Thursday, January 28, 2010


Supported PaschimottanasanaImage by tarnalberry via Flickr

The focus of my yoga classes this week has been acceptance. We've been practicing being present with the body we have today and accepting whatever our limitations are. We've been embracing our imperfection and approaching our practice without expectations, just letting it be what it is going to be. I've been reminding my yoga students that who we are changes every day, as another 24 hours of experiences get woven into the tapestry of our lives.

Letting go of our egos and accepting everything about ourselves, even the things we don't particularly like, is challenging. I'm guilty of sneaking a look at the person on the mat next to me and comparing my form to hers. Sometimes I have to rein in my ego when I guide a student into an asana deeper than my body will ever experience. My tight hamstrings and crooked hips have been berated and cursed - in the privacy of my own practice, of course.

The safest asana practice is one that starts with acceptance. When we approach our mat with expections for ourselves, telling our body that it is going to comply or else, we set ourselves up for failure and a potential injury as we try to force our bodies beyond our physical limitations. A practice begun with awareness and acceptance of our bodies, without judgement, can be very freeing. As we move to today's edge we can explore our limitations and discover little openings that allow us to gently ease deeper into the pose.

One asana that really tests my ability to accept my own limitations is Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold). My cursed hamstrings and a tilted pelvis limit my forward movement. My ego screams in my head as I glance around at a room full of yoginis resting on their legs without strain while I struggle just to reach my toes. For many years I hated Paschimottanasana, gritting my teeth and enduring the pose whenever it was included in a class.

It wasn't until I started working with some students with lower back issues that I found my peace with Paschimottanasana. Working with straps around our feet and blankets under our sitting bones, we moved forward tiny amounts, creating just a bit of stretch in the hamstrings without forcing the low back into an uncomfortable position.

And, slowly, my hamstrings are starting to open.

I'm not expecting that one day I'll be able to fold in half. (I'm trying not to have any expectations at all.) I'm just enjoying exploring my new edge in my practice, rather than worrying about what comes after it. For me, being able to hold the pose for peaceful minutes instead of painful seconds is better than being able to lay on my legs.

Note: my seeds are still hanging out in the soil. Stay tuned...
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gardening in the Snow

January in the Adirondacks is pretty white. Other than the evergreens and the asphalt, there is nothing to look at but snow. This week I found myself missing dirt and green plants. I also found myself buying another little plastic container of "fresh" herbs - dill this time - and I got to thinking about what a waste it was to buy so much when I only needed a couple of tablespoons, especially if I couldn't think of more recipes to use it up.

Our new house has a wonderfully bright bay window with southeastern exposure. My houseplants were already enjoying the sunlight, but there was still plenty of room. What better use of the space than solving both of my problems?

A road trip to Lowes in Ticonderoga yielded a variety of seeds, some seed starting potting soil and a pile of Jiffy pots. Seven pots are now sitting on the windowsill, each with it's own variety of seeds.

And then comes the waiting. And the daily watering. And the waiting.

More to come...
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Puzzle

My family loves puzzles. What better way to bring the family together than gathering them around a table full of puzzle pieces? We have some great conversations while each of us looks for pieces that fit into the section we're working on. Since the kids had a week off after Christmas, I stuffed my daughter's stocking with a 1,000 piece puzzle. By December 26th, it was spread out on the kitchen table.

The puzzle, which, when completed, will be a painting of a grey wolf, is still on the kitchen table. This might be the puzzle that beats us. There are large sections of the background that are solid blocks of color, meaning we have to try piece after piece to find out which one fits. A week's vacation wasn't enough time to finish it, so we've been working on it over dinner. On a good night, we'll find two pieces that fit into the completed bit. At this rate we'll be done sometime this summer.

We've never given up on a puzzle, but it would be nice to set the table.

As the table sits under the puzzle, I've been working on other projects. I took a bathroom rug we moved from New Jersey and cut it to a square to fit our smaller bathroom.
Then I pulled the binding off the extra piece and sewed it onto the newly cut edge. (Hand sewing is no fun. I need my sewing machine.)

I've been doing some knitting, too. I've got a hat for the Schroon Lake Food Pantry, a scarf for my son in Schroon Lake Central's school colors, and some little heart pillows on my needles. What could the hearts be for?

Of course, yoga continues to be a huge part of my life. January brought a bunch of new students into the studio, and I welcome them all. This week's classes are focused on awareness. I'm applying the awareness to my run training as well. Maybe I'll be faster by summer.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010


Now that the holidays are behind us, I'm settling into my first Adirondack winter. I love how the snow stays crisp and white instead of turning to slush. Sometimes, when the light is right, I feel as if I've stepped into an Ansel Adams photograph.

During the past week, it seems that everyone has slowed down. More people are coming to yoga, and I'm happy to have them. I've shifted the focus of my classes to make them more meditative, taking advantage of our natural inclination to come inside when it's dark and cold.

I've slowed down as well. I'm still working on unpacking, but at a less furious pace. Last week we started hanging pictures, and my daughter's room has been repainted a beautiful turquoise hew. My houseplants have all found homes, the light-lovers enjoying the bay window in the dining room. I've found all my shoes, my sewing box and my yoga books. It's starting to feel like home.

There is quiet time now. There is time for a puzzle with lots of tiny pieces. There is time to knit a hat for a yoga student's first granddaughter. There is time to read and write in my journal. There is time to just be.

Of course, winter isn't all about being inside. There is fun to be had in the snow. The sleds have carried us downhill. We've skated on the frozen lake. The snowmobiles have been freed from their trailer and have taken up residence under our deck when we aren't riding them on the trails. Our newly acquired snowshoes are ready for a test.

Since we are close to Lake Placid, we can also be spectators of a variety of winter sports. This morning we watched some NASCAR drivers pilot bobsleds on the Olympic bobsled run. The event got started late, and we speculated that the southern boys had to be dragged kicking and screaming out into the cold. I suspect it's a tad bit warmer in Daytona.

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