Thursday, August 27, 2015

FOLD / building a practice

How do you build a practice? 
The answer is one pose at a time. 

This weekend I got to practice in a room of 75 yogis as my dear friend, Mary Beth LaRue led us in a juicy intentional flow while her friend, DJ Glenniest, mixed us some powerfully soulful Erykah-Badu classics. MB's flow was built to move us towards a crescendo, a continuous flow, but to move through flow, we must start with a single pose, in a singular moment, with a single breath. It all starts with one.

There was a really lovely man on the mat next to me. He jovially told MB that this was his first yoga class. As we began the flow, I was instantly aware of the open heartedness exploration that he brought to his practice. He really inspired me to move through each pose as if it were the first time, reminded me what it felt like in those first few classes, trying to breath and move and twist myself into the unfamiliar. This is what I love about a studio practice, a community that is willing to be vulnerable for an hour, to breath next to you, to help fill you up.

Today, just start with one. Child's Pose [sanskrit: Balasana] is often referred to as our home base. It's that pose that hold us, grounds us, protects us, and brings us back to our breath. It's that place to instantly connect with the part of us that yearns to release, unwind, and surrender.

Start by bringing your toes to touch, gently spreading your knees wide. If this this is difficult for your knees, place a folded blanket underneath them. Gently slide your hips back so your bum rests easily on your heels. If you cannot sit comfortably onto your heels, place a folded blanket underneath your bum to help support you and create ease. Reach your arms towards the front of your mat and find a place to rest your head. The forehead connection with the earth, a block, or a blanket, invites our sympathetic nervous system to calm our mind, find a center, and listen more intentionally to our breath. If reaching your arms out wide feels strenuous slightly bend at your elbow or bring the arms to rest behind you next to your knees. If you want a little more power in your pose, reach the arms out in front and dome your fingertips, pressing down as you extend and create length in your spine. Find ten long inhales and exhales, count to four as you breath in and four again as you breath out. 

After ten breaths, slowly rise back up, sit tall with a long spine. Bring your hands into your heart space and thank yourself for starting here.

"I think people who vibrate at the same frequency, 
vibrate towards each other."
Erykah Badu

Thursday, August 20, 2015

POUR / very berry kale smoothie

I've been waking up to so much more light. We moved into a new space a few weeks ago. We were living in a cramped one-bedroom for over a year and recently had some new inhabitants to our already small quarters. We made due, but there was always a sense of unease present. A feeling that our space was temporary and we never truly sunk in to making it our own. This new place, interestingly only a few doors down from our old apartment, has brought us so much expansion. Each room holds just a little more space and the light just streams in, inviting me to wake up a little bit earlier, which amazingly gave me a little more access to time alone. That sweet hour of time where I can inhabit my body, sit quietly on my mat, read from a book that's been begging me to pick it up, and begin to create a new daily routine.

This is my new absolutely favorite way to start the day, it's sweet yet packed full of greens and fiber.

Give yourself the gift of a really delicious and nourishing breakfast. See if it helps to shift your day and encourages your body to support you throughout it.

Very Berry Kale Smoothie

1/2-1 cup frozen fruit (we use the mixed fruit bag: mango, strawberries, and blueberries)
1 banana (if frozen, you can skip the extra ice)
2 whopping handfuls of kale (you can add spinach if you prefer)
1/2 cup of your most favorite yogurt
sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of ground up chia or flax seeds
1/4 cup of orange juice (I usually add this by feel; I like a thicker smoothie, hence less OJ)
a few ice cubes if you'd like it to be a bit colder and icey in it's consistency

Add all ingredients into a strong blender (we use our Vitamix); be sure to place ice and larger fruit towards the bottom of the blender to encourage the blades to break that up first. Blend together and drink to your hearts content.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

FOLD / where is our yoga?

Tonight at the end of my yoga practice, as I laid on my back with my sacrum rooted into the earth, my legs resting up the wall, I finally found myself in a state of ease. I quickly came to realize that it took me an hour to get there.

I had walked out of the doors of my lovely day job into an onslaught of arresting life things. Someone honked at a pedestrian on the street, a collision of screaming brakes and profanity. Followed by my newly fixed car screeching in pain as I pulled away from the curb, an unsettling burning smell emanating from underneath its chassis. I felt increasingly rushed as I tried to decipher if I could fix the situation with enough time to make it to my yoga mat. I arrived at the doors of the yoga studio frustrated, jaw clenched, and totally wound up; exactly the opposite of how I intended to. 

As I made my way into my first child's pose, I tried to plant a mantra in my mind, but all I could think about was the evening ahead; when and where I would get my car looked at, my aching wallet, and the stress incurred getting to my mat after weeks away. Man oh man, where was my yoga?

I eventually found it, quietly waiting to greet me after the anger in my body dissipated. I realized as I finally relaxed onto my mat that it's truly an honor to have this practice, to create a space to come home to, to lay yourself bare and vulnerable. I realized that my yoga practice needs me as much as I need it. 

I usually show up on my mat after days, weeks, and sometimes months of being away and expect the practice to deeply nourish and instantaneously serve me. I ask it to do all the work, while I neglect it and pretend that I am a practicing yoga teacher. In all honesty, I've fallen off my yoga wagon and have been fighting tooth and nail to cycle through any excuse to avoid my mat. There is work there, I know from years of a steady practice that sometimes my mat is confronting, but that work is begging for me to engage with it. I've been afraid, and that fear has been inhibiting my self-care, denying my inner wisdom, and actively interfering with my truth. 

My yoga and I, we need to be in a mutual relationship. One in which we both serve to strengthen, create balance, cultivate ease, and calm our inner being enough to get quiet and truly be open to listening. I have been cheating on my practice with my busy life; with my procrastination; with my preoccupation; with my insistence that "this" needs to be done "right now". My practice had been missing me, my body was aching for that connection. I strutted into class tonight and demanded that my yoga should cure my mood, my anger, my frustration, all in 60 short minutes. 

Where is our yoga? 

It's in our cars, our relationships, our noisy neighbors, our teachers, our minds, our faults, our joys, our conversations, our failures, our lessons, our fears, our work, our feelings, our homes, our world, and in so many places beyond our mats. I truly believe that yoga will take care of us, but only if we are willing to participate in our relationship with it. 

Tonight I sit here humbled, brought to my keyboard with words of anguish and an unsteady recommitment to my own self-care. Tomorrow, I want to remember that my yoga is in each and every breath. It's now. And now. And now. Yoga will only participate in our lives if we engage with it. If we recommit to the work that happens when we step onto our mats we can cultivate and create our best selves. The world, with all of its anger, confusion, frustration, and disappointments needs us to be living and breathing our yoga to help create connection, compassion, inclusion, empathy, kindness, and love. 

Try, just try, to stay humble and curious when you sit, stand and play on your mat. Come to it with a generous and humble spirit and I promise you it will reveal a way to that nurturing lifeline. Trust in that, dearest ones. I will do my best right alongside you. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

GATHER / core desired feeling AUGUST EDITION

to restore strength,
 to reset, 
to fill again, 
to create new energy 

Yes, yes and more yes. Just writing the word refresh allowed a huge exhale to escape my lips. Hello August! This month I am saying hello to a new space, to more light, to more time, and to more creation. This month's core desired feeling really resonated in my body: I have been sick, run down and running on empty. It's time to pause, ask myself for permission to soften, to slow down, to find new energy and use that to head straight into these fall months with a new found freedom and desire to create again.