Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ten Things That Make Me Feel Good

There's a thread being passed around the internet now asking people to name 10 things that make them feel good. At first I wasn't sure what to write, then I had a hard time stopping at just 10! In no particular order, here is my list.

1 - Browsing a book store. Any bookstore, anywhere. New or used. It doesn't matter. Just drop me off in the middle of a bookstore and I'm content.

2 - Taking the long way home so me and the kids can finish singing along to our favorite song in the car. And if that song is Freebird, well I'll drive way out of the way to listen to my 5 year old sing along to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

3 - Teaching a yoga class when everything just clicks and there's lots of positive energy flowing through the room.

Catching candy at the 2009 Munford Christmas parade
4 - Waking up early to find it's a snow day - from school and work!

5 - Sitting on a roadside curb in the cold to watch a Christmas parade. I'm sure this stems from my many years as a child watching and marching in the Hatboro Christmas parade up home. And of course every parade since then has been compared to that parade. Even the Mardi Gras parades from my time in New Orleans were fun, but they were no Hatboro parade! And now I get to enjoy the fun with my kids watching them wave to the floats, catch the candy being thrown and groove along to the marching bands.

6 - Riding horses.

7 - Hiking through State Parks.

8 - Genuine laughter that is unexpected and so hard it makes my sides hurt.

9 - Sand on my toes and the sun on my face during the day. Listening to the sound of the ocean at night.

10 - Realizing I have way more than ten things that make me feel good and smile!

What are your Feel Good 10?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

How To Start A Yoga Home Practice

When I first began my yoga teacher training, we were encouraged to start a home practice. Riiighht. Let me fit that in between my six kids, two dogs, making dinner, studying Sanskrit vocabulary and checking the kids homework.

Occasionally in those early days  I would attempt to be a good yogi and I'd roll out my mat and begin. But then the baby would cry. Or I'd be in wheel pose and from upside down I'd see the ever-growing laundry pile. More often than not my at-home practice ended in frustration rather than bliss.

But as I grew as a yoga student and yoga teacher, I began to not only understand the importance of a home practice, but I began to want one. Carving out time for myself on the mat became much more important in my daily routine. My time alone on the mat allowed me the luxury to stay in a pose as long as I wanted, exploring the physical alignment of it, tweaking it, and understanding it more.

Physical lessons aside, my yoga home practice gives me much needed me time to grow as a yoga student/teacher and human being. Maybe I finally succeed in a pose that has been bothering me, but the bigger lesson is the journey I took to get there. Why was I so determined to do a headstand? What did I think would happen when I was finally upside down? What does it say about me as a student/teacher/human that I just had to do this pose? My home practice forces me to face when I'm being competitive, when I'm being stubborn, when I'm scared and when I'm being kind of lazy. When it's just you on the mat, there's no one to blame but you.

There are some mornings I wake up, and before I'm out of bed I'm thinking about getting to the mat. Sometimes before my feet hit the floor I know my body needs hip openers. Other days I know to pull out my yoga bolster because I'm going to have a quieter, restorative practice. By committing to a home practice I'm much more in tune with my body and what it needs.

So how do you start a home practice? Well, you just do. Get on the mat, find child's pose, breathe and listen. What do you feel? What are you thinking? Just be quiet for a few moments and your body will tell you where to go.

Many of my students have asked me to write out a yoga routine for them. Here's a basic routine to get you started. It's intentionally short. I encourage you to take the time to breathe into each pose, listen and then go where your body tells you. Don't feel obligated to follow the flow, make your own. Enjoy!

1. Child's Pose
2. Downdog - peddle the feet stretching out your calf muscles
3. Plank/Downdog flow
4. Walk your feet to the top of the mat into forward fold
5. Inhale arms up, exhale into forward fold.
6. Downdog
7. Sun Salutations
8. Warrior II into Side Angle right side
9. Side Plank left hand down
10. Warrior II into Side Angle left side
11. Side Plank right hand down
12. Locust into Child's Pose
13. Cow Face Pose right and left
14. Supine Spinal Twist right and left
15. Savasana

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Perfect Night

Tonight was a perfect Friday night. I didn't go out with friends, no dancing at the clubs on Beale Street, and no yoga workshops. It was quiet, the lights were off, and no cell phones, laptops or gaming systems could be heard.

Instead all six kids snuggled under blankets with me and we watched Toy Story 3. That may not sound like great exciting fun, but it's a rare occurrence that I find an activity that both the elementary school kids and the teenagers are interested in. When those moments happen, I cherish them.

At first kid #1, the 16 year old, said he'd watch later. But then I noticed him standing in the doorway watching.

"Come on, there's room over here" I said hopefully.  And he sat down next to me. And lay down against me. Almost a snuggle! Although at one point I put my arm around him and he muttered "Don't even." Hey, you can't blame a mom for trying.

I even caught a couple of the kids sharing blankets with each other. For an hour and a half I had all my kids with me, no fighting and all laughing together.

And yes, I admit, I did get teary eyed at the end of the movie when Andy leaves for college and gives away his beloved Woody toy. I know in the blink of an eye my oldest will be leaving home, followed too soon by the next brother in line. I remember when kid #1 slept with his own Woody toy and had toy Story themed birthday parties.  And here he is now, all 6 feet of him, snuggled up on the couch with me watching the movie.

If I could have stopped time as easily as I could have paused the movie, I'd have sat in my darkened living room all night just enjoying everyone being together.

But I can't stop time, and even in the movies kids grow up, give away their toys and leave home. But not yet.  Grab a blanket and we'll watch a movie together.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Weekend with John Friend


I was more than my usual amount of nervous before going to the full weekend of workshops with the founder of Anusara Yoga himself, John Friend. You actually have to apply to attend one of his workshops, and well, I was a little more confident on my application than in real life. Previous Anusara experience? Oh sure! Ability to do a handstand unassisted? Of course!

I needn’t have worried. The first thing that struck me was how nice everyone was. I mean really, really nice and friendly. There were many master Anusara yoga teachers there to assist at the workshops, yet there were no egos. No divas. Just genuinely friendly and encouraging yogis.

The weekend began with his Dharma Talk at the beautiful Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn, PA.  Almost 200 of us sat on an intricate 150-year-old rug in the front room waiting for John Friend to make his entrance.

Since most of us didn’t know we would be sitting on the floor, we jokingly apologized for our tight jeans and any whale tails that might be showing to the person behind us. The woman to my right was a costume designer for the Pennsylvania Ballet Company and had studied with John Friend once before. The man to my left was from Washington, DC and used all his vacation time to follow John Friend throughout the year on his Melt Your Heart Blow Your Mind Tour.

I don’t think he got my joke when I asked if yoga tours were to our generation what Grateful Dead tours were to our parent’s generation.

And that’s when it occurred to me, this yoga tour has a name? Melt Your Heart and Blow Your Mind. Don’t rock bands name their tours? Who does this John Friend guy think he is? Elvis?

And then, kind of like I imagine Elvis did, John made his entrance. And like I imagine the young screaming girls at an Elvis concert, I was enchanted.

The theme of his Dharma Talk was Enter the Dark and Shine the Light. He asked who among us has not suffered this year?  We shouldn’t be afraid of the dark. Darkness is natural. Radical transformation happens by going into the dark.

He gave the analogy of the beautiful trees surrounding the estate we were on. The leaves were brilliant gold, orange and red. Yet it was almost winter. The trees were dying. 

That’s when I knew John was speaking directly to me. My mom very well may be nearing the end of her time. She is looking at the darkness. Yet earlier that day we had driven down to Bryn Athyn, and we parked under one of the trees John was talking about. As we sat there we said how beautiful the tree was.  It didn’t occur to me then that the tree was dying.  I still hadn’t faced reality that my mom was dying.

“When you hit the darkest bottom and you think this is it – wait a minute. That’s what the caterpillar said before he became a butterfly.” The most beautiful part is near the end.

I left the talk that night and already a shift was taking place inside me. I could hardly sleep that night waiting for the first workshop of the morning.

So how does John Friend teach a workshop to almost 300 people? With lots and lots of help! He had many master trainers from all over the country assisting, answering our questions and adjusting our poses. John himself hopped off the stage and walked between our mats for the two-hour sessions. He was no diva either.

He asked us to soften the limiting ideas of ourselves. Let go of the “I can’t” and the “I’m not good enough”.  He told us the name of the yoga tour was very intentional. Once we melt our heart to the possibility within us, what we’re capable of will truly blow our minds.

The first session of the morning was hip openers. One of my favorite. My classes will attest that I do love pigeon pose. But when John cued us to jump switch our pigeons, I thought, “What the…” But, I’ve set aside my own self-imposed limits so here we go.

Between sessions there was time to mingle and get to know the other wide-eyed yogi’s I was sweating and jumping with.

The man on the mat to my left was there because his son, a certified Anusara teacher  based in Phoenix, convinced him to go. His son was taking the teachers advanced training that weekend, and sat on the bleachers and watched as his dad took the multi-level training with the rest of us.  Pretty neat right? It gets better. His son’s very first yoga class was at 22 years of age when he was in a rehab facility for alcoholism. He was so taken by yoga and how it healed him, he got certified himself and now teaches at that same rehab facility. My new friend told me there were some very dark days when his son was younger, and he honestly believed there were times his son was going to die from his addiction. But he made it through. The power of yoga combined with the power of love.

The couple behind me were lawyers from New York City. She told her boyfriend they were going away for a romantic weekend, and instead surprised him with this yoga  training. And interestingly, there were way more men attending John Friend’s workshops than I’ve ever seen at any yoga training.

Day two arrived and although I was a little sore and tired, I was ready to melt my heart and blow my mind some more.

John Friend teaches his classes in such an amazing way that the progressions are natural and logical. He teaches while you are in the pose. What better way to understand the inner spiral of the thigh muscles than to actually hold trikonasana and micro-adjust until you find the full expression of the pose.

As we were moving through that first class of the morning, I knew we were building to handstand. I knew the time of reckoning was soon. Could I melt my heart enough to do this?

“Ok, let’s just do the pose.” And with that statement John pulled a woman from the audience to the front to demonstrate. But he chose someone who’d never before done handstand.  And it was her 60th birthday!  And yes, with John’s gentle guidance, she did a handstand.

As we walked back to our mats to partner up and try our own handstands, I asked the teacher assistant working my section some inane question about hand placement. The assistant was a young guy from an Anusara studio in Venice Beach, California. He looked like a typical surfer dude from Venice, not a master teacher. In fact, he didn’t even really answer my question. He just looked at me and said, “No worries.” I gave a really intelligent answer of “ok”.

Step 1 – breathe. Step 2 – hand placement. Step 3 – one leg up. Step 4 – am I still breathing? Step 5 – melt my heart. Step 6 – holy shit I’m in handstand! My mind is officially blown.

I came down and was beaming from ear to ear and looked at my partner and asked “Did I really do that?” Yes indeed she confirmed. And with perfect timing here came my Venice yoga guy.

As he walked past, he gave me a smirk and said in that Venice surfer dude voice, “Well alright then.” As John called the class back to refocus and move on, I was the last person to make it back to my mat. I wanted to do just one more handstand!

Yes, a radical shift inside me was happening. Performing advanced asanas and a deeper understanding of anatomy was secondary to the inner heart-felt shift that had happened.

I had to face myself and honestly say that what was holding me back was me -my self-imposed limits. Not just on the mat, but off the mat as well.

And it’s so much more than kicking up into a handstand. It’s the confidence to say no even though it will disappoint someone, to say stop when I feel treated unkindly and to stand up for myself and value my own being as much if not more than those around me.

Me and John Friend at Glencairn Museum
It’s knowing that if I melt my heart, open to the possibility and accept what the universe has to offer, that where I go will absolutely blow my mind. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yoga School Dropout by Lucy Edge

Before I give my review of Yoga School Dropout by Lucy Edge, I need to give an important disclaimer: I do not have a deep burning desire to travel to India and sleep on uncomfortable beds while studying with yoga masters.

There, I said it. Not feeling a need to travel to India to explore my yoga very well may mean I’m not a good yogi. Or perhaps, I too, am a yoga school dropout.

However, I did love reading about Lucy’s travels through India and her search for a guru to turn her into a yoga goddess.

Her search starts out quite rocky with the superficial students in Mysore having pool-side contests for the best body, well-funded Westerners spending their days perfecting their asanas and their evenings listening to Christina Aguilera and trying to hook up with the winner of that days best body contest.

She moves from yoga school to yoga school, stopping long enough to spend time with the Hugging Mother which leaves her feeling less than loved, a visit to the home of Osho the “Sex Guru” which required an HIV test and resulted in nothing more than faking a tantric orgasm, and a visit to the ‘yoga capital of the world’ Rishikesh only to find out she was months early for the famous yoga festival.

At one point, while wearing her OM Yoga t-shirt she brought with her from home, a fellow student points out that Lucy is doing nothing more than shopping.  Shopping for trinkets to bring home, shopping for Indian clothes that she thinks a real yoga goddess would wear and shopping for a way to buy her to enlightenment.

Lucy begins her quest as an ex-London advertising executive in search of what she thinks will make her happy – 18% body fat, ability to perform advances poses and of course, a yoga god-man to compliment her life.

She begins with hours of physical practice which result in the much coveted lower body fat, but also an injured cervical disc in her neck. Her travels eventually lead her to Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM) where the asana practice is so slow she says “my granny could have done it”.

But it’s exactly this slower practice, study of the Yoga Sutras and yoga philosophy that allows her to make the most progress and find her “aha moment” of realization.

Her teacher tells her that “asana is not a performance, asana is what happens in the posture and afterwards. A circus man can do many postures – this is not asana”.

Lucy realizes she has been giving only about 1% sthiram  (stability, alertness and attention) and sukham (remaining light and comfortable in the posture). Once her attitude changed, then Lucy began to change.

“Change occurs only when we become what we truly are, not when we are trying to be something we are not.”

Once Lucy accepts herself for who she is, then she becomes a real Yoga Goddess.

A Yoga Goddess practices her yoga off the mat as well as on. She knows yoga is a state of mind that helps us choose wisely in life. Her enlightenment happens when she knows that “what I did was…less important than how I did it”.

If someday Mary Poppins flies in with her magic umbrella to care for my children, and perhaps Powerball pays my mortgage and funds my trip well enough that I can afford the luxury bedroom with hot water and a real pillow, I will also take a yoga journey through India.

But for now, I’ll practice my healing asana on the mat in my living room, and remember to choose wisely in life as a way of practicing yoga off the mat.

Just like Lucy, being a Yoga School Dropout makes me a better yogi.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Soaring Through The Sun

Have you ever flown into a sunset? I highly recommend it.

It's not possible to feel worried, upset, depressed or scared when you are soaring through a skyline of orange and yellow bliss.

The beauty overtakes you and reminds you that despite your troubles, there is still more good than bad in this life.

             When you don't know what to do

Don't know if you'll make it through
Remember God has given you
Beauty in the world
-- Macy Gray
Beauty in the World

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stay Here Stay Now

I can't sleep. It's after midnight and my eyelids are heavy yet I'm fighting rest. If I go to sleep now, the morning will come too soon and I'll have to leave and go home again.

I've had trouble all day staying present in the moment and not letting my mind wander into the future. My mom's future is uncertain right now, and it's easy to make yourself crazy thinking about it.

Mom was feeling ok today so I drove her up to visit the local Gilda's Club. Gilda's Club was started by Gene Wilder after the death of his wife Gilda Radner. It's a place for cancer patients and their families to gather. It was a beautiful place with very friendly people. And I successfully kept my "are you good enough for my  momma" tendencies under control when I grilled the yoga and pilates teachers on their qualifications.

One of the remarkable things about this Gilda's Club is that it is in an old building that was once a part of the underground railroad. And you can go down now into the basement and walk through the tunnels that the slaves hid in on their trek north.

The woman giving us our tour offered to take us downstairs. Mom is in no condition to be going down steep steps or crawling through tunnels, yet she said she'd sit upstairs and wait because she knew how fascinated I was by the history.

I didn't go. If I can't go with my mom I'm not going. I know it means I may never get to go. I'm not going now.

After, she said she was hungry and wanted some lunch. It's the first time she's said she's hungry in weeks so I couldn't get the car fast enough to the diner she suggested. We sat and talked and had a delightful lunch. We talked about the now and about the future. As we talked my mind kept tormenting me with "what if" and "what about".

I had to force myself back to the conversation. At one point I even responded to a comment she made about her future with "look how big these carrots are in my soup." Stay present, stay focused, enjoy the now.

In yoga we call it having a drunken monkey mind. The Yoga Sutras call it chitta vritti. Always thinking ahead and even projecting fear, worry and anxiety into the future that we forget to enjoy where we're at right now. The yogic aim is the cessation of mental fragmentation. In lay terms it means enjoying the present moment.

The future is already written and no amount of drunken monkey thoughts will change it. The morning will come whether I sleep or not. I will someday have to say goodbye.

But for now I'm going to try to remember to just enjoy laying in bed next to her, watching tv, laughing about the kids and even talking about the future. Because the morning does always follow the dark.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tweets and Books in the Yoga Community

I admit I'm a little late to the Twitter party. Much like my introduction to the Facebook world, it took a lot of convincing by a friend of mine to get me to join. At first I just didn't get the whole Twitter thing. Wasn't it just a forum for celebrities to spout off  their opinions or where they shopped or who they were dating? None of which I really cared about anyway. I'm not famous, who would care what I have to say? I'm not known for my deep and profound thoughts.

However, I'm really beginning to enjoy the Twitter world. I've met many wonderful yoga teachers and enthusiasts from all over the world that I otherwise would never have connected with. Even in our allotted 140 characters we can share yoga tips, teaching frustrations and general life experiences. Right now both @MeredithLeBlanc and I are helping care for our sick mothers. The funny posts from @yogasavestheday expressing her frustrations with her boss and the demands of her job not only make me laugh out loud, but also remind me how grateful I am to be able to teach yoga as my career.

My Twitter friends have become part of  my Satsang -  my truth company. Satsang is a Sanskrit word for being in the company of the wise. With just an iphone and a Twitter app I've been able to expand my yoga world exponentially. Which in turn has opened up a new avenue for me to grow into and understand how yoga affects me and my life.

In fact, we've now formed a Yoga Book Club. We're reading Yoga School Dropout by Lucy Edge. There's no deadline or meeting time, as we read we tweet what we think of it, discuss and share. In fact, Bob Weisenberg (@BobWeisenberg) who writes for Elephant Journal has even joined our book club discussion. Mr. Weisenberg interviewed Lucy Edge for Elephant Journal(http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/11/the-swimming-pool-of-cosmic-bliss-by-lucy-edge/) and has even teased us with the possibility that Ms. Edge herself may join our Twitter discussions.

I'd love for you to join our book club too. If you are already on Twitter you can find me @YogaLifeWay. Just start reading and when you post use hashtag #YSD to let us know you are talking about Yoga School Dropout and want to be a part of the book club.

If you're not on Twitter and just don't get it yet either, that's ok. I'll be posting my own review of the book here when I'm finished reading. Go ahead and post your thoughts here in the comments section. Let's discuss and make this Satsang even bigger!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shhh... Listen To The Whisper

Yoga has taught me a lot of things and given me a lot of gifts. Yoga continually forces me to question the what and the why of my life and just when I think I’ve got the answer, the questions change.  Right now my lessons seem to be focused on one of the niyamas of yoga -  svadhyaya, also known as self study.

Svadhyaya means self-examination.  It’s a way of studying myself as part of a bigger picture to find intention in everything I do, accept my limitations and cultivate a non-reactive approach to self-destructive tendencies.

That’s a big way of saying it’s a lesson in learning the world doesn’t revolve around me. Whatever or whoever you call it, there is something bigger than me going on in the Universe.

I think of it as a divine whisper in my ear saying, “Stop. Be quiet. It’s not about you”.

When I spend the day cooking a delicious and healthy meal to nourish my family, and one member decides not to join the family, it’s the realization that it’s his decision and not a reflection on my intentions.  I wanted to cook a hearty soup with love. I did and now it’s his decision whether or not to accept that bowl.

My initial reaction is, well, to react.  But wait, why did I cook? Was I expecting a Normal Rockwell moment with my family saying, “oh mother dear this is the best soup we’ve ever tasted. We love you and are so grateful for you.” No, not really.

Instead of reacting though, I get the whisper, “It’s not about you.” There’s a bigger picture than just a bowl of soup.

In my yoga classes I’m always reminding my students this is their class. Just because I cue a pose doesn’t mean that is where they need to be at that moment.  When I take someone else’s class I follow the plan, but stop and rest if I need to or maybe even go deeper if I feel I can. There’s a bigger picture going on than just what pose I can do.

When I was in Los Angeles I was fortunate to have taken a class with Steve Ross.  (If you don’t know who Steve Ross is, you are really missing out. You must get his book Happy Yoga and check out his show Inhale on the Oxygen channel.)

First I was surprised by how small his studio was. I pictured a big fancy yoga guy would have a big fancy studio. Instead it was small and comfortable and I was welcomed like they’d been waiting for this star struck woman from Memphis to walk through the doors.

I rolled out my mat and was ready to soak up everything he said in the 90 minutes I was there. At one point though I realized people were doing their own thing. One woman was in headstand, one was in handstand and I was in downdog like he’d cued. People, are you crazy? This is the Steve Ross! Do what the man says!

But Steve wasn’t fazed. He heard the whisper loud and clear “It’s not about you.”

I remember that now as I teach my classes and I notice someone just not doing what I am saying. Maybe they don’t understand my cues, but more often than not it’s because they are practicing their yoga in their class their way. I am just the guide leading them on their own journey of self discovery. There’s a bigger picture than I can see.

My yoga journey continually challenges me to examine my own needs, wants and motivations. In every action I take, what are my intentions? What do I expect out of this?

Most importantly of all, let go of those expectations because it’s not about you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

When A Vegetarian Falls

I ate a Nathan’s hot dog from Sam’s Club tonight.  Well ok, since the blog is supposed to be a place for me to honestly explore and evaluate my life, I admit to eating two Nathan’s hot dogs – with relish and mustard.

I know eating a hot dog isn’t a reason for a blog post to most people. But it’s way out of my normal eating pattern for me. So far out of the norm I’ve spent the past 20 minutes curled in the fetal position in pain and nausea.

My favorite
fresh roasted vegetables
I call myself a vegetarian. Well a part-time vegetarian anyway.  I have very loose rules regarding my eating; I still eat eggs, dairy and fish. Yes I know, in some circles that means I’m not a real vegetarian.  But in my house we call it a fishetarian. Hey, it works for me.  

Earlier this year I spent a week in Los Angeles where it was super easy to eat super healthy. Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables were everywhere. I was working hard and pushing my body physically harder, yet the healthy food choices sustained me and kept me going strong.

Yet, as soon as I returned to Memphis the fat, greasy, non-vegetable options tempted me. I let the drama going on in my life be the excuse to succumb and feed my emotions rather than face them.  Within a week I was bloated, sluggish and moody.

Fortunately though, my vegetarianism is like my Catholicism.  I have the foundation,  I have a basic belief in it, and I return to it when I need it. If I decide to indulge in a juicy greasy cheeseburger, or if my clean eating diet wanders too far and gets a little too dirty, I can return again. Say a few Hail Mary’s and perhaps a 2-day soup cleanse to rid my body of sin and toxins.

Recently I was home in Philadelphia for a week – the land of greasy cheesesteaks, sugary Tastycakes and salty soft pretzels.  Did I indulge my taste buds? Of course! But only in moderation and I balanced it out with lunch at a delightful little vegetarian restaurant we found and fresh fish from the local market.

But life has a way of continually throwing blockades up along my health and wellness journey. Drama at home or an unusual amount of daily stress all too easily derail my healthy eating and daily exercise habits.  When I have too much to do the easiest thing to give up is taking care of myself.

A nightly love affair with both Mr Ben and Jerry is a temporary solution to life’s stress.  When I'm too tired/lazy/forgetful to pack my lunch it's easy to swing through McDonalds. But at what cost? And I don't just mean financial. 

I like eating good, healthy food. I feel good when I do. But I always think a sugar or fat binge will fix what's wrong. It never does.  I never eat junk and afterward think "Oh I feel so wonderful I could go do a two hour power yoga class".  I wouldn't make it through the first ten minutes before my body gave out. It wasn't fed properly first. Organic roasted vegetables, fresh blueberries or a ripe juicy orange can be just as soothing to my soul, yet nourish me in a way to help me deal with life’s drama’s and turmoils in a stronger, healthier way.

Let’s face it, I’d be kicked out of a vegan meeting. I really, really like my Aldofi leather coat. It’s not strictly a matter of cruelty to animals. Although the facts of factory farming  and genetically modified food scare me.  For me, it’s about how much healthier I feel when I eat closer to nature.

Better for the planet, better for my health and better for my wallet. It’s a much better motto than any fast food jingle. I just have to remember to sing it to myself!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Musical Bliss on the Yoga Mat

Music soothes the savage beast... William Congreve

My kids say they hate when I sing in the car. Although I don't think they really do. I think deep down they love the fact they have a mom who will blast Freebird and take the long way home so we can sing along to the end.

I love hearing a song and being instantly transported back in time to a good memory; dancing in the kitchen with my mom, my dance school solo to Fleetwood Mac's Gypsy or any 1980's song from when I was in high school. Who hasn't heard a song and been reminded of a summer of first love?

I know there are some yoga teachers who believe popular music doesn't belong in a yoga class. I disagree.  Music provides yet another opportunity to get in touch with who we are. Music is another opportunity to discover what we're looking for.  A song affects us in a certain why and we aren't quite sure why. I admit I've begun to weep listening to lyrics that express emotions I've been holding down.

Music heals my soul. How lonely and quiet life would be without a soundtrack.

This is one of my more popular yoga class playlists. I've made copies of U2 yoga for quite a few people. Perhaps it will soothe your soul as well.

Grace -- U2
Strength, Courage and Wisdom -- India Arie
Crazy (Acoustic version) -- Seal
You Found Me -- The Fray
Wild World -- Cat Stevens
One -- U2
Watching the Wheels -- John Lennon
Drift Away -- Uncle Kracker
Bad -- U2
God Is Real/Hare Ram -- Krishna Das
Driftwood -- Sleeping Buddha

Monday, November 1, 2010

Karma Yoga - Yoga In Action

So many people I know, myself included, struggle with food issues. Too much sugar, too much fat, too much, too much, too much. We simply have access to and eat too much food. The reality is though, there are people who don't have access to enough food and don't have enough to eat.

This month all YogaLifeWay classes will be an opportunity to practice Karma Yoga. We will be collecting non-perishable food items to be donated to Millington's First United Methodist Church Food Bank.

This past spring's devastating floods in our area brought back memories of five years ago when I evacuated Hurricane Katrina. Although my house and my family were safe this time, I remembered how I felt then and how dependent we were on the kindness of strangers. I had to do something to feel useful.

Kid #6 sorting beans at
the food bank
So me and my youngest  took an afternoon while everyone else was at school and volunteered at our local food bank. While we were there, we watched quite a few families come through
and accept bags of food. I wondered if it was the floods or something else that brought them to a point where they needed help to put dinner on the table. The reason didn't matter, I knew all too well there but for the grace of God go I.

I remembered how I was embarrassed to be standing in a FEMA aid line five years ago, like I didn't deserve this. Does anyone deserve to be homeless or hungry?

I don't live in a poor neighborhood. I live in a nice house in a nice town and can afford to eat what I want when I want. It's easy to forget how truly blessed I am.

My desire is for  YogaLifeWay classes to be more than just a place to get our yoga bliss on. I'd like it to be a place where we who are blessed can gather and put our yoga into action. Help me start YogaLifeWay Karma Yoga this month. I'm asking everyone to bring non-perishable food items to any class this month to be donated to our local food bank. As an added bonus, anyone who donates 5 items will be eligible to win free cool yoga gear.

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Dalai Lama