Cheerleader Yoga – You Can Do It

kino So check it.

I have an unhealthy obsession with trying to hop forward to handstand. It’s down the road, but I like to think one day I could get there.

In a workshop we partnered off trying to stack the hips over the shoulders. With a yoga buddy standing in front of you they served as a wall and could gently guide the hips back down with a gentle nudge. That’s assuming you could get the hips to lift that high.

The whole act of hopping forward scared the crap out of me though I was in no danger of getting my hips that high.

None. Nada. Zip. Zero.

But I’m a determined chick. I found Kino MacGregor’s video on floating forward. I was still too chicken to do it without the wall.  However, that aside, I followed Kino’s direction. And I practiced and practiced.

Though I was sure I was getting closer, I wasn’t sure how far I had to go.

Until today.

My friend Jessica teaches an early morning hot vinyasa class that gets the juices flowing. After class, we were talking about hopping forward. I was demonstrated my lack of progress.

But then, a new element was added.  I got some encouragement. Bam. I was up. My feet were planted, but I was in handstand. Excited, I sprung up!!

Someone said, “You just needed a few cheerleaders!”

Ain’t that the truth.

We could all use a few cheerleaders along the way.

Yoga is community. Yoga is support. Yoga is cheerleaders telling you that you CAN do it.

I’m so grateful. Cheerleader yoga.

Namaste y’all.

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Bicycle Yoga

bike yoga sunset

Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving.

– Albert Einstein.

I bought a bike a few days ago.

Sweet.

I’ve been talkin’ smack for weeks (months) about getting a bike.

I’m beyond excited.

Grove Street Bicycles was really helpful. M, the salesperson who helped me saw my look of confusion and walked me through the basics. I was able to trust but verify my findings with the assistance of my Dad. He’s one of those guys who masters sports with uncanny ease.

Uncanny ease.

There isn’t a sport he hasn’t tried, but cycling has been stuck with him for the long haul. His tips were invaluable.

M measured me, asked questions about me and bike goals. After a lesson about proper mounts, dismounts and stops I was off for a test ride.

Aw shucks….. Memories whooshed by as I pedaled.

Instantly, I was transported to the 70s cruising down the street with a wide grin like a dog hanging out the side of a car window.

This bike was fast- but solid. I changed gears…

In another moment it was 1988 and I was with my high school best friend, making a 12 mile ride from home to New Hope, PA. Even back then it was a cool artsy town.

I had to have this bike.

Despite being a yogi, I’m still a not so secret fan of instant gratification. Show me a bike shop, I’ll show you an Oneika who wants to walk out with one on the same day.

It doesn’t work like this- who knew?

But I will be picking it up this week!

Cruising from classes and to clients should be a breeze. And zipping to the green markets? Forget it! Stoked.

I have a feeling the town will seem different on a bike.

Just like lots of things these days.

Dig it.

Namaste y’all.

What I Learned from 108 Days of Yoga

magiczone

Here is a list of the things I had done for more than 108 days in a row:

1. Smoke
2. Quit smoking
3. Breathe
4. Eat
5. Sleep

It’s not a very impressive list.

I didn’t intend to do 108 days of yoga. It was something that I had planned for later in the year. But we never get to plan our greatest lessons.

After doing 45 days of hot and vinyasa I decided to keep going. So overwhelming was the thought, I wasn’t ready to get into the details. It was more personal than I anticipated.

Now that I’m done and have taken some time to reflect, I may have learned a little somethin’.

1. Flexibility

I’m a reformed partially reformed control freak. When things go as I plan, I’m okay. When I expect things to go awry, I’m also okay. But when things go okay and I expect awry, I’ve been known to fuck bring unnecessary chaos where it wasn’t needed. When things go awry and I expect okay I can also get a bit stubborn. While my body is flexy, not all of me is always so willing to stretch.

Work in progress…

I got sick during my 108 days. Panic set in- all I could think of was missing a practice. Fortunately, I’m not all crazy, so there was a side of me that said chill out.

What is yoga anyway? It’s a uniting of body and breath. Maybe your yoga is to do a few restorative poses that foster healing instead of going balls to the wall in 105° heat. This thought didn’t come until after I had practiced two days with no voice in the heat, but like I said I’m a work on progress.

Change happens- it’s the one thing I can count on. 108 days taught me that I can always breathe through it.

Learning to breathe cultivated my flexibility more than any asana.

2. Commitment/Trust

I may or may not be known to twitch just a smidge when it comes to commitment. We all have out shit. This is mine.

But when you show up every single day for 108 days, you learn to trust the process. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen at the end.

Maybe nothing.

Maybe everything.

Regardless, I wanted to see it through. On the days that I really didn’t want to go, I learned the most. There were also days that when I hit my mat and felt like a rock star, only to be humbled, a crumbled sweaty mess.

But fall down seven times, stand up 8.

3. Peace

Say hey, doing 108 days of yoga is a row is hard. But, I did it. The act of practicing daily became meditative, down to the way that I prepared my yoga bag the night before. There was a sense of calm that I took with me once I left my mat.
I think I’m most grateful for this.

I realize that while coming to my mat each day is pretty much given- what will happen in that moment is unknown. That is a little scary. And a lot of fun. But no matter what, I can be with whatever happens.

This is yoga for 108 days and beyond.

Namaste y’all.

Thank You to the Lovings – Love Yoga

Love Is Grand

I need to give HBO some major love. Amazing programming aside- what they do really well, is the documentary.

HBO explore topics with what I call ‘objective passion’. They celebrate Black History Month in PBS fashion. Last year they premiered, The Loving Story.

Many know the story of the Lovings. He was White, she was Black and Native American.

Boy meets girl. They fell in love and got married.

In 1958 this was against the law in most states. Miscegenation was the ‘crime’. The Lovings nuptials were in Washington, DC. When they returned to their home in VA they were awakened at 2am and arrested.

The documentary explores all angles of this historic court case and celebrates two love warriors. Laws against mixed marriages were more about sex than love. These laws were written with fear and hate. The Feb 26th issue of the New Yorker also celebrates the Loving couple. Lovings at Home has some wonderful rarely seen photos of the couple and their family.

After I saw this I thought about a series I read in the Coil Review- Memoirs of A White Man. This is an adorable tale of ‘standing the rain’. I

t’s not because Alex is White. It’s because he helped his woman through a very scary transition. There’s a lesson in here about love and friendship that transcends race. My favorite quote was when Alex gave his Black girlfriend a pep talk about her hair. She’d been frustrated with relaxers (chemical straighteners) and was seriously thinking about doing the Big Chop (cutting off all of the processed hair).

He says:

“This is your birthright. Be bold. Let your hair enjoy its natural curliness that is your heritage as a beautiful woman of African descent.” Pretty good, huh? She was apprehensive. But, then, I could see the notion had some appeal. I could see that she was imagining it. Really doing something bold. Flipping the script.”

Part II explores that notion ‘It’s about the hair, but it’s not about the hair.’

This section’s most memorable stand up and cheer moment

Going natural, it seems, is considered by some to be “unnatural.” So by doing this, she was making a statement with her hair, a really big statement: a statement about parting with a hairstyle taught to her by her mother; a statement that she wasn’t going to just go along with what other women or women’s magazines said was “in” or “looked good,”; a statement that you don’t need a luxurious weave (yes, I learned a little about those too) to be a good-looking woman. She was saying, for all the world to hear, that a woman doesn’t have to have straightened hair to have “good” hair. And, for the moment, making this statement was taking its toll. It was (at least for the moment) leaving her feeling lost, confused, and upset.

 Love Is Grand

Lots of times our boyfriends and husbands don’t connect with the struggles over hair. Lots of times they have very strong opinions about hair. In the case of Alex and his girlfriend, their cultural differences allowed Alex to see something that maybe his girlfriend hadn’t noticed before.

That is what love can do- turn a scary moment into a moment of fearlessness.

To the Lovings and all other couples (friends and otherwise) who stand the rain- Happy Valentine’s Day.

I See London, I See France, I See Some New Yoga Pants

downward-dog2

If you laugh at yourself and no one is watching, was it really funny?

I can make me laugh. Not because I’m a riot, though I fancy myself to be humorous.

Sometimes the exploits are painful but funny, like arriving at the ER naked with a dislocated shoulder. I know, sexy.

Sometimes I’m fooled by obnoxious but lovable co-workers. One time (at band camp), I was scheduled to do 15 interviews in a single day. The world’s largest bookstore was slated to open. It needed to be staffed.

To say we were tired is an understatement. 12-15 hour days. Nights. Weekends. Everyone was punchy.

It could have happened to anyone….

The name of one interviewee was Seymour Butts. I know. I know.

I know.

I waited. No Seymour. I should have noticed the giggles from the guys.

But I didn’t. Then there was a phone call. Seymour had to cancel the interview because, wait for it…

He had hemorrhoids. The jig was up. They couldn’t hold it. On the floor, feet up in the air like cartoon characters, convulsing with laughter. Tears streaming down the face can’t catch hold of your breath kind of laughter. Oh boy….

Seriously, it was hysterical. It was 15 years ago and I still laugh. Hard. How did I miss it?

I didn’t have older brothers and apparently didn’t need them because I found them at work.

I shudder though to think what would have happened if they saw me the other night.

Let’s put it in reverse for a un minute .

I’ve been avoiding two things in the yoga world:

1. Buying a Manduka or Jade yoga mat

2. Owning a pair of lululemon yoga pants

I’m not that chick. I don’t have ‘yoga gear’. I have a gym bag. I do yoga in t-shirts and leggings. I secretly and now I suppose not not secretly, thought that investments in expensive yoga mats and clothes weren’t necessary.

(Hot classes being the exception. You can’t wear much in a room that is over 105°. And trust, it gets over 105°. I made the investment to buy hot yoga shorts. Sorry, I digress)

Shamefully, I think my anti-schitck may have been my schtick. ‘Hey look at me, I don’t do all that yoga girl stuff.’ Ego sneaking in the backdoor as anti-ego. I see you, though. Nothing gets past me, except Seymour.

Practicing every day changed my thinking. Initially, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money of yoga clothes because it seemed silly. But cheap clothes get stinky quickly no matter how often you wash them. Not to mention the cost of laundry detergent (I find the price of Tide criminal- but I don’t have a choice if I want funkless clothes). So I went on the hunt for yoga shirts and a great pair of yoga pants that would wick away sweat, withstand daily washing and make my butt look awesome.

I did serious research. Eventually I settled on a pair and was sooooo excited. They were under $100 bucks, but I was excited because I knew that I would be able to brag that I didn’t pay as much as lulu but they do the job.

When the package arrived I ripped that plastic off like a kid at a birthday party.

Snatched off my pants and slid on my purchase. Checking out the backside in the mirror, I was pleased. Check. The material felt great. Check. The final test, swan dive down and do a few sun salutes.

Let’s just say that things got cheeky. It wasn’t the sizing either. They just didn’t hug properly at the hips.

Arrrrgh. I’m not a carpenter or a plumber.

Foiled.

I wondered if I bought another pair and I didn’t like them, I’d be out the cash for the pants and even more growly.

I went to the lululemon site. I read reviews on other sites. I broke down and ordered a pair.

Goldilocks.

I couldn’t be happier. I can wash them daily. The hug my hips and keep my booty covered. I will have these for a very long time. The clothes don’t make the yogini, the yogini makes the yogini. But proper equipment is sometimes necessary. I was wasting money on yoga pants that I was tossing every few months.

I can’t help but wonder if there may be some merit to investing in a yoga mat. My knees might thank me…

Hmmm.

This is yoga. And it fits just right.

Namaste y’all.

gigilululemon

Adventures in Yoga Teacher Training – Leaving Room for Maybe

Yoga at sunset- mudra

Maybe. It’s a word that used to annoy me. It seemed so non-committal.

Until recently.

Before the start of yoga class our teacher said something so eye opening that I could feel my heart swell in my chest. She said that if we could, ‘leave room for maybe’. That if we can leave room for maybe anything is possible. It’s a space that we can open up with that word might only be flicker. But a flicker becomes a spark and a spark a blaze.

Maybe. I never thought of it that way before. In the past maybe meant that a commitment wasn’t going to be met. ‘Maybe I’ll call you later (but probably not)’.

Now I was seeing things differently. And it makes sense, so much of my life has been changing. Instantly I swirled my new ‘maybe’ around my brain.

Maybe, if I’m a little vulnerable I can begin healing a broken heart/problem/relationship/promise/spirit... Maybe.

Maybe, if I listen to my body and don’t push so hard I can open up into a pose that has been challenging… Maybe.

Maybe, if I trust what I know is my own truth I will be less afraid and make different decisions that will bring me a greater sense of peace.

The list went on and on in my head. Maybe became the mantra of my practice that day. With every inhale, I said maybe. With every exhale, I said maybe. Flowing freely from one position to the next, I did some poses well and fumbled and struggled in others. But with a small sliver of maybe in my heart I felt so open to accept what was happening in the moment.

One of my favorite sayings comes from Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the way you look at things change.”

Maybe I’m on to something.