Monday, February 28, 2011

Sacred Space

February was a set-up month.  I can't say there were any great accomplishments.  I did get my new and improved yoga studio website online, but most of the work had already been done.  I'm not saying I did nothing.  I was busy making space.

It came up over and over again during February:  make space in my life for the things I love.  Designate space in my home for creative pursuits.  Schedule time in my day for my yoga practice and triathlon training.  Reevaluate routines to limit the time spent on household chores without letting the house succumb to chaos and the laundry pile up.  Plan, rethink, replan.

The affirmations I wrote at the beginning of the year are hanging over my desk where they constantly remind me how important space is.  If there is no room in my life for the things I'm affirming the universe cannot bring them to me.  I cannot have a daily asana practice if I pack all my waking hours with everything but that or, worse, if the house is so messy that there is no room to lay down my mat.  I can't be strong and healthy if I never have time to eat, much less cook a nutritious meal.

When I create space, the universe brings me what I need.  The opening I make gets filled with a flow of energy and spirit, that same divine spirit that exists in everything, and that space is sacred.  The desk where I store and use my art and knitting supplies is my sacred space for creativity.  The expanse of floor I keep clear so I always have a place for my mat is a sacred space for my yoga practice.  Each block of time in my calendar that I designate for something I love to do becomes sacred space.

As a yoga teacher, having a sacred space to teach and share is a priority.  My hope for 2011 was to grow as a teacher and offer more to the yoga community in my little town.  While the space in the Community Church has worked well for the past two years, I have been finding the facilities and the schedule constrictions too limiting to make space for everything I feel I can offer.  When I was willing to open up to the possibility of teaching without the limits of four walls, my Unstuck ecourse was born.  And when I said I was ready to take the risk, space opened up in a building on Main Street that is just right for a yoga studio.

On April 1st, True North Yoga will be moving into that space.  Between now and then, it is my intention to make the space into a warm, calm, visually soothing, peaceful haven for the practice of yoga and meditation.  And into that sacred space the universe can bring what each of us needs.  There will be plenty of room for all of it.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Picture Perfect

The online yoga community is all abuzz about Yoga Journal's yoga model talent search.  I'm sure it was just bad timing (or bad karma) that YJ announced this contest just days after the yoga bloggers got busy showing support for Anna Guest-Jelley's as-of-now unpublished letter to the YJ editor requesting more diversity in model body-types.  And that it comes on the heels of a bunch of hoopla about YJ losing touch with its roots as it got caught up in the marketing machine of American capitalism.

After eight long years (that's 96 monthly issues), Yoga Journal took a break from increasingly idealized (and most likely airbrushed) female models and featured - gasp! - a MAN on the cover.  Matt Pesendian, a yoga teacher from Los Angeles, is sitting very nicely in Padmasana (full lotus pose) on the front of the March 2011 issue.  And he has very nice biceps.  I couldn't help looking at them, since the mailing label covers up everything below his navel (i.e. the parts of his body that are actually doing the pose).  At least I get a break from wondering how some girl's hair can still be flowing and fluffy after working her way into whatever complicated asana she's modeling.

When I look around my classes, I don't see people that look like Yoga Journal models.  I've never taken a class where anyone looked like a Yoga Journal model.  Instead I see women and men of all ages, all body-types.  Each and every one of them is beautiful and perfect, without any airbrushing.  And no two look the same in an asana.  The only thing that is alike in all of them is the light that shines within.

I think you should enter the talent search.  Yes, you.  You are beautiful and perfect and, no matter how well you do the pose or what you're wearing, your inner light will shine.  Get someone to snap a picture of you doing your favorite yoga pose, wearing whatever you would normally wear to do yoga, and submit it to Yoga Journal's talent search.  Let's tell YJ that we want to see real people on its pages.

Want to see some real people doing yoga right now?  Check out YogaDork's Gallery of Diversity and submit a picture to the YogaDork (Shadow) Cover Model Contest as well.  It won't get you a trip to San Francisco, but it will get your beautiful self included in a growing display of very real yogis and yoginis being their very finest real selves.  Which is right where you belong.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I am Yogini, Hear me Roar!

Helen Reddy was finding her fifth Chakra in the 70s...

Does it seem like a couple of months since we were being green with Kermit?  Did I ever say this Chakra exploration was going to be quick?

I have been enjoying some heart-chakra-opening pursuits of late, recharging my creative side and engaging in extreme self-love.  Now I'm ready to climb the next rung of the Chakra ladder to tell you all about the fifth Chakra.

Vissudha, the fifth Chakra, glows bright blue in the throat and is all about - say it with me - communication.  From Vissudha comes the desire, and the right, to speak and be heard.  We're not just babbling on here, though.  This is where we speak our truth, find our own voices and, also, listen as others speak their truths.

A healthy throat Chakra inspires honest, clear and positive expression of thoughts and feelings, through spoken or written words or through the arts.  When what we say resonates with others, Vissudha is spinning freely.

Vissudha provides an way to express and release all the feelings and emotions that build up in the lower Chakras.  When it's blocked, we find the quiet types who silently hold onto feelings of hurt, pain or anger.  The shy ones, afraid of speaking out, clench their jaws and build tension and toxicity in their necks and shoulders as they swallow their words.

As in all the Chakras, we can have too much of a good thing.  When Vissudha's volume is cranked up, we find the gossipers, loud folks we can hear over everyone else at a party, and people who never let you finish a sentence without interrupting.  Listening is as important to communication as speaking, and an over-active fifth Chakra makes a poor listener.

When Helen Reddy started telling us to hear her roar, she was sparking a bright blue flame for women who, at the time, were just starting to add their voices to the previously all-male chorus of American society.  We could all use a good roar every now and then to keep Vissudha balanced.  Next time you're on your yoga mat, enjoy a "raaarrrrr" in Simhasana (lion's pose).

Stay on your mat a bit longer and try throat-stimulating Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and Halasana (plow).  A good neck roll to loosen up tension can open up the fifth Chakra as well.

Off the mat, we can chant, sing, scream or shout, tell jokes or stories - anything that gets sounds coming out of your mouth.  We can also express buried emotions by drumming, dancing, or painting, or sitting quietly and letting them all pour into your journal.  Keep listening skills working by listening to songs, stories or the sounds of nature.

Need inspiration?  Sing along with Helen.  Let's hear you roar!

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Unstuck: a 21-day yoga e-course to get you onto your mat

Announcing my very first yoga e-course!


the 21-day get yourself onto your yoga mat and start moving e-course


Next session:  March 6 - March 26, 2011


Take this e-course if you want to:
~start (or jump-start) an oh-so-good feeling home yoga practice
 ~meditate daily to improve focus and find your inner calm.
~climb out of your exercise rut.
~discover what motivates you to get on your mat.
~get moving!

You will receive:

+Unstuck emails in your inbox every morning
+a new asana practice to try each day
+daily meditation instruction and tips
+thought-provoking journal prompts and exercises
+two 30-minute audio yoga classes each week
+yoga, fitness and nutrition information
+email access to me throughout the course
+an  invitation to our Unstuck online community
+support and encouragement while you create a practice that can last a lifetime

Sign up now and make a commitment to 21 days of getting on your yoga mat, being good to your
body, quieting your mind and getting in touch with the most important person you will ever meet -

Questions?  Contact Debbie at

While the yoga postures presented in this course are suitable for most people, you may need to modify or skip some postures due to certain physical or medical conditions. It is up to you to listen to your body and you will be responsible for your choice to practice or not practice the postures presented. It is recommended that you check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Facing fears...and giving gifts

I don't like myself.  I'm crazy about myself."
~Mae West

Thanks to some fear-facing inspiration from Shannon and the participants of Inside Out, I took a big, deep breath and recorded my first podcast yoga class.  This fulfills a promise I made to some of my "summer" yoga students who headed to warm southern states when the leaves started to turn.  It sounded like a good idea at the time, but when faced with the reality of speaking into a microphone for an hour and having my every imperfection recorded and broadcast to the internet, I was scared.  The fear kept me procrastinating for months.  Today I broke through that fear, put my trust in the creative process and, after six hours of learning to use the recording software and site uploading stuff, the first podcast is done. 

In the spirit of Valentine's Day and everything I've learned in the e-course, this yoga class is all about opening your heart to love yourself.  It's my gift to you.  You can listen here, or on my podbean site.  Enjoy!

It wasn't easy to get to the point where I feel I have something valuable to share with the world.  This morning, as I battled the last of the feelings of self-doubt before clicking the "record" button, this song came to mind.  I saw Paula Cole perform this song at Lilith Fair in 1996 (yes, I'm that old) and it's one that I need to listen to every now and then.  One more gift of self-love for you.  And the yoga-minded will appreciate the chakra journey in the video.

Paula Cole - Me (Official Music Video). Watch more top selected videos about: Paula Cole

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Still Playing with Paint

I can't get enough of acrylic paint. I'm like a kid with the cardboard box some new toy came in. I want to keep playing with the paint to see what else I can turn it into.

Lucky for me that the Inside Out e-course gives me lots of excuses to pull out the paint brushes.

Last week, while I was in the throws of collage-making, my desk got a bit messy. Alright, it was more than a bit messy. (The word "disaster" was thrown around.) I had cut out many, many pictures and words, but not all of them made it into the finished collages. Some just didn't fit into the theme, some took up too much room on the page and there were some that, when I looked at them again, I couldn't remember why I'd cut them out in the first place. These leftovers were in a disorderly pile on one side of my desk.

One particular image really appealed to me, but it was large and didn't seem to fit in anywhere. It was in the leftover pile, which was slowly getting spread around my desk as other things were stacked on top of it. I guess I was meant to do something with it, because that picture kept finding its way into my hand. It seemed that every time I looked for a different piece of paper I ended up holding this particular image. It stuck to everything I picked up.

Today we were supposed to paint intuitively. My intuition told me to use that magazine clipping. Then it wouldn't be free to jump into my hand anymore.

I glued it down to a page in my visual journal, then painted on it. I let it dry, then I painted more. And so on. And here's what I got:

Nobody's surprised that it has a yoga theme, right?

Oh, and after a week of coughing every time I tried anything except sitting-upright-on-the-couch-inhaling-Vicks-asana, I was finally able to get on my mat. Overjoyed at being there, I played. I put myself through obnoxious sequences (that I would never ask my students to do, in case any of them are reading this) and laughed when I fell over. I did handstands against the wall with poor alignment. I flipped my down dog into wild thing just because I can. It felt great to get my asana in gear again.
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