I think there are layers of thought inside of us. There are the layers that we present to people to be respectable, social, and happy. There are the layers that we mull over in our heads, not to be shared. Then there is a layer deep within that keeps us alive, even when we don't want to be. The layer that knows that we can pull through and that we are worthy. I think this final layer is what is revealed in practices of mindfulness. It is the part in all of us that is the same. Pure, love, Buddha, Spirit, etc.Read More
The poses we practice and the classes we take can reveal so much more than where we are open, where we are tight, where we are strong, and where we are weak. Have you ever been in a situation where the current condition of your entire state of being was revealed to you?Read More
There is a known Zen Buddhist koan, "If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him."
Do we whip out a gun and shoot the man down? Or do we destroy our concept of who the Buddha is or what the Buddha means for us?Read More
Tomorrow is my birthday. This is MY new year. Each year I tend to spend time contemplating why I do the things that I do and what the things mean to me. Most of the time, the question I ask is "What does the practice of Yoga mean to me?"
Everyone gives a different answer for this question. "Union." "Connection to God." "A Great Workout." The list goes on and on.
My answer to this question changes just about yearly. My practice changes. The makeup of my mind and body change. Everything changes. And so one of my answers to the question might be that yoga is embracing the inevitable change.
This practice used to support a need to change myself. I disagree with this need now, but this year, instead of using yoga to be better, the practice of yoga has shown me who I am. It has shown me my truest self. Not everyone sees that true self all of the time. I'm not quite there yet. But there is nothing to change because there is nothing wrong. The "wrongness" we perceive is simply a layer of lessons about life and relationships. And so, yoga is self-acceptance.
Piggy backing on the last statement, yoga is love and connection. When we can live with acceptance of ourselves, we can stop worrying about what we look like, how we come across, and so on. We can drop the insecurities. We can remove barriers and connect to others. We can love others as they are. Again, this is not a consistent practice, but this year, I have noticed a huge change in my own relationships as the relationship to myself has changed.
Here's to another great year. They just seem to get better and better, don't they?
What is yoga to you?
What does your posture look like when you stand in line at the grocery store?
What does your posture look like when you stand on your mat in Tadasana or Mountain pose?
If you are like me, the two are probably very different.
I'm a sloucher. My natural habitat is in a curled up position. Since you can't curl up while standing, I guess slouching is the next "best" option!Read More
5 1/2 years ago, my husband and I got married and moved to Denmark. He was already living there to complete his Masters Degree, and of course I wanted to join in the fun for the last three months of study! I had just completed a 200 hour teacher training and was ripe with knowledge and ready to dive into the world of sequencing, practicing, and teaching.
There was one yoga studio in the town, and it was actually more like a Pilates studio with a couple of yoga classes. And since it was Denmark, those classes were way out of my price range. What was a girl to do?
My apartment may as well have been a yoga studio. We didn't really have much furniture, the floors were wood, walls were white, and windows were floor to ceiling. I had several hours in the day to myself, and so it was then and there that I decided I would commit to getting comfortable practicing on my own.
First attempt: The ambiance was beautiful and quiet. I rolled out my mat. I lasted 15 minutes. Despite the near to perfect conditions (we didn't even have internet!), I was so distracted by the bazillions of thoughts floating through my head that I could not go on! This carried on for a couple of weeks. I was unable to focus or go beyond a few sun salutations, but I persevered. There is nothing wrong with doing 15 minutes of Sun Salutations every day!
After a couple of weeks: Suddenly I found myself practicing for an hour! My mind settled every time I stepped onto my mat, and practice began. The bazillions of thoughts were still there, but somehow unimportant and in the far distance. Asana practice became meditation.
What was I practicing? The sequences I was playing with. I had a notebook overflowing with sequences by the time we moved back to the States. Some worked, some were terrible. Good thing I found out before using them on other people!
After a month: Practice moved from one hour to two hours and sometimes even three! Time stopped existing (what a luxury!!) and my practice became something like two hours of asana and an hour of pranayama, mantra, and silent meditation.
My practice has changed over the years. When I started about 12 years ago, I followed DVDs in my basement. Then I practiced at studios. Then I practiced sequences that were given to me. Finally I practiced sequences that came from my own head. For a long time I practiced as the sun rose. Then I could barely get off the couch from a crippling bout of Lyme Disease, and my practice became meditation and pranayama based with some gentle movement on the side. Now it is whatever I can fit it, and whatever I am up for. Sometimes it is very basic, other times I feel strong and adventurous. Sometimes I get an hour, sometimes only 15 minutes, but I am thankful for all of it. I know that as the years go on, it will continue to change. How beautiful!
What a home practice has and is teaching me:
1. I can trust myself. And the trust in myself is more like a trust in the Buddha Nature which dwells in each and every one of us. And when I trust myself, I trust others.
2. I can heal myself.
3. I can ask my body what it needs, and If I listen, it will tell me.
4. I can let go of what my mind wants me to do and do what my body wants me to do instead. Sometimes my body wants basic. Sometimes my body wants challenge. Sometimes it wants a little bit of both. The more I listen, the less injuries I have.
5. I can be with my stuff, process my stuff, and move on.
6. I can adapt.
7. I can come closer to teaching from a very personal and intimate experience of asana.
8. If I can do it, so can you!
Sometimes I fall out of my home practice routine. I get lazy, uninspired, lonely, etc. That's when hitting the studio is most beneficial for me. The connection to the community brings me back to myself and what I love.
My purpose for this post is not to discourage you from practicing at the studio. Please go! Be with your community and allow yourself to be led! There is so much value in both! For those of you who do not have financial access, do not live near a studio, or are simply curious about starting a home practice, know that you can still do yoga! Do it at home! It is challenging and often scary, but ultimately worth it!
Don't know how to sequence a home practice? I am happy to work with you and come up with a sequence that suits your needs. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on practicing at home!
It's the New Year. While I don't usually get into resolutions, I thought I'd try to get into the spirit this year and resolve to do two things:
1. Be a more consistent blogger.
2. Sit up straight.
Then I thought, why not focus on posture for the entire month of January? This is the time when we reflect so much on how we interact with the world, how we WANT to interact with the world, and a simple change in posture has so much influence on... everything!
Keep a lookout for an asana of the week. Each asana will have an emphasis on optimizing posture. The body remembers patterns. If we can learn new patterns on the yoga mat, maybe we can translate them off of the mat and onto our desk chair or car seat... maybe even the couch!
The posture of the week is Sukhasana, or Easy Sitting Pose. Instructions are easy: Sit down with you legs crossed. Remain seated and breathe deeply for at least one minute. Notice your posture. Both hips should be evenly connected to the floor. Spine long. Shoulders relaxed. Ears over the shoulders.
If this happens to you... use props! I have blocks at home, but you can also fold some towels to find the support you need. If sitting on the floor is not possible or is painful, practice your posture by sitting at the edge of a stable chair.
Buddha Cat wants to see your posture! Join me on Instagram: @ommeow and share your photo with other Buddha Cats by using #situpstraight You have all week to get your posture posted! I'll be choosing and sharing my favorites along the way!
Yoga is not a practice to get what you want in life. It's not even a practice to get happier, healthier, stronger, or more flexible. Yoga is simply a practice to remember who you are behind the layers of what you've been told and what you've told yourself.
Anything beyond that is a delightful side effect.
Every so often I embark on a massive cleanup in my home. When I finish, I am filled with this feeling like I'll never have to clean again.
The next day, since I am a slob by nature, and I have a 7 month old daughter, the house returns to its messy self.
Someday I will learn from this that tidying up a little bit each day is much more valuable and effective than one major cleanup per month.
Meditation is the same way, no?
When I first started teaching, I was constantly second guessing myself as to whether my classes were halfway decent, if my students were getting anything out of my sequencing, and if my pacing was effective. Students usually made remarks like, "great class" or "I feel great" after the class was over, but these comments didn't answer my questions or help me grow! As a new teacher, I wasn't as easily able to use my own observations in class to get the feedback I was looking for. Lastly, as a new teacher, I felt intimidated by more seasoned teachers and did not feel comfortable asking for help.
Why I love receiving detailed feedback for my classes:
- I learn how to best serve my students
- I learn what to continue teaching and what is not working for my students
- I learn how I am coming across in front of the students so that I can either keep my body language and tone of voice the same, or if I need to make some adjustments
We all know that we can't please every single person who walks in the studio door, but can we, in the very least, create an experience that teaches everyone something? Can we offer SAFE cues and sequences that will prevent injury? Can we hold the space for our students and get out of our own way? Can we be open and available for our students? With practice, and a little help, I think we can.
This is why I am so excited to offer my unique mentorship program. I am so excited to help others to build confidence and to offer supportive and gentle guidance to teachers looking for a little nudge forward.
Who is this program for?
- Brand new teachers
- The teacher longing for a nudge out of a long time rut
- The teacher looking for feedback beyond "Great Class"
- The teacher in need of a fresh perspective
Follow the link below for details!
So I've been participating in Instagram yoga challenges for the past month and a half or so. Part of the idea was to experiment and to find out what the deal with these controversial challenges actually was, and part was to inspire me to get back on my mat after giving birth. I woke up this morning feeling hypocritical, addicted to my phone, and curious of what viewers actually get out of these selfies.Read More
y teaching is inspired by my practice. I do not adhere to a traditional lineage and my classes are not particularly spiritual. That being said, I've heard the classes are pretty effective!Read More
Buddha Cat Yoga, my friends, is a hot new style of yoga. We will provide one (or more!) cat per mat, providing the bonus challenge of concentration that was lacking in all other form of yoga until now! The cats will weave around your legs, give you kisses on your nose, and even try to climb you. This is IT, my friends. Look no further. This is REAL yoga.Read More
When did teaching yoga become about everything but what it is really about?
Why are we in a frenzy of judgement?Read More
Buddha Kitten is here! Happy Harper is beautifully modeling the two current designs. "Ommeow" and "Buddha Kitten" are available individually at $15 and at $28 if purchased together! Custom colors and various sizes are available. As always, Buddha Cat products are hand-painted with care. Email or message me on Facebook to order!
Born on April 20th, 2014 at 6 pounds, 13 ounces! My Buddha Kitten is here!
We all have challenges we face when we get on the mat. Tight hamstrings, tight shoulders, loose shoulders that are too weak to practice arm balances, fears, egos, the list can go on and on. These challenges serve as jumping off points for you as a teacher. The challenges you work with daily on the mat can become your specialty. They can help you to become more relatable to your students.Read More
What is a Buddha Kitten? A precious glimpse at our younger, wide eyed selves. We usually call them babies, toddlers, and children, but they are so much more than that. We can remember our own natural needs and wants by observing and learning from these special Buddha Kittens. We all wish to feel safe and secure, comfortable and content. We all wish to be heard, respected, and loved.Read More
I want to make it clear that what a yogi looks like, what the diet looks like, even whether the yogi is happy or sad, is not the point. The point is that we practice. We breathe. We pay attention and learn. We get to know ourselves. We BECOME ourselves.Read More
Doing yoga again after years without it was like opening that mysterious locked safe and finding silver and not skeletons.Read More