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As February comes to a close, I reflect on my practice for the month. I have noticed real benefits from some type of centering time every day. I am more calm, more peaceful. It is almost as if I am blissed out at all times. I’ll take it!

Seriously, there is no question this has brought me into a deeper practice on the mat. My mind quiets more easily and I can dial into that focused space. Off the mat, my interactions with others, particularly at work, have an element of joy to them. I watch myself from the outside thinking, “How the heck did I come up with that response. That was good!” Does this come from 28 straight days of asana and/or mediation, I think, largely, yes.

This month took discipline. I had been practicing about 4-5 times a week. I counted my off days as necessary for my body to recover. I think the most important lesson I internalized this month is that practice does not ALWAYS have to be on the mat. In fact, some of the most meaningful practice can be honoring a Yama or a Niyama in a challenging situation. Stay tuned for thoughts on that.

For now, my 28th practice:

Today’s practice was with my husband before and after our long training run.

We began with Half Moon, stretching side body, making room for air. Forward folds and down dogs followed, and then we ran. Seventy minutes of time with him. One of my teachers says marriage is some of the hardest yoga there is. I think I understand the concept, but on these runs, the barriers drop and we talk. It is our time to hash out problems we may be having during the week, discuss ideas and dreams and set goals. I feel closer to him during our runs than almost any other time of the week. Today, we discussed my dreams for my yoga business and brainstormed tons of ideas. What a great guy :).

Post run, we hit the beach. Blue water, white sand. Mountain, Half moon again, Dancer, Forward Fold and Down Dog. Holding hands, we walked back. I’m a lucky girl :).

I am so grateful for this month. Thank you, Sarah Kohl, for this inspiration! Thank you February, for ushering in this new awareness. I am more open and fully dedicated because of it. Peace.

Practice these last few days of February has been wonderful (of course,) and life has moved so fast it has been difficult to sit down to log them. So here goes:

Thursday we had an awesome practice with Paula at Ocean Yoga. Anusara inspired, we worked on Bird of Paradise from the wall, and the pinnacle pose was an amazingly open backbend with almost straight legs, chest pushing through the arms.

Friday was a tough one to sqeeze in. I had a training run scheduled for that day, and a good deal of work. I ended up dedicating a few minutes post run to som yoga breathing and stretching.

Saturday was another Anusara class with Paula. The median age in that class is about 50, and these people are amazingly fit. I am inspired every time I go.

I am leading a yoga class at work during lunch for my friends Lili and April. This is the most gentle class I teach, and it is good for me to approach practice from such a physically restorative perspective. We warm up in a supine position, moving everything from ankles to hips, and move to gentle flows through modified Sun Salutations and Warrior Dances. Today we also worked on deeply stretching the inner thighs though a modified wide leg forward fold with wall support. This was mind-blowing for all of us. 

After the stretch, Lili says: “You have to create a video, Shae. Is that on your business plan?”

Huh?

“Yah, I need you in my living room after you’re gone, girl! I don’t know what I’m gonna do without this!”

Oh man. I will fall asleep smiling tonight!

I met with Alyson today, my teacher at Yoga Den, where I am getting certified. She and I talked for a bit about the business of yoga. The big news for right now:  She asked me to teach for her! What an honor and what a great sign from the universe. YES!

So, it is official. I am on for a Power Hour Thursdays at 4:30 starting April 8th at Yoga Den! AFter a few days of starting to really feel my heart in my throat about leaing my full time job,  this feels really good! WHOOP!

As a side note, then we went into the 6:00pm Sun Power class. What a great feeling, what a great way to celebrate! 23 of 28! YAH!

Interesting practice tonight. I had an hour scheduled with my student, and she and I both had pretty difficult days. My energy was flagging and spirit a bit quiet and she was definitely run down.

This was my first experience teaching when I did not feel centered. So, that is what I did for several minutes, ujjayi breathing, centering the mind with a guided opening and rhythmic swaying of the arms. We warmed up and went into 15 minutes of vigorous flow. Engaged now, we followed with hip openers and postures to engage the hamstrings. Shavasana was a little longer than normal, and we ended practice replenished.

Tonight was a good lesson. I know there will be times that I am not as present as I want to be in the beginning of practice. If I can trust in the process, trust in the yoga, it will get me there.

 I am completely exhausted so this will be short. This was my Teacher training weekend! Yay! I love this time on the mat. Hours of intense and moderate physical asana followed by discussion of philosopy and practice teaching sessions.

I received great feedback from my hour of practice teach. The things to work on basically consist of offering more permission language and modicfications. This I can do! I will be sure to work on it with my students this week.

The things that my two “students” loved included my cadance and safety language.

All in all a wonderful weekend.

This morning my husband and I went on our long run. After, I stretched a bit: Down Dog, Intense Western Stretch. Somehow my day flew by without time for further Asana, so this evening I read a bit more from The Wisdom of Yoga by Stephen Cope.

He has been discussing aversion and attraction and offers that the key is not reacting to these feelings. However, the ability to discern the dividing line, the opportunity to NOT react, takes time and serious self-exploration. Tonight, I realize how challenging my work life is to my yoga journey.  

I sell internet and print advertising for a living. Soon I will be leaving to teach yoga full-time. My husband and I are preparing for a big shift in income and lifestyle, and I feel like I am already shifting the focus of my spirit. It is almost as if I live on a mountain from 5pm-8am and from 8am-5pm I live in a smog infested city. 

Challenges arise daily to stay genuine in my interactions. It could be a client who wants to know EXACT demographics in numbers, when we prefer to talk in percentages. Or a confidence my boss has shared with me that I have to hold back from my team. 

Today, I spoke with a client I definitely feel aversion for. While nice and always appropriate, this client’s high sense of entitlement and superiority has evoked judgement and disgust in the past. I was aware of the aversion I felt today. I acknowledged it, and then I had to let it go. It was the only way to be present in the conversation and honor my duty to my company.

This discussion, the act of not reacting to aversion, was my most important Yoga practice today.

Anusara practice tonight. The pinnacle pose was Kapotasana. Amazing openness. We worked on the wall for a bit, Pincha Mayurasana or Feathered Peacock pose and Scorpion or Vrschikasana. The primary focus was pulling shoulders in and melting the heart. From wheel, we lowered to our forearms and clasped hands behind our heads. Walking feet in, inner spiraling thighs, engaging core, lifting through the heart.

I didn’t actually touch my feet with my hands for the full posture, but I did quiet my thoughts, live in my body and move to a completely new space. Wonderful!

Wonderful yoga today! After a brisk 32 degree run with my husband, we practiced some of the postures learned from this week’s Yoga for Runners workshop courtesy of Lululemon and Yoga Den. Just 15 minutes, but so necessary to warm and lengthen cold muscles. And, I love doing yoga with my husband. It is just the best thing ever. (Hearts.)

For lunch, my co-worker and I practiced in her beautiful office overlooking a lake here in Orange Park, Florida. She is another friend-turned-student who has been gracious enough to let me practice teaching. After a supine warm up, involving flexing and movement of ankles, knees and hips, we moved the spine through Cat Cow and then a gentle Down Dog. A few Surya A’s and then a focus on hips through the Warrior sequences, Side Angle and Triangle.

She was so present during the practice, and so intensely focused on each posture. I think of my journey on the mat and can’t help but smile at what is in store for her!

I am reading the most amazing book, The Wisdom of Yoga by Stephen Cope, (thanks for the lend Susan!) In it, he discusses the awareness we all have. This awareness brings the mind back to center during meditation. He calls it a number of things, I like to think of it as an observer, and the observer is me.

Tonight, during a heated power class, I tried to access the observer. I have done this before, but never with significant engagement. But for some reason, during an extensive balancing series, with thighs burning and sweat dripping, I consciously shifted to an unattached focus. I let go.  Attachment to my experience released, along with tension and worry. I felt, if not quite peace, a grounding and acceptance. 

It is a continual amazement to me that so much can happen on my mat. In this little 2×7 foot space I experience an intense internal dialogue. The fighting and pulling, negotiating and deal making that happens in my head would be enough to fill a half- hour sitcom. I see now that this connection to the observer is a way to help lose this drama on the mat!

Getting back to class, I worked! My body worked! And on this morning’s run, I FELT my thighs. It was sort of mark of success, and I didn’t get hung up there. I just ran on.

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