The Virtual Yoga Challenge

Okay, so tomorrow begins the 3rd Annual Yoga Challenge at my studio. Some people have expressed a desire to do a Yoga Challenge at home, and participate “virtually.”  I think that is a great idea, and I want to support you!  If you want to commit to 3o days of yoga for the month of April, you can hold yourself accountable by commenting on this blog each day you do your practice.

Just put in the comment box that you practiced, and for how long.  If you want to say what you did (what postures, what breathing techniques, that would be even better –and inspiring for the rest of us!)  I will mark you down on a separate chart in the MSY Studio. I will also put your name in for the drawings at the party at the end!  So it will be just like you’re here, except you won’t be.

If you want a little more in the way of guidance, each week I will post a posture sequence that you might want to try for the week.  These will be sequences that I have used and are tried and true and I love them.  You are always free to modify them any way you wish.  The only stipulation for this Challenge is that you practice every day, or as many days as you can.  Aim for every day, or for 20 out of 30 days or 3 times a week, or as much as you can!

So, you ready, Virtual Yogarians??

Here’s a nice sequence you might like to try.

If you’ve taken a number of classes with me, you will recognize this sequence immediately.  This is the practice I devised to lure myself to my yoga mat on days when I thought to myself: “OMG, I don’t have time to do yoga!!  But maybe I’ll just lie on my mat for a few minutes and breathe…

And then it morphed into this:

Kath’s Default, All-Purpose, Great Yoga Practice

Rolling around on your back hugging knees into chest.

Extending legs up and wiggling toes and circling ankles

Wind Reliever with right knee bent

Knee down twist to the left

(repeat on the other side)

Hamstring stretch with a strap (with leg out to the side variation, and leg across the body variation if there’s time.) Repeat other side.

Long full body stretch

Bridge pose

Baddha Konasa (Butterfly)

Happy Baby

Rock up to seated

Come to hands and knees

Cat/Dog stretches

Thread the needle (both sides)

Downward Dog

Walk forward into Ragdoll

Explore standing forward fold (grab big toes and pull the stretch into legs and back)

Mountain Pose

Sun Salutes until a sweat breaks

Child’s pose

Savasana

**Namaste**  (insert beatific smile here)

Okay?  Comment below, give me your name if you’re in, and I’ll get a chart going for you in the studio.  All the Studio Challenge Yogarians will be keeping an eye on your progress, too, and sending you encouragements in the comments.  Check back every day and watch for pictures and videos!

Happy April!

Kicking March To The Curb

I do believe the April Yoga Challenge is now FILLED!!

I am so excited.  I spent some time this afternoon cleaning, orienting my Sunday teacher to the ventilation system, the sound system, the location of the toilet paper.

G worked on the Excel Spreadsheet with all the names and the boxes for each of the days.

The prospect of April, a new month, a month in early spring, a month when there is so much hope, so much possibility for an opening, so much felt need for a major change, a turnaround, a new life course. Don’t you feel it?? Aren’t you ready to kick the month of March to the curb, be done with the sloth and torpor of winter?  Of it all? Aren’t you ready to rise from the dead?

I already know what is possible in the span of  a mere 30 days.  Remember how I did that cleanse in January? How I cleaned up my diet?  And you know what?  I’m still on it. I’m still eating clean, and my body is the leanest it’s been in years.  All my jeans are hanging on me. Every. single. pair.  I made a permanent change in my eating habits in a mere 30 days. I love the way I eat now. (I especially love my high octane rocket fuel breakfast juice.)

I know the kinds of major changes that can happen when you commit to something for a month.

After class tonight,  I was trying to explain to some of my students what happens to you when you practice yoga every day.  Not what happens to your body. No.  What happens to YOU.  It happens differently for everyone, of course, but it definitely happens.

That’s why I’m so excited.  I am going to witness, and support, and nurture dramatic transformations in some people.

I cannot WAIT.

The Weekend Wrap-up

The 8 Mile Run:

We  ran our longest run training run so far on Saturday.  It was originally scheduled for 8 AM, but at 8 AM it was 18 degrees so we switched it to later in the day.  We finished, thanks to great support from our”crew” and for me, to the great story-telling and banter of Tim, who will forever be known to me as the human Ipod.  He kept me happy and distracted the whole way.  That is the key to good running, I think: to always stay happy and distracted.

Breathing in the Writing Room:

On Sunday I did a “Salon” at Zee’s, my dear friend and writing guru and conversationalist extraordinaire.  She wanted me to come up and teach breathing techniques for creative people (i.e. everyone).  So I pulled together a little hour-long thing I called “The Creative Breath.” and 10 people came and afterwards we all went out for Thai food.  Such a great group of women!  I had a blast, and best of all, found another fellow blogger.  Check out Patricia at Zen Crafting.  (So cool.)

Sacred Sloth Pants:

I need at least one day for rest and rejuvenation and that day is usually Sunday, but due to the above-mentioned breath-fest, I didn’t get my Day ‘O Sloth, so I took it today and stayed in my jammies until lunch living “organically” following my inclinations, sipping, drinking, reading, and then I happened to look out the window and into the backyard and..uh-oh, I forgot to take the bird feeder in and the bear came.

I’ll Eat the Sunflower Chips  Here And Take The Niger Seed To Go

He broke the pole, ate all the sunflower chips out of one feeder, and took the niger seed feeder with him.  I have been taking the feeders in ever since the snow melted and it’s been feeling spring-like because I know the bears wake up hungry.  I forgot last night, and now I only have 1 feeder left. If you see Yogi walking around with my niger seed feeder? Tell him I’d like it back, k?

I’m finished with Holosync

Right before I left for my training, my new level of Holosync came (I am starting Level 3). But this time  when I opened the case expecting to find the usual 4 CDs, there were only 2.  There was the first one, and the 5th one called “Floating,” which I don’t ever listen to.

This was really annoying, but I didn’t have time to call Centerpointe and get to the bottom of it because I was walking out the door, so I just shoved the first CD in, and threw the headphones into my suitcase. I never did listen to them during my training days.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my old sitting practice, the one where I would just sit down, sit perfectly still, and watch the mental “show” for a designated period of time.  No CDs, no headphones, no rain, no gongs.  Just whatever happened to be happening in the moment.

It took a lot of discipline to do that, whereas it takes no discipline to do Holosync.

Holosync takes my brain into a whole different world, and I like that world, but there is also something to be said for learning to deal with the tedium, the banality, and somedays, if I’m lucky, the magic, of “reality.”

I read somewhere that if we truly want to be consistently happy, we need to learn to “fall in love with reality.”

Yeah. That’s the truth, isn’t it?

Today, for instance, it was freezing cold out. The sun was out, it looked like spring, but the wind bit my face, and the cold went right into my bones. It hurt to walk the dog. And to think, just this time last week people were driving around with their convertible tops down!

So as I was cursing the cold, I thought of this “falling in love with reality” idea.  I thought, “Can I fall in love with this cold?”  If I could, there would be no discomfort. It would just be, well, cold,– without all the drama of me hating it and wishing it would be otherwise.

But I couldn’t pull it off.  I couldn’t fall in love with today’s cold and wind, though I could imagine being able to.  I  thought back to that time when I used to practice being okay with everything as it was, and that was the time I was sitting still every day for a few minutes with the sole intention of paying attention to reality.  Not to fall in love with it necessarily, but just to be aware of it.

So, I’ve decided to put away my Holosync headphones for awhile and go back to sitting.  Just 10 minutes a day to start, and then working up in time.

I think it’s time to start a new streak.

Yoga Challenge

In 6 days I will open the 3rd Annual Yoga Challenge at my studio.  I’m getting excited.  Every day I go to my mailbox and tons of envelopes fall out.  (I’ve asked people to register by mail this year.)  So far, 45 people are registered.  (I’m taking 60.)

Lots of people are talking about it, planning their schedules around it, worrying about how they’ll be able to get up that early in the morning, or how they’ll get the kids fed so they can come after work.

Some people are disappointed they can’t do it either because they live too far, or for other strategic reasons. So I’m thinking of doing a “virtual challenge” here on this blog.  I would set up a practice plan for each week and people would be on the honor system to do their practice.  Each day they would “check in” here by placing a short “comment’ in the box after that day’s entry.

I am also planning to blog and post pictures about the Challenge here every day in April. (Currently I only post 5 days a week, but during the Challenge I will be posting every day.)

The prospect of all this is making me feel excited (and a little scared, too) because I am also training for a half marathon during April (the event is May 1st) and the Challenge has me teaching 3 classes a day.  It’s all going to be about “energy management.”

Yeah. What’s not?

(heh)

Productive Pain

It felt like my body was made of  rumble strips as I lay on the massage table today and LauraLee tried to smooth me out.

I said, “I’m really trying not to seize up and armor against your touch, but it’s hard.”

She said, “It’s okay to experience some productive pain.”

That concept of “productive pain” has been ringing in my head all day. I’ve been thinking about all the “take-aways” from my recent training and one of the big ones was precisely this idea of productive pain.

The style of yoga that sends me, that transforms me, that changes me biologically and spiritually and emotionally is the kind that has me on my knees begging for release (figuratively).  And when that release comes, in the sweetness of that release, I understand myself.

Productive Pain.

For other people, productive pain is not the goal.  No pain is the goal.  Relief of life pain is the goal. Life is painful enough without adding long holding times, shaking (churning), and the tapas needed to burn off topor and sloth.

And I get this, I do, and that’s why I lead a mostly soft practice most of the time.  But without the productive pain of tapas (discipline), the rumble strips in the body, and in the psyche will never be smoothed out.

One Blessed Day to Transition

I am getting better at this transition thing. Used to be, I’d get home and just hit the ground running: start  wash #1, answer emails, make phone calls, teach my classes, start wash #2, grocery shop, run errands.

Used to be, I’d know, intellectually, that my trainings would be intense, but I’d tell myself it didn’t matter, that I needed to catch up on all the things that had been neglected while I was gone. So I needed to push through the fatigue.

Used to be, I’d go to trainings, and come home and wish that the world would stop, just for one blessed day so that I could sit in my room, meditate, sip tea, take a bath, write.  Used to be, I’d disregard all that as self-indulgent, thinking that everything else was way more important than my need for quiet reflection.

But that was the past.

Today I gave myself that One Blessed Day.  I gave myself a Transition Day, and you know what?  It has made all the difference in the world.  I think while I am in a training group, doing hard work, taking notes, learning assists, trying to soak up as much as possible, it is all just going in as “info storage.”  It is only when it all stops, that it has a chance to soak in, integrate, be absorbed.  If I don’t allow this time, it just falls away, water-off-a-duck’s-back-ish.

I did do a load of wash today.  I did some work on the computer, too. I wrote an important email, but I also took time to write in my journal, and meditate, and walk the dog, and make a nice meal, and sit in the hot tub.  And tomorrow I have a massage scheduled with my massage guru, and hopefully she will be able to put my very sore body out of some of its misery.

And then tomorrow night I will teach my first class since being back.  I feel all new, all inspired, my cup is  filled to overflowing.