Pottstown’s High Street Yoga; Room to Stretch, Quiet to Reflect

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mud, Obstacles and Yoga

Last Saturday I participated in the Pa Spartan Run. I registered not really knowing what I was getting into. I’d heard of mud runs and I’d been running more so I thought why not?! About a month before the race I realized that I needed to start doing more then just run so I added sit ups, push ups and burpees to my routine. 2 weeks before the run I found the Spartan Chicks and that is when I found out exactly what I had gotten myself into. This was the mother of all mud runs with intense obstacles, walls, barbed wire, fire etc. I began to get a little nervous! I realized it was time to step things up; I did two sets of burpees each day, push ups at the kitchen island whenever I was in there, which is a lot with three kids. Every afternoon I carried two backpacks up our steep hill, one in the front and one in the back along with a viola and sax just to get the extra weight. It’s not a rock or a sandbag but as a mom of three I’ll take what I can get. Even with all this, I felt like it was little too late to be in the kind of shape needed for a Spartan Race. I reached out to the Spartan Chicks on line with my fears and received and outpouring of support and encouragement. I was encouraged to run my own race, take my time, take one obstacle at a time, and believe in myself. Wow, this was starting to sound a lot like Yoga Philosophy. How often in class do I say “listen to your body” “find your edge w/o going over” “Accept your body exactly where you are w/o judgment” My worry and fear had gotten in the way and I wasn’t enjoying the process of training and being in the moment, in my body. I was so grateful that I’d reached out to these women. I felt such clarity and even a sense of calm. I knew I would do the race and finish it and have fun.

My yoga principles helped me out throughout the race. There is a practice called walking meditation where you use the experience of walking as the focus. The first two miles of the race was straight up Blue Mountain. Many participants stopped or sat to catch their breath. I knew I couldn’t stop so I looked at my feet, got into my zone and just repeated the mantra ‘one step’ until I got to the top.

The same mindfulness came into play with the bucket of rocks. I focused only on my breath, breathing in and breathing out. I didn’t look to see how far I had to go or how far I’d been. I focused on each step and each breath.

Going down the mountain was equally as challenging to me. I was cautious and went slow. In retrospect it was probably the hardest part for me mentally. It left me with anxiety that I didn’t expect.

Before the race I was afraid of the fire and I jumped over it with such a sense of freedom and pride. I am proud to say I finished the 4.8 miles and 20 obstacles and had fun!

Yesterday was a week and a day after the Race and I found myself running a 6 mile loop, a loop I hadn’t run in almost three years since my Dad died. The run gave me time to reflect.

I’ve faced my share of obstacles over the past few years; I lost both of my parents in a span of 17 months in addition to a long list of other tragedies. Grief and stress take a tremendous amount of energy and all of my energy went into living each day, taking care of my family and running my business. I didn’t have any extra energy to run. The Spartan Run and especially the Spartan Chicks came into my life when I was ready for it. There is a Buddhist expression that says ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will come” The time was right for me to head down this path and I consider each one of the amazing Spartan Chicks as my teachers for inspiring me.

The symbolic meaning of the lotus flower is something I hold near and dear to my heart. The lotus flower grows in the mud and rises into something beautiful. Despite challenge and difficult circumstances it still blooms into something beautiful. Ironically I got a lotus tattoo years ago long before I understood suffering. Now I feel I’ve risen through the mud, symbolically and literally!

I’ve thrown my list of stress and grief into the flames of the last challenge because it is my story but it doesn’t define me. I faced my obstacles and conquered them.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Relay for Life Pottstown

Last weekend I attended my first Relay for Life in Pottstown Pa. Relay for Life is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Members of the community come togethehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifr at a local track with a team and someone from the team walks for 24 hours straight because Cancer never sleeps. The Pottstown Relay is one of the largest and is highly recognized.

This year I had the opportunity and honor to teach two yoga classes for participants, one in the evening and a sunrise one for those that camped out. The event is so large that visitors are encouraged to park at a local elementary school and shuttle to Pottstgrove High School. I left my house with plenty of time to get the event and park and spend some time walking around. Teams set up camps with tents, tables, chairs and sales to help their team fund raising efforts. I arrived with plenty of time to browse. There were food vendors as well as teams selling food. I got tomato pie for lunch and spent some time with the team Friends on Earth and Friends Above. Several members of the team are friends and fellow yogis. They were selling bracelets. Each bracelet represented every kind of cancer. I bought a black and white one to honor my Mom who passed away of Lung Cancer last March.

Yoga was held under the main tent in front of the stage. I had 30 minutes to teach and focused on gentle stretches for the legs, hips and low back. The Sunday morning class was the same. I was most happy with all the kids that showed up, and kids of all ages. There were young kids, and A LOT of teens both boys and girls. Kids are fearless and always willing to give something new a try. I enjoyed being able to teach yoga at such an amazing event. The class wasn’t quiet, or meditative, but I like to think helpful none the less.

After my evening class I went home, got my boys and we went back for the Luminary Ceremony. The ceremony is to honor loved ones lost and those who have won their battle. We purchased a luminary in honor of my Mom and were able to light the candle ourselves. The candles are set up on the bleachers and spell the word hope. Candles also surround the track. There is a reflections garden next to the bleachers. Several Survivors share their story; we watched an interpretive dance and a symbolic reading of the dinner table. The most powerful part of the evening was the silent walk. Every person at the event (and there were thousands) walked around the track in silence following a drum beat.

This was the first and won’t be last Relay for Life for me. I’ve heard say it is a life changing event and I agree.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Yoga on the Steps 2011 and Team Tri-County for a Cure – The Journey

Yesterday was my second trip to Yoga on the Steps in Philadelphia and was just as memorable as the first.

Last May I stumbled upon a link to the event on Facebook and on a whim went with two friends. We were blown away and decided to create a team. Because we live in Pottstown, a small community and a 45 minute drive (with no traffic) to Philadelphia we decided to open up the team to the tri-county area.

I’ve never done any team events or fundraising for a cause so this was all very to me. Carrie, Joy and I, the original three, decided to start with a grass roots approach to recruiting our team. We called, Facebooked and e-mailed every local friend, family and yogi we knew. I contacted other local yoga instructors and yoga studios to join in. In the end we were 26 yogis strong including 7 yoga instructors, myself and Maryann Fitzmeyer from High Street Yoga, Dorian Able, Healing Yoga, Stephanie Smolik
Yoga for Everybelly, Joanne Lins, Sara Riley, and Luan Liberatori recently certified Yoga instructor for the Deaf.

Creating a team, recruiting members, fundraising and communicating to the team, involved logistics and time. Thrown in with my three children and their sports and school schedules, a husband that travels A LOT, a massage therapy practice and a yoga studio, my life can get pretty busy. But throughout it all I kept in mind words of Abraham Hicks You cannot have a happy ending to a miserable journey.

Not sure where to begin or how to get started, Carrie, Joy and I each took on a task that we were each good at. Joy, an artist and teacher, designed our amazing logo and team t-shirts. Carrie created beautiful pink breast cancer/yoga inspired jewelry and donated proceeds of each piece to the team. I taught Yoga for a Cure class accompanied by live harp music. In the words of Carrie we ‘did what we love” The spirit of community and giving continued. Team mates organized events including; Hip Hip Hooray a Yoga Class taught by Dorian Able, Rita’s for a Cure and Special Sales of Angels and Hope at
Kaleidoscope Angels where proceeds benefited the team. Our biggest and most amazing event was the video project created by Melia of Pricelss Moments by Melia. The event created awareness and got the community involved. The efforts of our team were recognized by LBBC as we were announced the team with the most Community Involvement and that was exactly my intention.

The morning of the event we met in the parking lot of the Coventry Mall and piled into 4 vans. We picked up two more team mates in Collegeville and headed into Philadelphia. For me it was exciting to share the experience with a group, many who had never been to Yoga on the Steps. We arrived, registered, settled into our space and had enjoyed our happy ending to the wonderful journey.

The weather held out as we were instructed by Jennifer Schelter. This year, 10 women shared their stories while we held yoga poses for up to 2 minutes. I cried through each story and was inspired by the strength and courage of each woman. I walked away once again with the reminder to live life to its fullest.

When it was time to leave I wasn’t really ready to end this journey. We hugged at the museum and hugged again at the Coventry Mall. New friendships were forged and plans made to attend other yoga events together. My newsfeed on FB continues to show Tri-County friends connecting. I love seeing the new pictures uploaded and the video created by Anne. I love the feeling of community and working together for one cause.

I look forward to many more years with Team Tri-County and Yoga on the Steps. Thank you Living Beyond Breast Cancer for all the work that you do, for creating this event, for supporting our team and for answering all of my calls, e-mails and FB questions!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yoga/Breast Cancer Video 'around Pottstown'

Over the past several months I have been busy with a yoga video project which began as a conversation in my morning yoga class. In the midst of a 30 Day Yoga Challenge, a participant shared that she does Tree Pose in the grocery store while standing in line. During prayer squat one day I shared a story about my husband traveling to Indonesia and noticing that people wait in line doing prayer squat. This evolved into ‘wouldn’t it be fun to do yoga poses in random places around Pottstown and take pictures’

Throughout the long winter, during each class someone would comment or giggle about a certain pose we could do in a location in Pottstown. We dreamed for spring to come and decided it would be our spring project. Before long, the idea began to grow and evolve into raising awareness and funds for our Yoga team Tri-County for a Cure that is attending Yoga on the Steps on Sunday May 15th. Suddenly the project became much greater then ourselves and became something both fun and meaningful.

My good friend and the most talented and creative person I know, Melia Rios-Lazo from Priceless Moments by Melia offered to donate her time and photography skills toward the project. She was suffering the loss of a good friend that just passed away because from breast cancer and felt very drawn to the cause.

Fellow team mate, friend and owner of Hammi Jammi Jewlery and I hit the streets of Pottstown and scheduled Business Owners and Pottstown leaders for their photo shoot. After everyone stopped laughing about doing yoga, each agreed to try. The support and enthusiasm was amazing.

We had 3 days scheduled for pictures and ended up adding on two more. Fellow yogis’ from Pottstown and the surrounding areas joined us each day to help teach and join in with the pictures. Most of the sessions were scheduled and we grabbed unsuspecting strangers along the way. Each day of the filming was energizing, fun and powerful. We quickly realized how many people knew someone that was affected by breast cancer.

Some of my favorite scenes include, waiting in line for the bus in prayer squat, because it is what sparked this whole crazy journey. I had fun with the cab drivers, the mayor and the students at Montco. When I look at the pictures and the http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifdiversity of the people involved I am proud to live and work in Pottstown. When I look at the picture at the farmers market I am so happy to see Daniel, the young Mennonite Farmer who joined us. We had so much fun with the kids from the YWCA and the Pottstown Senior Center. I can’t really sum up my favorite picture or moment. I am just proud to have been a part of this great project.

I’ve watched the video at least 50 times and still laugh and cry each time. Please take the time to watch it until the end. I hope this video touches you too. Click on the link to view.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Yoga on the Steps and Tri-County for a Cure

Last year, I came across a link on FB for an event in Philadelphia called
Yoga on the Steps sponsored by Living beyond Breast Cancer. On a whim, two friends and I decided to go. We dug through our closets for pink shirts and headed into Philadelphia bright and early on a Sunday morning. We didn’t know what we were getting into or how it would affect us. Over 1,000 yogis did yoga on the steps to raise awareness and funds for education and support for women and families affected by breast cancer. The event was powerful and one that changed me. Click here to read my post from last year.

Last year we learned that many yoga studios create teams to attend the event. Most of the teams wear team shirts, sit together and raise funds together. I knew I wanted to do the same thing and share the experience with as many people as I could. One year later, the same two friends and I have created an amazing team called Tri-County for a Cure. We are a group of yoga enthusiasts from Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties. Over the past few months, we’ve created more then a ‘team’, we’ve created a spirit of unity and a sense community.

The team and cause is near and dear to my heart because my SIL is a breast cancer survivor and more recently a friend and fellow yogi was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Each and every one of us on the team has been affected directly or in-directly.

Since the creation of our team, everywhere I go, I meet survivors, family members of survivors and friends that have lost someone to this terrible disease. Each person has a story and all have courage.

There are a variety of ways you can support the team; donate to the team by clicking here, join the team, by clicking on the same link and go to “join our team” or you can attend one of the events below.

Upcoming Events Include:

Heart Opening Yoga Workshop

Sunday March 20th 1-3

Location: Prana Pottstown

For questions or information please email Pam at peacelotusyoga@gmail.com or call 610-283-1385 Suggested donation $20.

Yoga with Live Harp Music

Tuesday, March 29 · 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Location First Presbyterian Church 750 N.Evans St. Pottstown, PA

Join us for an evening of gentle Yoga accompanied by live harp music, tea, vendors, raffles and more! Remember to wear pink and all proceeds benefit Tri-County for a Cure a local yoga team participating in Yoga on the Steps Suggested Donation $20

Hip Hip Hooray RX for the hips and Low Back

Friday April 29th 7:30-9 pm

Location; Healing Yoga Douglassville Pa

Contact Dorian to reserve a space: 610-369-0831 or dorian@healingyogapa.com.

Ritas Pughtown

Monday May 2nd 6-9

Location 2323 Pottstown Pike

Pottstown, PA, 19465

Come to Ritas and Support our Team! Proceeds of the night benefit Tri-County for a Cure!


Jewelry artist Carrie Grabowicz of Hammi Jammi Jewelry Is selling Breast Cancer bracelets and necklaces. Click here to view her work and 15% of each piece will be donated to the team.

T-Shirt Sales

Tri-County for a cure T’s designed and created by Joy van Ruler are available for purchase.

Tri-County for a Cure; Be inspired, be part of team, help others and unite with fellow yogis

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sand Mandala a Buddhist Symbol of Impermanence

Change is the only constant in life. It can be inspiring, motivating, exhausting and scary. According to Buddhist practice, change or impermanence is the essential characteristic of all existence. The Buddhists suggest that nothing is lasting, even in the moment everything is undergoing change. All is fleeting, the beauty of a flower, the sunset the leaves on the trees are in a continuous state of change. What is real is the existing moment, the present.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word for circle. The sand Mandala is constructed as a vehicle to recognize impermanence, to develop concentration and compassion. Millions of colored sand is placed on a platform over a period of days or even weeks. Traditionally when finished to symbolize the impermanence of life, the sands are swept up and poured into an urn to be poured into a nearby river or stream.

Last week I had the privilege of seeing Tibetan Monks create a Sand
Mandala at Penn State Berks County in Reading Pa. My son was home sick
that day, and since he did not have a fever I took him along. Driving to the
event I felt disappointed that I didn’t have all three boys with me. I
realized that this was something special and a learning experience they
wouldn’t find at school. But I didn’t have the foresight so only had my
one semi sick guy.

This was my first time on campus and we easily found the cafeteria. There was a table outside with prayer beads, prayer flags, books and other items for sale. The Mandala was in a roped off area in the cafeteria. There were 3 or 4 Monks working with focus when we arrived. We watched as they tapped on metal tubes (Chak-pur) to create the lines. Their work was intricate and beautiful. They answered my questions happily and seemed quite at peace in the center of the loud student filled cafeteria. Students stopped by to browse and my son and I got to experience something extraordinary. I talked to him about the concept of impermanence and its something he understood.

When we were telling his brothers about the event, one of them asked “What did the Monks have on their feet?” I thought this was an interesting question, but I guess they have the image in their mind of bald men in maroon robes in bare feet or sandals. I hadn’t noticed, but Owen did. He said “one guy had on nice shoes like Dad wears to work” He noticed their feet, but I’m sure he noticed much more. What an experience for an 11 year old and for me too!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fun Yoga Stuff

One of the things that I love about yoga is that you don’t need a lot of gear, no expensive equipment, shoes, or tools, only a mat.

Even though there isn’t a lot needed to DO yoga, there are still a lot of fun yoga accessories out there. Recently I came across an amazing artist and yogi Kasha Ritter that makes purses and bags out of Yoga Mats! I stumbled on her website and had to splurge. Her bags are creative, fun and yes, flexible! When the bag arrived in the mail I was so excited. The packaging was beautiful. Kasha wraps each bag and includes several special touches. Inside the bag is a card that says Om Shanti and a card blessed by local monks. She includes some other goodies, but I won’t spoil the fun. Order one for yourself!

We’ve had a loooong winter in the north east. My feet are always freezing and I wait until the last possible minute to take off my socks in class. I stumbled on these amazing cashmere toeless yoga socks on Etsy and they are genius! They are warm, soft and hand made and they don’t have toes or heals. Your feet can stay warm and you still can grip the mat! I love my new socks!

For Christmas my husband got me this amazing Pigeon Yoga Mat. I love it and I love that he thought of it. He said he was glancing through my latest yoga journal magazine and saw the ads in the back, looked it up and ordered it. I love that he thought of it just as much as I love my new mat.

Finally, a plug for my Yoga Team, Tri-County for a Cure; a group of local yogis are fundraising for an event in Philadelphia called Yoga on the Steps. Its an event that attracts over 1,000 yogis each year and benefits the group Living Beyond Breast Cancer. My friend and fellow yogi Carrie of Hammi Jammi Jewelry is creating necklaces and bracelets and 15% of the proceeds benefit the event.

Namaste’ and Happy Shopping!

Friday, February 11, 2011

i love you, too

When my good friend and former neighbor Shannon sent me a request to “like’ her new page on Facebook “ i love you too” I was immediately intrigued. I clicked on the link to her web page and blog and was drawn to her story. Her story began simply as an I love you too note stuck to her fridge and evolved into something far greater.

In yoga we teach students about heart centered awareness, and about sending thoughts of loving kindness to others. We talk about interconnectedness and union. But sometimes these feel like just words. Shannon was able to take the words “heart centered awareness’ and put them into something collective and tangible and accessible to everyone; not just words but action.

Take the time to read her story, check out the blog, like the FB page and be sure to print your “i love you too” form and spread the love in your town!

It started with an i love you, too sign stuck to the front of my refrigerator with a magnet. It was meant to be a self-serve love note system for my kids- like finding a note in your lunchbox, but in a grab-it-when-you-need-it format.

That first sign went untouched on the fridge for several days. Then one morning, I glanced at the sign and and it took my breath away. The i love you, too sign seemed to have metamorphosed from a message BY me into a message TO me. It was as if I could hear my grandma's voice over the landline's strained long distance connection greeting me from another decade, “I love you, too!” I was immediately overwhelmed with deep feelings of contentment, security, warmth and a huge smile. I pulled the first tab from the sign and tucked it into my purse as I went out the door.

In the days following, the remaining tabs were pulled. One by one, the tabs became bookmarks, an “I'm sorry” after a cross word, a thank-you for a kind deed, or a good-bye token for a friend. Each tab invoked a different i love you, too sensation. One time it was a hug from my mom. Other times the tab became a hope or a sweet nod from a friend.

Summer 2010 delivered adventures big and small. Along with learning to surf, trying a new restaurant, and running to the highest point in the city I wrote on my summer “to try” list “post i love you, too signs”. I printed a stack of signs and kept them in the car, along with push pins and a roll of tape. The i love you, too message quickly went renegade as we posted them around the city or places we visited. Arriving a few minutes early to meet friends meant time to find the next i love you, too location. We'd secretly post the sign, giggle, and sneak away. The experience was fun and unexpected - slightly magical.

One afternoon, I was driving alone in a sleepy beach town. I parked in front of the only store in town and stepped on to the wood-planked porch. When my eyes glimpsed a community bulletin board with advertisements for local gigs and art shows, I returned to the car and grabbed an i love you, too sign. I hung my sign up with a push pin left by a previous visitor. I went in and bought a drink, returned to the porch a few minutes later, and noticed ONE OF THE TABS HAD BEEN PULLED. I'd never seen an i love you, too tab go missing outside of my own kitchen. My heart stopped. No, my heart exploded. Maybe my heart started singing. I don't know how to explain how my heart was working except that I'd never felt that feeling before. Ecstatic? Amazed? If the English language has a word for how I felt, I do not know what it is. I glanced around the one block of Main Street, searching for who might have pulled the tab, but there was no one in sight. Someone had been on their way into the store as I was leaving - had that person pulled the tab? Had it been a man? A woman? A teen?

I walked the few steps to my car, sat down in the driver's seat, left the door open and mused. I felt like I was alive inside a Mary Oliver poem. I could not stop wondering what the sign had meant to the one who pulled the tab. What was the message for them? What did they do with the tab? Where were they now? Would they tell someone about it? Or was it the kind of message they would keep close? Did they love this as much as I did, or was it just me? In these musing moments life felt more vivid.

It had never before occurred to me how others might experience the i love you, too sign. It had simply felt good - truly good - to hang them up. It felt playful and fun. But, actually knowing that a stranger pulled a tab felt divine.
Near the end of the summer, a friend was in our kitchen and commented on the i love you, too sign on the refrigerator. He then said, “You should start a website.”

The idea just wouldn't disappear. It visited me as I fell asleep, drove carpool, worked out - the idea became my buddy and made its way on the 'must do' list. My friend's idea sparked a dream that I'm releasing into the universe - or at least into the World Wide Web - with this website.

I'm incredibly inspired by possibility. So I wonder: What is the collective effect of 100 people having their breath taken away? Or of 200 people feeling hugged? What is the ripple effect of giving small tabs of love, anonymously? Just thinking about these possibilities makes my heart start to sing.

This is my Get love. Give love. story.

What's yours?

And yes, i love you, too.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tri-County for a Cure 2011

Last year I attended Yoga on the Steps in Philadelphia and it had profound impact on me. The event is sponsored by Living beyond Breast Cancer and over 1,000 Yogis do yoga on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. The energy of that many people coming together for one cause was inspiring. See my blog post from last year to see pictures and read more details from the event.

This year the event is on Sunday May 15th and I’ve created a team with a fellow yoga teacher and two other high street yogis. We are hoping to unite yoga enthusiasts from the area to create one team, Tri-County for a Cure.

If you practice yoga and live in the Tri-County area, Berks, Montgomery or Chester, County, or know someone that has been affected by Breast Cancer and would like to make a difference, click here. to join our team.

The directions are easy to register. Click on the link, click on Register with the Team and fill in your information. This will create your own webpage where family members can donate directly on line and the proceeds that each individual collects will go toward the team goal.

We will do some group fundraisers including team T-shirts designed by fellow yogi, team mate and artist Joy van Ruler and pink beaded bracelets designed by fellow yogi, team mate and jewelry artist Carrie of Hammi Jammi Jewelry. The plans to hold a large yoga class with music, vendors and body workers with all proceeds benefiting the team and the cause.

Be inspired, be part of team, help others and unite with fellow yogis. Join Tri-County for a Cure.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

30 Day Yoga Challenge Day 30!

As I sit looking out at the icy landscape I think of the irony of another storm on the last day of the challenge! I do believe yoga everyday helped me face storm after storm during the month of January with a clear head and a bit more patience and maybe even a stronger back.

30 Days ago 24 Yogis and I set out on a 30 Day Yoga Challenge with the intention of doing yoga for at least 10 minutes everyday. My hope was that the on line ‘virtual’ group would motivate and support each of us on our journey. It was that and more.

We began sharing podcasts, stories and Susan inspired us each day with a new motivational quote. Many shared stories of doing yoga with their husbands! Yea for the hubbies! Others found themselves doing Tree Pose in the most unlikely places and others discovered comfort in settling into their own yoga routine. Many of us sampled the Comcast on Demand Yoga selection; some with success, some with challenge. We were awed and inspired by Rainbeau Mars. And mostly we felt a sense of community and kinship. The feeling that we were all working together yet on our own.

Reflecting on the past 30 days I feel a sense of accomplishment, pride, energy, community, love, need I go on? My journey was more then I could have hoped for. On a physical level, I challenged myself with some advanced poses. On an emotional level I recognized that my practice had become stuck while grieving my parents. On a spiritual level I challenged myself to be more mindful with family and friends and to really appreciate the small things.

This journey is not over for me. I will continue a daily practice and continue to deepen my practice. I will have contact with the 30 dayers beyond the challenge! I’m grateful my circle has widened.

It seems appropriate to close in the spirit of Susan with one of my favorite passages that she shared.

I Wish You Enough....

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye


Sunday, January 30, 2011

30 Day Yoga Challenge ~ Week 4

Week 4? How is it possible?

I started week 4 last Sunday at a heated power yoga class. This style of yoga is completely different then how I teach and what I prefer. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about comfort and routine and about taking risks. This class was a perfect opportunity for me to try something out of my comfort zone

The class was difficult and different and I liked it. I really liked the instructor and his gentle cues and reminders to move with breath. The room was heated and there was no music. I’ve discovered that I really like the heat. I like the feel of my hamstrings lengthening and the quiet was nice too. At one point in a forward fold the instructor told me to open my eyes. I whispered back and said “I like them closed” and he said “In power yoga, Beryl Bender Birch says that there is only one time when the eyes are closed and that is when you can hold a pose for three hours” Interesting I thought and I tried my hardest to keep my eyes open because I was in a Power Yoga Class after all, but it was very hard for me.

I ended week 4 this week at a different studio at a general hatha class, more my style. I LOVED it and the instructor chose all of my favorites! How did she know? Pigeon, dolphin, legs up the wall, supported handstand at the wall! I enjoyed every second of the class, the poses at the wall, the music, and the extra long Savasana.

Before the 30 day challenge I rarely went to a yoga class, maybe once a month if I was lucky. During this challenge I recognized the value of taking the time for myself. I will continue finding local studios and attend a class once a week.

There are just a few days left for me until I hit the 30 days. I’m planning to continue this and make yoga a daily practice for me. I’ll miss the community we’ve built during this challenge and I’m sure the group will be hearing from me randomly when I need the support! Susan I need a quote! Pam I need a podcast! Carrie, come to a class with me! Thanks all!


Monday, January 24, 2011

30 Day Challenge Week 3

Week 3 was all about snow, snow and more snow! Despite the 2 hour delays, snow days, and shoveling, yoga still happened. Could it be? Have I managed to make yoga something I do everyday?

Rainbeau Mars had an impact on me this week. I shared a link to a beautiful, sequence by Rainbeau Mars that cannot be described in words. The conversations that followed were mostly of awe and also the feeling that many of us have only scratched the surface of the depths of yoga. Her video is both inspiring and humbling. When someone wondered how long she had been practicing I decided to check out her website. I never really found the answer to that because when I got on her home page I stopped to look at a picture slide show of her with quotes across each picture. The first one I saw was “If not now, when?” That one struck me and I couldn’t get it out of my head. If not now, when? The phrase felt both powerful and simple, another ‘ah ha’ moment for me during these 30 days.

I’ve been using the phrase as a mantra when I meditate or when I hesitate to do something. Because really, if not now when? Week 1 taught me that I was stuck. The mantra from week 3 is pushing me both on the mat and off. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more this week with poses and in looking at life.

My Practice

I have a fear of falling on my head in crow prose. Over the weekend I decided to try it again. The voice inside me said “what if you fall on your head” and then I heard “then you’ll get back up” so I tried it and I did it! And I held it too. By saying I held the pose, it might have been 3 seconds, but that is 2 more seconds then usual. I tried several times and got up each time and stayed up. I wasn’t in alignment, my knees could have been on my shoulders better, blah blah, blah, but I DID it!!!!!

The confidence encouraged me to do head stand at the wall, which I do like, but haven’t done in awhile. Again, I kicked up and felt great. After resting in child’s pose, I kicked up again and came away from the wall and stayed without support! Woo hooo!

When I lowered back down and settled into child’s pose I heard the voice say “welcome home” and I felt so good I wanted to hug the mat! And in my mind I did. As I rested in child’s pose I remembered why I started yoga and that was to relieve sciatic pain. When the pain was gone I told everyone that ‘yoga saved my body” After several years of grief and stress, I have the same feeling that yoga once again is healing me, healing my spirit.

Monday, January 17, 2011

30 Day Yoga Challenge Week 2

Week 2 was a week of subtle changes for me

My Practice

This week I pushed up into Upward Bow 3 times. This is a pose I haven’t done in a long time. When I lowered down I felt so proud that I hugged myself!

I did a DVD and a podcast that both worked toward Hanumanasana, monkey pose or splits as I was easing into the pose my youngest son walked into the room and said “hey mom can do a split” and walked out. I was so happy he recognized what I was trying to do.

My Teaching

Early on in the week Pam posed a question to the group about balance and many participants acknowledged their struggle with balance. I like tree pose and personally think Warrior 3 and Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose are both challenging. Because of the online discussion class this week focused on balance. We did, Tree, King Dancer, Warrior 3 and Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose. It turned out that the class liked Warrior 3 and Extended Hand to Big Toe. They were soaring and beautiful. It reminded me again to teach every pose and most importantly to embrace the one’s that I find difficult, because someone out there may love it!

Yoga IS becoming part of my day, just like showering, cooking eating etc. I try to get my practice done in the morning, but when it doesn’t work out I always find time for it. I struggled once this week and that was after shoveling. I felt sore and tired but once I finally got on the mat, my body was grateful.

The Group

Sometimes when I read an e-mail from the group I feel like a proud Mom. I’m usually grinning from ear to ear when I read what everyone has been up to.

When I read that Deb discovered yoga can be done in her own time and at home I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. This is EXACTLY what I’d hoped participants would gain from this.

“This challenge has opened me up to a third option – doing yoga for a few minutes in my home when I can fit it in”

Yoga is about interconnectedness and when Susan greeted fellow yogi at the outlets with a Namaste’ I felt a little emotional.

“I was down at Limerick Outlets last weekend and no kidding there was a lady outside talking on her cell phone in tree pose (a very balanced tree). As I walked towards her our eyes met and I folded my mittened hands to heart and “Namaste’d” her . . . she was grinning from ear to ear . . . . thought she should get some credit from one yogi-in-practice to another.”

I love that tree pose is taking place everywhere and that we are finding HUMOR in our yoga!

“…I was standing in a store talking to the owner. We were talking for quite awhile and I was in tree pose for over 5 minutes :) I giggled to myself!

“Over the weekend I was making soup and realized hadn’t worked yoga into my day yet…and it was getting late. So I decided to incorporate yoga into my cooking and was practicing tree pose in front of the stove in between steps of making the soup. May not have been the ideal situation but I did get a little yoga time in….and entertained my husband when he walked in the kitchen not expecting to see me in a yoga pose. :) “

Week 2 has been another amazing week! I look forward to what week 3 brings!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yoga for Snow Shoveling

Snow; It’s that time of year in Pennsylvania and most of the northern part of the U.S. It’s beautiful and peaceful but also back breaking. This morning we woke to 6 inches and other places along the east coast got up to 2 feet.

I have a home based Massage Therapy Business and so I need to get out there and clear the driveway. Not just the spot around my own car and my hubbies but the whole driveway so clients can park. We have a gravel driveway, not paved, so it makes it necessary to shovel before it freezes on.

Our backyard is a winter wonderland BUT this morning after shoveling our driveway, my back was sore. This is a sequence of yoga poses that can relieve low back pain from over use and shoveling. Enjoy!

Click on the links to view pictures of each pose.

Cat Cow

Starting on your knees, align knees with hips, and wrists with shoulders. On the inhale open up the heart and gaze up at the ceiling and on the exhale, round the spine and gaze toward the legs. Flow this way with the breathe.

Child’s Pose

From all fours, sit back onto your heels, knees are wide, arms reach forward and torso settles onto the mat. Breathe deeply.

Flow from Cat Cow into Child’s pose.

Inhale up to your knees, gaze up at the ceiling, exhale round and sit back into child’s pose.

Sphinx Pose

Lower onto your belly, forearms press into the mat, lift the upper body

Upward dog

Inhale push up to upward dog, and exhale tuck your toes into

Downward dog

Finish your sequence with Legs up the wall.

Sit next to the wall with the side of the body next to the wall. With the hips as close to the wall, pivot back so your legs are up against the wall. Stay here and breathe for as long as you want. To come out of the pose, bring the knees into the chest, roll to the right and use your hands to push yourself up to a seat.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

30 Day Yoga Challenge ~ Week 1

Over the past several years my yoga practice has fallen into a rut. My practice is regular; I do yoga 4 times a week for 30 minutes a session. BUT, I stick to the same poses and my practice doesn’t deepen.

In December I realized it was time to change and decided to challenge myself to 30 days straight of Yoga. I opened up the challenge to yoga students and posted it on Facebook. Quickly 24 people committed to the challenge. The group includes regular yoga students, and some occasional drop ins, 3 other yoga teachers. One of the teachers recruited 4 of her students, a Facebook fan that I haven’t met and two childhood friends!

My intention was to create a virtual group to support each other. I didn’t know how, or if this would work, but I really wanted it to. On January 2nd I sent a kick off e-mail to the group and by the next day the discussions began. Members began to forward podcasts, articles, and give suggestions and encouragement. I was THRILLED beyond belief. This was EXACTLY what I was hoping for.

Week one taught me to step out of my comfort zone. Over the past two years, my practice has been slow and gentle. I’ve been doing forward bends, child’s pose, pigeon pose and twists. I LOVE how I feel when I do them. I love how I feel comfort and nurtured when I’m settling into child’s pose. I love the unwinding in my spine in a twist, the quiet and stillness of a forward bend and the openness in my hips in pigeon pose.

This week I’ve been doing more challenging sequences either on my own or while watching a DVD or On Demand. One day while doing side plank and feeling good, I had what Oprah calls an ah-ha moment. Reflecting on my practice, I didn’t see myself as ‘stuck.’ But in that ah=ha moment I saw so much more. Over the past two years, I lost both of my parents; my dad to a sudden massive heart attack and 16 months later my Mom after a long battle with cancer. Those poses were what I needed at the time. They offered great comfort to me during a time when I needed it. 2011 is a time for me to heal, to live with gratitude and in yoga to become ‘un-stuck” It’s time for me to walk in confidence on and off the mat. What an amazing moment to recognize that.

I hope that this challenge will set me on the path of yoga as a daily practice. I'm beginning to see it as something I do everyday, like dishes, cooking dinner, brushing teeth. These are things I do everyday without question. I want yoga to be that for me.

I’ve also found that it’s not that hard to do everyday. I’ve had so many excuses not to do yoga on the weekends; I work on Saturdays, the kids have activities, I’m tired (really bad excuse) etc. etc. I’ve found that 10 minutes of Sun Salutations goes really far in giving me energy and focus throughout the day.

I look forward to week 2 with the group and look forward to more discussions, suggestions, encouragement and support.

This practice becomes firmly rooted when it is cultivated skillfully and continuously for a long time.” – The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali 1:14