Ah, the holiday season is upon us. Last year was a bit different for many of us … how are your holiday plans shifting? What are you reviving from years past? letting go? keeping from last year?
As you consider your daily routines … and I invite you to consider them especially as schedules change AGAIN and more often … Allow your yoga practice to complement your other movement practices, rather than replace them. Traditional fitness is fantastic for cardiovascular system and muscle-building. And yoga, as you have experienced, is different.
Your yoga practice can be a space apart, where you develop an ever-deepening awareness of how your body, breath and mind affect each other … where you practice regulating your nervous system, challenging your body in mindful movement, and giving space for your mind to rest.
Yoga can be a practice when you uncover, bit by bit, who you ARE — a Luminous Being meant to enjoy, love and serve in this life.
Two primary principles of Yoga are abhyasa and vairagya. Abhyasa is consistent, sustained practice, i.e. over a loooooonnnnggg period of time. Vairagya is non-attachment, meaning that we practice with intention … yet we let go of the results.
These principles kinda fly in the face of today’s modern results-driven (& give those results to me NOW) mentality. Viva la revolution! Toward a more joyful, peaceful, compassionate world of humans making a difference through Yoga!
Below: Wednesday Sunrise Yoga warm-ups … Join us 7:15am at Ombody, or for any of the many morning or evening classes offered by a fantastic team of teachers.
This afternoon was such a joy — 17 young, local runners from Uniontown Junior Cross Country Team stopped by OMBody for a practice.
We warrior’d, we stretched, we laughed … they are some of the best deep breathers I’ve encountered … … and in the end these kiddos RESTED.
What a gift to witness — young people resting amidst this busy, over-functioning, push-push-push noise of the world.
Their coach, Angie, reflected after class, “We’ve rarely been on the same page like we were today during yoga practice.” It was really cool to observe!
It was a privilege to hold space for these young athletes today. Deep bows to each of you …
Choosing a “WE Connect” picture card to describe: How do you feel today?
I asked for volunteers to share their cards, & here’s a shot of two of our XC runners:
“I chose this (funny face) card because I’m feeling pretty energetic today.”
“I honestly don’t know why I chose this card, I kind of panicked & just picked one!” (Redwood tree — I offered that it was a GREAT choice for panic, as trees can help us feel grounded & steady & calm. We usually pick the “right” card whether we know it or not!)
Enjoy a supported, floor-based posture to counteract “tech neck,” driving long distance, or any number of ways we hunch throughout our days.
What tools are you using? Pillows, cushions, blankets, whatever you can find works! Which version do you enjoy the most?
Remember, BE BOLD in using yoga props to support your limbs, spine, joints and head so you can fully release muscular tension … which then allows your nervous system and mind to start to unwind.
Allow your breath to be effortless, rest in your fave version for at least a few minutes. To come out, s l o w l y roll to a side or sit up … s l o w l y … Rest laying down or seated before moving back into life.
I’ve started collecting seeds from various plants in our garden. Here you see 21 seeds from 2 very small watermelon … granted I chose a mini variety, yet these little ones weren’t going to make it. Watermelon is new to me, so I’m afraid I did not provide the ideal growing conditions this year ;). However, Jim encouraged me to open these racquetball-size remnants of the withering plants & see what was inside before tossing them in the compost.
I could sow 21 seeds next year & possibly (if I’m a little more attentive) see 21 watermelon plants with who knows how many watermelons on each plant.
I’ve also been separating butterfly weed seeds from their feathery wisps that carry them to new growing places. I literally have hundreds of seeds so far, with more to come. With pollinator populations at risk, I hope to share these seeds next spring with friends, family & community.
So I wonder:
How is it that we cannot figure out how to feed, shelter & clothe our fellow humans? How is it that we cannot figure out how to be in right relationship with the world that supports us sooooooooo abundantly (21 SEEDS!!!) & unconditionally?
These questions return to me again & again as I’m faced with the disconnect between our society’s scarcity mindset … & the absolute ABUNDANCE of Nature’s way of doing & being.
We are out of sync. We have forgotten.
Yet we can remember.
How are YOU re-membering your own abundance? whether it be food, material goods, financial savings … or your wealth of creativity, ideas, talent, etc?
What are your 21 seeds?
And when you realize what you have … is there abundance to share? Without condition or expectation?
I think most of us have 21,000 seeds in us … that we are either afraid or uncertain how to share. Now’s the time to figure that out, though. You’ve got something the world needs … whether it benefits one person or one thousand people. You can make a difference.
How will you, how will I, how will we follow Nature’s lead & abundantly share from our internal & external stores … no matter how small, like these unripe watermelons … our small efforts will yield 21-fold.
I’d love to hear your thoughts … drop a comment or email me at email@example.com.
I hear myself constantly say in class, “well, you could do it this way … or this way … or this way … ” And I’ve thought, maybe I should just state ONE way & be done with it — the class would go faster, I’d talk less, it’d be more efficient, etc. etc. etc.
I was thinking about this constant “permission to modify” today in class as I gave about 3 variations on a posture … & I as I observed folks moving into their posture, there were like 6 different variations in the room!
And it was amazing.
When I’m “teaching,” I’m never just teaching … I’m learning every second of the class. I’m a student. And I learned today (& every day) that it’s pretty damn cool to see people practicing THEIR practice … not doing what I say for it’s own sake, but making their Yoga their own.
I also constantly remind myself & others to modify/vary/adjust postures & techniques because in my own life I grew up & still work with my own perfectionist tendencies. I grew up telling myself, “Well, if that’s how the teacher says to do it, I’m going to do it that way x100 (or I’m going to do it my own way … and BETTER).” Or more often I’m competing with myself, trying to get to some “ideal” that probably doesn’t even exist.
I’ve heard it said that yoga practice allows us to see what we’re working with off our mat / cushion. What we learn on our mat, we then take out into the world.
What I’ve learned through my 13-year yoga practice is that my own perfectionist tendencies off the mat have resulted in burnout, injury, or ignoring my own body/mind’s needs in order to get to some arbitrary goal.
I think there’s a natural human tendency to go with the crowd, do what others are doing, even to our own detriment — & that tendency can happen in yoga spaces too.* Sometimes we get the idea that there’s a certain way to do sun salutations, there’s a certain placement for your feet in warrior 2, there’s a certain way you place you fold your hands in meditation, etc. etc. And yes, there are alignment cues for safety reasons, there are body part placements for energetic reasons … & yet when we GET CAUGHT UP in those particulars too much … well … we can lose the whole point of Yoga, which is to come home to ourselves & that inner divinity that KNOWS & knows that it knows.
And often our inner knowing is just whispering, “Give yourself a break. Seriously. You’re doing fine. You’re doing GREAT, actually. You don’t NEED to do more, be more, have more. You’re already enough. Just as you are.”
In group classes or private sessions, I continue to give permission to modify or adjust the practice to fit you today at this time. Not that you need permission! Yet sometimes our minds just need that little nudge to remember why we’re doing Yoga in the first place — hey, remember to listen to your body … hey, remember to breathe … hey, take it easy here, it’s ok.
So if you, like me, need to be reminded every so often that it’s perfectly perfect to modify, intensify, vary or adjust your yoga practice to meet your needs that day … Here’s your permission slip. No expiration date.
*This is why I love home practice. No eyes on me, no looking at other folks, just me practicing with the teacher and doing my thing. Try an online class.
My Yoga Nidra partner … UP CLOSE & PERSONAL MUCH?! 🤣
I’ve lapsed in all of my Yoga practices the last few months … we moved to a new house, I spent what would be her last days with my beloved Grandma, and the world seems to be speeding up to an inhuman pace again …
So, Asana practice – nope. Pranayama practice – nope. Meditation – nope. Study – nope. Eating regular, homemade meals – nope. Yoga Nidra – nope. Morning and evening routines – kinda.
I’ll testify — jumping ship from my routines and practices was eye-opening. I could keep it together for a while, longer than I expected, actually (my husband might disagree 😉). But my sleep was off. My energy rollercoaster — what will I feel today, energized or totally wasted? The culmination — I had a full-on panic attack while driving through Chicago at 11pm in the rain (to get to my grandma) … got to pull over for an hour to calm my shit down.
I suppose it was a good experiment in what NOT to do 😉.
The spectrum of Yoga practices has greatly supported my journey so far … mentally, physically, emotionally. I have a long way to go (maybe lifetimes).
Maybe you have Yoga — maybe a different system supports you. Whatever it is that works for you, keep it up … and if, like me, you jump off for a while … pause, notice, make a choice.
I’m so grateful to my teacher, Luvena Rangel @curvyyogime for her Yoga Sutra Study Group. I’ve been in the deep mental inertia for months … her sharing of the yoga teachings combines staying close to the tradition (reminding me I gotta practice) and expressing grace for our modern situations (stress, the unexpected, etc).
So, I’m getting back to my practices, and trying to give myself grace. Begin again.
Tortilla has always known these things 😉. He’s always practicing and letting go. He’s ready to go at a moment’s notice, he finds joy right where he is, he rests when he’s tired, he eats when he’s hungry (wait, he’s always hungry), he shows endless love & companionship.
Anyway, back to Yoga Nidra.
If you’re new to Yoga Nidra, please join me in a class soon. Each class ends with a short Yoga Nidra practice to restore / rejuvenate. See you soon.
Happy Spring Equinox! 🌒 From the winter garden 🌒 These little ones have been tucked away all winter under the hoophouse, and honestly didn’t think the November sprouts would survive since the seeds are a few years old … yet last week’s warmer weather woke them up! Mother Nature is pretty amazing. 🌧️ Thankful for the moon returning, the early (!) morning robin songs, and the soft rain today. Sounds & smells like Spring. 🎂 Today is my Grandma’s 89th birthday. Today is the day @thejimengel & I receive our 2nd 💉 … Today we may be closer to seeing my family again. Today is the beginning of Spring. I am no optimist … and I am hopeful.
I continue with this word Fulfillment — this weekend I took part in a virtual Tea Meditation with Sooz at Being Tea. If you love tea (like I do) & want to dive deeper, I highly recommend Sooz’s offerings. I was gifted a membership by Jim’s parents … & have since enjoyed slow Saturday / Sunday mornings with tea.
You’ll see below a beautiful deep green High Mountain Oolong (top), 2 gorgeous hawks on the trail (taken with my phone, soooo … can you see them?), & a Jasmine Winter Snow Green Tea (bottom, I wish you could SMELL this tea!).
The tea meditation theme last month revolved around the question: What is enough?
I’m pondering this question in yoga practice in February – maybe you will join me – What is “enough” in a posture? a breath? effort?
If you’re seeking what your “enough” is in this mid-winter time, I hope you’ll join one of our online group classes this month, or choose a class on YouTube! If you’re interested in in-person or online private sessions, please email or call me.
I recently finished a book my sister-in-law, Jill, gifted me a while back — Reshma Saujani’s Brave, Not Perfect. I was skeptical … & yet came away from the book with new insights into my own life as a perfectionist … & that there’s still plenty of time for me to find new ways to be brave, not perfect. I’m asking, “Where am I seeking perfection, instead of asking the brave question, ‘Hey, what’s enough here?'”