Yoga Family

I had surgery this Friday.  That being said, I tried to be at Teacher Training as much as possible.  Why?  It’s my yoga family. In my town!  I haven’t been to a training here in Wenatchee but it is so cool to have so many people that I truly adore coming to my home studio.  They have become a new family, my yoga family.

I feel about them like I do my “California Cousins.”  When they come to town, life as we know it stops.  You make sacrifices, you do what it takes to spend every second you can with them.

Also, they care for me.  I have people who really really care.  They don’t fake it, they don’t have to.  They don’t judge me or question it.  They are all completely real and completely real in their love and kindness.  They don’t have to try, they just do.  There is nothing like the relationship I have with my yoga family.  Love and respect.  Mutual understanding.  Unconditional acceptance.  If you don’t have a yoga family, you should.  And mine is pretty darn amazing.

I couldn’t make the hike yesterday, but I love these people.  Beautiful.  13411828_10100896627144203_772470144837506325_o

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Pain

We usually do what it takes to avoid pain.  Emotionally, Physically, Psychologically.  We all do it.  What if we try to embrace the pain.

What would happen?  I tried it out last night at yoga.  In Savasana, the posture which gives you an opportunity for rest or it can be the place your mind can run wild.  It’s the last place you want to be in pain.

But I couldn’t help but notice that in my pain this thought came to me – embrace it.  Be in it.  Instead of trying to ignore it or move my leg around until it was in some sort of unpainful position, I embraced it.  I focused on it, and it stopped feeling so much like pain.  I thought loving thoughts towards it and a warmth came over the area.

In a hot yoga class, there is a lot of pain.  All types.  It is about learning to work through it.  Feel the pain and be in it.  There isn’t a choice to avoid it.  Once you are there, you are in it.  The heat, the sweat, the pain of the postures.  You have to stay in it the postures longer than you wanted to.  But you are in that moment.  The moment of pain being over is a sweet feeling and sometimes that sweet release is what happiness is all about.

Just think for a moment.  Are you trying to avoid the pain? Distracting, ignoring, numbing?  Pain can be good – here is just a few ways:

  1. Pain can teach you where you are weak.  It can make you stronger and smarter by just paying attention to it and trying to rehabilitate the area.
  2. Pain can teach you a lesson.  If you have had an injury because of something dumb (when have I haven’t had a dumbness related injury?) You will learn what not to do.  Live and learn.  Isn’t that all about experiencing pain in some way?
  3.  Pain or mourning can be a lovely reminder of how precious life is.  How delicate and fragile.
  4. Fear of pain or avoidance of pain is sometimes causing us more emotional strife than just going through the pain.
  5. Notice how when you are sick you just remember how wonderful it was to not be sick and how you definitely didn’t appreciate the not sick times enough?  Pain makes you appreciate the peace, the painlessness.
  6. Pain brings you into the moment.  If you focus on the pain and experiencing it you are there, in the moment of pain or pleasure – whichever you are in, you are experiencing life.

Embrace the pain.  Trust me, it isn’t so bad once you realize how much work it is to avoid it.

 

Teacher Refresh

I was so blessed last weekend to spend two days with my Master Teacher, Carlo.  He is a gift to yoga that many don’t know about.  But when you spend two days with him, you want to do yoga.  You want to do it right, you want to do it constantly – you want to make yoga your life learning mission like he has.

Spending two days after graduating is amazing.  The pressure is off to memorize and study and you can immerse yourself in learning.  I learned so much, I do every time I get to sit in front of this yoga treasure.  My life has been changed, there is no doubt.

It makes me want to share what I have learned with everyone I know.  I want to get everyone’s spine moving, but it also brings me back to my practice.  How important it is to have a dedicated practice.

But what you learn most sitting with this man is humility.  In yoga, there is no room for ego.  If you struggle with it, the humbleness of sitting in front of someone that knows infinitely more than you, will always always get you humble.

Even the little things – music.  He brings me back to the basics, the root, the core of yoga.   I will never give up an opportunity to learn from him.

Then there are the things that you learn from everyone else.  A few things I learned over the last two days (I hope I don’t embarrass anyone) and these are just the people I got to connect with – there are many more;

Carlo: The root and basis of all things yoga – he is a true master of the art

Stephanie: love and acceptance and how to stop and listen so that you learn from the masters

Kiki: what a beautiful studio space, starting a Moses Lake Tribe that I am lucky to be a part of watching you grow – WillPower was one of my first classes and I love that I can continue to learn from you

BenJAMIN: the basics of meditation and calming the mind.  I am so glad I got to have a little religion talk with you and Alexis.

Alexis: what true motivation looks like – if you think you are motivated – meet this girl, you will be wowed.  Watch out world, she is going to change you

Danielle: how to laugh so hard until you cry

Stacy: how important clarity of the mind is

Lyzz: acceptance and contentment – I am so proud of you!  Proud of us, we started together and I am so glad we got to be there for each other at the end.  Eye to eye, we will always be connected.

Jill: Your strength is amazing.  I am going to get to know you better, well, when you have a free second….. Thanks for sitting with me.

Camas: what dedication and commitment to practice can do – you define a Sattvic practice

Taylor: arm balancing beyond my wildest dreams and how humor can ease the soul

I truly love all of you.  I am blessed to have you in my life.  Thank you for sharing your practice and your life with me.

 

 

 

 

 

Music for the soul

One of the things I am most looking forward to in teaching yoga is expressing myself through my music choices.  Music can do so many things.  It can make you feel happy, sad, regret, hope, love even anger.

I have been working on music choices for months for my class, listening to all sorts of music and saving the ones that I think work.  The common theme is feeling. They all have a feeling to me.  They speak to me and to my practice and I can’t wait to share them with a class.

I haven’t put them together in a series but my final picks are making a good list.  My hope is that my music choice calms you, encourages you and picks you up when you are feeling like you can’t hold another posture.

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*Note, I almost want to put together a list of songs that are just so funny – maybe we can have a fun class in the future.  A couple fun ones, Gravity by John Mayer, Crash Into Me by Dave Matthews, Falling for You by Colbie Caillat.  I’m calling it “Ain’t Nobody Needs to Hear that During Yoga”  🙂  Music can be fun and it should be!

The difference between “Can’t” and “Won’t”

A lot of people tell me they “can’t” do yoga.  I don’t fault them, don’t worry, yoga is HARD.  But just about everyone can do yoga.  They just won’t.

Consider this for a minute.  Can you touch your toes when you are sitting with strait legs?  Do you know most people taking any given yoga class can’t either?  But they are there, they show up.  And I’ve seen it, heck, I’ve done it more times than I can count.  Saying, “I can’t do this posture, that is just impossible.”  But I keep showing up and amazingly, I do every single thing I have ever said I couldn’t do.

For most people it’s a flexibility problem.  Even if you go to the gym, you probably are strong but missing flexibility.  Health is both.  It’s a balance between them.  You can run every day, lift three times a week.  But if your spine is compacted, your hamstrings are tight or you just feel sore or tired – you are missing something.  Yoga will help.  You will feel better, you just have to show up.

They say “all will come.”  They say “someday.” We hear this when they are asking us to do things that sound impossible.  But if you want something, if you want to get rid of the can’t and the won’t – you have to show up.  And it will come.  Breakthroughs don’t happen every day in yoga but when they do, it’s the best feeling in the world because you showed up, you practiced and practice and someday, yes, it will come.

First step, just get your feet on your mat.  All will come.

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That being said, I think I better get back to those daily headstands…..

BRCA, my Family and Yoga

The past week has been filled with reflection on my family.  We had a death in the family which brought my family together for my mother’s uncle.  Not knowing him very well, I knew him as the Leap Year baby of the family.  I think I remember going to his 16th birthday party.  But it made me think about how much I love and value my uncles and aunts, cousins.  Loosing a parent, one of their siblings, bonds you.  There is a gap there where she should be and although it should bring us closer, I think that gap is always unspoken.  We lost the person who connects us.

But at this funeral I also had the opportunity to meet someone I knew only by blood.  Specifically, our shared genetic mutation.  I believe we are the only two in our family in our generation to be passed this legacy.  Looking into the eyes of someone who you don’t know, yet you share so much, a pain, a sorrow, a fear maybe.  Something binds us that is greater than understanding.  It’s blood.

In yoga, this has brought up the struggles that my chest poses that I don’t talk about enough.  But I do want to talk about it because I know there are other women out there like me that had a prophylactic mastectomy and many more that have had cancer and a mastectomy. So a latest guide to the world of mastectomy yoga:

  • Hatha Yoga is a great place to start if you have had a mastectomy.  The stretching aspect will really help open the chest without putting weight onto the chest muscles.
    • Let me back up – Something like a plank or downward dog, side plank especially puts your body weight in a position that uses primarily the chest muscle.  For me, all of these postures are extremely uncomfortable and has taken a lot of work to be able to do what “normies” do easily.  If your reading and you haven’t had a mastectomy here’s what it feels like – do anything flexing your chest muscle.  For me, I do that and it’s squeezing a baseball into my chest.  Let’s just say it doesn’t feel good.  Hatha yoga doesn’t have any of those chest squeezing postures.  It does however have chest opening which is wonderful after any chest surgeries.
  • Vinyasa/Power/Fusion These all are “next level” when I talk about chest squeezing.  It is into balancing on arms, progressive pressure.  Post-Mastectomy these are the most difficult classes.  The Chaturanga push up is near impossible to me.  I constantly have to make modifications and at some point want to make a video to show the different ways I have modified this common posture.
    • I have to note, this is very likely can be different to the type of surgery that you have.  I have a friend that can do an awesome chaturanga and she has also had surgery.  For me, it is very challenging.
  • Yin – You need this.  Doesn’t matter where you are in recovery, this will relax you, open your chest, let all the stress from the back muscles that have been protecting your chest go.  It’s amazing.  For anyone really recovering from surgery, Yin yoga is an easy way to love your body while you are recovering.  It’s like an hour long gift to your muscles.

Other things like side planks I just can’t do.  I’m always on my knee.  I am starting arm balancing which is super exciting.  It’s actually easier than the typical flow because the strength is in the arms and usually the chest isn’t working.  What I love about yoga in general, there’s always an inch farther, a new and challenging posture and growth even in the hardest/mundane.  For me my latest breakthrough (if you know yoga, you’ll know this one) Three legged dog, to stacked hips, to wild thing, back to three legged dog.

Give love today.  Give love everyday.

 

 

The Hydration Game – 30 Day Challenge – week 2

Here we go on to week 2 of the 30 day challenge.  This is the week where you realize what you are getting yourself into.  You are sore and tired.  You think, this is hard!  Yes!  It is.  But so worth it.  Remember your intention and keep going.  This is the week to dig in your heels, commit and if you haven’t already, start taking care of your body.

My usual struggle is with water.  Drinking enough to offset the constant amount of loss through sweating in that hour, every day.  Drinking enough and keeping it in me is key after 7 classes.  I am not a doctor (NOT A DOCTOR) but I have been dehydrated many times during these challenges and it is a real struggle for me to stay hydrated. Things to look for if you are dehydrated which may be a little different than typical dehydration symptoms but what I notice, because I’m not a doctor. 😉

Typical

  • Dry mouth – this is the typical thing to watch for.  Of course if you are thirsty, drink.  I don’t deal with this because I am almost constantly drinking water during this challenge.  So I instead with hot yoga change this thing to watch for

Hot Yoga

  • Dry skin, lips, eyes – I will notice these first showing me that the water is not getting through my system, it is likely passing through.  I look for ways to retain water.

 

Typical

  • Sweating may stop – this makes me laugh.  If you are in hot yoga and you stop sweating you might want to step out.  That isn’t right.  But in all seriousness, that is a very bad sign but this has never happened to me in hot yoga.  I am nearly always sweating.  I am still sweating in the shower 30 minutes after class.

Hot Yoga

  • Muscle cramps – This is the first thing I notice when I am not getting enough water.  Certain poses will immediately cramp my muscle.  My muscle of choice is my hamstring.  It cramps, oh geeze, I need water.

Typical

  • Dizziness – I get dizzy on a semi regular basis in yoga class.  It probably means I need water, it couldn’t hurt.  But sometimes being upside down for a minute and then coming up might make anyone dizzy on any given day.  I’m not a doctor.  Did I mention that?  – Not a doctor.

Hot Yoga

  • Confusion – When I come out of yoga class I sometimes feel a dazed hazy feeling.  Not confused, more out of it and needing time before I can hold a conversation or figure out what I am doing next.  In these 30 day challenges while the studio is packed full of people sometimes I wander around trying to figure out how to get in and get my water.  It’s like a maze that takes me a little longer to navigate.  I probably need water.

 

At this point in the challenge, hydration is key.  Keep drinking water.  Add in fresh juices.  If you feel like you are experiencing symptoms and you don’t feel well, take care of yourself first.  Take an extra Yin class.  It’s not hot so you don’t sweat as much and it is relaxing and can stretch out those tired muscles.

Keep going challengers!  And by the way:

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