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.

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Wednesday Yoga- Everything Has a Rhythm

Maya-Angelou-2

 

I followed the trail of morning sounds.

The cars wooshing. A bus announcement.

And the low deep hum of appliances, or maybe it was the universe.

Aum. Aum. Aum.

Happy Wednesday.

Namaste y’all.

3 Things My Meditation Practice Isn’t

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According to Jon Kabat-Zinn , “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.”  When I meditate I’m working on staying with what is happening. When my mind wanders, I draw my attention back to the present. In theory this sounds like a piece of cake or a cake of peace (ouch). The reality is every ‘sit’ (meditation practice) is different. Some days I sit and feel an overwhelming sense of calm. I leave my sit feeling renewed. On others I’m left feeling frustrated and hyper-aware of my environment.

And that’s okay. Meditation isn’t supposed to be bliss. This journey of learning to be more present has been a more difficult and rewarding journey than my asana practice. However, without my asana practice, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s like Pema Chödrön says everything we do is on the path to enlightenment. I get lots of questions about my practice. How long do I do it? Is it hard? Do I feel better? Do I see God?

Here are three things my practice isn’t.

1. My practice isn’t easy.

squirrel

I am distracted easily by shiny objects. This is part of the reason why I do yoga. My mind can wander during meditation. But when it does I come back to the breath.

2. Fun

On some days my meditation practice leaves me with a sense of peace. On others, not so much. There have been times that in connecting with my breathing buried emotions arise. When this happens, I’ve learned to deal with what has come up.

3. Inconsistent

I sit on most days. I feel the diffenrece when I don’t sit for two days in a row. The homework for my meditation course requires a daily body scan of forty minutes. I didn’t do that this week. But I did wake up every morning and sit quietly for 20 minutes before I started my day. That’s progress. Mindfulness requires commitment. Commitment takes times.

There are no short cuts. It’s only recently that I’ve begin to appreciate this. When there aren’t ways to get ‘there’ faster, there’s no place to be in this moment. As a woman in her 40’s I’m in no hurry to run the clock down. Paying attention on purpose provides a new respect for the notion of time. Try this experiment. Stand firmly with your arms down by your sides for 3 minutes. Resist the urge to fidget or tug at your clothes. Keep your eyes open and gaze soft. Notice the fluctuations that happen in the mind. Notice the things you begin to say to yourself. After the three minutes set the time for three minutes and resume what you were doing. It’s funny how fast time flies when we aren’t present. And listen, I get it. We are busy. It’s not possible to be present every moment of every day. But imagine the rich texture life can have when we take moments to stop and be here now.

2015 is my year of living mindfully.

Namaste y’all.

Do you have a meditation practice? Have you just started one? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Adventures in Meditation 5am

cold street

At 5am there isn’t a lot of noise on my typically busy city street. But today as I sat in meditation it was my mind that was full and endlessly moving. At first, it was connecting with my breathing. Noticing how the air was moving in and out of my body.

Staying steady. Holding. Being. And then a distraction.

An announcement of the next stop from the bus outside.

I came back to my breathing. Noticing the expansion and contraction of my diaphragm. Another distraction. My dog’s breathing. And a thought. Is she asleep? A new sensation rose up. Heaviness and tingling in my eyelids. I think I am sleepy. Gently, I bring myself back to my breathing.

I notice the inhales and exhales, how the air moves inside my nose. My nose is dry I think. It must be the heat. And then another thought. Is it cold outside? Gently I bring myself back to my breathing. A sensation, this time in my belly. It feels soft and I feel a pang of shame. My stomach is not flat enough. Pretty enough. And a surprise. Instead of another thought there is another sensation. Tightness. In my chest. And a thought which is expected. I am not enough. I am not doing enough. I am not successful enough. 

More tightness. And then something changed.

I came back to my breathing and decided to stay with this emotion. I noticed the tightness and shame and stayed with it.

Breathing. Letting this be as they were. No changing. No shifting. No squashing down.

Things dissolve. Tightness lifts.

Just because I feel shame does not mean I will die from it. And if I sit with the feeling it will pass.

More thoughts and feelings came and went. And each time I came back to my breathing.

In 35 minutes the bells chimed indicating that my meditation was over. Normally, I feel a sense of completion. But today, I felt something new. A sense of renewal, that this was the start of something new.

Something present and mindful.

It was a challenging sit. However, I felt more like myself than ever before. Pena Chödrön says that mediation is a way to befriend who we already are.

I beginning to see the glimmer of something. 2015 is my year of living mindfully.

Namaste y’all

Feel Balanced When Under Pressure- A Meditation (Audio) (SFW)

Under Pressure

Sometimes when there’s an important event like an interview, presentation, audition or test we may feel a sense of doom hanging over what should be a time to celebrate and concentrate. This brief guided meditation will give you some techniques to handle high-pressure situations with balance and ease. Listen to this meditation right before the big event and you will walk in feeling confident, clear and balanced.

 

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.

Friday Yoga – Benefits of Being Mindful

each-kabatzinn

I have a confession. It’s more than two weeks into January and I haven’t fallen off my year of meditation bandwagon. That’s not the confession. The fact that I’m shocked is the confession. I mean, I don’t have it any more figured out than anyone else. But last year I did notice that when I was in the moment, things we peaceful because I was not trying to be somewhere else.

Only good can come from this. Prior to living a yoga life I often used to say to myself, no good can come from this. What a difference living in the present makes. This morning I got up extra early to do my asana practice and meditation before taking sneaking in a class at my studio.  Busy Friday.

This afternoon I’ll start MBSR training with Emily Herzlin.

As I delve deeper into trauma-senstive yoga and yoga therapy this kind of self-care seemed like a necessary part of my own journey. Naturally, these are tools that I will pass onto my students.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction or MBSR is a mindfulness-based program designed initially to assist people with pain and a range of conditions and life issues that were difficult to treat in a hospital setting developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, which uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness/scanning and yoga to help people be more present. Recently, it’s been the subject of clinical trials and lot of research.

If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered the benefits of mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can:

  • help relieve stress

  • treat heart disease

  • lower blood pressure

  • reduce chronic pain

  • improve sleep

  • alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties

– Helpguide.org

 

Namaste y’all.

Thursday Yoga – Accept and Change

carlrogers

 

My home asana practice is a work in progress. And this is fine. I’m still a new practitioner, yet…I was giving myself a lot of shit about it. Lately, as I’ve been working on living in this moment. I realize that the more I let things be as they are, the more I can change them. Yesterday I watched Breath of the Gods- again. BotG is a documnetary about the modern history of yoga. I actually find it to be spotty and long winded but there are little aha moments I have whenever I watch it. Yesterday, I was struck to try a new kind of home practice. Usually I meditate first thing in the morning. But today I thought I’d sit for a minute, practice and then meditate. I’m going to do this home practice for a few weeks and see how I like it. It’s not fancy, but I guess neither am I- so…

 

My Morning Practice

 

  • downward facing dog 5 breaths
  • 10 sun salutes.
  • downward facing for 50 breaths,
  • paschi 50 breaths,
  • cobra 15 breaths,
  • fish pose lotus 10 breaths
  • half-seated spinal twist 10 breaths each side
  • ankle-to-knee 10 breaths each side
  • shoulder stand 20 breaths
  • headstand 20 breaths
  • corpse pose

 

 

Meditation 20 minutes

And that as they say, is that.

2015 is the year of living mindfully. Are you in the moment?

Namaste y’all.

 

 

Thursday Yoga

peace dyer

 

This year I will move purposely and mindfully. And I will stumble understanding that falling is part of the process. There is no perfect way. Things are as they are.

 

Namaste y’all.