October 25, 2011

Grace Takes Up Residency

May my practice be an embodied offer of beauty.  For grace resides within me.  Intrinsic goodness is my true nature.  I do not have to look externally for it - it is always apart of who I am.  My practice does not have to be a place of judgement but a blank canvas ready for me to paint. Asana (practice) dedicated from the heart illustrating effort that stems from loving kindness.  Let my practice encompass playfulness, laughter and dedication rooted in trusting in the foundation I have set for myself.  Let my practice begin with opening to grace.  This does not mean "life" won't rear it's ugly head.  It is then my purpose to receive "life" with an open heart imploring its beauty because I have embodied it.

Why do you practice yoga or anything?  What brings you to the mat?  How do you open to grace?

October 17, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

I sometimes struggle with honoring my boundaries yet not limiting myself from my full potential. Duh, right. Having experienced my first triathlon my eyes were open to the potential this body I was given has.  It has shifted my thinking (attitude).  I decided to have a yoga marathon of sorts (but not in the way you might think).  I came home from teaching with an hour to spare.  I grabbed the dog, kid (only the oldest as the little one was honoring her boundaries by not coming), husband and even mother and went for a family run around the neighborhood. Amazing to get outside and play as a family. The girls had piano and then they were headed to tailgate while I taught.  I thought in the time I have left before I teach I can stay home and clean or I can yoga.  Hello, no brainer (if I am being honest it is not a no brainer for me typically as I rarely play before all my work is done and lets face it when you have 2 kiddos, a dog and a husband + house guest the work is never done!)  I have been feeling tired and really sleepy so I honored my boundaries and headed to a restorative yoga class.  It was so amazing it rejuvenated me - so I left my mat on the floor and hit a level 2 class right after (I was teaching after level 2 so really it made more since to stay :). In the past I would have stayed home to clean then possibly headed to the level 2 class before teaching assuming I didn't get carried away in my perfectionism and continue to clean right up until I taught.  There is something exciting about exploring my full potential even when that potential is honoring my boundaries by taking care of myself with a restorative yoga class.  My attitude has shifted me into action...

In Christina Sell's book My Body is a Temple, she says " Practice can become a set of attitudes and actions - of efforts that we bring to grace - that align us with the remembrance that who we most truly are, as part of the flow of the Highest, is dignified, noble and essentially good."

How does your attitude for and during your practice align your actions to your true nature?

October 10, 2011

Nourishment is simply a breath away...

I was honored when my friend / student Jen asked me to be a guest and share with her blog community my thoughts on nourishment.  I am sharing them with you too.  Thank you for the invitation Jen, and for all of your amazing words laced with encouragement each week. They have been inspiring and enlightening!  
I found myself excited by all the ways nourishment presents itself.  So off to the dictionary, I’m using the dictionary from my computer, in the attempt to reel in my enthusiasm. The dictionary helpfully systematizes my understanding of nourishment with these words “the substances necessary for growth, health and good condition” I must add love.
For me, nourishment encompasses being purposeful in all facets of your life. It can be simply showing up for yourself and others fully present with the courage to lead with your heart and the intent to be kind, compassionate, and loving…(I could go on forever here). Nourishment has many faces and often changes with the seasons.
In my life, nourishment begins with reverencegratitude and grace whether it is in the form of prayer, meditation, journaling, blogging, speaking, practicing, (physical activity – yoga, running etc.) or simply being.  It is followed by what I put in my mouth and what comes out of it. It knocks on the door in the form of breathing (not the in and out repetitive non-conscious breathing, the kind that fills you with sustenance…more on this) food(the kind that is produced from the earth) and dialogue (inner and outer stemming from loving kindness).   It materializes in my lifestyle choices. Being mindful of what goes in and out of my mouth is not easy.  Sometimes convenience presents itself and I want to give in by choosing foods that are not nourishing but fast.  It’s easier to drive through, just throw any ole thing into the cart without understanding what is in it or where it came from or by letting the kids buy prepackaged food that is sold everywhere. It can be tiring contending with society and good marketing vying for the girl’s attention to make healthy choices.  Then it hits me; isn’t it worth the fight to provide and seek knowledge so my family can continue to make healthy nourishing choices throughout life? Giving our bodies the best possible growth avenue? Will what we are about to consume provide my family with the nutrients needed to live a healthy active life?  Is it made with love? The same goes for what comes out of my mouth. It is mostly in the way I talk to myself but can sometimes extend to what I say to others. Can I nourish others with my words? Can I nourish myself with my thoughts?
Nourishment can surprise me by making a guest appearance in the form of letting go or the act of surrendering what no longer serves my mind or body. I sometimes find it while taking the first sip of coffee (not saying coffee is nourishing I’m aware of its faults) in a quiet house with only a glimmer of light and the auspiciousness of a new day. It kicks me out of bed on a cold morning with the promise of nourishing my family and to sip said coffee.  It envelops me in the form of my husband’s loving arms around me. It lures me awake in the middle of the night in the form of my child snuggling so close her nose touches mine all the while knowing I will not get an ounce of sleep but will feel nourished with the notion that I provided love and security for her. It’s ever presence in my children’s words, laughter and actions.  I am most comforted in knowing that when I feel depleted there is so much nourishment that surrounds me. Below is a practice in nourishment.
Nourishment practice:
You can do this anywhere (a car, a chair, in your bed, on a cushion, at the grocery store). Begin bringing awareness to your breath (just as an observer – leaving judgment at the back door). Inhale more deeply let it fill your entire mid section extending to your spine, side body all the way to your lower belly. Exhale (slowly) all of your air out through your nose. Continue to breathe deep adding nourishment every time you inhale. Let it be expansive. Exhale what no longer serves you (negative self talk, anything that resides in the form of toxicity). You can do it 3 times or 300.  It’s always accessible no matter where you are.   Nourishment is a breath away. 

October 6, 2011

"the practice"

I participated in my first triathlon this past weekend (sorta the reason I am late to post - still playing catch up after being gone all weekend).  I would like to thank all of the people in my life who sent me well wishes and encouragement.  Without your endless support and love I would not have even tried to complete something like this. You are my wings!

My knowledge cup has most certainly been filled this weekend. I have learned first that the body is capable of so much when properly tended to. The second is I am more committed to my yoga practice having gone through this.  It really highlighted the amazingness that is “the practice”.  The dedication, gratitude, balance, reverence and these are just a few of the many things yoga gifts me.  As I was on the bike getting passed by women who were significantly older than I (insert cough 30+ years older) I was pondering how empowering it felt to be a part of this event amongst all of these incredible athletes.  I was present – fully present enjoying the moment and the hard work I had put into this as my body did what it was trained to do. 

In the first event, the swim, I witnessed fear grip me and then something took over.  I put my head in the water and faced fear head on cultivating courage, presence and dedication.  In Anusara yoga (the type of yoga I practice) the A’s represent Attitude, Alignment and Action.  In this instance, my attitude was recalibrated, my alignment kicked in as I began the rhythmic breathing and the full extension of my arms followed by action as I started pulling ahead of the pack (I must admit my ego was super impressed by this!).  Thank you Anusara Yoga.  All in all as I watched others cross the finish line (of particular interest, a man who had to be pushing 80 years old) I was grateful to be apart of this event.  I was grateful for the body that brought me through it. I was grateful for the friend who encouraged me to try and then proceeded to encourage some more while we trained. I was grateful for the yoga that has taught me sooooo much and continues to be a source of light and, let’s face it, a life raft. So much gratitude poured into me. It was to say the least, empowering and 100% awesome! What ever your training for or dedicating yourself to, the attitude, alignment and action / hard work is worth it!  I have learned that the body can sometimes feel like a flimsy branch, the mind is like a bird on that branch sometimes fearful of the branch breaking, but “the practice” can remind us to sing all the while knowing we have wings.