Who doesn’t love a little sunshine?

sunshine awardToday is a beautiful, sunny day in Georgia.  Like a lizard basking on a rock, I sat outside at lunch soaking up as much vitamin D as I could in an hour.  I caught up on my blog roll, and fielding comments on my blog when I found that I’d received a little more sunshine.

As a devoted blogger and devour-er of beautiful content in the blogsphere, it was quite an honor to receive love and gratitude from a fellow writer.  Thanks so much to the Food Yogi who nominated me for my second Sunshine Award!   I wasn’t quite sure how to react in terms of posting as it seemed somewhat self-ingratiating, but I stopped myself to think about how to receive a gift. Continue reading

I’d rather be in Dogvasana

smyrna ga dog in savasana yogaEvery morning as I’m wrapping up my asana practice and head into final relaxation, a four-legged canine creeper slinks into my yoga room, and coils herself up beside me in “dogvasana.”    I started this regular 5:00 am routine last year, and both of my dogs often help participate in “Doga” while I’m moving through my Vinyasa.

No matter where they are in the house, they’re attracted to the energy that begins to flow during my practice.  They’ll often settle around my mat very quietly, and take a nap or just sit blissfully with their eyes half-closed.  At first, I would try to shoo them away.  This was my very serious spiritual morning routine, after all.  But, I started to notice how peaceful and serene we all get when I’m moving from Trikonasana (triangle) to Ardha Chandrasana (half-moon pose) or relaxing in supported bridge.  Everyone’s energy is alive and calm, and we’re happy. Continue reading

What else is there besides thriving?

I recently submitted a post to the Atlanta Yoga Scene entitled, “When Breathing isn’t Easy – A CF Adult’s Journey to Teaching Yoga.”  That post has started a whirlwind of exposure as people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and families of … Continue reading

I have a “dessert” stomach for yoga

cupcakes with yoga poses on themThere’s a running joke in my family about my appetite.  When I was little, and one of the neighborhood parents would take the kids out to Dairy Queen, all of the kids would usually get a cone.  Then, I’d step up to order.  At 5 years old, and 35 pounds soaking wet, I’d order the peanut buster parfait and a frozen slushee.   I’ve always eaten like it’s my last meal, and dessert in particular is a weakness.

No matter how full I am at the end of a big meal, if the server brings about the dessert tray, I suddenly have room.  The joke is that I seem to have a separate stomach for dessert.  And, I’ve come to realize that I have the same type of room in my life for yoga.  No matter how much I’m dragging or reluctant to do my practice in the  morning or catch a class after work, once I step onto the mat, I have boundless energy.  It seems I have a ‘dessert’ stomach for yoga.

Take this past Wednesday, for example.  I teach a Tuesday night aerial class until 8:30, so I don’t get to bed until 10-ish.   Then I teach a Wednesday am class at 6:30, and then work my “real job” all day.  By Wednesday at 5, I’m starting to feel like all I want to do is crawl into bed.  But, I know how awesome I feel after yoga.  So, I made it to a 6:00 class, and the moment I step into the studio, I begin to awaken.

When I stake my claim on the floor, and unfurl my mat, I’m even more alive.  And when I step onto the mat, my body begins to connect with my practice leaving my brain behind.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have to give myself a little push sometimes, because I do.  I just try to remind myself how amazing I’ll feel after, if I catch myself starting to make excuses why I don’t need to go.  This also doesn’t mean that I don’t skip asana every once in a while; everyone needs a break from their regular ‘something’.    I just try to hearken back to those periods in my life when I let my practice slip and what that felt like.

Yoga is a part of me, like Laverne is to Shirlely; like day is to night, like dessert is to dinner.  Yes, yoga and me make a great pair.  And, all without the sugar crash.

Yoga is my passion.  Yoga is my dessert.  Do you have a dessert stomach for yoga?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

 

 

 

Photo credits: The Chocolate Swirl Blog

What the Heck is a Yoga Rave?

people dancing at a yoga raveI’ll admit, I was more than a little skeptical when the first invite came to my inbox to attend Atlanta’s First Yoga Rave.  I thought, “what the heck is a yoga rave?  now we’re going too far.”  But then I checked myself and realized I was being judgemental about a new concept before even seeking to understand what it was all about.

Then, the owner of the studio where I teach asked me if I would be one of the teacher demonstrators on stage since the studio was going to be a sponsor.  “Sure.”   There it was.  I was going to a Yoga Rave and had no idea was I was getting myself into.

The initiative was started by the Art of Living Foundation as a party alternative that doesn’t involve drugs, alcohol or smoking.  The not for profit events are happening all around the country, and all proceeds go to social projects carried out by the foundation.  Initiative such as YES! for Schools that aims to bring a healthier, stress-free lifestyle to our nation’s youth.

When I arrived at the event, the energy was tangibly positive.   No longer a fan of the bar scene or drunken debauchery, I haven’t been out to a place to just dance and cut loose in a very long time.   Being a non-drinker and a non-smoker, my idea of a party these days is going to a Kirtan or a yoga workshop, so this was a really cool change of pace.

The event started with a brief yoga flow (starring yours truly as a backup dancer.)  Then, we came to silence in a guided meditation.   At the end of the meditation, we all opened our eyes and musical duo, the So What Project! was on stage.  These guys were nothing short of amazing, and nothing like anything I’ve heard before.  If you’ve ever been to one, think of an amped-up-electronica Kirtan.  Their style combines vibrations & thousand-year-old mantras with electronic beats;  and the music was the catalyst for getting the energy in the room to a truly palpable level.

Once everyone let go of inhibitions and really started dancing and letting go, you could literally vibrate from the intensity.    If you’ve every been to a rave, you know that the primary driver for shifts in consciousness are largely chemical.  Imagine if you could achieve that without drugs, and instead let your body become a channel through which amazingly positive energy flowed.

That’s a Yoga Rave.

If you have a chance to check one out, I recommend you check your ego and just open your mind to a completely unique experience.  Isn’t that what yoga is all about anyway?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

 

Photo credit: Atlanta Yoga Rave Facebook Page

What Type of Tree (Pose) Are You?

Woman-in-Tree-Yoga

Photo courtesy of Mama & Baby Love

Exhale.  Bring your hands to your heart in mountain pose (tadasana), engage your core and find your strength; feel grounded.    Shift your weight to your right leg, and feel roots growing from the bottom of your right foot deep into the earth, firming you to the ground.

Feel the roots grow and establish a stable trunk into that right leg.  Lift the weight off of your left leg, and come to the ball of your foot.  Rotate your left hip open and place your left foot at your right ankle in a kickstand.  If you feel stable, move your foot to the inside of your right calf, or even further up into the inside of your right thigh.  Press the left foot into the right leg and right leg into the left foot equally to help you maintain your balance, and feel.

Extend your tree limbs toward the sky, and notice what kind of tree you become.   Are you a strong, sturdy oak?  Maybe you’re a flowing weeping willow. Or, do you quiver before you find your stability like the adaptable Cypress? Continue reading

Is Yoga Right For Me?

We can’t seem to get away from the great yoga debate that’s raging these days in every news outlet across the country – does yoga help or hurt? I emphatically believe that if a practice woman-in-yoga-seated-posehurts, strains, or stresses, then it’s not yoga. It can challenge us, help us find our edge, and raise our potential – yoga can, should, and often does all of those things. But that’s a fine line – the distinction between hurting and challenging.

So how do we know if yoga is right for us? The only way to know is to try, though there are some basic guidelines to follow when starting a yoga practice:

1.) If you’re new to yoga, seek out a class that’s labeled beginner, basics, gentle, or restorative. These classes generally have teachers who are trained to specifically help beginners get comfortable with a class. They are usually welcoming and warm environments that encourage learning and questions. You could also pick up a copy of a beginner yoga DVD. When I first started practicing, I used Rodney Yee’s AM / PM DVD all the time. It was a great primer for me and even now I sometimes take it out to review a simple, solid beginning routine. The basics always have something new to teach us. Continue reading

Namasafe: 10 More Reasons to Practice Slow-Ga

chinese-pond-turtleThanks to the much blogged about NY Times article by WJ Broad on the risks and rewards of yoga, we’ve all had to do a bit of introspection when it comes to our teaching and personal yoga practices.  I know that as a beginning yoga student in 2001, I was extremely concerned about “how good I was doing.”  Having originally discovered yoga as a way to improve my tennis game, I was in a competitive mindset from the get go.

I would constantly crank my neck to get a peak at the students beside me without regard to how long they’d been practicing, and I’d force myself much deeper into poses than my body was ready for.  I know this now having injured myself in the past not listening to teachers and not listening to my body.  It wasn’t yoga’s fault.  It was mine.  I don’t know why I thought I didn’t have to pay attention as acutely as I did during tennis coaching, but alas and a lack.   When you begin training for a marathon, you develop a slow and achievable schedule to build up endurance and strength.  Yoga is no different.  But more importantly, yoga isn’t about “achieving” anything.   In our uber competitive society, we don’t know how to just sit still; to slow down and let the practice unfold for us.

I’m sure my students get sick of my incessant reminders about going slow, easing off of a pose and the ever present reminder that I’ve liberated from a number of mentors, “Remember the 11th commandment, thou shalt not covet thy neighbors pose.” Continue reading

Celebrate Small Victories (and defeats)

small-victories-workplace-ecard-someecardsI laughed pretty hard when someone posted this image on their Facebook page last week.  It says, “It’s the small victories that prevent me from jumping out the window.”  Besides being funny, it got me thinking about how often we let the little victories go unnoticed and how often we let what we feel are “defeats” take over our happiness rather than see both of them as an opportunity to learn and grow.

We have all had that atrocious week at work or particularly gnarly fight with a loved one.  At the time, situations may seem so insurmountable, you can’t possibly imagine any light.  When you’re in amidst the muck, it seems impossible to step outside of your mind and try to find the lesson, or better yet to see the situation for what it is.

It might seem “Pollyanna,” but several years ago I decided to try and find the silver lining in any situation.  No matter what is happening, I try to take a step back and see the big picture.   In February, I was hit with a couple of large back to back home repair bills. In a former time period, I would have sunk into a pit, seeing only the negatives of the money flying out of my pocketbook.  But since the shift in my perspective, I celebrate the fact that I have a home that I can repair.  I’m grateful that I can afford to pay for these substantial repairs, and I’m supremely thankful that everyone in my life is happy and healthy.  When you walk backwards up the spiral of tumbled dominoes and step out of the maze, you see a beautiful design of interconnected pieces that individually have tumbled over. Continue reading