New Beginnings

Ah! I love this idea of new beginnings; of starting with a clean canvas and an array of paints, brushes and ideas at my disposal. Today is the first day of classes for my last semester as an undergraduate. Having started this journey back in 2006 in California, this (clearly) hasn’t been a direct path, but it’s interesting to notice that the end is near. All the twists and turns have led towards a point, and even though the path will continue (so long as I am inhaling and exhaling), it’s nice to put a little marker in the earth and say “Okay, that much of my journey is complete.” Kind of like a birthday or an anniversary.

This morning I taught a yoga class at the University. The first class. Another beginning. I wasn’t really expecting anyone to come, but it was a nice surprise to see 6 beautiful faces out on their mats, early before classes. The class itself was energizing yet soft. Many of the girls had never taken a yoga class before and I was both honored and excited to be part of their beginning. I was nervous, too. Even though I have taught a few classes at the studio where I have grown up in my yoga practice over the past couple of years, switching to a new environment filled with totally new faces… I was out of my comfort zone. Yet, drawing inspiration from Danny Arguetty’s book, Nourishing the TeacherI found it so helpful in tuning into what it means to start something new. I used his section on mornings (“Graceful Beginnings”) and found the words of Byrd Baylor so heart-warming:

“Some people say there is a new sun every day, that it begins its life at dawn and lives for one day only. They say you have to welcome it. You have to make the sun happy. You have to make a good day for it. Yoga have to make good world for it to live its on-day life in. And the way to start, they say, is just by looking east at dawn. When they look east tomorrow, you can, too. Your song will be an offering — and you’ll be one more person in one more place at one more time in the world saying hello to the sun, letting it know you are there. If the sky turns a color sky it never was before, just watch it. That’s part of the magic. That’s the way to start a day.”

Mornings are like those beautiful beginnings. Everyday we start with a blank canvas, even if we don’t realize it. Waking up early, embracing the day so that we can embrace a semester… ah! It really does mean something to start with the right intention.

Namaste, and may this day bring a new sense of joy and hope to your life.

some of what took place at morning yoga. :)

 

“I am a Yoga Teacher!”

That statement: “I am a Yoga Teacher!” was my affirmation after my last practice teach at Kripalu. Last Thursday night, I taught my first “real life” class and made that statement the gospel truth!

My beautiful first class! I can see their Prana!

Weeee!

Now that I’ve had a week days to digest that experience, I have decided that yes, I am a yoga teacher. I am one, indeed.

The class I taught was not perfect… far from it. I can only hope that it was relaxing (as indicated in the series title “Relax and Unwind) and a relatively good experience for my students. Yet, good or bad, I know that I taught it with love and good intentions and that I really care for the well-being and comfort of my students. There is room for improvement… a lot of it. But everyone starts somewhere and I am SO happy that I have started.
Over the weekend I cleaned out my wallet and came across a “30 before 30’s List” I had started many, many months ago. I had only listed 3 things:

1. Go to South America
2. Become a certified yoga instructor
3. …something good, I can’t find the list now…

That was it. That was all I had written. I wrote #2 long before I had submitted my Kripalu application. Long before I had researched upcoming YTT’s and long before I thought I was actually ready. I would say I am doing pretty well for being 24 years old and already crossing one big “To do” off my list. I would say I am right where I need to be.

South America… I’m coming for ya.

I was notified this morning that I will be teaching 3 yoga classes up at the University I attend. Jai!
I will be teaching a Thursday night class next month at Main Street Yoga. Jai!
I have a thriving personal practice. Jai!

There is work to be done. Jai Bhagwan!

My favorite

My Post Kripalu YTT Ramblings

the view from Kripalu, as seen through the rock art.

I have been back from my YTT training for a week. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to my teacher, my yogi friends and family, and other members of my community about parts of my journey. July proved to be an intense month. Kripalu was more than just a training experience; it was a doorway into myself, a doorway I have seldom opened. In many ways, talking about Kripalu is difficult for me. I am reminded of a place where I felt so at home in myself, yet I am also reminded of the transformative breakthroughs I had, many of which were not always pretty. It was emotional, to say the least. Many tears were shed, many “ah-ha!” moments were had, and the amount of loved poured into every interaction, movement, word, and thought was astounding.

my beautiful and wonderful teacher, Jovinna.

Can you imagine a place where everyone is present for you? Where every one wants you to succeed and do your
very best? Where mistakes are made and relished because you learn, rather than run, from them? I didn’t know what to think at first. It was hard to get used to constant love and kindness, since so often I have lived with a negative monkey-mind telling me all about my mistakes and short-comings. Coming to recognize this constant defeatist mind-chatter was my first step towards building a relationship with myself. I came to find that to be a loving, caring human being, developing a love of the self is vital in my ability to love others fully. This was (and is) my journey.

But by the end of the program I felt so wrapped in love that going back into the “real world” was something I felt ready for. I feel confident in myself and confident in my abilities to love and be loved. To give and to receive. Teaching yoga is going to be my special way of giving and I want so much to do this with all myself. Holding back my caring and loving spirit is something I hope is forever in my past, though I know, realistically, that old habits die hard and that little monkey-mind is still trying to sneak in comments when it can. Not taking them personally is new to me, and not always easy. Focusing on love and realizing that I am not perfect is helpful in this endeavor.

While I could write about my daily schedule and particular events that happened during my YTT, I don’t feel that those necessarily capture the experience I had at Kripalu. I wish I could write about every person I met, but there were 63 students in my group, not counting teachers, assistants, and guests I sat with at lunch and dinner. To sum it up, I couldn’t imagine a more caring and giving group then the one I had. They were all immensely important in every Shiva-tastic transformation I had. My experience would be different if any one of them hadn’t been there. I love my Sangha and send them all the metta I have in me (which is a lot!).

Kripalu was kind of like taking pictures…. there are some places that pictures are not needed because you know you could never forget the place or the moment, and the work to take the camera out, set up the shot would only distract from the ability to be in and enjoy the moment. Kripalu is that for me. The picture I just couldn’t take because I could never, ever forget.

my fortune.

Away From the Mat

I had mentioned last Monday that I had been away from the mat a little, due mainly in part to finals and end-of-the-school-year-shenanigans. Things haven’t changed as much. Between my family visiting from California (so fun!) and my husband’s family in from Italy (so fun!) life has been bonkers. So it is safe to assume that yoga has been on the proverbial back burner for over a week.

It is interesting to take a break from yoga. One of my readers had commented on how coming back to yoga, after taking a brief intermission, can feel awkward, due to our innate desire to compete with our own skill level.  I can certainly relate to this as I am a very competitive person, though yoga has helped me dull this edge a bit. This week of little to no yoga has really put into perspective the benefits it contributes to my physical health and that transitioning from yoga every single day to no yoga whatsoever is certainly a step backwards in my forward progression as a yogi. I feel it everyday: from the tightness in my low back to the stiffness in my hips, yoga helps me move.

But with that said, I am appreciative that yoga is there even when I’m not. It’s like a really good friend who understands when times are busy and hectic, but can come back and catch up with you as soon as the dust settles. I don’t beat myself up over the fact that I don’t have an hour-long practice everyday, like last month. I enjoy the fact that I can do a sun salute in the morning or an up-dog in the evening. I love that I can soak up the moment and take delight in the company I am surrounded by without this yoga nagging at me in the back of my mind. Yoga is calm and patient. It is understanding and sweet… and when I finally get back to my little schedule I know it will be so sweet.

Here is what I’ve been up too instead…

food. (these are some crazy good fish tacos I made)

drinks (a margarita, of course)

Eating fantastic food, drinking, and enjoying my family… in other words… living the life! Ah!

Fakin’ It!

Today is day 9 of the yoga challenge. I would like to say I am waking up at 5:30am every morning, full of energy and life! …but I’m not. I am dragging today, the same way I was dragging all weekend… How I even got out of bed today is a wonder to me. I kind of didn’t expect this. With the cleanse and the challenge I figured I would basically be like Wonder Woman (minus the invisible jet and cape… scratch that, plus the cape). Why am I not leaping tall buildings in a single bound or whatever it is Wonder Woman does?!

I have a theory. The first few days of this cleanse I was golden. I was loving my diet and loving life. It was as if the sun was only shining on me! Then, as if out of nowhere, I hit this wall. I got a little grumpy here and there (yelling at traffic… you know, the usual), starting feeling sleepy around 5:00pm,wanting to sleep in until 10am (but woke up around 7:30am), but then, the worst of it hit me. I started daydreaming. Vivid dreams… about chocolate. Milk chocolate, Cadbury eggs, M&M’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Milky Ways… wait, what?! But I love smoothies and soups and kale. How is this not doing it for me? Why am I thinking about chocolate?

Sugar.

I am doing a pretty swell job of not eating processed sugar (if I do say so myself) in any form. In fact, I haven’t had any in 10 days. Prior to these last 10 days… I think I was eating more sugar than I would like to admit . I feel like I am a sugar addict, and based on this experience, I am starting to think that sugar affects me adversely (since I am having addict-like reactions to it not being in my life). Would I sell my cats for a candy bar? Well, no. Yet because it is so accessible it makes it that much harder to turn a blind eye to. Sugar is hard to escape. This morning I thought about getting a coffee, despite my cleanse, since I am so tired and I have a long day ahead of me but I don’t normally drink coffee without sugar. Even when I was hardcore and used to drink 5 cups of black coffee a night (mid-shifts… the worst!) I would still use sugar. It is literally scattered all over my life.

i love them... but not that much. They do have pretzels in the middle though! Bonus!

So what do I do? I guess I should do what any recovering addict should… not sell my cats for a quick fix. Mostly because I love my cats but also because I don’t want processed sugar in my life. It is a cancer catalyst and has no place in my life this month (and should have a very limited spot at any other time). Little chocolate treats have their place, but excessive sugar? No way, Jose. I am going to power through this day, with no sugar involved.

Green Tea & Paul Simon, anyone?