Hey dear readers.. wow! Here it is: New Year’s Eve of 2011, also know to my #365yoga crew as day 365. Thank you for being my supporters, my readers and my inspiration for the last 364 days and for all the 365 days to come.
I hope everyone of you has a wonderful and magical New Year’s Eve. I will be raising a glass of bubbly to each and every one of you, to our shared practices that have grown and will continue to and to Lord Ganesha that nothing will get in the way of our progress in 2012.
Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha
May your transition from one year to the next as seamless as your Surya Namaskar A. May your evening be as exciting as your first Adho Mukha Vrksasana, and may your tomorrow be as peaceful and restorative as every Savasana.
Besos and Bakasanas from me to you.
Breathe. Flow. Fly in 2012. I’ll be there with you!
Wow! We have but 19 days left in 2011 and it seems like the perfect time to dedicate my last giveaway of the year to those who have supported me. Blogging is hardly a solo endeavor. All of us who write live for the comments and connections we make in the cybersangha. It is our readers, subscribers, commentors and fellow bloggers that keep our words flowing. It is YOU that keeps me writing even when I barely have time to sit still like today.
In honor of that and some truly extraordinary supporters I give this song and giveaway in your honor, it is a goodie! I am sharing some of my favorite things to my favorite people out there in cyber space.
Last Giveaway of 2011!!
What?: You will win all of these prizes if your name is chosen at random.
1.) Bamboo Bottle Original with Classic Top: This amazing water bottle can transport both your hot AND your cold beverages because at the center it is made of glass. I use it for my water and also for tea and coffee. All the parts with the exception of the outer bamboo layer are dishwasher safe and you can clip it to a bag because of the cool top design. Bamboo is a supremely sustainable product to use and because this bottle is not stainless steel it does not seem to get stained at all from my excessive coffee drinking. I love it!! You will too!!
2.) A Prayer Scarf in Dark Green: I wear these scarves daily and have them in almost every color. I love the dark green because it is subtle but funky. You can rock it in a variety of different fashions, and always look hip and connected when you do. This scarf is my go-to gift to my favorite yoginis!
3.) $50 Gift Certificate to Drishti Yoga: Drishti Yoga is my absolutely, tried and true favorite store for yoga clothes and accessories. The owner Jenni is an amazing yogi herself and manages to select the coolest yoga stuff for her store. The gift certificate can be used for clothing, props, mats and even books/DVDs. You name it you can find it here.
4.) What are you manifesting? Shirt: This shirt which is available in a couple of styles is the brainchild of Jennifer Pastiloff. All proceeds from the sale of the shirt go to the Prader -Willi Resarch and Tay Sachs Research. Jen created the shirt to honor her nephew who has Prader Willi Syndrome. I am so happy to support her efforts to find a cure for this syndrome with offering one of her shirts to my lucky winner.
How?: To be entered you must comment below and tell me that you did the following things, and what your wish is for YOUR loved ones in 2011. You must:
1.) be a subscriber to this site and a fan on Facebook.
2.) subscribe to and follow on Facebook or Twitter at least one of my favorite people’s sites below that you DO NOT ALREADY FOLLOW.
3.) For an extra entry share with the readers of this blog and the comments of the post a blog that I have forgotten (yes!! there are many I have not included that I love, so do not feel bad if I did not mention you. I wanted to keep it short) that we should also follow.
For an extra entry you can tweet this contest
When: From today 12/12 – 12/31 6.a.m. Eastern time you can enter.
Be sure to share with me in the comments what you have done.!!!
Thanks to all my readers and a special thank you to the blogs listed above who never fail to support me here, in real life, on the mat and off it. I adore each and every one of you and all the people who make this blog a place to stop and hang for a few. This giveaway and this song is for YOU!!!
One of my least favorite parts about the end of each year is how all the media outlets start looking back on the things that have happened, things that were awesome and people/things we have lost. You know what I mean: what were the biggest stories, what were the biggest disappointments, etc. We write off the old year as history before it is even finished. We learn to remember the things we miss more than all we accomplished. These lists always make me feel annoyed and wistful. So how ironic that I am working on compiling such a list for my last few posts.
Today I am reflecting upon how much I have practiced Aparigraha this year. I have learned to let go of commitments I have made, of advances in my yoga practice and relationships that were once but no longer are. Rather than hording the things I needed to release, I did the opposite and allowed myself to move on with no regrets. This practice has been a huge shift for me and has opened up the ability for me to live in the moment rather than long for the past or the future.
The first time I rocked Urdhva Danurasana was almost nearly the last. I bolted up into that huge backbend with such ease and abandon that it was funny I had not been there before that time. It felt like home and I was sure it would be a regular part of my daily practice. I held onto that pose and the feeling of the first time and was not willing to let it go. You can imagine dear readers where this story is heading, right? The next time I tried wheel and then for every consecutive time after that for at least 4 months I had pain and struggle in this asana. That feeling of expansion and lift was gone and replaced with inner fight, tightness and fear. I was battling my body to do this pose and my body was in charge.
When I finally learned to let go of how wheel felt the first time I did it I was able to return to a rocking version of it. Each time felt different: sometimes fabulous and I wanted to stay there forever, sometimes awful and stuck. Yet, once I let go of my holding of that initial awe I was able to find my own wheel each time.
This year I have learned to let go of always having a killer yoga practice and savored mat yoga off the mat. I let go of a committment to write every single day when it became a burden and celebrated when I could. I let go of many of my inner requirements and conditions, my ideals and voices and allowed what was to come, to simply arrive. In letting go I found less struggle and so much more enjoyment when I met each person, event and moment on the path of 2011.
My elves live for this time of year. They deeply hold on to the idea of that bearded man who brings them gifts. They wake up every morning looking for his helper elf who hides for this month somewhere in our house. They are not ready to let go of these visions and I love that. Their elf may not actually report back to Santa what they are doing right or wrong, but his antics and the excitement to find him makes the whole process worth while. Tonight he’s found his way into some contemplative and mischievous meditation with a pal, but mostly he’s here just to imbibe the house with holiday spirit. Come Christmas Eve he leaves and the youngest elf mourns that he is gone until next year. But that wise young yogi knows that reminiscing about where he’s been this year is much better than wanting him to stay for 365 days. The fleeting visit is just enough, she has no need for it to be longer because she has the following December and his return to look forward to.
We can all learn a lesson from the elf and see what we can cherish while we have it and how to let it go with joy. I have worked hard this year to make such moves and have watched this practice make many of my challenges become more manageable.
What have you held onto tightly in 2011 and what can you let go in these remaining days?
Can you come as you are rather than wishing you could be as you once were?
Tomorrow life gets a little crazier as we bring a five month old rescue pup home. She is not house-broken, she is not crate or leash trained and she does not know us at all. She is that yogi who gets on a mat in socks into my class not even knowing how to do downward facing dog. She will be nervous, unsure and looking around for help and guidance from the elves and from me. Just like my student who will eventually realize that no one else has their feet covered, this pup will understand that we are there to love and snuggle her. She will realize she is home as will that student when she finds herself in her first child’s pose.
The baby gate we got for our furry little elf is not to close off part of our house but to say “take these stairs with caution rather than abandon.” It is no different from telling my students to listen to their bodies and not go to the deepest expression of any pose the first time. We provide walls of protection to keep our furry elves safe just as we do with our words for those yogis on the mat.
This year I have realized how fantastic it is to be that student in socks experiencing the newness of the practice. I have stepped back to that place where I am the fresh face in the studio. I learned new ways to do poses and sometimes had to look at my fellow yogis for help. I celebrated the gates that kept me from going to my edge for what they were rather than looking longingly over the other side.
Yoga like the love of a puppy is endless and infinite, but also provides edges and challenges. This year I came across many of those, walked to the perimeter of others and danced between yet more. I did not feel caged, I felt liberated by the vastness they showed me and supported by their protective boundaries. When the urge to say “don’t fence me in” arose, my breath showed me how to step away from the edge and celebrate all it meant.
2011 was filled with these equally supportive and restrictive perimeters. It closes with me embracing new ones, welcoming a new furry elf and new students into my fold and watching as previously closed doors open wide. 2011 ends with both the closing and opening of doors at the outskirts.
I celebrate the fences that hold in my boundaries like a soft bubble that kept me safe. I celebrate the practice that showed me how to see what a gift those fences are.
Whew! The last two weeks have been a blur of stomach bugs, birthdays, workshops and elves home from school. Add to that mayhem finalizing getting a rescue puppy from a far away state and you, dear readers, might be able to understand why my writing has taken a space at the back of my life.
But, I have resurfaced on today, the first day of the last month of 2011. I pledge to you, to myself and to the cyber sangha to post every day of December just like I did for the first six or so months of the year. I started this year wanting asana, found my way to yoga that was mostly off the mat and am ending it in such a different space. I feel like I am graduating from the elementary school of yoga and am getting to move up to the Jr. high bus.
My practice has gone through waves of strength, waves of silence, waves of peace and waves of major struggle. I have found spaces that do not require another teacher and ones that deeply do. I have seen how my yoga has grown but not by a shazam factor. Rather the depth of my practice is palpable in everything I am doing whether it is on my mat or not.
So as we enter into our last 31 days of 2011 I invite you to join me in a reflection of how your practice has changed your life this year. Are you itching to grab for that big red Emergency Exit handle and escape 2011? Or are you riding the waves that beat to the rhythm of loving all the things that have happened, both good and bad?
Let’s do this last leg of our journey in 2011 together. Let’s find our yoga even if all the circumstances in our life keep us away from our mat. Let’s look for spaces to breathe when we feel there are none, and pockets of silence in the din of December.
I’m hopping on the bus to joy that comes from a year well lived. Want to join me for the last stretch? I could sure use a co-pilot. I promise to let you man the radio after we listen to the first song……
Hey yogis, readers and friends. I am on the hunt for gifts for my yogi pals and fellow teachers. I have been shopping around looking at so many amazing things and in the process have found lots I wanted to share. I always post a holiday gift list and so while these fabulous things are fresh in my mind I decided to do it a bit early this year. Consider it a little kick-start to getting your own list made and to giving to those you cherish. It is never too early to spoil those you love.
The Flying Yogini Holiday/Yogi Gift List
Here are some wonderful things for the yogi in your life might love for a holiday present, or even more for a random Monday present.
1.) A Sitar Hero Shirt. I have this shirt and I love it (thanks to Jodi M for telling me about it!) Rocking out Ganesha style.
2.) A Yogitoes Skidless Prism mat towel. This awesome towel has the traditional yogitoes rubber grippy side that keeps it still even in the flowiest of classes. It is made of recycled materials and looks well, like a prism of colors.
3.) Personalized Silver Stacked Rings. I am a huge stacked rings fan. I love these because they have that slightly tarnished silver look: old and storied but still shiny. You can put any word you wish on the rings. My suggestion is three rings with the words: Breath. Strength. Flight.
4.) Sundara Studio Urban Yogi Mat Bag in Charcol Burst and Gold. I have been coveting one of Sundara Studio’s bags for a while. They are hip and funky but totally understated and simple. The thick strap looks super cozy and they even have a pocket for those extra hair ties I always seem to need. No one will have this mat bag but everyone will want it.
5.) Ganesh Vinyl Wall Sticker. Ok seriously, is this the most badass looking living room or what? I am mad for wall stickers because they completely can transform a room and most of the time are 100% removable. You can add them, spice things up and then take them down and chose another image. This sticker is particularly fierce. I would suggest it in a dark violet or green. Obstacles be gone!
6.) Style Caravan’s Striped Fingerless Gloves. These are the coolest gloves ever, period. They are made of soft material which will keep your hands warm and yet no itchy palms from wool. Your fingers are free to iPhone away and you look hip as you bust mudras in the winter weather.
7.) Tibetan Singing Bowl. I have been coveting these for a while and so when Babs, a rockstar reader and fellow yogi pal, suggested I include them in my list it was a no brainer. Singing bowls make a wonderful addition to Savasana and can be used for meditation as well. I like using them to clean crystals and malas of energy. This set is a great one for a bowl beginner.
Whatever you chose for your yogi, your yoga teacher, or your best buddy chose it with love. Pick a day that is unexpected and give it to them with joy. Celebrate them as you would have someone celebrate you.
Am I missing something fabulous? What is on YOUR yogi wish list?
I walked into the grocery story today and saw that the Halloween things had been moved out and all the Christmas decorations had replaced them. I looked down at my watch just to check the date, 11/9, and realized that the store had decided that the holiday was coming earlier this year.
I hate how retail society pushes the end of the year in our face before we even get to enjoy the fall. We are barely into November and yet we are already talking about the end of December. I feel like I am just getting going and settling in to 2011. Why are we rushing so fast to move forward in time?
Instead of racing to get my present lists checked off or turning on the carols (which in truth I never do), I found myself reminiscing about things that have changed for me so far this year. I remembered things I had metaphorically thrown away and those that I recycled for a different use. I cleaned up areas of my life that were messy and ditched patterns that started to stink. I danced in the spaces they left and brought new freshness to my life to fill them.
In 2011 I ended relationships that were painful and one-sided. I recycled that energy into ones that were equal and loving. I let negative things go to make space for ones that were good.
In 2011 I let go of my need for ta-da and wow on the mat. In its place I welcomed back in silence, space and breath. With these my old practice suddenly felt new again.
In 2011 I gave up habits that were unhealthy, thoughts that were icky and patterns that did not serve me. The time these all took was suddenly free to be channeled into things that brought me closer to the heart of what is me.
In 2011 I stopped always putting others first and redirected some of that giving back to myself. I made time for me and threw out time I was festering away wishing I was doing something else.
In 2011 I realized what yoga was for the first time despite years of practice. I tossed away the notion that it required asana and scooped up the reality that it was everywhere and in everything.
My year has been one of immense knocking down and equally deep building. I have made choices of what to get rid of and what to hold on to, and these were directly governed by what was best for me. Rather than throw it all away, I kept what was good, and even some of what was painful and raw. I saved what can teach me and ditched what I can no longer use for learning.
As we begin that lightning walk toward 2012, ask yourself what you have kept, what you have tossed and what you have recycled into something worthwhile. Take these last three weeks of November to finish the cleaning: take out your trash and re-channel that which still has some value.
Then look at all the changes you have made in these 11 months and commit to spending the last one of 2011 savoring all that you have learned and saved. Do not throw it all away at the end bemoaning what you have missed or did not do.
Drink in your changes like they were the finest wine.
I am raising a glass on my mat to you and all we have learned, join me?
What is your story? You know the one you tell yourself over and over again is true but really is a work of fiction. I am talking about the story you use as a cushion for safety even though it digs a little hole into the core of who you are. Maybe there is more than one tale you tell and weave into every situation, or maybe it is just one. You have a story, I am sure of it, just like I do.
I will not bore you with the details of the narrative I run through in my head as I come up on new moments, thoughts and events. I would never drowned you in the thickness of that tale like I have been for so many years. The muckiness would not tell you anything about me or about you, it would simply cloud what is the truth at the heart of it all.
Tonight I taught Wild Thing/Flip the Dog. I watched my students who tried it celebrate what they did and those that did not celebrate their safety in staying on two feet. I also watched everyone as I demonstrated it write a tiny story about how they could, could not or would never do that asana. They either said to themselves it was too shazam, it was too hard, they were not strong/bendy/open/young enough or they knew they were going to rock it. Every yogi had a story including the one teaching.
I am watching myself write stories that overlap the reality of my situations all over the place each day. Rather than listening to what I have to say, I create a bubble of fiction that translates events into something that makes me feel safe. It keeps the narrative of my life going in a fashion that feels cozy while it may not even be good. I see myself as this story weaver, peppering her tales with the answers to who, where and why and I am tired of listening to her fiction.
My yoga practice is leading me to a place where I am opening the pages of my personal book and looking deeply at the words. I am seeing that my life story as I have been telling it contains some false outer sections that are padded to protect the golden truths in the middle. You know those fake books where you stash your jewels so robbers cannot find them? The stories I weave unconsciously about situations are functioning in the same way.
Luckily, I have been shown that these books exist and I have seen the truth at the heart of them. I have started watching myself tell the stories and am tired with their canned narrative. I have tasted the chocolate of satya at the middle and know that is where my life is meant to be.
The time has come to turn your heart into a temple of fire. Your essence is gold hidden in dust. To reveal its splendor, you need to burn in the fire of Love. –Rumi
In the midst of the layers of stories is the shining golden truth. The honest reason we all move, breath and do what we do. I am catching myself telling the fiction version of events and am slowly starting to translate it into the bright words of fact. I am looking into the heart of my truth and it is shining stronger than ever because I am letting its story be told.
Take tomorrow to watch the story you weave over the moments in your life. See the trends, see the opaqueness with which you dampen your brightness. Then step onto your mat, into your life, and rewrite your own truth. Your story is there deep in your heart.
Are you telling it or protecting it with a web of fiction that quiets its fire? What kind of story are you writing and is it one you would want to read?
Hey lovely readers, this post is my first official one for the month of November. I am working on a month of gratitude with my students and so to get that going I am going to post today things for which I am grateful.
In Connecticut where I am things are still wildly unsettled, dark and cold for many and lots of frustration is building. It can be hard to find kernels of love and thanks in the midst of the lack of heat, power and water. Emotional temperatures are rising as the exterior ones are lowering. So with these things in mind here are some magical items that keep me smiling amidst it all, maybe they will help others be grateful about their things too:
1.) Frost on fallen fall leaves that sparkles in the sunshine while being held in the hands of an elf and crackles when you step on it.
2.) That I learned from yoga how to breathe deeply, slowly and completely. That an extra long exhale can relax me and a deep inhale can enliven me.
3.) That even when it is cold outside I have learned the tools to warm up my body from the inside out thanks to my friend Sadie Nardini.
4.) That my cybersangha, my local yogi friends and my students remain gracious, smiling and wonderful no matter what crosses their path.
5.) That the Black Keys have a new album coming in a month and that they released the video above which makes me immensely happy and smiling. Watch it, I dare you to sit still and be unhappy while doing so. (warning: that is impossible!)
6.) That I am learning to appreciate every moment with my elves. That I get to watch them play with their friends, each other and me. That I get to read about mythology to them. That they still want to snuggle.
7.) That someone figured out how to do supported Matseyasana. That Iyengar brought in props. That Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzburg made meditation approachable to people.
8.) That I can offer a free class tomorrow to people who need to get out of their homes.
9.) That I have readers that plow through this list, people who ask me to post elsewhere and friends who support me though it all.
10.) That Cholula hot sauce, mala beads, iPhones, tortilla chips, hot coffee and Jade Yoga mats are part of my being always.
When things seem rough it can be very hard to feel grateful. Try to find one thing.. small, big or medium you can grasp on to and savor its wonderfulness.
What can you feel grateful for today? Share it here with others so they too can find something that is worthy of celebrating.