Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mountaintop Visualization

My mother is currently hospitalized and not surprisingly, is somewhat stressed and anxious about what is happening now - and what is happening next. So, I thought I'd try to calm her down with a nice relaxing visualization technique.

It's hot out and has been for days now. Rather than the usual peaceful beach scene, you are heading to the mountains for a short stay in a friend's log cabin. In this cabin, you feel warm and perfectly safe. You walk in and immediately note the crackling fire in the fireplace. Warmth is radiating out to you. You hear the wood making its soft sounds. You begin to feel a little less stressed and start to relax. You put your bag down and begin to take a look around the cabin.

A wonderful aroma is eminating out from the kitchen. You walk in and see a crock pot on the counter. Your friend has left you a note. Dinner will be ready in an hour. You peek in and see that it's your favorite meal - a hearty beef stew. Mmmmmm...that smells so good!

You look around the country kitchen. Your sense of smell is on high alert now. Something has been baking in the oven. The aroma is coming from a counter near the slightly open window. You see that there's an apple pie set out. It's cooling for later.

There's a sense of peace and contentment around you right now. You slowly return to the living room. In front of the fireplace is an overstuffed chair with matching ottoman. You sit down and sink into the chair where the comfortable cushions wrap around you. You are completely relaxed now. You are in a special place - you are safe and cared for - and all of your troubles are far, far away.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Making Progress

It's been just over a month now that I've been a member of the Yoga vs Osteoporosis study. Members have a list of 12 exercises to perform and we keep track with a two-week scorecard. I can honestly say that I've been diligent in completing this assignment - haven't missed a day yet. But, here's what I've learned so far: You can do the exercises each day. However, when you do the exercises and stay focused, in the moment, and fully put all of your energy and desire in what you are doing, you really notice the difference. I'll give you an example.

Let's say you are performing tree pose. You've been doing tree pose for years now. You can do it in your sleep. But...when you are doing tree pose with the intention of improving your bone health, when you squeeze the muscles in your upper legs, lengthen your pelvis down and lift your abdomen up, push your raised foot and inner leg against each other, when you reach your arms up and stretch out in all directions, when you hold that pose, you then become that strong, majestic tree. And, that's the difference.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Yoga - off the mat - in the car

After a minor mishap with my car earlier this week (I ran over a "blob" of tar and my tire was covered in it!), I realized that I need to pay closer attention when I'm driving. Awareness, noticing, breathing - are all vital parts of my yoga practice on the mat. So, as I was en route to my gentle yoga class this morning, I thought "why not bring your yoga to your driving"? I put my seat belt on, turned the radio off, elongated my spine, steadied my gaze, and began driving. All is well, I thought, and I gently inhaled and exhaled.

Then, I glanced in my rearview mirror and allofasudden, there is a huge trailer truck practically in my back seat!!!! Breathe, I thought, stay calm, notice what you are doing. I glance again and he's still on my tail. Nearing my exit, I put my directional signal on and bear off the ramp. The truck zooms past me. I slowly exhale.

In the past, this type of incident would have brought on some anxiety for me. But now, I realize that becoming aware of my breathing truly helps to calm my mind. Toot! Toot!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yoga for the Rest of Us - Teacher Training

Last week I had the good fortune to attend Peggy Cappy's "Yoga for the Rest of Us" teacher training. This was the second time around for me as I was a student in the 2009 class. I joked with Peggy when I arrived that I was there for remedial training - and in a way, I was. I learned so much last year and was able to put that training to good use with my class in Topsfield as well as the class in Naples, Florida. But, there's always room for improvement. I was eager to meet new yogis/yoginis and to observe different styles of teaching. We had a super group this year - all warm and welcoming - and highly motivated. It was wonderful for me to reconnect with Carol, Pat, and Linda from the class of 2009. They've all been so helpful and supportive to me this past year.

Peggy, as always, was an absolute delight and just so inspring. See for yourself - there's a photo of her on the right doing a very elegant split!!!!

It was a full week of activities, student teachings, observations, etc. One of the highlights of the week for me was watching an iMovie that was created by Ellie, our class photographer. I know I won't be able to do it justice with my description, but suffice to say this movie summed up just what yoga for the rest of us is all about. She had photos of a number of people from her yoga class - all shapes and sizes. Accompanied by music, smiles, and beautiful captions, I found it very moving.

I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this training. Once again, I am re-motivated to be the best yoga teacher I can be.