The Mindful Yoga Practice: What I Expect

If this practice brings grace

I will continue to practice.

If this practice reveals judgment

I will continue to practice.

If this practice exposes fear

I will continue to practice.

If this practice bestows greatness

I will continue to practice.

If this practice reveals perfection

I will continue to practice.

If this practice destroys all things

I will continue to practice.

There is no beginning or end to devotion

There is only being in it

And knowing it

As the source of all.

The Mindful Yoga Practice: From the Gross to the Subtle, My Takeaway From Rodney And Colleen Saidman Yee

It was an intense 16 hours of yoga this weekend here in the Wood River Valley. Rodney Yee and his wife Colleen Saidman Yee came to teach a weekend workshop in Ketchum. I was very interested in taking both the advanced track of yoga sessions and the all-levels track of yoga sessions. This translated out to 5 hours on Friday, 5.5 on Saturday and 5.5 on Sunday. Naturally, I am still processing. The advanced sessions came before the all-levels sessions. For the first portion of the advanced session, they focused on intricate and precise details of breathing exercises. I noticed in the all-levels sessions which followed, Rodney and Colleen (who seamlessly co-teach) would direct the inhale and exhale in a similar, but more general way with less focus on multiple details progressively. I connected this to a theme that Rodney offered multiple times throughout the weekend: moving from the gross to the subtle.

I have pages of notes pouring out of my body since the weekend. I do not take notes during workshops in order to pay more attention in my body. I have a tendency to overthink. So after these sessions, I was mentally reviewing what we had done so that I could write it down. This turned out to be a great memorization tool which also deepened my focus during the sessions.

As a transition from most poses, they asked us to perform Baddha Konasana and Dandasana, two seated positions. (Soles of the feet together, knees wide, and soles of the feet extending away from you, legs on the ground). They would say them quickly and also call out the next pose. Most often I would do them quickly and get to the next pose. 15 hours in to practicing this way, I realized I wasn’t paying attention to these transitional poses. I was rushing through them. It would take no effort at all to perform them with precision and focus. I was simply not being present in the practice. As I began to spread my toes and allow my feet to connect and then ground my heels and pull my toes back toward my face for each transition, my mind was able to absorb into the poses and the nuanced cues I was being given. My body could pulse as a field in challenging poses and simple ones.

This idea that our practice becomes more subtle and nuanced, more like a dance is available in every aspect of the journey. When we first start moving our bodies and coordinating them in new ways, it is enough to know where to put each part. We then begin to understand the muscle movement and alignment of the bones. Rodney referred to this as being with the gross body and the gross aspects of the practice. To move in to the subtle realms we have to choose to pay attention and be mindful of how we practice, how we breathe, and how we focus. It is possible to practice for an extended amount of time and miss the subtle aspects of the practice. When these aspects become the priority we are able to access our humble nature and compassion. We are less likely to say we are addicted to yoga or discover that we are irritable without it. Instead our commentary will sound more like we are dedicated to yoga and that it teaches us how to be in the world outside of the classroom.

The Mindful Yoga Practice: It Takes Work to Find Ease

Yoga develops your ease in precarious situations. Our true point of focus becomes apparent when we explore balance poses. It is easy for us to suddenly become aware of other people watching, begin to judge our actions, compare our success with those around us, etc. For most of us, the challenge of balancing is confounding and not at all easeful. This can be said about many postures in yoga. And yet ease is a fundamental element of a yoga practice. Far from lacking ambition, not trying, or laziness, ease is actually cultivated by practicing with constant attention and focus. When ease is developed in a pose, there is an opportunity to explore even further on what becomes a limitless journey toward unfolding the inner self. Modifying and conserving energy through an intense practice can offer expansion in your general expression of poses, allowing you to express poses more purely than if you are continually at your edge. Practicing to develop ease challenges our tendency toward vanity in physical practice and reminds us to monitor sensations in our body and gauge our practice accordingly.

The Mindful Yoga Practice: The Edge

Meeting your edge, your limit, is an enlightening process in yoga. As you change and manipulate the body’s position, pain, discomfort, itching, burning, mental resistance, and other signs of your limitation will arise in different parts of your body. As we practice with awareness and compassion in our bodies, we discover that these sensations have a range to explore within the expression of the pose. Noticing where a lack of ease arises, how it intensifies as you start to move deeper, and where the sensation increases to a place of absolute exit is an unlimited opportunity for deeper personal understanding.

Consciously exploring your edge is a skill and a gift, once developed. It can cause you to understand new depths of your intelligence as your mind begins to interact with your body. Maintaining curiosity and mental openness will block and dissipate self-defeating mind patterns. It can expand into noticing and paying attention to your edge in all life matters.

The edge is the key to ultimate transformation, beyond the perfected body and residing in the perfected soul. When you can witness your edge, learn its lesson, and move beyond it you have learned to listen to yourself. You have located the inner guru and your path will always be a guided one.

Current Favorites

Podcasts

Flourish with Christiane Northrup

Wednesdays 9:00 am MST Hayhouse Radio

Law of Attraction

Tuesdays 8:00 am MST Hayhouse Radio

Books

The Mind Body Code, Dr. Mario Martinez

Thinking and Doing: A Monograph, Moshe Feldenkrais

Yoga Sequencing: Designing Transformative Yoga Classes, Mark Stephens

The Book of Truth: The Mastery Trilogy Book II, Paul Selig

 

 

What are you Doing for the Weekend??

I am grateful for my daughter for continually igniting and supporting my creative journey.  I am so passionately a part of her creative journey, but as a mother I tend to get lost along mine.  With so many responsibilities, I admittedly have allowed myself to drown in the overwhelm of never being finished.  We began today studying and discussing musical artists who challenged us philosophically and yet inspired us creatively, and then moved on to bullet journal artists as a way to calm our nerves and support our sense of hope and Self.  (There was also a brief 4-hour period of rehearsal for a wedding in which I sang John Legend and Jason Mraz songs which the girls learned long ago and decided to sit in and harmonize upon).

In the process we decided to try Skillshare.  We are both browsing the classes and are further inspired along our pathway.  I want to study in every category they cover.  If you are interested in writing, blogging, web design, coding, illustrating, music, film, wellness, or other creative fields, this website comes highly recommended by some of our favorite creative folk on the interwebs.  If you click on this link I'm sharing you can try it for 2 months for free (which is exactly what I just did from someone else's site).  

Try Skillshare with me and tell me what you think!

Completion

On day 5 of the fast I began to truly slow.  I wrote a lengthy article, quoting authors and text and then began to sit and look at it.  I was too exhausted for the next detail or organized thought.  I wanted the quiet of my own head and body, no longer extending to a device.  I deeply needed to go in to my inner resources and focus on very little.  

Eventually I understood.  I stopped doing chores.  Doing anything seemed like a huge effort.  I laughed out loud at the thought of bullet journaling with my daughter.  I couldn't formulate an organized thought, let alone chart that.  So, there was no music, no yoga (very little), no writing.  Just me.  I wasn't physically hungry, but my old fire began to come forward.  I began to think about food.  I began to think about cooking and recipes.  I began to plan my reintegration back to cooking and food.  And then I was too tired for even that.  The final day I allowed myself to sit on the couch and watch television.  I decided to complete 7 days, with some gentle nudging from my boyfriend.  On the fifth day, I mentioned it and he just said I might as well.  To get this far and turn around would seem silly.  I wholeheartedly agreed and stayed with the fast for two more days and three more nights.  

What I didn't realize was that it would be four more days after completing the fast before I stopped being hungry.  Reintegration was more like fasting than fasting.  

 Day 7: cracking jokes on instagram about seeing my aura.  This was my spot on the couch for the day.  

Day 7: cracking jokes on instagram about seeing my aura.  This was my spot on the couch for the day.  

Cheating

The first day of my fast my 10-year old was nervous.  She was compulsively asking me if it was possible for me to have this food, or that food.  I finally asked her if she noticed what she was doing.  I have educated her on the benefits of fasting, but seeing it in action was too much for her to accept.  She acknowledged that she couldn't imagine not eating.  Even for a day.  Part of that is the natural instinct in a small growing human to consistently consume food to support the active changes happening in the body.  Kids aren't supposed to fast.  Another part of it is the fact that fasting is actually teaching us how to discipline ourselves.  None of us is really prepared to fast before our first fast.  We learn by doing, failing, and/or succeeding.

I don't think of it as cheating.  Theoretically, I could have 500 calories a day and it would still be fasting.  There are many supplements which could make fasting still have effect while strengthening the system.  I have been on fasts where I derail from the taking of a single, small, food item, and I have been on fasts where I have taken a small amount of food and then continued on not eating.

My mental focus for this fast is the expansion of my will power.  This includes my word and my voice.  Being truthful and dedicated to my promise to myself is a personal conversation that embodies what the fast is supposed to provide for my growth. 

Speak the truth
And Truth comes through you
— Within

The will is focused physically at the 5th chakra.  The parts of the body governed by the 5th chakra are the shoulder girdle, the arms, hands, and the throat.  Essentially, that which you speak with your mouth or do with your hands becomes manifest.  The quote above is from a song I wrote in which I was discussing the fact that when one is truthful in life, wisdom is the result, behaving like a byproduct of the commitment.  The Tao says when you align with truth, it becomes you. 

My neck, part of this 5th chakra, has been in seizure since the first day.  I slept with a heating pad on and off through the night while silently celebrating modern technology.  It has worked well.  But the tension in my neck is still present.  A few conscious movements and spending time with the people I love should prove helpful.  My daughters, 10 and 16 are having a great time in the evening making dishes from our favorite cookbook for dinner.  After two years of teaching commitment they are mostly self-sufficient in the kitchen.  (Chopping onions is still a challenge, but they take it on).

 The beautiful red curry chickpeas my 10-year old, Deva, prepared entirely by herself.  (Except for a panicked question about slicing green onions: "do I slice them, or what?"  Um, yes.  Slicing is what you do).

The beautiful red curry chickpeas my 10-year old, Deva, prepared entirely by herself.  (Except for a panicked question about slicing green onions: "do I slice them, or what?"  Um, yes.  Slicing is what you do).

Relieving tension from my neck has exposed what I am learning from this fast.  I have carried a tendency to push myself mentally.  I have had high expectations of what my voice and will should contribute.  I have attracted people who have the same mindset.  In response to this awareness of my past behavior, release has become a skill I am cultivating in this fasting process.  Release of my past and release of my future is my new standpoint.  I can only offer from the place I stand.  Those who receive will receive.  I am allowing my life to show itself to me in its perfection, rather than expecting my future or my past to be perfect.

True relaxation into trusting one's personal power to create is a giant move.  I have been reaching for this change for quite some time.  Now, I simply Will do this.  

In my mind, the passage of food through my mouth is not an issue when my goals are focused on a deep transformation.  Temptation or desire is minuscule when I know the power of keeping my word to not let food pass through my mouth.  My relationship to myself is fortified by my maintenance of my word.  My pure word carries the power to shepherd in a new consciousness.

Day 3

Here it is.  Day 3 is challenging.  It is advised that in order to experience full benefit from a fast, it is best to complete three days.  I understand that intermittent fasting is becoming popular and understood as a weight maintenance technique, but this just refers to fasting for health improvement, organ relief and reducing acidity levels in the body.  Shorter fasts are a great way to become more familiar with the practice of fasting and to develop the relationship with it that will allow for more and more success in fasting. 

One of the major issues in American health is the acid-forming diet.  Copious processed, high-fat dark meat and refined food products leave our bodies forming acid in the body.  Extended fasts bring the body toward alkaline which is a boon for physical health.  Cancer and viruses thrive in an acidic environment.  They can not survive in an alkaline environment.  Stress also moves our body chemistry toward acidic.

When I learned about green juice, I felt as though it was a beautiful answer to taking control of personal health.  Green juice brings the body into a more alkaline state.  Consuming large amounts of fresh, big leafy greens also does this.  David Wolf states that raw vegans should consume large amounts of raw, leafy greens daily in order to maintain strength, stamina, and better muscle tone than meat eaters.  He very convincingly notes the muscle development on gorillas who spend most of their day slowly chewing enormous amounts of leaves.

Right now I am weak and I found it difficult to get out of bed today.  It was almost necessary to break the making of the green juice into stages.  In total, it takes about 10 minutes to make.  But, the feeling of a moderate headache and the possibility of losing my balance felt high.  I ended up being able to complete the making of the juice and partially clean the juicer before it was very necessary to sit down.  I do not feel nausea today.  I do think that my diet preceding the fast was moderate.  It certainly was not a cleansing diet, steadfastly preparing the system for the change, but it was not unhealthy either.  The fewer toxins you have in your body before fasting, the less the body shows signs of detoxification such as headache and nausea.

I will be sitting for meditation soon and will start to focus on the higher aspects of the fast.  As you know I am interested in watching the ego manipulate for food.  So far it has surprisingly not occurred.  I will write a post regarding "cheating," due to the fact that my 10-year old daughter drew out the most interesting conversation regarding cheating.  It felt like I was talking to my own inner child.

More.  Soon.  Enjoy your day.  Savor your food.  Hydrate your body.  Be in light. 

T

 

Discipline and Mantra

fullsizeoutput_78c.jpeg

When I decided to observe this fast I pulled out a translation of the yoga sutras and opened to a random page.  As you might already know, I call this a random read.  This is the page I opened up to.  I thought it was a nice tie-in to my use of the word "superpower" in my previous blog post about the gift I discovered through fasting.  Fasting is a favored self-discipline, and it has afforded me great progression spiritually.

From another spiritual perspective, I read in a gnostic bible that Jesus advised his followers to fast one day for every year of sinning they wished to neutralize.  

I have not yet chanted or played music at all.  Reading this excerpt reminds me to get to work. 

I just felt a hunger pang and reached for my ever-present glass of water.  The old tactic from dieting works.  (Most often when you feel hunger pangs you are actually thirsty.  Before going to the refrigerator to eat, one replaces the action with drinking a large glass of water in order to discern thirst from hunger).  In the case of fasting, this tactic of answering hunger pangs with water causes me to keep hydrating throughout the day.

 

Green Juice Recipe

fullsizeoutput_7a8.jpeg

1 serving (drink immediately)

1/2 cucumber

3-4 ribs of celery (adjust to taste, more is possible as well)

4 leaves of kale (also adjustable)

Handful of baby spinach ( about 2 cups)

Handful of parsley (about 1 cup)

Handful of cilantro (about 1 cup)

1/2 lemon, peeled

Thumb of ginger (this adds spice and eases nausea, the size of the ginger I add changes every serving.  Once you are familiar with what it adds, adjust to your taste)  

1/2 Small thumb of turmeric root*

4-5 Leaves of collard greens or swiss chard (I tend to leave both of these out, but they add nutrients that I know are important.  I will adjust myself slowly to the sulfuric properties these greens add.  If they don't disturb your stomach or your taste buds, they are good to include).

The roots (ginger and turmeric) can be difficult on a juicer.  I typically wrap leafy greens around a small piece and include a piece of lemon, then push with a piece of cucumber to help lubricate the mulching process.

*Turmeric root looks similar to ginger and has an orange hue under its skin.  You can often special order it from your produce department.  It is an anti-inflammatory agent and is used to reduce arthritic issues in homeopathic practice.

fullsizeoutput_7aa.jpeg

Day 2 Morning

IMG_0968.JPG

I want to make a quick entry this morning because I have the feeling it will be a full day.  I was strong this morning, minimal nausea or weakness.  I lingered in bed for an hour before making my first green juice.  This is something I focus on in fasting.  The morning sets the pace for the day and without the proper maintenance the night before I wake up sick and weak.  I developed a practice which has helped to make mornings better.  In order to apply it, I have to end up with remaining stamina in the evening.

The practice is to make an evening green juice.  By the end of the day I no longer want to drink the green juice, let alone make one and clean the juicer.  But I feel greatly fortified after drinking it and I sleep better and with less body pain.  So each night I promise myself I will make a green juice.  Last night I did not.  I only had enough ingredients to make a morning juice and the morning juice can be mandatory for remaining upright.  Since I didn't know what to expect of my strength in the morning, I decided to save the ingredients for the morning and instead have a detox tea focused on my kidneys and drink water consistently through the night.

It seems to have worked well.  The morning juice has been consumed, the juicer is clean and I will now start working on my body.  My neck is the first area to need care.  I hope your morning flows nicely.  I am thinking of my restorative class which has just started.  My boyfriend is subbing the class (and all my classes), which feels right and righteous.  He has definitely taken on his own discipline as a show of support.  

Day 1

I have been revving my engines for days in preparation for this fast.  As it is now time to dive in, I find myself nostalgically expecting great wisdom to set in.  I've been moving a lot today.  Setting the stage, fussing about, cleaning furiously.  It's behavior that is needing balance.  I have not yet surrendered to the pace of fasting.  Sometimes I don't receive the lesson until I experience actual body pain.  So, I have taken to my bed with the laptop for a quiet moment to reflect.

The lemon gets in the limelight.

When I remember to move slowly and gently it is a gateway to the softness of the experience.  The lightheadedness adjusts into a slight fuzzy feeling in the in the skull when I take a deep breath.  The breath itself is more spacious and expansive.  The breath settles the brain and gentle clarity replaces the running thoughts.

I find that my ego wants to ensure those around me that I am strong.  I'm reassuring them and using body language reflecting strength.  Funny approach, since fasting is a quick road to vulnerability.  I also know that my inward strength does not require outward expressions for my family to know it.  When I am confident and grounded, they will simply know and have no fear.  I like that as a lesson applied to my life in general.

IMG_0958.JPG

As I described before, I intend to document and observe my behavior during the fast in order to gain insight into the workings of my egoic patterns.  With regard to my relationship to food, I am surprised to see that many things have changed since my last fast.  In recent months, my developed food habit has been to grab a piece of fruit in the morning as I work in order to maintain my energy/sugar levels.  I had to stop myself from feeling the low sugar levels and to not reach for the fruit as a solution.  What a change from mentally battling cravings and fantasies about food.  This commitment I made to eating without fear has profoundly adjusted more than I realized.  I will explain my approach to eating in another post, but it is suffice to say that I have spent much of my life viewing food as an enemy and a temptation.  In recent years I have tested out methods of re-cognizing food as something which serves me, rather than harms me.

It is time to rest.  Thank you for taking the time to share this experience with me.  Again, if you would like to share or comment please click on the title of the blog post and you will be able to comment at the bottom of the page.

More soon.

 

 

 

Fasting as a Shamanic Practice

Fasting is a transformative discipline which has many benefits.  I have found that green juice fasting can be downright pleasant.  It has been many years since my last fast and I have forgotten how much I enjoyed it.  There is benefit to taking time for yourself and the act of doing so can become art.  I can live completely forgetting the practice of remembering myself, so remembering has become meaningful.

In my first experiences of fasting, I had my attention on weight loss.  I have separated from fasting for so much time because I didn't want to use fasting in that manner any longer.  I have settled most of my internal conflicts about it and feel ready to proceed with fasting as a part of my life.  During the past six months, intermittent fasting has helped me understand and reconcile many things.  The largest reconciliation is that body maintenance is an act of love and care.  It is not a a punishment for wrongdoings.  More and more often, when I eat I am not fearful or guilty, no matter what I am consuming.  When I am fearful or guilty, I am aware of it.  It might not be a reflection of the change I am cultivating, but it is not permanent.  Our mentality around food as Americans is riddled with guilt.  Stress slows the metabolism.  

Which brings me to my focus for this fast.  The superpower which was revealed to me in my first fast was an unending ocean of de-stressing ability.  My first fast was water-only for seven days.  I had connected the fast emotionally/mentally to reducing my attachment to things, people, even ideas.  To reduce limiting beliefs.  This intention opened up a deep, quiet patience in me that opened up only once before in my life during the first few weeks of my first daughter's birth.  This motherly, open, wide, endless nature allowed me refuge and introduced me to my higher self (in both scenarios).  If stress slows the metabolism, is it possible that this soothing nature revealed in the "fast" speeds the metabolism?

I intend to literally observe a fast.  I intend to snuggle close to this feminine energy and watch the workings of my egoic mind reveal wisdom for healing.  March 19 I will begin.  5 days is my goal, but I am open to longer if it feels right.  I will share truths from the deep as I dive in.  And my green juice recipe.  And recipes for exiting the fast.  I would love to hear from you as well.  Please click on the title of this post to comment at the end of the article with your support, love, ideas for mediation and clarity, and recipes!

Books on Yoga

Here are a few books which fortify my practice, both personal and as a teacher:

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translation by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati

The Science, Psychology & Philosophy of Anahata Nada Yoga, Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati

Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar

Teaching Yoga, Mark Stephens (Stephens has multiple manuals on yoga - all useful!)

Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda 

Yogabody, Judith Lasater 

The Healing Promise of Qi, Roger Jahnke

yogasutra.jpg

Bullet Journals

fullsizeoutput_754.jpeg

I used to love my planner as a student.  In the past I've successfully used a planning calendar to pave my pathway.  I didn't realize that with precise tools and a dotted grid on a journal page, we can hand make charts, goal trackers, calendars, to-do lists, etc., combined with the therapeutic function of doodling.  My daughter just shared some wonderful artists who produce youtube channels dedicated to this craft.  I am excited to share them with you, remembering that we all gift our loved ones with our positivity and our passions through sharing.

https://youtu.be/VQwK4b84-Os

https://youtu.be/cigfDmZQVlI

Kirtan!

I just want to send a thank you to all of the recent kirtan participants at yesterday's Zenergy workshop, combining a hatha yoga class and kirtan.  Cathie Caccia led a heart-opening yoga sequence, which prepared us for the experience of call and response singing.  I think my favorite feedback was from a participant who said: "I forgot how much I love singing!"

Onward to the next.  Idayoga?  February?  We are working out the details now.  Again, Thank you!!!

What's with all of the different music files?

I am placing a link to itunes music in most of my current marketing.  It is considered appropriate to do so.  However, I purchase music from Amazon Mp3 I do so because Amazon sells a normal .mp3 file.  itunes does not.  It modifies the file slightly so that you are limited to how many devices you can play it on and how many times you can share it.  I want full access to my music files and so I choose to purchase my music from Amazon.  

A .wav file (such as the one available on my website) is many times the size of an mp3.  It is what you hear when you play a CD through a stereo system.  My pricing on the file is quite arbitrarily made for the sake of giving supporters an opportunity to support my music through a unique purchase.  Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in more reasonable pricing.  I'm pretty loose with the discount codes.  

Click here to purchase my single as an mp3 from Amazon.

Lululemon

I have signed on to be a Lululemon Ambassador.  The timing couldn't be better.  I have spent the past 3 months watching (and helping) my life redesign itself.  As I have recently developed and refined my production skills, my ability to create and share music has increased.  I have reduced the number of classes I am teaching and have designed a website to bring forward more and more music, meditations, and videos.  I have much to offer in terms of inspiring us all to do yoga from our hearts.  Thank you to everyone at Lululemon, Ketchum.  I am excited to expand my reach!