Category Archives: Yoga Practice

My yoga practice

Root to rise – on and off the mat

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Genius, she is. Once again, after class ended and I asked Amy why she thought I couldn’t quite grasp one particular pose – she knew exactly what to say. It wasn’t the fact that every body type has different possibilities. It wasn’t about my scoliosis and it wasn’t about anyone’s talent in yoga. And sure, it’s definitely got something to do with the internal and external rotation of the hips, but that’s not the point either. She said, ‘most of the time, in yoga, if you can’t get to a pose – the key is, sit up higher’.

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It all matters

It mattered. Class was at noon on Wednesday and on the way there I got the same AP alert on my phone as zillions of others – Supreme Court Justice Kennedy had announced his retirement. Like many others, this felt like another giant gut punch in a week that felt similar to the days following the election. Ugh! Children in cages, families ripped apart, unions threatened, human rights in jeopardy, senseless gun violence, the free press under attack, the world in turmoil and now this – seriously! Sometimes it feels like a good time to hide under the covers just to catch our breath. It’s hard to find the time to breathe, smile and figure out which issue to fight first no less carve the time to get to the mat – but that self-care matters and yesterday it mattered that much more.

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On the walk home, I thought about what Amy said. Sure, in that moment, she was talking about the idea of putting a block under my hip and reaching on a downward angle towards the floor which would allow my back a different stretch than it ever had before. To me, the words held far more weight than those. It reminded me of another significant pearl of wisdom about going higher and reaching for better. It reminded me of decades of derision and lowly taunts of limited and hate-filled rhetoric and the charge to say ‘go high’, be the bigger person, aim for the better road, choose right. It sure isn’t easy. It’s a lot easier just to ditch the thought of ever hitting that pose, flinging up my hands and saying ‘I didn’t need that anyway’. But that’s not true, that’s not me and that sure isn’t the way to choose right, happy or joy – I know better, but we all have those moments.

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Take a moment, take a deep breath – and roar

To me, her words meant more about trying to lift yourself and others up along the road of life. Through every journey, there have been highs and lows and hopefully along the long scope, we learn from both types of episodes. Both tell a story, chart a course and often set our souls on fire; but this time, it was something about the idea of elevating while standing your ground that made an impression. My twisted back and hips are rarely level, but with some assistance, they gain the stability to stand their ground. Perhaps, that’s what it all means. Perhaps whenever Amy starts her class with the idea of root through your feet to rise through the top of your head it means more. Perhaps, in this chaotic time where the world seems to turn on its head every minute of every day, that’s what we need to remember.

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Personally we’ve been smacked a bit these past few months, but these recent weeks feel like the entire country took a whopper to the face and the hits have kept on coming. Perhaps the yoga analogies work more than I know. Most of the instructors I’ve ever had have uttered the phrase, ‘it’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect’ and remind yogis that making the time to show up on the mat is always a good idea. So sure, right this minute we’ll take any bit of wisdom we can get and find a way to extrapolate it out and apply it to greater life. Let’s keep practicing, keep helping, and keep lifting others up. My hips are happy when I show up on that mat and my heart is happy when I show up to support justice and helping others – so don’t give up.

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Show up – you make a difference

Thanks for the reminder, Amy – those nuggets of goodness gleaned from a yoga class hold weight on and without question, off that yoga mat. Sometimes you need to take those moments of time to hide under the covers and take care of yourself. Sometimes you need to spend time away from it all, hug your loved ones, regroup, do something to lift your own spirits and then return to the fight. Sometimes you need to realize your limits, get that support and do what you can. And sometimes you shove that block or blanket under your hip, boost yourself up and set your soul on fire. It was true on Wednesday, it’s true today and it’ll be true tomorrow. It’s not easy, but I’m going to keep showing up. What about you?

Connections in movement and mindfulness – an interview with a passionate performance artist

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My best friend in high school wanted to be a dancer. I remember countless nights practicing with friends as she choreographed our performance for the Senior Show. When she majored in modern dance in college, I went to visit her and see all of her years of work come to fruition. This week it seems another part of life has come full circle. Read the rest of this entry

Dropping in – on and off the mat

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sand dollars on Coronaado

When I hear the phrase ‘dropping in’ I often think of surfers grabbing their best wave, but when Zaquia mentioned it in her yoga class it seemed to have a different meaning all the same. Then @yogagirl wrote about how yoga is so much more than an on the mat practice and that hit home, too. Then I had a chat with a friend who maintains a plan to move houses every decade to try out a new space and be as present as possible in her new community and that landed the trilogy. Seems the universe wanted me to see that ‘dropping in’ is far more than finding the sweet spot atop the ocean. Read the rest of this entry

January to December to January

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2016 is ending. Through what seemed like a constant supply of gut punches and salt-filled tears, the world said goodbye to more cultural icons than we can count, sat stunned in the wake of political insanity and stood gobsmacked as the world seemingly continued to fall apart around us all. Being a global citizen isn’t always easy. Finding your smile isn’t always easy. The year ticks away from season to season and somehow turning the pages or clicking ‘next’ on our calendars is meant to change things. But there was good, there always is, it only often gets overshadowed by the surrounding and much louder ick. Syrian children are fighting for their lives. Refugees are trudging through awful to wonder if they’ll gain entry somewhere with the promise of a welcoming community and better life. There is a homeless epidemic. I got a yoga wheel for the holidays and promptly busted a rib. I found a new yoga teacher I liked, her class is getting cancelled. I voted for the first time in California and wound up in the fetal position on the couch the next morning. Ugh. The universe feels like it’s spinning out of control…but, is that really the whole story? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Read the rest of this entry

A birthday paddle to remember

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Shot with Go Pro - courtesy of Liquid Stand Up Paddle Board, LLC. - the gift of travel

I’ve always loved birthdays. They’re that one special day of the year when people do their best to remember to tell you that you matter to them and that they’re glad you’re in their life. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you even wind up with sparkles or chocolate as part of the day. I remember gymnastics parties, backyard bashes and trying my hand at cupcake making where the best part was licking the icing off of my fingers. Often around Labour Day, my birthday sits smack in the middle of camp ending and school beginning each year. I turned eighteen my first week of university and the few friends I had just made did their best to make it a spectacular event. Last year, this new decade began with a morning yoga class, chips and chocolate cake on the beach and a day spent outside on a Maldivian island. As always for me, experiences are the best gifts. I have always loved birthdays. Read the rest of this entry

Joy in Simplicity

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Pure Bliss - the gift of travel

Almost a decade ago, my cousin got married in North Carolina. I flew in for her wedding and stayed with a summer camp counselor and her family for the night. They picked me up at the airport with their two little girls in tow and we chatted the entire drive home. Along the way, her husband (who was also a camp director of mine) pointed out whimsical trees, purple flowers on the center median and even a deer on the side of the road. The visit was great, the wedding was beautiful and the time with family and friends precious, but Chris pointing out wildflowers to his young daughters has stuck with me. Read the rest of this entry

Yoga’s gift…aging gracefully!

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Yoga’s gift…aging gracefully!

To the lady in the front row of beach yoga today…THANK YOU!

This is the year I turn forty. It’s been filled with Facebook posts, surprise parties and escapades of friends experiencing the same milestone. Amidst the happy birthdays and ‘fabulous forty’ posts there comes that dread of ‘oh my goodness-how on earth am I going to be forty?’ If I’m lucky, in just a few weeks, I’ll reach the same milestone as so many of my fellow 1996 university graduates. Here’s hoping the next forty years are filled with as many amazing adventure as the first forty.

Today started as a traveler’s morning in my own town. A morning beach yoga class on the sand at Lafayette Beach provided by Kristen, our beach yoga instructor. This class was bigger than it’s been all summer. A total of twenty-one people ranged in ages from early twenties to late sixties came to greet the day with their toes in the sand and hips in the air. Read the rest of this entry

A different type of journey…The Gift of Yoga

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Written 28 June 2012

“Take one last breath, seal in your intention for your class today” said the instructor. I think my intention would be something about trying not to fall and eat sand. “Now squat down with your feet wide, place your hands in front of you on the ground, lift your bum up and place your knees on your upper arms. Be sure to look forward while starting to lift your feet one at a time” said Kristen as I stared at her quizzically. Are you kidding? This is definitely not normal was all I was thinking as I fell face first into the sand on my first attempt at crow pose.

Since I was fifteen years old I have worked every summer. I’ve been a sleep away camp counselor, a lifeguard and spent many wonderful years as an aquatics director & private swim instructor. Until last summer that is, when my best friend convinced me to take the summer off from work and go back to school in September a more rejuvenated teacher. I loved my summer job and had great difficulty giving it up; but, I decided it was time for a change. With a heavy heart, I passed the torch to my assistant director and asked her to take care of my campers.

For the first time since moving to Long Beach (& for the first time ever) I was actually going to enjoy all of the benefits of living here-the ocean air, the sand between my toes, the people watching on the boardwalk & time; that elusive entity that we all hope to grasp but never seem to be able to find. Those first few days were strange-not having to make my lunch, head to work and be exhausted upon my return home while hoping to stay awake long enough to shower & eat never mind having an actual conversation with my husband. Then I found my feet and went for that first summer walk on the boardwalk and felt that rush of relaxation with each step as the rays of sunshine hit my face. I was past National when I saw what would change my summer-a yoga class on the shoreline practicing to the music of the waves.

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