Seasons Change

After the 12:15 expanding class I walked outside and felt the all-of-a-suddenly cold air grip ahold of me— the sudden remembrance of the seasonal dance… doing its thing, doing what it does, cycling around, summer to fall to winter to spring… and here we are… cycling around, as all things seemingly do…

In Tucson we all yearn so eagerly for the cool air that winter brings, and then when the time comes everyone complains that it’s cold… hahaha… so it goes…

Change is what’s always already happening, and yet here we are… experiencing it…

Do you resist the change?  or do you roll with it?

Great teachers declare, “If you resist what is, you suffer.”

Mr. Lee Lozowick said, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

In other words, as Christina Sell once said, “Don’t freak out about your freak out.”

Pema Chodran advises us to “Lean into it.”

And yet… here i am… suffering a bit.. feeling resistance to what is.  The current is carrying me to other adventures…not better or worse, just different.  Different is unknown and therefore Ms. Mind labels it as uncomfortable, something to be avoided at all costs.

But I know myself better than that.

All great things in my life have arisen out of facing such discomfort, and as one of my first great teachers, Ms. Ulla Lundgren said, “feel(ing) the fear and do(ing) it anyway.”

Off to Never Never Land…

Or Phoenix, as it were… Starting January 2nd I begin acupuncture school, and play with turning things a little upside down and seeing who I am in that circumstance… just like yoga.  And so we see it’s all practice.  And it’s all a metaphor.  We practice and practice, for what?  For more practice.  For what?  So we can practice some more in a different situation.  Ms. Manorama D’Alvia said, “Your life is for figuring out your life… No one is going to do it for you.”

At this stage of the game I find myself looking for any reason not to go, I found myself just last night on the UofA website exploring different options I could pursue here in Tucson and therefore justify my staying.  Breathe…Breathing… Each class has become such a magical, meaningful, rich experience.  Each student I touch, each gaze I meet, I feel its significance because I see the end.  … And each end is the beginning of something new… Mr. Douglas Brooks taught to focus on what you are moving towards, rather than to focus on what you’re moving away from.  It’s a beautiful life teaching.  I learned that in skiing so long ago!  Haha.  Look in the direction you want to go, rather than the tree you’re aiming to avoid!  Sigh… This isn’t the end.  I’ve set up with YogaOasis to teach TUESDAYS: 11am Yogahour, 1215 Expanding, and 415 Yogahour, as well as a workshop every month.  I’ll be available on social media, checking in and sharing upcoming classes, workshops and retreats elsewhere as well.

My heart hurts, but I practice having faith that it’s for the best.  I love you. Thank you for being a part of my path, for sharing this journey with me.  Please stay with me as we continue on down the road.  Love and Gratitude.

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asana junkies day 4: the waterfall

5.19.13

San Marcos, TX; Asana Junkies; Christina Sell; day 4

three ladies on the road again! back to San Marcos for the last day of the workshop with the car packed to the brim… yeah, we’re ladies… and Miss Tanya and I plan to leave after the workshop.  the mood is happy and chit chatty.  Miss Tanya drives in her pretty pink shirt with fancy cuts in the back of it, Miss Christine rocking her new white Lulu pants, and I’m sporting my new pale green Lulu pants (yeah Outlet Store!)

Today is full spectrum… can you feel the excitement?!

morning chanting, pranayama, and meditation. tea time.

asana practice with Miss Christina Sell 10am-2pm!  standing sequence very similar to yesterday. challenging and sweaty. so good. i appreciate and loathe the repetition all at once. it’s good for me. my anticipation and dread is something i can work with in a valuable way that can translate into life, for when i anticipate and/or dread something I can bring myself into the moment, feel my breath and just do it anyway, with experiential faith that good will come from it. also, repetition grants us the opportunity to have a marker, a gauge by which to observe progress, which bestows upon us a sense of accomplishment.  years ago I was in a webinar with Christina Sell and she talked about the value of a sense of accomplishment, and how ultimately little steps (like the waterfalls one at a time!–see below) overcomes fear, builds confidence in oneself and fosters a sense that the success can be repeated. it was so with the waterfalls today and it was so in our rad sequence over the past four days.

today i felt the best of all of the days. my shoulders finally felt open! everything felt so good, hard, but so good. we were all drenched in our own sweat, working diligently and wholeheartedly. there was a section of the class after handbalancings that Miss Christina offered us the opportunity to play with whichever backbends we wanted, any of them. I am grateful for Miss Christine Lee’s willingness to help me work on my Rajakapotasana. it’s the hardest backbend for me right now. I struggled hard with it the previous day and broke down in tears. Kapotasana used to be like that for me. practicing it sent my back into spasm and i’d fall to the floor sobbing.  remembering how horrible kapotasana used to feel and acknowledging that I can do it now helped me feel optimistic and willing. Christine sweetly reminded me how the body stores emotions and it’s just another layer where they’re stored. we worked on it several times together, and there’s no way to make it easy, no props that help me get it, using the wall didn’t help. there’s just grunt work of working diligently in the pose and then the sticker of it all, is in the midst of it all with everything, i have i to practice letting go, surrendering it all, my ego, my striving, my sadness, my high expectations, in the physical form of letting my heart soften, to use the classic Anusara saying. the two are mutually exclusive: over-striving and a soft heart. so there’s my work. … soften…  and keep practicing. practice with persistence and devotion… Miss Sienna Smith from San Francisco shared what she gained in the closing circle (to summarize), “practice, patience, play.”  i recognize that along with the will required to get on your mat with regularity there’s a softening necessary in your heart which comes from an energetically different fierceness of will… a passionate willingness to soften (yoga embraces the paradox– to be strong and soft, to engage and let go)… after working on Rajakapotasana for (what felt like) many many times Christina chimed in just in time, saying something to the eftect of, “after working on something that’s hard for you, give yourself a pose you like to do. play.”

… …

and i ate the river for lunch! or rather the river almost swallowed me! tanya, christine and i went to the San Marcos River near the studio. what a treat! it seems to be the thing to do on the weekends there. turns out Miss Christine used to be a synchronized swimmer and a lifeguard, so she loves the water and skillfully insisted i get in, and then with her slyness, she managed to get me to go down the waterfall slide. she’s good! this woman is a leader! last time i was in the San Marcos river I got pulled under after the first waterfall and panicked (that’s the part that messes everything up), and a nice man helped me out. apparently I stored that experience away, and this trip it came out in the form of resistance. just like a skillful yoga teacher or a loving mother, she built my confidence one baby step at a time. stage one , into the water! it was cold, but so refreshing after this morning’s intense practice and the warmth of the day. step 2, first waterfall, step 3 first and second waterfall without stopping (i sort of failed, but still succeeded because i went down both with just a breath-catching break in between. just like success in working on an asana isn’t dependent on whether you achieve the final form, but whether you apply yourself fully, do what you know how to do with sincerity. full form of the pose might happen tomorrow or the next day, or never. but truly, as many of my wise teachers have said, it’s not about the pose…. and yet of coarse it absolutely is about the pose…. it’s the point and not the point all at once. … –wow this is a tangent… stay with me, we’re going places– so that you did not “get” the pose, doesn’t mean you failed. one of my other teachers said, “success is progress.” or “progress is success.” maybe it was Ulla Lundgren. that i made it down the first waterfall, freaked out and didn’t die (well, to be honest, there was a large, elephant of a man perfectly planted at the end of waterfall one, right before i got sucked into waterfall two. i reached out and grabbed him. he was like an anchor! he saved me from panic or drowning), gave me willingness to try it again. i caught my breath and went down number two. — this is a long story– we went back around and did all three and i did stop in between each one, but i went down all three, and yeah, there did just happen to be another large man in just the perfect spot for me to latch on to! as always, i’m taken are of!

(cheesy song starts playing in the background: ” i get by with a little help from my friends…”)

on the road again adventure minus one musketeer! miss tanya and i are now in the Town & Country Motel in Fort Stockton, Texas. big day. only 9 more hours to drive tomorrow.

woke up, threw a hat on, hit up breakfast, and Tucson here we come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

asana junkies day 3: a foray…

5.18.13

sarurday, day 3

just another day of workshop wtih Christina Sell and with such radical, awesome and inspiring women!!!  i’m honored, humbled and grateful to be in such bad-ass company!  (i’m tired so i should go to bed. it’s late in Austin and day 4 starts early tomorrow, so forgive the writing quality of this entry)  today was was a hard day, but a super fun day.

in asana practice we got our vrischikasana (scorpion) on.  the several hour session offered good ol’ fashioned hard work with skillful and challenging sequencing by Miss Christina Sell. i love the way she’s leading the workshops at her School of Yoga. it really invokes community and inspires continued challenging practice.

(oh there’s so much to say…)

at lunch i went to the river with Miss Malek and Mew Mew (her adorable chiwawa), Tanya, Christine Lee and Cheryl from Florida.  i enjoyed seeing texas community having fun in the sun… lol and i love that i saw a dude with a big cowboy hat, cowboy boots, shorts and lots of tattoos. he was great. the river posse consisted of lots of dogs,  families, plenty of children, rugged loners, couples, beers, icechests, etc. the most entertaining part was watching the scene of waterfall chasers.  lounging sunbathers in tubes, courageous kids running down backwards, tubes tied to other tubes, tubes tied to icechests on tubes, boats, kayaks, boogie boards, dare devils torpedoing bare-belly down, backwards… some were scary to watch!  i’m grateful i went.  it felt like a sweet gift, a special feature of the worksh0p to get to go “chill out” at the river in between sessions.  on the banks christine and i talked shop in preparation for November’s Costa Rica retreat.

a change of clothes and we’re back at it for afternoon practice:  a foray with hanumanasana! ha! ha! miss tanya jokingly called it a weekend in wine country.. it was funny.  (also funny, if you’re a dork about words, foray’s first definition is: a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, esp. to obtain something; a raid.  secondly, its an attempt to become involved in a new activity or sphere. … that sounds about right.  it’s an attack into enemy territory of hanumanasana to obtain new insight, revelation, opening, for hopefully some sense of ease)  we entertained ourselves with lots of quad and hammy opening.

mr. kelly sell is so kind and generous. he made us delicious curry and rice for dinner! we ate together and shared rich conversation with plenty of smiles, giggling and chocolate for dessert.  some of us stayed after and Miss Livia showed us a You Tube video of a narcoleptic cat that sent us rolling on the floor.  christine, tanya, and melissa shared a car ride to our hosts’ homes.  due to construction, the car took a li’l detour, and we were lost in the depths of conversation with an audience of lovely green trees.  after we dropped off melissa and christine, what’s better than an adventure at Sprouts?  an adventure at Sprouts… twice.  ha ha… we forgot something, and of course drifting all over in conversation led our car drifting all over getting a little lost on the way home… but only the first time.  lol.

laundry of our sweaty clothes, and goodnight….more tomorrow.

 

 

Asana Junkies day 2:

5.17.13

Day 2 San Marcos, TX:  Asana Junkies with Christina Sell

i’m feeling much better today!

and i’m grateful for day two! day two always feels better. aside from the obvious benefit of a good night’s sleep, there is benefit in the merging of individual energies into a group energy. by the end of the workshop we’ll feel like good ol’ buddies.

our car ride to Christina’s School of Yoga was less hectic today: three yogis and a ramp. the ramp foreshadows the inevitable backbend play/work ahead. tea time is chatty time and our chit chat, although delightful, made us late for our morning puja. Christine handled it well with a smile and an anecdote about her days at Prescott College. she paraphrases one of her teachers, “You cannot not communicate. your behavior communicates.” a very important teaching that can serve to call us to attention. what is my behavior communicating? … …

light poured in through the studio’s high windows, so perfectly aligned with the mood of the room it was like a soundtrack. as we participated in our chanting, pranayama and meditation, the previously grey sky offered us bright rays of light in return.

the morning session was 10am until the end of the world… there’s no limit on backbends! the practice was sweaty and slippery! by the end of class Miss Tanya looked like she jumped into a pool! she was so excited because she got some air in one-armed Mayurasana. Miss Christine had some vocal breakthroughs in Viparita Chakrasana (hence the ramp) today as well! the general sequence: standing poses, belly down backbends, handbalancings, more backbends and more backbends. it was a hybrid of Iyengar meets Bikram minus the high heat. we made our own heat! the mood was ferociously playful!

Christina talked about the strategy of using the pose to prepare for the pose, not for beginners, but more intermediate/advanced. i remember in my earlier days of practice and teaching i’d prepare and prepare and prepare… and sometimes due to time constraints, never even make it to the pose! so now, i just accept that the first urdhva dhanurasana might feel crappy (for example), but I can use the alignment and actions I know to free myself in the pose. (Tanya smiles and says she always anticipates this moment in class…) just like in life! i can apply the cumulative lessons i’ve acquired to the current circumstances in order to shift my perception, and thus free myself in the moment.

Christina and Darren often quote a Lee Lozowick saying, “Forewarned is forearmed.” i thought about this as i anticipated upcoming poses in the sequence… we can’t choose the sequence offered by the teacher, but we choose how to engage within what is offered. … especially within a sequence that i’ve done before, i can anticipate what’s coming and prepare myself physically, and most importantly mentally… how do i look at/approach what’s coming? with dread or persistence? persistence is “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition, continuing steadfastly.” … … …

regarding sequencing: (of poses or circumstances of our life, cuz hell, isn’t all a metaphor… Miss Manorama says, “Look to the metaphor.”), how do poses relate to each other? christina sell likes to sequence from Mr. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga (so fantastic, because that’s how I love to practice! the book is an empowering guide!) and in her teaching of these sequences in recent workshops I’ve attended, she emphasizes how it’s not a “peak pose” strategy, but rather do what you can do in the pose your in and see what it offers you for the next pose. further, Miss Christina Sell invites us to just do it a couple of times and try it again tomorrow. rather than get too hung up on “getting” the pose no matter what, she stimulates a healthy level of detachment. in our day to day living may we expand our awareness to see how the struggles i endure on this day grant me virtues and thus serve me for future endeavors.

lunch showed up with no excuses or justification… ha ha… it was just late, and it accepted full responsibility… a welcome change of clothes, Christine Lee and I dove into preparation for our November Coata Rica retreat. she also received some acupuncture from Mr. Kelly Sell, Miss Christina’s very kind husband.  he’s so supportive and such a sweet presence.  in addition he also offers us acupuncture in our breaks!

afternoon session: restoratives, inversions, forward folds, hip openers, and great discussion.

Lululemon Outlet Store!!! uh oh! …

damn neon and fluorescent colors are super see through and you can see my tattoos right through them! and yet, i bought them anyway… so there’s that…

evening brought dinner, more flyer work with Christine Lee, and facebook entertainment.

we’re so looking forward to our first retreat together! side note: we’ve decided that between the two of us, we’d make the perfect yogi. we’re complementary. i’m grateful for our partnership. she’s quite a gift in my life.

what a fabulous day! Again, I’m so grateful to be here. I’m honored to be with such amazing, strong, inspiring women! Yeah, it’s all ladies! Oh, and Kelly. :-)

 

 

 

 

asana junkies day 1 – more will be revealed…

thursday 5.16.13

 

miss tanya, miss christine, and i adventured from tucson to austin yesterday for Christina Sell’s Asana Junkies: 4 days of kick your asana from 845 am to 5 pm. our 15 hour journey in “the Vegas Mobile” consisted of 3 alternating drivers, innumerable pee stops, and one stop for no seat belt from a friendly police officer with big ol’ blue eyes who just seemingly wanted to chit chat because he let us go with a warning and much historical account of how cool he was… he was pretty cool. oh yeah, and taking turns giving and receiving in-depth co-counceling dubbed tanya’s tank-of-a rav 4, “the Vegas Mobile.” I assume the reader understands this to be our silly commitment to confidentiality, and not some, well whatever else one might
assume. so that’s nice. we all need a place to open up, share our struggles and our truths, and make deeper connections to ourselves and others, to feel heard. it was a perfect trip. we got into austin late, 11 pm (we lost two hours coming in!), dropped miss christine off at her spot and went to ours. sleep was a welcome friend that left way too soon.

our car adventure continued in the morning to trolly six people instead of three! a few different lively conversations filled the car during the 45 min ride to san marcos. that familiar feeling of excited anticipation filled the air accompanied by the also familiar sense of connection to people you happen to know nothing about. that’s yoga workshops, or at least the beginning of them.

(…and i’m so sleepy…)

this morning we had tea and coffee time and morning chit chat in miss christina sells’ lovely School of Yoga San Marcos, followed by overview and discussion, brief introductions, and chanting in the practice room.

following, we had another a little tea break (kelley makes incredible coffee) and i napped.  thank goodness.

then! asana anana asana….

apparently it’s a sequence christina used from week three of her webinar.

it was a sweaty, awesome selection of surya namaskar, standing poses, handbalancings, and backbends.

i felt super tight, but the more i did, and the more i engaged, the better i felt. my tiredness pulled me through feelings of dread, unwillingness, and self talk that led me all the way into self-reflection like, “ya know, why do i even do this to myself?” and then i dive into the next handbalance and get re-inspired, re-stoked. and in between poses, especially back bends, the self-doubt returns along with terrifying thoughts of just giving it all up to do something “normal” … whatever that is. and then i am in the next pose and i focus on what’s necessary to feel free and good in the pose, to do all of the alignment cues i know to do to just free myself in the moment. the other option is to just hang out in discomfort, feel terrible and definitely never want to do yoga again. another gift of tiredness, oh and the sweatiness, is the sense of ultimate surrender into the moment, to just do the next right thing. the other option was a sort of surrender that entailed curling up in the fetal position in the tea area and miss out on what i came here to do…  i chose to persevere and to do so could only be in the form of active surrender, to surrender to the work. as mr. paul muller ortega says, “surrender to the discipline that is presented.” and it worked.

lunch came, and all is well.

afternoon practice menu offered delicious restoratives, inversions, and foreward folds.

and now it’s bedtime. i’m grateful to be here, welcomed by such kind and generous hosts, guided by such a skillful and wise teacher, supported by her lovely husband, and adorable greyhound, and! it’s gorgeous here in San Marcos right now! everything is so lush and green.  i look forward to tomorrow.

more will be revealed!

Stargazer_Lily

 

 

butterflies or pickles

5.14.13

tuesday today terrificus…

tuesday of three classes and so many smiling students and watching myself in the face of it all (of course, lol, it’s always about you stef… hmmm…) and yet really, isn’t it? not about me, but about you. for me it’s about you and for you it’s about you, and if i didn’t know me, i am unable to connect with and serve you. someone in expanding class today hit the nail on the head when they said something to the effect of, “it’s like we are all voices inside one big head.” yeah, we were talking about our multiple personalities… er uh, at least i was…

according to some philosophies that underly the practice of yoga, the manifest realm is a manifestation of a supreme intelligence, a universal reality, highest consciousness, god, whatever you want to call it, and that this physical realm that we experience in normal day-to-day life contains and is composed of this consciousness. and thus, we are all one. so each personality we encounter is like another voice in our “big” head… lol.

yeah, it’s like that. this concept helps me to be compassionate when people don’t understand something, willing when someone is having a difficult time, and curious about people i “dislike.” truly it helps me not only as a teacher, but as just a stef in day to day living at the grocery store (where i always seem to be), on my bike with lots of cars, in the car running late, talking on the phone to a woman who works for the gas company who’s simply doing her job and cares not about my crankiness and impatience.

classes went well today. i love my job.

word of the day at yogahour 11am and 415: TRUST.

The quote i borrowed it from this morning is from DR Butler’s The Course. http://www.truthofthepresentmoment.blogspot.com. he said,

“It’s not that our concepts from the past take up 75 percent of our consciousness, while awareness of the present takes 25 percent. It would be great if it were like that, but consciousness is only one, it is filled by one thought at a time. So, if we are clinging to our ideas from the past, it fills personal consciousness to the brim. This is why there must be an emptying out, a letting go, so that the past can be flushed from our psychic system, and we’ll be continuously refreshed and expanded by what is new. Of course, it helps to give up fear of the unknown. Trust that the unknown is even greater than the known.”

this paragraph stood out to me this morning. my tendency is to drop everything and discard it all to get ready for the new. LOL and throw out the baby with the bath water. (that is such a freaking hilarious saying) Some new (or recycled) thoughts surfacing are to let go of old ideas from the past rather than dismiss everything from the past… ie relationships, people, places…. there will be more to come on this…

let’s just pull on this thread for a while…

in a yoga class i taught over a year ago I demoed a standing pose sequence and pulled my hamstring and adductor. one vein of thought would have me blame and discard the practice of yoga or blame and discard the specific poses that preceded the injury. but what’s the point of that? what do we learn from that? with commitment, devotion and discernment we can place ourselves back in the same place where we got burned. we don’t step back into the fire for the sake of getting burned again or in denial of the fire’s capacity for and and high probability of destruction, but rather to learn from it and ultimately grow, to become more refined versions of ourselves. just as much as fire can destroy, fire can transform. i’ve heard it said many times by great teachers that it’s a razor’s edge. at the recent workshop with christina sell talked about how one can pull away from one edge only to fall off the other side. through our yoga practice ideally we become more sensitive and our capacity to know and take care of ourselves expands…

i tend to be overly hard on myself and yet, took a 6 weeks off of yoga. it took a long time to straighten my leg again. it’s over a year later and i’m still working, but if i had given up the practice entirely i would have missed valuable lessons. commitment and persistence pays off, but the asana practice continually teaches me that the persistence must shift approach and focus if it is to be sustained.  the practice continues and persistence perseveres with sensitivity and discrimination.

the 1215 expanding class (still talking about tuesday) rickity rocked out in pincha scorpion, vrischikasana today. we used chairs as support, which was an adventure, as we only had six. so we had stations and played musical stations alternating with blocks to get our shoulders and upper backs open. we prepped with handstand booty-on-the-wall and pincha-booty-on-the-wall, virasana, supta virasana, and kapotasana work. miss christine lee’s beautiful pose was inspiring. i was pleased by the class’s overall enthusiasm and willingness. i love my students! and! i’m so grateful for my brilliant teachers. I couldn’t be doing what i do without them.

I got to participate in the first two days of The Courage to Teach with Christina Sell and Darren Rhodes at Yoga Oasis! I love these two people with all my heart. day one Darren said, “We teach who we are.” I believe it’s a quote from the book. It calls one to walk the walk, so to speak, to live the life about which they preach. And simultaneously, the fact is that whether you live according to your philosophical ideals or not, we lead by example. As Douglas Brooks once said (paraphrased), “even not making a choice is making a choice.” We choose who we are by what we engage, how we engage it, and the company we keep. (i used to rationalize and justify this concept but came to realize through brilliant guidance from dear Scott Marmorstein and his guru, that no matter how strong you think you are on the inside, your outer company will drag you down. … side note, i’m not jesus. he hung with the lows and drank wine, so they say, i wasn’t there, but hey, i’m not jesus… so yeah, “they” say you hang around a barber shop long enough, you’re going to end up getting your hair cut… ha! or at least get a whole bunch of other people’s hair all over you… may we choose to surround ourselves with people we wish to emulate. i want to be around people who inspire me, who are happy, who smile, who giggle, who are bright, who are willing and driven….) (any wayz….tangent, sorry.) we teach who we are. we teach based on the struggles we face and overcome. the lessons we accrue are our gems with which to share and enrich the lives of others as well as our own. it goes back to the shared consciousness idea, for as i gain, so do you, and as you gain, so do i. we all struggle. we all have pain. what’s inspiring and interesting is how you face these challenges and ultimately rise out of the ashes anew. the fact that you rose from the ashes is rad, but what’s of value is the tale you now get to tell…

(I’m currently in the backseat of Miss Tanya Whitman’s car while she drives and Miss Christine Lee naps in the passenger seat. We’ve perused many topics thus far. of these tasty morsels of interest, we talked of butterfly metamorphosis, and how the catepillar is no more, how it no longer exists. once it makes the transformation, it’s not a catepillar with wings, but it’s completely new. it’s a different creature. it’s a butterfly. a dear friend recently got a tattoo of a butterfly to mark this very process. the change is permanent. the butterfly cannot change back into the catepillar. another friend said it this way, “once your a pickle you’re always a pickle, you can’t go back to being a cucumber.” ha! butterflies and pickles, whichever analogy you prefer.)butterflypic1

Saturday I was so fortunate to get to go to a dear friend’s wedding in Sedona. the wedding was so beautiful!!!! it was perfect weather with lovely white fluffy floaties drifting through the air with such perfection that it couldn’t have been professionally orchestrated any better! the company was so pleasant. this couple’s friends and family are mellow and kind and fun-loving. i felt so welcome and at ease. the music was a delightful blend of old school meets new school, but i especially loved the oldies. we all had fun dancing, but the best was how intimidating the bride’s family friends were! they ruled the dance floor! and i enjoyed the delicious food! oh the cakes! yes, cakes, plural. and then there was the serendipitous free room! the groom’s mom had a friend who couldn’t use her room so they were able to offer a free place to stay for the night. what a treat!

Sunday i spent mama day in Phoenix with my mama and twin sister and her beautiful munchkins, Elle and Patrick. they are so super cute! they call me “auntie mama.” yeah, it’s awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

i’m grateful for progress

i just felt like it was time to write…

i sit here at my kitchen table with my kitterz making cute humming noises in her sleep on the chair next to me, rain pooring down outside, and i can see the reflection of the neighbors’ colorful christmas lights in the puddle growing in front of my porch. i’m sleepy, in my big, red fleece robe from Ross and old raggety baby blue fleece slippers from Walgreens, with hair pulled up in a bun like an old lady, belly full of salad and almond mild, and i should be getting to bed… i am getting back into the practice of writing with regularity… even if it’s just a few lines… i can commit to 10 minutes.

ok, go. 11:19pm, stop at 11:29…

 

i feel some awareness in my back after the week-full of practice and bike riding. it’s definitely a challenge to maintain good back alignment on a road bike… i’m excited since my recent attendance at john friend’s workshop in scottsdale two weekends ago. i feel more empowered with my yoga to heal my body, rather than feeling, clueless, victimized, and subject to whichever healer or specialist with whom i happen to be speaking. i have faith my hammy, adductor, and back will get better. they are getting better already. i’m grateful for progress.

 

lots of things in my noggin… want to train more…

i get to play with darren and christina sell for the new year’s intensive. i love to attend yoga trainings because they help rekindle a flame within me that can feel dim due to overworking. i lose sight of why i do what i do and how much i love it.

(christina sell and manorama are also doing a workshop/intensive march 7-10… and i’d love to attend that as well…)(and john has some exciting things coming up too…)

of course there’s all these things i want to do. we must always make choices. douglas brooks says that even not making a choice is making a choice. so what do i choose?

the yoga is to bring mindfulness, consciousness to my choices, so that my decision serves the highest good.

what is my intention? to be of service, to be of the best service i can be, to offer what serves me most fully, enriches and enhances my life and makes me feel bright, vibrant, and free.

may i gain clarity… may i feel a sense of confidence and inner solidity so i may claim my clarity, assert it and live it.

yoga teaches me a great deal in this arena of facing my own self. in yoga when i can’t do a yoga pose, it’s either because i don’t know how to manifest it, certain injuries presently prevent it, or i’m in my own way. usually, i’m in my own way. when i can connect to my inner stillness, it’s there, seemingly without effort, the pose arises. however, in day to day life, when i stand in my own way, it seems like i can fool myself much easier. the clarity is there underneath my tightly clenched hoody as i claim confusion and indecision….

heh heh… and it’s 11:37,…

and i’ve fulfilled my commitment. good night! 😉MG0244-M

 

“ma!”

i’m touched by Manorama’s profound analogy of a flame always seeking upward movement. she so delicately held a match and moved her hand to different angles to demonstrate how no matter which way she turned her hand the flame continued reaching upward… this morning i reached…. a familiar reaching… into whatever it is… the depths of myself, god, the cosmos, the supreme, the universe, whatever, (it doesn’t matter what you call it)… and i received. so fully i receive. always. and i’m profoundly grateful. … reminds me of another story Manorama shared in a recent workshop in Austin, TX at School of Yoga San Marcos, she loudly hollared “Ma!” several times, to convey the almost annoying, needy way she called out for her mother… so funny, because when her mother finally came from across the house all she wanted was a glass of water. the way she told it built the suspense, as she does so well, and her mother, miffed, got her a glass of water. all this to hit the home run: “when i called out she always answered.” …made me want to cry. Christina Sell’s words in a recent intensive… or workshop or something (heh heh i lose track…) she said that whenever she asked for help, god (or whatever you call it) always helped. so powerful…

my experience aligns, in that when i seek, i find. i’m learning that the more i practice calling out, asking, seeking, during non-emergency times, the more smoothly my life operates.

for example, today i was just over the ‘bleh’ in my head. i noticed like a rut (or a rot!) building up of anxiety, self-doubt, worry, fear, cycles of insecurity… bleh, i was just done with it. i greeted my planteez with good morning wishes and took my dog for a little jog. for my morning practices i settled myself into the present moment, focusing on my natural breath and i was gifted with renewed lightness. heh heh… it worked! a sense of accomplishment is motivating on the path. it offers proof to persevere. sunday’s are my big day, four classes, but it went so well! my word of the day was ‘attract,’ as in, ‘what are you attracting into your life?’ if you look at your life and you dig it, feel such gratitude, etc, keep up the good work! a mentor said, “if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” simple and profound. (isn’t that how it always seems to go). accordingly, if you are displeased with your life, if you feel sad, depressed, hateful, etc, your life is reflecting what you are putting out. not to say it is your fault. it is however, your responsibility. even if you set aside the whole “material realm thing” for a second, and see that the way we frame things in our own noggin dictates our experience of it. how are you speaking about events in your life? how are you thinking of the people around you? how do you view what’s going on with your physical body? your health? your thoughts? again, not to blame, but rather, to empower. a friend shared some of her story tonight and it inspired me. our life is ours to do whatever we want with it. we can absolutely slink down in depression, self-pity, anger, fear, etc. that’s always an option. but is that what you really want? (and is what you’re doing working?) i certainly want “the happy.” and i have a deep faith that “the happy” is attainable, that it is always available to me, depending upon how i engage this present moment. and this one… and this one and … yeah, you get it.

in the practice we had a lot of fun!  it was a great sized class!  “the usual suspects” and a couple of new ones!  like pretty little jill and dear patricia and sweet sarah.  we played with surya namaskar, inversions, mellow-ish (ha!) hip-openers like akarna danurasana, kurmasana, eka pada sirsasana (leg behind head), and some backbends (12 of them), drop backs, and a couple of us ventured into the land of viparita chakrasana.  we ended with sweet, mindful breath watching.  perfect.

it was a good day.  i rode my bike and i love riding my bike!  at the end of my long day i returned home to find a dear friend  walked my dog for me and  bought him a new water bowl that will ensure he has plenty of water as the summer sun warms tucson.  i made a banana, apple, greens smoothie,  i spent time with good people, and i came home and had the freedom to write.  i’ dig what i’m attracting.

MG9999

 

 

attraction

Flagstaff’s big, mountainous arms welcomed me home so fully.  It feels like such a long time since I’ve been here, and yet it also feels like just yesterday I was teaching regularly at The Yoga Experience.  It’s like a big family reunion to get to see so many faces of dear friends I practiced with and taught for so long.  Friday’s intermediate/advanced class was so much fun!  We laughed heartily as we enjoyed good company; dug into our feet, calves, and thighs; and flipped our perceptions upside down.  All Levels came in right after and we explored Surya Namaskar A & B.  Today’s morning all levels class worked toward some back bends like Supta Virasana, Salabasana variations, Makarasana, Dhanurasana, and Ustrasana.  In the afternoon we adventured the realm of hip openers, twists, forward folds and plenty of handbalancings.  I really felt the recent recent teachings of Christina Sell and Darren Rhodes supporting me every step of the way, and of course the brilliance of the Anusara method as my steady foundation.  The more I teach, the more I learn.  The more I practice and study with great teachers, the more confidence I gain and the more I have to offer to my students.  I am so grateful to be a practitioner of yoga, to be on the path of yoga, and to have the accountability of my teachers and students as I walk the path.

These feel like challenging times in the yoga world.  Douglas Brooks‘s words resound in my head, “You are the company you keep, so keep great company.”  I used to take this much more figuratively and figure that since your thoughts, emotions, breath, are your closest company, then as long as I keep that in check, I’m good… right?  So on it went–bushwacking through life, clinging to my heart and regularly tucking my head to blow on it’s coals to kindle its delicate fire…I thought it was fine.  We don’t see ourselves so clearly (use your ‘I’ statements–I don’t see myself clearly)– sometimes if there’s a gradual changing or incremental energetic leaking over time, we don’t notice because it’s not drastic.  It’s like cutting a strand of hair everyday.  Each day, nothing different.  It’s just a hair… (Ha!  Makes me think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail…”Merely a flesh wound!” lol)  But someone who hasn’t seen you in a while exclaims, wow!  You’re hair is so different!  This isn’t that realistic because who does that?  But like in weight, as another example, a pound or two a week in either direction surely adds up, and while nothing seems dramatically different to you each day, it’s a cumulated loss or gain that “all of a sudden” becomes significant.  In a conversation with Scott Marmorstein he shared how Gurumai said that while this is true, that the company of your own mind is your closest company, over time one does become more and more like the external company you keep.  And of course I fought to plead my case, cuz that’s what I do, but he insisted that despite my valiant efforts to stay strong, and be true to myself, if I’m surrounding myself with people that are not aligned with who I choose to be, it will pull me down.  Several years later I look back at my life with gratitude for all I’ve done, the fine company I’ve kept and now keep, and my continual refining and evolving.  Each yoga community has it’s own richness.  As we evolve so does the company we keep, externally and internally.  Like attracts like, ‘they’ say–The law of attraction.  Whatever energy you send out, you tell the universe to send you more opportunities to experience the same.  May we practice gratitude for the abundance in our lives, the fullness of our experiences, the deliciously excruciating lessons extracted from our challenges, and love, love, love.  So much love, so much gratitude.

I’ll write more about the workshop soon.  SONY DSC

fullness as perfection

Wednesday used to be my day off.  Now I teach Basics at central Yoga Oasis at 6pm.  So, like I do, I added more work, and massaged earlier in the day also.  My favorite part of my full days, of feeling busy and overwhelmed in general, though, is that point when I come to realize that it (meaning my actual experience of what’s happening in the moment) is not what I built it up to be in my head.  I’m the one who stresses me out.  Today I caught myself repeating in my head, “I’m so overwhelmed… I’m too busy…I’m so overwhelmed… I shouldn’t schedule so much… I’m so overwhelmed… I’m too busy…”  Until I stopped myself, sort of in awe and amazement, like “Whoa, look what I’m doing!”  I thought of the brilliant forward by Elizabeth Gilbert in Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton.  She contrasted meditation with the mindless mantras we repeat, such as “hungry, hungry, hungry, hungry...” or “tired, tired, tired, tired, tired…” or like the one I was saying to myself!  Man, this stuff works quickly!  (i play–Baba Muktananda said that the world is a play of consciousness.  And my understanding Tantric philosophy is that the world is as you are.  So as we deepen our understanding of the deeper workings of life, we are granted opportunities to apply the teachings.  This is also a teaching of Ganesh, the elephant-headedganesh diety in the Hindu tradition:  He is the remover of obstacles and simultaneously may be the obstacle itself, as taught by Douglas Brooks.  He stands at the threshold of opportunities, situations, and at a workshop, Noah Maze taught that he is the very thing that is in your way.  Yoga teaches us to be skillful at our endeavors, and to figure out away around the very large elephant in your way is precisely the point of him being in your way.  That is how Ganesh grants you his boon, by showing you the true wisdom within yourself to surmount the obstacle.  (Wow, that was a long side-track, and now a parenthesis with in a parenthesis))  With lightheartedness, Gilbert says, “And although such meditations are, of course, deeply uplifting, after a while you do start to wonder if perhaps you could be putting your mind to better use.”  That was a key moment for me today.  When I read things or receive teachings, my mind can be quite convincing that I get it, and totally already apply that teaching in my life, when “BAM!” I see, “Oh, I guess I don’t…”  mmmmmm-k.  The path is always humbling.  My victory lies in an enhanced awareness to catch my mental thought patterns and to choose a new focus.  I’m grateful.

The massage was intrinsically rewarding.  I felt pleased that I could help another feel good, and especially when he expressed so much gratitude at the end requested some yoga homework.  Earlier today, I spoke with Rachel Laing about her Healthy You Network.  It sounds helpful and aligned with how I choose to live.  She gives free consultations, so I’m delighted to get to meet with her next week.

Tonight in class I themed about cultivating a sense of wonder, curiosity, awe, astonishment for our yoga practice.  In Sanskrit the word is adbuta.  Anusara training teaches about the Rasas, or flavors of life, of which adbuta is one.  Adbuta can be a way one transforms fear and anxiety.  We worked on exploring thighs back action in various poses and lengthening side-body and moving heads of arm bones back in others.  I love yoga.  It offers opportunity to transform our perspective of this body we so often take for granted into one of awe, wonder, and ultimately gratitude.  I am continually amazed at how profoundly my physical body, mind, and heart can shift when I practice good yoga.  The alignment and actions realign me and help me to heal nagging pain in my shoulder, hip, low back, neck, knee and consequently help me to feel at greater ease in my own skin.  I’m able to do all I do and enjoy my life because of yoga.  I feel shifted in insights and understanding through practicing physical postures, with or without formal instruction.  Usually, though, it’s through a teacher’s skillful mastery of words poetically woven throughout class that my heart shifts.  This is my aim.  The infamous aspect of Anusara Yoga that tugs at my heart strings and simultaneously causes me to yank my own hair out–oh yes, the heart-oriented theming.  I really do love it!  When it works it’s awesome.  When it doesn’t, I just want the talking to stop–mine or who-ever’s teaching.  I hope my trials and tribulations with the Anusara certification process grants me the blessing of skillful and effective heart-oriented theming.  I believe that writing helps me a lot.  Hence, the blog.  Attending good classes and workshops also helps.  And lots and lots of practice helps… but perfect as impeccable is not so possible or likely.  The aim must be perfection as purna, or fullness.  Or as Lee Lozowick has said (or rather, Darren or Christina said that Lee said), “Good enough is good enough.” sigh… or is it?