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I have been reading a fabulous book by Stephen Cope called The Great Work of Your Life. It is a surprising page turner. Using concepts from the Bhagavad Gita about discovering one’s unique life purpose, Cope weaves in stories about famous people such as Jane Goodall, Susan B. Anthony, Henry David Thoreau and their path to finding bliss and dharma with everyday people struggling to find their way, committing to or missing their true calling.

My inspiration for teaching yoga is the power that yoga has to guide each and every one of us toward our unique path. Yoga creates awareness, openness and questions that help us move toward our best selves.

In the last year, I have had many changes due to yoga.

  • I completed a 200 hr teacher training to become RYT certified.
  • I gained more insight into how I teach and why I teach.
  • I have become kinder to my body and live more compassionately in general.
  • I recently have become more aware of how certain food and beverages effect me and have started making different choices not because I feel I have to but because it seems like the natural steps to take for me.
  • I am diving into teaching and learning and living yoga.
  • My relationships are more open. My communication is better. I don’t hold back as much.

Even with yoga teaching being my main gig besides being a mother and wife, I continue searching for my dharma. When I teach, I am fully focused, present and passionate. But there have been other times in my life when I would be so immersed in my pursuit that time would disappear. Were those dharmas that ran their coarse or should I be trying to put them back into my life again.

That is where I am. Where are you? And where do you want to be?

I saw this today. Enjoy!

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On the way to teach yoga, I was thinking about the coming year 2012 and how we are bombarded with so many messages about making New Year’s resolutions in the media. I too have a resolution to add to your list. In fact, put this resolution right at the top.

I will find complete self-acceptance in 2012.

Now erase all resolutions that follow. Ah. Doesn’t that feel like freedom!

I completed my Baron Baptiste teacher training this past summer. Baron Baptiste strives to create teachers that come from a true and authentic place. To accomplish this we worked on ridding ourselves of the garbage that we carry—the stories that we believe about being unworthy, unlovable and just not enough. We worked to get to the place where we had 100% self-acceptance. We had to stand in front of 150 other teachers in training and declare that we were 10s. We had to do this with certainty and belief. It was hard.

Our society is accustomed to thinking that we will be a 10 if we lose those last 5 pounds, get that better job, nicer house, faster car or fill in the blank. We need to erase the wrinkles on our aging faces and tighten our sagging bottoms and have washboard abs to be our best.

But it is just not true.

We are all 10s—right here and right now. You do not have to do a single thing but arrive and approach everything that you do as the 10 that you are.

Try on the resolution of self-acceptance. See what the possibilities of believing yourself a 10 bring this 2012.  Treat everyday this year as the special gift that it is and have a very Happy New Year.

My practice always surprises me. Recently, I was taking class and feeling very out of breath. I was having unusual difficulty joining breath with asana. I knew that my practice that day was telling me that something was off. Luckily, I have become more attuned to what my body is telling me when I’m on my mat. Instead of pushing, I slowed down and took more rests. That afternoon I began to sniffle. I took some zinc and some black elderberry syrup and rested when my body told me to rest and within three days the sniffles never progressed. I was able to stop the cold before it became debilitating.

I took a cross-fit class last year and, Ron Gordon, the instructor was saying that he takes his pulse every morning. If his pulse is off one way or the other he knows he needs to slow down. He’s avoided viruses by listening to his body’s signs and takes off a day instead of sticking to his training plan.

Being a new year, I have reflected upon last year a lot lately. Although I was incredibly active, my body was not strong last year. I caught every cold that I was exposed to. I added many classes to my roster and continued to ski, snowshoe and run as much as I could. If only I had listened more closely. That is my take home lesson from last year. Listen. Pay attention to the moment; slow down, stop pushing and listen. Our bodies are capable of amazing things. (My husband and I just watched a documentary about three men who ran across the Sahara—running 50 miles DAILY for  111 days…4,300 miles total!) It becomes easy to shut off the signals our bodies give out to slow down. I still drink coffee to push my body to stay awake when it wants to rest. I have gotten better at listening to what my body really needs and will more readily take child’s pose or a restorative pose instead of pushing through.

This new year, try to listen more closely. Close your eyes while practicing on your mat. Turn off the visual stimulation that might signal to your brain to take a pose to the next level. Listen to what your body wants to do TODAY versus what you knew it could do in the past. Treat each day as a special day to learn more about yourself.

It’s day three of the new year. Not being a resolution making kind of girl, I tried to put time aside to rethink this past year and plan for the year ahead. I always find that life rarely stays completely balanced on all planes—family relationships, friends, work, leisure time. When the part that is trailing catches up another part seems to fall back. Over break our family had so  much fun together. I was appreciating fully how our family has found its groove. We have many activities now that we all enjoy-skiing, rock climbing, cooking, being outdoors. It makes those week long breaks so much more enjoyable when we share these experiences together. Professionally, however, I am feeling like I am just floating out at sea without a clear direction to sail off toward. Some years life has seemed to be on track. The pieces just keep falling in place and things feel right. Some years feel like a struggle with the pieces of life forcing themselves into the shape of what seemed right but in reality was not–the whole picture changed without you getting the memo. It seems that this year I may be in limbo a bit (the pieces are not even all out of the box yet). Maybe it’s a case of being older and wiser. I don’t want to jump in too fast before the picture is clear in my mind in fear of wasting time.

Yoga helps me navigate these times of uncertainty. The discomfort of the unknown is tolerable. I know it will pass. I know that nothing stays the same. Ever. Nothing is good and nothing is bad. It just is. Breathe. Namaste.

Photo By David Eppstein

I’ve climbed to great heights during the last three weeks. In fact, my whole family has. We’ve been frequenting a local climbing gym called Rock Ventures. It turns out that it is the biggest indoor climbing facility in the US. Who knew? To my amazement my seven and eleven year old have ascended the 42′ walls like spiders and have gained some valuable insight into their personal strength-both mental and physical.

Back when my husband and I were just dating, we tried climbing once or twice. We found it thrilling and exhausting. Almost 13 years later, we are back and finding more enjoyment than before. I attribute our recent triumph to yoga. Yes, really! In the past, I recall getting partially up the wall only to have my arms get tired and my legs get shaky. I remember many failed attempts to reach to the top. These days, however, I have not had these outcries of protest from my body or mind. My yoga practice has taught me how to stay focused and calm during uncomfortable moments. It has strengthened my core, legs and arms. Yoga has released tight muscles allowing me to reach or stretch to holds on the wall that were unattainable before. Yoga has taken negative thoughts from my mind and filled my head with positive reinforcements that help me get past a difficult foot or handhold to the next move that brings me success.

May 2011 be the year where you reach for the stars (or the next handhold) and find greater peace, love and yoga. Happy New Year!

I have been thinking a lot about transitions lately.

Tran•si•tion: n. 1. Passage from one form, state, style or place to another.

Transitions close to home: My son has transitioned from elementary school into middle school. His passage has been a smooth one thus far. I was worried. I figured that the changes to a bigger school, new classmates and more responsibilities would be difficult. I assume there will be hiccups along the way at some point, but as of now it has been a quiet transformation.

Transitions in the studio: In yoga class yesterday, the teacher spoke of paying attention to the transitions between the asanas. “The transitions are when the dance occurs”, her old dance teacher once shared. Paying attention to the transitions creates more intention and more mindfulness.

In life, transitions are uncomfortable. That middle space between one path to the next is often painful. We wait for the “next” to begin with a gnawing anxiety of the unknown. Hoping that the “next” gets on with it already. Waiting for the future while missing the moment. But the moment is all we have. By rushing the transition we are missing the true moments of life. I recently read a great book called “Hand Wash Cold” by Karen Maezen Miller . She speaks about missing her life by not comprehending that her life is all of the minutia that fills each day—the laundry, the dishes—those little moments are part of life and rushing to the “next” thing shuts off connection with what is true about life moment to moment. On the mat, transitions can happen too quickly to appreciate the moments as well. Slowing down and paying attention to the transitions that take place from one asana to the next can help you toward paying attention to the in between moments of your days with appreciation instead of moving on to the future and letting life’s quiet moments pass by unrecongnized.

Photo By D Sharon Pruitt

We are more than half way through the school year, and, at least in this household, the homework is revving up and along with it the stress. It is hard to juggle the pressures of school, the recommended allotment of daily physical activity, after school commitments and homework. Getting a good night’s sleep falls by the way side most nights while kids try to keep up with the constant demands of life in 2010.

I was trying to think of a way to simplify our lives recently. What could we remove to help everyone slow down? There were no vestigial schedule appendixes. I couldn’t find anything in the schedule that stood out as being “extra” and no longer of use. So how do we help our kids adjust to a lifestyle where the demands are plenty and the hours few? How can we take the edge off the daily stress?

Tips to help your child navigate through the pressures of life:

1. Make dinner at home and find time to eat together around the table. There is no greater way to remove pent up stress than by connecting with those who support and love you. The New York Times article, “The Guilt-Trip Casserole-Dinner and the Busy Family” points out the positive benefits of joining together around the table.

2. Before tackling homework, spend a little time outdoors. Soak in the fresh air. Feel the sun or wind or rain on your face. Have contact with nature. Studies show that nature reduces stress in kids as well as helps kids with ADD.

3. Inversions are a great way to gain energy and increase mental alertness so go upside down in a handstand or headstand. Or, for a more restorative inversion, lie on the ground with your feet up against the wall.

4. One of my favorite books for relaxation scripts is, Ready… Set… R.E.L.A.X. written by Jeffrey Allen Med. This great archive of self-empowering meditations has scripts with messages such as “I remember what I learn”, “When I am relaxed, my body and mind work well”, “I am a good listener” and specific test preparation scripts for achievement tests. To teach your child that they can relax their mind and find calm in tense situations will help them throughout their school days and beyond.

5. I also recommend Stin Hansen’s meditation, “Think Like a Great Student”, to help kids with school anxiety.

6. Having a calm and organized work space is also very helpful for your child. A great tip that I recently read to help your child through their homework is to write down each topic of homework on a sticky note. Have your child determine how much time each subject will take and write that on the sticky notes too. Then have your child prioritize the work according to time and difficulty. After each task, the sticky note can be removed, giving your child a visual sense of control and accomplishment.

7. Have your child stand up and stretch. Do some gentle yoga poses like cat/cows, forward bends, seated spinal twists or more inversions between each assignment to break up the time and to recharge and change focus.

Life doesn’t slow down and stress doesn’t disappear. By teaching your child how to manage stress, you teach them how to positively navigate through life.

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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