Sunday, June 30, 2013

Blowing Off a Little Steam

What is a blog? "A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world." (source
Ok, with that being said on to the topic of this blog which will be a combination of my own private thoughts and soapbox (but not really political).
Yoga is becoming more popular and main streamed everyday which should and does make me very happy. It means more people are exploring and experiencing it's life changing benefits.  But is also means that there are yoga teachers out there who really may not be as qualified as you think.  Have they taken some type of formal training to do what there are doing? If they took a training, did they actually finish it. Or did they just kind of fall into it because a yoga teacher was needed where they currently teach some other type of physical exercise.  You really need to look into these things first, after all it is your body and health that we are talking about. Do you really want someone to cut your hair that wasn't formally trained but yet you don't think twice about it when some one might ask you to stand on your head.
In Michigan to offer a yoga teacher training course you must/should be registered as a proprietary school, pass an inspection of your school and reapply every year with the Sate of Michigan. Is the school they trained with accredited with Yoga Alliance, a national registry that sets guidelines for responsible and competent teachers. The school doesn't have to be local, there are a lot of  great national known and recognized schools and teachers out there. The point is, did they formally train with someone, somewhere?
If I am coming off as sounding a little bit pompous and arrogant so be it.  I am the first to admit that I am not the end all and the guru of all yoga, but I do know that I expect my teachers and myself to create a safe and knowledgeable environment for the students at our studio.  As part of our registration with Yoga Alliance we are required to continue our education.  I will always be a student of yoga, I will continue to learn and expand so I may become a better student and therefore better teacher.
Is this quiet rant a plug for you to come to our studio, not at all.  This quiet rant is for you to research where you do choose to go to make sure that it is a safe environment for you to learn yoga .....and just breathe.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Santosha, Contentment, Gratitude....

We lost our power due to the storms this past Monday, but this time it was at our home and not at the studio. 

I am at a place in my spiritual journey that I believe when I am in need of a teaching. situations arise to help me learn.  What did I need to learn from this recent power outage?  Let me back up just a bit first, just so that we are all on the same page, Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment, peace, gratitude. OK, moving forward again.

The power was out......contentment and gratitude?  Sure, we have a small generator (our power goes out enough to have invested in one) so the fridge and freezer were connected.  In fact we ran a power line to the neighbors fridge and they expressed gratitude.   The TV wasn't on, yeah happy dance! The house had a nice calm about it. The temperature had dropped considerably, so sleeping was comfortable. Yes, my husband did have to get up every few hours to put more gas in the generator and it was my job to wake him up when I didn't hear it humming anymore. My maternal instinct of sleeping with one ear opened kicked in again. Small price to pay.

The next morning it was a beautiful day so I opened up all the blinds to let the sun just flood in.  Did my normal morning routine and left for the day.  By the time I got back home later in the afternoon, the power was back on.  Gratitude for having a generator, no TV, that it wasn't hot & sticky, that I have a wonderful husband, that the storms could have been a lot worse and it wasn't pitch black when we woke up. Santosha is about putting a more positive spin and situations in your life.  We may not like what is happening, but it's not the end of the world is it.

Weathering a power outage for less than 24 hours is not that intense, so let's take this a step further. What if someone in our life is ill and needs serious medical care? Do they have health insurance, gratitude.  Do they have a support system to help them, gratitude. Family and friends who are by their side, gratitude. 

Practicing Santosha doesn't mean that we have to like what is happening at the present moment, To quote Deborah from her book The Yama's & Niyama's  "Santosha invited us into contentment by taking refuge in a calm center, opening our hearts in gratitude for what we do have, and practicing the paradox of "not seeking".  

Nothing I did, say or think could change the fact the power was out, in the grand scheme of things it was a very minor adjustment to a very blessed life that I have.  If this way of thinking is new to you I highly suggest to read Deborah's  book, take it slowly and.....just breathe.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lighten Your Load....

The other day a student came in to the studio that I hadn't seen in a while and she looked different. She had a big smile on her face and for the first time I noticed that she had two adorable dimples. Then she explained to me why the dimples had resurfaced.

She had recently quit a high paying, very demanding job to take a less stressful lower paying job at a different company.  She said that it is somewhat of an adjustment but she felt better and lighter that she has in years. She lightened her load.

A few day's after this I stumbled across a move on cable called "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World".  Without giving too much away of this comedy (yep, a comedy), the world was going to end in 3 weeks due to an asteroid that was plummeting toward earth that was going to make a direct hit.  The movie focused on two neighbors who hardly knew each other, fleeing the apartment building that they lived in that was being vandalized. As they left I noticed they didn't take a thing with them, what do you really need when the world is coming to an end. They fell in love (well it is a Hollywood movie after all) and realized by the movies end that all that mattered was the love they had for each other.

The movie reminded me of a quote from the book "The Yamas & Niyamas" by Deborah Adele regarding the Yama's (5 restraints from the Yogic teaching's of Master Patanjali), Aparigraha (non-possessiveness) which reads "Aparigraha invites us to let go and to pack lightly for our journey through life, all the while caring deeply and enjoying fully".  

What's been weighing you down, what do you need to unpack so you can better enjoy your journey through life.  A dead end job or relationship, a closet or basement full of "stuff" that no longer serves the life you now lead?  Lighten your load and the first step to take of course is to......just breathe.

P.S. I highly recommend watching the movie, a little quirky, but with a really nice message that will keep you thinking for a while.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Namaste Miss Liz

The word Namaste is a greeting or salutation that is most often said at the end of a yoga class, one of the translations is "I bow to you".  

That is why the title of this post is "Namaste Miss Liz" who passed away yesterday.  Liz started coming to the studio just a little over a year ago with her care giver/friend/support team, Karen.  Liz was 94 at the time and wanted to join the class even though it wasn't a chair yoga class and of course I said yes, after all yoga is for everyone.  After that she was a Thursday night regular.

In the beginning I would try and somewhat modify the class for her then I decided that wasn't going to work.  She and I talked and she said that she would keep up the best she could  and for me just to go with the flow for the rest of the class and that she was just happy to be here. She interpreted the poses as what was best for her.

She had the most amazing positive attitude and we all quickly fell in love with her.  As I taught I would check on her often and she would give me a wink and a thumbs up to let me know that all was good. And truth be told she did a kick ass boat pose, her core was stronger than students in their 20's.  

She had a stroke and just couldn't come back from it.  Karen told me that even though one side of her body was paralyzed initially after the stroke she would still watch her exercise program on TV and do her best.  Karen also said that Liz had a breath retention practice and often wondered if that was one reason she had such a long live.

Thursday nights will not be the same. Namaste Miss Liz, Namaste.