Archive for the ‘home yoga’ Category

Where Have I Been?

Has it really been two weeks since I’ve tap out a blog post? Never fear, I’m here with lots to offer.

I figure since you’ve had some downtime from the abellaYoga blog now might be a good time to post the following link (see below) outlining 77 health benefits of practicing yoga. I’m sure every reader can relate with at least one, or maybe even ten, of the items on the list.  It’s a great list!

My only critique is there isn’t much mention of yoga being a path towards bliss (aka enlightenment) which keeps us healthy and shining from head-to-toe, inside and out. To me this is a huge benefit, though it does take time to discover. For some, it’s many years into their yoga practice.

There’s a lot to learn, experience and benefit from when it comes to yoga. Yoga is much more than asana (poses). Through exploration, consistency and willingness to be open to whatever is tossed to you in a yoga class, you’ll start to discover more than the 77 benefits outlined in the link I’m including here. In due time, you’ll experience bliss.

To slightly digress, another big benefit of a regular yoga practice is learning true discipline (also not mentioned in the list/link). Getting to your mat daily (discipline), staying on your mat (discipline), holding a pose longer than you think you can (discipline), trying flying crow even if you might splatter to the floor (discipline).  Discipline keeps us healthy.

Going back to bliss…ultimately yoga is a practice that connects us to our hearts and opens us up to our true nature (aka Self). Every step in your yoga practice (including your life practice) has it’s ups and downs but combined the synergistic effect is one of bliss.  A blissful life is a healthy life.

http://www.nursingdegree.net/blog/24/77-surprising-health-benefits-of-yoga

Modern-Day Enlightenment

What is enlightenment?  I’m jumping into the land of the unknown with this entry.  Or is it unknown? Have I experienced enlightenment?

The more I continue to study the various aspects of yoga (a.k.a. the 8 limbs including philosophy, meditation, asana, breathing, etc.) I seem to get closer to my heart and the things that really matter in life.  I’m more aware of the incessant “voices in the head” (If you think this sounds crazy, read on).  Randomly I have subtle moments I feel my mind quiet and I am fully aware of the present.

I don’t think the chatter will ever stop but I’m becoming aware of how redundant, unnecessary and useless much of the noise “upstairs”.   At times, I’m able to tune it out/turn it off.  Prior to recent, I thought the chatter was normal.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, what’s going on in your head right now?  What chatter do you hear?  What judgments are you making about me?  About yourself?  Or maybe the world around you?  How often do you think the same redundant thoughts about yourself, others, etc.?  How often do you worry about things that will more than likely never ever happen?  I remember attending a lecture with Judith Lasater last year and she said “Worrying is like praying for something bad to happen”.

Along with all this, I can’t forget to mention my listening has greatly improved.  When someone speaks, I do my best to provide my full attention physically, mentally and emotionally.  I now find myself noticing how often others aren’t listening (they’re doing what I use to do!).

Unless you’ve done any spiritual self-studies, this entry might sound foreign or simply crazy.  I use to think it was all crazy, but my experiences have opened my eyes to what it means to live in the present and live life.  I often experience myself feeling more “awake” in the chaos to a point where I’m able to rise above it and just observe.  Basically, I think I’m waking up to life.  Could this be modern-day enlightenment?  Maybe, maybe not…but I think I’m on the right track.

Reflecting on Death and Birth

When I started teaching two years ago, I never imagined I would be dealing with the death of a student.  It’s just not an issue that crossed mind when thinking “I’d like to be a yoga teacher”.  Though death is a natural part of life regardless of the path you opt to take.

On Wednesday morning I learned that one of my private clients passed away on Friday, January 4th.  Though I probably only met with this particular client 10-15 times, a friendship developed.  It happens, it’s natural.  It’s part of being human.  I’m sad to write that I’ve lost a friend.

As a yoga teacher one of the most challenging things to manage is the relationship with private clients.  It’s a balancing act.  As a yoga teacher I must be open so that my students can be open with themselves and more importantly trust themselves.  The balancing act is in learning how not being too open and not too closed.  The teacher-student connection is a professional relationship, but like all long-term professional relationships you start to get to know each other on a personal level.  Simple yet personal conversations transpire and build over time about such things as each others’ families, pets, vacations and hobbies.  As a result friendships form, such as the one I had with my student and friend who left us on Friday.

The other thing that has unexpectedly happen through teaching yoga is I find myself many times learning from my clients.  I become the student.  This was the case with my client who passed away.  He was in his early 70’s practicing vinyasa yoga with a partially paralyzed arm.  He went through many chaturangas, upward-facing dogs and downward-facing dogs with a vibrant attitude.  He never complained when something was challenging.  He knew when to modify.  He practiced between our sessions together.  He asked excellent questions.  He was focused.  He had a strong spirit on the yoga mat as well as off the mat.

On the same day my client passed a way, a few hours later my sister gave birth to a baby girl.  This is a very happy event and has the opposite sound of death.  Birth and death are two natural life events.  They hold different meanings and offer different feelings yet both are natural occurrences that everyone encounters at some point.  And both offer opportunities for reflection.

Take Charge of the Holiday Frenzy

Tagging onto my last blog post, here are a few simple suggestions from a yogi who is feeling all the things you’re feeling right now as the holiday frenzy erupts.  If you want to fully experience the meaning of “celebration” during the holidays, give this a read.

If you haven’t started shopping, writing cards, baking or whatever it is you need to do, start today.  As Baron says, if not now, when?  Eliminate the ease of procrastination.  Overload, exhaustion and increased stress will happen that last week before Christmas if you don’t start now.  Oh, and you’ll probably ditch your yoga practice and exercise routine to boot.  Lack of exercise can bring a damper on your personal celebration.  You may physically be at the party but mentally you feel the guilt of not sticking with the things in life that keep you sane.

If you need to skip a holiday event (even if it’s to give you time to hit the yoga mat), provide a brief explanation in advance and be sure to express appreciation.  You don’t have to accept every invitation, but don’t say you’re going to be there and then cancel the last minute.  Or worse, not show up period.  You’ll feel guilt and stress and more than likely, disappoint the host.

Lastly, if you procrastinate during the holidays in an effort to avoid the debt that many take on in the process of giving, get creative in your gift-giving this year.  Think “white elephant exchange” (a nice way to recycle something someone else might like without tossing it).  Think “giving to charity” on behalf of someone you love.  Think of “spending quality time with your friends” by treating them to an afternoon of tea/coffee at the local coffee house as oppose to buying them all gifts.  If you do this during the middle of a Saturday of holiday shopping, your friends will love you!  Give them a break from the frenzy.

Oh, and most importantly, whatever it is you decide to do during the next few weeks, stay committed to your yoga, meditation or whatever outlet you normally do to keep yourself sane.  The worse thing you can do this time of year is let the holiday frenzy take over your life.  You’re in charge so take charge starting today!      

Celebrate the Holidays

The holiday frenzy is upon us.  What is it that makes it frenzied?  There’s the obvious: Christmas parties —I already had one last Saturday night, two this weekend and at least three more before I had out of town.  Holiday shopping —in-progress.  Writing holiday greeting cards —in-progress.  Baking cookies —probably not.  Decorating the tree —8 more bulbs to go, just need to buy more ornament hooks.   Then there’s the subtle:  procrastination, holiday debt, forgetting the meaning of holiday celebration, ditching yoga practice to attend the company party.  Add all of this to our already busy lives; hence the frenzy.

Unfortunately, in order to handle the frenzy, some tend to completely avoid holiday activities and celebration (bah hum bug) while others push aside the things that keep us sane —doing yoga, going to the gym, walking in nature, practicing meditation or reading something that calms us.  Remember, the holidays are about celebrating.  Celebration should be cheerful and not stressful.

As a yoga teacher, this is my advice:  this is the time you need yoga or whatever it is that keeps you sane.  The holidays are a time to challenge you.  The challenge:  how important is it to you to take care of yourself?  Accept the challenge and show up to your favorite yoga studio, the gym or whatever it is that keeps you mentally, emotionally and physically healthy.

Now here’s the crazy part of this.  We know every year Christmas will be here on 12/25.  We know that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, our time will be filled with celebration and stress.

Since we’re beyond Thanksgiving, the question is what can you do today to make the last few days before Christmas more peaceful and the time between now and then celebratory?  What can you do today so that you can continue to have a strong yoga practice as the year winds down?  My advice:  read my next posting.  Honestly.  Shanti.

Hometown: Arlington, VA vs. Dover, DE

I’m kicking off the community classes for lululemon in the DC market this Sunday, July 1st.  As part of the agreement, lulu will post some mini-interview questions with my answers, bio and picture in the Georgetown lululemon showroom.  Hometown was one of the questions asked.  For the first time, I paused before answering.

I live in Arlington, VA and have for over 12 years.  I was born & raised (Dover) and attended college (go fighting blue hens!) in DE.  Does “hometown” mean the first 18 years of my life?  Of course, it does but I’m starting to consider Arlington “home”.  I have a house, husband and business here.  And now I have a dog.  I know more people in the DC area than in all of DE (a shout out to Jay E.).  Arlington, VA is very much considered my home.   

Hometown?  This simple question for once brought pause.  In a few years, I will have lived in Arlington longer than Dover.  Dover will always be in my past.  It’s where I got my roots in life; though, I’m feeling new roots in my life settling, grounding and blossoming the longer I reside in my present place, Arlington, VA. 

So how did I answer the “hometown” question?  Dover, DE.  I clearly know what the question means but I did hesitate for once.  Maybe the question should be rephrased to “born & raised:”

Online Yoga Instruction

Feeling short on time today?  Or, maybe you don’t want to spend precious moments in the car traveling to your favorite yoga class?  Bored with your yoga DVD?  Can’t justify spending the money for in-home private instruction?  Traveling too many days this summer to get into a regular routine? 

We all have excuses as to why we don’t get on our yoga mat more often than we’d like.  Well, enough!  There’s a new alternative on the rise, online yoga classes —making yoga accessible to everyone, everywhere, anytime of the day. 

www.yogatoday.com  (free) and www.yogayak.com (low monthly fee) are two places you can now quickly connect with to get your daily fix on the mat.

Of course, being a yoga instructor and long-time student I truly believe live yoga instruction is the best way to ensure proper posture and alignment as well as add positive energy.  I also believe variety is the spice of life.  So mix it up a little.  Do a little of each:  live group classes, online classes, private yoga instruction or just flow in your backyard or nearby park.  Keep moving and your body, mind and soul will shine.  Namaste.

Check out www.abellaYOGA.com

Have you been there lately?  A few changes.  Constructive feedback/comments appreciated.

Shanti.

Happy May!

I love the month of May.  And not just because my birthday is this month J  To me, May signals the beginning of all things “summer”:  birds chirping at 5am, sunlight at 6:30am, morning dew in the grass, warm breezes in the evenings and weekend cook-outs.  There are so many things that May introduces as we enter the warmer months.  Yes, I do know that May is a Spring month and Summer officially doesn’t start until June 21st.  Why wait!?!?!  My summer starts in May. 

For me, May is considered the beginning of my summer yoga practice.  After being cooped up Oct – April, I usually head out doors a couple times a week to explore my yoga.  Practicing yoga outside brings me a freedom I can’t capture indoors.  The air is fresh (minus the pollen).  My space (my back deck) is bigger than my yoga mat.  I can hang out in vrksasana pose surrounded by Mother Nature’s trees.  I can explore headstand with my feet reaching toward the sun (as oppose to the indoor ceiling).  This to me is freedom! 

There are no limits outside.  I feel lighter.  My breath circulates freely.  And my mind is more open to trying something new, something challenging. 

As I sit on my back deck to type this entry, I wonder what challenging poses I will explore this summer in this open space.  First class is tomorrow.  I’ll show up and see what happens when my yoga practice starts to mingle with the beautiful elements of summer.  Happy May!   

Set an Intention for Your Yoga Practice

Selecting an intention at the beginning of each class will help bring clarity to your practice, clear your mind of useless chatter and keep you focused why you’re on your mat.  Keep your intention simple –a word, a phrase, a person.  Pick one thing to reflect on throughout your practice and stick with it.  Breathe, peace, ahimsa or maybe simply dedicating your practice to someone in your life who could use the energy. 

After you leave your yoga class, carry your intention into your life for the rest of the day or maybe until the next time you visit your yoga mat.  It’s said that your yoga practice is a reflection of your life.  How you move, react, think, etc. off the mat is how you will move, react and think on the mat.  Can you reverse this thinking?  Can you actively take your breathe into your life?  Can you take the peace you feel on the mat into your day?

Setting an intention and taking it into your life is a simple way to incorporate yoga as you move about your life.  This will allow you to easily make your life a reflection on your yoga pratice.  Isn’t that really why we come to the mat in the first place?  Yoga is so much more than just the poses we do during a yoga class, but that’s another blog post.  Until then. set an intention and live it on and off your yoga mat.  Namaste.