga can help change lives in many ways:

• Learning different yoga breathing techniques can help guide a person through many different challenging circumstances. Learning that you are in control of your actions by taking the time to stop and breathe before reacting is empowering. Being able to calm oneself down during a conflict or before an important test can alter the direction of a given situation. Learning breathing techniques and poses that energize one’s body can help eliminate the need or use of less healthy food or chemical choices.

• Through yoga asanas, one is made aware of individual differences and personal strengths. With so many forces in a young girl’s life that are out of their control, it is so vital to for them to find the internal strength that they possess to make the right choices. Through asana a person develops the ability to listen to what one’s body is saying. A pose might generate a feeling of fear (getting up in crow or a headstand) or tension in a certain body part which releases when breath is directed to that area. A warrior series may evoke a sense of strength which is felt from the inside out. This strength can be carried forth throughout one’s day easing one through tough situations.

• Learning relaxation techniques during savasana can help relieve tension and stress that accumulates throughout the day. Practiced before bed, relaxation techniques can release the pressures of the day allowing for a fully rejuvinating sleep that all teens need. When rested, being mindful and aware is easier which leads to better choices.

I am planning on working on breathing techniques, sun salutations, group and partner poses and relaxation techniques. I hope to ignite an interest in yoga, but more importantly, an awareness of personal strength in which each girl holds ready to tap.

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Photo by Andrew J. Cosgriff

I just completed my first marathon less than two weeks ago. I should be feeling invincible. But I don’t. 26.2 miles couldn’t stop me but the flu just kicked me in the pants. It was inevitable. The Tuesday after my race I found myself completely depleted after coming off of the final adrenaline surge of my accomplishment. I also found myself sitting in the waiting room of the pediatricians office – the dreaded petri dish. My son complained of a sore throat after having his classmate come down with strep the day before so I knew I had to take my chances. I didn’t touch anything. I used hand sanitizer. I found myself inside the same office four days later to have my daughter inoculated for the swine flu. It only took us one day after that for us all to come down with the fever, cough and terrible chills. Murphy’s Law.

There is a positive in this situation. Between shivering under the covers and the Tylenol kicking in, I had time to catch up on my favorite blogs and take care of some housecleaning and organizing that just never gets to the top of the list.

One of the things that I learned while stuck at home this week is that sometimes you have to start over.

I was reading some old posts from a new blog favorite, Mama-Om. Stacy gives great examples of being present in our children’s daily lives. It made me start to think about how I’ve wasted many connecting opportunities with my kids lately. I have always allowed the kids a little TV decompression time. When the kids sit to watch their two shows, I disappear upstairs to my computer. Time disappears for us all until we are in a frantic rush trying to get ready for whatever is next – dinner making, practice, lessons. This chaotic energy follows us through homework, getting ready for the next morning and all the way until bedtime.

I have been finding that my kids are always in a conflict and that interactions with my son have been ending in mutually frustrated feelings.

I decided to start again with a no TV rule on weekdays. It has only been two days but the difference is noticeable.

  • My kids (four years apart and opposite sexes) have started finding ways to play together again instead of squabbling.
  • More books were read and instruments were picked up and played.
  • The three of us spent time playing board games, reading together, laughing, appreciating and relishing the time spent together.
  • All of the sudden there was ample time to get everything done without that feeling of the clock ticking.
  • I was more present and able to see some teachable moments in school stories that were shared or during interactions between the kids.

It is not that the TV time took over the whole day (it was only 1 hour) but after being in school for 7 hours that extra lack of connection by zoning out in front of the screen created an energy that tainted the way we related to each other for the rest of the day. Habits are easily created and often hard to break, but it is possible to start over.

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Creative commons photo by ctanstfl on flickr

I have to apologize for not writing. Apparently not only did my body need time to recover after running a marathon but I found that my mind needed a break as well. I have never felt as absent-minded as I did this week. I felt like I was one step away from where I always needed to be. I had a really hard time getting my thoughts from my head into the computer. Maybe it was the race or maybe the pre and post race lack of sleep, but I finally (after almost a week) feel ready to write.

So did yoga help my race. 100%. I don’t think I would have had the race that I did if I didn’t practice yoga and bring my yoga with me on race day.

Saturday before the race I did a 20 minute yoga practice in my hotel room. I warmed up with sun salutations and then listened to my body to see what it needed. I lingered in my down dogs to ease my tight calve muscles. I balanced in flying pigeon and rested in half pigeon opening my hips. I held an alternate pigeon pose to stretch deep into my ilio psoas. I lifted my hips in bridge, rocked gently in happy baby, helped my feet by holding a nice long shoulder stand. Then I rested in savasana while listening to a marathon meditation on my ipod from Stin Hansen.

That night, although tired from walking around DC, I barely slept. I listened to sleep meditations, anxiety meditations and pre-race meditations. I placed my hand on my stomach and focused on my breath and finally rested until the 5am wake up call’s shrill ring jolted me up and out of bed.

Race morning. I took a lot of long deep breaths. Avoiding butterflies by breathing fully into my stomach I made it to the race coral with my friends and waited to begin the adventure.

I tried to be present. I tried really hard to pay attention to the people, the soldiers, the fans and the sights. This race has 300,000 people watching and helping. It has almost 30,000 people running. I loved every minute of it. Well at least until about mile 19. It was then that I saw someone with a sign that said something like ” You will soon see a wall”. I was warned that a lot of people hit the wall at the 14th Street Bridge. I was told that on the bridge people begin to walk or stop to stretch. I was told that my mind would tell me to stop and walk and stretch too. I felt my left knee beginning to talk to me. I breathed into my knee. I felt a side stitch on my right and breathed into that side. I felt a side stitch on the other side and breathed into that side. I started to count to 100 over and over and over. I wished I had a yoga affirmation or Sanskrit saying to use as a mantra but instead the only thing I could do was count. I counted myself over the bridge and through mile 25 until I knew success was ahead. I bounded up the final hill to the finish and became a marathoner.

I finished in 4 hours and 7 minutes. I almost made my goal and I finished feeling really good. I had the usual post race pain which I tried to help by lying in legs up the wall pose. I stretched my aching quads using dancer pose and tried stretching my overworked hips by doing a sitting version of pigeon and hanging in rag doll. I had the usual trouble walking up and down stairs for a couple of days but have been amazed by the speed of my recovery. I am ready to write and I am ready run again. Everyone has their own marathon story. No one experiences the marathon in the same way. My marathon story is a yoga story.

Current Classes:

MIDTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB

Mondays:
6-7:15am Power Vinyasa (H)

Thursdays:
6-7am Power Vinyasa

Story Time Yoga
1-1:45pm

Sundays:
5-7 year olds
9:45-10:30am
8-11 year olds
10:45-11:30am

STUDIO MOVE!

Wednesdays:
10:30-11:30 Power Vinyasa

Fridays:
Yoga for Athletes
9-10am

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