Something Out of Nothing – Garden Yoga

photo credit: TedActive
photo credit: TedActive

 

There’s a picture of me as a kid holding up either two giant cucumbers or two giant zucchinis from the garden. I had on glasses and was smiling like a goof- a happy goof but goof nonetheless.

I don’t remember watching my mom plant the garden but she was always able to grow whatever she planted. Today my parents house in MA is surrounded by flowers planted by her hands. It’s really something, gardening. You make a hole drop in seeds (which may as well be wishes as far as I’m concerned), add water, love, care and then…wait.

 

I mean c’mon- it’s yoga!  Right? Essentially a gardener is looking to unite seeds with earth and air to create something new, actually, I think something whole.

Yeah, that sounds right. 

The summer of 2014 will be the year that I try to garden. It was two years ago that I decided unearth my life. It seems only fitting that I starting to give something back. Life before was compartmentalized and fractured. I didn’t want the ends of things touching. But when things don’t connect there are no roots. As a result I wasn’t grounded.

Life now is decidedly messier but more fulfilling. My friend Daba was kind enough to let me share her plot at our local community garden. Today we went to weed the plot and turnover the soil. I’ll be doing research, i.e. calling my mother because I’m hoping to grow some tomatoes and zucchini. With some breathing, weeding, watering, and a little help from earth you may catch me holding up two zucchinis grinning from ear-to-ear. Life, like yoga comes full circle.

 

This is yoga. Growing.

 

Namaste y’all.

Adventures in Yoga- Get on the Good Foot

yoga toes

It’s all about the feet.

The plantar fascia is a long, thin ligament that lies beneath the skin on the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel to the front of your foot, and also supports the arch of your foot.

Strong feet make for strong poses, which builds the foundation for a strong practice. A strong stance works in concert with the breath which ultimately (in this humble yogini’s opinion) cultivates peace.

Last Friday with Daba, we worked on our feet. I love classes like this. A few months ago I talked about finger splits.  Finger splits changed my practice especially my downward dog. I want everyone to have hands like platypuses. Though incorrect, I like the sound of platypi better.

Hands flat and fingers wide like platypi. It sounds plain old silly when you say platypuses. 

Sorry, I digress.

Let’s jump back. After a vigorous standing series in the heat we spent time working on our toes. By standing on a block with the toes on and heel off, I was able to work on the big toe and the calf muscle. With my heel level as if I was standing on the floor I moved into vriksasana.

After we removed the block and did the posture on the ground. I swear I felt roots spring from the sole of my foot.

I also dug doing toe squats. You can feel the fascia stretch. It’s intense but wonderful. My feet felt fantastic the next morning, especially now that I’m getting older. The older I get the more my feet hurt in the morning. Ugh.

Toe squats are a part of my morning routine now. Foot pain be gone!

This is yoga. Haaaaiiiiiiy! Get on the good foot.

Namaste y’all.

It’s Not the Size of the Pose but the Motion of Your Flow

mudra white outfit

I love Friday night yoga. The vibe is mellow. The playlist always has a moody, sleepy, sexy feel. I may have made up the sexy part, I’m projecting.

Whatever.

It’s also a hot class. Vinyasa in a heated room on a Friday night. So yeah- it is sort of sexy. Scratch my previous apology.

Last night the focus was about alignment and looking inward to find a deeper expression of a pose.

Juicy stuff.

My stance was wide in my warrior and I felt like I could float up and root down as I tried not to make my head bop too much to Alana Davis and Queen Badu. But damn, music can provide that little shift that changes my head space. It gets me all up inside a pose. Tickling it from the outside in while my breath zigs and zags magically and collides with my heart.

Sometimes class is that good.

Sometimes it’s just cool to fcuking groove on your mat.

Yaknowwhatimsayin’

What a way to end the week.

Because Daba was teaching, I knew I’d be in for some aha moment- it was just a matter of when.

It came after a focused standing series. We transitioned to the floor and did a hand workout.

Hand relevés and finger splits.

By mindfully stretching the fingers and shifting weight to the fingers I was able to take adho mukha svanasana to another place. By rooting my hands into the mat, my hips felt like they could reach up to the ceiling while my booty headed to the back windows…

I know, right?! There’s such a thing.

Will I ever stopped being amazed by discoveries in yoga? I hope not.

Subtle but powerful movements make the difference both on and off the mat.

This is yoga, providing tiny movements and big changes.

Namaste y’all.

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Adventures in Yoga Teaching- Back on Track

yogatraintracks

Friday was beautiful round these parts.

I was strolling home from my community class taking in the sights when I bumped into Daba Briggs, one of my yoga inspirations.

Daba is the kind of teacher the imagination conjures when you hear the words ‘yoga teacher’. She’s knowledgable, humble, talented, giving and powerful.

My mind always get to mull over a nugget of wisdom when I talk to her. On this sunny Friday, we chatted about how my new teaching journey was progressing.

I’m not ready to pursue the next yoga education (formerly) yet. But I’ve been craving- something. So I’ve been reading a lot. I blurted out my concerns, am I moving in the right direction? I feel like I want to fill in some gaps…Am I doing the right things? 

Keep taking classes, teaching classes and exploring self-study she advised. As I meet teachers and go to studios, I’ll know when the right mentor and  teacher training will present themselves.

Daba also mentioned a few studios that offer great classes for teachers. She reminded me that I can always take her classes when I can.

I’d gotten so caught up in my hot yoga practice and trying new disciplines that I’d strayed a bit from the basics. A good practice starts with a good foundation.

Her class provided one of those building blocks. Daba’s focus is structural yoga, where alignment is queen. Her use of props and cues allow a yogi to grow in a pose even if you have been doing yoga for years.

Her prop workshop rocked my warrior world.

My Virabhadrasana I and II have never been the same. Seriously. Standing with my back foot pushing against a wall, I could feel my heel truly ‘root down.’ People have said that before, ‘root down the heel.’ In that moment, I got it.

Huz-zah.

How could I let myself slip out of those great classes? No bueno.

I committed to go to her Saturday morning class. I felt a little exhale and smile rise from inside.

Okay. Feeling more centered.

It’s important to keep reaching out when you start teaching. Shit, it’s important to keep reaching out all of the time.

I’ve never been great at this. Once again yoga is gently nudging me so I can stay on track.

Are these mini revelations yoga?

Methinks so.

Of course her Saturday class was just what I needed. The tweaks and adjustments were an ass kicker. I mean that. My ass was killing me. But more importantly, I had an aha moment as a teacher. There were great adjustments and cues that I could be using in my own classes.

Another smile and exhale.

I enjoy the notion that for every piece of knowledge I glean, the ocean of what I don’t know about yoga (and well everything) gets bigger. So big that I can’t see the horizon.

Exciting stuff.

This is yoga, and it stretches on forever. Maybe.

Namaste y’all.