Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
I've been thinking a lot about chi lately. First of all, our sponsor Athleta just started a new online community called Athleta Chi, where you can find my articles on yoga and more...they describe it as "connecting women to the energy of inspiration". Wikipedia defines chi, or qi, as the flow of energy that sustains living beings. This concept comes from Chinese culture, but similar ideas can be found around the globe - for example, in Sanskrit/yoga terms, we call this prana. This post could get very long if I delve too deep into history and definition territory. So, something interesting to note is that the idea of chi is pretty esoteric by Western standards. Most of us are not in touch in with our inner chi, if we even know what it is.
I had an acupuncture treatment today. I recently began getting it for a variety of reasons; despite being a huge needle-phobe, I'm fascinated with this treatment's stellar track record for so many different things, not to mention how long it's been making people feel better - just like yoga. Again from Wikipedia: "Symptoms of various illnesses are often believed to be the product of disrupted, blocked, or unbalanced chi movement (interrupted flow) through the body...Traditional Chinese medicine often seeks to relieve these imbalances by adjusting the circulation of chi." Acupuncture is truly like no other experience I have had - you can actually feel tingling sensations and different parts of your body awakening (parts that don't necessarily have needles in them) - they say that's the energy starting to flow properly again. And for you skeptics, there is quite a science to it - training to become an acupuncturist is as intense and long as medical school.
So, I've got my yoga practice to get my prana flowing, and acupuncture to balance my chi. I like the idea of tapping into health care systems that have existed for thousands of years.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Three years ago today my little girl was born. It was the day my life utterly and completely changed forever. We've all heard that before with regards to parenthood, right? for better and for worse. I'll keep it simple by saying that being a mom has opened me to the ability to live in the present - after all those years on the yoga mat, it was giving birth that finally caused the light bulb to go off in my head. Thank you Morgane for this precious gift. I enjoy the constant balancing act of being a mom, a yogini and everything in between, and the many lessons these experiences teach me.
The other week, I had promised Morgane we'd go see the horses after I picked her up from school. When I forgot and headed in the other direction, she reminded me that this was non-negotiable. We walked in front of every stall at the barn, addressing each horse with a personalized hello. When we were getting back in the car, Morgane said, "I feel so much better now". Take a moment today to honor Morgane on her birthday by honoring your own need to live in the moment and feel "so much better" by doing so.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Shift of topics here, we'll come back to the horses, don't worry. One of my goals for Big Sky Yoga Retreats is to find ways to make eco-aware business decisions and partnerships. I just found out about a local t-shirt company at the Bozeman Farmer's Market yesterday, called Darwin Design. Their slogan is "start global cooling". My 3 year old daughter Morgane (well, almost 3, her birthday is next week) helped me pick out my froggie "be green" shirt. Darwin Design donates 10% of their proceeds to non-profits dedicated to making our world a greener place. Cool shirts and cool cause - you can order them online too.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
We have some recommended reading for our cowgirl yoginis: Linda Kohanov's The Tao Of Equus examines the horse-human relationship in detail, and how horses can awaken our intuition. I'm reading one of her other books entitled Riding Between the Worlds: expanding our potential through the way of the horse. My fave chapter so far in the latter is called "does the horse have a Buddha nature?" and the following quote is a lovely link between horses and our yoga practice:
If the horse has a Buddha nature, it's definitely of the Zen variety. These animals embody many of the attitudes and skills people develop through this practice, including the ability to engage fully with reality. What seems so difficult for a grasping, hoarding, controlling, competitive human being comes easily to a highly social, intensely aware, nomadic prey animal. Horses are actually hardwired for the state of non-attachment championed by the Buddha. In the wild, they don't defend their territory, build nests, live in caves, or store nuts for winter. They move, unprotected, with the rhythms of nature, cavorting through the snow, kicking up their heels on cool spring mornings, grazing peacefully in fields of flowing grass...Humans spend so much time and energy judging what should or shouldn't happen, what they should or shouldn't feel, that they sacrifice their ability to enjoy or adapt to what is happening...horses...never lose contact with the fluctuating nature of existence. "Be like a mirror", wrote the Chinese sage Chuang-tzu. "A mirror does not search for or create things, but welcomes and responds to all that comes before it." This in essence describes the eternally reflective mind of the horse.
I haven't found anything better than riding and yoga for helping me feel more connected to the rhythms of nature. We all have these rhythms inside, regardless of our surroundings. We just need help accessing them.
It hasn't even arrived from amazon yet, but my new fave book is Cowgirl Smarts: How to Rope a Kick-Ass Life. More to come on that, I am sure...meanwhile, off to kick up my heels.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
June Cowgirl Yoga was so much fun: both cowgirl yoginis and horses enjoyed themselves immensely. One of our sponsors, Athleta, has a fun article I wrote on yoga and horses up on their website, link from the home page www.athleta.com. you'll recognize Annie and I on the bottom right...or visit www.athleta.net/chi and click on the featured athlete story.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
I've been in a centered riding clinic this weekend, as our warm-up for cowgirl yoga kick-off which begins this evening...and I've been reminded what an ongoing process finding your center is, regardless of the activity. Making sure we are grounded and relaxed comes from the center of our body's energy, our core, and everything else follows from there. If we are all knotted up in our center, the rest of our body will follow that cue. We often talk about strengthening our core and work with that type of more aggressive energy - the real challenge is to maintain that strength while simultaneously finding balance and release, in order to permit flexibility and fluidity. Centering yourself in the saddle or on the mat requires body awareness that you have to constantly check in on. It's an ongoing process that isn't effortless. But the more we can cultivate this awareness, the easier it will become. When you feel stressed or ungrounded, make your center your starting point to begin to unravel the tension. Deepen your breathing so that it reaches your center. You can use this technique anywhere, anytime.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
here's a visual of me, Annie, my partner for the Cowgirl Yoga retreats, and horses Buck and Smokey. In case you are wondering, yes the horses really like the yoga.
Check out Annie's website at www.equineimity.com - "Equine-imity" meaning the practice of balance with help from equine partners. These guys are great yoga teachers...
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Well, here I am. Starting a blog has been something I've wanted to do for some time, and now I find myself to be at a loss for words. Odd, not something that happens to me often. But where to begin my musings on such a variety of topics that I adore and want to share? hhhmmm. So clearly Cowgirl Yoga is on my mind, since we are gearing up for our first summer retreat of yoga and horseback riding next week. I've been riding my girl Belle and getting her ready for all the upcoming fun. We call these retreats Cowgirl Yoga, but I like to think of it as a lifestyle too. And it definitely describes mine right now, which I find really amusing since I always considered myself to be a city girl, always striving for sophistication...I'd like to think I've still got a little of that going on. But ultimately, I now live in MONTANA. So I strive for sophistication in a cowgirl sort of way. A cowgirl yoga sort of way, to be exact. Yeehaw and Namaste, welcome to my blog.