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 I really like creating a flow that targets what  my mindbody brings to the mat. For example, this morning my husband and I went  for a run (Gate River Run training week 8 http://gate-riverrun.com/.)  Four miles in the cold darkness , talking about hopes and dreams and loving it! We arrived home energized, inspired and ready for the day.

Mindful of my 28 in 28 commitment,  I began to prepare for practice. After 3 classes in 2 days, I  have typically taken a break from  asana on Wednesday. This morning felt different. I decided to match my energy level with a bit of asana focusing on hamstrings and hips after a cold run. Also, I knew I had to keep it short.  

After a moment of centering I warmed up with Child’s Pose, Cat Cow and some spinal rocking. I then entered into Tadasana. What a feeling of gratitude. My spirit thanking myself for this time? Acknowledgement of my commitment to this practice? Perhaps a brief glimpse of the connection to that divine we all seek. From there I practiced a few Sun Salutations, modifying a bit as I am still sore from yoga last night. I then  focused on hamstrings and hips with Down Dog and Pidgeon. Half shoulder stand and Happy Baby brought me to Shavasana.

Thus ends my physical practice of yoga on day three. But I also acknowledge that, just as the Apostle Paul suggests in the New Testament of the Bible that we pray without ceasing, yoga is a practice we take with us into our day, guiding interactions with others and helping temper our inner dialogue.

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So, this week was an amazing week! Monday night I had the opportunity to teach a beginning yoga student, a friend of mine looking for instruction in postures and breathing basics before she heads back into a studio.

 It reminded me of that exersise from Summer Camp where the goal is to build a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Sounds easy, but there are two of you, one who does the building and one who does the instructing. If the instructor does not mention EVERYTHING, from taking the lid off the jar to holding the knife by the handle, then things can get very messy very quickly.

It was a little like that. More so, it was an excersise in deconstructing my assumptions. For example, thinking that everyone knows how to do downward dog. Not the case. My friend is definitely fit, and she has done yoga before, but her version of DD was a plank/DD hybrid. Helping her into a more restorative pose proved challenging as I realized for the first time a certain amount of mobility in the shoulders and chest is required.

Moing on, I gave my second Yoga talk at work. We focused on breath and learned Ujjayi and Dirgha techniques. Last, I demo’d my fusion flow idea for another teacher. She actually had me teach her scheduled class for her! I lead 3 students through the flow and afterwords received their feedback. This sent me flying for the rest of the night.

Hang on to your hats! This is getting good!

The old settlement

To celebrate our first anniversary, my husband and I went to the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island. This is a beautiful, historic inn that at one time was part of the Carnegie estate. We planned to bike, kayak, hike and relax the entire weekend. The island is largely public land now, is 18 miles long, and ranges from sand dunes to pine stands to fields of saw grass palms.

Saturday morning we packed a lunch, about a gallon and a half of water and lemonade and set off on our bikes. Our goal was the church JFK, Jr. where JFK, Jr. got married. This tiny chapel, the First African Baptist Church, was, we thought, 7 or 8 miles away.

To condense this long story, the church was more like 14 miles away, through deep sand and rutted roads. We had seriously misjudged this trek. This realization hit me 4 hours later after visiting the chapel and then biking out to the ocean to take the beach back. Not only did the beach route seem shorter, the hard pack would be easier to ride on.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time! Biking in the shade, pushing our bikes through sand and seeing wild horses, passing old coquina buildings that were a part of the old settlements peppered across the island. We love that kind of stuff and were in our element.

Chalk it up to being in love 🙂 or a little spun from crazy work weeks, we just didn’t realize until we started the beach ride back that we were in over our heads. Ten miles to go and 14 ounces of water. The tide was going out and the pack was NOT hard. The sun was out and the wind was blowing. Already tired, we walked as much as we rode, keeping good attitudes and laughing about the situation. Trying not to admit we were in a bit of a jam.

I started to get really week about 5 miles down the beach. I became a little confused and had a hard time breathing. When I sat to rest, getting no relief from the sun anywhere, I really began to have trouble breathing. We decided to take a trail back to the tree line and cut through to the main road. It looked like a 1 mile trek on the map, and maybe a longer distance, but at least we would be out of the sun.

Climbing over the dunes, Chris took the bikes and I was trying to find the trail. That is when I started to see spots. Perhaps I panicked. I know I couldn’t find the trail. Chris started to say things like “stay with me” and such. I told him I just needed to sit down and then I did. I walked a few feet to a small dune and sat down and black out. I mean OUT.

I thought it had been an hour when I heard Chris’ voice saying “Shae wake up! Stay with me. Help is just around the corner, we just need to get back to the beach.” I heard his voice through this louder humming, much like the Ohm sound we chant in yoga. I had this feeling that my Aunt Joyce was close by and that I absolutely had to pull it together. I felt horrible for how much I must have been scaring Chris and I couldn’t let that continue to happen.

I think that is what did it in the end. I did not want to worry Chris anymore than he already was. I opened my eyes, asked him if he had gone for help, (No!,) and how long had I been out (a few seconds- later I find out it was about 20 seconds,) and then I said “okay let’s go.”

I stood up, he grabbed the bikes and we headed out to the beach. I walked slowly for a bit, the wind helped cool me off. I eventually began to push the bike and Chris watched me like a hawk. I then began to ride the bike very slowly. My muscles started to cramp and I actually watched them contract in my legs and arms. This hurts. It is painful.

Coming to the point: in one of my yoga classes they talk about being calm in an uncomfortable place. Usually we are talking about frog :).

I started thinking about how important it was to stay calm. It might be slow, but we could make it home. Breathing trough the cramping helped as well. By focusing on my breath and picking a spot in the distance, my dhristi I guess, I kept going. 

We ran into the owner of the inn about 2 miles down. Thank goodness. She was on the beach with her family. They had driven a truck out. They had water and a banana. It was wild to watch my muscles release as I ate the banana. We pulled through, made it back and recuperated in the AC with water, lemonade and some food. We didn’t do much the rest of the weekend and were perfectly happy that way.

Yes Mom, I went to the doctor when I got home.

I had a classic heat stroke. My husband is my hero. I am so grateful for him and for my life. We learned an important lesson about preparation and expectation. And I learned how to truly stay calm in a very uncomfortable place.

I showed up for our second teacher training weekend Saturday morning worried I would be late. Flying down 295 I kept checking the clock, “7:45,” ohhhhkay, “7:50,” gulp, then ” 7:55, oh but wait it’s 7 minutes fast which means I actually have 12, no 17 no, shoot, 12 that’s right 12 minutes. I’m good.”

I park, fly up the stairs and Alyson, zenned out behind the desk says “Oh Shae! You’re early! Are you going to do the power class too?” Ummm what? And that started the weekend. 90 minutes of intense power, that is a great class by the way, the 90 minute Sun Power on Saturday mornings. Those people like to sweat! Then a full Yogalates class with Wendy, who I secretly think with her amazing strength and stamina must be a super heroine of some kind. With her cape in the car for emergencies and her mat and Pilates ball she battles evil, weak abs and inflexibility all across Jacksonville. I stumbled out of class, soaking wet and kind of buzzed, and immediately changed clothes.

We did our circle and talked about the month, and it struck me how much people deal with on a day to day basis and why something like yoga is so important in life. In our society there is not room for mediation, quiet and self examination. We literally carve time from our busy day to make these things happen. For me, it has come in the form of waking up at 5:30 or 6 in the mornings on the weekdays for time to center. 

In our group we have had serious life changing events in the last 3 months, and these people are making time for yoga. And that is really the point of this post- making time. In my last post I made a commitment to increase my practice and work on diet in order to have a stronger practice. This post is about a commitment to carving the time out to meditate, study the history of this tradition, and build the karmic side of my yoga practice.

Welcome to Salutations from Anjali. My wish is for this to be a journal of sorts, documenting my initial yoga teacher training with Alyson Foracre at Yoga Den in Jacksonville, Florida http://www.yoga-den.com/ . This is a 9 month program and I am excited and nervous, and after my first weekendled about the possibilities.

Our program is made up of all types of people. We have very fit bodies, looking for a way to avoid injury and hopefully pass that knowledge on, to people engaged in their own quest for peace, and those that are truly turning over a new leaf. For me, I hope to have the courage to continue to ask questions- however minute they might be, about postures I have been practicing for quite a while. I also hope to cultivate a daily practice of both deliberate Karmic Yoga and Hatha Yoga. This can only be done through a deeper understanding of the practice’s metaphysical aspects, I understand.

This journey will not end in 9 months, when the training is over. It will continue my whole life. This blog will likely take on different names and forms. However, at the beginning, Salutations from Anjai is symbolic of my hopes for future direction. Salutations in homage to Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation, the beginning of most vigorous flows and a wonderful way to open one’s heart and thank the universe for all that is. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surya_Namaskara

And Anjali, an ancient Sanskrit word meaning a divine blessing or offering, is what I hope to call my own roving Yoga practice, and possible my studio someday. Daily Anjali, or daily blessings, my tiny contribution to the universal vibe. I hope that I put out as much positive energy as I seem to receive every day. And that is today’s intention.

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