Hello and Happy Monday,
It’s a new month! It’s one of my favorite times of the year. I love the change of the seasons. And I just love March – Spring represents a time for renewal, new life is growing all around us, the birds are chirping, and the warmer weather is just around the corner. I am happy just thinking about it. I’m also very excited as this month as I lead a group of 21 amazing humans on a journey to disconnect in Peru.
We have spent the last 5 months diving into the yamas and now it’s time to dive into the niyamas. The yamas and niyamas are ethical principles, or guidelines. In short, the yamas are social retrainsts, or ethics and the niyamas are self-disciplines, or personal practices. Niyama means positive duties or observances. Just like the yamas, there are 5.
The first niyama is saucha means purity, clearness, or cleanliness. It refers to much more than mind and body. For today, I’m going to focus on saucha in regards to the mind and the removal of impure thoughts, like conceit, arrogance, malice, and so on. The issue is, we are human and these thoughts can and will arise from time to time. You might have heard, “Where the attention goes, energy flows” (T. Harv Eker) or “what you focus on, you give power to” (derived from Ralph Marston). Last week, I wrote about seeing the “I can’t” faces in class and how when we think something we make it true. And as I have said many times in class, our perspective creates our reality.
I googled “how many thoughts do we have a day” and there were lots of different answers. anywhere from 12,000 to 90,000 thoughts in one day. Most days I feel on the high end of that. What we have to remember is that not all these thoughts are conscious and most of the thoughts are repetitive. A lot of these thoughts are the “what if” thoughts. I know these fill my head all day long. Whenever something happens and I say “I knew it!”, Joe has a nice way of reminding me that it’s a small percentage of my “what if’s” that actually realize. Keep in mind, most of the “what if’s” I’m writing about are the negative ones, fear-based ones.
So how do we shift our thinking? I’d like to just say, slowly, day by day, and practice makes permanence. While that is true, it’s misleading. If you are anything like me, you want steps, a process, something that has some clear lines.
Here are some steps to take when wanting to create healthier thought patterns that have worked for me:
Let me know how it goes. I love hearing from you. Please share what has worked for you in shifting your thoughts.
Happy (Almost) Spring,
Hello and Happy Monday,
It’s the last week of February. For being such a short month, it felt very long to me. Turns out the flu turned into a sinus infection and acute bronchitis. Sigh. While I like going down the holistic path, a few hours after that first antibiotic, I remembered what it felt like to be me. Some would call me stubborn. I would probably agree, but really most of the time, it’s very hard for me to get out of my own way.
This is another great example of Aparigraha. Getting out of our own way implies putting aside our habits, feelings, and behaviors, that we are the ones stopping ourselves from being successful, creative, our best version. This is easier said than done. We get attached to our ways. We cling to who we are – what defines us – a mom, a yoga teacher, an entrepreneur, and the meaning of all of those things – meanings we have heard, meanings we have created, meanings we think other people have defined as those things. What are we without those things? Who are we without those things? I know the answer to this one – we are us. We are our core selves. The “I” without all the history, without the definitions. This “I” is always there, but most times hidden under stuff. That’s what I think I love about yoga the most, it sheds the layers of the stuff.
However, it goes beyond what I just wrote, it’s all the things we claim we are bad at, “I’m not the best at communicating”, “I don’t have a great memory”, “I can’t.
“I can’t” comes up in yoga ALL THE TIME. I don’t hear it, I see it. I see the shaking of heads from side to side, I see the eye rolls, I see the sighs with the shoulder drops. As soon as I see this, I know that that person won’t go into the posture I am asking of them, not that day. I recognize the body language, because I’ve mastered those looks. But, I’m making a conscious effort every day to nod my head up and down, to smile when a challenge arises, and to keep trying to communicate in the best way that I can. I use tools, I found out my love language, my apology language, my Myers Briggs, my enneagram, my astrology sign and rising signs, all so I can learn how to forget what I’ve learned and just be me. I ask all my friends their data, to help me with them. In the end, all I really want is to feel connected and have healthy relationships.
I can tell you this, I don’t know what I don’t know – so help me – do you have a way in shedding layers, in becoming more of you? I’d love to know!
P.S. Physical Touch & Words of Affirmation; Expressing Regret, ENFJ, 2, Virgo Aries Rising – Moon in Aquarius – what’s yours?
Hello and Happy Monday,
Hope everyone had a wonderful week and weekend and hopefully you had a day off today.
We are on week 3 of Aparigraha – non-possessiveness, non-greediness, non-attachment. This week I wanted to focus on jealousy.
This is tough, because I experience jealousy, but don’t like to talk about it. It’s unflattering and ugly.
While it’s rare that I am jealous of someone else’s posture in a yoga class, I know many people who experience that and unfortunatley I know it deters a lot of people from coming to yoga class. There are times when it comes up but I always remind myself that if I put the practice in I could achieve most things. It’s not that I have such an amazing practice, it’s that I know my body and how it moves and I feel confident on the yoga mat, pelase remember I've been taking yoga classes for over 20 years, so this was a work in progress before I got it.
Jealousy comes up in other places for me. Jealous of the person that is super organized. Jealous of the person that can let things go and not hold a grudge. Jealous of the thin woman with no hips. Jealous of the person that can do math really fast in their head. There are a lot of things I used to be jealous of, like the latest and greatest gadgets or seemingly fancy vacations to all over the world. But I grew out of those jealousies and am genuinely happy when others get to go on exciting vacations and when they show me their newest toys.
During my Friday night Flow and Stretch class I recalled being “Teacher of the Month” at a studio I used to work for and having to answer some questions that would be posted in their newsletter. One of the questions was, “If you could have any natural talent, what would it be?” I answered with singing, and what I mean by that is not just holding a note or being on key, but opening my mouth to sing and having people turn around and look in awe, THAT kind of singing. I brought this up and asked the practitioners what they wished their natural talent was. We all shared and laughed and then came up with more realistic wishes for a talent we wished we had. Of course, we realized we could make those things come true. While I will never sound like Julie Andrews or Whitney Houston, I can take lessons to help with pitch and tone and learn how to use my voice. Whether it’s learning to play a musical instrument, knitting (which I have not stopped trying), tap dancing, whatevever you choose, we have the ability.
We don’t have to be jealous, we don’t have to even wish. We can be all we want to be if we try, just a little. Sometimes it just starts with a dream and then it becomes a reality. What are you dreaming about?
Hello and Happy Monday,
It’s February!! One of the best things I’ve ever done is make a yearly calendar with pictures of my children from the previous month and year. And when I flipped to February I remembered that the last two February’s we have had unseasonable weather – over 80 degrees. This year’s February picture is of my kids in bathing suits in the back yard. And guess what? I think we will get that day on Thursday!
This month my focus is on Aparigraha (Ap-are-e-gra-ha) which is a common theme in so many yoga classes – it’s the non-possessiveness, non-greediness, and non-attachment. As we all know, the act of letting go, reaches beyond yoga. And there is so much to let go of.
I remember when I first started teaching I practically said yes to every teaching job I was offered. This quickly filled my schedule and in the beginning it was great to be teaching so much, but I soon realized that when I wasn’t working I was spending my all ready little free time with my kids and I had no time left for myself.
A good friend of mine suggested I write out my schedule and color code it to see the bigger picture and to help me decide on how to rearrange my teaching schedule. It was startling. Once I added in commute time and prep time, I was working every single day and had only small pockets of “free” time. I knew I had to make a change, but I was hesitant and scared and sad. I was hesitant to drop a class or classes because I worked so hard to get them, scared because what if I couldn’t pay my bills without the extra income, and what if the students that had come to all my classes, that I had grown to really like, wouldn't follow me to the other classes & studios I was teaching at. Having my own free time didn’t seem worth it. But this is all the “F.E.A.R”! Remember – False Evidence Appearing Real. The reality is, when you let go, you make room for new things.
And that’s exactly what happened. It took a while, but I let go of 4 classes with a promise that I would agree to nothing new for 6 months. I gave myself 2 full days off. To tell you I was happy would be a lie. I was nervous and full of fear. What if this plan was the worst ever???
Of course It turned out to be great. In fact, I loved that time off so much, I found a renewed energy to spend time on creating valuable workshops, class ideas and eventually retreats. It allowed me to restore my faith in the universe that it’s always providing and it opened up my schedule for opportunities I couldn’t have imagined. My classes changed and some of the practitioners from the classes I left found me and showed up to my other classes. It all worked out.
This is an ongoing balance. I find myself going back to that color coded excel spreadsheet to see if I have slipped back into old habits, or making promises to myself to not agree to anything new and being picky with what I say yes to. And what I learned is that as long as I stay open & available with my time the right opportunities arise.
If it wasn’t for that work I would have never found or made the time for this blog. And I thank you so very much for reading it.
As Elsa says, Let It Go,
Hello & Happy Monday,
It's hard to believe January is almost over. I want to ask how, but that's not the word today. Instead, the question I most ask myself is "Why?" Why do I do the things I do, Why I show up in the way I do, Why I react or respond in the way I do. I think these are really important.
Last week in my Tuesday night Pilates for Yogi's class I told everyone during a 2 min plank that they were so lucky to be there. WHY? It may not seem obvious, but for some of us just getting out of bed might be a struggle. There are many people that cannot afford a studio or gym membership. There are many people that have to work two jobs to support their family and don't take the time for themselves. There are lots of other why's that I went into during class, I'm sure you can think of your own.
If we can determine our why, we can live with purpose and we can stay focused on what matters. This is not just Brahmacharya, but an entire "yogic lifestyle" or just a healthy lifestyle to lead.
In the book of Sutras, where we find much more than the yamas and niyamas, I have lots of favorites and this is one I try to follow. It's sutra 1.20. This sutra describes the 5 characteristics you need to be a yogi and obtain bliss, for us (we are the others (ITARESHAM) not born as yogis).
ŚRADDHĀFaith OR Personal Conviction – You ARE worth it!
VĪRYAStrength OR Vitality, vigor, indominable will
SMRITIMemory OR that which we remember that strengthens our results
SAMADHIContemplation OR When there is no difference between objects then there is complete absorption
I can only tell you my Whys. And I’d like to share Why I teach yoga. I love the practice of yoga. Learning the history, philosophy and the asana (postures) make my mind and body feel good. To be able to share that with others and guide them makes me feel incredibly honored. My why for how I teach is based off my background and how I was taught. I believe everyone is welcome in my classes. In a world where we are not ever sure if we belong, my goal is to offer a space where all feel welcomed. Teaching has been little about me and more about all of you, and I credit my success to that!
Thank you so much for reading!
Hi and Happy Monday,
Hoping all of you are enjoying a 3-day weekend and staying warm.
I had a wonderful weekend full of yoga! Friday night I spent listening to one of my teachers speak about the Bhagavad Gita, Saturday I attending a full day workshop with John Schumacher, and Sunday I co-led week 3 of my Homecoming workshop with Aurora Hutchinson.
This week for Brahmacharya, I want to talk about the word Discernment. Merriam-Webster defines as: “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure”. Some synonyms of discernment are insight, perception, sagaciousness, and wisdom. Discernment is one of my favorite words and also something I’m trying to work on all the time.
For Brahmacharya we need to be able to discern between “just enough” and too much.
There are so many analogies here; food, alcohol, exercise, work, and shopping to name a few. I don’t really need to write how when we have too much of these things it can cause an issue. Most of these words can end in -aholic, which can be defined as one who likes things in excess.
So, how do we find balance? How do we know when it’s “just enough”?
I think this is where we can call upon the other yamas we have learned about to help guide us. After all, these are tools, or a map on how to figure this life out.
I’d love to hear from you on this one. How do you know when it’s “just enough”? What are your tricks, or life-hacks for not taking too much or depleting yourself?
I’d also love to see you on the mat – in my home! Please join me for class this week – Thursday for Yoga & Friday for Pilates for Yogis at 9:30am. I live in Hollin Hall and my address pops up once you sign up for a class. Click HERE
Thank you all,
Happy Snow Day!
Finally, the snow has arrived! We were so excited to wake up and see so much snow! Michael and Melissa spent much of the day outside playing with friends; sledding, creating a snow fort and building a snowwoman, with a snow child. Joe shoveled and cleaned off cars and I got to catch up on things I had been putting off. Yesterday was one of those perfect days. Where time seemed to slow down, where we all seemed to be aware and living in the present moment. Hearing the kids play outside with neighborhood friends, having a cozy home and a fire lit for them to come into to warm up along with hot chocolate and blueberry muffins, it was superb. Yesterday gave me all the feels, and I felt like I was living consistent with brahmacharya.
Brahmacharya, which means conduct consistent with Brahma. Brahman is the creator, so conduct or behavior consistent with the creator, or the divine. What I try to remember is that brahmacharya is a means, not an end. To practice this, would be to restrain from what will keep us away from being connected to the divine or our light inside.
What we learn is that the divine is in all of us – we may call it other things – light, God, Jah. I believe that it all means the same thing and it lives within us all. Some of us are trying to shed the layers to let our divinity shine, our light shine, and practicing yoga helps. Some of us restrain from eating meat, or animal products not just because of ethical reasons, but because it makes us feel great. Same with restraining from watching the news (me) because I don’t want to see anymore conflict in the world. Or some of us restraining from having too much stuff, hence, the minimalist movement. And all of the restraining helps us feel more connected with our Self. It allows our light to shine its brightest.
The minimalist movement is a great way to understand Brahmacharya. When we don’t have the stuff to focus on, when we aren’t being fulfilled by our new sweater or instapot, we can focus on finding that fulfillment within ourselves.
Moving twice last year helped me get rid of a lot of stuff. And while I still may have a lot of things and wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, I know that the things we have don’t bring me happiness and peace, instead, happiness and peace is cultivated within myself. We all know this. We just forget because things are shiny and pretty or cool and we NEED them to feel awesome for a short while. It’s difficult sometimes, when we see what others have and feel that if we just had that one perfect thing then our life would be so much better. The thing is, the shiny things we are attracted to are sometimes just distractions from the shiny bright light within us. Let’s shine our light this week. Make note of what you are holding back from and what you gravitate towards. Notice if you are connected to your Self. Let's have more superb, full of feels days.
Hello and Happy Monday,
We are just about a full week into 2019 and my 3-week vacation is over. I've had a busy weekend of teaching leading my yoga teacher training program, and the first day of the 4-week Homecoming workshop I'm leading Aurora Hutchinson started yesterday. It was wonderful to be back! I know I'm biased, but the workshop I'm leading with Aurora at Sun & Moon Yoga Studio is really fantastic. (There are still spots to join in)
This month we are focusing on Brahmacharya – non-excess - and the timing is perfect as we start a new year. As I have reflected on what this means to me, immediately I thought about food & exercise and how there is always that “January Clean Eating” group I get invited to, or the Strava challenge of walking a certain amount in a period of time, or the Peloton challenges of riding a certain amount of times in a month. I’ve done all those challenges, I'm even doing the Peloton one now 🤷🏻♀️
But that’s not what I’ve decided to write about, instead it’s about self-care vs self-rescue.
Self-care is a habit/ritual that we do REGULARLY (that’s a key word) to take care of ourselves. For example, work-life balance, proper sleep, healthy diet, stress management. Self-Rescue, is just that – a rescue.
When we don’t spend time practicing self-care we can become vulnerable, we can be tired and worn out and agitated and irritable and require, I don’t know, perhaps a 3-week vacation from it all. Um…. 👉ME👈
I didn’t know it, I didn’t realize it. Things (Christmas and New Years) lined up for me to take the break I didn’t really feel I needed, but logistically, conceptually, I knew I needed. I get so much from my classes. I love teaching. When I’m teaching I’m learning, I’m living, I’m thriving. Why would I need a long break?
As a lot of you know, I had some big changes happen in 2018. I lead my first international yoga retreat in Guatemala, I sold the home I owned with my ex-husband (that I had been living in for 10 years), I moved into a rental home with Joe and my kids, I started offering yoga classes out of my home, I built a home from the ground up with Joe, Joe and I got engaged, and we all moved into that new home and filled it with furniture. Yes, they were all amazing changes that were filled with happiness and they were also taxing changes to my mind, body and soul. I’m not about to count, but I know I did not take enough days off last year. There was no balance. This is not living within the ethical guidelines of Brahmacharya or even this “yogic lifestyle” I'm trying to live, which, in my opinion, is much more than showing up to my mat and using a neti pot. I need to hold myself accountable to these yamas and niyamas. I need to find equanimity in my life.
I encourage you this week to see where you might be doing the same thing. Are you making enough time for yourself? Is there a balance? Brahmacharya means non-excess, are you taking too much, or taking too-little?
Thank you for reading. I am looking forward to seeing you back on the mat this week.
My in-home classes start back up this week! I have a yoga class on Thursday at 9:30am and Pilates for Yogis at 9:30am on Friday.
Also, every other Friday night, starting on Jan 18, I offer a yoga class at 6:30pm and the first Sunday of each month, yoga at 8am. There are also opportunities for private lessons, which could include, yoga, pilates, philosophy or anything else you can think of!
For all types of classes click here.
For class listing, click here.
Hello and Happy Monday,
It’s Christmas Eve! It’s the last week of 2018! It’s the final week of Asteya!
I’m in week 2 of my time off and I am loving it. I underestimated how much this time was really needed. It has allowed me to slow down and take things in. I was able to go to both Michael and Melissa’s classroom holiday parties and their holiday program without that feeling of having to run off to teach. Which brings me to Asteya – another way to define it would be to dominate a conversation, or take away an experience from another person.
Last week I wrote about being in our heads when someone is talking and this analogy goes hand in hand. This is when someone is telling a wonderful story about their experience and we steal the spotlight – “Oh, yea, I’ve been there before…"it was amazing", "it was awful", you get the idea. We have all been in those situations when someone steals away the conversation and puts the kibosh on our excitement. This also happens when someone we know may be grieving and we, usually out of discomfort end the conversation. Saying things like, "everything happens for a reason". Sadly, sometimes we are guilty of this too.
In Melissa’s 2nd grade classroom holiday party, us pareents were able to help the kids make crafts. Then there was a STEM (science, technology, engineering, & mathematics) competition of who could build the strongest structure with toothpicks and mini-marshmallows. The children teamed up and worked together, following the instructions given by their teacher. Melissa asked me for help and as much as I wanted to help her, I knew I couldn’t. It was amazing watching some of the parents quickly swoop in and create the structure with their kids, taking over. While I didn’t help Melissa, I have taken over many other times; with my kids, with Joe, with friends. I take over where I think I could do the best job. I pride myself on being efficient and finding the best, easiest, effective, fastest, way to do things. This, of course, can take its toll – it’s exhausting.
I’ve let a lot of this go, but old habits are hard to release. As my piano teacher used to say, “practice makes permanence” and it’s true. Having children has allowed me to let go of some of that, as some people might call it, “controlling behavior”. And allow others to express themselves fully. Say what they want to say, do what they want to do, be how they want to be, and I get to observe and listen. It's silly to think I struggle with this, as it seems like quite the easy approach to life.
So, for this week, the last week of the year, let’s practice listening and allowing others to say what they are going to say, without adding our 2 cents.
Wishing you all a very happy holiday season.
I hear you, I love you,
P.S. - Melissa's team won for most steady structure!! She was so proud of her team! Michael's classroom made colonial crafts and we made butter!
P.P.S. - If you are looking for growth, change, and a deeper understanding of your self, please sign up for my 4 week program, Homecoming: A Journey Through Embodiment with Aurora Hutchinson.
It IS the way to start 2019! click here
Hello and Happy Monday,
I started my 3-week vacation on Friday and it has been wonderful. We arrived in LA on Friday night and Santa Monica has just what I needed. It’s a fantastic feeling to be present. To not have deadlines, work, things taking you from the now.
I thought about Asteya – non-stealing, this weekend when Joe and I were eating out. At the end of the meal, I had this salad with quinoa and I knew it was stuck between a lot of teeth, I shined my teethy grin at him and said, "is there anything in there?" He smiled and said “yes, every tooth”. And I spent the next few moments working on that, yet we were still talking and enjoying ourselves, and then it hit me. We steal moments, we steal being present, when we get wrapped up in the little things happening, like food in our teeth. I’ve been out with acquaintance or a business lunch where I don’t end the meal with a teethy grin and say, “how’s it look”, instead my head fills with “is there stuff in my teeth, it feels like there is stuff in my teeth, I can’t smile with stuff in my teeth” Which takes me away from the present moment.
There are tons of examples of us stealing the moments by being in our own heads. Joe and I were driving to Pilates for Yogis a few weeks ago and started talking about how people would describe us when we aren’t in the room. We started coming up with words, and we stopped listening to each other because we were thinking of what we were going to say next – which ended with us saying the same things and admitting we weren’t listening, but instead in our own heads, and then laughing. Luckily laughing. There are situations where we don’t listen because we are thinking of our response, or green in our teeth, or a robin that landed on the tree outside, or..., and we miss something important someone says, and sometimes we can’t get a second chance to ask again.
Active listening isn’t always easy, like everything else, it’s a practice. But, I think we know it will keep us in the present moment and we’ll stop stealing the now away from ourselves.
Everyone wants to be seen and heard with value so I try to remember the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have do unto you”. Or the famous quote from Ram Dass (and book), “Be Here Now”. Easy in theory, yet can be difficult in real life. So, we practice.
I see you, I hear you, I love you,
Venice Beach is beautiful! I wanted to share my view from the last few days.