Monday, September 27, 2010
Just back from NYC with my fam, where we had a whirlwind of a weekend that included much shopping in SoHo, a Jivamukti yoga fix, the Lion King on Broadway, the FAO Schwartz barbie section with my 5-year old (where yogic breathing was required), the Natural History Museum, and more. We jumped right back into our old city ways, and I was secretly pleased to see that I haven't lost my street smarts after living in Montana. I can still navigate the subway effortlessly (I had visions of us not being able to handle the transition from spacious Big Sky to going underground with throngs of humanity), and after all this time, I still walk faster than most New Yorkers (but was also reminded that I have the advantage of living at altitude to thank for that now). I recognize the irony of feeling refreshed after a weekend in NYC, particularly since the retreats I offer in Montana are about getting away from that kind of energy...but it just goes to show that a change does do you good.
On our first day, I was so enthralled by class at Jivamukti that I was bubbling over with positive energy and smiling as we moved through challenging asanas. Handstand, forearm balance, and headstand, all together? No problem. (Again, thank you extra red blood cells.) I also noticed the city vibe and absorbed that energy - the traffic noises from outside, the intensity of the people around me in class - and marveled at how no matter what, no matter where, strangers can come together on the mat for a unifying experience.
With classes offered almost every hour and an army of instructors at Jivamukti NYC, I was surprised to arrive for class the next day to discover the same person I took from the day before was teaching. What are the chances? I adored her class and the yummy adjustments she gave me, but will admit to feeling a bit antsy when she began with the same story, practically word for word. And the class sequence was the same as well. Why did this bother me, I wondered? I think it's because I love novelty so (in my NYC days I worked in cosmetics product development, which thrives on novelty), and because as a yoga teacher I feel like I'm copping out if I repeat the same thing twice. But that's my own personal issue; I did, however, teach Ashtanga, which is the same sequence, or at least a variation on the same theme. As I moved through the sequence for the second day in a row, I noticed that my body was responding to the repetition. It was finding more space to open up. The poses were sweeter, less of a shock; like my body was saying "oh yeah, I remember this, it's not so bad". Being the novelty addict that I am, I'm not likely to repeat the same practice too often. But I was pleased that I was able to feel the meaning of the alchemical precept Through repetition, the magic will be forced to rise; fittingly, one of my favorite quotes in the Jivamukti book The Art of Yoga. More irony to ponder: repetition was another change that did me good. Namaste.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This year's retreat season is officially over. Now what? Just kidding. I've got sooooo many fun projects to dig into this fall, including much more blogging and lots of QT with my cutie 5 year old. I saw the pumpkins and Halloween paraphernalia out at the store today, and I felt that thrill I always get at the onset of the Fall season. But first up, the fam and I are heading to NYC, our home for many years pre-kiddo, for a little getaway this weekend. Can't wait to shop, eat, see the Lion King, and best of all, hit Jivamukti for some yoga classes - it was my very first yoga ever. So it's a homecoming in more ways than one.
A recurring yoga theme this retreat season has been hip openers. They're important for the other activities we do out here - horseback riding and hiking - and I saw that so many of our retreaters this year were tight in the hips. This can be not just from sitting on your butt, but also from being active if you run or bike. I'm a big believer in hip openers for both physical and emotional benefits. I constantly do pigeon pose, in my yoga practices and on its own, because I can feel other things loosen their grip as my hips let go. One of my first yoga teachers from Jivamukti called the hips "the attic of the body", and that analogy has stuck with me. So clean out your attic and make your hips happy, here's my latest mini yoga practice on the Athleta Chi. Namaste.
Photo by Larry Stanley
Monday, September 13, 2010
Time continues to feel like it just slips through my fingers. In 2 short weeks, we had our Labor Day weekend retreat, celebrated husband's and my 10 year wedding anniversary, enjoyed r&r time with visiting DC friends, and are celebrating husband's birthday today. Oh and my daughter started kindergarten, and we're gearing up for our last Cowgirl Yoga retreat of the season, the LUXE edition, this weekend. I could so easily be in a tizzy with all this going on, but what's kept me grounded has been yoga and horses. The essence of Cowgirl Yoga.
I could find a lot of other things I need to do besides get on my mat. I could make lots of excuses. Sometimes, I do. But not only do I feel better after I practice, everything else around me benefits. I can approach challenges with more perspective and patience, and I'm kinder and gentler to people (particularly my five year old, whose specialty right now is testing patience).
The similar effects of a yoga practice and being around horses never ceases to amaze me. I can feel things start to shift before I even arrive at the barn or ranch - the anticipation is like before you are going to see someone you love. Kind of a cross between strong, familiar love that runs deep, and the butterflies-in-your-tummy feeling of new love. I just see my horse and my blood pressure drops. I touch him and I start to breathe deeper. And when I ride, well, I can practically see all the stuff I'm carrying around that isn't serving me whoosh out with my exhales. It's no surprise that there is an entire field dedicated to horse therapy.
I recognize how lucky I am to have yoga and horses in my life. The former is pretty available to everyone, the latter, not as much. But I believe there are many ways to connect to the natural world that produce similar effects, and complement those found through yoga. It can be as simple as reminding yourself to go outside, and have nothing between you and the sky above. Yeehaw & Namaste.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
This quote of unknown origin was shared by one of our Eat Pray Love yoginis:
Bear teaches us to respect our natural hibernation cycles. Just as bear rests during winter and reawakens during spring, we need spaces of rest and rejuvenation. Bear calls us to awaken the potential within ourselves and the power of our unconscious mind. Bear reminds us there is a time for playfulness and a time to be assertive.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Looks like I've got some catch up blogging to do...I'm looking forward to writing more this fall as we wind down our busiest retreat season ever. We just had our annual Labor Day weekend Eat Pray Love Yoga retreat with a group of 15 amazing women. I wish we had had more time together - a weekend flies by and there is so much yoga, hiking, and sharing to do...
One of the highlights from the weekend was our yoga bear. When we arrived at the Big EZ Lodge on Friday, a young black bear was there too, roaming around and looking sad and lost. He appeared to have lost his mama, and was very interested in what was happening at the Lodge. He got up on one of the ladies' lounge chairs and went for her glass of wine. He came up on the patio outside the kitchen and headed for any door that started to open, probably because everything smelled so good. He wandered by the yoga room during our first practice's savasana, which I felt obligated to interrupt so everyone could see him. I know there are many people who end up getting hurt because bears can look deceptively cute, and this little guy was no exception - but the sentiment was pure joy at having him around us, and we were concerned for his future too. We had lots of quality bear watching, and proceeded with our outdoor morning meditation and yoga practice without much fear (and me on watch).
On the Native American medicine wheel, black bear medicine says to go within, just like a hibernating bear. The symbolism of the bear is connection to the earth. If a bear shows up in your life, the message is to turn inwards to find your own path to harmony with nature. Pretty timely advice for a group of women on a yoga retreat in the mountains.
I just found out that the bear was captured today in the humane trap set for him, with cantaloupe as bait. He is to be released in a remote area; although I'm sure this will make him happy, I'm guessing he may also miss the wine on the patio and the tantalizing smells coming from the Lodge kitchen. Namaste, yoga bear, and thank you for sharing our weekend.