Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Favorite Bedtime Yoga Poses

If you're like any one of millions of Americans who have a problem getting to sleep at night, or getting back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night, yoga and pranayama can help with that!

I first discovered this when I was taking a Hypnobirthing class in preparation for the birth of my son. One of the exercises we were given by the instructor was a breathing exercise in which you inhaled to a count of 4, then exhaled slowly to a count of 7 or 8. I practiced this consistently every night as part of a CD of relaxation exercises I was given, but the problem was that I kept falling asleep about 20 minutes in.

I went back the following week and told the instructor what was happening - how I never made it past the 20 minute mark on the CD, because once I started lengthening my exhales to double the length of my inhales, I just zonked right out.

She looked at me for a moment, puzzled at what I was asking. "And this is a problem, you said?" she asked.

"Well, yeah," I replied. "Because I can't get to the rest of the relaxation exercises!"

"But if you can get yourself to fall completely asleep after just a few minutes of that breathing exercise, you're going to have no problem relaxing yourself during labor," was her reply.

Turns out, she was right. I was able to stay perfectly calm and relaxed through 3 days of labor - before the doctor decided that enough was enough, and that it might be time for a c-section.

These days, I still have nights when I need help falling asleep or staying asleep. My Vata mind is always active, and getting myself to unwind at the end of a busy day can be tough - really tough. On nights like that, I like to do a few yoga poses while resting in bed before I close my eyes for sleep, and here are five of my favorites for you to try, too!

1. Child's pose. Being facedown with your arms stretched in front of you is very soothing to the nervous system. The belly-down position stimulates the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system, the hips are gently opened, and with the eyes closed, it encourages a restful state of mind. Try tucking a pillow under the forehead for a little extra support.

2. Reclined pigeon pose. This lovely reclined hip opener is a fabulous way for releasing tension in the hips and lower back. You can do it comfortably in bed with your head and upper back resting on a pillow, or even in the middle of the night if you wake up and can't fall asleep again.

3. Reclined bound angle pose. One of my favorites for stretching out in bed after a long day, just bring the soles of the feet together and move the feet upwards towards the body as close as is comfortable. Let the knees flop apart, resting on pillows if you want a little extra support, and for some extra relaxing goodness, extend the arms above the head, interlace the fingers, and take a looooooooong torso stretch as you inhale and exhale deeply.

4. Reclined twist. There's a reason I like to end my yoga classes with a reclined twist - it's a wonderful way to check in with the body and find any little hidden pockets of tension. Reclined twists are also lovely for the gentle massage they give the internal organs. Tuck a pillow under your knees or legs, settle back down into your pillows, and breathe deep.

5. Legs up the wall. Not always the easiest pose to do in bed, but you can get into this pose easily on the floor next to your bed! This gentle inversion will lower the blood pressure and switch on the parasympathetic nervous system. When paired with slow, deep belly breaths, this will get you ready for some seriously good sleep.

And my secret weapon for calming the mind and banishing insomnia? Pranayama. Yep, breath control exercises are fabulous for those of us who struggle with overactive minds and bodies that refuse to fall asleep.

The first pranayama you can try is the 1:2 breath I mentioned earlier in the post. Simply inhale deeply to a count of 2 (or 3 or 4), take a brief pause at the top, and exhale long and slow to double your inhale count. So if you inhale to 2, exhale to 4. Inhale to 3, exhale to 6. Easy. You can start with a 2:4 breath and gradually increase the lengths of the inhales and exhales, but if you're like me, you might be asleep before you make it up to a 4:8 breath.

Alternate nostril breathing is another wonderful bedtime pranayama practice. To do alternate nostril breathing, form a mudra with the right hand: curl the index and middle fingers in towards the center of the palm, extend the pink straight out, and allow the thumb and ring fingers to be soft. Press the thumb against the right nostril, the ring finger against the left nostril. Close off the right nostril with the thumb, and take a slow deep inhale to the count of 4 with the left nostril. Close off the left nostril and hold for just a brief second, then open the right nostril and exhale slowly and with control to a count of 4. Take a deep inhale to a count of 4 through the right nostril, close off the right nostril, pause, open the left nostril, and exhale slowly and with control to a count of 4. That's all there is to it! Repeat that for 4 or 5 minutes, and you'll feel calmer, more relaxed, and maybe even ready for a good night of sleep.

What's Healthy?

I saw this article pop up in my news feed on FB this morning, and it really got my hackles up. The Truth About Yoga and Eating Disorders points to a lot of things I see in how yoga is marketed (ugh, I hate that) in the United States.

I have a problem. I cringe whenever I see this stick-thin uber-flexible yogalebrities all over the place. I want to die a little inside each time I see people talking about juice fasts and juice cleanses, about starving themselves of calories and nutrients all for the sake of being "healthy".

But what is healthy?

What if healthy, instead of looking like something, were more of a feeling?

It's true that healthy can look like any number of things: skinny, curvy, heavy, light, black, white, and all shades in between.

As the daughter of a woman who struggled with eating disorders her entire life, and as someone who has had her own recent struggles with an eating disorder, I'm starting to shun any marketing of yoga as a way to burn calories, fat, or otherwise sculpt and "perfect" the body. And that pretty much sums up every article I read in Yoga Journal. Looking a certain way doesn't necessarily mean that a person is healthy or unhealthy. Weight is not an indicator of overall health, and yoga should not be used as a marketing ploy to get people to buy overpriced detox regimens and protein bars and other nutritionally-deficient fly-by-night schemes.

When I lost 30 pounds because of digestive problems three years ago, I freaked out. I had the opposite problem of what most folks with an eating disorder have: I weighed myself obsessively because I was so worried about being TOO thin, and turning into the unhealthy image of my mother, who weighed just 78 pounds when she passed away in 2008. For a while there, after I lost all that weight, I would freak out just a little bit when I would see someone that I hadn't seen in a long time, and they would look at my physical changes and say, "You look so THIN! You look great!"

They may have thought that I looked great on the outside, but I sure didn't feel great inside.

Finally, I decided to move the bathroom scale into the garage to stop myself from stepping on it compulsively every time I went to have a pee. And I started to re-think my definition of "healthy".

It's not an easy thing to nail down. What do we include in our definition of healthy?

As I'm working on changing my inner dialogue, I'm taking a really close look at what it means to be healthy, and I'm finding that it's a lot more than just your jeans size. There's a whole subtle layer to the definition of "healthy" that I think many people either ignore or overlook, and it includes things like:

  • Your overall stress levels
  • Your social network/social life
  • Your satisfaction with life
  • Your ability to accept and deal with change
  • Your relationship with family and friends
  • Your general outlook on life
  • Your relationship with your own body
It's all too easy to use a very one-dimensional set of guidelines to define what we think is healthy these days. Doctors like to use numbers, like the BMI (body mass index) chart to determine health, but that only gives us a very one-dimensional way to assess the health of a whole individual.

And how does yoga play into all of this? When I'm in a pose like Dancing Warrior or teetering into a basic arm balance or working my way into headstand via dolphin pose, I feel healthy. I feel relaxed, I feel strong. When I lose my "self" in a yoga pose or posture, I find that connection between mind and body and spirit.

There needs to be a broader conversation, in my opinion, on what "healthy" is, and how we can all get there, because it's not going to the be the same for any two people. Just for today, throw away your old ideas and preconceptions and just ask yourself: what is healthy for me?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why I'm Doing a Curvy Yoga Training

Does this look familiar to anyone? This popped up in my news feed on Facebook the other day, shared by the Huffington Post humor page.

But you know, for all the giggles it gave me, it pointed to something worth thinking about. Have you really LOOKED at any of those glossy "women's" magazines lately?

The message they seem to be sending is that if you're not thin, with perfect hair and perfect teeth and dumb as a box of rocks, you're worthless. It seems that the message they are sending is that you need more of everything to be happy.

And truth be told, it's the same way with Yoga Journal, too, in case you haven't noticed. It looks as though there are only skinny, wealthy white women practicing yoga these days.

But is yoga really meant to be exclusive? When I was at Kripalu back in April with my husband, we saw all body types, genders, and races practicing yoga with us, and it was incredibly inspiring. So when I got the opportunity to enroll in a Curvy Yoga training, I jumped on it.

Maybe some of it is from having a mother with multiple lifelong eating disorders. Maybe some of it comes from watching my friends raising daughters to have a healthy body image. Maybe some of it comes from my own struggles when, following the birth of my son and the passing of my mother just a few months apart, I found myself with an extra 40 pounds on my frame, and no idea what to do with any of it.

I have a problem with the portrayal of yogis as always thin, flexible, and athletic. The truth is that anyone of any body size or type can practice yoga asanas. And I want to bring yoga to as many people as possible - even those who have been told or who just think that they're not the right "type" to do yoga.

So I start my training on September 22, and early next year, I'll be looking for a few lucky folks to receive private yoga lessons to get them started on their own path as I practice my new skills. I want to create a welcoming space for everyone in my yoga classes, and this is as good a place as any to start, right?

Until next time, keep breathing, keep practicing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Simple Changes: Why I Love Ayurveda

Last year when I was taking my first weekend workshop on how to treat anxiety and depression with yoga at Kripalu, I spent my Saturday evening walking the grounds and exploring their extensive book store. I was trying a bit of an experiment, trusting my gut (my intuition) to lead me to where I needed to go.

In the book store, just before closing, my hands landed on a copy of Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing by Dr. Vasant Lad.

I was less than a year into my quest for trying to restore my mental and physical health and wellness, and so far, yoga seemed to be doing the trick. But I knew that I needed to do more if I wanted to really heal and become a vibrant, healthy, productive human being again.

I took the book out with me into the grounds for a moonlit walk through the labyrinth, and then back to my room where I started to read.

It occurred to me as I was reading that this might just be the key that would help me restore my sanity and my body.

What first struck me was how according to the science of Ayurveda, which has been around for about 5,000 years, was how practitioners look at each individual to determine what can best solve their health needs. Very unlike what I've experienced with Western medicine where the doctors treat the disease the same in everyone, regardless of differences between people.

It only makes sense to me. I mean, my husband and I are completely different physical types - he's tall and muscular, and I'm short and lanky. (Although I'm building up some strength from my yoga practice these days!) His digestion is completely different than mine. He sleeps differently than I do. Why would it make sense to treat us for indigestion or headache in exactly the same way?

That was my first clue that I had stumbled on to something good.

Next, I read about Ayurvedic diets. Now, an Ayurvedic diet is really not a difficult thing to follow. There are no hard and fast rules about eating in Ayurveda, only guidelines about which foods benefit each dosha, or type. There are no big warnings about AVOID THESE FOODS AT ALL COSTS kind of thing. No crazy you-can-only-eat-this-if-you-prepare-it-under-a-full-moon-at-exactly-sixty-eight-degrees-after-soaking-it-in-calves'-milk-for-a-fortnight kind of stuff.

An Ayurvedic diet just makes recommendations on what to eat and how to cook it - easy. For my type, Vata, I need to eat mostly warm, well-cooked foods. It doesn't decree that I can't ever eat things like salads, raw foods, or cold foods - it's just a set of guidelines for how to make food that will work well with my digestive processes so that I get the most nutrition possible out of my food.

And the crazy thing? It WORKS.

For years and years, I've had this predisposition to drinking ice-cold beverages. I used to put ice in every single glass of water or juice that I ever drank. And that was at the height of my digestive distress, when my gallbladder finally gave up the ghost and I was losing weight for seemingly no reason and I was scared shitless.

This past winter, I tried an experiment. I ate according to Ayurvedic principles laid out in this book. I drank lots of warm teas and warm drinks, I cooked my food well, and I used to recommended seasonings for my dosha - ginger, cumin, basil, thyme, black pepper, salt, cilantro, and sage.

I started eating more foods with healthy fats in them like avocados, nuts, eggs, and dairy products. (Some of you know I have this love affair with cheese. I indulged freely in cheeses of all types while trying this experiment.)

I ate lots of rice, quinoa, and organic wheat. I ate eggs. I filled my plate with loads of healthy foods like beets, carrots, asparagus, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and onions.

And at the end of this, I discovered that I had made it through the entire winter without a single bout of gastric distress. No indigestion. No stomach aches.

I started to look at the idea of changing my routine to suit my vata dosha. Some of the actions took a little bit of work - I've never been a morning person, just ask my husband - but I started getting up a little earlier. I started practicing pranayama every day. I ate my breakfast before 8:00 a.m. most days. I slowed down my meal times, eating in silence or creating a tranquil environment in which to savor my food, and I tried getting to bed before 10:00 p.m. I started my mornings with a small amount of warm water with a squeeze of lemon in it.

Then I began to experiment with things like gentle oil massage on my feet and using certain scents that were supposed to help balance my dosha.

And if I didn't notice the results immediately, the people around me sure did. I started to hear people telling me, "You look wonderful!" "You look so healthy!" and "You're glowing!"

The best part of all of these changes that I made? They were small. Simple. I made them one at a time. I made them mindfully, writing them down in my journal.

So if anyone asks me why I love the practice of Ayurveda so much, it's because Ayurveda doesn't demand crazy changes in your lifestyle or diet or routine. How easy is it to make simple changes like adding a glass of lemon water to your morning?

The only hard part in all of this, as I see it, is that you have to have the desire to make these changes. If you're not motivated, nothing will ever change.

But if you can make these small, manageable changes to your routine and your lifestyle, you might be surprised at the differences you see.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Just Do It

All day yesterday, I kept thinking about when I could fit some yoga into my day. We got up early, took the canoe out to try to beat the rain storm that was coming, failed to beat the rain storm, and wound up spending some time in a lean-to while we waited for the rain to let up enough so that we could get back to the car without getting soaked. (We were soaked.)

Dinner time and bed time came and went. I had really wanted to put in a good hour or so of asana practice, but I never got around to it.

Then this afternoon, I took a break from everything around 4:30 and just decided that it was time to do yoga. So I grabbed my mat and went outside into the little spiral labyrinth that we have in the back part of the property where my Buddha sits under a locust tree. I unrolled my mat and turned on some music, but then decided that what I needed more was to listen to the bugs and the wind and the trees and my breath.

I set my meditation timer on my phone (because everyone has a meditation timer app on their phones, right?) to time my final savasana, but instead of setting it for 5 minutes, I set it for an hour and five minutes.

And like any good yogi who can't sit still or can't quiet the mind on any given day, I kept thinking to myself, huh, this savasana is taking way too long. Too long. How long have I laid here? Damn, there's a bug on my foot. What if a worm is crawling across the bottom of my mat?

Finally, I just gave in and brought myself back, and looked down at the meditation timer. It was still running. I had set it for an HOUR and five minutes, and I had actually been down in savasana for about 15 minutes before I sat up again.

I took another 5 minutes to do a seated mudra meditation at the end of my practice, looking up at the clear blue early autumn sky, and the leaves of the locust tree against the sun from behind my back. (I tried to snap a quick picture of it with my phone, but my phone is nearing the end of its useful life, and is pretty much just an overpriced music player at this point.)

I started thinking about what was coming for us - winter. Winter where it's -30 F every night for weeks on end, where we get snow drifts that are taller than I am, where it's muddy and cold and dark and grey.

When winter comes, I have to move my home practice inside. And since I've talked before about my tiny little house with it's tiny little (warm) rooms, you'll remember that it's not easy for me to find a place to practice yoga in my house.

This winter, though, I'm feeling like I need to just set all that aside and just do it. Right? Like the sneakers: just do it.

Because the truth about doing yoga at home (like pretty much anything else worth doing) is that it's never going to be the perfect time to do it. If you wait until the stars are aligned just right, your bank account is big enough, or whatever, you're never going to get around to doing ANYTHING.

So my mantra for this winter as I take my yoga practice back indoors in front of the cozy little space in front of the wood stove, with my candles and my Tara on the mantel, is going to be: This is the perfect place and the perfect time for yoga. Right now. Just do it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blissed Out: Why I Will Always Be a Student of Yoga

My husband was called in to work to answer an alarm at 1:15 this morning. I vaguely remember him telling me that he had to go to the plant, and then I tried to drop off back to sleep. I definitely remember him coming back to bed sometime around 3.

But then I was up at 5 to get us ready for Colden's second day of first grade. He slept a little later than usual, so we were in a rush. Had to get him fed and dressed. Had to make sure I packed his gym shoes. Carpool was coming at 7:30 - and I realized that my husband had driven off to Lake Placid with the booster seat, leaving me with the immensely bulky, strapy car seat that take a good ten minutes to set up in a vehicle. But then I would have to arrange to pick up the car seat for when I picked up Colden at the bus stop. I had a 9:00 a.m. chiropractor appointment in Plattsburgh, too, to try to fix this burning in my left hip and the tingling in my right arm that can only have come from a pinched nerve in my neck.

I'm still trying to get caught up and just stay caught up with work, after having three short weeks in a row when I traveled to Philadelphia for a trade show, then back home, then a long holiday weekend...

And then there's soccer practice tonight. Colden gets off the bus at 3:30, and soccer practice is at 5. So we get home around 3:45, then have to turn around at 4:30 and drive all the way back to Keene Valley for soccer practice. (Last year, he didn't want to do soccer, so I don't want to discourage him from going, but YIKES! The logistics!) And it's farm night, when someone has to drive 20 miles up to Keeseville and pick up our CSA share from the farm. And I like to go to Robin's 6:00 p.m. Vinyasa class on Thursdays, even if it's just to get me out of the house and out of my head and into my body...

So, WOA! Do you see where I'm going with all of this? It seems like our lives as they're designed in American society put our nervous systems on overdrive. It's always go-go-go!

I finished up a little earlier than I had planned at the chiropractor, and I remembered that one of my favorite yoga teachers in Plattsburgh has class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:30. It had been a while since I'd been to one of Luiz' classes, and I had exactly 20 minutes to get there. I had left my mat at home, thinking I'd just be coming straight back to dive into the day's insanity, but right there, I decided that the thing I needed most in the world was to slooooooow down.

I'm so happy that I went. Luiz at ADK Yoga is just a wonderful teacher. He has a wicked good sense of humor, and I love the chanting at the beginning and end of each class. I always leave his classes feeling so grounded and blissful, and I learn so much from him!

Today's class was wonderful - all floor work, no standing poses. It was exactly what I needed. I had a couple of laughs in class, and I even surprised myself by being able to push straight up into forearm plank from a resting position on my belly. (Really. I never saw THAT one coming.)

Savasana in that class is always like I'm experiencing an altered state of consciousness - it's like I'm dreaming but not dreaming.

The woman set up next to me had a crazy, wild afro-mohawk hairdo going on, and she rocked it. Her male companion had hair way longer than mine ever was, and we had a couple of smiles during class as we tried not to bump our feet and hands into each other.

As I walked back out to the car to head home, I felt so GOOD. Yes, the to-do list was still there. The need for figuring out the logistics of getting my kid from the bus stop and to soccer and back and still get him fed and to bed on time was still there.

And of course, as soon as I got into my work to meet my deadlines, my work computer froze right the hell up. (There's something weird with it, not sure what it is. I've tried virus software, spyware, everything, and I think I'm just going to have to break down and take it to the computer hospital.)

But the difference now was that I felt calm and centered and grounded. Everything would get done, or it wouldn't, but after that class, I felt like I was paying attention to the important things: the breeze coming off the lake, the ideas for blogs and newsletters that were swirling in my head.

Don't get me wrong, I love being a writer and an artist. But those of you who also write know how hard it can be to get out of your own head sometimes. For me, I've got be able to recognize when my brain starts to go on overdrive, because it's then that I start with an anxiety attack or a stomachache or some other unpleasantness.

And as a teacher (who is starting a new teaching gig tomorrow morning), I feel like it's just so important for me to experience as many different styles and teachers as I can. Yes, I've been practicing a whole lot of yoga over the last 3 years or so, but there will always be something new for me to experience on my mat. There will always be something new for me to learn.

I've noticed that very often, I get that feeling of bliss or being "high" when I take a class with a new teacher that I especially like, or when I travel to a different studio outside of my regular haunts. It brings me back to that beginner's mind in my yoga practice. And it's just good to see some new faces and meet new people.

No matter what else happens today, I've been able to take some time to slow it down, find my center, and approach the rest of the day with a clear head. That's why I will always be a student of yoga.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What I Learned From Teaching One Student

As a new yoga teacher, I've been struggling a lot this summer. Mostly with trying to find exactly what it is that I have to offer the students who show up for my classes, but also with the fact that my class sizes this summer have been small. I mean, really small. The biggest class I taught was 12 people, but that was only because I was subbing at the last minute, and these people had all showed up for a different teacher.

So, yeah. Trying not to take it personally, but there's that little part of me, and I'm sure everyone has that little part, that starts to wonder: What if I really suck?

Also, I've been struggling with teaching these smaller classes (sometimes just two people) because for me, I feel like I can get "lost" in a crowd of more people. When it's just me and two people, I felt very exposed, very vulnerable, like all my flaws and insecurities were going to be right out there for everyone to see and criticize.

Insecurity really sucks, you know?

SO, on this one particular Tuesday evening, I arrived at the studio early and began to just straighten up. I swept the floor, rolled straps, folded blankets, and just made the place look nice. When I was finished, I began to do a little bit of my own practice, just to get grounded and go over in my head what I wanted to teach that evening, if anybody showed up.

Around 5:45, someone came into the studio and introduced himself. Lord help me, but his name went right out of my head as fast as it went in. But he filled out the required forms and we started to chat for a few minutes about hiking and Keene and Canada. It felt almost like I was talking to an old friend, someone that I had known for years. He told me about his yoga practice back home, and how he did mostly power yoga, and I thought, oh, Lord, he's gonna HATE this class.

Pretty soon, I realized it was 6:05 - and he was the only one there for class. I don't mind admitting that I was freaking out a little bit as I hung the "do not disturb" sign on the door. Holy hell, I was about to give a private lesson, and I just didn't feel ready.

I asked him if he'd ever done any Ashtanga, figuring that I could fall back on the set sequence to take some of the pressure off me. He said that he had, so good, I decided that we'd start in mountain pose, in standing, and use that as a little bit of standing meditation.

So there I am, standing on my mat, in front of my one and only student for the evening, eyes closed, trying to focus on my breath, and the whole time, my mind is screaming at me: You can't do this! Run! Get out of here! Go! Now! Why are you still here? Tell him you can't do this, and leave!

And then, from somewhere, came that brave little voice in my head: No. Stay here. You got this. Fuck it, right?

Fuck it, indeed.

So, I turned up the music a little bit. And we moved through some sun salutations as a warm-up. And we started moving through the standing series.

And you know what? It really was okay!

About halfway through the standing series, he opened a dialogue with me, and we started talking about extended side angle pose. It was easy! I could so relate to what he was saying! Woa!

We moved on to some balancing poses, and this was where something sparked in me. I felt alive - THIS is where I found something I could offer my student. I love my balancing poses. I've been doing them, literally without even realizing it, since I was a kid. Ah-ha! We even had an ah-ha moment, when I explained where I was feeling the muscles working when I held wind-removing pose.

By the time I led him back down to sit on the mat and move through a brief cool down before savasana, I was feeling pretty good. I felt like I had found something!

After we were finished with practice that evening, he said to me, "Thank you so much for staying and conducting class. It was a lovely class. I've been to studios back home where I show up as the only one, and they cancel class on me right there, so thanks for taking the time to do a class for me tonight." And it turns out that he used to be a martial arts instructor, and he would do the same - if one person showed up for class, he always took the time to give them a good lesson.

So, wow. I was blown away by all of this.

I gave him a schedule and recommended that he come back for Robin's Thursday night vinyasa class, as it's fun and a little challenging, too.

Well, Robin didn't teach that evening, but he showed up, again, and set up next to me for class. And it was just really lovely to practice next to this man, who was totally okay with dropping down into child's pose when he needed to, who was really comfortable with the idea of honoring himself through his practice. There was just this nice energy in our little corner of the room that evening, and I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to say goodnight to him when he left.

The next morning, I went back to the studio for my Friday morning class, expecting another low turnout, but this time, I had had time to think about what he had said to me on Tuesday. I had time to consider where I wanted to go with my teaching.

What I decided, after that one experience teaching a single student, was that maybe what I have to offer is best received in a one-on-one basis. Maybe I need to teach students in small groups, or privately, in order to be able to reach them. Maybe that's just what I need to do.

So when my student from Tuesday showed up again on Friday, along with one of my regular students from this summer, I was thrilled to do a class with just the two of them. I enjoyed focusing my attention on THEM - I offered support with props, with bolsters, with adjustments. And at the end, when we sealed class with the vibration of Ohm, it was beautiful. My student from Tuesday and I were the only two who Ohm-ed, but after a few seconds, I couldn't tell which voice belonged to him, and which one belonged to me.

It moved me right down to my bones.

We ended class with a warm handshake, and he got in his car to head home to his family, and I got back into my car to head out for the rest of my weekend.

I don't know if I'll ever see this person again in any of my yoga classes, but I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for showing me something about myself, and for helping me become a better teacher. And that is what the practice is all about, isn't it?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ask, and the Universe Answers

So, I've been tossing around the idea in my head for months now that I really, really want to do an Ayurvedic practitioner training to complement my yoga training.

I mentioned it to a friend/teacher a few weeks ago, saying that I would need to figure out how I was going to find the time to do this training, since most of the programs that I had researched all required participants to be on-campus, usually for several weeks at a time.

I was immensely lucky in finding the yoga teacher training program that I did down in Schroon Lake last year, and I just assumed that I wouldn't get that lucky again in finding an Ayurvedic training program.

Well. What do you know?

Turns out that there's an excellent school of Ayurveda in Gorham, Maine. And not only is it close to me, but they also offer a low-residency/independent study option for those of us who require that kind of a program.

My only stumbling block, it seemed, was the initial deposit of $950 for the program. That's a whole lot of money for me to come up with at once. Because as we all know, life happens, and this winter, life is going to include an extra load of firewood, a fuel oil delivery, and snow tires for 3 vehicles.

In the back of my head, I thought about putting together a GoFundMe page to see if I could get a little help in raising the money I'd need for the deposit for this program. I wondered if it would be tacky. But, finally, I decided that this is really where I need to go next in my training, so I put together the page and just went for it.

And what do you know? In the first few hours that my page went live, I raised over 20% of my deposit, plus I received some amazing messages of support from some of my very dear friends.

It's an experience that has me overwhelmed with gratitude, and humbled by the generosity of the people I can call my friends.

So now I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my initial supporters, and to all the future supporters of my endeavors: I'm inspired to take this knowledge and use it to make my corner of the world a better place. And who knows? One candle can light a thousand more...

So, if you're so inclined, please take a look at my GoFundMe page. If you can't make a donation, maybe you can share it with anyone you think might be interested. I'm offering some pretty sweet rewards: Ayurvedic consultations, yoga classes, personalized Ayurvedic herbal and oil samplers, and even a beaded Ohm cuff bracelet by my sweet, supportive friend Carol Dean Sharpe.