Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Summer #3

Golden Flower image compliments of

A wonderful summer of family, yoga, friends, flowers, (work), and fun is going on up here in the north country!

Though I have not found my path to daily meditation (yet), I have had great success with creating a customized yoga practice for myself every day.  This is a wonderful step for me; I have not had to push myself to do yoga in any way, shape, or form.  Allowing my practice to shift to meet my current state is most welcome.  I have also learned that when I'm feeling down, though I do need to start slowly, it usually helps to bring some strong poses into my practice.  It lifts my energy and my spirits.  It also meets my Olympic summer goal: to get my heart pumping every day.

The book Yoga for Wellness (Kraftsow) is such a treasure trove of practices.  It is very special to me as I now know so much more about how to practice yoga in the viniyoga style.  The greatest thing I learned at my training was how to, rather than "moving with the breath," to let the breath envelop the movement.  So that each movement starts by inhabiting the breathing apparatus and allowing the movement to flow from there.  The movement closes before the exhale is complete, allowing mindfulness of the breath to be paramount.

Somehow this focus takes the yoga deeper - out of the musculature - and deeper into the fascia, the organs, and to me, the energy body.  

I've been working with the Yoga Therapy for Depression Physiological Rebalancing practice found here:
I have been combining this practice with a developmental practice for neck and shoulders found in Yoga for Wellness for a tremendous workout that balances my axial-appendicular relationship.  

I had a terrible time right at the end of college, with a neck that did not want to cooperate with my final term papers!  It took a few visits to the chiropractor to get those papers done and I limped home and tried some trigger point therapy which I thought helped immensely.  It is interesting to me that as I go deeper into the many layers of past that live on in the body, I find this injury did not heal completely.

It highlights a truth that I am learning through experience - without work to unravel past hurt, trauma, and injury, the body will instead wrap itself around those pain points.  The fascia, the muscles, the ligaments... all of it will set in chronic patterns.  Years later, you may have no idea that the pain in your hip has anything to do with that old neck injury, but lo and behold, as you work the hip and shoulder girdles, it all shows as not only related, but related in a causal way.

It's fascinating work.  Many days I wish I could turn off the world and just practice... but alas there is much else that calls me into the world.

Also if you are looking for meditation resources, I have found this great CD by Tara Brach
I find myself, for many reasons, very reluctant to meditate - to face my own mind.  This CD has guided meditations that make meditation a little more safe to me.  I hope to use them as a crutch to increase my confidence in my own buddha nature, in my own basic goodness, in my ability to witness (as opposed to my tendency to identify with the thoughts and emotions.)

More soon - happy time on the mat to you all.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Olympic Summer report #2

Image compliments of

Heart pumping update:
Friday I was up at 5am so I did an hour of power yoga before the boys woke.
Saturday I cleaned for an hour.  Definitely a heart pumper!
Sunday the family and I took a walk.  Not the most heart thumping exercise but the togetherness with hubby and little one in the stroller was wonderful.  The sun was beautiful.
Yesterday was Bikram (practice and teach) and today I just banged out 10 minutes on the stairclimber.

Phew!  This is kind of fun - my goal of at least ten minutes of heart thumping is a very manageable goal for me.  It doesn't seem insurmountable, I can do it at home (around the baby's schedule), and when I get out to get a real workout in I feel very proud and excited by exceeding my goal.

I'm very focused as well on creating positive social connections with my friends and family.

I've learned some intrinsic thinking skills.  The biggest help I'm finding is to realize that I don't have to solve others' problems.  When seeing others as complete, capable, and creative (the Intrinsic Coaching mantra), it takes the heat off of the listener.  When others come to you in distress or with a problem, it's much easier to listen fully, and ask questions to help the other person elicit his or her best thinking.

For example, hubby was very exhausted on Friday night.  He was a bit crabby, even.  I started to feel my own tension rise as I went to my normal pattern of trying to "fix" things for him.  Instead, I asked him: "What's the most important thing for you right now."  And after pondering it for a bit, he responded, "I need to be silly.  Can we watch a funny movie or something?"

I would never have thought that was what he needed or wanted - it would not have occurred to me.  He was pleased to have come up with something on his own and had more energy towards it because it was his idea.

In addition, we stole away this weekend and I took him to the spa for a massage.  It was a very healthy and relaxing way to spend time away together.  I said to him, i want to find ways to enjoy ourselves that don't end up with a hangover or a belly ache.  He agreed.

Since this is a yoga blog, I do want to post a bit about what I'm working on in my practice.
I learned what it feels like to have an open hip!
I have a chronic movement pattern of a very closed right hip which has thrown off my gate, sent me to the chiropractor, and had me sort of confused for quite a while.  I strive for right/left side evenness and this issue has been a thorn in my side (haha).  It's caused pain in the left hip over the years.

So using yin and restorative postures to explore and let go, I've found my way into sensing the right hip which was the first challenge.  Then recently I felt the difference between when that hip is open and when it is closed.  I will post some images about this at some point.  It is a very subtle sensation but I was able to bring it into my bikram practice yesterday.

Oh how wonderful it is to feel poses differently, even after years of practice.  
I do love the bikram series, there is always room for change in the body.
I taught a great class, lots of experienced people in the room, so I was able to lay off  instruction for some second sets, allowing the students to feel from the inside during the poses.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Olympic Summer Here we go!

Image compliments of 

It's an Olympic Summer and I'm an official Olympics addict.  I've created a fun wellness program for my company (day job) that I'm going to give a trial run.  I've set a goal for the next eight weeks to get myself ready for my favorite sporting event and I will be tracking my progress here.

My goal: To get my heart pumping every day.

 I want to be clear about what that means.  I'm going to get my heart pumping every day to the best of my ability.  Should life get in the way, I'm going to make my best effort.  If I can't get all the way there on a given day, it's probably because I'm stressed and running around and working too hard!  I'm going to give myself credit for taking care of my stress on those days.

My first task is to choose a non-profit to get a nominal donation if I make it all the way.  This will help me get out of my chair and get moving for at least a good ten minute session.  By doing my best, I am also supporting Central Vermont Home & Hospice Services.  I'll be making a donation to them at the end of the program.

Day 1 was yesterday... I pulled up to the gym after a day of meetings with only ten minutes before I had to leave to pick up my son at daycare.  So, I walked the parking lot for ten minutes.  Later I walked a huge hill on my road.  It was a nice way to digest dinner.

I haven't posted about yoga at all!  I'm still doing yin, kundalini, bikram, meditation and more... when life allows!  Peace, all.

Edited to add... Day 2: 10 minutes on the stair climber!  Ouch.  How am I dripping with sweat and can hear my heartbeat in my ears from 10 minutes?!?!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Intrinsic Thinking

image compliments of wikipedia
It's been a long busy while between postings!

Manny is now almost 10.5 months old and is no longer a baby... he's a little boy.  He's his own post, so let's just call him and motherhood amazing (most of the time.)

I went to a fabulous conference in Vermont, the Governor's Awards for Worksite Wellness - this is the annual de facto wellness conference for all of Vermont.  The keynote speaker was Dr. Rosie Ward ( and she talked a lot about the difference between telling people what to do vs. leading them to their own wisdom in a collaborative environment.  The first treats others as inferiors and oneself as superior, the one with the expertise.  The second way invites a partnership of equals, in which the student is thought of as whole, and contains the knowledge and directions to get where he or she wants to go.

I hope to use some of these leading questions as I teach and as I work with myself in my own practice.

Recently, my practice has been such a boon for me.  I have started doing an hour of yin yoga whenever I can squeeze it in.  Yin is a practice of holding floor poses for 3-5 minutes at a time.  It really puts me into "receiving" mode (as opposed to should/doing/thinking mode, which is absolutely my default.)

Once I quiet down, I find that I can connect with my breath and get into a meditative state through Yin practice or through meditation itself.  My bikram practice has been more spotty recently as I haven't been able to get to the studio as much as usual.  However, the work I've been doing, which I would have thought before as "not doing much" - lying around on the floor yoga takes a long time and doesn't burn calories (but it does tone the organs and stimulate the flow of energy!) has cleared my mind and allowed me to fall into the flow much more than anything else I've ever done.

I find myself more relaxed and less attached to creating the outcome I desire.  

Any time I find myself thinking of what to say next as opposed to listening in a spirit of service these days, I try to breathe and get back to center.  

Progress in lotus and splits!!