Sunday, December 30, 2012

Warm Glow

In the midst of Winter,
I finally learned that there was in me 
an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Play



Winter has set in rather quickly.  Stormy, snowy, icy and cold with a bit of a hushed silence.  It's a fine time to turn off the sound machines and try a little meditation.  A labyrinth is a wonderful vehicle for helping us to slow down and look within.  Personally I find it nearly impossible to sit in quite contemplation draining the worry thoughts away while reaching for a silent bliss.  More than likely I am making mental lists, thinking about the day, or the week or my life and trying desperately not to let that little monkey of mine have a fun free spirited tromp, giggling away, while I politely and then with less finesse ask him to get out of my head for just five minutes.    

Labyrinths help tremendously with the process of meditation elevating some of the madding aspects which make mediation so difficult.  a labyrinth walk follows a man-made, spiral pattern path (traced on the ground, as in many cathedrals, or constructed in garden) to meditate, focus, and calm the mind. Not a maze, the path follows a number of circuits to the center of a circle and back out.   

The process leaves one feeling calm, centered and refreshed.   Its a wonderful winter activity and can be enjoyed by everyone in the family regardless of age.  Labyrinths are easy to find and rarely exclusive.  They can be found both inside buildings as well as outside in gardens.  I suggest looking for one with the World Wide Labyrinth Locator.  You'll be amazed how many are out there in your area.  

Enjoy, and happy meditations!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tea Time!


Time for a cup of tea and a little relaxation..... well almost.  Saturday is my busiest day .  Clients all day, but with papers handed in and finals finished I am mentally ready to relax and move into the rest of the holiday season with some mental ease.  It's also time for a shift in our yoga practice.  Old man winter reminds us to slow down and and go deeper.  Winter is an excellent season for yin and restorative classes.  This season allows us space to go into areas which may have been neglected during the warmer weather.  Hips, shoulders, and back all need loving care and a slower deeper practice helps us heal neglected or injured areas which may have been overworked in the warmer season. 
Happy holidays and good health to all!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Contemplation


There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.    Ruth Stout

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12

Have a great one, send some love out there and let it come back and hug you a bit!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Words for a Sunday Afternoon


"I would say to young people a number of things, and I have only one minute. I would say, let them remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Let them be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power, and that we can do — every one — our share to redeem the world despite of all absurdities and all the frustration and all disappointments. And above all, remember that the meaning of life is to live life as it if were a work of art. You're not a machine. When you are young, start working on this great work of art called your own existence."
Rabbi Hieschel

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sweet Dreams

This is the situation where I would like to involve myself.  Just crawl up and fall asleep, happily and sweetly.  Unfortunately I have little freedom for an activity of my choosing.  A mountain of work, hard deadlines, and absolutely no clue how I'm going to complete all this in a timely manner, keeps me rolling out of bed each morning with a slight cringe and a propensity to continually check my watch. Things are getting done and soon it will be all finished and I'll be free to dedicate my time to research only.  This means more family time, yoga, energy and household organization.  I don't like this amount of fretful busy.  After climbing out of my horrible work experience I have sworn never again, and never again is the only acceptable answer.  That said this is a short, hot little period and will be over quickly.  Occasional crunches I can handle, but not daily or long term.  I'd much rather grab my blanky and  and cuddle up for a snoozy, followed by a snack and playtime.  Much better, much nicer, far more preferable.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Step at a Time


With the transition to a more academic life I have found the biggest struggle is grounding myself into a writing and research schedule and sticking to it.  As the weeks pass into months it has been easier to zone in on what I need to do and make realistic deadlines and stick to them.  That is until the past few weeks.  Between the holiday and the looming end of the semester deadlines I have found myself with more  work than I have time.  The next month is going to be a frenzy of writing, late nights and some finger crossing.  It's all new and each day is somewhat of a learning curve.  One step at a time.... one step at a time!  Wish my luck.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Goodness in the Kitchen



Wonderful Thanksgiving!  This year we had our own feast with many friends on Saturday.  Wonderful noon meal with lots of good food and good conversation.  As promised I am reporting back on the recipes I decided to try from old yoga journal magazines.  To begin, I once again tried a few recipes from a book called Thanksgiving, that I found a few years ago at the library and decided to purchase.  There are some great ideas in this cookbook, but none have translated (at least in my kitchen) into good eating.  Four different dishes all horrible.  I am donating the book away, perhaps someone else will have better luck with it.  As for the Yoga Journal dishes, the pumpkin pie and the cranberry relish  were the best I have ever made.   I'm sold and will be trying a lot more in the future.  I am so incredibly thankful this year for where my life is, and the direction its heading.  A good place, a good head space, and much gratitude.  
Wishing everyone well with much peace.
Jai

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meghan Currie


Full moon madness!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Morning



A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves
with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, 
are as crisp as autumn air.
  Eric Sloane

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Overflowing with Goodness




It's holiday time!  I have an array of cookbooks, magazines and printed recipes spread out on the dining room table.  I've ordered the turkey and the shopping list is nearly completed.  Tomorrow, armed with my reusable grocery bags I'll make my way to the big market where I'll insert myself in  the endless  throng of others all doing there holiday grocery shopping as well.   Every other year our little home has two Thanksgiving feasts.  One on thanksgiving, and one the following Saturday, this is because logistically we travel in different directions for the holiday.  We enjoy a good home cooked holiday feast so this is our compromise.  It tricky and consist of a lot of meal planning, shopping and cooking.  Added into the mix, I don't eat meat, so the vegetable dishes, at least for me, are the most interesting part.  I can't stand Tofurkey.  I have tried it on several occasions and I just don't like it and either does anyone in our house, so its better to have a nice selection of vegetable dishes.  I have a few new recipes I am looking forward to trying out, including a cranberry relish from December 2008 and a vegan pumpkin pie, November 2011 Yoga Journal Magazine!  I'll let you know how it taste.  So here's to holiday madness but with a celebratory tone as things are much more peaceful and grounded this year.  Many blessing, much to be thankful for this year.  

Jai, peace and love to all!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall and Foward bends

 
This Autumn I have been deliberate and careful in my energy expenditure.  Every year around this time I begin to feel worn down, fatigued and usually take to my bed with a thermometer and box of Kleenex.  As Summer faded to Autumn I began to see tell tail signs, the leaves began to fall off the trees, peoples movements became a little more harried and the sneezing and sniffling has started all around me.  My calendar has been filling up fast and I'm feeling a little tired and overwhelmed.  

I have no intention of repeating last years fiasco of a life.  I'm all about self preservation these days, but even with the best of intention, deadlines approach and projects must be completed.  Added to change of season madness is the fact I am still working on some of the things I let go for so long.  I have made vast inroads in organization and ticking things off the list, but there's still stuff lingering  while embarking on new deadlines brought on by a thesis, and at the moment boatloads of papers to write. 

I'm not entirely sure what the best game plan is for keeping sane and healthy but I am working on a plan for some type of  healthy living schedule.  In the meantime I have a few ideas what I can do now to help me out and perhaps increase energy levels a little.

Neti Pot:  I find the neti is an excellent defense against cold and flu season. 
Echinacea golden seal:I have been using echinacea since I was a graduate student.  Echinacea bolsters the immune system and pushes out whatever might be trying to invade the system.  This one is full proof if I use it over the course of several days. 
Emergen-c:  It's a vitamin mix in powder form.  This is a popular one in the winter in our house.  I like to put it in hot water and have it as tea. Others pour it into water and drink it throughout the day.  I think of it as a little energy drink to help with boost levels throughout the day. kind of healthy alternative to Red Bull.
Vitamin C : There's very little proof vitamin C helps with the common cold, but I find it useful.
Paschimottasna or forward bend: Seated forward bend  can calm the brain and help relieve stress and mild depression. Paschimottanasana is also touted for soothing headaches, reducing anxiety and lessening fatigue.  It's an excellent asana for change of season and when the weather cools down. 

Other important tips include staying hydrated, slowing down, getting to bed earlier and staying warm. 

Be well and good health!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kates Mystery Book Store and The City Life Left


My Dad loved mystery books.  Kate's was a funky, funky mystery book shop located on the first floor of an old Victorian house.  Birthdays and holidays I would rumble around looking for something unique and interesting he might enjoy.  later when his old lion eyes needed a little help, I would go to Kate's and dig through old piles of books looking for large print mysteries, which she sold to me cheaply in generous portion. Kate was good people.

Quirky and a lot of fun, she had a thousand cat chachkas placed happily around her book store.  There was probably a real cat or two padding about somewhere, but I don't remember and I definitely didn't see any real felines the last time I was there.  On my way to a seminar today I passed her old Victorian which has been sold and she herself has moved on to a new life somewhere far away from the madding crowd.  I last saw her a couple of years ago.  It was the holiday season and she looked a bit tired with a diminished life drive. I must say we were in a similar place.  My Dad was very ill and I too was tired and had zero interest in celebrating the holidays.  She and I spoke briefly, I knew she had been trying to sell her old Victorian and my gut told me this was our last visit.   She talked about not feeling present in her urban living environment. She was not going out exploring restaurants, or attending social or cultural events. As she put it she wasn't taking advantage of what the city has to offer.  She packed up her life and moved away shortly after.  I myself moved out shortly thereafter, having found myself with zero interest for all things urban.  As I drove past the sign, which has been neatly painted over and now blank, I began to think about what I knew as a city when I lived there and what city meant to me.  Partly it meant what every city means, crowded, expensive and always moving.  But then there were individual aspects that were perhaps generational.  Things whose time has come and gone but made the urban experience special and fun. Places like this little book shop, or a Wiccan store I used to find herbs and esoteric books,  the acupuncturist whose office was in a funky old arcade next to a sex shop, the guy who rewrote my resume for a fee on an old typewriter when I was a newly minted undergraduate, the big all Latino grocery market, the lady who rented a room to one of my graduate students who supported herself teaching tap dance classes.  All special, all gone.  I don't need to list them all, but just as an example, the Latino grocery market is a whole foods store now.  I think that about says it all in a nut shell and perhaps explains in part why I have moved on. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Snowy Day


It's a snowy day this morning.  Time to pack up summer clothes, beach blankets and flip flops and take out the Winter coat, hat, mittens and scarfs.  Although its going to warm up later this week we're on a trajectory toward Winter so I suppose it's time to embrace it.  Time for hot herbal tea in the afternoon, sun salutations, inversions and grounding poses, and longer meditation.  New season, new discoveries to be made.

 Jai bhagwan and be well.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vote!


It's time to vote!  Every vote counts, Every vote matters!  Tuesday November 6th is election day, a fine time to get out and meet your neighbors.  Head on down to your local voting pole and make your opinion official! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Desert



This big guy resides in the back of my sisters house.  So peaceful and such beauty.  I found myself staring at a lot of cactus, just peacefully drifting off in quiet meditation.  This was a sad yet very healing visit.  My siblings and I gathered together to say goodbye to my oldest sister.  It was a journey back in memory and a healing for the soul.  It felt good to be with my siblings, anchoring.

The dessert is a quiet place and the mind and body slow down a bit, long enough to take a look around and wonder why life moves at such a fast pace back East.  I first began to notice how harried and sickeningly fast life moves after I finished my first yoga teacher training.  I no longer wanted to be involved in city living and slowly began to extract myself from an urban lifestyle.   This has been process and at times quite difficult.  Obligation and necessity have not allowed my to fully remove myself from city life, but slowly I have managed to bring my involvement down to a minimum.  I do not live in the city and I do not work in the city full time.  I rarely go in for arts and entertainment or shopping and most of the people I know no longer live in a city, so I have little reason to travel in other than work.  The lure of life calls me elsewhere. 

Spending time in the dessert was very healing and a few things came up during my visit.  Earlier this year I ran across a colleague at work.  She looked, felt and radiated health.  She had been out West on a soul journey of sorts and made many discovery's.  One was cactus juice, she was sold on its health benefits.  This stayed with me and I decided to look for some while in the dessert.  Not so easy to find.  If anyone has used cactus juice I would love to hear your story and even where you found it.  Other holistic discoveries unfolded during this visit, caster oil packs, Mayan abdominal massage and ways of looking at my body from a health perspective I had never considered. 

It was a healing visit.   I experienced a view and appreciation of the dessert I have never had before.

Jai and shine on brothers and sisters, shine on.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Change


The leaves are changing and falling off the trees. Its a beautiful time of year in the Northeast to stop and take in the magnificence and splendor.  I am also reflecting on the major changes that have taken place in my personal life.  Having finally made the initial leap and re calibrated the direction I am going, the realization of how important and necessary this change has been is settling in.  These days I am filled with gratitude and hope, but not so long ago I was depleted and in a constant state of stress and exhaustion.  My health had slipped from a place of vitality to a bundle of ailments with anxiety always hovering under the surface.  I had no time to address or problem solve any issues in my daily life, no matter the size, and this continually culminated into emergency situations which could have easily been averted.   People can be very nasty, and I was surrounded by toxic attitudes, which darkened by soul and left little room for joy. 

The summer allowed me some time to rest and heal.  I was so exhausted, there was little drive for much else other than just getting a baseline of energy back.  I really had no idea how much I had beaten up my body, mind and spirit until it all finally all collapsed.  The journey back is a slow one, and it's going to take a full year to recover.  My days are now far more meaningful and slowly the grip of stress and anxiety is loosening, and with it my alignments are receding.  

This change took a good year of planning with a lot of dead end roads and hopes dashed along the way.  I have a few suggestions if you are in a situation that needs change, but seems overwhelming:
  • Consider not only what you are leaving but what meaningful piece you are planning to add.
  • Work out your finances and take some time to see someone with financial acumen about your options.  You don't have to go to a financial adviser, but if you can, it's recommended. 
  • Understand you will be living with a lot less money and will have to make changes in your lifestyle.  Once you have figured out the smallest amount you can live on, cut everything else out and see how it feels.  This was hard in the beginning, but as time has gone by I have cut out more and more.  There was a lot of waste and unnecessary spending I wasn't aware of.
  • If possible put a small stash of money away for emergency only.  I have already had two major unexpected expenses since my financial lifestyle changed.
  • If married or in a significant relationship start talking about these lifestyle changes with your partner.  The changes will affect everyone in your household, more so than you or anyone else will realize till it happens.  Talking about it not only brings awareness, but makes the initial shock understandable and less stressful.
  • Once you've set a course and have something in place, things will fall apart a little and have to be re-worked.  It all part of the process, frustrating, but not the end of the world.  Something else will present itself which is better, just have faith and keep working the problem, you will find a solution.
  • Slow down!  Make stable decisions that serve you.  A certain amount of panic occurs when you have been living with an income you have become accustomed to and it is no longer there.  Temptation for the money is always a lure.  Don't!  You'll be back in a similar situation you just worked so hard to leave behind.  
  • Network, network, network.  Every contract I have been able to secure since making this lifestyle change came from my networking circle, not from a job board.  
  • Give yourself time.  Once on the course of change things will evolve but rarely at the speed of light.  Decide on what you consider an acceptable amount of time you will need.  My change is significant, I have given myself four years. 
Be well, follow your heart and serve your highest good.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cleaning the house does not make it better!


I've spent this month getting organized.  I now have a really great cleaning routine and my home is looking better than ever.  Clutter has been cleaned and unwanted items thrown away.  I've managed to work through my home and really organize and problem solve some areas that have needed to be addressed since we moved in two years ago.  That should be fabulous, and in another reality I would be feeling really great about the state of my personal environment, but as my home gets cleaner and more organized, clutter free and feng shui perfect, my overwhelming sense of guilt or conscience-stricken state by my delinquent behavior does not bode well for the clean state of my home.  

I've got a classic problem.  I'm not working on my thesis, I have writers block and I'm procrastinating.  At this rate there just wont anything left to organize or clean while my research sits in piles on the dining room table begging for attention.  Initially I thought I would be able to do my writing at home.  I realize 30 days in what a fantasy this is.  In the past few weeks I have dedicated more time to research, but have completed a fraction of what I initially thought I would be able to accomplish.  When my best friend was writing her dissertation she reached a point she knew she would need a new game plan, this occurred while she was standing in her bathroom de grouting the shower tiles.  

It's time to get out of the house and find a library!  Easier said than done.  There are a few mental and logistical stumbling blocks which need to be overcome.  I will need two library's, one local and my school library.  The university library is the best in terms of resources, but it's a pain in the ass to get to, driving or by public transportation. I've decided Sunday will be my university library day.  Finding a local library is a bit trickier.   I checked out a few and they just wont work for me.  I have one more option, I just have to go check it out.  Again, procrastination is rearing its ugly head.  This as it turns out is an issue for many of my classmates as well.  It turns out everyone is in the same boat having come to the realization home is not the utopia we all thought it would be for this project.  It made me think about how many local libraries scattered in little towns across the country have been the go to place for countless students needing a productive environment to just sit down and get it done!  

So here's to my classmates and all the other graduate students across the country feeling the guilt of September slip by, don't beat yourself up, just get out of the house!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Global Mala



Each year in September a wonderful tradition takes place.  "The Global Yoga Mala peace project was dreamed up by world-renowned yogi Shiva Rea in 2009 as a way for the international yoga community to mark the United Nations International Day of Peace. Each September around the time of the Spring / Autumn equinox, yogis around the world celebrate and promote world peace with108 sun salutations." 

Since its inception it has evolved into a day of reflection and offering with many variations on the sun salutation theme.  Yoga practitioners come together to practice in groups, solo, 108 sun salutations or 108 minutes of yoga.  Many groups donate money to local organizations others recognize a day of peace or give a personal offering to someone in need.  Today I offer my practice to my oldest sister who transitioned from this life Friday night.  Peace to you my sister and all others.

Jai

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shana Tova

 
  
 Here's to a happy, sweet new year. Blessing one and all!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Autumn on my mind

 

Living Buddha
Again and again ~ 
Return like mountain ~ 
Release like ocean ~ 
Relax like sky ~ 
And rest ~ 
Rest in the heart of pure awareness.

Unknown

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Last Days of Summer




If it could only be like this always - 
always summer, always alone, 
fruit always ripe... 
Evelyn Waugh



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review

This is the second in a series of nine books called the Ringing Cedars of Russia.  I read the first book and am half way through the second.  This is a series of books by Vladimer Megre about his encounter with a woman he met in the Tiaga Forest, a remote area of Siberia.  Through the course of several brief stays he had two children with her and she in return, "revealed her philosophy on Man's relationship to Nature, the Universe and God, as well as lifestyle, education, nutrition, spirituality, love, family, sexual relations and other plants." 

This series of books have had a stunning effect, selling millions and widely popular in Russia and gaining popularity in the rest of the world.  There are currently over 200 natural settlements - a back to the land movement of simple living - in Russia, as well as others communities that have sprouted up worldwide.  These settlements use her advise on how humans relate to the living world and how we should live and conduct ourselves.  A huge gardening advocate, she has very definite views on how one should plant a garden for maximum health benefits.  She calls the modern world a technocratic system, and found it highly destructive and counterproductive to a healthy lifestyle.  

I have absolutely no idea if these books are fact or fiction, or a combination.  I have no idea if this woman (Anastasia) is a projective fantasy, an actual person, or inspired from a combination of fact and rich imagination.  Sound advise for natural living is intermingled with the preposterous.  Sharing her living quarters ( a cave) with a bear, while spending most of her time with few if any clothes in the Siberian Forest doesn't seem altogether realistic or plausible.  From what I can gather no one has ever met Anastassia and she herself stated in the first book, " I exist for those who believe me."

The books were written in the 90's and whether fact or fiction, the advice she gives on living a healthy lifestyle harmoniously in the natural world is a timeless important message which we can all gain something from.  

If you've read any of the books or the series I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Say Yes!

Yes! You CAN fly!

When I did the Yoga for Kids Teacher Training this past Spring our instructor Amanda said to always say yes to children.  No matter how ridiculous the request say Yes! You can make the request happen without compromising safety and meeting your objectives.  I thought about this and it sounded like solid good advice, so I started using it. Yes! Yes! Yes!  I found inventive ways to satisfy the yes and what I needed the child to try, complete or finish.  Recently I found a note on my car written in marker, exclaiming, Enjoy Life!  With a drawing of the planet earth.  Delighted I took this as another sign from the universe to continue saying yes in my life. Finally, in my yoga class the other day the teacher burst out, " say yes!"   This stopped me in my tracks.  I am a firm believer the universe gives us messages, we just have to listen and try to follow through.  So I am saying yes, yes to a glorious happy life.  Yes!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

From the Depth of the Sea



Feeling much gratitude
Gorgeous beach day..........
Enjoy and feel the love

Friday, August 24, 2012

Don't follow the Herd!

 Free Class in Central Park, NYC aka Sardine Class


The article,  What I learned from giving up, by Anne Kreamer discusses the authors disenchantment and eventual abandonment of a yoga practice. 

Yoga has entered the fitness industry in America and with some of these classes I am reminded of aerobic classes in the 80's. There are some really physically challenging classes out there, which will confound just about any yoga practitioner and should be practiced by a select few, and then there are also some really moronic classes that are making money off of the masses by pin pricking the ego.  These are not really yoga classes, the teacher will move on to a new fad when yoga becomes unprofitable and the students will pack up their sexy yoga gear and herd off as well.  For the love of all things sane, just bypass this bullshit, get what you want out of your life, be happy, and go take a Zumba class!  

Yoga improves mental and physical health while working out karma and evolving the soul.  Yoga, real yoga, is rubbish when your aiming to drop three dress sizes and get back that A list body.  Unfortunately there is a great deal of money to be made, so there are a lot of yoga offerings which are  sub par on a good day.  It appears Kreamer had one too many classes which were meant to " give a really good work out."  The result; dissatisfaction, disappointment and injury. 

There was a power studio in my area which gave an excellent restorative class once a week.  It was the least popular class in a highly populated studio.  My friend giggled upon finding I took the class,  and told me it was for old ladies.  After the teacher relocated to become a yoga therapist, I dropped the studio completely.  That old lady class changed my perspective entirely.  I still use a great deal of what she did in my own teaching. 

I take really GOOD yoga classes from teachers with an incredibly high level of expertise.  Finding good teachers and a solid practice is an ongoing project. Some folks can't be so picky, they live in an area with very little on offer.  This is a good time to start diving into DVD's, books, pod casts, and a field trip or two a couple of towns over, or a weekend away to an ashram or health and wellness center ( Kripalu, Omega etc...) .  You would be surprised how many are out there nestled in the woods someplace.  I wish this writer had explored a bit more, I think she knew and had experienced real yoga and with time would have found something more suited to her taste and style.  

Its OK to keep looking till you find the right fit.  I don't do power or other popular styles, and you will never find me taking a free class in Central Park. I did walk out of a class once,  but for the most part I try to be respectful and stay, even when I know I'll never be back.  That said I won't participate in what I find ridiculous and unsafe for my body.  Yeah that's me in the back, modifying all your poses.  You don't like it, no worries we won't be running into each other anytime soon.  If your not getting what you need. keep looking till you find what works for you.  If its not yoga, don't try to make it yoga go for what you really want.  If it is yoga, follow your heart and listen to your body, only you know which practice is going to benefit you and nourish your soul.

Be well and make smart personal choices.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Walk in The Woods

Keep close to Nature's heart, yourself; 
and break clear away, once in a while, 
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. 
Wash your spirit clean ...
 John Muir 
 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Auditory Stimulation


I stumbled upon this podcast while looking to download something else in i tunes.  The Happy Guru podcast is a good soul vibration about everything from how to peel an egg to Eco freindly suggestions to decrease your carbon footprint.  I listened to one, then two, then all 38 podcasts available.  I searched for more but the makers of this feel good production, Simon and Duncan, appeared to stop producing them a couple of years ago, which is too bad because they really are a few minutes of feel good vibration.  They also have a blog, an online store, and a brick and mortar store in Sydney Australia.  All 38 are available on i tunes for free.  There fun and they'll make you smile.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fresh Air

 Good memories here!

These shoes are chock full of wonderful memories, particular those old ratty ones in the front. The half boot and the funky shoes I got in Paris many, many years ago.   The big rain-boots I got at Dunn's in Dublin and stomped around grassy fields in Ireland before landing back in the states.  I love these shoes dearly and have worn them literally to pieces.  As I turn the page on a new chapter and clear the way for things yet to come I have been sweeping through every room in the house with a two large bags, one for garbage and one for give away. 

I haven't worn the half boots or funky ones in longer than I'm willing to admit.  It's time to salute and say goodbye.  I've loved each of these shoes dearly, but now they are no longer usable and sadly they can only be classified as clutter.  Clutter is disruptive to the growth process and prevents us from moving forward. Clutter is loud, visual and and emotional, it disrupts our ability to fully engage in life. There is a belief that the state of our home is a clue to how our chakras are running.  The rooms in our home each represent different chalkras.  If you have a room or section of your home that needs attention, its an indicator that the chalkra that corresponds to that room or section is blocked. 

Rooms and living spaces that typically represent the major chakras are:
  • Crown Chakra: Attic, Roof, Rain Gutters;  Feeling disconnected, misunderstood, anxious,
  • Brow Chakra: Den, Home Office, Windows: Difficulty making decisions, following your inner feelings, tapping into creativity.
  • Throat Chakra: Living Room, Family Room:  Difficulty communicating effectively.
  • Heart Chakra: Kitchen, Dining Areas:  Irritation, guilt, hatred, self,pity.
  • Solar Plexus Chakra: Bathrooms, Personal Spaces: Difficulty completing routine tasks, lack of will power, energy.
  • Sacral Chakra: Master Bedroom:  Difficulty with  emotions, sex, manifestation, trusting the universe, and feeling enough.
  • Root Chakra: Basement, Crawl Space: Tired, cautious, afraid of change.
  • Aura: Porches, Decks, Landscaping, Garages:  clean this area for a lighter happier aura.
Getting rid of unwanted, unused or unusable items is very liberating.  There are always items that are particularity difficulty to part with even if there use as long since passed. (ie:  baby and toddler toys and clothes.) but in doing so we create space, new energy and breathing room.  So here's to breathing new life into the day!

Be well and prosper in simplicity.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Happiness


Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

 Henry James 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Swinging to the Groove


I've had the same playlist for my yoga classes for a while now. I've needed to change up the music for a while.  It's good to have a variety if you play music in your classes but its also a little tricky because it needs to jive with the sequence of the class. All the classes I teach are gentle so the music needs to align with the feeling of the class while managing to motivate but relax at the same time. So here it is, some I kept, some new.   Do you have a sequence that's hard to part with?  Any staple music in your class you always like to play?

Bhajelo-Ji Hanuman- Krishna Das -  Krishna Das: Greatest Hits Of The Kali Yuga 
Madrid To Barcelona -Wayne Cobham    Surfing Medicine: Volume II    
Banks of the Avonmore- Steve Gordon    The Celtic Lounge   
Teardrop- Massive Attack    Mezzanine    
Inaudible Melodies- Jack Johnson    Brushfire Fairytales    
Over The Rainbow- Israel Kamakawiwo'ole    Facing Future           
Diamond In Your Mind- Tom Waits & Kronos Quartet   Healing the Divide

The Guy That Says Goodbye to You Is Out of His Mind- Griffin House  Flying Upside Down  
Be the Change -MC Yogi   Jamtse - Love & Compassion          
Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Mavis Staples    Have a Little Faith   
Love Is My Religion (Acoustic)- Ziggy Marley    Love Is My Religion   
With My Own Two Hands-Ben Harper    Diamonds On the Inside  
La Femme Chocolat- Olivia Ruiz    La Femme Chocolat    
Shalom Salaam - Ziggy Marley    Dragonfly    
Poem Without Words-Shammi Pithia    Cinema for the Ears     

As a side note I got poem without words off of I tunes which warns of explicit lyrics.  For the life of me I cant figure out why they labeled it explicit.  Gentle music and a nice way to end a class, go figure.......
  

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kiss the Sun

This summer I have been out and about reacquainting myself with my relationship to nature, my practice and rediscovering a sense of well being.  Practicing outside is always extremely gratifying and I have felt the strong healing effects from having my practice outside in the sunshine.  With each sun salutations I feel stronger and with each chest opener I feel my heart and head heal a little more each day.  Sleeping through the night, feeling energized and stronger have been but a few of the cherished benefits.  I decided to add a little extra, and have been going to the gym regularly.  I'm not a gym person by any stretch of the imagination, but I am finding its helping me build strength which I really need to help me rebuild and regain health.  Having spent the last year sitting for fourteen hours a day, then going to bed, getting up and doing it again every day for nearly a year straight  left me in a health crisis.  By the end of June I had barely enough energy to get through half the day, needed coffee not to fall asleep on the way home, and began noticing my hips, knees and feet were so stiff from non use I was limping.  This complied with a mirror of other sudden health complaints left me wondering and worried that I had put off this lifestyle change a little too long.  It going to take a long while, but I do feel the reemergence of a body, mind connection and some peace and well being starting to take root.  

Never again will I allow this to happen.  I am in control of my own person and actions.  I will not allow a person, a paycheck, or any amount of bullying or intimidation to interfere with my health, my well being or my life drive!

Wishing everyone a strong and wonderful day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Meditation

                                                               The farm 
Lately I have been doing a lot of things I love.  Morning yoga on the beach, taking time to enjoy life with my loved ones and feel the goodness in everything around me.  As I unwind and heal my soul, spirit, and body from this previous year I am so thankful to be given this opportunity, so grateful I had the brains to make the decision I did, and forgive also myself for not taking it sooner.   It is a bit unnerving to see the damage done and know the amount of time it will take to repair mentally as well as physically.  I'm quite focused on moving forward and dumping out the toxic events that surrounded my day to day existence for the past ten months.  This is much easier said than done.  Each day I as I sit in yoga It know I will need to do much much more. I am going to need to start a personal daily meditation.   This is going to take some work.  Whenever I did a little mediation this past year either at home or int he studio I would instantly fall asleep.  Too much stress. I also have the problem of monkey mind, which is no fun at all.  I jump, jump, jump from subject to subject in my head.  Year, some thought is needed as to how I'm going to accomplish this.  It seems so easy, sit back relax and think of noting.  Seems so easy but SO difficult!  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Do your practice and all is coming



Inspiration for a Daily Practice 

 Happy sunny summer day all!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yoga on the Beach


Throwing my yoga mat and suitcase with wild abandon into the trunk of the car I eagerly traveled to the seashore for some well needed healing and rejuvenation.  For several summers part of my summertime yoga consists of spending time with Don and Nancy, two fantastic teachers who through their teachings always provide me with whats needed to feel whole again.  This year all their classes are directly on the beach.  Classes on the beach previously have been on a deck overlooking the beach (which is quite nice as well) but this year we are directly on the beach.  It took a little maneuvering to figure out how to keep sand off my mat,  even out the surface a bit, and place myself  comfortably, but now with the logistics out of the way I am totally sold.  I love using the sand as a prop, meditating while gazing at the ocean, and the luxurious sensory experience of the feel of the sand, ocean wind, the blue sky's, and the peace and serenity it brings.  Each day I feel a little stronger and a bit more whole while simultaneously acknowledging how far I have slipped from vitality and life force.  As always the ocean's incredible life force rejuvenates me inwardly and brings out such joy. 

Hari Om and shine on everyone!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

small drops

Incrementally, one drop at a time, I am unwinding.  This is a process, but it certainly helps to be feeling the first indicators of well being.  Getting on the mat continues a discovery and an ego buster but it also feels really good and with each breath and asana I feel by body coming back to life and my mind slowing down.  Summer is in full bloom and the world seems like a better place these days.  I'm heading off to the waters edge for a while with stacks of books, thesis, and journal articles.  Time to meditate and let the toxic debris of this past year dissipate and fall away.
Happy Sunday everyone!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4rth!


                                                   This Land is Your Land
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Steam waters
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
Woody Guthrie

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summertime


A Lazy Summer's Day Listen… 

There’s no sound of anger or of annoyance, 
There’re neither cars racing on the highway 
Nor that highway for them to race on, 
There’re neither kids chanting on the playground 
Nor bells calling us to Christianity. There’s neither the cracking of the sky 
Nor the persistent rain pattering on my roof. 
There’s no couple arm in arm to admire the magnificent view 
There’re no drums to feed our ears 
Nor sirens to steal the boredom away 
There’s no unfamiliar wing creeping underneath the November afternoon 
Nor floods to enshroud the thirsty grounds 
The land lies lonely out here 
On this lazy summer’s day 
There’s no pollution to poison the airs 
Nor forests to give them life 
All I hear is the hushing sound of the wind 
Assisting the sand to fall into beautiful undulations 
Stella Sisanda Qishi

Saturday, June 30, 2012

More Hip Action



When I'm in class these days my body craves hip openers.  When inactive or under emotional stress the hips become tight, blocked and overflow with emotional toxins. San Fransisco yoga teacher Stephanie Synder has an excellent explanation for the hip-emotion connection;  "We hold stress and negative emotions- such as fear, guilt and sadness- in our pelvis..... For this reason alone.... its particularly important to do poses that move prana ( life force) through the area.  You know your junk drawer at home?  The pelvis is like the body's junk drawer.  Whenever you don't know what to do with a feeling or experience you put it there."  

For a period of time I had a weekly Forrest yoga practice with an absolutely magnificent teacher.  Over the course of a little less than a year my hips released powerfully and stayed open and happy until last year when my father became ill.  I can see it's time again to wander into the Forrest.  Unfortunately that wonderful Forrest yoga instructor moved away and on to other adventures.  Its good for him, but too bad and really sad for those of use who took his class.  Forrest is intense, difficult, and the practitioner experiences a lot of physical sensation that's not easy to sit with.  Literally we would all at some point in the class be moaning.  He made the experience very OK for numerous reasons.  Nobody ever left feeling bad and we all returned week after week for more.  One of the reasons I stopped going was that when he left the studio there were no other teachers to replace him.  For some reason there are hardly any Forrest instructors in this area.  I have found one class  not too far from my home.  I'll venture out and see how it goes, I shouldn't count my chickens before the eggs hatch, but I have high hopes.  In the meanwhile here's is a nice little hip opener sequence from the magnificent Brenda P. Iyengar  yoga teacher, Grounding Through The Sits Bones.
  
Hip Opening Sequence
1. Sukasana (Easy Pose) Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position with the sitbones on a folded blanket. Increase the height of the blanket if you can’t sit without rounding the lower back. Take a few minutes to really concentrated on balancing the pelvis and lengthening the spine.
2. Dandasana (Staff Pose) While keeping the spine long and the pelvis balanced, stretch your feet in front of you and press the soles of the feet away so that the leg muscles engage.
3. Paschimottanasana (Forward Bend) Wrap your belt around the balls of the feet and begin to pull yourself forward, leading with the belly button. You are now tipping the pelvis forward to lengthen the back of the legs. Don’t round your lower back!
4. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) Come to standing and realign the spine and pelvis.
5. Gomukhasana (Cow’s Head Pose) Stretch the arms into the Cow’s head position, while maintaining the neutral curve in the lower back. Do the stretch on both sides.
6. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2) Concentrate on keeping the hips squared so that the belly button faces the same direction at the breastbone. Roll the thighs out so that the knees are aligned with the tops of the feet. This pose is a powerful hip opener, because your muscles are working very hard to keep the hips squared and support the weight of the torso at the same time. Try to hold the pose for 6-7 breaths.
7. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-angle forward bend) Step the feet apart another foot or so from your Warrior stance. Check to see that the edges of the feet are parallel and the feet are grounded evenly between the inner and outer edge. Don’t let the ankle collapse. Keeping the spine long, fold forward from the hip crease and rest your hands on your block or the floor beneath your shoulders and breath into the length of the spine and the work of the ankles. Then release the back and walk your hands towards the feet, letting the head hang toward the floor. At your deepest bend, check that the ankles are still engaged and, if you want, tip your tailbone towards the ceiling to lengthen the back of the legs. This pose involves the same kind of work as Warrior. After a few breaths, re-engage the spine and then come back to standing.
8. Tadasana (Mountain) Let your body realign and check the curve of the lower back.
9. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) Try this pose seated against the wall or, for greater relaxation, lie on the floor (See June 12 for more details).
10. Savasana (Corpse Pose) Release the belt and stretch out the legs. Take a moment to really align the spine before relaxing into the support of the floor. 
©Brenda K. Plakans. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Benefits Big and Small


I've just started my lit review.  Right now I'm reading other dissertations with similar subject matter to my research.  I'm definitely a geek when it comes to this area.  I really enjoy the reads.  Right now I'm reading someone work on yoga as a healing method with drug and alcohol addiction.  In the research there are some fairly extensive interviews with yoga practitioners who found healing and recovery through yogic discipline,  What strikes me is the similar cord in each of these personal experiences.  I call it the peeling of the onion.  With each layer the practitioner discovered new aspects and feelings states.  Each discovery brought a new level of insight and healing.  Slowly, in small steps, the practice grew off the mat and into the every day world.  

I think this is a universal theme for all who study and practice yoga.  It starts off as a nice thing to do that feels good and grows into a healing practice which expands into all daily life.  Stressful events that happen off the mat may not become easier but somehow more manageable.  Recognizing stressful events and breathing through the experience, sitting with your feelings even if they are uncomfortable, allowing others to own their own distress and resisting the urge to join in confrontations are all incredible benefits of a long term practice.  You don't have to be in recovery or have had a stressful trauma to benefit from a yoga practice, being human on this planet is the only criteria needed. 

Blessings to everyone and happy Friday!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Transitions


I think there's a little bit of fantasy, myth and wishful projection about the transition period between hot mess and getting your shit together.  As I have placed my personal life on a shelf for the better part of two years and am in the initial stages of reclaiming the self I can honestly say this is a period of chaos, peppered with confusion and a dash of freaked out.  When you let thing go as long as I have it becomes abundantly clear from the start there is a tremendous amount of work to do in all areas, body, mind, spirit and environment.  I get into class and it's truly work, every part of my body is raging mad, screaming, "how could you do this!"  I'm finding I'm truly exhausted during everyday activity and a little freaked out at the amount of neglect I have given to all aspects of my life but my job.  This is a process.  I did not get to this place overnight and it will not resolve itself magically.  Right now each day is a discovery in how lost I became and the importance of slowly and methodically reclaiming the self and building a solid foundation so I never make the mistake of returning to that ugly place.  I have many things to address and a tremulousness amount of feelings to work through.   uuh.. this is hard stuff. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

One Step at a Time



I've now officially moved into the next chapter on my journey. This feels a little like the beginning of a new season.  In the north the beginning is never what the weather will actually be for the entire season.  Autumn starts out warm but becomes progressively colder.  Spring starts out quite cool but will feel warmer for most of the season.  I'm entering this chapter exhausted and achy.  Everything feels tight, right down to the heels of the feet.  My life is as disorganized as my body is a shambles.  Putting everything on hold has left a big pile of clean up.  My first actions are to clean and organize my surroundings.  Start with the most pressing items and work my way through the clutter.  Paperwork, car repairs, laundry, you name it, it needs to be taken care of.  I think that's the theme for this summer, taking care of my life, all aspects.   I see this as the beginning, a place to start, a solid foundation.  This is a start, one step at a time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flowers



My friends mother used to say, "be a flower."  It was a sweet things to say.  She endured many hard times and had her own mental techniques for keeping her head up and carrying on.   As I close the chapter this week I find myself drained and in need of infusion.  In a couple of days I'm off to the mountains for little camping trip.  This is the first step in healing my soul and tattered spirit.  It's all baby steps for a while. This is a process and it will take time.  So for now I'm going to stop and smell the flowers and deeply appreciate the I am able to move on to the next phase in my life's journey.
wishing everyone peace and tranquility.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's better together!


                                               Triple downward dog for the adventurous! 

Rainbow Kids Yoga teacher training in Montreal was fantastic!   Our teacher Amanda Mcfadyen was truly a wonderful inspiration.  We left armed to the teeth with a large bag of games, ideas, and joyful, playful ways to teach children yoga.  The experience left us all with an open heart and a reconnection to why childhood can be such a fantastic experience.  I would also like to give a shout out to Equilibrium Yoga Studio in Montreal for hosting the event. Equilibrium is beautiful, warm, welcoming community, dedicated to bringing yoga and healing to everyone.  

Teaching children is tricky, as I discovered myself they will soon become bored and restless with a traditional approach.  This course taught me how to present the class through a series of games.   I wrote my first lesson plan on the flight home and tried it out immediately.   I hit a home run with the 7-9 year old crowd.  They loved it!  I also tried the class on a small group of highly distracted very young preschool children without much success.  Luckily the groups I will be teaching are in the 7-9 year old range.  Children need yoga too, the key is in the presentation.  Thank you Gopala Amir Yaffe  (founder) and Amanda Mcfadyen for this opportunity! 

If your interested in a training  I recommend looking on the Rainbow Kids site.   Trainings are available across the globe ( literally!).

Peace, love and rock and roll!
Shine on!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vacation Day

Beach Sand 
Maybe it is the memories 
the change of pace that brings us there 
the sense of vacation 
maybe the smell of the place 
the sights of the gulls, the dunes, the grasses 
but oh it is the feel of it,
 the crunch and slide of it 
the feeling of beach sand 
so different from dirt, soil, loam 
no, not earthy, moist, rich, 
but oh so granular and gritty 
even when wet, 
moveable paper spreading under toes 
sliding beneath the soles 
smoothing my skin 
clearing my mind 
unburdening me of the rest 
drawing me to the tactile, 
the feel of beach sand 
Raymond A. Foss

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Counting the Days

One more month to go before completion. 
My only advice to others in a similar state, 
if you want to survive this intact, be the turtle. 

Jai and peace everyone!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Morning


A Buddhist Prayer Before Practicing
By the power and truth of this practice:
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness
May all beings be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrow less
And may all live in equanimity with out too much attachment and too much aversion
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Saturday, May 12, 2012

First Steps

A new journey begins.  Its been a long year and the decisions have not come easy. How will I do this?  What do I need?  What do I need to figure out to make this happen?  Its been a collection of difficult choices with equally difficult people blocking my every turn.  The next few years will be life chnging to say the least.  This is a stepping off point and I'm not always entirely sure where it will lead, but its time to follow my own path.  Part of the discovery has been the unpleasant realization that when you choose to serve your personal highest good some will feel threatened and become quite nasty.  The rubbish I have heard this year could fill a sanitation dump. 

Its my time to start my research, finish my clinicals and untimely my doctorate.  Its also time be more present in my personal life, a place of powerful love and joy that has been denied to me repeatedly this year through countless selfish acts by others who lack regard or respect anyone who isnt serving their agenda.  

It also time to step back on the mat.  I foresee many achy classes and some ego busting moments but I also carefully carved out space for regular practice which I will be able to partake in the next couple of years at least.  I leave for a short training in Montreal at the end of the month.  Its the beginning, a good beginning.  

Blessing and peace to everyone on this lovely spring day!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fight for your right



Always much love and blessings to you MCA.  Much respect, much much respect.  Be well in your travels, you are dearly missed.
Shalom my friend.    

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rainy Day


It's Friday at last!  As usual its a been a non stop week of mayhem and fun..... yeah right.  I'm trudging through my rainy days, getting my work done and deliberately making space for things like a practice, time at home and reaching toward bigger dreams.  Dream big, live well!  Happy Friday everyone