Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How often do I practice yoga

"Exercise whenever you can and look forward to it. Practice moderate yoga on a regular basis. Breath fresh air and think positive thoughts... become the light."-- Doug Sweenson

I get questions about how often to practice yoga (or pilates). While I would love to see everyone do some kind of yoga (karma, meditation, pranayama, asana...) everyday, it's not necessarily realistic for everyone to do a physical practice daily. I think it's important to stay active, no matter what you do. If you do what you love, you will keep doing it and find ways to do it. How often do we sit in front of the TV (OK, besides me- I watch maybe 2 hours a week at the most) or check our email (that one gets me... way too many hours!)... what we could do with that time!
Find what you love, and just do it regularly. Everything in moderation-- and for joy!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

True Friendship

"True friendship is like sound health, the value of it is seldom known until it be lost."---Charles Caleb Colton

Open your mind & expose you to new ideas or challenge yours
Gently encourage or can be silent & just listen without trying to "fix you"
Keep your confidence and dare you to dream because they know and tell you that you're capable of great things
Show wisdom and humor, and most importantly help you not to take yourself so darn seriously

I remember you, my lovely friends, because you make me a better person, mom and friend.

Merry Christmas to the most wonderful, powerful and spirit-filled friends that I could have ever asked for...

Love,

Mel

Thursday, December 17, 2009

faith

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Martin Luther King Jr.


I keep picturing the scene in Indiana Jones where he steps out over the edge in order to retrieve the Holy Grail and the first stone appears under his foot, only after he takes the step. Learning to trust is one of the most daring things in life. Someone commented to me a few days ago, that I don't trust easily. Actually, I think I do for certain situations... but when it comes to matters closer to the heart, well, I guess I have a lot of room to grow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Transformed

"Through our beliefs, thoughts are formed"-- Anand

In Christina Sell's recent blog (Anusara Instructor/Trainer out of Austin), she explains why the rules or guiding principals make such a difference in Anusara, which I think applies well to my teaching style both in yoga and pilates. While I do not want to appear to be legalistic (or bossy, as someone recently described my teaching style!), I do want people to practice in a way that is safe, effective and will allow them to be challenged (physically and mentally) while growing to their full potential both on and off the mat... to dare to be transformed.

"Instead of understanding the letter of the law, so to speak, the Anusara Yoga practitioner has to learn the spirit of the Law. We laugh all the time that "it depends" but it is not enough for us as teachers to just say "it depends." We have to endeavor to teach our students what it depends on. We have to, as practitioners, go deep beneath the surface where rules live, to principles and to what is at the essence of the principle itself. It is such exciting work. It really is.

So really, I don't want the method as it gets bigger to get reduced down to a bunch of small minded rules and Anusara-isms that we spout off like dogmatic automatons. That, to me, would be a tragedy. I want us to grow as a mature group of practitioners and teachers who love the exploration, who love the questions and who see the boundaries as guiding lights to our own wisdom."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sankalpa


"Attachment leads to suffering. Detachment leads to freedom." ---Ram Das

I met a lovely young woman in one of my cycle classes yesterday who seemed to have a sense of calm about her unlike the rest of class who rushed in just as class began or late. I asked her if she was ready for the holidays and her response was, "in what way?". She explained that her family is quite small, and they keep it simple by not exchanging gifts but by just doing something kind or giving for the other person. She said that she just doesn't feel the pull or drain of the holidays-
Doesn't that sound inviting? Not realistic with small children, but I think the principal behind it is that we determine our attitude-- I can set my intention or sankalpa. I can control what seems on the surface to be uncontrollable by not allowing my circumstances to affect my joy. By learning to detach or let go of that which does not serve me well, and doing only what does...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yoga Sutra 1.20




Sraddha Virya Smrti Samadhi Prajna-Purvaka Itaresam.

These 5 requirements bring success: Sraddha (faith), Virya (strength), Smriti (memory), Samadhi (contemplation), and Prajnapurvaka (discernment or illumination).

Sraddha or faith should empower you and the people you meet and resembling a flowing river. When you have faith, there is no fear that can bind you. (Having no boundaries can create fear or insecurity). Samadhi, total absorbtion (no room for doubt) where you are absolutely present in practice or service which is powerful and full of intensity. Be strong (with true courage or Virya energy comes) and you will have the memory of the mistakes you've made to learn from. Smriti or memory is rememberance, being clear of purpose or practice.

YS 1.20

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Maitraydisu Balani.

Through meditation on compassion comes intense power. Companionship + compassion equate to no fear and therefore transmits great power. Let go of "victim mentality" and have compassion.

YS 2.24

I've been doing some teaching to teachers this past 2 weeks-- and loving it! I feel absolutely in my element and am so grateful to be doing it. Also, extremely humbled. When you teach, especially teachers (who know so much and often think act as if they know it all-- me included, at times!), it's extremely humbling. The approach that I have taken is one that I learned from several other of my mentors- Stephanie Adams and Melody Morton, in particular. They teach with heart- and in a way that expresses their desire to see their students grow in a way that makes them feel challenged and yet successful.

Many of my students have asked me how I did on my level 2 Peak Pilates test-- well, I'll be honest and say that while I passed the written, I have an opportunity to re-do some of the practical section. I personally think I did the best that I could have done that day. Without making any excuses, I know that I could have done far better. Did I do all that I could have done in preparation? Probably not. Here's where I got another big dose of humble pie. To learn from my mentors what real leadership, compassion, and grace means has been a gift- one I hope to pass on.




Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holding the Breath

"Learn to be calm and you'll always be happy"-- Anonymous

I talk so much about the breath in class. I truly believe it's the key to deepening your asana and LIFE practice. When we hold our breath, we are creating a stress response within our bodies. I don't even think that we are aware that we are doing it. We just begin to move or go through the motions of practice or our day and unless we are intentional with our breath, it remains shallow and the diaphragm is not moving well enough to engage our deeper abdominal muscles (the transversus abdominis). If we fully engage our diaphragm, a relaxation response will happen.

In Anatomy and Asana (S. Aldous), she explains how to adopt "relaxed resilience" which starts with the breath and grows with awareness.

"Relaxation in yoga is not "doing nothing". It is the direct experience of the vital and dynamic action that is inside, which occurs when there is space and freedom for movement. It occurs when we don't force the movement. With force, tension develops at the superficial layers of muscles. As relaxation develops (through breath and awareness), superficial muscles can release and deeper muscles can take over. Then, core stability improves, mobility and flexibility increase and strength and power are enhanced. That is relaxed resilience."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Iyengar's Yoga

"Yoga has also been described as wisdom in work or skillful living amongst activities, harmony and moderation. Yoga is not for him who gorges too much, nor for him who starves himself. It is not for him who sleeps too much, nor for him who stays awake. By moderation in eating and in resting, by regulation in working and by concordance in sleeping and waking, Yoga destroys all pain and sorrow. This is steady control of the senses and mind."-- B.K.S. Iyengar

I've been reading Light On Yoga which was written in 1966- it's amazing how the resistance Iyengar experienced from those not exposed to yoga at that time was with yoga's spiritual nature... and today while that's somewhat improved (even in the "Texas Bible belt"), it's primarily viewed as a physical practice by most. And when we mention something in Sanskrit or yoga philosophy, we often experience some resistance.

Taking yoga beyond the physical in a way that brings out the light in yourself and others-- that's the challenge as a teacher. In the very first paragraph of his book, Iyengar describes yoga as union or communion. "It is the true union of our will with the will of God...yoking of all the powers of body, mind and soul to God."

Finding balance and union with our will and desires, and living out our own Truth.


Thursday, December 3, 2009


Blog topics have been way too serious lately... I suppose because I've been swimming in what feels like an upstream river... instead of flowing with it. But, in my new 'take charge of my life and follow my heart' attitude, I think it will just feel cloudy with a chance of rain until the sun breaks through?

I just got some sage advise from Melody Morton this morning regarding my fears over a test I have tomorrow... "Fake it til you make it!" OK, Mel... I guess what you're saying is, "whether you think you can or you can't, you're right"?

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....

Doing my best,

Mel

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"On this path, no effort is ever wasted, no gain is ever reversed."
Bhagavad Gita