Happy 2013!

God Damn!  I’ve been struggling for a week to write this post.  I have been avoiding this blog as a result of a very busy Holiday season and just allowing myself some necessary breathing space.

Needless to say 2012 was powerful year in terms of change, gaining confidence, and clarity.

So as we charge ahead into 2013 may we take the deep learnings from 2012 to allow us to move into the new year with Bold Intentions, Stronger Belief In The Self, and a hearty dose of COMPASSION in those moments we stumble.

This blog may shift slightly – but one of my key learnings is allowing things to just unfold.

2012 Rest In Peace….Onward.

The Way Things Are by Geneen Roth

As I find myself worrying about my life and reliving certain stories – I have come to a place of observing as opposed to reacting or repeating certain patterns – I found this…and it couldn’t come at a more perfect time.

Thank you Geneen for the reminders.

The Way Things Are

1. What you take yourself to be is who you needed to become to survive. Our longing is to know the parts of ourselves we put away before we knew what we were doing.
2. All psychological blocks are doorways to our true nature.
3. What we pay attention to grows.
4. If you spend your life rooting out pain, you will become a hunter of pain, not a finder of joy.
5. Until we examine what we really want, we mistake indulgence (in what we think we want) for freedom.
6. It takes great effort to become effortless at anything.
7. Joy and delight and curiosity must be cultivated, although they are utterly natural states of being.
8. Happiness is an inside job.
9. How you get there is who you will be when you arrive there. And there is no there there.

Keep up the practice,

Sandra

Transitions

Well…it’s that time again.  That crazy space between summer and fall.  It’s a powerful energy shift in many of our lives; school beginning, traffic changing, new learning, new schedules, a change in the air creating upheaval internally and externally. Transitions can often surface sensations of discomfort, avoidance, fear, excitement, and eagerness.

In the Ashtanga practice the transitions are marked by the vinyasas between the asanas.  The 3 vinyasas are: Exhale – Chaturanga Dandasana, Inhale – Urdvha Mukha Svanasana (Up Dog – Inhale), to exhale – Adho Muka Svanasana (Down Dog).   I often find that these transitions are uncomfortable for many and therefore there is an urge to move through them quickly, avoid them, or not really learn to break them down.

If you have been practicing for some time but still struggle through these transitions, take advantage of the energy around you to slow down  and connect inside these breaths and movements.  Perhaps allowing space for proper evacuation on the breath in your chaturanga while staying grounded through your hands, and integrated through the rest of your body.  Setting yourself up in chaturanga dandasana sets up the heart center and core up nicely for urdvha mukha svanasana.

If you are beginner and still finding friction with these transitions or have been avoiding them, now is a great time to take the opportunity to break down these poses and perhaps start working on gaining strength and start cultivating a relationship with them.

If you can begin to change your approach to transtions in practice, think about how that might apply to the rest of your life right now?

There are a number of videos on line with tips for these poses.  I find that if Chaturanga can be aligned with both mind and body, Up Dog is a whole new ball game.

Tips for Chaturanga for Kino McGregor:

Tips for Up Dog:

Tips For Down Dog:

In the end – these videos are great – but they don’t replace applying the principles in your own practice.

Now is the time to be vigilant in your efforts – particularly in these crazy transitional times- be concious of all the new energy and perhaps opportunities that are coming along – move with awareness and intelligence – and be compassionate with any emotional rough patches or resistance to change.

Change is inevitable – learning how to be inside of it with equanimity is the practice.

Be well,

Sandra

“Best Is The Enemy Of The Good”

Recently,  Keith came outside as I was beginning my practice early one morning (we are all early birds in this castle) and said happily “YOGA!”

“Gotta do what I gotta do.” I said.

“Perfect is the enemy of good, right?”  He said.

Pause.

“Totally.”  I grinned.  Because, I knew exactly what he meant.

I had one of the best home practices in a long time.

” The best is the enemy of the  good.” ~Voltaire

I think we are all too familiar with the voice inside of us.

“If only I had this – then I would do/get that.”

“I don’t have the time I ‘really’ need to do it (practice, go to the gym, run, clean, start a project, cook a healthy dinner), therefore I won’t.”

“If it were this….then it would be that”.

“If I can’t make it to the studio, then I won’t practice.”

The voice telling us that all conditions must be a certain way before we begin or do anything that we know might improve our lives (or change it). The weather reporter as some people call it.

The other perfection advocate within us is the one that keeps pushing, forcing, advancing, tweaking, changing, until this illusion of perfection is achieved.  This can often leave us burned out…defeated…hurt.

Sometimes,  good – is exactly all we need.  I think Mick Jagger coined it perfectly – “You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.”  For me, this has been a huge learning as of late and it has helped me in cultivating a home practice that may not be what it is in the studio, but, the fact is, over time, it could be.

Perfection is just an endless pursuit. It is not an actual.  Ever.

You don’t have to be a yogi to experience this.

An infinite distance lies between nothing–the unsaid comment, the unwritten letter, the undone act–and something, no matter how much room for improvement remains. In comparison, the distance between that something and perfection is barely noticeable at all. www.edbatista.com

It’s about effort.  NOT getting it right every single time.  Chances are within those efforts we catch glimmers of perfection or as some would say “excellence”.

“99% Practice, 1% Theory”, Right?

Keep practicing,

Sandra

 

This Morning I Practiced – By Eric Jeffers

This writing is from Eric Jeffers, who wrote a note on Facebook, which made its way around.  When I sometimes feel that yoga is too much about a teacher or a ‘rockin’ playlist…I get a gentle reminder of why the Ashtanga lineage has meant so much to me.

Silence, independence, learning to trust and believe in yourself…exactly where you are.

This morning I practiced.

It was very simple. I unrolled a mat, said a few words softly to myself, and began.

Nobody asked me to open or expand anything. I was not instructed to take anything from one level to another. No one asked me to melt any part of my body. It was never suggested that I should embody some concept or another. I didn’t hear anyone speak their truth. No one assured me that I could manifest anything I wanted. It was never suggested that I would be happier if I bought some new product. I wasn’t told to pursue any bliss. Spirit was neither mentioned nor invoked. No one used the word energy. Nobody implied that I could be stronger, more beautiful or more free than I currently am.

In fact, no one spoke at all.

I spent two hours moving through a familiar sequence of poses. I did this practice in a warm, quiet room listening to my breath and the breath of those practicing nearby. I was assisted by a gentle and patient human being who, for the most part, left me alone to do my work. At the end of my practice, I lay on the floor completely still for a long time.

When I was done, I quietly left. People smiled at me on my way out. I smiled at them.

I will practice again tomorrow.

Saturday Night Bath

Every man has a right to a Saturday night bath.

Lyndon B. Johnson

My neighbor Keith called me up the other night. He is a gardener, a father, a cross-fitter, and one of my favorite people in the whole world.  We used to snowboard all the time together way back when, and now I live under him, his wife, and their 2 kids.

He has more remedy tools for the body then you can imagine.  Foam roller, the new nubby foam roller (love), the broom handle (for the 7 inning stretch), rollers for the legs, massage tools that allow you to reach into to your shoulder blades without reaching back.  Tennis balls, medium-sized balls, you name it.  At any given point I can walk upstairs and find his yoga mat out with some kind of body tool on it.

“I’m destroyed.” He said, “Picking up a glass of water is hard.”

“This happens.” I said.

“Is the Epsom Salt bath legit?” he asked.

“Yeah, hook yourself up.” I responded.  This is why.

Your skin is an organ…how quickly we forget…what we put on the outside gets absorbed into our blood (this is why it’s important to know product ingredients). Epsom Salt is compromised of magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium helps with normal muscle and nerve function, keeping a healthy immune system, maintaining heart rhythm, and building strong bones.  Sulfates detoxify and help form proteins in joints, brain tissues, and mucin proteins (that which lines the gut wall in the stomach) according to the Epsom salt Industry Council.

Chances are the average American is deficient in magnesium as a result of diets that are heavy in  processed foods in general (foods rich in magnesium can be found here for your reading pleasure). Magnesium deficiency can contribute to muscle spasms, high blood pressure, hyper-activity, heart problems, migraines, diabetes, and other health issues.  So, if you’re not getting enough Magnesium in the diet…you can simply take a soak!

The only contraindication to an Epsom Salt bath would be low blood pressure – meaning a bath is going to reduce your blood pressure – so if you already are at the low-end, be cautious.

According to Epsom Salt Industry Council, Epsom Salts can help with:

  • Improved heart health through improved circulation, reducing blood pressure, and improving artery health by removing build up and toxins
  • Pain relief by reducing inflammation, increasing circulation at a sore sight or bruise, and also removing toxic build up from the sight.
  • Relaxation as a result of magnesium helping the body produce serotonin (the happiness hormone) – which helps us unwind and improves well-being.
  • Increase energy by assisting the body in producing ATP (adenisone triphospate), the energy packets made in our cells.  Experts state bathing 3 x’s a week can help with overall relaxation/sleep, focus, and improved energy.
  • Electrolytes assist in helping muscles and nerves function normally.
  • Increases the effectiveness of insulin in the body which can help lower the risk and manage diabetes.

There is number of beauty and garden benefits as well.  I do about 2 cups in the bath for my soak and if I am feeling that I really need to unwind add a few drops of lavender essential oil (one of my staples in the house).

Not gonna lie, crossing into my 40’s has created more moments of soreness than when I was younger, and the consistency of my efforts in my own practice is beginning to work me too.  I am sore…my back and  my shoulders especially.  I soaked last night and felt better this morning – but my practice was slower yet still determined.  I only did primary series today and spent extra time in back bending just navigating my legs, pelvis, bandhas, and back.  I thought I was going to feel pain – but by diving into deep awareness I was able to cultivate space and found a sense of ease.

Keith felt better too.  🙂