My yoga teacher said...

Joyfully be yourself

Recently my hubs and I talked about the best kind of days, and I mentioned the best days, for me, are joyful. He laughed and likened me to Mrs. Claus. Joy. Why is that such a funny concept?

“I just want to be happy,” we’ve all said or heard. But what is “happy?” Being happy sounds so hard! Happy means everything is good. But joy? Joy makes us feel good and can happen even when we’re not in a happy place. Broke, tired, sick, stressed… all of these things are normal and contradictory to “happy.”

But not to joy! You can be having a crummy day and find joy in a cup of coffee. You can be washing the dishes or folding the laundry and find joy in the birds chirping or the latest episode of Schitt’s Creek. Happiness is a state, but joy is an experience.

So today when my teacher’s reading during savasana included the phrase, “Joyfully be yourself…” I was struck. This is my goal! To experience joy, indulge in joy, and to joyfully be.

Image is a drawing by Dove, she drew this when she was eight.

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My yoga teacher said..., My YTT, Yoga for non-yoga people, Yoga on The Farm

You are right where you need to be

When I decided I wanted to teach yoga, I was unsure what that would look like. I knew the population I wanted to reach: “non-yoga people.” People who might not set foot in a yoga studio, or those in recovery, those who need healing.

I am nearly finished with my 200 hour yoga training, and I keep hearing my mentor’s voice in my head: “You are right where you need to be. Always stay true to yourself, because there are people out there that need what you have to offer.”

I have a small group of loyal, dedicated students who have been with me on this journey. These include one who have offered me their land to practice and teach on, one who has pledged to be a student for life and thinks I should open my own studio, and one who admits to not liking group exercise classes at all but loving my yoga classes. They all keep coming back.

My exam to complete my 200 hour yoga teacher training is coming up on October 20, 2018. This has been a voyage unlike any other. I am eternally grateful for my teachers, my peers in training, and my students. I still don’t know exactly what me being a yoga teacher will look like, but I’m pretty sure I am right where I need to be.

Books about yoga, meditation, My yoga teacher said...

Not now

I learned something new today. A cue to get your mind off of something, whether you’re fixated on the seven minutes you will be late getting to a meeting, or you’re trying to meditate. Whenever you are wondering, worried, or find your mind wandering, say to yourself: “Not now.”

You are going to be late, whether you worry or not. Bring yourself back to calm. “Not now.

Often in yoga, we say to focus on your breath to clear the head. But sometimes this becomes an overthinking about the breath. Not now. Don’t think about that now.

The technique was written about in Meditations on Intention and Being, by Rolf Gates, and my mentor gets 100% of credit for introducing this to me by reading the passage at the end of class today.

Living with intention, My yoga teacher said...

Pondering this today

“If you are being poked or prodded, you are not being punished or abused. You are being pushed out of the nest.”

This is from Savasana, something my yoga mentor read about a year ago. I jotted it down in “Drafts,” and happened upon it today. 

Source is unknown because I don’t remember what it was, but I expect to come across it again in the next six months. 

Living with intention, My yoga teacher said...

Spring, for me.

If you look at the calendar, or ask a groundhog, or follow the sun, it may not look like Spring just yet. But it is Spring for me. After a long winter of runny noses and Dickensian coughs, my family seems the be on the mend. It’s chilly but our energy is up, particularly mine. I am in motion. I have newness on the brain. I feel like writing, after a long winter of just… not.

I’ve cut meat out of my diet for a second time… I was a vegetarian from the age of 15 until I was 24… here I go again at age 40. Given the meat alternatives on the market, and the fact that I know more about nutrition, it feels new to me. I am planning my garden. Or rather, un-planning my garden, as I’ve decided to give my small raised bed a year of compost and soil renewing love, so it feels like Spring. And I have a new vision for my yoga journey, one where I begin sharing and teaching yoga sooner than I imagined. More on that soon, hopefully.

Yesterday, my yoga teacher’s reading touched on yoga as a garden, on tending our practice like we would a garden. It is a metaphor that speaks to me. A garden flourishes with attention, and a person blooms with intention. A garden and a person experience seasons of abundance, of shedding, of dormancy, and of blooming. I am welcoming this blooming stage, this Spring, as I marinate in this newness.

Living with intention, My yoga teacher said...

Vanity in Yoga: How Will You Wear Your Pose?

red mat strap block yoga blanket

Paraphrasing what Teacher L said today: “You know those pictures you see of people with their faces turned up and that expression of enlightenment? Sometimes that is only for looks, and it places a strain on your neck. It is a choice we all make, whether we want to face the sky or have the neck in a more natural position. I don’t like to put strain on my neck, because I don’t like to feel that way. You have do think about, how will you wear your pose?”

I found that I agreed with her. I also prefer to keep my neck and face in a more natural place, where I can “forget” about them and focus on keeping the balance between the sides of my body. Shoulders, hips, feet… yoga works best, for ME, when I keep things aligned and balanced. I am so over having to look pretty. I want to FEEL good!

Notes on today’s practice
Attended a beginner’s class. I forgot to set an intention for my practice and found my mind wandering during savasana. Mental note, make sure I begin thinking about my intention on the drive to class! We worked on Pigeon and opening the ribcage. Essential oil used during savasana: tangerine and orange.

My yoga teacher said...

When We Do Things Slowly, We Notice the Details

File under: things my yoga teacher said that spoke to me.

“When we do things slowly, we notice the details.”

In twelve years of off and on practice, I came to realize, the slower you move, the tougher yoga asanas will be.

If we move too quickly, we will not notice when we are out of alignment, or if we are going beyond what is helpful to us. If you use velocity and momentum, you may achieve the pose, but the pose itself is never the goal.

The goal is the experience, to feel each millimeter as you glide into position, and to stop just at the edge of comfort and pain. We do not practice asanas to perfect our form.  It is when we slow down, and even stop, that our body and mind connect. With subtle movement, we can know that YES, this is where we are meant to be. This is how we move. And just when reaching that stretch that feels like a little too much, at the edge of pain, we stop. We hold. It is here we are meant to be.

Notes on today’s practice
Attended a beginner class. I did not break a sweat but did achieve some needed stretching, learned more about the benefits of child pose on the lower back (keep knees together if you need to open the lower back… knees apart and big toes touching puts the lower back in a more neutral “resting” position). Essential oils used during savasana: tangerine and sandalwood. Teacher L recommended I read “Autobiography of a Yogi,” at least I think that was the title.