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Showing posts from November, 2011

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…