Rikers Island Yoga

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This post is for the introverts. As much as the big personalities make themselves seen in a place like Rikers, I also see those that are quiet.

In the summer the city gets hot but it feels even hotter at Rikers. Despite the heat students asked if they could work on the core. This made me smile for a variety of reasons. First, it’s awesome to see students feel empowered enough to ask for something. This takes courage. Second, it was HOT and I can’t believe they were looking to get even sweatier. But who am I to argue with passion? I had planned on talking about compassion for the self but instead we discussed our inner fire. How do we light it? Honor it? How does it inspire us?
Miriam practiced with a peaceful determination. She didn’t chat during class but smiled at certain points and it seemed that she was looking inward. In side plank her leg floated in the air and in half-moon she smiled to herself as she explored her possibilities by lifting her hand. This was yoga in action. Half-moon was a way for Miriam to embrace the moment rather than getting the pose right. Miriam had touched her core and lit her inner fire.
So much happens in the boisterous conversations at Rikers but it was really Miriam’s inward reflection that moved me. Sometimes I feel guilty to witness such beauty. But because o know it’s not mine I’m able to let it go and hope that Miriam knows what a powerful spirit she is. Shout out to those who are quiet. Sometimes it’s not the loudest voice that gets heard,but the most sonorous.

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Rikers Island Yoga

Even flowers growing in rock crevices
Even flowers grow in rock crevices- via flickr

 

Had a small but mighty class on the fourth floor. Inspired by a class I took the previous evening, I invited everyone to explore moving in slow motion as a way to examine the body and breath. We gently lifted a knee and placed in back down to the floor flowing side to side with Thai Chi like movements. It was playful, challenging and fun. By the end of class everyone was ready for a deep relaxation. Bolsters were placed under knees and blocks were strategically placed for maximum comfort. And then…
Savasana Interuptus.
A CO called for medical and they had to leave for treatment. ‘Michelle’ (not her real name) said, ‘This is the best part! Ugh.’ Her friend new to class asked if they could do it quickly before lining up. But people were already making their way to the door.
‘You can’t do it fast, that’s the point. It takes time to get inside. You’ll see next week.’
I knew they had to dash but as they were rolling up their mats Michelle said, ‘When I get back I’ll do some relaxation on my bed. It’s kinda quiet there.’
Michelle empowered herself. She was going to make time to breathe whether class was happening or not.
That’s yoga. We don’t always get the class we want, but if we’re open we can find what we need.
Awwwww yeah.
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.

Thursday Yoga – The Power of ‘I’m Sorry’

Photo adventures in grace
Photo adventures in grace

I was bad at saying I’m sorry. Sometimes, I’m still pretty shitty at it. I read that when somewhere that when we say I’m sorry we are really trying to forgive ourselves for the hurt we have inflicted upon ourselves. Yoga says that ahisma is not to be practiced. We do not practice violence against others or ourselves.

You may know that hanging feeling of knowing an I’m sorry that needs to be said. Instead of saying the words and opening up that space of healing, we squash it down with distractions. We distract ourselves with other thoughts, work, a drink, a smoke, an argument, errands…you get the picture. All of these things only prolong the suffering of not saying those two words.

So why not be free?

Live in the now.

Maybe the idea of I’m sorry to the person you’ve wrong isn’t possible. Stephen and Ondrea Levine have a page set up, that allows you apologize- anonymously. Because the act itself of being sorry can be powerful.

So go ahead. Say I’m sorry.

 

Namaste y’all.

 

 

Wednesday Yoga – Les Brown Style

Be-Determined-to-Handle-Any

 

I love Les Brown. I first heard of him as a kid from my Dad. Over the years I’ve read a few of his books, but didn’t really appreciate what he was saying until recently. Brown talks a lot about how we handle adversity.

It’s yoga. Not a matter of looking for things to be smooth sailing, but riding out the the rough patches with inner stability.

Last Saturday, I talked to my teacher about pincha mayurasana (forearm stand). I’ve been working on it for almost a year and have days that I can hold it for a bit, and then I can’t seem to hold it at all and topple over. She told me that there is an understanding of my center of gravity that has to happen. When my legs are up in the air and I’m pushing down on my forearms I have to also lift with my legs and find balance in my core. Once I find it she said, it’ll feel so easy and I’ll wonder why I hadn’t found it all along. ‘Try a strapping your arms,’ she suggested.

She’s said this before and it used to frustrate me. Progress seemed so far away. But last week I went home and strapped my forearms and practiced. I still fell, but I felt more centered.

In typical Oneika fashion I’m now doing it daily. I’ve realized that I do this quite a bit. When I’m passionate about learning I dig in and open myself up, but my real progress comes when I handle the journey with purpose. Because in the end, the pose isn’t a big deal.

It’s how I got there.

Namaste y’all.

Sunday Yoga – Mindfulness

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Before I opened my eyes I heard the rain. More specifically, I heard traffic outside of my window driving on wet streets. Something about that sound made me pay attention. As I stretched and yawned I tuned in again and again to that sound of tires on pavement. Today I use that sound as my mantra. When my mind wanders, I’ll come back to that sound so I remain present and aware.

 

Namaste y’all.

 

2015. The year of living mindfully.

Money Yoga

money and life

 

 

Money and Life is a documentary that talks about where money comes from (thin air) and how it’s been turned into the way we live our lives and what we can do about it.

 

 

 

Money & Life Extended Trailer from Katie Teague on Vimeo.

It got me thinking about my recent change in my relationship with money.  In the past two years I’ve let go of a lot of things that most think are big measures of success- my luxury condo, my car and lots of stuff that wasn’t serving me.

 

This isn’t to say that I don’t think that I should move on a commune away from society. But I have shifted my paradigm of thinking when it comes to how I measure my success and what I want to offer to the world. I’m more interested in the inter connectedness of the world rather that trying to squelch someone’s chances of success for my own gain. That kind of thinking works off a thought process that there isn’t enough. When in fact, there is enough. There is enough food, money, success, happiness for everyone.

I’m not talking about Law of Attraction woo woo stuff here. But one thing I have realized is that I used to put a lot of focus on accumulating stuff and not living life. And though my lifestyle has changed drastically from the one that I was living a few years ago- I’m more centered and more content than I have ever been.

I don’t think I’m fooling myself either, because the more I connected with the work I want to do, I created opportunities for myself.

In the beginning of the new year most of us look to cleanse our bodies. But what about cleansing for we spend and live? Life gets busy and our routines could use a shake up. When was the last time you checked in with your kids about how they understand money? Have you taken a look at how you are saving for retirement? Are you spending excess money each week without knowing it? Regardless of how tight you may think you manage, it’s a good idea to check-in.

Beth Kobliner, probably best known for her book Get a Financial Life encourages people to do a ‘money fast’ at the beginning of each year. After paying necessary expenses, can you spend the month with spending any money? It’s a great way to see what’s important and what’s not. It may also challenge your idea of what is important.

If you are serious about jump starting your financial health. Levo League has five great tips to get you started on a 30-day financial cleanse.

1. Introduce yourself to the bare necessities.

Cut out all frivolous spending, so you can get to the bottom of your relationship with money. You can spend on groceries, bills, transportation, and health expenses—nothing more.

2. Convert to cash

When we use cash, we become more aware of our spending. It might sound counterintuitive, but managing your spending habits becomes simpler without a credit or debit card. Either your wallet is full, or your wallet is empty. You see the flow of your money in real time.

3. Monitor your spending

Over the course of a week, you can begin to monitor what you really miss and what you are surprised you can easily live without. You’ll be motivated by the amount of money you’re saving in the meantime, and you’ll likely think to yourself, “This is a lot easier than I thought!”

4. Learn to forgive, in order to learn

Even with all the progress you’ve made so far, you’ll most likely slip up and purchase something you didn’t mean to. It’s very important to forgive yourself.

Like I said, our habits become very automatic and as soon as we let our guards down, we may catch ourselves swiping a credit card on something we are in the habit of buying. Take this moment to truly consider your motivations behind your spending.

5. Reassess your values

Understanding your values and what’s really important to you is the key to financial wellness. Your spending and use of your time should point to your values—meaning, you should be spending the majority of your time and money on things of utmost importance.

If you’re not, you’re unaligned with your spending and have the opportunity to use your money in much more meaningful ways. For example, if family is really important to you, but you spend no time with them and no money on spending time with them, you’re missing out on very fulfilling spending.

You may want to plan more trips with them, or even plan to visit them if they aren’t nearby. I call this putting your money where your heart is.

 

 

 

Check out the entire documentary Money & Life below.  It’s great to watch with the family.

 

 

2015 ‘The Year of Living Mindfully’

zen proverb

Happy New Year!

I’m dubbing 2015 the year of living mindfully. 

What does it mean to live a mindful life? It’s not about being serene or having an unrealistic vision of a state of constant peace. Living mindfully is about living in the moment- it’s about staying aware and present. When we can be with what is happening and allow things to be as they are, we can be open to anything. Maybe it’s making a change. Maybe it’s being more connected with other people. Maybe it’s simply a way to find a sense calm.

This year, I’ll be posting about meditation, therapeutic yoga and mindful eating. In addition stay tuned for videos and podcasts about living in the present moment. Each month with have a theme and focus.

I’m not just talking about something to do for the month of January, I’m talking about taking small steps to change your life- forever. I hope you’ll join me.

The journey begins January 12!!!

Happy New Year.

Namaste y’all.