Adventure Of A Lifetime

Insomnia is so weird. It set the tone for my energy all day yesterday. When I awoke at 3:20 and discovered that my alarm was not just about to go off, rather I needed to sleep for two more hours…I knew I was up. That quality of wakefulness is unique and it’s like you know you’re in for it. I went downstairs to the couch and tried to catch a few more minutes of the deep peace, but Bear who is such a good boy came and nuzzled right at the foot of the couch and was so comforted by my being there in the den with him that he fell into a deep loud snoring doggie sleep. And I knew it was hopeless for me. So I gave in to it, got up and started my day. I sat for meditation, made coffee, and decided to redeem an Amazon birthday gift certificate I’ve been holding since May. It was the perfect time for my shopping spree. It seems the more choices there are the more time I need to make a decision on what I want.

Of course the three books I purchased were yoga books. One is a brand newly published modern history of yoga in America. One is a commentary of the Shiva Sutras by Swami Laksmanjoo which completes my library for the required book list for Anusara Certification, and the third a relatively new book that parallels the ancient art of Indian theatre acting and dance performance with 20th century acting technique. I can’t wait for my new treasures to arrive.

Last night one of the trainees asked me if I have ever just ‘had enough’ of yoga or have felt ‘over it’. I had to stop and think. I do think there have been times when I have been tired and frustrated or injured when practicing active asana just agitated me even further. But over these last 15 years yoga has become more than just the practice of the poses. It has become the Way that I live, not a thing or activity that I do. It has been a process of sustaining attention in the present moment. It has become living with intention. It has become patiently sitting with challenging situations and deciphering the most graceful course of action to proceed. It has become a slowing down to listen and be guided by the inner wisdom of my breath and heartbeat. So the more I ponder the question, “Have you ever felt just over it?”, the clearer it becomes that I have just begun the journey and that Yoga gives me the opportunity to embark on the the adventurous path, fresh everyday, moment by moment. Even in the glaring light of insomnia.

Heart ❤ Space

Yesterday was kind of perfect! I arrived at work early to practice the progressive sequence to Eka Pada Galavasana (an arm balance pose aka flying pigeon or flying crow), which I taught again in the 9:15am class. Some people are into it and a few aren’t. One person arrived to class unaware that the schedule had changed, expecting a different teacher and class. She made a slightly rude comment that could be construed as unnecessary and kind of hurtful. But she was totally unaware. So instead of being all defensive and hurt, I took her abrasiveness as a learning experience. Ahhhh, the yoga it is always teaching me. Once again everyone worked with heightened inner-strength and focus that is just beautiful to watch.

After Anusara-Inspired class, I taught Restorative yoga which is always a joy. It was especially nice yesterday as my mom and sister showed up for class. I planned the class in honor of my sis who is expecting twins in December. Restorative yoga is an utterly relaxing and refreshing and cooling experience that can easily be modified for pregnancy. In honor of my sister and the two bambinos growing (and fighting for space in her belly—literally the boy has already ‘punched’ the girl in utero), the theme of yesterday’s class was about creating space through becoming still and observing the breath. Creating more space and openings internally for more breath and prana to move through our bodies can be a daily activity to enhance our experience of living. When we connect with the source of our inner spaciousness and clarity, we start expressing ourselves outwardly with a sense of expanding freedom, openness, and transparency—communication straight from the heart. And I really wouldn’t want it any other way.❤❤

h-OM-e Studio Love

Yesterday I was lucky to be able to attend Amanda’s Wednesday morning flow class at Yoga Birds. I practice at home alone quite a bit and always relish in the opportunity to practice with a group. And it was a ‘Full Circle Chakra’ class. The chakras are an energy system running along the central axis of the body laid out in Indian Tantric Philosophy. Essentially, practicing with the chakras as the forefront of class is inner-body energy work. And Amanda is FABULOUS at it. She has a great understanding of the chakras and the class systematically takes your awareness from the root chakra at the base of the tailbone to the crown chakra at the top of the head and then back down. She also organizes the room so that all of the mats are in a circle. Any of y’all who take my classes know that I am a stickler for straight lines and rows because it assists my observation of the classes’ alignment and foundation. And because I teach alignment based yoga asana, I have always understood the asana in straight lines. So, getting in a circle (which is out of my comfort zone) and going with the flow, trusting the Teacher, trusting my breath, and really going inside on a journey through the energy centers of my body…WHOA what an awesome experience!

Long before I opened Yoga Birds, I had the vision of what kind of yoga studio business I wanted to build in Fairhope. My first experiences of ‘yoga-studio’ yoga (and mind you there are lots of different ways and places to offer yoga to the community) were at Yoga Works in the late 90’s in Santa Monica, California. That is when and where the seeds of my vision for Yoga Birds were planted. Yoga Works is now a national yoga studio franchise and teacher training school. But back then, it was two studios–one on Santa Monica Blvd. and one on Montana Ave. Where at any time of day yogis had the choice of incredible classes in varied styles from highly trained teachers (Seane Corn, Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller, Natasha Rizopolous, Erich Schiffman—just to name a few). The classes were always and without fail great learning and practicing opportunities and the studio setting was always of great comfort. Life in Los Angeles as a mid 20-something was hectic, and whirlwindy, and wonderful and challenging. Walking through the threshold of the clean, peaceful, nag-champa scented, sweet -people filled studio—which was dedicated solely for the purpose of yoga and community-was not just a comfort but an enormous help for maintaining sanity and peace of mind. The big empty space, the wood floor, the nice yoga props…it was all part of the experience. My 4 years spent in Los Angeles, I took as many yoga classes at as many different places as I could. I went to every studio in town, local school gyms, church basements, Tai Chi studios, fitness centers, outside at the beach, in people’s living rooms, and more. Some classes were free, some were donation based, but most were $10-$15 to compensate the teacher and pay the overhead for the space. My ‘home’ practice studios were Yoga Works and The Iyengar Institute. For me, the experiences in the studio settings were unparalleled to the others and I had choices. So, to be able to take classes I did work-study at the studios to ‘rack-up’ class hours, I swept floors, I cleaned houses, and worked hard at my day job to have the money to pay for the valuable experience of practicing at the studios.

My vision for Yoga Birds is to be a dedicated space in service to this community to gather for top quality experiences. I aim for the studio to offer classes by highly trained Registered Yoga Teachers (one of the reasons for the Yoga Alliance Teacher Trainings) so that students not only have a worthwhile learning and practice experience –to advance in their understanding and deepen their practices of yoga , but also to maintain the space as a sanctuary for meditation, asana practice, and keeping good company – always in service to the community.

I recognize that teaching and practicing yoga is a great privilege and I am beyond grateful to the teachers and students who sustain Yoga Birds as how I envisioned it 10 years ago. And, I am LOVING being a student in my home studio! Namaste friends!

Flying Yoga Birdies

Yesterday’s foray into Eka Pada Galavasana, also known as One Leg Pose of The Sage Galavasa, or Flying Crow Pose or Flying Pigeon, apparently it has as many names as techniques involved in getting there. It is a pose found on the bottom row of the Level 2 Anusara Syllabus. So, it’s pretty juicy! There are so many components to this pose; Chaturanga, Pigeon, Crow, Warrior 3, to name a few. Not to mention a sustained connection to easeful flowing breath. The pose cultivates super concentration, because it requires mega concentration—which as we know, when we focus really ‘hard’ we often hold our breath. That is so interesting to me. No matter how ‘good’ you are at yoga, if this is your first dance with the flying pigeon, you will find it mystifying and necessary to spend some quality time practicing the component parts that build the pose, then put them together and work on the techniques that make the pose steady. Like my teacher Scotta said during her last visit to Yoga Birds, “place effort in the (alignment) principles that make the pose, not in the ‘final’ expression of the pose”. And then voila, Flying Pigeon welcomes you into his nest, instead of you feeling like an uninvited guest. Everyone did beautiful variations of their versions of the pose and worked really intelligently. It was strong group of YogaBirdies! More Flying Pigeon in my Anusara-Inspired classes this week (tonight at 6:15p and tomorrow at 9:15a).

Meditation classes went great! A very funny thing happened in the 5:30 session…the electricity went out 8 minutes into our 15 minute sitting. Which wouldn’t have caused a big disturbance IF the surge protector alarms hadn’t gone off (which of course they are designed to do and I should be grateful, knowing they are working properly, but back to my point). So before we began, in my intro, I asked the group that if there was noise or disturbance to use that as an opportunity to practice staying focused inwardly on the breath. Well, what a GREAT opportunity they had! When the alarms went off, I quietly rose from my seat and went to press the on/off buttons on the power strips. I couldn’t reach one of them as it is tucked behind some very strategically placed furniture. The ‘broomstick-as-extension-of-my-arm/finger-trick’ didn’t work. Meanwhile the beeping and buzzing is LOUD and obnoxious. And I am pretty sure I was huffing and puffing a bit. So I took a deep inhale, stood on one leg, folded forward, bent myself in a very complex and interesting asana and stretched my arm so that my fingertip met the off button. I am going to break that pose down, name it and add it to the list of 84,000 asana, because, I KNOW it is a new one. Aside from that, the meditation session was very gratifying for me and also for the group. And it WAS a great opportunity to practice. Because it was PERFECT~in the way that life is PERFECT. Just simply being alive and well enough to come to meditation at the studio….is PERFECTION. The electricity did not come back on and it was 97 degrees outside. Needless to say, Foundations was like a Hot Yoga class. We had a very full room, which made it even toastier. Everyone were great sports about it and I changed my class plan on the fly and we practiced Restoratives for the last 40 minutes of class…ending with supported Bridge, Shoulderstand, Halasana, and Legs Up The Wall. People LOVE Legs Up The Wall Pose. I think we will be doing it more this week, even though the A/C is back on. Psyched for another day of Living Yoga!

Ordinary Time

The day has started well. Early morning sitting and nadhi Shodhana. Followed by a short and energetic run around the neighborhood with Bear and Reggie. I am nourished by pleasant conversation over a cup of coffee with my husband and a fresh carrot apple ginger juice with a shot of Mila Chia for breakfast.

Today is the first day of leading Mindfulness Meditation at Yoga Birds. As usual, I am a little nervous about teaching a new class, but in a good way. I am excited to be able to present and hold the space for our community to sit in inner reflection together.

I want to ride my bike to work but I think it’s going to rain. It’s a perfect ride for a good warm up for the day. Asana will have to suffice. What a JOY! As ever, I am so grateful for my practices of sitting meditation, mindful breathing, and intention fueled movement. Thank you Lord!