Thursday, March 31, 2011

What I'm Reading Now: Yoga Journal - Emotions in Motion

Hooooo Boy, we are living in some very stress-full times these past few... months? Years? Not just me, not just the US but the world as a whole. There is a media storm coming at us every day and we are inundated with information 24/7. At times it feels as though it is all so darned OVERWHELMING.

So is it any wonder then that this sometimes comes out in our yoga practice? When we are coming into still-ness... settling into being in the present moment? I have to admit that when it first happened to me, quite a few years ago, I was stunned. All of a sudden, in Savasana I started crying. Not sure what the "straw that broke the camel's back" actually was: maybe the music, maybe the pratice itself, maybe something my wonderful teacher said... but the waterworks started. And flowed. And flowed. After class I dabbed my eyes and raced out.

And I was confused... previously I had only experienced the expansiveness in my practice: the heart opening, the bursting of energy & happiness, the lightness of being. So this was new. And uncomfortable. And made me want to flee.

But I didn't; I stayed with it. I am happy that I did. Shortly after that, my teacher (I SWORE she was a mind-reader, still think she is) talked about emotions in class... How they can seem to come at you suddenly and powerfully. But as we gain confidence in our practice, in ourselves, we learn to sit with it and to know that there is a reason for everything. Our bodies are our reality check, they tell us whether - we like it or not - when something is wrong. Or right.

SO click on the Yoga Journal link below and read what came into my e-mailbox this week: Yoga Journal - Yoga Asana Columns - Emotions in Motion

Namaste, honour your emotions this week,

and always.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What I'm Reading Now... LOTS!

Some days are just more fruitful than others. Some days we give and receive just what is needed and other days... welllllll. You know. I don't always get the chance to read the many blogs that I subscribe to and they can pile up. But this morning I kept looking through and there were just so many that grabbed my attention.

(photo courtesy of

The one from Yoga Journal's Yoga Buzz blog especially. This wonderful Buddhist loving kindness prayer is quoted and I plan on making it a part of my ritual:

May you be safe and protected from harm. May you be happy with peace in your heart. May you be healthy, able, and strong. May you go easy through sunshine or storm. The one by Elena Brower in Mindful Smack also stood out... Make it your task to SEE THE GOOD!

The one from Yoga Journal is about changing your world or at least your experience of it by changing the words that you speak... and perhaps the ones that you don't.

And finally the one from NYTimes made me realize that old(er) age brings with it it's unique set of problems but sometimes some of the same problems that can plague us at any age: eating disorders. Our society focuses so much on being thin that we sometimes lose sight of the perfection of the imperfection of our bodies.

So pour yourself a cuppa, grab a comfy seat and read on:

Namaste my cyber yogi-friends and Happy Reading. Let it percolate and maybe let me know what you think...;)

Friday, March 18, 2011

What I'm Reading Now: Devil Wears Prana - Owen Grady: Pure Yoga Tune-Up

I was on this blog today, reading another entry entirely when I saw this posting. The work TUNE-UP grabbed my attention immediately.

Why wouldn't our yoga practice need a tune-up every now and then? Think about it: our cars get tuneups, our furnaces get tune-ups... you get the idea. We soldier on, month after month, sometimes year after year practicing... maybe in a way that is injurious to our bodies. Even as teachers we tune in to our class so much that at times we tune OUT of our own bodies. Until something starts to hurt. Hmmm. Where's the Ahimsa in THAT? Click the link below to read the full posting and let me know what YOU think....

(photo courtesy Devil Wears Prana)

Devil Wears Prana: Owen Grady: Pure Yoga Tune-Up: "Owen Grady teaches Yoga-Tune Up..."

I also read the blog that was referenced in the Devil Wears Prana posting anad wanted to link to it here... It was a very illuminating posting for me. I love that word. ILLUMINATING. So please do click on the link and read for yourself:

James MacAdam - Confessions of a Type-A Yogi

Namaste and Happy SUPER Moon this Saturday.

Send some love and postive healing energy to Japan.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What I'm Reading Now: The Daily Bandha - A Tip for Helping Hyperextended Elbows & Knees

This is a great blog posting. I have already used the tips in it in my classes yesterday and today. Cick on the link below to read. It is really illuminating!

(Image courtesy of Daily Bandha)

The Daily Bandha: A Tip for Helping Hyperextended Elbows and Knees i...: "Aligning the bones accesses their inherent strength so that yoga poses ultimately require less muscular effort to maintain. For example, in..."

So I didn't add much to this posting when I initially wrote it because I was chewing on it. Quite a bit actually. I see lots of Downward Facing Dogs every day... and many of them have elbows alignment such as that shown above left. I have always searched and continue to search for the best ways to convey to my students HOW to adjust alignment and feel comfortable in each and every pose they settle into. But I do need to remember that we all hear things and understand them in OUR own time. Sometimes we can hear the SAME thing said to us every day for a year and yet we haven't LISTENED to it... we haven't really HEARD it. So perhaps I need to listen a little more and learn to adjust in a different way so that my students can hear what they need to hear. In the meantime... as I said at the beginning of this posting, please do click on the link and read Ray's blog entry. He knows how how say it!

Happy Weekend.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Starting Something New

Last week was the first full week of my new classes at Samadhi in White Salmon. The first week of March I started with my new noon Gentle Yoga class and had one student... which was AWESOME. She hadn't been back to yoga in a while and needed my full attention. The following week... 7 people showed up. I am so looking forward to this class. The other class that I cam teaching at Samadhi is a Monday evening Vinyasa class, a long-term subbing gig. I love the group of people that come to that class too.

Well, actually, come to think of it, I really enjoy the people that some to ALL my classes and (cue the sappy music) really appreciate being able to teach all of them.

Here's my schedule for those who aren't on my email list and who don't always look at my News or Classes page:

My usual schedule at the Hood River Sports Club:

- Tuesdays - Slo Flow- 8:30am-9:45am –Longer held poses for a complete body workout. 1 hr 15min
- Thursdays - Restorative Flow- 5:45pm-7pm –More floor work for a complete restorative session. 1 hr 15min
- Fridays - Vinyasa Flow- noon-1pm –Fast paced class with modifications for everyone. 1 hour

Members FREE. Non-members, drop-in fee of $12/class OR 10X card for $95.-.

My new schedule at Samadhi in White Salmon:

- Mondays - Vinyasa- 6:00-7:15pm –Faster paced class for a good end of the day workout. 1 hr 15min
- Wednesdays – Gentle Yoga- noon-1pm – Gentle paced class with modifications for everyone. 1 hour

NEW to Samadhi? Your first class is FREE. After that, drop-in classes $10/ class OR 10X card /$80 with no expiration OR Unlimited Monthly classes $60

SUB Schedule:

- Tuesday, March 15th – 6:45-7:45am – Morning Yoga (for Sybil) at Hood River Sports Club

Come and join me in a class or more!


My thoughts & heart are with all the people in Japan and those with family and friends in Japan... not just those directly affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor problems but all of the country. As an aside, as a country, we have SO much to learn from how Japan has always prepared for earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. Wow.

In Friday's nooner class I asked everyone to take a moment to think of the disasters and to send positive energy towards them. I know that sounds cuckoo to some people but I truly believe in sending it out there....

BTW, as Buddhism is a major religion in Japan, I found this Buddhist prayer from Clarissa Pinkola Estes written for Japan and thought I'd post an excerpt:

May all those in Japan be comforted. May all be found. May all the injured be helped. May all the frightened be calmed. May all our brothers and sisters know spirit has wings, and we are with them all with true love.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What I'm Reading Now: The Daily Bandha - A Benefit of Using the Big Toes in Yoga

Lately I have been following this blog as I am delving deeper into anatomy and understanding so much more about how our bodies move and why we need to do things certain way in yoga and as we move through our lives in sports and daily activities. Yoga brings us the awareness we need to begin the process in each of our own UNIQUE bodies.

As we move through various poses in my classes I often mention grounding through the base of the big toe, feeling the gentle and subtle engaging of the muscles in our legs. Read Ray's wonderful explanation and look at Chris' revealing drawings to understand this further:

The Daily Bandha: A Benefit of Using the Big Toes in Yoga

(Image Courtesy of Daily Bandha)

I feel that all of our connections to the ground, whether our feet, hands, sitting bones, even knees in some poses need to be balanced and subtle and energized. This provides us with proper and even balance throughout the body.

So Ray begins his posting with this question:

"Have you ever noticed how the pelvis seems to drift backwards in standing forward bends, especially Uttanasana?"

Hmm, UH, YEAH! I notice it in myself and in my students. In our effort to bend and "touch our toes"... we neglect to do the adjustments to bring the pose into alignment.. for our body:

I begin by taking stock of my hamstring's flexibility that day. If necessary, bending my knees so I feel comfortable as I settle into Forward Fold. I inhale and lengthen my sitting bones to the sky and exhale releasing my heart towards my legs. I then further awareness by grounding the big toes into the mat. This helps to bring the pelvis into the correct positon for this pose. In Uttanasana I really feel my breath, often bending my knees so much so that my torso rests on my thighs. Only as I feel the release do I begin to straighten my legs. And that sometimes doesn't happen until several Surya Namanskaras!

But I think the best thing to do is to read Ray Long's posting for yourself. He really gets into the WHY and HOW this works. It starts to make sense when you read it and try it on yourself.

So, try it out: right here, right NOW...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What I'm Reading Now: Love Your Lotus - Love Your Life | Practice Playlist

I'm loving this blog by Dana Flynn of Laughing Lotus Yoga Centre. First off, what a GREAT name for her yoga centre! She posts an awesome video with this blog entry. To watch it, click on the link below.

Love Your Lotus: Love Your Life Practice Playlist Yoga Blog Yoga Journal

(Photo Courtesy Yoga Journal, video screen shot)

SO what did I love so much about this particular entry other than the title? Which, BTW, I do love.

She begins the posting talking about traveling in India and marveling at the way the scenery and language changed with every mile. Marveling at how she can move her body (or make her body "travel") this way and that and the name of the asana changes with each subtle or perhaps not so subtle movement. Dana goes on to recount driving by endless fiends of mud only to finally see fields where brightly coloured lotus flower started to spring up from the mud... and then she writes:

So wake up, family, get the mud out of your eyes: You are already made up of asana! Feel the awe as you move your amazing body temple this way and that way. Here comes a field of lotuses!

I believe that the asana we practice are dances... lotus flower dances of happy movement in our bodies.

Get out and MOVE! Get out and DANCE....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oooh, Boy.... Go EASY on Yourself!

WHY is that SO difficult to do?? I read a GREAT article in the NYTimes online (LOVE that paper) that I have to share. Somehow, this morning I felt it necessary in my yoga classes to mention that we should consider extending the same compassion to ourselves that we offer up to others... something that I know firsthand can be a real challenge. After class I spoke with a student who relayed a story that confirmed my thoughts: that's easier said than done!

photo courtesy Sadie Nardini)

Then I came home and read this article entitled Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges and the following pops out at me:

“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent,” said Dr. Neff, an associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin. “They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.”

Ah yes, indeedy! Just think of this: Do you treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and family?

I have to confess it is like I have 2 standards: one for me, and one for everyone else. I work to counter the common myth that being hardest on yourself is the way to be... not that I don't think it is important to challenge ourselves, to better ourselves. But we must learn to treat ourselves with love and compassion and... trust.

It ends with this: “The problem is that it’s hard to unlearn habits of a lifetime,” she said. “People have to actively and consciously develop the habit of self-compassion.”

So, with that in mind: place one hand over your heart, the other over your belly, breathing deep belly breaths. Be GOOD to yourself ;), click on the above link, read the article and let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oh My, What a Sunny Day

Today is a beautiful day here in the Gorge. Too sunny to sit inside and do what I ought to be doing. Life's too short, gotta get out and PLAY! Took the time to run along the water with my daughter (ack first time since a few weeks due to a cold, snowy weather and just plain busy-ness) and then came home, picked up the dog and went for a walk out on the sandbar. Ahhh, feel better already!

We are fortunate to live in a very inspriring area full of active, engaging people and it is days like today when I appreciate it all the more. And the funny thing is that I feel our community not only physically (like out running or walking and at yoga class) but at, of all places... on FaceBook.

Hah, I know you are LAUGHING. Go on, get it out of your system...

But it is a great place for us all to share our thoughts for the day, photos of our activities as well as catching up with people that we just don't see every day but still want to be connected to. In other words, it isn't a replacement but rather an enhancement of our connectedness. 'Nuff said!

And so I am now sitting at my desk, catching up on... yup, yoga blogs & newsletters. Got this one today from Rodney Yee & Gaiam Yoga Club, and it got me to thinking. The newsletter was entitled: Why start your day with yoga? and went on to say:

Here we are in the middle of life — with headstrong teenage children, aging parents, crisis-ridden siblings, and downtrodden friends. Every day we wake up to another challenging surprise. In the words of Rumi, “Who can stand in this wind?”

We all need a reprieve from this chaos. A practice that helps you feel centered every day will help you find that reprieve. A little meditation, a single yoga pose, or a moment of focusing on the breath can be the saving activities of your day.

Beginning your day with a yoga practice sets up the possibility of being close to your center, which is peace. Letting peace be the foundation for your actions and observations in the world can be an essential tool to surviving a crisis — and maybe turning a crisis into an opportunity.

Still, after years of practice, my wife Colleen and I sometimes forget to utilize all our yoga tools. We have to encourage each other to roll out of bed and onto the mat some mornings. Taking time for our practice results in more resilience and more energy to deal with all that comes to our door.

Practice, practice, practice ... so when the storm comes you can fly right into the eye of the hurricane.

Gives you pause... makes you think. Starting the day with a peaceful sense of purpose, an inate knowing that you can be OK, that you have what it takes to get through whatever life has to throw at you... that's a good reason to practice yoga. I love the sentence: "Letting peace be the foundation for your actions..." That peace can directed towards others, but can also be for you. Contemplate that.

And it doesn't mean you have to take the time for an hour or hour and a half long practice. Maybe you take the time to breathe, find your centre while you are making your morning coffee. Perhaps you strike a pose as you wait for your toast to pop up... Take the time for YOU.

Namaste, and remember:

Get out(side) and PLAY. Laugh a little, or maybe a lot.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What I'm Reading Now: Devil Wears Prana - Teaching Yoga: The Assist

Another of my fave's is the Devil Wears Prana... and not just because of the blog name! Although I have to say that was one of the reasons I initially clicked on the link to her blog! But once there, I found so much to read and learn. So this topic is a particularly important one to me. I have been rather remiss in "getting off the mat" during class and rely mostly on verbal adjustments and assisting. For the obvious and not so obvious reasons.
(Photo courtesy Yoga Journal)

Firstly I firmly believe in self adjusting but also because when I began teaching I was just TOO SCARED to get off my mat! It was a SAFE zone! Later on as I learned to assist through training and workshops I would occasionally get off and adjust and assist but never as much as I think I should. Those darn SHOULDS coming out again. However, I believe in the process and have confidence that I am developing as I am meant to. I am adjusting and assisting newer students more often now and even more seasoned yogis when I know them well. So these blog-tips and thoughts were so timely and welcome today... and makes me want to go to the training in Palo Alto in April!

Click on the link below to read for yourself:

Devil Wears Prana: Teaching Yoga: The Assist: "The Yoga Of Touch: Physical AdjustmentsPure Yoga Teacher Training in Palo alto begins April 1st! To touch, or not to touch… There ..."

This is part of what I posted as a comment:

.... I generally feel most comfortable guiding my students through adjustments and refinements verbally or by setting up my pose next to them and mirroring. I will physically adjust or assist the new yogi that may be processing the pose in a way that is potentially opening themselves up to injury. Self adjusting is so important, ensuring that we become confident in our own bodies. That being said. easing someone or adjusting or assisting the confident yogi can be awesome. I know I appreciate it when I get these helps. As I become more confident in my abilities I do assist more but ONLY if the student so desires. Thanks again for your tips and insight.

So, those who come to my classes, let me know if you'd like me to assist and adjust you in class...


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What I'm Reading Now: The Pragmatic Yogi - Asana Analysis: Standing Straddle/Prasarita Podatt...

I have acknowledged my addiction to blogs... but I find that I learn so much from them that it justifies the time I spend reading. Some days I don't read any and some days I read... quite a few ;) The Pragmatic Yogi is a great one, written by a PT and Yogi. She brings a different awareness to yoga for me. Since I LOVE Standing Straddle AKA Prasarita Podattanasana and an conscious of all the ways we can injure ourselves in this pose, my antennae perked up when I saw this posting.

(Photo courtesy Pragmatic Yogi & Yoga Journal)

Read the post here:

The Pragmatic Yogi: Asana Analysis: Standing Straddle/Prasarita Podatt...: "This is a great pose that provides a number of benefits. It is a forward bend and an inversion. It stretches and strengthens the legs. It ca..."

I appreciated reading the Points of Body Awareness that Lisa writes about and I was able to feel them all when I eased myself into that pose today. Sometimes it is good for yogis and yoga teachers to hear a different voice, whether spoken of read, guide us through a pose. It especially helps me retain a mindfulness that I may otherwise lose.

And also as a yoga teacher, we need to feel comfortable giving proper modifications that support wherever a student may find themselves on a given day. There are days when practicing the modified pose is more restorative for all of us and I love knowing and showing them.

SO thanks, Lisa AKA the Pragmatic Yogi!