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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.

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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.
 

Today I teach my first class at Yoga Den! Very excited. It is also the day before I close my last official issue of the magazine I sell advertising for. Lots of energy here. It’s hard to describe. I am trying to stay focused on one thing at a time, but I find myself jumping from task to task. Completing anything is a challenge.

Stop. Breathe. Center and Smile. Love my journey and giggle a bit at myself.

Okay, here we go.

A transformational weekend: Training with Jaye Martin, Certified Anusara Teacher, Kirtan with Palms Together Kirtan band and teaching at the Jacksonville Lululemon for the first time.

Grace (my husband’s cat and, today I think aptly named, ) and I sit here this Monday morning trying to digest it all. As I eat breakfast at the kitchen island, I realize this is a new beginning. The spirit of Shiva, tearing down the old so that something wonderful and new can be created, is alive in me today.

From here I go to work. My last month of full time corporate life before the formal transition begins. I am committed to serving my company and my clients with the very best now. It is a time of great energy, because I am also ramping up YOGAshae. 

There is a small butterfly somewhere in my belly that flits around every once in a while. I could definitely give it more power… But then I connect with Grace. Letting my divine light shine brightly, trusting in it to guide me towards the right path.

Jaye used an analogy yesterday: We are all basically swimming in a river, not against the current because that would wear us out. We swim with the current, letting it guide us down stream.

That’s me. I am trusting in the river of Grace. And I am committed to acting with Grace at work and in growing my business. I just discovered Anusara means Grace. How completely appropriate.

I have several very close family members who are complete carnivores. Now, I have not been a practicing Vegetarian for long, and I do make exceptions for oysters. However, there is one other exception I have learned to make, that is dinner with the family.

You know the situation, I am sure. I believe that the particular family member I am thinking of does try to accommodate. There are usually plenty of side items at her table. However, she has never asked why I decided to abstain from meat. I cannot bring myself to explain it to her either. As a child she struggled for survival in a way most of us could never understand. For someone who scraped by so, and whose culture considers meat an essential part of every meal and even snack, I can imagine it is confusing.

We are often invited to her house for dinner. I have tried the reverse, having she and her husband over, but this just never seems to work out. In every other way she is warm and loving, and for her an offer of food is as much an offer of love as a hug or kiss is. I understand and respect those of you that disagree. However, I just cannot turn away her meal.

In reading this, I sound slightly in angst. I am not. I have accepted this and love her happily. I am wondering though, have you been there? What did you do?

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.

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.

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