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.

Ding Dong Goes the Inversion Practice

door-bell

I zipped downstairs to an early hot power vinyasa practice with friend Jessica Ashen. She’s a yogi and founder of Spiritual Pretzels Yoga. Jessica brings donation based yoga all over Jersey City. It’s awesome and so is she. Her classes are a mix of being playful and learning how to challenge your body in new ways. Jessica teaches from a place of love that is tangible. As a result, I leave her classes lighter in the heart. I love this because that’s something I used to only get from my hot practice.

Anyway, back to this morning.

It’s great taking classes with a teacher who knows that you teach. They tend to be gently relentless about form and adjustments. I’ve been getting a bit lazy when it comes to stacking my hips over ankles in Uttasana.

No slackin’ with the stackin’ in Jessica’s class. It was what I needed.

Roll  the weight forward onto the toes, roll the weight forward onto the toes, roll the weight forward onto the toes. 

Jessica made an interesting observation about me being in between my vinyasa practice and my hot practice. In hot classes the weight is back in the heels a lot.

Shifting the weight forward into my toes and engaging the low belly and feeling my heels lift,  my body yearned to go higher.

It was my brain that was talking me out of it.

Jessica mentioned Christina Sell and how I need to check out her approach to handstands. I found this video, which is fantastic. She points out that many seemingly unrelated poses connect to turning the body upside down. It’s worth the seven minutes. Check it out.

We did handstand practice again the wall and it felt great. Jessica showed me an exercise that Christina Sell uses called Ding Dong.  As you kick up you alternate tapping feet on the wall. I sort of powered through that and felt good.  Inside my active mind, I thought back to my earlier fold and rolling the weight forward so one day can lift into handstand.

One day I can do it, I thought.

And then…we moved onto practicing Pincha Mayurasana against the wall. It was horrible.   hard.

Oh hello Ego, I didn’t see you sneak into class behind me. Seriously? It’s early, I thought you’d be upstairs asleep with Dakota, or getting coffee down the block waiting to pounce on me later riding my bike to class.

Form matters. It was tough activating my triceps, pushing down and engaging my abs. Sure she could have had me just kick up and play, but there is something to be said for doing it right.

Ugh. Hard work.

“Perfect we have something to work on next time!”, she said.

Groan is what I did.

“Be excited! It’s a new adventure!”

Damn if she wasn’t right. It is a new adventure. Something else I get to explore.

I left with a lighter heart, ready to open the door to the unexpected.

Better still, I reconnected with the foundation of yoga, uniting body and breath.

Yoga keeps reminding me that I can go home again (and again) and that more importantly, I must.

Yoga sweet yoga.

Namaste y’all.

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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.

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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In the Meantime in Between Time

yoga, reflection, relationships

(Originally published on a&o )
When I was younger a haircut usually meant I just broke up with someone or some other major change was happening (before Britney). This would be great for awhile. Short hair is flattering on every face (people are wrong when the say short hair doesn’t work for everyone- they are silly so there. Topic closed).

I had a roller coaster relationship with one boyfriend and would cut my hair short after a fight because he hated short hair. He also hated tattoos. Yes, you are damn right I got not one, but two. That’s a story for another day. Back to the root of the matter.

Get mad, cut the hair short. It’s sexy! It’s liberating! Inevitably I would decide it was time to grow it. This usually happened after seeing Ashley. What you may not know about my sister is that she has a super power. Every time she blinks her hair grows an inch. That  woman has a great head of hair. Her awkward period between short and long hair seems only to last 5 minutes. This is hyperbole but my point is still valid.

Mine takes longer.

Your mojo is off. This thinking of course is absolutely ridiculous. Please know that on an intellectual level I understand that my brain, insight and ability to contribute to society should outweigh how I feel when I look in the mirror and see that my hair is not short but not long. It doesn’t. It’s…uncomfortable. And then one day you are in the bathroom and glimpse someone who looks like you, only better. (Yes, I know I shouldn’t be so tied to the external. It’s a process baby, chill.)

My in between phase with my hair is finished.  I’m not going to to wax philosophical about my natural hair etc, etc  or that Black hair is a hot button issue etc., etc. I mention the natural state of it because it’s healthier than it’s ever been and I don’t plan on cutting it again.

I can leave my hair alone it and frankly don’t think about it that much except lately how it relates to the disquieting feeling that’s been sleeping next to me. That not quite icky feeling that makes me dream sideways. I mean, I acknowledge on the outside I’m entitled to feel weird, my life in my forties looks different than I planned. I’m starting over and building something from nothing. I’ve committed to making some pretty major changes to see my dream of my own company through. I get that. Heck, I’ve coached people on this stuff. But over the past two days nothing seems to fit. I don’t like the recipes I’m dreaming up, and yoga has been great/crappy at the same time.  Dakota (my dog) seems to be acting wackier than usual. I pause finally.

Life is changing and so am I but not in the ways that I planned. But I plead with myself to go with it. Quite the act of derring-do for the control freak. I whine but I’m pushing forward and should be pleased at how much is done. There’s just more to do. And like Veruca in Willy Wonka, ‘I want it noooow’. But I plan, breathe make progress and do yoga. This is a growth spurt, it takes force to push things to the surface. So while I may not like the way my life looks right now I can pull it back in a ponytail or just let it be, because I know if a few months I’ll catch myself in the moment and say ‘Whose life is that?’. And it will be mine.

Namaste y’all!!

Adventures in Yoga Teacher Training – Breathe Baby, Breathe

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I took a spill today. Yes, I’m that girl. Clumsy.

I’m thinking about getting one of those medic alert bracelets. You know, you have this fear when you live alone that you will fall and be stuck (or even worse, dead) in some horribly painful or more specifically embarrassing position. Ass in the air; underwear with your head wedged between the toilet and the sink (why on earth didn’t I replace the roll and let roll behind me). Fortunately, that’s not what happened today. I was walking to the front door to grab Dakota’s leash and slipped on some water from her dish. Dakota has a placemat; she must have been shaking her head around like a banshee to get the water where she did. In any case my legs went up and I came down, right on my hip and shoulder.

Giant Buddha

The whip of the movement pulled my neck and I was splayed like a cartoon character. The dog runs over with this look like, ‘Oh, hey, there’s some water on the floor- head’s up.’ Hoisting myself up I wondered for a split second what would have happened if I really took a harder tumble? Yikes. But I live in a big building so I suppose I would have only need to have waited until the guy comes to vacuum the hallway and he heard my pathetic whimpering.

I didn’t feel a thing until later. Settled at a bistro table ready to type my heart out I reached for my laptop and hello. The pain enough was sharp that I yelped an ‘Oh shite!’, except I didn’t yell shite.

Immediately, my mind mind started to race about the things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t turn my neck, I couldn’t do yoga, I couldn’t do the things I had planned for the day. This all happened in an instant. And in the next instant I took a freaking breath. I inhaled into the pain. It’s amazing the shift that can happen in your body when you that inhale. The more you resist something the more it persists.

On my mat I gently (and I mean gently) stretched and gave myself some space. One of the biggest aspects of yoga is to practice non-violence against yourself or anyone else. Reminded once again that yoga is what you do both on and off the mat. I didn’t go to class which was one the smarter things I’ve done in awhile. That and buying a bigger mat for Dakota’s water bowl.

This is yoga…and I love it.

Namaste y’all.