Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Leeann Carey Presents: Texas Yoga Conference, Houston & Austin

"Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured."- B.K.S. Iyengar
A lot of great yoga happening in Texas this week. In case you haven't heard me annouce about a dozen times over the past few months, the Texas Yoga Conference is the weekend! Leeann Carey will be here presenting on her unique method of yoga. Someone asked me recently, what defines her style, and why they should study with Leeann? I personally feel Leeann has a beautiful gift of being able to see a body and teach them what they need for their special body structure. In her restorative teacher trainings (Bend to Mend), she looks at each student and offers them a unique set up for props and modifications simply based on her "eye" that's she's developed. I don't know a single yoga teacher that does not want that skill for themselves. Yes, it's important to be True to your own teaching style but to be able to learn from someone who has the distinct ability to teach to the individual body so that you can practically apply it, that's someone I want to learn from. 
Here's the scoop for the big Texas weekend ahead. Consider joining us for some or as much as you can! 

The Texas Yoga Conference

February 25-27, 2011 • University of St. Thomas
Jerabeck Athletic Center • 4000 Mt. Vernon • Houston, TX
Leeann Carey will be teaching 8am-9.30am Saturday, 26th
Sign up today! 1/2 day or full day or all weekend. Leeann Carey is leading a dynamic and therapeutic yoga workshop Saturday with Jules Mitchell and Melissa Smith assisting. We'll be there all day on Saturday, stop by and see us at the Leeann Carey Yoga booth/table. You can also catch Maranda and Melissa--doing AcroYoga demos around lunchtime!  then, stay for MC Yogi Saturday night. 
If you are not in TEXAS but know of someone in the area, in the spirit of yoga, would you consider passing this on?

Austin Bound! Yoga workshops with Leeann, this Sunday, 27th
Sunday, we go to South Austin for 2 great workshops. Sign up: Leeann's workshops
Want to caravan? We'll leave at 6am, from Katy. Email, to follow.

Your 15 minutes of fame- yoga master classes Monday, 28th (or just hang in the back...) 
Leeann & Melissa will be taping 4, one hour yoga classes for www.yogavibes.comdownloadable yoga videos. Space is limited. please email to get your spot. 
At Curayoga in River Oaks on 3641-C Westheimer, Houston, TX. All classes one hour & single class price: $18 to Curayoga. 

11.00am-12.00pm, partner slow flow & assisted stretch class with Melissa
12.00pm-1.00pm, flow with Melissa
1.15-2.15pm, restorative with Leeann
5.00-6.00pm, flow with Leeann

The 3 A's of awesome

Stumbled upon this video about how one man used the power of blogging to spread a little optimism each day about the "awesome" things that make life worth living. Why do I need to watch one more video? It's not extraordinary and doesn't have flashy graphics or cute animals in yoga poses (which is over saturating my in box. Apparently, a lot of folks think animals doing yoga is funny? Well, it is kind-a cute.)

However, I watched this one. It encouraged me and helped me take a closer look at what he calls the 3A's of awesome: attitude, awareness, and authenticity. I'd really like to know one thing, one thing that makes your life worth living today?

Neil Pasricha: The 3 A's of awesome | Video on TED.com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

“Darling, you are magnificent”

mom in her Mary Kay director's suit
 me & my brother Craig
make-up set up in the background, ready to sell

Knowing me now, mom of 2 with a few sorted tattoos and a fairly consistent yoga practice, it might be a stretch to picture me growing up a conservative young lady in Dallas, Texas in the 80’s, where big hair and glamour were the norm. My mom, a career Mary Kay Cosmetics saleswoman, impressed upon me at a young age that she felt beauty was valuable. Every Monday night, she held sales meetings and makeovers in our one story marigold-yellow home with a white picket fence. 10 to 20 women would gather to “have their colors done” followed by a complete facial. (Are you a winter or spring? If you’re not sure what I mean, ask your mom, or if you’re too impatient for that, Google it.) The highlight of the night: a new hair-do. That’s right, every week from about as early as my memory holds until I was well into high school, a hair dresser (they were not called stylists back then) came to our home to cut, perm, and dye hair. I could have a new “do” every week, if I wanted it. And, about once a month or so, I experimented with new looks.
Needless to say, I was the first girl in school to wear make up. First to have a spiral perm, and perhaps the first to… well, I was going to say wear glasses… I was a very late bloomer for bras and boys.
Beauty and image were pivotal in my growing up years. While I never felt the pressure from my mom to dress or look a certain way, I did get the impression from years and years of observing Monday night makeovers that I would be more accepted or loved by others if I did things like win a beauty contest (I was “Miss. Owl”, thank you very much) or become a dancer (I tried very hard at but never quite achieved anything more than a trophy for “15 years of achievement” from Toby’s school of dance).
The principal lesson from my mother’s seemingly obsession with beauty is that we are all striking in our own way. I listened as my mom told some of the most homely women I’d ever seen how smart they were or how cleaver their children were as a result of their parenting. My mom could find the good in the Devil if she had to. Even if it had a bit of exaggeration to it, I knew that she believed every word of it. She saw the magnificence in everyone. And why not? We are all magnificent, if we just observe a little deeper.
Today as I unrolled my mat in front of a huge mirror. I stopped short. What I saw was a woman who felt she needed to see her movements in order to sculpt them into her idea of a pose. While I do feel using a mirror will often bring to light the smallest misalignments, it can get in the way of feeling the pose for what it is. The grace of yoga for me is allowing the splendor hidden inside the student to be revealed. I turned my mat away from the mirror, sat down and closed my eyes. For the next hour, I allowed my body to sense it’s way into shapes with no thought of perfecting my image in the mirror, exploring the inner landscape. Softly smiling when I finished, I heard my mom’s “mantra” whisper, “darling, you are magnificent.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In loving memory of Vincent Tam

When someone touches your life, however briefly, and inspires you to become a better version of yourself, to just say that I'm grateful doesn't feel like enough. 

I first met Vincent Tam while living in Kuala Lumpur. I was teaching prenatal yoga classes at the time and friend recommended Vincent's inspiring classes. I had an opportunity to go to Chang Mai, Thailand on a yoga retreat with his students. New in my yoga practice, I felt so out of place, having just had a baby, weaning and feeling completely exhausted. I was so grateful for the respite of the challenging instruction. I recall Vincent guiding us through an inversion that just seemed to me at the time to be impossible. He turned to me and said, "Why are you trying so hard? Let the pose come to you." And, soon, with grace and patience, it did.

On Vincent's Facebook page, there is a growing tribute to a great man. One of his students posted a loving testimony:

"... during Vincent's master classes, I learned something I'll remember for the rest of my life as a yogi. He told us that "the quality of an asana is defined not just by the pose itself, but how in control you are in getting in & out of it." With his passing, which I believe is truly a graceful exit, I realized the quality of his life is not defined on how long he’s lived, but how many lives he’s touched, inspired & changed through his teachings & examples. Thank you, Vincent for sharing your gift of wisdom, producing some of my first & most wonderful teachers to date. May your light continue to guide us in our practice. Rest in peace. Namaste."

During the Chang Mai yoga retreat, the festival of lights (Yi Peng) where hot-air paper balloons are launched into the sky was underway. My children took such delight in the lantern and puff flames as it floated away. Watching the sky, seemingly thousands of sparkling dots glittered above. I imagine Vincent's spirit in one of those beautiful lights splashed across the Asian sky. May his love and light shine through those he taught and whose lessons I continue to remember in my own practice. Gratitude overwhelms me as I grieve the loss of a master.

son, nathan lighting a lantern
to release to the sky

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

the paradox of Uttanasana

present on the bank
of the Ganga River
Last week (and more often than I want to admit) I felt like quitting. Relinquishing of all my commitments. Releasing it all. free. free. FREE! In case you're wondering, I didn't shirk my responsibilities, but I had some moments daydreaming of the quiet... the peace... the same feelings of nothing to do and no where to be that I experienced in India. 
Recently accused of not living in the "real world"... all these traveling adventures... is "not real life. People have responsibilities, have to take care of day to day with children and so on..." Yes, but can't we have both? Can't we live the life we've always imagined and still be able to take of what needs to be done at home? Do I have to wait 10 years for the kids to grow up and leave to fulfill my intentions? And, who says they're going to leave? They just might decide to stay! Son #2 already declared that perhaps he will stay until he's 39 or until he finds another house in our neighborhood because he "likes it here." 
I've had periods of freedom in my life where there was no job, no responsibilities, no children, nothing. It was usually when I was in transition, moving to another state or even out of the country which was a total of about 7 or so times throughout my life. It was freeing: the completion of one season of life, flowing into the next adventure. But not nearly as wonderful as tucking a five year old in bed with butterfly kisses and a book about Larry the Cumber. 
When I allow my mind to move into the land of worry, I try to step away from the future and refocus on the present moment. It's #@*! hard. Everyone, everywhere you go is saying... "live in the moment", "stay present", "be here now", or "live like this is your very last day".
A good friend shared with me that they are, like most of the US, in recovery mode. Retired from the corporate world, their retirement dried up with the economy. Faced with having to start over, they began a new business venture which requires a weekly commute to another state. What would be a strain on anyone's marriage, they have chosen to look at this as a way to allow their relationship to flourish. Time together is precious and sacred. Living each day as if it were their last one together in order to savor each date, coffee, conversation, and kiss. A lot of folks say they do this but to really do it... that's a feat all it's own.
She challenged me to not focus on the what-ifs but to focus on the what-now. I only wanted to abandon my obligations when I stopped living for right now and started on the what-ifs. The what-if this happens, what-if that happens can be overwhelming, almost paralyzing. This is my the turning point. The old self whispering to go back to persistent habits; the new self redefining what it means to courageously live today
In yoga or mommy-ing I'm trying to stay in the room, not getting ahead of myself in time or moving backward to the mistakes of the past. In class today, as we moved into a fold, I remembered a recent quote from Judith Lasater: "the paradox of Uttanasana (standing forward bend) is that it begins when you move yourself forward, and ends with you looking backward between your legs. The 'future' of forward and the "past" of backward blend into the present of the pose." Staying present in the pose.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

February "for the love" Music Playlist

Playlist from today's Vinyasa 3 class per your request, Riches!
A few Valentine-y tunes.

Song, Artist, & Comments
Soft Glow / Distant Echo, Reyem Kir 
(great starting song for yoga...makes the Forrest Yoga ab work not feel quite as hard as it is!) 

Two Lovers, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan

Ganesha Windmix (Remixed By Shaman's Dream), Jai Uttal 
(Jai is a big name in Bhakti music (devotional chanting) right now... check him out at a Kirtan)

Real Love, Van Daler & Love Pressure feat. Natasja Saad 
(a completely fun, upbeat, do 100 sun salutes kind-a-song)

Peace, Love and Happiness, G. Love & Special Sauce
(this song makes me smile)

Lovely Day, Donavon Frankenreiter 
(if you haven't listened to his music yet... you're so in for something sweet. Also check out these 2 songs: Beautiful Day or Such a night. )

Lovers In Japan / Reign Of Love, Coldplay
( a long tune but so right and perfect. love it.)

Bless You, Lulu Rouge,Buddha-Bar X (Disc 2)

La pêcheuse, Rupa & The April Fishes
(they performed at Wanderlust in CA this past year... funky and French)

Is Love Enough, Michael Franti & Spearhead 
Headphones, M Franti
(Franti, amazing in concert. I cannot remember laughing, smiling or dancing more at any concert. Absolutely the most fun you can have sans the alcohol. Also: Headphones.)

Kiss Of Life, Sade 
( flashback to my early high school days... Sade and Anita Baker, I just about wore out those cassette tapes. For more of musical memories and another playlist, click. Really, it's worth a read.)

Argentina love affair, Buddha Bar, Buddhattitude - Liberdade 
(this got a few chuckles today... very chill)

The Uncomfortable Truth, Nneka 
(hip hop singer from Nigeria with a degree in Anthropology. cool.)

Sun Rise In Peace, David and Steve Gordon 
(for those of you who need more drums- birds chirping - to feel like you're on a massage table-music, I give you, sacred earth drums.)

Ong Namo, Gurunam Singh 
(Ong Namo means: I call upon Divine Wisdom)

Crazy Love, Van Morrison 
(my other fav song, Sweet Thing)

Fade Into You, Mazzy Star 
(beautifully hypnotic singer)

Falling Water, Reyem Kir

Bread And Wine, Peter Gabriel  
(instrumental, flowy)