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Showing posts from 2011

No Dairy January!

It's that gloriously lazy-yet-still-sort-of-stressful week between Christmas and New Year's!  We're all recovering from our holiday hangovers, food comas, and, in some cases, jet lag or family stress.  I always say this ought to be a national week off - who's focused on work this week?  We're coming off the high of Christmas (or the holiday of your choice!) and gearing up for one last big bash of the season before becoming virtuous resolution makers.

As I've said (probably a million times), I love New Year's.  I love the countdown, the resolutions, journaling my heart out reflecting on the past year and looking forward, and of course, eating black eyed peas for dinner on New Year's Day for good luck.  (Each pea you eat equals a good day in the coming year so say my southern forefathers-and-mothers!)

I haven't sat down and sussed out exactly what all my resolutions are going to be yet.  Inspired by The Happiness Project, I've actually been much m…

The Queen of Asanas

I've been taking a lot more yoga classes for myself this month than usual.  It's kind of funny, considering I've felt so busy and pressed for time, yet without even trying I've been fitting classes into my schedule.  I'm sure it's my subconscious taking over and protecting my health and sanity in the midst of birthday/holiday madness.

Last Wednesday, Marc and I took a class with one of our all-time favorite teachers with whom we hardly ever get to practice anymore.  Toward the end of the (wonderful) class, she taught what has become one of my least favorite poses: salamba sarvangasana, or supported shoulderstand.

I hardly ever practice this pose anymore.  It feels scary being upside down in that funky way, I have major neck paranoia, the alignment-OCD yoga teacher in me is frustrated that I'm never sure if the positioning of my legs and pelvis and curve of my spine are exactly right, and I often have funky back pain a few minutes after I come down.

Someone r…

Stressful Storytelling

I was without a book for whatever reason on the train a week or so ago, and so I was perusing the New York Times and Huffington Post on my iPhone.  I came across this article:  10 Ways to Reduce Stress.  Most every newspaper and magazine has this kind of story nearly every week or month, but I always like reading them to see if there's any new or unique advice.

Reading this article struck me as kind of funny because I do almost all of those things on a daily basis (with the exception of getting a massage, but yesterday's 27th birthday was a fantastic excuse to splurge).  I agree that they are stress relievers  but it got me thinking that if you do something every day, does it lose its ability to reduce your stress?  After all, just because I meditate and journal every day and do my best to get 8 hours of sleep doesn't protect me from feeling stressed out.  I'm still alive, after all.

This time of year, right now, is probably the most stressful in general.  I blogged ab…

"With self-discipline, most anything is possible." - Theodore Roosevelt

For the last several years, I've kept my journal on my computer.  Each year gets its own word document and special name.  The first was 2007, which is entitled 2007- Take One.  I assumed I'd have a lapse of journaling, and then come back a little later for what would probably be Take Two.  To my pleasant surprise, I wound up sticking faithfully to that "journal," and subsequently each year has had its own little name.  As the years have gone by, I've put more thought and intention behind the name - almost like declaring a theme for the year.

The title for 2011 has been Discipline.  Looking back on the previous years' New Years Resolutions, I noticed the same things kept coming up over and over.  Although I knew I had made some progress and forward motion, it seemed like I needed to tap into that well of self discipline I knew I had inside me to really make some lasting positive changes in my life.  Overall, I'd say my Year of Discipline has been a success…

Little Yogis and Yoginis

Happy December, Internets!  November was fast, furious, and absolutely wonderful.  I'm so happy to be back in New York after a whirlwind week of traveling home to see my fabulous family.  The food was rich and decadent, the weather in Florida was wonderful, and the family got a last minute treat - my cousin Missy brought two of her three beautiful children to come visit us the day after Thanksgiving!

Her twin girls, Ashleigh and Kaitlyn, are five (turning six in January!  I can't believe it) and I haven't seen them since they were in diapers.   A lot has changed in those few years - significantly, I discovered my absolute love, joy, and passion for playing with children!  So needless to say, spending a day with those funny, fabulous girls was a major highlight of the trip.


It's so funny to me that I spend about 85% of my yoga life with children, and yet I hardly ever talk about them on my blog.  I think it's partly because I'm utilizing this blog to tackle Big …

All things in Brahmacharya

Thanksgiving is without a doubt my favorite holiday.  Food and gratitude are two of my favorite things, and I always know I'll be seeing wonderful family and friends.

Last night I had the joy of gathering with a whole bunch of my dearest friends from college who all are living in New York now for our second annual (second of many more to come!) CNU Thanksgiving.  There was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, cornbread, biscuits, pies, wine - the whole nine yards.  I tried not to go overboard, but it was a Thanksgiving dinner, after all, and by about 8:00 everyone in the room was helplessly slumped against the couch and their chairs, full to bursting with delicious food.  We all never wanted to eat again, but we all wanted third helpings at the same time.

It got me thinking about Rolf Gates's passages in Meditations from the Mat concerning the fourth yama, Brahmacharya.  Now, people mostly equate this yama with celibacy or chastity, but the literal translation i…

Tis the season...

...to be stressed out!

Don't get me wrong - I love this time of year.  And there are two kinds of stress - positive and negative.  But both are called STRESS for a reason!

This is the time of year when things get, as my best friend Lisa might say, insane in the membrane.  Aside from the obvious holidays, my family has a lot of milestones in November and December.  My big sister kicks off the season with her birthday on November 1st (right after Halloween, which you can also count if you put a lot of time and mental energy into your Halloween), then it's my anniversary with Marc on the 13th, then Thanksgiving, then my birthday on December 13th, his on December 15th, then before you know it it's Christmas and New Year's.

Whew.  I'm tired just typing that - and I wouldn't be surprised if I had left something out.

All of these days and events are happy, exciting, positive things.  I look forward to each and every one, but they come with a lot of planning, anticipa…

Pranayama Power: Kapalabhati Breath

The discovery of so many different kinds of breathing techniques was one of the coolest things about my 200-hour teacher training for me.  The most commonly taught, ujayih or victorious breath, was something I was familiar with, since about 90% of my yoga teachers cued that breath to be maintained throughout the class as we moved through our asana practice.  You may be familiar with it too even if you don't recognize the name - it's simply a deep inhalation and exhalation with a slight constriction of the throat.  It makes what some teachers call a "deep ocean sound," and others (me) call a Darth Vader sound.

Rarely, in my classes in beautiful ol' Virginia or Florida, we would do another technique, like slow three-part breath.  Perhaps the teacher would throw out the Sanskrit name, and I'm sure it went in one ear and out the other.  Now, however, I regularly reference back to my old manual to review all the different techniques (and pretty sounding names) we …

Beginnings

Sometimes the first five to ten minutes of a yoga class are my favorite.  Don't get me wrong, savasana is the icing on the yoga cake, but there is an amazingly simple joy in the practice of simply sitting, being reminded to pay attention to your posture and breath, and pulling yourself back from the past and the future to enjoy the present moment.

Not every yoga class starts this way - some teachers like to jump right in from standing to sun salutations, others will start in child's pose or even from savasana, which is always yummy.  However, I do find that a majority of the classes I take - and all of the classes I teach - start in that comfortable, meditative seat.

Especially lately, I've really started taking my time with the beginning of the classes I teach.  I'm mostly teaching Prenatal these days, with a few random vinyasa classes or privates thrown in every couple of weeks.  I have my students come to a cross legged seat, often sitting on a blanket to slightly r…

Jala Neti

Today I'm going to write about something you might not necessarily expect from a blog about yoga - my Neti Pot!

I was feeling a little low on inspiration for my entry this week, especially since Tuesday afternoon I started feeling sick toward the end of my work day.  My head had ached all day, but that's not too out of the ordinary for me.  When I started feeling my throat become sore and scratchy, I knew it was the kiss of death, and I needed to start getting proactive with my health before this cold (or whatever it is) gets the better of me.

Marc suggested writing about being sick, how it affects my practice - things of that vein.  It's a good suggestion, but I feel like I always do that when I get sick and I wanted to go a different route this week.  Marc also suggested I use a neti pot to help with my sinuses, and then it struck me - the neti pot comes from Ayurvedic medicine and is a yogic technique for cleansing the body!  It wasn't discovered by modern medicine o…

To thine own self be true

Satya pratishthayam kriya phala shrayatvam.   Upon being established in truth, there is surety in the result of actions. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali ii:36

I've been reading a passage a day from a book by Rolf Gates called Meditations from the Mat.  I'm sure I've mentioned it once or twice before on the blog.  It's designed to be a kind of yoga devotional, where you read one passage a day (there are 365 passages/days within the book).  It's the perfect accompaniment to my morning meditation, and it's the perfect way to reacquaint myself with the Yoga Sutras and other yoga philosophy at a leisurely pace and with Gates's fantastic, personal, truthful, clear writing.
He's started to dive into the yamas, the "thou shalt nots" of yoga.  The most recent one he's been exploring has been Satya, or truth.  There are many different ways to tell the truth - or not to.  Being true to yourself, however, I think is where it starts and is by far, in my view, …

Tristin & Tyler come to Karma Kids!

Awhile back, we had some very special visitors to our Family Yoga class at Karma Kids.  Tristin and Tyler, two twin boys who go around the city having awesome, eco-friendly adventures, shot an episode during the class I taught.

Check out the video, their website, and their mom's blog, Tiffany's Take.  Cuteness abounds!



Happy Monday!

"Do Not Squander Time; That is the Stuff Life is Made Of"

A couple weeks ago, while teaching a Prenatal class, my watch broke.

I've had a watch on my right wrist (I'm left-handed) since I was probably about 6 years old and got my first Mickey Mouse watch from my grandma.  I don't know if my obsessive desire to schedule out my days started as a result of that or if I was born with that tendency, but it's sure always been there.  I always know what time it is, I always know what time I have to be at a given place (my calendar obsession helps with that too), and I tend to be a good at predicting how long any given thing will take.  If I had a nickel for every time I looked at my bare right wrist in the last week, I'd feel a lot better about my financial situation!

The watch is fixable, thank goodness - it's another gift from my ever-generous Grandma.  I just have to find a good place and get it done.  I'm not completely without a timepiece, since every electronic device keeps perfect digital time and is ther…

The Challenges of Being Present

The phrase "Be present" seems ubiquitous these days.  Maybe it's just because I'm a yoga teacher and so it's ubiquitous in the things that I read and the conversations that I have (even the pants that I wear), or maybe it's because there's a national worry on how obsessed we are with smartphones and multitasking.  Whatever the reason, it seems to be one of those spiritual secrets of happiness.  It's even one of my Personal Commandments (more on those when I write yet another Happiness Project-inspired blog soon).  But what does it mean to Be Present?  More importantly - how do you do it?

Our thoughts are always focused on the past, the present, or the future.  The present is the only place we can be grounded in the reality of what is happening in our lives at any given moment.  Past is gone - as insubstantial as the thoughts of it.  Future is a completely imagined composite of assumption, hope, worry, and storytelling.  Present encompasses all of our…

State of the Blog

I almost always have one of two inspiration issues when I sit down to write a blog:  overabundance and underabundance ("underabundance" isn't actually a word, but why shouldn't it be?).  Today, I suffer from an overabundance.  I just finished rereading The Happiness Project, I've started reading The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, and I'm starting to consistently read one passage a day from Rolf Gates's fabulous Meditations from the Mat.

I started this blog as a way to have an outlet for myself to sort through the massive, life-changing yogic education I had received months prior through my teacher training at Sonic.  Even before Sonic, I had started reading books on meditation, getting deeper into a yoga practice, and found myself learning all these crazy new words and theories and ideas.  A blog seemed like a perfect way to make sense of things for myself, one week at a time, and to share what I was learning with whoever was interested in read…

Taking Care

Happy Monday!  I'm breaking out of my usual middle-of-the-week entry writing so as to avoid driving myself crazy by trying to squeeze in an entry in the midst of what is going to be a very busy week.

It's that time of year again...one of my all time favorites.  To me, fall means soup, sweaters...and assisting my teacher, Jyothi, in her Thai Yoga Massage Level 1 Intensive.  From Wednesday through Sunday I'll be bouncing back and forth from Massage Intensive Assistant to Kid's Teacher to Karma Kids Desk Lady.  I'm excited about it, as these are all three hats I love wearing.  However, every time I'm either taking or assisting any kind of training, I find that I forget to make the proper space to let myself rest.

The need for rest and recovery, both physical and mental, is necessary in any intensive training, but I find it's especially true for Thai Yoga Massage.  There is a lot of intense energy and emotional exchange back and forth.  As a student, you feel l…

Book Report: The Happiness Project

At the train station on the way back from Massachusetts last month (which feels like just yesterday and zillion years ago all at the same time), Marc and I killed time by browsing the mini-bookstore at Boston's South Station.  Browsing bookstores is one of our all time favorite activities as a couple.  We could probably spend an entire day doing it and not get bored.  While there, Marc spotted a book that had been on a list of books I'd sent him to try to get from the New York Library before we left (where he had gotten me enLIGHTened).  In bright, lovely blue and yellow, there was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I snatched it up and promptly spent the entire train ride reading magazines...my biggest travel indulgence.

A few days later I started the book, and had to force myself to make it last and not gobble the whole thing up in one or two sittings.  It's just shy of 300 pages, but compulsively readable.

Gretchen Rubin, Supreme Court law clerk-turned-full-time-…

Home is where the Heart is

I arrived back home this past Tuesday after almost 2 solid weeks of being away from the city to visit family. What was supposed to be a short weekend visit to Boston to see Marc's parents and his grandpa turned into a luxurious 5 day wait-out-Hurricane-Irene visit. It worked out great for us - I only had to cancel one class and Marc wasn't scheduled to work, so we could afford the extension and enjoy the extra time with his wonderful grandpa without worry of our oh-so important lives in New York going on without us.

For about a day and a quarter, we returned home. Just long enough for Marc to get in a shift at his restaurant and for me to re-pack for another 5 day trip. My brilliant sister came up with a plan for Marc and I to travel down to South Carolina to surprise my mom, who was planning to come down for Labor Day to celebrate her 60th birthday.  It was an incredibly special and fun-filled weekend and I'm so thankful we were able to surprise her and send her into …

Book Report: enLIGHTened

As the summer starts drawing to a close and the reopening of Karma Kids starts peeking around the corner, I've been craving a slight change in reading material.  It's been a fabulous summer for reading - I've read many of my old Stephen King favorites, a few new King gems, Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho (which...good LORD), John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath....lots of great fiction.

However, fall means the beginning of a busy semester of work and getting back into the full swing of things as a yoga teacher as well as a student.  My summer of 30 Day Challenges and Bikram were great, but I wasn't spending my summer reading the Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita or anything.  I felt I needed something more yoga-esque to help get my head in the game.  I also wanted something a little lighter than King, Steinbeck, and Ellis for the train ride to Boston last week!

Appropriately enough, the first book on my random list of yoga-esque books was enLIGHTened:  How …

Breathing: The Best Tool in Your Toolbox

Good gloomy Saturday morning!  I'm sitting here in peaceful, tranquil (for the moment) Boxford, Massachusetts.  Marc and I are visiting his family and our visit has just been extended by two days to make way for angry Irene!  I hope our home and our city is safe, but it surely is nice to be surrounded by green, peace, and quiet for a few extra days.

Simple post today - I just wanted to write about something a new (to me) yoga instructor said last week.  I went down to Bikram Park Slope with my wonderful cousin, who is doing a 30-Day Bikram Challenge.  This woman, Robin, was so inspirational, fun, and funny.  She even left us little vegan blueberry muffins on our mats after class!  One of the best Bikram classes I have ever attended, hands down.

She does a lot of talking in the 90 minutes, as do most Bikram teachers.  The dialogue (or monologue, technically) is partly there to keep you engaged in the present so your mind doesn't get a chance to ask you what on earth you're …

Last Days of Summer

August is winding down, and with it - summer.  We've still got a good 12 days left, and I intend to make good use of them.  Still...the unseasonable cool and wet weather we've had these past couple of weeks in New York are hammering home the reality that soon it'll be autumn.  The Back to School commercials are already dominating the airwaves, so it must be real!

We're encroaching on a time of year that always feels a lot like New Year's to me.  I don't think I've ever been able to release myself from the New School Year conditioning, and somehow the way my life and jobs and moving to and from new cities always seems to center around Fall Semester, Spring Semester, and Summer.  I never seem to have a big transition smack in the middle of March or November, it's always May and August/September.  I wonder how much of that is conscious and how much unconscious!

This is yet another way in which Karma Kids is a perfect job for me.  We slowed down in the summ…