Posts Tagged yoga

Simple doesn’t always mean Easy

I had a recent conversation with a new friend about my journey into yoga.  Nearly ten years ago I started my own practice as a way to supplement all the physical work I was putting my body through training for triathlons.  My muscles were tight, my posture was compromised and my mind was a bit chaotic.  Through yoga, much of that changed.

Fast forward a few years, I attended my first 200 hour training.  Here I learned much more in-depth about philosophy, the eight limbs, meditation, sequencing, anatomy and the asanas (the physical practice).  This training set a strong foundation in what I do and how I approach my own practice and as an instructor.

We tend to over stretch where we are bendy and collapse where we are dense.  Finding correct alignment rather than always taking the path of least resistance is a challenge.  So this is where we set the foundations for future poses.  Simple doesn’t always mean easy.  Learning to breathe.  Creating space.  Taking time.  Allowing ourselves to really explore.  Instead of using the body to get into a pose, use the pose to get into our body….

During the conversation I had with my friend, I said that I still was not super flexible and that’s why I teach beginners.  I love teaching to students who come to their mat for the very first time and can be in the same room as someone who has been practicing for 20 years.  Taking a basics yoga class is something we all need.

I think it’s great that people try to challenge themselves with new and more difficult poses.  But at the end of the day, a true yogi will say, “Great if I can, Great if I can’t.”

The pics below are me exploring off the mat at Mt.Chocorua in New Hampshire.

 

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EVERYTHING has Risk and Reward

Over the last several weeks, I have seen many social and media websites slam programs like Crossfit.  Their claims are that too many people are getting injured, therefore, the risk is greater than reward.

I would like to say, EVERYTHING we do has risk and reward.  It is true that injuries occur in programs such as Crossfit.  But they also exist in yoga practice, marathon races, functional movement classes.  Rewards come in all shapes and forms; improved strength, increased endurance, decreased stressed, more mindfulness.  A reward can also be a lesson learned.  Maybe we need more instruction, better focus.

When I first came into the fitness industry, I remember being in our group exercise studio with a few other trainers. We started playing around on the stability balls, looking for something challenging to do.  I had a thought to try to stand on the ball.  After a few ill attempts, I was able to find that sweet spot, standing atop of the ball.  While this was fun and boosted the ego a bit, the risk was much greater than the reward.

During my yoga teacher training, one thing that stuck in my mind was, “leave the ego at the door.”  I try to use this mantra when working out myself or training my clients.  Limiting the distractions and decreasing the risk of injury is high on my priority list.  There is a fine line between going far enough and having gone too far.

No two people are built the same way, move the same way or learn the same way.  Crossfit, Pilates, marathon running, obstacle courses all have their place.  Allow people to gravitate to works for them and let them figure out the risk and reward.

be well-

 

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Welcome hOMe

Last week I made a decision that I needed to immerse myself into a more consistent yoga practice.  I spend lots of time and energy on other people.  Now is the time to dedicate to me.

While I have great resources where I work, I also feel it is important for me to step away and create a separation from work and self-care.  That is why I committed to a year-long membership to a local studio.

With an increase in the number of yoga teachers and studios growing dramatically, there is an abundance to choose from.  I have sampled many of the studios around town.  All have their own unique elements that make them a perfect fit for particular yogis.  Some are known for their location, music selection, variety of styles offered, teacher trainings, instructor lists, workshop offerings or community involvement.

But when I walked into this new studio for the first time last night, I felt like I was hOMe. There is something special about its simplicity and softness.  The space is beautiful with exposed beams above, light-colored walls, finished hardwood floors.  From the moment the instructor walked into the room, her energy and passion was clear.  We chanted at the beginning of our practice to offer peace, compassion and healing.  The foundation of a community was being set.

I work in an industry where I often speak about self-care.  Lately I have felt like I’ve been living the mantra “do as I say, not as I do.”  Something needed to change and this is the exact change I needed.  I felt like I needed a yoga studio to call home.  I know there are many yogis who jump from studio to studio following one or two particular instructors.  And for them, that works.  But for me, I wanted one space that fit location, cost, class styles and time offerings, environment, community involvement, and variety of instructors.

Can you lay out your mat and strike a Downdog at any studio and feel great?  That depends on you and what it is you want.  When you begin looking for your home studio, think about what is important to you.  Seek and test out several studios.  Explore different styles such as vinyasa, hatha, yin, or restorative.  Every instructor has something to offer, allow yourself the opportunity to learn from them.

I feel at hOMe with the studio I chose, do you?

be well-

 

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Come Back to Center

Come back to center, that place in you that is still, calm, quiet, and connected.

Your center is a place you can trust.  It connects the body, mind, heart and soul.  It connects truth, your inner voice, and the Divine.  Your best work comes from there.  Your most loving times come from there, at that place.  Your best decisions and finest moments come from that place.

Your center is a place that is quietly confident, unassuming, spontaneous, and free.  It is gentle and kind, but it has the power to defend instinctively against attack. 

Your center is a place that is naturally joyful and at peace.  It is accepting, nonjudgmental, and it channels the voice of your heart.  It knows perfect timing.  It knows the rhythm of the universe, the rhythm of all creation, and it delights in its connection to that rhythm.

If you must leave your center to learn a lesson, feel a feeling, or experience something new, do that.  Take all the side trips you are called to.  But come back to center when you’re done.

And go to your center first, before you go anywhere else.

This is a reading from Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart that I read in class last night.  I find it important in today’s fast lane society, we take time and come back to our center.  As I was talking about grounding and finding your center during class, I gave examples of taking a yoga class or going for a run, which are a couple of my go to places.  Spending time in nature, surrounding yourself with candles, taking a bath, repeating a prayer or mantra all help create a sense of grounding.  And then I mentioned, “maybe it’s spending time with a loved one.”  At that point, two sets of husband/wife couples extended their arms, reaching for the other’s hand.

Below are just a few things that help me feel center-

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I encourage you to think about what helps you feel grounded or centered you when feeling disconnected and out of sorts.  What can you do to feel centered more often….

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Adding to the Toolbox

Last week I had the great fortune to attend a week-long intensive teacher training with Seane Corn.  I feel that as someone in the health and wellness industry, it is extremely important to study, read and learn from as many sources as I can.  One of the greatest assets to the yoga and fitness world is the plethora of information available via teachers, workshops, seminars, books, blogs, etc.

Seane Corn

Being that tomorrow is the first of July, that means a new goal to reach for.  During July, I will dedicate a portion of the day to adding to my toolbox of knowledge by reading articles, books or blogs, listening to podcasts, revisiting notes from seminars taken in years past.  All of this will only strengthen me professionally and personally.

Below are some pictures and videos of various types of continuing education I’ve taken part in:

yoga sutras

yoga sutras

becoming a certified Cancer Exercise Specialist

becoming a certified Cancer Exercise Specialist

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reviewing the skeletal system

studying with Nikki Myers

studying with Nikki Myers

reading articles from various journals/magazines

reading articles from various journals/magazines

video taken from a kb workshop: 

I know there are many industries that encourage, if not, require continuing education.  Are you doing your part to keep your toolbox full?

be well-

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1 in 1,000

me with Nikki Myers, creator of Y12SR

This spring will be four years since I began my journey with yoga and the recovery community.  I attended a Yoga Journal Conference and Nikki Myers, creator of Yoga of 12 Step Recovery (Y12SR), was one of the presenters for a three-day immersion class.  Just a few months earlier I had completed my 200 hour teacher training and my friend Mary and I were about to embark on bringing yoga to the 12 Step community in Boston.  This immersion class was our first step.

Mary and I bring different perspectives to the recovery community.  Our goal was to help others use yoga as a tool, an adjunct to recovery, instead of a replacement for a meeting or sponsor.  Nikki has been our primary teacher along the journey.  And I am excited to share that Nikki along with several others are offering a four-day FREE online conference from March 17-21, called Recovery 2.0 Beyond Addiction.

We are surrounded by addition all the time.  Look around and see the growing epidemic of childhood obesity and Type II diabetes.  These are preventable diseases caused by addiction.  The top five addictions people focus on are drugs, alcohol, sex, money, and food.

One in one thousand make it to long-term sobriety, meaning 20 years.  Experts in the field of addiction and recovery will be sharing their tools to help you have a successful recovery and successful life.  Just to name a few of the experts presenting:

  • Tommy Rosen (host of conference)
  • Nikki Myers
  • Rolf Gates
  • Richard Branson
  • Noah Levine
  • Sukhdev Jackson
  • Trudy Goodman
  • Guru Prem

Any person affected by addiction- AA, Al-anon, NA, OA, gambling, sex or any other, this conference is for you!  There is no other resource that offers such a diverse, yet connected community than what Tommy Rosen has put together.  I invite you to join me and countless others as we move along our journey.

Click here to join the conference (for FREE)- http://www.entheos.com/Recovery2point0/

be well-

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the YIN with the Yang

I started my yoga journey nearly eight years ago.  It was a great compliment to the weight lifting, running, swimming and cycling I was doing to prepare for my first full season of triathlons.  I came to yoga with extremely tight muscles.  And in time discovered my joints were just as limiting with my range of motion (ROM).  Soon after I stared practicing yoga, I knew I wanted to study it further.

After completing my 200 hour teacher training in 2008, I continue to attend workshops.  There is one that I repeatedly go back to review the materials because it had such an influence on myself and my teaching.  I had been introduced to Yin yoga.  A style of yoga that has characteristics that were nothing like I was living in my life.  Once I attended this weekend intensive, many things changed.

Not only did I learn a tremendous amount of information, I learned how to apply it in my life.  We have all seen the symbol above and heard the phrase the Yin with the Yang.  Once I took this workshop I developed an understanding of both.  The table below shows a few of the characteristics that distinguish one from the other:

Yin

Yang

Water

Fire

Coldness

Heat

Moistness

Dryness

Dark

Light

Stillness

Activity

Slowness

Rapidity

Heaviness

Lightness

In our world that is so crazed with stimulation, we all need to slow down and become still.  This has been the greatest thing I took away from the training.  Learning there is a need for both in order to live a balanced life.

be well-

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