Snow Day Musings

On the calendar it’s Spring … yet here in southwest Pennsylvania, Mother Nature says “not quite yet” with several inches of snow this morning & still falling. Yoga classes cancelled, no school today … the boys & I went out for a walk at dawn, quietly padding along the softened sidewalks, only the sanitation & salt trucks (thank you!) out & about.

Once back home, the boys fed, watered & snuggled for their morning snooze, I’ve delighted in a 90-minute Hatha practice, followed by meditation & abhyanga. After a several-week run of mental & emotional activity, this snow day is a welcome respite.

“Must be nice,” your go-go-go mind says? Mine too. And yet a few minutes of quiet in one’s day — an extra moment to take in the smell of a good cup of coffee, allow your gaze to pause at the brilliant white of snow (before the plows get to it), or gently massage those too-tight temples — can be just as satisfying to our minds & soothing to our nervous systems. So go for it! Take a mini snow day right now & I’ll see ya back here soon ;).

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Welcome Back! How do you feel?

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Now for some of my snow day musings … Enjoy!

 

The latest trend is that yoga is for everybody and for every body. I believe this as much as the next person, but that doesn’t mean that a practice that’s right for a 25-year-old woman is also appropriate for someone who is 50 years old. – Pat Shapiro, “Yoga for Women at Midlife and Beyond” (2006)

That quote was from 2006 … how does this thought resonate with you in 2018? For me, I feel tension. As a very stubborn redhead (Case in point: There’s a story going around that as a toddler I held my breath til I passed out because I was pissed at my parents) part of me says, “I can do what I did 15 years ago, I’ll show you.” And for the most part, I can –I can power through X, Y, Z “advanced” poses. I can get into a few pretzel-like shapes. They’re not on Instagram, but I can do it.

Indeed, as a very stubborn redhead I can power through workday after workday, I can hike for miles, I can sleep 5-6 hours, get up & go. And go. And go.

And can I tell you how I feel AFTER I do, do, do all this “advanced” stuff — on the mat or out in the world? Ah, but you already know =).

While yoga is (in part) a form of movement, it is not exercise in the Western sense. And there’s the tension. While often we’re encouraged to exercise to the point of exhaustion, the yoga practices & philosophy encourage movement as a form of rejuvenation, not depletion. I’ve heard it said that in yoga we practice at about 65 – 75% of our capacity — this is the “sweet spot” that gets our inner fire stoked, yet not flaming uncontrollably & scorching our bodies / nervous systems to the point of depletion (whether after one mat practice, or over years of depleting practices).

So, let’s embrace the tension: Yoga is for everybody & for every body. If this is so, then the movement, breath, meditative, & lifestyle practices of yoga ALSO must be tailored to the individual. As Pat Shapiro says in “Yoga for Women in Midlife & Beyond:”

Yoga is a homecoming, a coming home to ourselves.

It doesn’t matter that the person next to you in class can balance on one foot longer than you can, or that her form looks [just-so] in a particular pose. Each of you is a different individual with a different body, a different history, and a different mindset. You each have your own strengths and limitations. And you are each in a different place every single day.

In yoga practice, we even avoid competing with ourselves. Perhaps you were able to hold a posture longer yesterday than today. Rather than criticizing yourself or pushing yourself unnecessarily, we learn to accept that this is where we are at this point in time. There may be a very good reason for the difference: maybe you didn’t sleep well last night or your mind is preoccupied because of distressing news you received before you began practicing. All these things have an impact.

It helps to keep in mind one of the concepts from classic yoga philosophy: the idea that everything changes. Once day you can balance on one foot for a full minute; the next day you can’t even stand for a few seconds. Or, your allergies are terrible today. You can’t go out of the house without having a sneezing fit. You feel like allergy season will never end. Yoga philosophy tells us that WHAT YOU’RE EXPERIENCING IS REAL … and it will change. Simply knowing this can give a broader perspective on your varying responses to your practice.

I muse on these things because I need to hear them … I need to hear that yoga is for every body … for my body … as she is today. I need to hear that my practice 10 years ago isn’t my practice today. Going further, my “doings” in life off the yoga mat 10 years ago aren’t my doings in life today. What I am experiencing in my body / mind today — whether I label these things positive, negative or neutral — is REAL … & will change.

May you gain some benefit from these musings too =).

Finally, this is why I’m loving sharing Hatha yoga practices in my little corner of the world. I love observing how people in my classes adjust the postures mindfully to fit their bodies on that day, and/or how the yoga teachings can support them in doing so through variations of poses, breathing techniques or relaxation support. To witness a body “come home to herself” is an amazing privilege.

So, yoga is for everybody & every body … AND I hope we will approach the practices & philosophy of yoga with Pat’s reminder to attend to our unique bodies/minds on our unique days in our unique stages of life. In this way, we continue our journey home to our Selves. May it be so!

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books

Here’s my pile o’ books from the library — the amazing feeling of an armful of books — & for FREE! What’s on your reading list this snow day? I’d love to add to my list!

Poem – John Tiong Chunghoo

Physical pain has brought me to my knees this week. I know there are people out there who deal with physical pain on a daily basis. I cannot imagine the strength you are required to muster each day. Deep bow to you — may you find peaceful, pain-free moments today. May you TAKE GOOD CARE of yourself today.

The full moon was a sight to see … the following poem spoke to me today, as I reflected on watching the moon amidst pain last night.

 

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The moon glows
in bright yellow

The moon takes in all my pain
to glow in bright yellow

The more the pain
the greater the strength of its glows

The moon comes a-calling
first peeping
through the window
then takes leave
from the sky
roll from the tree,
and over the window
to the table and to my bed circling softly round
comforting my head
taking in all my aches
encasing them all in her
round body
The more it take my torments
The brighter it becomes
till my pain is now
a bright great mesmerising moon, rolling, rowing
over my whole physique
a mom taking all care, bearing all sins
to make sure her child is in full ease

the moon, with each
throb of my pain
it increases in its brightness

the moon with each
throb of my pain
it increases in brightness

giving my life
a new lease of hope

taking away all my aches

Random Love Notes this Week

Thank you to the Love Yoga community for welcoming me to practice, teach & learn alongside you in 2017. LOVE YOGA STUDIO CELEBRATES 3 YEARS on February 9th! Stop by & celebrate with us!

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 Yoga is VASTLY more than physical poses! Go deeper. Join me Sunday afternoons in March for Love Yoga’s Intro to Meditation Course. Click HERE for more info & early bird registration.

F-Meditate Series-MAR 18

 

 

Just finished “Behold the Dreamers, A Novel” by Imbolo Mbue. If you’re learning to hold opposites, as we do in many yoga practices, this book provides an off-the-mat opportunity.

 

I continue my journey of self-care & rest in the 40-Day Yoga Nidra Challenge with Karen Brody’s book & Facebook community page “Daring to Rest.” Stressed? Feeling off? Unmotivated? Try out some yogic sleep & let’s talk!

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When I find a unique gift for my hubby, that’s JUST sappy enough without making me puke … it’s RARE & I GO FOR IT! Check out The Night Sky to create custom star maps for a special person / event in your life.*

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Hope to see you in-person or online this week, E

*I don’t get any kickbacks from this stuff … it’s just stuff I like & think “I gotta share this!”

Yoga Nidra — Return to Self

Me and my boy Tortilla in early January …

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MY TEACHER — TORTILLA

Tortilla knows how to play hard … every second is a new adventure for this kid. Jim has described the contents of Tortilla’s brain as “full of silliness & squirrels.” But our boy knows comfort & rest better than any living being I know. He seeks out the fluffiest blankets, the sunniest sunspots, the coziest corners … & takes full advantage. Towels just out of the dryer? Yes, please. Space on Mama’s lap (or some way I can MAKE space)? Here I am. While backpacking – your pillow or that poofy sleeping bag? Hmm, move over just a bit, Dad.

While our boy Baxter is constantly vigilant, always watching us, herding us or otherwise on the lookout … Tortilla’s motto seems to be Why stand when I can sit? Why sit when I could lay down? Why stay awake when I could be napping? They’ll get me when they’re ready for fun … or when there are squirrels.

Another teacher in our midst.

I don’t “rest” well. I’m a habitually light sleeper, lived on 5-6 hours of sleep in grad school, & burned the candle at both ends through more than a few jobs I was passionate about. I stay up later than necessary, & have always been an early riser. And I’ve never liked naps (much to Jim’s utter dismay). Waste of time. I could be accomplishing something. I don’t sit still often by choice … though I sit more often than I’d like to admit these last few years … nevertheless, when I’m sitting I’m doing something. While Tortilla can totally let go & just rest after a hard day of chasing sunspots indoors & bunnies outdoors, I keep going well after the workday or work week officially ends.

When I list the jobs / projects I’m involved with, people have often commented, “Wow, you’re a busy lady!” For a Type A personality, that’s a compliment … a badge of honor … right?

Then I look at Tortilla …

MY LESSON — REST

I’m starting to understand this “you’re busy” comment as a gentle nudge from Something Bigger to step back & re-evaluate … a red flag that I’ve … once again … overstepped my own rhythm & sustainability.

In a previous blog post, I wrote about meeting with one of my yoga teachers/mentors … & how we talked about everything from the yoga classes I’m teaching, to recent deaths in my family/community, to my food choices, to my sleep quality. I was prepared to take notes on an asana practice she’d assign me for the next 6 months … but we didn’t talk much about physical poses (except for my aggravated shoulder … no chaturangas for me).

Rather, she gave me a meditation practice, offered tips for my food choices based on Ayurvedic principles, & encouraged me to find nourishment.

Permission to rest.

MY PRACTICE — YOGA NIDRA

I’d already practiced yoga nidra a few times over the past few months. What is yoga nidra? It’s a form of “yogic sleep” adapted by Swami Satyananda from traditional yoga practices of nyasa. Click here for a down-to-earth definition =). I’d also looked into a yoga nidra program called Daring to Rest, by Karen Brody, & had tried a few of her free sessions. After our meeting, I signed up for the 40-Day Daring to Rest Challenge, which began January 8th.

So, 20 days in … it’s not been easy. You’d think, well, just lay down & be still & zone out. Nuh-uh. There’s work to be done in yoga nidra, but not the outer, superficial, social media post work. This work is internal, subtle … a gentle, powerful return to myself.

Just granting myself PERMISSION to stop … to STOP … was life-changing.

Then accepting that maybe I AM THE EXPERT on me, on who I am & who I can be — rather than co-opting someone else’s solutions, however “yogic” or spiritual or lovely they might be.

Finally, learning … still learning … that I AM NOT CRAZY. And I have felt crazy at various times over the past few years (… decades)? I have felt a random yet powerful connection in nature … I have had wicked powerful emotions come out of nowhere … I have intuited something & thought, oh boy, if I say this out loud …

It’s a powerful statement to say “The feminine part of us is not crazy” … The feminine is INTUITIVE, sometimes a little wild … & women have an internal power most of us don’t tap into regularly. What you choose to call the source of that intuition is up to you — Something Bigger, God, Universe, Spirit — go for it. The feminine is powerfully connected with rhythm, cycles, ebbs & flows … which has been ignored or dismissed at best, or has resulted in shame or even persecution of women (& some men) at worst. To rediscover those rhythms, cycles, connections is overwhelming for me, yet also pretty fucking awesome.

I’M ONLY ONE

So I’m experimenting on myself, figuring out what works =). So far, dialing back on my commitments, eating cleaner food (most of the time 😉 ), getting back into Nature, & broadening my yoga practice with yoga nidra are supporting me in slowly returning to myself — it’s not happening overnight or even over a year. Long-term project, internal, subtle … & I hope I’ll encourage someone else along the way.

How do you return to yourself?

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The “S” Word

A woman new to Love Yoga practiced with me in Hatha I last week. After class, we got to chatting … & I became the student.

The lesson? Mary takes every Wednesday for her own self-care.

Yep. Whole day. Every week. My mind was blown too.

Mary works a LOT — she owns her own business, providing self-care services for others as an aesthetician. Her daily schedule may consist of 10-12 hours of client appointments. She gives her expert skills, her time, & most importantly her positive emotional & mental energy to each client she serves. And each client walks back into their stressful lives feeling pampered physically, yes, but more importantly also a little more centered in spirit.

So, as I was learning more about her family & her work, she drops wisdom meant seemingly just for me — Self-care isn’t selfish. She said, “It’s part of my job, my responsibility as a professional. I care for my temple — body, mind, spirit — so I can give the best to my family & to my clients.”

But a WHOLE DAY?? Who has a whole day to devote to yourself, let alone a whole day EACH WEEK?

I’m amazed. I’m inspired. Mary has a vibe about her that is positively infectious, inspiring … I’ll have what she’s having, please.

While I rarely have a whole day to devote to my own self-care, this month I’ve scheduled a 30-minute massage each week. And honestly, I was feeling bad about it — like, is this really necessary? C’mon, Erica, you’re over-indulging just a bit … does your budget really allow for this?

My conversation with Mary came at just the right time … not to validate a luxury, but to remind me of what’s essential.

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I have a feeling deep in my bones that many of you pour yourselves into others day in & day out. No one has accused you of laziness or slacking, Sister!

So, what practices are essential to your well-being? Though these practices seem “luxuries” to some — a warm bath, a massage, a day staring out the window, a day in the woods — they are essential for your soul. I encourage you, as I’m encouraging myself, to be inspired by Mary’s wisdom & example. If you’re reading this post, Mary — thank you for my lesson!

On a side note, since my last post, I’ve been taking part in Karen Brody’s “Daring to Rest” 40-Day Challenge. Yoga Nidra is a HUGE challenge for me … I’ll be updating you on my rest progress soon. Until then, may you practice intentional Self-Care this week — I hope to hear from you here or on the mat soon! Cheers, E

Is Your “Check Engine” Light On?

The “check engine” light in our Subaru has been a sometimes off, sometimes on reality over the past few years. At first, each time the light came on we scheduled a maintenance appointment — during which the auto mechanic often found something totally unrelated to the engine wrong with our car =) — had the “check engine” sensor turned off, only to have it come on again a month or so later. So, I started to ignore it.

 

The “check engine” light has been on again for months now.

 

As we approach the end of 2017, I’m looking back over my journal, my notes, my thoughts, my energy, etc. etc. So many good things happening — I’m enjoying teaching yoga at Love Yoga, I’m back at Lafayette Elementary with amazing teachers & kids, the WELS Adventure Program finished its 4th session with 10 young graduates, the Lafayette School Garden grew again this year, & my work with Canine Partners for Life at SCI-Greene continues to inspire me. Jim & I got to take an awesome few weeks together with our fur-kids Baxter & Tortilla, camping & traveling through New England this summer, & also got to visit my grandparents in Illinois for Thanksgiving.

 

Check Engine?

 

In addition, I continue to notice “little things” about my energy levels & mind state. I’m more wired yet tired mentally this year, maybe the past few years, than I have been in the past … even with all my practices to counteract such things =). I’m not getting as much physically strenuous exercise in recent years … often feeling too exhausted to rouse myself for a weekend hike or kayaking with Jim. I’m prone to anxious thoughts, worries about things that haven’t happened, & always trying to figure out the perfect thing to do / say … all of which are brought to light when I’m overtaxed.

 

Check Engine.

 

But I push through — I’m supposed to be able to handle what’s going on in my life. I’ve done it for years, through jobs, family upheavals, changes in physical health, moves across the country, & other chosen or unexpected changes in life. Buck up, deal with it, & make it happen, E. Here’s where some Ayurveda dosha knowledge is interesting to me — being a Pitta-Vata type, when I’m in balance I am energetic & creative, confident & loyal to people & passions, & I get shit done.

 

And Pitta-Vata types like me (maybe like you) burn out easily. We LOVE what we do, we want to say YES to it all because the program, the person’s need, the idea is awesome or somewhere we can make a difference. I/We keep pushing & pushing because that’s what we’re SUPPOSED to do. We have high expectations — & yet when out of balance, we judge ourselves harshly when we don’t live up to perfection, and/or get spacy, jumping from thing to thing to thing in search of deeper meaning.

 

CHECK ENGINE

 

So here we are in December, & I finally got time to make an appointment with a yoga teacher whom I greatly respect & have learned so much from. It took a few months for us to coordinate our schedules, & when we met last week I had a list of questions about my yoga practice, what I should do next in my teaching, about my shoulder injury … because that’s what I do, I figure things out & get shit done ;).

 

My teacher asked me, “So what’s going on in your life right now?”

 

I began to talk about my & Jim’s respective jobs, about my yoga teaching … & then started talking about the funeral we attended for a dear older friend the day before, about the death of another dear friend a few weeks before, & about Jim’s grandmother’s death the month before. I haven’t experienced death so closely … & in such succession … in my time on earth yet. Health scares in my own family have my internal anxiety showing itself. Jim is traveling to Israel in January, which is a GRAND opportunity for him … yet I find myself unable to sleep for worry over news coming out of the Middle East.

 

I talked about feeling tired & a bit “down” this year or so … like I’m running out of gas. I found myself tearing up, trying to hold it together (because I’m supposed to, right). All these heavy things coming up … which I didn’t connect … from a simple question “How’s it going?” … from someone who’s coming from her own inner space to listen. I’ve thought something is wrong with me, that I’m not hacking life like I used to.

 

CHECKING ENGINE

 

This time with my teacher didn’t go as I expected, yet was just what I needed. Simply being affirmed, “that’s a lot to deal with Erica, & it’s ok to be human” was a relief. A big sigh & tearful release — a “thank God I’m not losing it.” As we discussed how to move forward, she didn’t analyze poses or give me a specific physical practice … we talked about my food choices (eat more, & take in more nourishing foods), I received a meditation practice, & we discussed ways to use my teaching to balance & re-ignite inspiration.

 

I left feeling exhausted after our session, yet in an oddly uplifted way … does that even make sense? I sat in my car & let my body deflate for a few moments … deep deeeeep breaths … what a relief to let go. Then I put the keys in the ignition & turned on the car.

 

No “Check Engine” light.

 

Seriously, you can laugh … or think I’m making it up … because I did … amidst my tears I noticed the light was off & just about fell over laughing.

 

Take a moment, a week, a year (like I am) to check your engine. Mine may come back on now & then, just as a gentle reminder. Let’s keep each other updated on how it’s going =).

 

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Yoga Classes to Benefit WELS Program

Donation Thursdays continue at Love Yoga this month — no class fees, & your donations go to the Wilderness Experience, Leadership & Service Program which gets local kids outdoors & teaches leadership skills.

 

Local 7th & 8th graders accepted into the program experience whitewater rafting, kayaking, climbing, hiking, mountain biking & more — many for the 1st time! — in the Ohiopyle State Park and surrounding areas. WELS contracts with Wilderness Voyageurs, who employs the most experienced professional guides I’ve worked with in the outdoors. WELS also partners with the Uniontown Area School District, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Calvary Baptist Church, and East End United Community Center. WELS sessions run for 6 weeks in spring & fall — so far, over 50 graduates have completed the WELS program in its first 4 sessions.

 

The WELS program is more than an outdoor adventure program — Adult Mentors also work with participants on team-building & leadership skills. Each week a core leadership value is defined, discussed & practiced — RESPONSIBILITY, RESPECT, TRUST, EMPATHY, RESILIENCE, and GRATITUDE. Participants then take these values into their week at school, at home, & with peers. A culminating service project with Ohiopyle State Park instills the importance of giving back. So far, participants have cleared trails, cleared & gathered native plants for reseeding along the Youghiogheny River, & picked up trash along the Laurel Highlands Bike Trail.

 

How do you get involved? Start by getting on your mat (or one of ours!) at Love Yoga this month — 6:45pm Thursdays. This all-levels class is taught by a different Love Yoga teacher each week — we are committed to making an impact in our local community on & off the mat. Join us!

 

Other ways to get involved:

*Refer a kid — WELS accepts applications from 7th & 8th graders from all walks of life. Know a kid who could benefit from the WELS program? Email Jim Engel at thejimengel@gmail.com.

*Volunteer as an Adult Mentor — research shows that youth who have 7 adults (outside the family unit) who 1) know their name & 2) show interest in their well-being are less likely to engage in negative risky behaviors (truancy, early drug/alcohol use, sex, etc.). Imagine your impact on a kid in Fayette County. Contact Jim Engel at 509.406.0926 for more information on Adult Mentors.

*Donate — WELS is funded solely by grants, donations & volunteer time. If you know of grant opportunities or are looking for a life-changing program to invest your money in — contact Jim Engel (thejimengel@gmail.com) to make your difference for local 7th & 8th graders in Fayette County.

 

May your December be brightened by your inner light, & may you shine for the benefit of others … Cheers, E

Good Morning, Beautiful. Good Night, Gorgeous.

The quality of our sleep depends on the quality of our sleeping mind.

*Check out the workshops in the “Beyond the Pose” series here.

Good Morning, Beautiful! Recently, I facilitated a workshop on yoga practices for sleep … the small class size of amazing women was intimate & laidback. We shared our personal experiences with sleep disturbances, & discussed what modern science has discovered about the importance of sleep for rejuvenation of the brain — consolidation of memories, “global downscaling,” & emotional response reset. The techniques shared from the yoga tradition included breathing techniques, poses for the end of the day, as well as lifestyle habits/rituals. A beautiful blend of modern science & yoga philosophy & practice.

 

From years of experience dealing with stress in an unhealthy way, resulting in poor sleep & waking up in a panic almost nightly — I’ve practiced these routines & techniques for years, adding or subtracting what works for my mind/body as needed. That night, after the sleep workshop, you’d think I’d sleep like a baby — I’d just taught the same techniques & practices that I do myself on a regular basis.

 

Well, not so much. My eyes shot open at 1:56am, mind racing.

 

I was so frustrated — I thought, “Are you serious?! I have worked on this sh** for years … have been sleeping better & waking up better … I just shared what works for me less than 12 hours ago … & NOW this?!”

 

And then I laughed. Well, a little internal chuckle so as not to wake Jim (he’s an expert sleeper, by the way) … but a laugh at myself at 2am amidst a panicked mind that wasn’t going back to sleep anytime soon. I mean, c’mon … the scene was pretty comical. The quality of my sleeping mind … whew, it was a doozy!

 

So the truth is I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Yep, I teach yoga … yep, I share yoga techniques for sleep. And yet I learned some valuable lessons on my journey to go beyond my Internal Critic:

  1. I’m learning.
  2. Have a sense of humor amidst the frustration.
  3. There’s no magic formula — the progress is in consistent practice over time, as Panditji states here, from his commentary on The Yoga Sutras:

“Because we are unaware of what is happening in our inner world while we are asleep, it is imperative in our waking state that we practice techniques for sleeping in a healthy, enlightening way.” – Dr. Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Himalayan Institute

 

Are you experiencing sleep disturbances? Whether you’re new to yoga philosophy & practice or a long-time practitioner, I hope you’ll take heart from my “2 steps forward, 1 step back” experience last week. For me, I’m taking this opportunity to reflect on my current practices / routines during the day & my bedtime rituals … taking in what benefits & letting go of what doesn’t … perfect for the autumn season, actually … & continuing my practice. I’d love to hear your favorite ways to nurture your sleep — comment below! Good night, Gorgeous!

Beyond the Pose

“As I said earlier, yoga has been used, to a great extent, only for self-improvement—to make our bodies feel better, to be healthier, to feel less stress. What we’ve lost is the idea that when I think of another and extend compassion to another, I improve myself. When I help another person, we become literally inseparable. This is what tantra teaches, and it is the key to living in a more expansive way that benefits ourselves and the larger world.” – Rod Stryker, Parayoga

Have you wondered if your yoga practice is more expansive than your 24″ x 68″ yoga mat? More than a stress reliever, detox program, or booty lifter?

If so, yay! Woohoo! Thank you!

Don’t get me wrong, I love asana — posture practice. And I love that there are so many different styles of physical practice … you may not get benefit from the Hatha class I teach today, so here’s a Vinyasa class for you … or a Yin practice. Circle back to Hatha when you’re ready ;).

That said, I continue to be amazed that “yoga” is so much more. The word “hatha,” for example, joins the letters “ha” & “tha,” & represents the two controlling forces of life. Sandra Anderson of The Himalayan Institute tells us,

Yoked together in one word, these letters illustrate the practice of hatha yoga—the joining of the forces of light and darkness, the resolution of disharmony and opposition, and the transcendence of dualities of all kinds. It is this state of balance and equanimity that supports and strengthens us, and which nurtures the unfolding of a deeper level of awareness and spiritual wisdom.

Do I know what all this means yet? Nope. I continue to learn, practice, witness, STRUGGLE … on & off my mat. I hope you’ll join me.

Let’s share how we practice Hatha yoga off of our mats & in the world. What have you been up to lately? An extension of compassion that changed you? A helping of another that transformed your view or way of being? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

At Love Yoga, we’re offering “Philanthropy Thursdays” — donation classes that extend support to local organizations doing great work in our community. Last month, our extended yoga family raised $200 to support programs at Canine Partners for Life … I was SO HUMBLED that folks who couldn’t make it to a physical practice said, “Here, I’d like to donate anyway.” Yoga is beyond the pose.

This month, Nickers ‘N Neighs Therapeutic Riding Center will benefit from your practice on & off the mat. Donations of any amount make a difference! Bring a friend — widen the circle!

In addition, I’ll be offering Sunday workshops on practices (physical, breathing & cleansing) to support you in sleep, joint health, & your general daily round. Called “Beyond the Pose,” these workshops cater to those of us wanting to delve deeper into our practice & transformation. Check out Love Yoga for more information & registration.

Whether you “practice yoga” (i.e. on a mat) or not … you practice yoga (!) through your relationship to your Self, to your world & to those around you. Extend compassion, love, light — transform your Self. This is our practice.

I hope to hear how you practice in the comments below =).

Ubuntu – I am because you are.

This February I won a trip to the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, CA from the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and Propeller. Wisdom 2.0 is an amazing conference bringing together teachers & leaders in the mindfulness movement from all over the country. It was a pretty cool experience.

Honestly, the reason I entered the drawing was because one of the prizes was a signed copy of the Dalai Lama’s & Desmond Tutu’s most recent book – The Book of Joy. The book has been sitting on my shelf all summer.

I packed “The Book of Joy” for our 2-week trip through New England recently. Jim, the dogs & I borrowed my in-laws’ pop-up trailer & drove 2,400 miles exploring, hiking & eating our way through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine.

Anyway, on my short list of “top 5 people you’d like to have dinner with” are Desmond Tutu & the Dalai Lama. I’m so taken by their presence in the world — & especially their absolute JOY & sense of humor. I highly recommend “The Book of Joy.”

Desmond Tutu facilitated the Truth & Reconciliation Commission after the fall of apartheid in South Africa. He constantly refers to the concept of UBUNTU — the philosophy that “I am because you are.” Here’s Desmond Tutu: What is Ubuntu?

I’m thinking on this Ubuntu in light of the great devastation currently experienced by humans & animals of Texas & Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Harvey (we in southwest PA are only getting a smattering of rain & high winds — Harvey “after-thoughts,” if you will). My friend Emily flew from Seattle to Houston & is currently helping out at an animal shelter — Ubuntu — I am more fully human because Emily is expressing her full human potential in Houston.

I’m thinking on this Ubuntu in light of Jim & my 11th anniversary — thousands of miles of travel & experience across the U.S. together, hundreds of miles of hiking/kayaking/climbing together, with unknown miles ahead … together. Ubuntu — I am more fully human because of who we are.

And I’m thinking on this Ubuntu in light of a new fall schedule — Uniontown schools back in session, a new teaching schedule at Love Yoga Studio, & opportunities to teach yoga at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church & East End United Community Center. Ubuntu — I am more fully human as I encourage others to reach their highest human potential.

Where do you experience Ubuntu?

Here are a few ways I hope to inspire your Ubuntu practice:

  • Donation Class Thursdays at Love Yoga Studio — this month’s donations go to Canine Partners for Life. Join me & fellow Love Yoga teachers Alycia & Kristin … & a CPL puppy-in-training!
  • Lafayette School Garden Open House — Wednesday, September 6th at 6:00-7:30pm. Garden-inspired food by Ethel’s Edibles, kids’ activities & program highlights from East End United Community Center, Fayette County Power Up! Nutrition Education, Canine Partners for Life, & more. See details here: Lafayette Community Garden.
  • Join the Love Yoga Community — No gimmicks, just yoga … time-tested practices to cultivate more energy in your body, calm in your mind, & compassion in your heart. Check out September promotions here: 30 for $30 & more!
  • Share this blog post with a friend or family member — you are because they are. We are here to bring out the best in each other.

Here’s to you, dear one! Thank you for being you today!

Cheers, E