Friday, December 31, 2010


Fireworks #1Image by Camera Slayer via Flickrco-a-lesce -verb 1. to blend or come together; 2. to grow together or into one body

2010 was a year of growth. My energy expanded in many directions. Small ideas got bigger. I learned and explored new ways to express myself, to take care of myself, to live. Parts of me that had been buried in the transition year of 2009 were rediscovered. And suddenly here I am, poised on the cusp of another new year with all the pieces of the life I want scattered in front of me.

The past few weeks have been filled with reflection and planning. When I look at my dreams and goals like a to-do list, I think there isn't enough of me to go around. I can't possibly complete the list, and even accomplishing part of the things will require so much discipline and hard work that I'll be miserable. Dreams and goals shouldn't be burdens. There must be a better way.

This morning it all became clear with one word. Coalesce. Rather than spreading myself out, trying to reach for all those scattered pieces, it is time to gather them up, draw them in and recognize that they are all just part of the whole of my being. Instead of chopping my life into unrelated bits, I'll blend everything I love together. Yes, there are tasks that need to get done if I am going to achieve my goals, but they can be done with joy by a complete, fulfilled spirit.

So with "coalesce" as my 2011 mantra, I look ahead.

Yoga touches every part of my life, from my own practice to teaching to the philosophy I live by. The business of teaching yoga has become a bigger part of life thanks to some really wonderful students who fill my classes and spread the word better than any advertising agency could do. (You know who you are, and please know that I am extremely grateful.) In 2011 the business will be getting extra attention, so it can continue to grow and there will be yoga classes available for all who desire them. While my creative energy swirls, a more mundane goal is to draw on the bookkeeping skills I have stored away somewhere and improve my record-keeping. My tax accountant will thank me.

That creative energy is going to get quite a workout in 2011. I can't remember a time when I have felt so strongly the need to express myself. I use my creativity to teach yoga classes, but its time to get crazily creative, building on momentum started with last fall's drawing class and last month's knitting frenzy. (Yes, that's what I was doing instead of writing blog posts.) In 2011, I intend to say "my art" at least once. I'm challenging myself to be creative every day and I'm going to explore deeper with the Inside Out e-course in a few weeks.

Speaking of workouts and momentum, I planning a race schedule that includes the new Big George Triathlon, a half-ironman distance race, and the full Adirondack Marathon. In the spirit of coalescing, I am looking for creative ways to incorporate training into other parts of my life (Look out kids. We're going to be doing lots of swimming once the lake melts.) and intend to use all I learned about nutrition and training during 2010 to finish the race season strong and healthy. I will continue to draw on yoga to balance the cardio-focused workouts and improve my breathing and focus.

Don't think my family is getting left out of the mix. Family and home life have been high on 2011's priority list. I'm not a big fan of household chores (Is anyone?) but after living in this house for a year I am ready to make it our home. There are many redecorating projects on the list that will require input and effort from all of us. The kids, especially my son, need to get out into nature more often, so it is my goal to get them outside every day in 2011. As a family, we intend to live as eco-friendly as we can, so we've jumped on the One Small Change wagon, starting in January by replacing kitchen sponges with knitted dishrags and scrubbers. (I did mention the knitting frenzy. See how it all comes together?)

Once the creativity is flowing, it can leak into everything else, like my Parent-Teacher-Student Organization duties (we really need some help there) and my parental responsibilities for my son's Cub Scout Pack. I also took on the job of newsletter editor for our Lake Association and sent my first edition to print just before Christmas. Of course, I will never stop writing. Blog entries and lots of time with my journal are also in store for 2011.

On the to-do list it looks like too much. When all these things are viewed as just outlets for my spirit, ways of expressing the whole of my being, they suddenly seem doable. And I shall do them.

With a smile and gratitude I let 2010 fade away. In 2011, watch me coalesce.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Today I am Thankful ...

... for my family. I am thankful for my wonderful husband who loves me even when I am at my most unlovable. I am thankful for my children and the joy and pride they bring me. I am thankful for my parents, who gave me life and have always given me love and support. I am thankful for my brother and sister and their spouses and children, and for aunts and uncles and cousins, for filling the holiday house with laughter and love.

... for our home. I am thankful for warmth and light. I am thankful for stocked cupboards. I am thankful for soft beds and an even softer sofa. I am thankful for a place for the family to gather and be safe while storms blow.

... that I have access to advanced medical science, nutrition, massage, Reiki, yoga, and many other healing modalities, and I am thankful that I am free to choose whichever serves me best. I am thankful that my body is strong and healthy thanks to the combined work of doctors, nutritional consultants, massage therapists, Reiki masters and yoga teachers. Today I am especially thankful for a cortisone shot and a list of yoga poses to practice daily, to heal my knee and stretch my hamstrings so that I can run again. I am thankful for the gift of hope.

... for friends, old and new, distant and near, none of whom I see enough of. I am thankful for friends who, after years apart, come together as if only days had passed. I am thankful for friends who open their homes, cars and arms whenever I am in need, and who reach out to me when they are in need. I am thankful for friends I will never meet but whose online chatter lifts my spirits.

... for opportunities to learn and grow and expand. I am thankful for opportunities to stumble and fail and try again. I am thankful for opportunities to share all that I have.

... for this life and all it's blessings.

On this day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last Day of Drawing Class

After eight weeks of Anne's "Drawing so it Looks Real" class I renamed the class "Drawing so that if You Stare at it Long Enough and have had a Couple of Beers You can Kind of Figure Out What it was Supposed to Be." I think I can safely rule out being a long-lost relative of Monet. Or Picasso, even.

After the inevitable fight with my ego and many post-yoga class talks with Anne, I finally got to the point where the actual process of drawing was fun, which was the original point of taking the class. I wasn't a model student (I didn't do my homework) and no matter many tools and tricks Anne presented I never did grasp the concept of proportion (hmmm... maybe I am related to Picasso). But today Anne set up a still life and said "be free."

Proportion be damned! WooHoo!

Guess what? When I have fun drawing I like the end results. I'm not looking for space in a gallery or anything, but when my inner critic starts in with "you left out the shadows" and "what happened to the other end of the pick ax?" I can smile, tell my inner critic to stuff it and look at the pretty pink garlic which was hardly pink at all in real life but I liked the color and, what the heck, it's my drawing.

In a moment of extreme pretentiousness I named it. Therefore, I would like to present "The Freedom of Fall."

Art in America is calling. They have a job for my inner critic.
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vegan, Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Oh my)

Maybe because my grandparents were wonderful bakers, or maybe because I spent my high school years working in a bakery, I love to bake. There's nothing like the smell that comes from the oven when cookies are baking, especially during the cold months. When I discovered that wheat gluten contributed to the aching in my joints I cried over the loss of baked goods. Luckily there are lots of gluten free recipes out there to try. I also have a problem with my cholesterol, so now my experiments are vegan as well as gluten free.

There is a bit of a learning curve, I'm finding. I've scoured a few attempts out of my baking pans before throwing the recipe away. (Wasting rather expensive gluten free flour kills me, but sometimes there is no choice.)

Today's experiment was a success! These vegan, gluten-free oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were so good I thought I'd share the recipe with you. I adapted the recipe from an oatmeal cookie recipe from Bob's Red Mill.

Vegan, Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup turbinado (raw) sugar
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed combined with 6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten free all-purpose baking flour (I use Bob's Red Mill because that's what the local grocery store carries)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Xantham Gum
3 cups gluten free rolled oats
1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 350F. Beat margarine and sugars together until smooth. Let flaxseed and water sit at least 1 minute, then add flaxseed mixture and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, blend flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and Xantham Gum. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and blend. Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown on edges. Cool 1 minute before transferring to wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

* I use Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, which do not have any dairy ingredients but are not "dairy-free" because they made in a facility where milk is present. If you have a sensitivity to dairy, look for a true dairy-free brand.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green

Kermit was fourth Chakra green before being green was hip.

I did promise I would continue my exploration of the Chakras in pop culture. It took awhile (okay, five months might be more than "awhile") but we're moving up the spine again.

Oh-so-long ago we left Tarzan beating his chest and screaming from his powerful solar plexus. Now we wander upward to the heart center and find Anahata, the bright green fourth Chakra. Anahata translates to "unstruck," as sound made without two things striking, but is taken to mean "unhurt" or "clean."

Located in the center of the chest, in the cardiac plexus, it's not surprising that Anahata is all about love. Being in the middle of the seven Chakras, with an equal number above and below, Anahata is the balancer and a healthy fourth Chakra creates balanced love.

Every individual has the basic right to love and be loved. Being a lover in a one-on-one relationship is part of that right, but there's more. Loving oneself and, therefore, deeming oneself worthy of others' love, is essential to Anahata's energy, as is a sense of kinship and belonging as part of a community. When you recognize your kinship to and interconnectedness with all life, you can be certain your heart center is glowing green.

The fourth Chakra inspires healthy relationships, where both parties give and receive, creating intimacy and devotion. When the scales tip too far to one side, relationships become a place of fear rather than love.

When Anahata's green light is smothered, we stop reaching out. Those with deficient fourth Chakras tend to be antisocial and intolerant, lacking the empathy needed to fit into the web of relationships. When the fourth Chakra's energy becomes excessive and consuming, we find codependency, clinging, and the green-eyed monster of jealousy.

Our friend Kermit sings of his journey to fourth Chakra balance. At first regretting being green, and blending in with ordinary things, he laments not being red or yellow, the colors of those lower Chakras that want to stand out and be seen. Then Kermit recognizes his kinship to the leaves, mountains and trees and decides that being green is beautiful. He points out that green is the color of spring, the lovers' season. In the end, Kermit is green and that's what he wants to be. He loves himself as he loves the green life around him.

Kermit is right when he says green can be "tall like a tree." Unfortunately for tall trees, they have a long way to fall. The risk of an open fourth Chakra, an open heart, is suffering great loss. It's not surprising that practices to balance Anahata include some for releasing grief.

On the yoga mat, we can find Anahata's green glow in heart-opening poses like Trikonasana (triangle), Virabhadrasana II (warrior II) and Dhanurasana (bow). Even rolling our shoulders back and down makes room for fourth Chakra energy.

When we step off our mats we can discover our green glow by playing with children and pets, those wonderful beings who love us just as we are and accept our love without fear. Look for creative projects that bring joy to ourselves and others and enjoy a good laugh every now and then. Rejoice in who you are and share your love with all who accept it and you'll be basking in green light.

And listen to Kermit, because how can you not love a singing frog?

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Letting Go

A Cottonwood tree in the fall, Albuquerque, Ne...Image via WikipediaI've been thinking about the way trees let go of their leaves in the fall. It's hard not to, since I'm ankle deep in crunchy brown leaves every time I go into the yard. Besides thinking that my kids really ought to start raking, I've been thinking that it would be very hard for people to let go of their leaves.

Of course, people don't have leaves, which is a good thing because I don't think people would trust enough to let them go. Trees take a huge leap of faith every fall, releasing the very thing they've been depending on for energy - I might even say prana - and trusting that they will survive without it until the sun gets warm in spring.

The human animal seems to have lost touch with the natural cycle of things, especially in the United States, and, instead of hoarding just what is needed for the lean winter months like squirrels, hoards everything, as if anything given up is lost forever. When was the last time you got rid of something - clothes, tools, a television - without replacing it with something bigger or better? Could you give your favorite blue sweater to charity and trust that, when the time is right, the universe will make sure you have another blue sweater you will like just as much?

An underlying principle of yoga, one of those things which gets you on the path to enlightenment, is non-attachment, or non-hoarding. Practicing non-attachment means letting go of fears which keep us clinging to stuff. Non-attachment asks us to be like the trees in the fall, and let go.

Not all of the stuff we cling to is physical stuff. We cling to time (just take a look through a beauty magazine and count the anti-aging products), relationships (breaking up is hard to do, after all) and beliefs. On the mat, we cling to asanas.

How do you feel when you can't do your favorite pose because of an injury? How about when you realize that the arthritis in your shoulder means you will never reach your goal of pressing your palms together in Garudasana (eagle pose)? We become attached to the outcome of our practice, whether it be completing all the asanas in the Astanga primary series or touching our toes in every forward fold, and strive for that outcome. The principle of non-attachment asks us to let go of the goals and just be where we are.

This week I've added some new, challenging poses to my yoga class plans. I hope that my students will approach the new asanas with curiousity and a sense of adventure, and without any expectations. Maybe they will all get into the poses, maybe not, but we can have fun trying.

When you get on your mat, can you be like a tree and let go?
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trusting Myself, Part 2

Autumn in the BerkshiresImage by Stellas mom via FlickrI have to admit that my mind was in a strange place when I stepped into the room for the first session of Seane Corn's Empower Flow Yoga workshop. I was focused inside, still processing my experiences over the three previous days. My energy felt at odds with the buzzing crowd while I set my mat down in one of the few remaining spots at the back of the room. Perhaps that's why my "fun" workshop turned into two days of torture.

Having already read posts from some of my fellow bloggers who also attended the workshop, I know my experience was different than that of the other 100+ people in the room, so please accept that this was my unique experience and nothing I write is intended to belittle Seane Corn or discourage others from taking workshops with her in the future. I only hope to share the lesson I learned in trusting myself.

When Seane entered the room my first thought was, "she's shorter than I remember." The only other time I'd seen her in person she was on the stage at Yoga Journal's Estes Park Conference. At that same conference I had been surprised that Shiva Rea wasn't taller, so maybe I just assume all celebrities are taller than me. This occupied my mind until Seane worked her way to the front of the room and called us up to sit near her.

During the first session I really tried to like Seane and kept reminding myself that this was supposed to be fun, but something wasn't right. I don't know if it was the words she used or just her delivery, but I couldn't connect to her message. Maybe with everything that went on earlier in the week I just wasn't open to being empowered.

I also didn't connect to the asana practice. After finally recovering from my last two races in September, I was taking care in my practice not to do anything that would re-injure my knee or make me hurt too bad. Perhaps because I was being cautious, or perhaps because I was already put off by the talking, the practice felt forced and uninspiring.

I spent some time Friday night trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Everyone else seemed in awe of Seane Corn, excited to be in the same room with her, and I wondered if I just didn't get it or perhaps I was not the yogini I thought I was. After spending some time with my journal over breakfast, I realized again I needed to trust my own truth and honor where I was. I had paid for the workshop, so I would gather what I could from it without internalizing those things that were not resonating with me.

By the second session I was back in teacher mode, listening for good teaching cues and checking out the adjustments Seane's assistant was doing. I was no longer listening to my body, and after doing more back bends than I should have I was hurting. The afternoon session was much more talking than practicing and when we finally got on our mats I was irritated and my back was sore from sitting. After Seane's practice did nothing to help, I stayed in the room for the Kripalu gentle class which followed.

The gentle class was great and I enjoyed the long savasana. That night I sat in the sauna for as long as I could stand, then collapsed into bed. I'd had enough of Seane Corn and I missed my family. I was ready to go home.

Sunday morning I got up for the early gentle class to work the kinks out of my low back. At breakfast I decided to skip the last session of Seane Corn's workshop. There was no point in continuing the torture. Instead I curled up with my journal for awhile, then packed, visited the Kripalu store, put my things in the car and checked out.

After a delicious lunch (the food at Kripalu is amazing) I headed for home.

While I didn't like the Empower Flow stuff, I don't regret a single minute I spent at Kripalu. I needed the break and, while it wasn't what I expected, the trip forced me to see what was going on inside and trust myself, even if it meant accepting that I am not full of fun right now.

By Sunday night I had a grip on the teaching stuff, and I went into Monday's classes prepared and organized. I feel like my teaching has been reinvigorated. My personal practice, on the other hand, has mellowed into something very gentle. I'm trusting that this is where I need to be.
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Trusting Myself, Part 1

Kripalu CenterImage via WikipediaI came home after five days at Kripalu feeling like my mind was a ping pong ball, bouncing between the mundane challenges of teaching yoga (and life in general) and the contemplation of some inner wisdom that surfaced during my stay. All week I have been torn between wanting to put some new teaching skills to work and the desire find a lonely mountaintop where I can just sit and think.

In the end, teaching won out (of course), and cold rain dampened my mountain climbing desire. I did manage to find enough quiet time to wrangle the stampeding thoughts about my trip enough to be able to share some of them.

I participated in two workshops while I was at Kripalu, Nourishing the Teacher, taught by Danny Arguetty and Anjali Budreski, and Seane Corn's Empower Flow Yoga. The former was intended to benefit my students, the latter was meant to be fun for me. But what does yoga teach us about expectations?

Yeah, a funny thing happened on the way to Kripalu ...

About a week before my trip I was planning to call and cancel. My father suffered a "cardiac event" and was going to need open-heart surgery very soon. He had an appointment with the cardiac surgeon during my planned time away, and I didn't want to be two hours from home if the surgeon deemed emergency surgery necessary. My mother pointed out that they wouldn't have waited a week if it was truly an emergency, and insisted I go.

In the days before I left, I was faced with some new issues regarding my son's SPD, a conflict popped up at the church for one day when I have classes scheduled, and I had a mountain of housework to catch up on. It wasn't until I arrived at Kripalu and found my way to the afternoon yoga class that I realized how much stress I was holding in my body.

That yoga class was the first class in six months I'd been able to take from another teacher. As I settled into the asanas I was very grateful to be able to be the student, just being on the mat without thinking three or four poses ahead. I explored all the tight spots in my body and became very aware of how much my mind was chattering. Savasana was very challenging. I think I'd forgotten how to do it!

The Nourishing the Teacher workshop started the first evening. I instantly loved Danny and Anjali. While I appreciated how knowledgeable both were, it was their openness and generous spirits that drew me in. Then they threw in some chanting and I was very, very glad I hadn't canceled.

My only problem with the workshop didn't have anything to do with the teachers and had everything to do with me. I couldn't get my head around the actual teaching part. I thoroughly enjoyed the yoga classes they offered us, including a restorative class which released a headache I'd been nursing for almost a week, but couldn't work my way back into the teacher mode. I felt like I had no creativity left, I was nervous talking in front of the other participants, and I fought back tears every time we had to do an exercise. I wanted to be perfect, and when I was critiqued it hurt deeply. I was experiencing self-doubt like I hadn't felt since the very first night of yoga teacher training.

500 hours of teacher training and two years of teaching, down the drain.

On the final morning I declined to do the last practice teach and instead cried through the classes presented by others. As the emotions welled up and spilled out, I settled back into myself. When the last workshop session ended I regrouped and joined the Kripalu vigorous vinyasa class because Danny was teaching it. I had a great practice and really felt present. Later that afternoon I took a gentle yoga class which left me feeling very peaceful.

Nourishing the Teacher lived up to it's name, not because I came away feeling like a better teacher, but because it truly nourished me, the scared and overwhelmed yogini, when I needed it most. I am very grateful to Danny and Anjali for creating space where I could be nurtured and retreat. And I trust that my experience was as it was meant to be, with no disappointment or regret.

That evening Seane Corn's workshop started, the one that was supposed to be fun for me. And that is a whole other story...
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Third Day Torture

I made it through my time at home this afternoon without turning the television on. I worked on a newsletter for a few hours with nothing but the sound of typing. It seems my computer runs much faster without Netflix streaming in the background.

Another reason I am more productive without TV.

Now it's Friday night and my husband is torturing me by watching television in the other room. Luckily we have totally different ideas about what makes a good show, so I have no interest in watching. I'm going to curl up in bed with a good book (the one I need to have read for the workshop I am taking at Kripalu on Wednesday).
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Water, water everywhere...

Adirondack Park, oblique view, computer image ...Image via Wikipediaand lots of it is unsafe to drink.

October 15th is's Blog Action Day. On this day bloggers around the world are asked to post about the same issue. This year it's water.

Living by the side of a beautiful lake in the Adirondack mountains, where melting snow keeps the rivers running, you might think that clean water isn't an issue I'd be concerned about. You'd be wrong.

Adirondack Park, the 6 million acre area of public and private land in New York State which was meant to be preserved wilderness, is suffering some of the worst damage in America from acid rain. Almost 25% of our lakes are "dead," no longer able to support the aquatic plants and animals that once thrived. Sadly, most of the acid pollution comes from outside of New York State, carried on air currents from Midwestern power plants, so New Yorkers are forced to rely on the inadequate Federal Clean Air Act for relief. Other pollution comes from the north, outside of the United States and even Federal jurisdiction. Our lakes are sitting ducks, so to speak.

Mercury is accumulating in our lakes as well, turning the remaining fish into toxic food. Run-off from chemical fertilizers and road salt also affects the lakes, creating smaller versions of the Gulf algae blooms. Invasive plants and animals, carried from lake to lake on unwashed boats, kayaks, wetsuits (yes, triathletes, your wetsuits), etc. choke out the natives and further upset already precariously balanced eco-systems.

There was a time when we could drink the lake water, fish were plentiful and no one got "swimmers' itch." That time has passed. Schroon Lake still tests okay, but we may be fighting an uphill battle.

Schroon Lake has a very active lake association fighting the battle. Members volunteer their time to collect water samples, look for patches of invasives like Eurasian Milfoil and inspect boats at launch ramps. I'd like to say we were winning, but really we are just not losing, yet.

Clean water is a huge problem worldwide, and I'm sure many blog posts will cover the unsanitary conditions in developing countries. There are many charities you can support to help. But after you send your donation, take a moment to think about the seemingly plentiful water that flows out of your faucets and what would happen if it was suddenly gone.

We can't live without water. If you've got clean water, protect it. Fight for cleaner power, organic farming and ecosystem restoration, before none of our water is safe to drink.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two TV-Free Days

Kitchen faucetImage by Fujin via FlickrI washed the breakfast dishes without turning the television on! It seems the faucet works even when the television is closed up in its cabinet. Who knew?

After the morning started, I really didn't have much time to miss the TV. My dad had a cardiac catheterization this morning and found out he'll need open heart surgery pretty soon. He is supposed to be sitting quietly and not using the hand that had the catheter, which is totally against my dad's nature. He also couldn't be left alone in case he started bleeding or having chest pains. I spent my free time "dad-sitting" so my mom could go to the pharmacy.

My dad decided to watch television while I was there, but, honestly, he just sits with the remote and flips channels endlessly, so even if I had watched I wouldn't have gotten to see more than 5 minutes of anything. Instead of watching, I pulled out one of my "to-do-when-I-have-a-minute" things I carry around in my bag and worked on that.

Tomorrow I'll be spending hours at home. Let's see if I can do bookkeeping and newsletter stuff without Hulu running in the background.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One Day without Television

The first day without TV was hard, but could have been worse. I've had plenty to distract me today and didn't spend much time at home.

The worst parts of the day were this morning, before I left for errands and appointments, and right now, at the end of a crazy day, when some mind-numbing television show would be welcome. I'm holding out, though. I'm going to bed early and hopefully getting a decent night's sleep.

One day done. Twenty to go.
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Fall Cleanse

LaubBlätter10Image via WikipediaAfter a really good teleclass with holisticguru, I set out to plan my fall cleanse. I was thinking about 4-5 days of steamed veggies, maybe with an all-liquid diet day in the middle. But a funny thing happened on the way to the organic grocery store...

Every now and then the universe gives us a moment of insight. My most recent one came while I was sitting at my kitchen table, having just finished lunch. Season 3 of Nip/Tuck was streaming on Netflix and I was doing some journaling about this week's drawing class. I'd given myself half an hour to write, then I had other things to do around the house. I was already behind on my housework since I wasted the morning before class watching television.

But the episode of Nip/Tuck wasn't over in 30 minutes, so I decided I'd better eat something else so I had a reason to keep sitting there.

That's when the moment of insight hit me. My whole relationship with food suddenly made sense. I wasn't eating to nourish my body. I was eating to avoid unpleasant household chores. I was eating to avoid the physical and mental challenges of working out, running a business, meditating and writing. I don't down a bag of potato chips to satisfy a craving for crunchy or salty food. I put junk food in my body so I have an excuse to be sitting on my butt watching television instead of doing the things that will get me closer to my goals.

I get caught up in television. I have a hard time being in the house without the TV on, especially if I'm alone. If something catches my interest, I'll stop what I'm doing, grab something to eat and sit down to watch. I eat because in my head that justifies the wasted TV-watching time. I'm "taking a break and having a snack." Then I keep having snacks so I can keep watching until I'm forced to drag myself away because I have to be somewhere.

I feel guilty because the bed never got made, since I can't see the TV from the bedroom. I didn't write because I am too into someone else's story to create my own. I didn't get on my yoga mat because I'd have to turn off the television to focus. I didn't go to the grocery store because I needed to see the end of the movie. I stayed up too late watching and couldn't get up early for a workout. I look back on my day and feel like a failure and wonder where all the time went.

Television is toxic to me. It clouds my mind and zaps my energy.

So I decided my fall cleanse isn't about food. Since I'm not having any physical or digestive issues and my weight is what it should be, diet changes can wait. I need to change my relationship with television and stop using it as a distraction from those scary, challenging things I should be focusing on. I'm going on a 21 day television fast.

For the next three weeks, I will leave the TV off and I will not stream Netflix or Hulu on my computer. I will send the Dexter DVD back to Netflix unwatched. Cold turkey.

Today is day one. I'm having a hard time deciding what to do with myself. I'm having arguments with myself about my decision. I'm convinced I can't wash the breakfast dishes without the TV on. Luckily I can get out of the house for a good part of the day for appointments and errands.

More later...

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Label This

This morning, one of my yoga students asked me about yesterday's half-marathon. Another student overheard and said, "Oh, you're a runner." Which made me think, "I'm not a runner. I just run because I have to in order to finish triathlons. Runners are those people" Wait, what?

Is there a difference between someone who runs and a runner? Is everyone who goes to a yoga class a yogi? If I knit a scarf, am I a knitter? Does every activity I participate in give me a label?

That would make me a wife, a mother, a yoga teacher, a yogini, a runner, a cyclist, a swimmer, a triathlete, a knitter, a writer, a housekeeper, a kayaker, a hiker, a meditator, a bookkeeper...

And you wonder why I'm tired sometimes. How can I be all those people?

Our left-brain-oriented society is very fond of labels. We like to put people into named categories. Then we decide which categories we like, which ones we tolerate, and which ones we don't like. When we put someone into a category we expect them to be like everyone else in that category and get thrown off when they don't really fit.

All this labeling makes it hard to experiment, to try new things, because if, for example, you tell someone you went to the pool and swam a few laps, you are likely to hear, "Oh, I didn't know you were a swimmer." Bam! Just like that, you have to make a choice. Either you own up to the fact that you doggie paddled up and down the lap lanes three times, or you accept that label and set out to make yourself fit into that category.

Marketing companies love this. Before you know it you have a whole list of things to buy so you have all the stuff the other people in your new category already have. They make you think that you can't just go out and have fun riding your bike unless you have a pair of overpriced padded shorts and a pointy, aerodynamic helmet. You have to go get yourself a career label to pay for it all.

My own beloved yoga practice now qualifies me for a mega-label. When Satchidananda chanted "om" at Woodstock, could he have foreseen what yoga would become in America? It's too big for just one label. Yoga had to get sub-labeled, because people who do gym yoga aren't like those hippie ashram yogis. Yoga Journal even created a quiz so you could figure out which category to stick yourself in. (How else would you know whether to buy spandex and a yoga mat-sized towel or a white cotton tunic and a pretty woven rug?)

How did something which is supposed to get rid of all the labels get so many labels?

Yes, that's right. Yoga is not about putting yourself into a category. It's not designed to help you fit in. Yoga is about shutting up the labeling left brain and having a really nice visit with the right brain. The right brain is like that kid you hung out with when your parents dragged you to that lame cabin in the middle of nowhere for summer vacation. You know, the kid you knew you'd never see again so you dropped all the posing and were just you around him. (If you remembered his name you'd be looking him up on Facebook right now.) The right brain knows the real, label-free you. But it takes more than a couple of hours and Google to get back in touch.

If only my right brain had internet.

I do things. I try stuff. I have experiences. None of those things are who I am. I am an infinite spirit taking a turn at this finite flesh-and-blood existence we call life. And every now and then, while standing on my eco-friendly natural rubber mat wearing my name-brand yoga pants, I know that.

I am not a runner. I run and I am. That's the difference.
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Adirondack Half-Marathon

I suppose running farther than I've ever run before is a fitting end to my 2010 race season. Getting to run a half-marathon as part of the Adirondack Distance Festival, right here, around my lake, made the end of the season extra-special.

Since it was my first half-marathon, I had no idea what to expect from myself. My longest training run was 12 miles and it took me 2 hours and 21 minutes to complete, so I estimated 2:30 for the entire 13.1 miles. Since my knee was still hurting when I ran 3 miles on Saturday, the day before the race, I thought I might not even make the 2:30, but would be happy just to finish.

The morning of the race was kind of weird. I'm used to being at a triathlon, setting up transition, around 6:30am. This race didn't start until 10:00am. We had to be at the buses that would take us to the half-marathon start (the full marathon is a loop around the lake) by 9:00am. The buses were waiting less than a mile from my house. My husband drove me over at 8:50am. I didn't know what to do with myself all morning.

I warmed up by alternately jogging and walking for about 15 minutes before the race started. My knee was stiff and sore. When the gun went off and I started running, my knee hurt. Knowing this was the last race this year, I decided to let it hurt and I kept running.

Sometime between miles 3 and 4 my knee stopped hurting. I didn't feel it at all. I have no idea why. Maybe the running gods thought I deserved a break. I was checking my time at the mile markers and was running just over 10 minute miles, which is faster than I expected. All I had to do was keep that pace and I would come in before 2:30.

When we made the turn onto Route 9 I really started to have fun. I logged many miles up and down this road while I was training. I knew all the hills and where the potholes and bumps were. People I knew were watching from lawn chairs at the bottom of their driveways or side streets or volunteering at water stations, so I got to hear my name and cheers often. There were bands and musicians along the route and Mark Piper, our infamous local singer-songwriter, managed to get out "Go Debbie" in the middle of a song. I ran past my parents' house and was greeted by my family and some of the neighbors. My aunt gave me water at the next water stop. It was like having the home field advantage.

When I reached mile 12, I still felt great. I knew I had more than a mile left in me, and couldn't help thinking that I needed a swim and a bike ride to go with this run. My pace hadn't slowed at all. I was loving every step.

To get to the finish line we had to make a right turn, run past the church where I teach my yoga classes, then go another block to the town beach. As the time on the finish chute got close enough to read, I realized that I could finish under 2:15 if I hustled. I had plenty left to go faster, so I sprinted and finished with a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes and 21 seconds.

I came in 257th out of the 526 runners who finished the half-marathon (22nd out of 52 in my age group), which puts me squarely in the middle of the pack and - I can't believe I get to write this - in the top half of the finishers. I've never gotten to use the word "top" in any of my race reports, so you can imagine how excited I am.

Next year, I'm trying the full marathon. But for now I'm putting my running shoes in the closet to focus on my yoga practice, put a new knitting project on my needles and spend more time writing. And I plan to spend some time in another pair of shoes. Stay tuned...

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Lake George Triathlon

My last triathlon of 2010 has come and gone. During the weeks leading up to the race I got bored with training, it started getting cold and I told myself I was never racing in September again. Then the race came and I had fun and now I'm sad my season is over. All that's left is Sunday's little half-marathon...

The Lake George Triathlon is an Olympic-distance race. The swim is .9 miles, the bike course is 24.8 miles and the run is 10K (or 6.2 miles). I finished in 3 hours, 30 minutes and 20 seconds. I'm happy to report that, while I'm still solidly at the back-of-the-pack, I improved on last year's time by 24 minutes.

They say that you can't win a triathlon in the swim, but you can definitely lose one in the water. My race must have been a lost cause! According to my training log, I've spent a whopping 3 1/2 hours working on my swim this year (and that includes the two sprint-distance triathlons I did earlier in the summer). I didn't even deserve
to get in the water with that little training. One thing (maybe the only thing, except my friends) that I miss about New Jersey is having a pool nearby. Our closest YMCA pool is a 45 minute drive, if it's not snowing. Even if I could afford the membership, I can't find a way to fit a couple of swims a week into my schedule. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. With proper training I might figure out how to swim in a straight line instead of going off-course 5 or 6 times. Anyway, I managed to do the swim in 39 minutes, two minutes faster than last year. I was not last. And I enjoyed it. If it wasn't for all those people knocking me around as they passed me, it would have been a nice swim on a sunny day in fall.

Since the bike course nearly did me in last year, I was determined to conquer it this year. I felt
like I rocked the bike. I was loving every minute of it, even the hills. Unlike the swim, I've done lots of bike training this year - more than 800 miles on the Schroon Lake hills. I felt really strong the whole ride. The only thing holding me back is my bike. My vintage Schwinn 10-speed just can't compete with bikes made within, oh, the last decade. (My bike was made when I was still in middle school. Yeah, it's that old.) Her tires are too fat to fit properly in the transition racks. And she's heavy. Despite her limitations, my classic baby and I managed to shave 20 minutes off last year's time to finish the leg in 1 hours and 36 minutes. That's huge. But I still want a new bike.

The run was what it was. I ran the 6.2 miles eight seconds slower than last year, in 1 hour, 9 minutes and 34 seconds. Consistent, if nothing else. My knee hurts every time I run now, and I was very careful not to push too hard. It would stink to injure my knee training for the half-marathon and then not even be able to run that race because I blew my knee out in the tri. I took it slow (obviously) and was just happy that I didn't have to stop and walk. Although I'm considering switching to walking. It might be faster.

I finished faster than last year. I was not last. I can still walk. I met all my goals.

When it comes right down to it, while I like to imagine myself getting age-group hardware someday, I'm not at all attached to the idea of winning. I set goals for myself, trying to improve my bike time for instance, to make training more interesting, but I participate in triathlons because they're fun and I get lots of satisfaction out of completing the race, not because I have any expectation of winning. (Besides, it's easier to find your times when you're on the last page of the results.) So next year I'll tackle a longer distance for the challenge of finishing and the joy of training. And because it's a good excuse to get a new bike.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ten Days of Zazen

A zafu, the traditional seat cushion used in z...Image via WikipediaWhen life gets busy, things like taking ten minutes for meditation tend to get skipped. Of course, it's when life is at its craziest that meditation helps the most. Sometimes you need to quote Nike and just do it.

Since I was feeling unsettled and, admittedly, had been neglecting my own yoga practice, I thought perhaps I should take the baby step of cultivating a regular meditation practice. The day I decided to give it a try I never got around to it. So the next day I did what any anal, schedule-driven Virgo would do - I put it on my to-do list.

(Remember the Milk is a really good online to-do list if you're like me and appreciate those kinds of things.)

The idea of Zazen, the Buddhist practice of just sitting, appealed to me. I'd been researching Buddhism online, on the off chance that there was a closeted group of Buddhists in the North Country I could hang out with and learn from (if they're here, they're well hidden), when I came across Treeleaf Zendo, an online Zen Buddhist Sangha (community). It's a great website. They have a nice meditation timer, a very welcoming forum where I can ask questions and a great video blog published on Shambhala SunSpace, part of the online home of Shambhala Sun magazine. Among the blog entries are 23 entries on "Zazen for Beginners." These ten minute talks cover the basics of sitting, from how to actually physically sit to what's going on in your mind during all this sitting.

For the past ten days I've been watching one of the videos, then just sitting for 10 minutes. It's on my to-do list, so I've made time. After 5 days, I started doing my morning chores faster so I would be able to sit before I left to teach my first yoga class of the day. (Today I wasn't quite finished so I folded some laundry during the video so I'd have enough time to sit.) You know what? I like it. Lots.

Of course, it's just ten days, not long enough to say it's a habit. I'm still learning, and will probably be learning for a long time, if not forever. But I'm excited because it feels right and makes sense.

In the chaos I call my life, that's saying something.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Drawing Class, Day 1

I have always dabbled in artsy things. I loved art class in middle school, but gave it up for "academics" in high school because "smart kids" took calculus. I never considered myself good at art, but I remember the middle school art teacher being disappointed when I told her I'd dropped art from my schedule. I can still picture a pen and ink drawing I did of a plant in art class. I can't remember a single thing about calculus, despite tackling the subject twice more in college. Lesson learned.

So, to fulfill my artsy need as I made my way into the career world, I dabbled. I've tried drawing, sculpting, cross stitch, knitting, macramé, beading, sewing, more drawing, writing, more knitting, decorating...and you get the picture. I'm not good at any of them. I just liked to get creative sometimes. It was a nice balance for the left-brained world of accounting.

Yoga also helped me find some left brain-right brain balance. When I started teaching I found the act of creating a class very fulfilling. When I left accounting and started teaching full time, I felt like an artist. Now, after a year, I feel like a burnout.

Some days I just don't feel very creative. Some days I listen to myself teach and I am sure I'm the most boring yoga teacher ever. On those days my mind, instead of coming up with clever new sequences or adding a word that freshens the instruction of one asana, is busy babbling on about what a lousy yoga teacher I am. Hello, left brain. I guess doing yoga studio bookkeeping once a week isn't enough for you.

My teaching has felt really stale lately, and the negative self-talk is out of control. My left brain has been so busy being a critic that it can't keep track of my lefts and rights. If I don't keep those straight, my students end up looking like they're playing Twister instead of doing yoga. I needed a creative jump-start.

One of my yoga students, Anne, is a recently retired art teacher. She's beginning the next phase of her life by teaching classes and workshops for adults. She offered a six-week drawing class. Last week, on an impulse, I signed up. Yesterday was the first class.

After we talked for a few minutes, Anne told us to open our sketch pads and draw a person. I panicked. I don't draw people. I draw flowers. I draw trees. People are scary. They have too many parts that need to be in the right places. I spent the entire time (10 minutes - an eternity!) thinking that I had made a big mistake, that I wasn't as good as the other people in the room, and that I was never going to be able to face Anne again after this. Why, oh why, couldn't the first drawing be a daisy?

I'm sure you'd love me to tell you that the person I drew ended up looking great. But, honestly, it's pretty awful.

The class got better after that. We did some exercises designed to help us use the right side of our brain, focusing on lines and negative space instead of what we think the picture should look like. By the end of class, my left brain had mostly shut up.

We got homework. I sat and did some this morning. And I don't hate what I made. But really matters is that, while I was drawing, I started thinking that I should blog about it. So after the drawing I started writing. And while I was writing this I started thinking about yoga. Ah, the juices are flowing.

I thought about scanning that first drawing of the person to share it with you, but I really value the people who will take a few minutes out of their day to read this blog and just couldn't put you through that. Instead, here's a daisy...
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Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm back. Or, maybe, I'm not...

Foucault's PendulumImage by sylvar via FlickrSometimes my yoga practice feels like a chore, like just another thing that needs to be crossed off my to-do list. I have to drag myself onto my mat and don't feel any different when I'm done.

Sometimes stepping onto my mat is like finally coming home after a long journey through a storm and climbing into a warm bed next to my soul mate. Yeah, it's that good.

I went through all the craziness of the past few weeks and then, one morning, woke up in a different place. When I got on my mat later that day, everything felt right. I flowed through the practice my body needed, not thinking at all about what I should be doing. When I stepped off my mat I felt very centered and calm. I was home again.

But I think someone redecorated while I was away.

The person I was last time I felt centered is gone. I am different. I have another storm's worth of experiences to ponder. I have learned new things. Heck, I even got a haircut.

Have you ever played with a pendulum? If you hold a pendulum over your palm it might swing wide from side to side or it might make small circles in one direction or the other. My mind feels like that pendulum, sometimes off-center and swinging wildly, other times making gentle circles, getting ever closer to the place where it becomes totally still. Perfect center, as long as you don't move the hand holding the chain. Or think.

I am approaching stillness with a new tool. I have been exploring Zen Buddhism and practicing Zazen, the meditative style of "just sitting". Trying to practice regularly, I have sat for 10 minutes a day for over a week. It's pretty challenging to just sit. My mind has a million things to tell me.

And every time I sit down the phone rings. Seems it's not only my mind with something to say.
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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Downhill Battles

People running at the 2007 20 kilometer road r...Image via WikipediaI am less than three weeks out from my first half marathon and my right knee is giving me lots of trouble. It's okay for five miles, then it starts to hurt. I've noticed the pain always starts when I'm running downhill and lessens when I run uphill. After weeks of repeatedly running uphill to build endurance and speed, it would figure that the downhills would do me in. I don't think I have enough time to fix it before my races, so I guess I'll be the only one running hard uphill and jogging as slow as I can downhill.

Off-season training should be interesting. How can I run downhill on my treadmill?

Life seems to be a downhill battle lately. I have had a hard time grounding. Even long runs, which always seemed to bring me down to earth, haven't settled me down the past couple of weeks. When I try to sleep, I am either having very strange dreams or I am laying in bed wide awake, buzzing with energy, but without the strength to sit up. It's all I can do to roll from one side to the other. I've tried cutting back my training, thinking it was muscle fatigue, but it made no difference. Yoga helps me ground a bit, but it doesn't last. I've been trying to meditate as much as I can and, while I can sit for 30 or 60 minutes at a time, once I move back into the day-to-day stuff I start to buzz again.

It would be great if I could focus all this energy on my to-do list, but it's very scattered and I find it difficult to do even small household tasks without getting tired. The excess energy isn't making it into my muscles. It just makes static in my head.

Tristan's Occupational Therapist has been working with him on "slowing his engine down." We've been giving him crunchy and chewy foods, practicing push-ups against the wall and sun salutations, and compressing his joints every night before he goes to sleep. He had a successful first day of school. I breathed a big sigh of relief when he got off the bus with a smile on his face. Now I hope he will have a successful second day and not start his own race downhill.

The problem with downhill is you get rolling and it's hard to slow down. It's great when you're racing, but life's not a race. There is no finish line at the bottom of the hill, just the valley before the next climb and, looking back, lots of things you missed while you were flying down at full speed. I'm going to take it easy on my knee so my first half marathon won't be my last, even if it means finishing last. I'm going to continue to try to ground my energy and focus on tasks for short bursts so I can slowly accomplish what I need to. And I'm going to try to guide my son so he can slow down and not miss out on everything there is to learn in second grade.

Now, if I could just get one good night's sleep...
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Friday, September 3, 2010

The Garage Sale

garage sale. Spring cleaningImage via WikipediaEvery year on Labor Day weekend Schroon Lake's Senior Citizen Club hosts a town-wide garage sale. For twenty dollars you can rent a space on the grass at the town beach, drag all your unwanted stuff there and then see if you can at least make your twenty dollars back. I'm not a big fan of garage sales, but after selling the cabin and emptying our self-storage unit the basement is a bit crowded (i.e., I can't get to the washer and dryer without climbing over things).

The good thing about taking part in a garage sale someone else has organized is that you have a deadline. You can't keep putting off going through all your stuff until you feel like doing it. The bad thing about taking part in a garage sale someone else has organized is that you have a deadline. They aren't going to change the date just because you keep putting off going through all your stuff.

My mom, who is a big fan of getting rid of stuff, whatever the method, and who is also a big-wig committee chair or something of the Senior Citizen Club, rented us a space for the garage sale. She did this sometime in July, I think. Which means I've had weeks to get my stuff together and labeled.

Nobody should be surprised that I didn't start until this week.

My mom says I work better under pressure. I suppose that's true, since working under pressure is better than not working at all, although the quality might improve if it wasn't the eleventh hour.

So here it is, 10:00 pm, the night before the garage sale, and I'm as finished as I'm going to get with garage sale stuff. The house is a disaster because there are piles of things people didn't want to give up but which have not yet found a home. Tomorrow morning we have to put all our stuff into the cars and drag it down to the town beach by 8:00 am (in the rain, if the weather forecast is correct). And I'm tired and cranky.

I am never again selling anything in a garage sale. After tomorrow, I am officially retired from the junk selling business. There is still way too much stuff in our basement but, if it can't get reused or recycled, it's getting donated.

You are probably thinking that, without the looming garage sale deadline, I will never finish emptying the basement. But I have other motivation. I was just given a treadmill and it needs a home before it starts to snow so I can begin my half-ironman training. Which means that I'll be dragging stuff to the Share Shop in December.

Hey, I work better under pressure.
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gratitude and Hope

Cover of "The Out-of-Sync Child: Recogniz...Cover via AmazonMy seven-year-old son, Tristan, was recently diagnosed with a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). This should probably be upsetting ("Oh no, my son is not normal!"), but it's actually a relief to finally have an explanation for his bizarre and frustrating behaviors and to have a plan to help him in the future. With the right changes, he might be able to successfully navigate second grade.

As usual, when I have a need (whether I know it or not), the universe comes through to fulfill that need. Today I am extremely grateful for the kind people the universe sent my way to help Tristan and me.

A few weeks ago, on a recommendation from the school's Occupational Therapist, we made an appointment with a private center to get more support for my son's school issues. Or, we thought we did. Our appointment never made it onto the Occupational Therapist's calendar. Emily was good enough to squeeze us in anyway, and that first appointment was very enlightening. Today we went to see Emily again and came home armed with things to do to help Tristan settle into his body and, as Emily put it, "slow his engine down." I am very grateful for Emily and look forward to our next session.

During our first visit, Emily recommended the book The Out-of-Sync Child. The following week I had a new student in one of my yoga classes. I don't know how we got on the subject, but it turned out that she was a speech pathologist who worked with special needs kids and was very family with sensory integration issues. She also recommended the book and, when I told her I hadn't had a chance to shop for it yet, she came back the following week with a copy of that book and the related The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun. It was overwhelming to be given a gift by someone I'd just met. I started reading the books right away, and they are filled with the information I'd been needing to understand what was going on with Tristan. I am very grateful for Carolyn and her incredible generosity.

This week, Carolyn brought a friend to class and I was blessed with another student. Then another student brought somebody new. Both of the new students have been back for a second class this week. As a yoga teacher, there is nothing better than knowing I was able to connect with someone right away. I am grateful for everyone who brings a friend to class.

I am grateful for my family and friends, those I see all the time and those I've never seen except in their avatar pictures, for supporting my journey as a mother and a yoga teacher. I am especially grateful for my husband, Rob, who knows when it's time to shut up and buy chocolate. Because of all that they give, I have hope for a bright, happy future.

Who are you grateful for today?
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Balanced and Flowing

Eagle's PoseImage by lululemon athletica via FlickrLife is good, even though this week it's been ridiculously hot again. I'm feeling balanced and energized. I'm getting stuff done - stuff like creating new sequences for my flow yoga classes. Remember that balance sequence from the end of my last post? Since we were already doing all that core-strengthening balancing, why not open the hips too?

Here's a sequence to try. My all-level flow classes can look forward to this one soon.

  • Start in Mountain (Tadasana). Inhale your arms overhead, then bend your knees for...
  • Chair (Utkatasana). Drop your arms to shoulder height and make your way into...
  • Eagle (Garudasana), balancing on the left foot. Keep your weight in your left leg as you straighten your left knee, bring the right foot to your left calf and lift your arms overhead into...
  • Tree (Vrkshasana). Drop your right hand, lift your right foot behind you and grab your toes with your right hand. Press your foot into your hand to come to...
  • Dancer (Natarajasana). Release your foot, reach your right hand overhead and reach your right leg behind you, finding yourself in...
  • Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III). Keep reaching back with your right foot as you bend your left leg, put your right toes down and lift your torso for...
  • Crescent Lunge (High Lunge Variation). Spin your right heel down, open your torso to the right and drop your arms into...
  • Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II). Straighten the left leg and move to...
  • Triangle (Trikonasana). Shift the weight into the left leg, take a chance and reach for the floor in front of your left toes as you lift your right leg for...
  • Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana). Rotate your torso until you're looking at the floor and bring your arms to your sides like airplane wings. You're in...
  • Airplane. Bend your left knee while crossing the right leg behind the left and come down to a seated position, right leg bent on the floor, left knee lifted, left foot outside the right thigh. You are ready to twist to the left into...
  • Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana). Without using your hands, see if you can stand up on your left leg into Airplane again. Reach your hands to the floor, bend your left knee and put your right toes down into a...
  • High Runner's Lunge. Press the right heel down as you swing the left leg back and up into...
  • Downward Dog Split. Open the hips more by bending the left knee and lifting it towards the sky as the left foot drops towards the right hip. Then square your hips to the floor and swing your left knee under your chest to set it down in...
  • Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). Fold forward first, then lift your heart into the full Pigeon pose. You can bend your right knee and reach back for your toes with your right hand to add a quad stretch. Release Pigeon, make your way to your hands and knees, then drop your chest and chin and flow into...
  • Cobra (Bhujangasana). Press back to...
  • Downward-facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Step your right foot between your hands, spin your left heel down and lift your arms overhead for...
  • Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I). Drop your arms behind your back, interlace your fingers and, keeping your feet grounded, fold from your hip to lower your torso over your right thigh. Drop your head towards your right instep. Come up with a flat back and return to Warrior I. Then step the left foot forward into a...
  • Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana). Lift to standing, reach your arms overhead and bring your hands to your heart to end in...
  • Mountain (Tadasana).
That's it! After you do the whole sequence once, don't forget to do the other side by balancing on your right foot in Eagle. And always give yourself a few minutes in Savasana at the end of your practice.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Excuses, excuses, excuses...

Yes, I know that it's been, like, forever since I posted last. I might as well give you the list of excuses, just to get it over with.
  1. It's been really, really hot. I know it's been hot all over and the rest of you managed to crank out some posts despite the heat, but I'm just not that tough. I don't like to be hot. I moved to the Adirondacks to get away from the heat. My house has no air conditioning and even the heat coming off my laptop was more than I could bear. Besides, the heat drains me and zaps all my creativity.
  2. I've been really, really busy. Yoga classes were full over the summer, as the town filled up with seasonal residents and visitors. In addition to my regular schedule, I taught three workshops and took on some additional classes in other locations for the season. I was, actually, doing some writing over the summer, but most of it was workshop handouts and outlines.
  3. I've been training really, really hard. Maybe I didn't train as hard as I could have (see number 1 above), but I've already doubled my 2009 bike mileage and equaled my 2009 run mileage, with a month to go until September's Olympic distance triathlon and my first half-marathon.
  4. Sometimes, after all the other stuff (see numbers 1 through 3), I am too tired to put a sentence together, even when I have time.
  5. Sometimes I just don't feel like writing.
Now that the excuses are out of the way, I thought I'd share a quick update about what my brain has been busy doing while I wasn't writing blog posts.

I've been planning. And organizing. And scheduling. And thinking. Like Winnie the Pooh. Think, think, think.

Most of my thinking and planning is about the 2011 Tupper Lake Tinman. I really want to try a half-Ironman distance next year and Tupper Lake is right here in the Adirondacks, so it didn't take much thought to put that on the schedule. The excessive thinking is about how to train for that sucker. I'm already struggling to keep up with my training for the shorter distances. I'm trying to figure out how to fit it in. I think I can do it.

Unless...(Pick any of the above excuses and substitute "training" for "writing".)

Another part of my plan is to find a triathlon coach. He (or she) must be the kind of coach who won't listen to my excuses.

Of course, some of that thinking is devoted to yoga. I would like to continue to grow the studio, but more importantly I would like to grow as a teacher. I've been neglecting my own yoga needs to keep myself available to my students, but I decided it's time to give myself a vacation. I'm looking forward to five days at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, in October. The first 2 1/2 days will be a workshop for teachers. The second 2 1/2 days will be a Vinyasa workshop with Seane Corn. The second part is just for me.

While all this training and yoga thinking is going on, I can't forget about the three other people and two dogs who would like some occasional attention. I also can't forget the house we live in or the food we eat. I have spent the last few weeks working on streamlining and organizing so we can keep up with the housework, lest more training means that nobody outside our family can ever set foot inside our house without being attacked by rabid dust bunnies.

Did I mention a social life might be nice, too?

I think I've been here before. It always comes back to balance. As anyone who has taking yoga with me in the past couple of weeks can tell you, I've been doing lots of thinking about balance. Funny how practice mirrors life.

(Try this: From mountain pose, come into chair pose, then take eagle. Without putting your foot down, straighten the standing leg and come to tree. Then dancer. Then warrior III. Bend the standing leg and set your extended leg down on your toes for crescent lunge. Flow to down dog, then return to mountain and do the other side. Too easy? Maybe next post I'll add the rest of the balance flow.)
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