Friday, June 29, 2012

Where Am I???

Where am I? Who am I? No, no that's not what I mean. Really where am I, where was this picture taken?

I will give you a hint, it is not Macomb or Oakland county. I will give you another hint, don't do Eagle pose in heels.

Have fun guessing where I am and just breathe.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chop Wood, Carry Water....

Wikipedia tells us that the definition of humble is “the quality of being modest and respectful.”

I hear about celebrities, famous (or infamous) athletes and politicians who become powerful for what ever reason and then they cross that line. You know the one where they think they are above everything and everyone. Above the law, morals, ethics, that no one can touch them.

No matter how many times I hear about their shenanigans, it never cease’s to amaze me. What were they thinking! I then am reminded of the Zen Proverb “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment; chop wood, carry water”.

Are you still chopping wood and carrying water? Try to always be humble…and just breathe.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vegas (Par Deux)

First of all let me start this post with a disclaimer for anyone that really loves Las Vegas, I will respect that you like that kind of stuff if you respect that I like to hang out in headstand. Deal? Ok then.

As I stated before Las Vegas was a strange land for me because most of what they promote is not my cup of green tea. And to be honest because of the time restriction with the wedding and all, I didn’t get a chance to see the other side of Las Vegas, the beauty of nature outside of the city that everyone talks about.

But what I did see brought to mind a verse from The Yoga Sutras, a book of verses written in the ancient language of Sanskrit approximately 2000 years ago by Master Pantajali, “yogash chitta vritti nirodha”. The English translation is “Yoga is the individual discipline that leads to the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” And what that means is stopping how the mind turns things around, thinking that our happiness comes from outside of us when in fact it comes from within us.

We can have fun and be entertained by spending money, buying new clothes and going to strange lands, but when the money runs out and the clothes get old, then what happens then? We spend more money, buy more clothes and go to more strange lands. See the cycle happening here. Stop for a moment and look inside, remember the last time you did an anonymous good deed for someone and how good it made you feel (please don’t say you don’t remember the last time). That’s what I am talking about, that is where lasting happiness comes from. If you want to be happy, you first have to help someone else become happy. Simple, but it takes some rewiring of the brain because that is not how we all think.

Here is an experiment if you are up to it and try it for a day or so, don’t buy anything that you really don’t need but go out of your way to help others, try another way to bring happiness into your life. I know, I know it sounds really weird and it did to me too when I first tried it. Think of it has taking a gamble, playing the odds; laying down a bet, going by the seat of your pants or any other gambling term they use in Vegas (I googled them). Bet it all that is just might work….and just breathe.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day Dad

My dad has been gone six years now. He was the yin to my mom's yang. Very quiet, a behind the scenes type of guy, much like my wonderful husband of 27 years.

He first worked in construction and then became an electrician, working long hours to provide for his family. I was blessed to have a good childhood and lots of good memories because of that. I remember watching him shave and then he would put a dab of shaving cream on my nose. He used to come home from work, sit on the steps of the landing (that’s what we called it back then) to take his work boots off and our dog would come running to greet him. I can still can hear him yell "is the dog the only one in this house that loves me" as he laughed.

But the strongest memory I have of this WWII hero, was taking me to a Daddy-Daughter dance when I was a freshman at Dominican High School. Totally out of his element and then to go out to dinner afterward with my friends and their dad's, men he didn't know, amazing! After all these years it still brings tears to my eyes. I miss you dad.

In Buddhism they teach us impermanence, that the only constant in life is change. That no one and nothing can last forever. Please text, call, hug, email the men in your lives today. Don’t wait until tomorrow. If you haven’t had that greatest of a relationship with your dad, maybe use today to plant the seeds of forgiveness, but don’t forget to include yourself in that equation. Just take it one step at a time …and just breathe.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Yogini in Sin City

Re-reading the title of this post, it doesn't seem as if yoga and Las Vegas should even be in the same sentence, but nonetheless, here I am, a yogini in sin city. A wedding has brought my husband and myself here and no, Elvis didn't perform the ceremony.

This is my first visit to Vegas and I feel like a kid in a candy shop, wide eyed and so much to choose from, lights, noise, smoking, drinking, gambling, gambling, and more gambling. Did I mention gambling? Actually I feel more like a fish out of water. I don't drink, smoke, or gamble.

And the heat! The weather has been averaging temperatures of over 100 degrees’ that any Bikram yoga devotee would be ecstatic about.

We flew in Wednesday and my search for a yoga class started. I found one not far from our hotel, a mere $15 taxi ride away. Things aren't measured in miles here but time distance and how much did your taxi ride cost.

After a very early start to the day to get to the airport on time, taking care of my 87 year old mom who came with us, and getting restless on the four hour flight because I don't sit still well on airplanes, I needed to breathe.

The studio, Barefoot Sanctuary, is located on the second floor of a Whole Foods in Town Square, similar to our Partridge Creek but without the Whole Foods, and don't even get me started as to why Macomb county doesn't have a Whole Foods yet.

We all met at the Espresso Bar and were led by our teacher Christie to the practice room, through the isles of the store, into the back room (I always wondered what was behind those double doors at grocery stores) up two flights of stairs, passed many offices. She then led us into a very small room, looked bigger on their website. But the second I walked through the threshold, I found it, there it was that sense of peace I was looking for.

The room could barely fit 8 students but once I became centered and started to breathe, I was transported. Whew....that's better. The magic of yoga started. Christie led us through an Ashtanga inspired flow that was just what I needed, something familiar in this strange land. The 75 minute class flew by and we were in the ending pose of Shavasana before I knew it. I thanked Christie as I left the class, telling her that I was grateful I was.

The moral of the story? It doesn't matter where you are, who you are with, what your surroundings are or even if you are by yourself , it's all good as long as you remember to.....just breathe.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

This IS the Day!

Here I joyfully sit, behind the desk at the yoga studio while Debbie's class is going on. The front and back doors of the lobby area are open letting in a nice breeze and what is it about the chirping of birds that just makes me smile. My first thought was how blessed I am and my second thought was that I needed to blog about it. Well maybe not my second thought.

What witty verse or thought could I share, what words of wisdom could I use to inspire? Then these words of wisdom came from out of nowhere "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it". Psalm 111:24. Now remember I was raised Catholic and we don't "do" Bible verses, and Yoga is not a religion; it makes us a better person for what ever path we are on so this must have been something stored away for just this moment.

It doesn't matter what higher power, universal energy or religion you do or don't practice. Rejoice today and be glad….and just breathe.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tighten Up the Circle

Twelve of the smiling faces in the picture below represent the first 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training graduating class from Santosha Yoga. The one sitting front and center with the really big smile is me, the proud teacher of this wonderful group.

The first Sunday that we met 4 months ago, we all sat in a big circle and I mean a really BIG circle. Everyone was checking each other out, wondering who of the group was going to be able to do handstand or scorpion pose first, making sure that there was enough distance between the blankets that we were sitting on so no one invaded anyone else's "space".

This past Sunday was the last time we met as a training group and we were literally sitting on top of each other. Knees touching as we sat in easy pose, a hand on a shoulder or a pat on the back and lots of hugs as we reflected on the time we spent together, as we became a "community within a community" as Susan put it.

You may have noticed that in the short time that I have been blogging, I have never really talked about the physical poses, the asanas, of yoga. They are just a part of the true essence of what yoga really is about. It is important to keep the body strong, but also as important to keep the mind and heart strong. I really didn’t keep track of who could or couldn't do what pose. Of course I noticed how their bodies were becoming stronger and leaner, their poses much more aligned. But I also noticed how the students honored their bodies more and let go of their egos. I watched as their hearts filled with compassion and wisdom for others. I saw how the circle gradually became smaller each week.

Don't worry if in your yoga practice you don't ever get up into handstand or scorpion, or if shoulder stand eludes you, it's all good. Whatever pose is your nemesis just let it go. Is your breath strong, are you calming your mind, if so you are practicing yoga. Do your best to "tightened up" your circle and just breathe.

Monday, June 4, 2012

It's A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

Today is one of those days when I remember how truly blessed I am to have the people in my life that are, free air to breath, sunshine on my face, and that no matter what happens, life is still good. Oh wait, yesterday was one of those days too and the day before that (minus the sun) and the day before that. Don't forget that each day of our lives is a blessing and just breathe.