Thursday, September 30, 2010

Acro Yoga

"I honor the place in you 
in which the entire Universe dwells.
I honor the place in you 
which is of love, of truth,
of light and of peace.
When you are in that place in your, 
and I am in that place in me,
we are one"
-- Namaste by Judy Cox

Acro Yoga is exhilarating, challenging and if done with open communication between partners can be very intimate. Samantha & Justin, from the lineage of Jason & Jenny, founders of Acro Yoga came to Houston this past weekend to teach Thai yoga massage & Acro Yoga techniques (aerial acrobatics with a partner). Their straight forward, touchy-feely approach was welcoming and yet, at times was slightly uncomfortable for me since I tend to be more pitta (fiery) than kapha (nurturing). We were to invoke the spirit of Lakshmi or abundance and give blessings to our partner (through therapeutics) and to ourselves (a lovely self-blessing gesture).
Sam & Justin
When it came to flying, at first I got frustrated with myself for wanting to control the situation when partnered with a dear, sweet friend. As a flier in therapeutic partner work, you must trust the base and listen to the base's instructions. I have to admit when I flew with my friend, and I saw her knee buckle... my faith in her ability to hold me up seeped out and then I wobbled. When I wobbled, she did too, making it that much harder for her.

All judgement comes from lack of understanding and fear, and when I judged that the strength to hold me wasn't there, I began to fear falling. When instead, I should have shown her love by being more at ease with my body and breath, which would have translated to respecting her instincts in how to be the best foundational support for me.
Lisa & Brook
"I came here a flyer. I went home a base." ~Huck Hirsch

By the second day, we learned what our "roles" were. If you're tall, you're a "tree" or base. If you're somewhat vertically challenged, you're an "elf" or flyer. Or, in my case, if you're strong, you're a base. Always somewhat annoyed when I'm type-cast by anyone for any reason, I'm now grateful for the role of a base. Being the support and having someone completely rely on you for their body in mid air... that takes equanimity and as I learned the first day, an ability to be free of judgement. There is a power and grace to Acro Yoga that certainly has a place in the yoga community. Yet another way of connecting to yourself and to others in abundance-- Sangha.

Getting together in the park this weekend to play around with some of the folks from the workshop... I'm ready to base or fly... either way, I'm ready!
Jenny, Cathal, Brook, Lisa, Melissa & Todd

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

To tweet or not to tweet?

Everyone (at least the under a certain age category) seems to be tweeting. There's a university on the East coast that has declared a week's ban on social media. Kids are to see how they can get along without Facebook (FB) and Twitter for a whole week (5 days). But wait, they can still use their cell phones to text and email accounts. Let's do a bit of a reality check here... no social media. They have to actually call, text or email each other or talk face to face to see what they are doing. In other words, instant messaging with a collective group of people is what's banned? Will this really make a difference? Apparently they think so, but the kids will have to write a report on it at the end of this little experiment. Perhaps someone will give a daily blog by blog account of their experience since they will have so much free time?

Tweeting. A year ago, twitter was for celebrities like Ashton Kutcher who was trying to see how many followers he could get (over 5.8 million, last count), and then you have folks like Britney Spears who paid someone to tweet for her. Isn't that what the paparazzi is for? (I wonder how many define their worth by how many people "follow" them?)

Why is it that we feel like we have to tell everyone our every move? Yesterday when my plane landed from Albuquerque, Drew and I, tired, hot and hungry arrived at my car to find the battery dead due to the interior light left on. Sigh. I'd like to blame it on my 4 year old, however, I'm pretty sure it was me who left it on. Immediately, I commented on Facebook (FB) that we were "stranded in the parking garage and why is it that 5 cars in 45 minutes have passed us by?" Then, an update: "Rescued but now we've dropped the keys and can't find them." (Note: Tapas (something which is difficult used to our benefit) was required. Pushing it away or pulling it toward me only creates more agitation and aggravation.)

Flashback: When I was in college, way back in the 90's... no email, no computer, no cell phone. How in the world did I get things done or stay connected with people? When I got in to Texas A&M, my dad bought me a word processor. I used carbon paper to take notes for a deaf student in English, and used the MAC lab to do my reports and saved them on a floppy disc. I didn't own a computer and the word processor was too heavy & bulky to carry around. Email came in my final semester at school. And, even then, I was hesitant to get an email account. The only people using it were the profs who would email homework and reading assignments, and I could still get those in class. So, why check email? I finally got a cell phone, at the insistence of my mom who didn't want me to get stranded somewhere. For years, I never turned it on. Just kept it for emergencies.

Fast forward 15 years, I'm embarrassed to list all the technology that I "own", let's just say I'm more than wired, and I am now a yoga tweeter with 10 followers. 

Technology - instead of fighting it, I'm definitely surrendering to it. Allowing it to give me more creative venues. A $75 therapy session recently revealed to me, my intense need to be connected. To feel connected to others. Which just shows how much we all want to experience something greater than ourselves. I hope to cultivate a habit of prayer, mediation & practice (Isvarapranidhana) as much as I have a habit of logging on to FB... if I can't connect authentically with myself, how can I expect to have an authentic connection with others? 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our Greatest Fear

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. 
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.

[Quoted by Nelson Mandela in a 1994 speech that was often attributed to him. The source is "Return to Love" --Marianne Williamson, 1992.]

Monday, September 13, 2010

A taste of Wong

Duncan Wong presented a free-for-all workshop at Jennyoga yesterday on advance techniques taught in a basic way or what he calls "Yogic Arts". We covered everything from wrist therapy to hips to dropbacks... and his theories on the essence of all power. Which by the way, was any of number of things... not just one essence. I began to think by the end that "the essence of all power" was a habitual phrase that he used in all his workshops to emphasize a point. Because of his repetition, I began to appreciate how he sees the body as a source, the source of power, Truth, and the Divine.

A short list of the essence of all power according to Duncan:

  • Pulling the inner thighs in- is the essence
  • shoulder power structure 
  • stop is the power of go (in reference to the shoulder structure)
  • by exhaling completely-you learn how to move with power
  • nothing exists without energetic connectivity which is the essence of all power
  • bandhas create power 
  • spaciousness is the the key to power
  • finally 
  • living your truth is the essence of our power

I suppose I noticed the recurrence because I take notes voraciously. Without mind is like a funnel. I can pour it in but it just leaks right out the bottom.  With notes, my mind is like my grandma's flour sifter, the finer points remain, to be reflected on and chewed on over a period of time.

Technical mechanics and his comedic nature aside, his brief comment about "living your Truth" is what I'll take away from his intensive.  I can't remember his exact words. I keep trying to rewind it in my mind... but it's his facial expression that I see, illuminating the intensity in his eyes. And, I can hear the passion behind his words when all joking melted from his face as he reiterated that "all of these systems of yoga being developed out there are all saying the same thing, just in a slightly different way... and as we use these systems, we are to explore how we feel doing doing them." 

I hope to take what I've learned this weekend and from every other experience and give it time to resonate within me.... and carefully discern what to weave in to my own teaching. I read recently, the biggest gift we can give our students is to have our own consistent practice. Through the discipline of practice, I find my own Truth, my path of teaching.

Thank you, Duncan for sharing your time & the wisdom of your teachings. Namaste. 

Blair & Duncan

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 remembered

When my oldest son was old enough to begin to understand what happened on 9/11, he was a little confused about where the towers fell since at the time we lived in Kuala Lumpur where there are also a set of towers called "the twin towers". Once Nathan realized that the towers were not the same, and his dad who's office resided in them would be "safe", he calmed down.

The day the twin towers fell, Nathan was just in diapers, born about 6 months prior. I remember sitting in my living room in my post-pregnancy sweat pants, finishing up breakfast, placing Nathan in his playpin, about to begin cleaning. Instead, just like the rest of world, I sat glued to the news and watched repeatedly the chaos and horror of the aftermath, as Nathan lay next to me on his belly trying to roll over, as babies do.
Nathan, 6 months
I didn't know anyone personally who died in New York that day. But, have met someone who was supposed to have been there... and their sense of purpose and renewed commitment to life is astounding.  What if we knew... knew we were set aside for a special purpose... knew our life was spared.... and began to understand that we have a unique gift or talent that is just waiting, waiting to be shared with someone. ... What if we all realized our worth and began to live our lives as if it were our last days?

If you've read the book, the Last Lecture, then, you know exactly what I'm talking about. And, if you haven't go, run, read it now. It will inspire you to go for whatever you've been meaning to do but just haven't quite gotten around to do (giving away that one thing you cherish but know someone else would love more than you, get that dog you've always wanted, serve someone in some way that you KNOW speaks love to them, call a friend you've been thinking about and just haven't, start that business you've always dreamed of but have been to afraid to fail or succeed at, serve yourself in some way without feeling guilty, discover and live your passion, do that one thing you've been meaning to do but find a million reasons not do to or give yourself permission to let go of that one thing in recognition that it's just not as valued as you thought it was...).
In teaching yoga, I have found much reward... unintentionally. Sharing passionately what is in my heart is so gratifying that it's hard for me to believe that it's service at times. Keeping it in perspective that it's not my yoga class- it's the students. Teaching is a gift. (Although it's tempting to go on about how little I know and how far I have to go... teaching is beyond humbling. There is always someone suggesting, commenting, critiquing.... but all of it molds and sharpens my prickly edges in some way. I am grateful.)

What is your gift to give?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Alzheimer's Memory Walk

Marcee (Nana), my lovely step-mom, has early on-set Alzheimer's disease. This disease has changed not only my Nana's life but has altered all of our lives, especially my father's who is her loving and patient primary caregiver. Nana goes through many struggles daily...things that we take for granted. Nathan, my 9 year old, calls Alzheimer's the forgetting disease. You begin to forget whether you've eaten, why you got dressed (for what occasion), to do simple hygiene, and daily tasks that require focus such as reading or writing simply are not possible. Even following a plot on TV becomes impossible. 5.3 million have Alzheimer's disease. It is an incurable disease, but with the hope of research and education, there are things we can do to increase awareness and take steps to delay the onset or even prevent it. To learn more about the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's.

Nathan at last year's walk

Nana, Dad, Nathan & Drew
There are lots of ways to support. Would you consider a donation to support my family in the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk this Saturday, 9.11 at La Centerra in Katy? 
Or Join us! I'll be walking with my boys, 4 & 9, who walked it last year and were so proud to have completed it!  
Check in:7am
Warm up (with me): 7.30
5K walk: 8am

Click to Support (read how my son has been raising money for the walk. cool kid.) Or, leave a note of encouragement (comment) below! ; ) 

"To increase your ability to extend compassion to others, begin by allowing compassion for yourself to grow."- Judith Lasater  

There is mounting evidence that a regular yoga and mediation practice can lesson the symptoms of the disease. I want to encourage you to continue your journey of wellness!  

Many of you know that I do 2 classes yoga/week in Katy sponsored by Luke's Locker & Planet Yoga, that are free/donation based classes. The money raised from these 2 classes goes toward the Alzheimer's Association. Would love for you to join us! 

In joy! Mel

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekly Playlist Yoga in the Park

Weekly Vinyasa Playlist

Add: Amazing Grace by Lisbeth Scott, the most beautiful version I've ever heard.

Happy practicing & listening!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Yoga & Parenting

Ever thought about how the breath plays a role in your parenting (or in your relationships)? The breath awareness keeps us from judging and allowing our opinions to take flight in our brains and into our speech.

It's funny, I've been teaching so long now... and am such a believer in the power of the breath with movement... and "preach" how we can take our practice off our mats and into our lives... but into my parenting? I honestly have to say that I have not yet made a conscious effort (continuously) to draw my awareness to my breath when I am with my kids. I think I get so much into a re-actionary mode with them... especially when there's a lot of daily training (teaching them to stay and be organized, reviewing homework, & shuttling them from games to home and back again all the while, hands are flying and general car craziness is going on. (I'm probably one of the few suburban moms left who doesn't have a dvd player in the backseat, or who doesn't allow the ps2 in the car or anywhere other than on special occasions. Let's just say, I'm not very popular with the kids we carpool with when I take their gameboys or ps's away! "Talk, tell jokes, stare out the window, let's sing along to Queen's We are the Champions!", I say! Be a kid!!)

So this week's experiment: I'm taking one hour of silence when I'm with the kids and will just play charades if we need to communicate. Without words, I will allow my breath to replace the words I'd like to say. And, then, to help me begin a new habit (samskara), when my son walks in from school, that will be my trigger to smile, breath in and out, bear hug and begin to draw full attention to him and my awareness to my breath... and see if I'm not a calmer, more centered mom.

PS the front flips into the pool... enough to scare any mother, let alone a mother who does not breathe fully.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

playlists: yoga & cycle

If you love music, then, enjoy....I get a lot of questions about songs that I play... one song in particular, the last one on this list, is amazing grace. And, wow. It's got to be the best version I've ever heard of it.

Love to to know what your music requests for class are!

Full Yoga Playlist from last Tuesday (There are a few that itunes didn't recognize in the list above.)":

Coffee Break, Billy McLaughlin, Fingerdance
Mantra Girl, Truth
Who's Gonna Save My Soul,  Gnarls Barkley
Moby Play & Play: B Sides  *I'm on a real Moby thing right now. 
Sweet Tides,Thievery Corporation Feat. LouLou
This World, Moby Go - The Very Best Of Electronica/Dance
Dhan Dhan Blessed, blessed is the One who created You has also exalted You, Mantra Girl
Sigh No More, Mumford & Sons
Cello Song, Nick Drake  *Discovered him just last summer from a friend in the Hood
Time, The Greencards
Sundrenched World, Joshua Radin
Turquoise World, R. Carlos Nakai Canyon Trilogy
We Made the Spirits, Autumn Boukadakis Velvet Sky Country
Beautiful Soul/OmNamah Shivaya,David Newman  *See prior blog of him at a Kirtan
Across The Universe (Remix), Rufus Wainwright Poses
Stones Under Rushing Water (Acoustic Version), Needtobreathe The Outsiders
Che Gelida Manina, Herbert Von Karajan La Bohème (Disc 1)
Expectations (Winter Tapestry), Christine Brown Relaxing Piano Artists for Alzheimer's Research
アメイジング・グレイス, Lisbeth Scott アメイジング・グレイス *Amazing Grace-- just perfection.

On itunes:

This Tuesday's Cycle Playlist:

Hard To Handle, Otis Redding  * who knew that Ottis covered this before the Stones?
Do Ya (2005 Remaster), The Move
Faith , Boy Least Likely To
Club Can't Handle Me (feat. David Guetta), Flo Rida, Step Up 3D  *my 4 year old's fav song right now
Somebody Told Me, The Killers
Sun Is Shining (Fire House Club Mix), Bob Marley This Is Remixed Hits - Mashups & Rare 12" Mixes Electronic * love this mix
Cosmic Love, Florence + The Machine *she has the most powerful voice-- favorite!
Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare),  Kid Cudi, MGMT & Ratatat
Sweet Dreams, Bat For Lashes Live Lounge 3 [Disc 2] P
I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, The White Stripes
Tighten Up, The Black Keys *headed to their concert next month! 
Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing, Chris Isaak
Ours,The Bravery, The Twilight Saga
Beautiful Day (Quincey & Sonance Remix), U2
Shine, Black Gold * from so you think you can dance : )
That Home, The Cinematic Orchestra *Mandy E introduced me to this group. love it
Long Ago, Michael Hoppe/Martin Tillman/Tim Wheater * This is the most beautiful cello music (this the same artist as the song that came on when you logged on to this blog. See playlist at right.)

Share your list?