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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!

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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.
 

Tonight was simply a meditation. Ujjayi breath and a silent dedication. Chanting Positivity and Love and directing this energy to a friend. Spine lengthening with every inhale, shoulders settling with every exhale. Peace.

4 of 28: Tonight I went to an outstanding class with Paula Puopolo at Ocean Yoga: http://www.oceanyoga.biz/. Through a  wonderful series of hip openers and inverted postures, we targeted our hamstrings, glutes and other various muscles and tendons in the hip and pelvis. I say wonderful now that I feel so loose and free, but at the time there was some serious intensity.

After class, I came home and opened “Yoga Anatomy”  by Leslie Kaminoff (http://www.yogaanatomy.org/) to determine what the heck we worked. I am no expert at anatomy. However, after 35 years of living in this body, I believe I have finally met my Adductor Longus muscle. If I were to sketch out the meeting it would go like this:

Inhale “ooooohhhh you are new to me:
Exhale “Not really. I’ve actually been here our whole life. You have just been sitting and running and driving and typing too much lately to remember me.”
Inhale “Ummm, really. Oh my gosh. You feel reeeaaally wierd. You mean you’ve been here all along?”
Exhale “Ohhh yah. You have no idea. Now be quiet and just breathe.”
Inhale “Umm, Okay but”
Exhale “Breeeeaaathe, that’s it.”

 

Paula is an Anusara inspired instructor. After the pinnacle pose, during which the above convo took place,  we came to the front of our mat. We closed our eyes and found tadasana. I felt my center, in my pelvis. I did not sway, I simply sank into that place. A complete peace.  

4 of 28. Oh YAH!

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.

Continuing from my last blog entry, another form of metaphorical High Fructose Corn Syrup comes in the form of communication. Think about how many seemingly random emails you receive from websites you may have visited once. Now, how many email addresses you have for receiving different types of information: work, home, the one you give to friends and family. Are you on Twitter? Do you have a Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace page? Do you have all three? How much snail mail comes your way, and how much radio, music, tv you allow into your life? 

It gets overwhelming just listing these various portals into our lives. I was going through my routine the other morning, deleting my standard 5 or so emails that come through to work when I realized, why not just unsubscribe? Why not just stop the noise?

 When was the last time you drove in silence? 

By the way, stay tuned for my weekly opt-in eNewsletter coming soon 🙂

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.

Last Sunday I went for my long run. My husband and I are training for a 10 mile race on October 25th at White Oak Plantation,http://www.wocenter.org/. He has always wanted to tour it, and it is a fundraiser for  GirlsOn the Run  http://www.gotrneflorida.org/. Anyway, that level of running is definitely impacting my flexibility on the mat. My hope is that by continuing to deepen my practice, I will be able to be a better runner, and in turn, the level of fitness I am seeking through running will help me increase strength and stamina on the mat.

Back to last Sunday. My music was pumping, I was having a blast but definitely getting tired. At the end of the run, I felt the urge to go through a few rounds of Surya Namaskar. The music was going and I felt so energized.

It hit me, why couldn’t this be shared? Why couldn’t this be a class taught once a week, with an emphasis on alignment and safety, but to a beat and incorporating a dance like fluidity? I flew home to show my husband who loved it and  spent the next hour working on the flow. This week I ran it by two of my favorite teachers and they both enthusiastically supported the idea. One of them said, “you want to teach it?”

This floored me, but the reality is that yes, I do. I gave her several reasons why I just couldn’t yet:

“It isn’t finished, I’m not officially certified. And I need to be fit enough to do it!”

“You don’t need to be certified Shae. You just  I need to be confident.” 

Confidence, yes.  I need to be confident. But the reality is I have some work to do. This morning I worked on the flow for about an hour and a half. I realize that I really have a ways to go to achieve the level of fitness needed to teach at this tempo. What a great motivator! I realize as I get deeper into certain postures that some areas are more difficult to achieve at my body’s current size.

This is not a harsh judgement on myself. Most women these days have gone through periods in their lives, or spend their entire life, in a battle with their bodies. Think for a minute about what it is like to wake up every morning and pick up the fight you left off the night before, with yourself! Now think about what its like to resurrect the fight 3 times a day. I have been there, believe me. Through patience and cultivation of self-love I have left the harshness of that fight behind. I still struggle with the conversation in my head sometimes, but I don’t let that judging voice in anymore.

However teaching a 60 minute fast tempo yoga class is going to require a different level of fitness. That is where I am going with this line of thinking. Yes, I still want to reach out to the population that relies on yoga for vital living, and also to the population that may be entering their late 40’s, early 50’s and needing to increase flexibility and bone strength. Yoga is so wonderful for that. But this will be a way to let my hair down and stay challenged.

I love music, I love to dance and move and I love yoga. Beet Yoga  will fuse these things in a joyful way, while still focusing on alignment and safety, and giving thanks for life and vitality.

Jack and Jill went down the hill, their water buckets ready to fill. Jill’s was empty, Jack’s half full, and he had water to drink on the way. In no time Jack was ready to start back up, while Jill took twice as long. In fact, she got tired of the work and stopped halfway. Jack told her she wouldn’t have enough for the journey, but she liked not having a bucket so heavy and started back up anyway.

In this clumsy story, the buckets symbolize our souls and the water our spiritual resources.  When we don’t take time to nourish our spirit, we will draw on it and use it up. Then it becomes very hard to DO anything that will serve to rebuild our being. Also, we turn into a bunch of lightweights, having gotten used to a diminished capacity for energy and spirituality. we become satisfied with a lesser engagement with life.

This all occurred to me in Savasana, or corpse pose last night: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savasana

A time for complete stillness, obviously my mind was roaming.

Bottom line, we must take time to nourish our spirit. This may be yoga, church or meditiation.  But the harder it is to make time for it and actually do it, the more we probably need it.

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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