I’ve recently acknowledged that I have to back off my most vigorous Asana practice. I have a condition known as Isthmic Spondylolisthesis. It’s fairly common. Mine is complicated by a few outstanding issues, but the bottom line is: NO-MORE-BACK BENDS. EVER. No Cobra, no Updog. For right now, no running, no hiking, no biking. I need to focus on healing my back through rest and subtle strength building exercises that allow for zero extension in my lower back.

If I don’t heed this directive, I will get worse and could damage further the nerves in my low back. Yah, it stinks. But it doesn’t stink that much. I can still drive, walk, laugh, work, be happy and generally get by. I have a good life, a great family and am otherwise healthy.

Also, I am realizing that my previous Asana practice has distracted me with the immediate gratification ego offers.What my body, and the Universe, is telling me is it is time to go deeper.

Last month I discovered Yin Yoga at LifestretchYoga in Fremont. It is just what I need. The instructor has repeatedly encouraged us to enjoy “the modest endurance of a gentle stretch.” How peaceful. How lovely. How freeing. Gone is the pressure to achieve, to shine. Now it is about clearing the mind, creating space for the connection within, and sending the ego away. Creating room for peace and healing. That’s what it’s about right now. Yin, man.

Morrison Canyon in the morning

This blog comes from sunny California, a bit ironic since we had 22 straight days of rain in March, (which I’m learning means beautiful green hills for spring time.) We kicked off 2011 in Fremont, California, which is anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half south-east of San Francisco, depending on traffic. We live beside the hills of Morrison Canyon, and one of my favorite things to do is go walking up the road in the morning. I actually did try running up it, once. As a flatlander from Florida, that was much more difficult than I expected as the road goes up for an unrelenting and beautiful three miles. I am now just happy to walk it, and at the top there is a beautiful view of Silicon Valley.

We moved to the Bay area to pursue a great opportunity for my husband with a solar company in Fremont. There is family out here too, which made the decision even sweeter, and of course we loved the chance to embark on a new adventure. The move meant I needed to bring YogaShae, the business, to a close, and in an unexpected twist during the transition, I took on a leadership role in a Marketing/Launch firm. Though I do miss teaching, and I definitely miss the relationships I developed within my classes, I am enjoying a new professional challenge and savoring my Yoga practice as a student.

There is so much more to learn. In regards to Yoga, I believe teaching is a natural step in the learning process. But I’m content for now. Every time I roll out the mat, I meet myself again in some way. I may teach again, but professionally, I’m in one of the most innovative places in the world. The chance to challenge myself in that area is one I can’t pass up.

In that spirit, I’m going to continue to blog on Salutations from Anjali. I’m still in love with the concept of Anjali- divine blessings, which I believe are all around, large and small.  I’m in love with the journey and in love with life. Yoga is the expression of all of that for me, and as long as I practice, I’ll write about it. Namaste.

It’s a post about Twitter on a Yoga blog? Well, the reality is that my world is a mesh of media and Yoga these days. Teach a bit, work a bit, teach a bit and so on. I am able to squeeze in personal practice about twice a week now, which is nice. Combine this with working in a new consulting firm, a new phone, new computer, you’ve been there… as a result, some things have slipped. One of them is my Tweetlife.

I have missed it! Twitter is a valuable connector for me- I get to access great thinking on the marketing front, and I am inspired daily by the Yogis and Yoginis that I follow as well. It helps keep me current and relevant in a field that changes by the moment, and gives me access to people that I would otherwise never meet.

So, I’ve reconnected. I’m better informed and will be better at what I do because of it.

A few days agao, we attended an event with family, (our Florida In-law stand ins, specifically.) Running behind, I had 15 minutes to dress and get out the door. Maybe that works for you, but not for me anymore. Something happened in my early thirties. I went from needing 15 minutes or less to get ready for just about anything to requiring a solid 20 to 25 always.

Maybe it’s the Yoga. I am placing more importance on not rushing these days. This requires better time management, sure, but I like that discipline. It also makes me nicer to be around, a benefit for myself, since I am around me a LOT. 🙂

Anyway, clock ticking, I was working really hard to put together an outfit requiring zero nail polish application, in other words, closed toed shoes. Thankfully, my husband learned somewhere along the way  NEVER to enter the bedroom during such a time. He’s in and out, God love him, leaving me space to fret. I finally gave up, threw the open toed shoes on, and the outfit was complete.

Except..

my toes. I hate going out with naked toes. Something is stuck my head: “Exposed toes should be painted at all times.” Where did it come from? Vogue, my old roommate Susan who always looks fabulous, I don’t know. But it is hard to argue with this notion before an evening with your for-all-intents-and-purposes-Mother-in-law.

What to do? Being late with this part of the family is worse than wearing jeans to the Country Club Sunday morning buffet, (where strangely enough horrible plaid shorts seem to be just fine.) So, I took a hard look at my feet. I could really only see three toes on each foot, and they were kind of obscured by my pants. I made the executive decision then and there, and painted just the three you could see. Six toes is quicker than ten, AND I skipped the base coat! You know what? No one knew. It was good enough.

What the heck does this have to do with Yoga? Only this. We battle the notion of what we we should be doing all the time on the mat. Extreme examples include our ego telling us we “should” be able to move into Upward Facing Dog during Vinyasa every time. We “should” be able to hold Plank pose without dropping the knees at any point. We “should” stick it out in a flow, even when our body is crying out for Child’s pose.

A more subtle assumption is the idea that real Yoga should physically kick our butts every class. This type of thinking can be a powerful barrier to practice. Who wants to get beat up whenever we roll out the mat? It’s time to get gentle with ourselves. This may seem a contradiction, but “getting gentle” is an intentional action. We must re-engineer our relationship with our Self, the being who lives inside our amazing body. If we beat up on that Self every time we go to the mat, why the heck would our Self want to keep practicing? Also, if that negative self talk is on a reel in your head all day long, what do you think is coming out of your mouth? And who wants to be around that?

But, that’s another post. The point is that it’s okay to go to Child. It’s okay to find your knees in a prone pose. And, it’s okay if you only have time to paint three toes. (It’s really okay if you don’t paint any of them Shae.)

Gentle out.

Hi there! Long time no post. I know, I know. So much to catch up on, so little time.

Okay, I’m feeling goofy. It’s the day after Halloween. I am officially finished with the SQE transition and am teaching Yoga and doing a bit of marketing consulting now. Both are going great!

And this morning I woke up full of post Halloween angst. The holidays are basically here. The Florida/Georgia and Halloween parties have officially wreaked havoc on my little routine, and I was pretty darn creaky in my first run of the week today.

Then I thought: “Hold it! Ease up!” My engines were revving and it was like I was on autopilot. Already stressing about holiday to-do’s, the candy that I ate the night before, the 5 pounds that I would have to take off in January that I hadn’t put on yet! What a stressful place to be! I realized this morning that I can ease up. I can control how much or how little I get involved this year, what kind of holiday I want it to be for myself and my family. Most of all, just as we are encouraged to “pray without ceasing,” we can practice without ceasing. Things like using breathing techniques to reduce stress or channeling your inner observer sometimes to help bring clarity to chaos…

That’s the theme this week, and the next, and the next and so on. Ease up. Enjoy the holidays. If it means one less party, or one less present, so be it. Quality over quantity, and peace throughout the process. That’s my mantra for the next several months. Let the joy begin!

What is it saying? That track in your head. The one that you keep playing, kind of like that same CD that you always seem to have in your car. The old standby. You might not even like it that much, but somehow it always winds up on repeat…

What does this track say when you are in the middle of something challenging. Physically or otherwise… Is it encouraging? Is it skeptical? Is it defeating?

I have been thinking about positive self-regard this week. Do you have it? Where does it live?

I imagine this space lives in the heart center. It is warm and buzzing, accepting and healing. We can practice positive self-regard in Yoga, especially during particularly challenging asanas. 

Having positive self-regard during the height of exertion, physical or otherwise, even when we may not be archiving “perfection,” is a crucial skill in life It requires us to be a bit of an observer, gaining perspective as we become our own caretaker. We direct self towards encouragement and healing rather than destructive or negative energy. 

As always, accessing this space during practice makes it just a bit easier to do so off the mat. How wonderful!

Dalai Lama photo by Elton Melo

In the summer of 2001, while living in DC, I saw the Dalai Lama speak. I and 500,00 of my closest friends migrated to the National Mall in the middle of July in a quest for wisdom and enlightenment. It was a people carpet. No spots of green were visible as dreadlocked twenty-somethings crowded in with monks and yuppies.  There were huge screens set up to across the lawn to broadcast his image, and the sound system was amazing. Even though many people would not get within a half of a mile of the stage, they would still be able to watch him, and hear him, when he spoke.

It was not a cool day, to say the least. Water bottles at the ready, sunscreen dutifully applied, we  waited earnestly, sweating in the blistering sun. Finally, the Dalai Lama appeared on the stage. The entire crowd, on its feet, quieted instantly.  His attendants stood behind him, silent and graceful. He walked to the microphone, adjusted it, and cleared his throat. We were listening.

“It’s hot,” he said.

“Hmmmm, yes,” we thought. Universal agreement. “It is hot.”

“Let’s sit!” He exclaimed.

“Hmmmm, let’s sit,” we pondered. He said it again and laughed. And then he sat down, taking the microphone with him. 

Slowly it dawned on us that he was serious. We began to sit, which wasn’t easy as we were so close to one another. I found myself relaxing and opening up a bit. I think I was trying to0 hard, listening so earnestly that my ears had closed.  I marveled that the first words out of this great man’s mouth equalized us all. We were ALL hot. We should ALL sit.  His message was clear: We are all in this together so lighten up and have a seat!

This memory came to me the other day, as I was flying from SQE to Fidelity to make my 5:15 class. Things are going great with SQE. I’m still working there, and the woman who is replacing me is doing a great job. In fact, we are turning out to be a good team, and SQE is liking the results.

In my alternate universe, YogaShae is flourishing. I am teaching 11 classes this week. It is time to decide what to keep and what to let go in order to allow time for  privates and workshops.

This is a wonderful place to be. I am also kind of, a bit, loosing it. :). Just a little.

I think in sending me this memory, the universe is reminding me to lighten up! Relax into this space. In Yoga, relaxing into a pose can bring us deeper into it. Once we stop fighting, letting go of the drama and the story, there is just the pose, just the energy. We can access both more clearly and completely from that space.

And so once again as in Yoga, so it seems it is life. I’m trying to lighten upon myself. Let the drama and the story go and just sink into the pace. It won’t be forever, but it is for now. It is good, and I am grateful.

Shae's Picture

Backyard Photo Shoot

I began today at Fidelity with a 6:30 class at Fidelity. Summer vacation is in full swing and it was a small, but rewarding class. I asked them what they wanted to work on, and we settled on general technique. for 75 minutes we flowed. The sun rose behind us, we laughed a few times, and left feeling refreshed.

It is as if there is a part of me that is a student in the class as well. We are all learning from the teacher inside.

 Switching hats, I made my way home and worked for about 6 hours as the media executive I still apparently am. It was pretty awesome!
 
I am wrapping up, getting ready to teach my second class of the day, and loving this.  The thought struck me today: Is it really possible to get exactly what you are hoping for? Maybe for just today, the answer is yes.
 

Literally. It wasn’t easy though. I went to bed last night kind of dreading this morning’s Yoga for Runners class. The main reason was the start time: 6:15am. On-Monday-morning. Ironically, this is my class. I am the teacher. I decided on the day and time. Hah!

Post class, I can say it was so worth it. We spent 10 minutes warming up: Tadasana, Ardha Chandrasana and a few other poses. Then we went of a 20 minute walk/jog to and on the beach.

What a gorgeous sunrise, I almost forgot I was running.  The wind moved across my skin, cool and invigorating. The sounds of the ocean and the birds, the easy conversation with the class, lifted my spirit even higher. This idea of a running/Yoga combo at sunrise is something my husband and I have talked about for about a year. Today it became a reality, and I am so grateful.

We returned and went through about 30 minutes of standing, seated and supine postures, and then we closed with Savasana. Replenished, energized.  And we started the week with the sun! 

Peace!

59 days since my last post. I know. I actually talk to people about how to leverage social media for small business. What can I say.

Before I say any more, I am loving this. It isn’t a pace I can keep up very long, but I can do this right now. My day typically starts with a wake up before 6am for practice. I may actually be teaching a class, or rehearsing for later that week. Either way, by 8am I am activating the hybrid synergy drive and flying to Orange Park in my Prius. Some mornings it seems to sprout wings. 🙂

This is probably my last month with SQE, where I have been in advertising sales for 6 and a half years. I am finding it more enjoyable than ever before. Perhaps it is an in-the-moment sort of euphoric recall that I am experiencing. I am also realizing how much I care about my clients. I am training a wonderful woman to take over. She is not only doing a great job, she is making improvements in areas that we really need. She will take care of these clients, and I feel good about that. 

YogaShae is gangbusters. Well at least as gangbusters as I can handle right now. I am teaching at Fidelity National Financial 4 days a week. As SQE tapers down, I will offer workshops and privates there as well. I am teaching weekly at Yoga Den and will start at Ocean Yoga with 2 classes next week.

I am in two or three shavasanas a day. I think that helps keep my sanity.

What am I learning through this? How much I don’t know.

Is it worth it?

A few weeks ago, the class went into Uttanasana, forward fold. Even with gentle guidance to release their necks, let their heads hang, most of them didn’t. It was as if the entire class had a really tough day at work. I have been there. I remember what that was like. By the middle of class, they were better able to let go.

What a feeling.

Salutations from Twitter

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