Saturday Yoga

jk rowling quote

I’ve been thinking about my class yesterday at Rikers. After class a woman who had been watching asked me what yoga was all about. I told her that yoga is a way for me to unite my body and breathing so I can be in the moment. I told her that in many ways it saved my life, which is why I wanted to serve by teaching yoga to isolated communities.

‘Really? It saved your life?’ Her tone wasn’t suspicious but curious.

In that moment it really hit me. Yoga had saved and changed my life. Four years ago I was spiritually at rock bottom.

I had been shoving down feelings of loss over someone who had died.

I was avoiding feelings of confusion over my career. 

I was scared to admit that as a full fledged adult I did’t have a fracking clue who I was outside of said career. I was disconnected from myself. 

But yoga helped me connect. Now I get to teacher yoga teachers about teaching yoga inside prisons. I’m teaching yoga teachers about teaching therapeutics, mindfulness and trauma. Yoga led me to opening a massage therapy business. Yoga has given me the ability to speak to groups of people about getting and staying healthy through mindfulness and meditation.

Last week my friend Kathleen and I were catching up about yoga and life (which is thankfully these days the same thing). She said something like once you decide what you want to you just have to reach out and grab it.

I’m not saying that all I did was roll out my yoga mat and magically things rearranged. However, by being mindful and in the moment I had a better sense of who I was therefore making better decisions about following a path that honored me.

I’m grateful that I felt so miserable four years ago. Had I felt even a little bit better I would have taken another job and worked hard everyday without purpose. I know now that everything we do is on our own path to enlightenment if we are seeking a better way.

Happy Saturday.

 

Namaste y’all.

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New Year Yoga – Don’t Change

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The end of last year was well, quite glorious. I had two weeks to do nothing but massage clients, teach yoga and take classes. Going to school full-time was the smartest thing I’ve done but still a commitment and shit ton of work. And while I am grateful for all of the good stuff happening, I was feeling a little overwhelmed and tired.

I wanted to spend my time off doing all the yoga. My friend Kathleen and I strolled to Jivamukti to take a class with Julie Kirkpatrick on Christmas Day. Class was like wrestling a cuddly grizzly bear. When you move pose after pose after pose after pose you have choices- try to hang on for dear life or surrender to the moment. In savasana I felt myself let go.

Listen, I know that as yoga teachers we talk about letting go (and sometimes we even mean it), but in that moment if the lights went out, and I mean forever- I would have been okay. That may seem like a heavy statement but it’s true. Savasana prepares us for the biggest unhooking of all.

In a Sunday class with Cassandra Rigney at Jivamukti she talked about watching Time of Death, a miniseries that follows terminally ill patients during their last weeks. Seems grim, I know. But Cassandra said it was a powerful testament to how in the end we forget all the bad shit that people have done and only see the good. Why not live like that now? Why not indeed I wondered as I walked home. Fresh off a Serial and Marking of Murderer binge Cassandra’s mention of ToD seemed like a good move. I was wrong.

I wasn’t just a good move. It was yoga. I was riveted watching these stories of life and death. Some of the families graciously let us watch their loved ones transition on camera. Some didn’t and that’s a beautiful and noble choice as well. It got me thinking.

This is yoga. This is life.

Yoga doesn’t only prepare me for living life in the now, it’s also practice for the ultimate letting go. What stuck me most was my reaction. You can’t help but reflect when you watch people die. But instead of thinking about what I would change I found myself thinking about what I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t change a lot.

I wouldn’t change the way I love the time I spend with my family.  Or seeing my brother’s face at Thanksgiving. Or cracking up with my parents and sister at Christmas dinner. I wouldn’t change the way I laugh at Dakota’s spring in her step when she smells the air during her morning walk. I wouldn’t change what I’m doing with my life. I want to do more of what I’m already doing now.

Forget about what you would change. What are you doing right? What’s working?

Do that.

So when I think about 2016 I’m not challenging myself to rock the shit out of the new year. I’m going to fucking be more present than ever in the now.

That’s working. Namaste y’all.

 

Monday Yoga- I’m Happening


During my Therapeutic Yoga Workshop I spoke about the concept of being with whatever is happening in the moment. I think that our society gets caught up in the idea of having to be happy all. of. the. time.

I think that’s ridiculous. Sure, I try to live life peacefully and that can be joyful. However on some days I feel meh. Or tired. Or even depressed. Trying to be one thing consistently isn’t how we work. The one that is constant is our fluid life.

And that’s okay because it’s living authentically. If I relentlessly pursued the notion I should be happy all of the time I’d be setting myself up for a crushing blow. It ain’t happenin’. Life has seasons. Our bodies have rythyms that work to keep us in a state of harmony. I like this. Congruity. Things fit together in a way that is balanced. Can you imagine if your body lived in the pleasure center. All ‘dopamined’ up with no place to go.

So let be. No need to chase a happy dragon. Thich Nhat Hahn says that by following our breathing we invite ours to be in the present where we have an appointment with life. That moment may be full of joy, completely fucked up or blissfully dull. But life is in that moment. Not in the future or behind us in the past.

Happy? Sure, sometimes. But I think I’ll opt for what’s happening all of the time. That’s where my life is.

Namaste y’all.

Monday Yoga –

welcome present quote pema

This morning I tried to stay in the present moment for as long as I could. It was unbelievable how quickly I started to float to the past and future. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as paying attention on purpose to the present moment without judgement. Turns out I was being mindful even as I acknowledged that my mind wander, because I was aware of the wandering. Unfortunately, I’ve still got to work on the judgement. It’s all too easy to beat myself up for not doing something ‘right’.

Today I will ease up on judging myself and others. We are all just doing the best we can.

2015 is my year of living mindfully. I am here.

Namaste y’all.

Sunday Yoga – Knock on the Sky and Listen to the Sound

Knock the Sky and Listen to the Sky

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound.

– Zen saying

I think our local meteorologists might want to think about doing this. The past few days on the East Coast have been covered with threats of snow more than actual flakes on the ground. Now it seems that a blizzard is on the way.

We’ll see. It doesn’t matter though. I love the night before snow. The sky has a red glow.

Even though it was chilly I sat outside tonight so I could spend some time looking up.

A pre-snow meditation. As a kid I really enjoyed the night before a big storm. Looking back I was really present in those moments. Not waiting for the storm, but enjoying the cloud-filled sky.

 

2015 is my year of living mindfully.

Namaste y’all.

Saturday Yoga – Let Go or Be Dragged

cling air balloon

My hips flexors woke me up this morning.

Oooh weeeeee were they sore.

It’s a good thing. It’s hard for me to get into parts of my hips. But yesterday at Jivamukti Jersey City, Austin’s class went deep in my hips even though it didn’t seem like it at the time. I think it’s because I was letting go.

In the midst of change I can get a little down right stubborn.

But as the asana practice took us into the hips I found myself thinking about my previous relationships. Nothing specific. Just a feeling. Instead of ignoring it or distracting myself, I decided to go deeper. Typically when I fold my hip flexors clench. But yesterday there was none of that. I don’t know if it has to do with some recent changes in my life. But the more I let go of things and situations that don’t serve me, the more my body opens up to the present.

My hips don’t lie.

2015 is my year of living mindfully. Are you here, now?

Namaste y’all.

Sunday Yoga – Rain, Rain Don’t Go Away

dark rain

 

 

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

– Oscar Wilde

 

The forecast today calls for rain. I love rainy days. I don’t even mind riding my bike in the rain. I appreciate the cleansing aspect and that it gets the whole world a little quiet.

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve acknowledged and embraced that I’m an introvert. I used to think that because I was comfortable being social, I had to be social. My sister said she’s heard it said that extroverts gain energy when they spend time around groups of people and introverts gain energy being by themselves.

Rainy days appeal to this introvert.

I can ride with my hood pulled over my face

and give a smile and wave as I ride down the street.

No time to chat gotta get inside,

I’m all wet!

Thanking the rain as I dry off.

 

Namaste y’all.

Saturday Yoga – Be Mindful

be all there

 

I’ve been talking non-stop about 2015 as the year of living mindfully. And I meant it.

But on Tuesday I left Rikers and got on the bus to start my trek back and realized that I had left my wallet inside the prison.

This required me to get off the bus, hop on another and go back.

Had I been truly present, I would have done a quick scan to ensure I was leaving with everything I brought in.

I was initially frustrated but let this feeling turn into understanding.

This has led me to shake up my traditional Saturday routine. I’m going switch up my normal class and do home practice at a different time.

Everything can be a lesson. I can’t just talk about being mindful, I must be mindful.

 

Namaste y’all.