Well, Obviously A Blog Post…

Saturday, June 30th, 2012
Yoga Birds Meditation Workshop ‘Group Photo’
The meditation workshop was a great success. We explored and practiced traditional basic seated meditation which is always a joy to share in a group setting. It’s so much more challenging than it seems, the group dynamic is very supportive. Second, we indulged in coloring mandalas in a 30-minute meditation.  Check out the ‘group photo’.  Colorful expressions of the hearts of seriously beautiful souls!  Third we explored the basics of the Zen practice of walking meditation. We started walking very slowly around the perimeter of the studio for a five-minute guided walking meditation that gave directions as to where and how to use our feet and our steps as the object of our attention. Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic book and most famous quote “Peace Is Every Step” is at the essence of this meditation. After the intro we took our peaceful strides out on the street where they REALLY matter. Everyone slowed down and connected with their surroundings, and most everyone reported that it was challenging. Yes, slowing down, becoming mindful, and staying connected to peace is a practice. We ended the day with a guided yoga nidra practice. I led a meditation through the body during a 20 minute savasana. Most everyone felt like the time went faster.  The general consensus is that the day literally flew by.  As happens when Birds have fun!
Cherished Possession. Thich Nhat Hanh Original Caligraphy. ‘Peace is Every Step’
In a nutshell, meditation connects us to our essence of Being which is peaceful, and wise. Regular practices like asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), seated meditation, or any moving meditation where you come into a zone of single pointed focus helps to sustain that connection to our higher state of consciousness. Moving and living from this clear state, our actions (the mundane to the grandiose)  become more graceful, we rise up with dignity to meet challenge and unfair situations, our steps become more peaceful upon the fragile Earth, and best of all we are fully present when the ‘good stuff’ is happening.  Today was especially good at the studio.
My vision and intention for Yoga Birds has always been to raise the bar on hatha yoga offerings in this community.  Every class, workshop, and teacher training I have offered has been in service of the vision. Modeling this studio after others like Yoga Works in Los Angeles and Swan River in New Orleans (which were my ‘home’ studios when I lived there), teachers must maintain a practice (1x/week) at the studio and maintain continuing education (I do not require the continuing-ed to be a Yoga Birds training). As much as I teach, I am twice that in unwavering studentship—both at the studio and in trainings with other teachers. One of the many reasons I hold myself to high standards in the realm of teaching yoga, is so that I may ask the same of all of the teachers at Yoga Birds.  It’s REALLY hard being the owner of a small business. I will leave it at that. So that I may continue to revel in the last few minutes of this gloriously enlightening day.
Just got home from the picture show where we saw the most fantastic 3-D movie….’Brave’. The gist of it is that everybody has dharma, and we must be courageous enough to follow our Path. Oh it could not have been more perfect.  
 
Please check online for changes to the July Class Schedule and  read about the upcoming beginners series, and advanced studies series on The Bhagavad Gita I am teaching. I hope you will come and practice yoga and sing to the harmonium with us some this Summer.
Thank you all for supporting Yoga Birds. 
OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI

Experience Your Peace of Mind

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

“In order to have peace and joy, you must succeed in having peace within each of your steps.  Your steps are the most important thing.  They decide everything.  I am lighting a stick of incense and joining my palms together as a lotus bud to pray for your success.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

This Saturday at Yoga Birds, I am teaching a workshop on Meditation, Pranayama, & Yoga Nidra. We will explore and practice  Thich Nhat Hanh’s walking meditation, various methods of seated meditation, coloring mandalas, pranayama techniques, and experience a full, led yoga nidra practice. 


The workshop is Saturday, June 30th from 12 – 5:30pm at Yoga Birds in Fairhope. 
Register online at www.yogabirds.com. Or register day-of at the studio. Contact info and directions can be found at the website. Workshop investment is $65.

I hope you can make it! 


“Peace Is Every Step” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Nervous Wreck? Triathlete? Wanna Go Deeper In Asana?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Does This Scenario Look Familiar?

Often I hear …”When I get more flexible, I will come to see you in yoga”.  If you have ever had an inkling of this thought, please read on…

Last week’s Advanced Studies lesson hinged on the idea that flexibility is a function of the nervous system. Meaning, that when you are stretching, and  your body tells you (sometimes loudly) that you have reached the edge of the stretch, you have not really come to the end of the muscle’s ability to lengthen, you have come the point where your nervous system can no longer handle the work. You have come to the current end point of comfort-ability, familiarity, and sustainability. Think about a pose like pigeon pose, or a seated forward fold (or some pose where you experience resistance). When you come to the place in the pose where sensation  overpowers breath and all of your senses, you (hopefully) back off to where you can breathe with ease and mindfulness. This discernment and mindful breath work at the ‘edge of our ability’ is actually the part of practice that is addressing and soothing the nervous system while simultaneously applying intense stimulus to ‘go further’. It is in this moment that the body, breath, and subtle-body are sitting in ’round-table negotiations’, communicating beyond the realm of intellect and language. The consistent practice of symbiosis of body, mind, breath, Spirit, and intention often allow us to move (possibly microscopically and incrementally) a little deeper into the pose, thereby cultivating more flexibility and a deep sense of calm where we once thought we were at ‘the end of the rope’.  This lesson is applicable not only in asana, but in situations where we may need to cultivate a little bit more flexibility, but are facing resistance (whether our own or some other force’s). Breathe in the face of challenge. Same lessons over and over, right?  It always comes back to the breath, doesn’t it?
Meditation, pranayama, restorative yoga, yoga nidra, yin yoga…these are all practices that activate the parasympathetic nervous system which supports and is supported by quiet, calm, introspection, and the harmonizing of our energies. Interestingly, skillful resting practices are the key element to getting ‘deeper’ into our active adventures. Whether we are working 9-5 (or more), pursuing a triathlon season, engaging in an active asana yoga practice, raising kids in the beautifully hectic world, or simply feel frazzled, over-heated  and ‘had it  up to here (insert hand gesture at forehead level)’…it’s time to address taking care of your nervous system. Take time for breath practice, meditation, and the inner work of yoga to enhance and enrich the outer work in which we must or choose to endeavor. 

Re-Train Your Nervous System. Find Your Inner Peace

Check out these upcoming events I am offering at Yoga Birds.

Pranayama Yoga & Meditation
Saturday, June 30 , 1-5:30pm

 Meditations on Bhagavad Gita
Wednesdays,  July 11, 18, 25, 6-10pm
(asana practice followed by meditations and discussions)

Yoga Series For Brand New Beginners 
(go to week of July 10 at online schedule to sign up)
Tuesdays 5-6pm,  July 10, 17, 24, 31
(due to the progressive learning nature of the series, drop-ins are not permitted)

You CAN retrain your nervous system and reach new depths of peace in whatever you are doing… on and off the mat.

In PEACE LOVE PRACTICE & YOGA,

Melanie