Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Shiny Floor and a Surprise Revealed

We are sneaking up on the April 4th opening of the new yoga studio and it is almost ready.

The floor is shiny, or, at least, it was until it dried.  My dad isn't satisfied with the finish, and showed up today with another bucket of polyurethane, which he will apply tomorrow.  He'd never be able to focus in Gentle Yoga if he had to look at a less-than-perfect floor, so there was no point in telling him it was good enough.  I'm going to lose a couple of days while the second coat dries, but it won't stop us from opening on schedule.  The last things that need to be done can wait until the weekend.

Today I went there equipped with my sewing machine and altered curtains for the front windows.

Rob stopped by after work and hung some shelves for me.

While I was working on the curtains, my friend Annie finished that surprise I told you about a couple of posts ago.  It started out like this...

Progressed like this...

And ended up like this...

It is based on a graphic from the studio's website, except for the butterfly, which Annie said needed to be there because it's me.  I love butterflies and the transformation they represent.  It is a fitting symbol for this new stage in my yoga teaching journey.

While Annie wasn't working on the mural, she was busy painting the sign that will hang outside.

Thank you Annie!  You are amazing!

Next up...watching a floor dry.
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Finding the Zen in Sanding Floors

With seven days left until the new True North Yoga studio opens for classes, the excitement is really starting to build.  I'm already enjoying being on Main Street.  Whenever we are there working friends who walk by stop in and say "hi."

The last big job to get the space ready is almost complete.  We cleaned up the paint cans, brushes and rollers and turned our attention to the floor.  When I looked at the space, I fell in love with the floor.  It's not perfect.  The building is 70 years old and has been renovated a number of times.  There are now three sections of flooring, each a different wood, and the floor is a bit wavy in spots.  After practicing yoga on a cold tile basement floor for the past two years, however, the feel of the warm wood appealed to me, imperfections and all.

The floor had seen lots of wear and tear over the past seven decades, so I decided the best thing to do was refinish it.  I am very blessed because my dad is a master of remodeling and was happy to help me with the floor.  Well, maybe not happy, but it was an opportunity to play with a really big power tool, so he wasn't unhappy.

Sanding the floor took a long time.  My dad, my husband and I worked for nine hours on Saturday to complete the rough sanding.  For the most part, I worked the tiny sanding tool around the edges, but I did get a turn with the big drum sander.  Once I got the feel for it, and stopped gouging the floor, I discovered that sanding a floor can be very meditative.

(Please don't try to this with other power tools, especially those with sharp edges, like chain saws and wood chippers.)

It is important to sand with the grain of the wood, so there is lots of walking slowly forward and backward, keeping the sander going in one straight line.  Certain spots needed a number of passes, so I walked the same line over and over.  The sander is very loud, and after awhile forming any kind of thought became impossible.  I just walked very slowly and focused on guiding the sander along the edges of the floor boards.

I was feeling very zen when my father got bored and took the big power tool back, and I was stuck with the very un-zen high-pitched whine of the tiny sander.

900 square feet didn't seem that big until we were sanding, and sanding, and sanding for hours.  After taking off layers of dirt, old finish and all the rough parts of the wood, we were left with quite a bit of saw dust.

This is what 900 square feet of sawdust looks like.  (Yes, the entire can is full of nothing but sawdust.)

Sunday morning we went over the floor again with a finer grit sandpaper to make it smooth.  We made it as smooth as we could for the barefoot yogis and yoginis.

It took nearly an hour after the sanding was finished to clean up all of the dust.  Finally my dad declared the floor ready for stain.

While the first corner of stain went on, I held my breath.  (I did the same thing when we started putting paint on the walls.)  I agonized over the color choice and hoped that the stain was dark enough to hide some of the imperfections but not so dark that it would hide the wood grain.  I hoped it wasn't too red, or too yellow.  I think I got it right.

Staining the floor took most of the afternoon, but shortly after 5:00pm my dad, kneeling in the doorway, put the last bit of stain on.  Then we locked the door and left it to dry until tomorrow, when the floor will get a coat of clear polyurethane.

Once the polyurethane is dry, I get to play.  Curtains and pictures, coat hooks and plants - these are a few of my favorite things.

Meanwhile, my dear friend Annie, who painted with me nearly every day, got the opportunity to show her incredible etchings as April's featured artist in Willows Bistro in Warrensburg, New York.  I am thrilled that she is getting the opportunity to showcase her art and I'm really looking forward to going to the opening reception.  Annie was there today to hang her art, and she brought back Chinese food, which is a huge treat for us because Schroon Lake doesn't have a Chinese restaurant.  Then she invited my family for dinner.

I have been truly blessed.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's a surprise...

And I'm not going to tell you what it is.  Not yet, anyway.

I'm just going to tease you with this picture, taken today at the new yoga studio, and let you wonder what's going on.

What I will tell you is that painting is complete.  Well, it's pretty much complete.  There is one side of a door that needs a second coat of paint, and little touch-ups to be made here and there.  But it makes me happy to think that it's complete, so that's what I'm going to think.

This evening's yoga students were very amused by the paint in my hair.  And the paint streaked on my face.

I'm ready to do something besides paint.

Which is why I'm excited that we pick up the floor sander tomorrow.

Rob is painting, too, down in his workshop.  Isn't it beautiful?  He calls it "Nine Months of the Year in Schroon Lake."  I'm thinking that he may be getting tired of snow.  Honestly, I'm ready for it to melt, and I like the snow, so his piece resonates with me.

The Museum of Modern Art said they'd take down one of those silly Jackson Pollock canvases to hang "Nine Months."  Rob told them to talk to his agent.

(It's really the start of the sign that will hang outside the new space.  I didn't fool anyone, did I?)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just one more day...

...and we'll be done painting.  Except for one thing, but that's a surprise.

My pictures today are, yes, more painted stuff.  But there are milestones here, big milestones.

The first milestone was the ceilings being finished.  This yogini's neck and shoulders are oh, so happy about that.

Thanks to Rob and his big bucket of tools, there are now shelves where once there was a gaping hole.  As soon as the sales tax authorities say "yes" and give me a nice number of my very own, I'll be loading those shelves with books, CDs and DVDs for sale.

Today we hit the biggest milestone thanks to Annie and her cutting-in skills.  The green walls are finished!

Tomorrow I'll finish the trim.  Next up, the surprise.  After that, the floor.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Still Painting...

...but we're getting closer to the day when we lay our tired paint brushes down and unroll our yoga mats.

One day I'll have a picture of someone doing something besides painting, but today is not that day.

My dad came home from a business trip just in time to pick up a roller.  Then he left again.  Hmmmm....

Annie, the cutting-in queen, is at the top of the ladder, and the top of my gratitude list this week.

All four walls have paint on them now.

Today my husband, Rob, was busy doing some minor repairs, adding trim and building shelves.  He'll be back tomorrow for more of the same.

I've almost got the ceiling painted.  There is just one small corner left.  I've used all my balance and backbending skills standing on a ladder, bending way back and reaching out with the long painting pole for that last little bit of ceiling...

I could have climbed down and moved the ladder, but what good are all those mad yoga skills if you don't use them, right?

Now I'm off to stare at the "supermoon."  Between the big, gorgeous moon and the spring equinox, the energy is crazy.  If you've got something to manifest, catch this wave.  Stuff is going to be busting out all over the the place soon.  Can you feel it?

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Creating Sacred Space

After getting the key to the empty store front that is to be the new True North Yoga studio, I've been busy, busy, busy...  and loving every minute of it.

Here's me in the big empty space right after I got the key.

Then the work starts.  My husband, Rob starts spackling.

My son, Tristan, is a great window cleaner.

My mom joins the cleaning fun...

...and brings snacks.

Then painting begins. I got help from some awesome yogini painters:  Sharon, Anne, Ginny  and my mom.

When the walls were covered with primer we started on the color.  After school my kids came by to help.

One gorgeous green wall is almost done.

I'm looking forward to teaching some yoga tomorrow morning, then I'll be back here painting again.  I'm really excited about moving into this great space.  (Can you tell????)

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Sadhana and Snow Days

Snowflake. Small microscope kept outdoors. Sna...Image via WikipediaWhat was supposed to have been mostly rain with some accumulating snow overnight turned into the biggest snow storm of the year.  Yesterday morning's rain turned to snow at 1:00 pm and it hasn't stopped coming down yet.  The wind has blown the 18 or more inches of snow into big drifts.  That groundhog from Pennsylvania doesn't know anything about North Country winters.  When Punxsutawney Phil wasn't seeing his shadow, our groundhogs were still fast asleep in their burrows.  Winter never leaves here early.

The county declared a state of emergency, the schools closed, and I was forced to cancel today's yoga classes.  It's a snow day - a day to stay home, goof off, drink hot chocolate and play in the snow.  Or is it?

One thing I've learned about running my own business is there's always something to do.  More often than not, there's more to do than there is time to do it.  I struggle to find the proper balance between doing too much and neglecting the rest of my life, and doing too little and letting undone work pile up.

While in yoga teacher training I wrote a paper on the yogic concept of Sadhana.  Sadhana is a systemized spiritual practice with the goal of attaining some level of spiritual realization.  It is choosing something to practice, doing it regularly, and finding enlightenment, or receiving insight, or doing a handstand.  Directly translated, Sadhana means "discipline."

The difference between doing something every day and Sadhana is the intention.  Without an aspiration, a goal, what you do regularly is just part of a routine, like brushing your teeth every morning.  It is the difference between showing up at work every day because if you sit there for eight hours you'll get paid and working hard for little money because if your research succeeds the alternative fuel source you develop will save the world from global warming.  It is the difference between hopping on your yoga mat when you feel like doing yoga and rolling out your mat every day, at the same time, and practicing every asana on your list for a month, or a year, or five years.

Life in an ashram revolves around Sadhana.  Ashram-dwellers have the same schedule every day, practicing over and over until they get to some higher spiritual place.  They are totally committed to their aspirations and put the rest of life aside until they reach their goals.

Ashrams don't have snow days.

Most of us haven't renounced the rest of our lives for our Sadhana.  We are what the yogis call "householders" - the people who go to work, raise families, cook, clean, wash laundry and, some days, shovel snow in addition to their yoga practice.  I am lucky because teaching yoga classes is part of my practice of yoga, but there is plenty about running a yoga studio that isn't.  Working Sadhana into an already busy life takes a great deal of, well, discipline.

My twitter and blogger friend Kelly is one of the most disciplined triathletes I know.  She is a wife, a mom to a child with special needs, a musician, a teacher, and trains consistently and passionately for her races.  Each week she blogs her training numbers and reminds me that I am supposed to be getting on the treadmill myself.  Yesterday, her blog entry was less about training and more about some family struggles she faced that required her to skip some of that training.  It reminded me that sometimes I have to let the balls of Sadhana drop so I can hug my kid.  That's what it means to be a householder.

So what do I do with this snow day?  Should I be disciplined and declare a work day, because that's what I would be doing if it hadn't snowed?  Or do a take advantage of the unexpected time at home with my family and make some hot chocolate?

As of now, my plan is for alittle of both.  With an extra hug or two thrown in.

Side note:  I have just completed the first week of triathlon training during which I completed every workout I was supposed to since my race season ended last September.  After recovering from last fall's knee injury it was difficult to get going again, and I am paying for my lack of consistency by running very, very slowly.  I'm glad I have six months before the Big George half-iron distance triathlon.

Thanks to the #365yoga crowd on twitter, my home asana and meditation practice has gotten much more consistent.  There is a snippet of ashram-life on twitter - community.  It's much easier to be disciplined in a group.

This morning, while my family was having a snow day sleep-in, I road my bike on the trainer in the basement and did my yoga and meditation practice.  Sadhana was not completely lost in the snow drifts.
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Light in You

Prônam MudráImage via WikipediaWhat's with the Namaste-ing, anyway?

Yoga teachers like to say "Namaste."  Yoga students like to say "Namaste" in response.  If you're new to yoga, or never gave it any thought, you might have no idea what "Namaste" means or why people keep saying it to you.

Namaste is a big word with a really deep meaning.  Quick-and-dirty translations from Sanskrit would be "the light in me honors the light in you," or "the divinity in me bows to the divinity in you," or "I love you because we are one."  See what I mean about it being a big word?

What is this light, or divinity, thing?  It's your soul, your true self, that is part of a universal oneness and inhabits your body in order to exist in this lifetime.  Some people call it the spark of life.  Other people consider it that which makes people God-like.

It really doesn't matter what you call it.  What's important is that you recognize that whatever it is in you - your soul, your light, your spark - it also exists in everyone else.  "Namaste" acknowledges that we are all the same in having this divine light, and therefore every person is worthy of your respect and love.

The spiritual leader Ram Dass uses a lovely definition of Namaste.

I honor the place in you where the entire Universe resides.  I honor the place of love, of light, of truth, of peace.  I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.
There is only one of us, at the core.  Therefore, every kindness I do for another I also do for all others, and for myself.  We are connected at a level of existence that my mind cannot grasp, but I have faith that it is there.  I reinforce that faith each time I say "Namaste."

The light in me respects, honors, loves and bows to the light in you. 
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