Friday, December 21, 2012

On the Winter Solstice 2012

In the dark waiting womb
there is a quiet rhythm,
the sound of intention unmanifest.
It will become with a wail.

To call the first tendril of pink
from beyond the horizon,
a feathered minstrel lifts its head
and trills its morning anthem.

Do not sit silent in the growing darkness.
The universe was not born in a flash but a bang,
the resonance of the heart of the Divine,
speaking its name into all of creation.

Invite the sun with song,
be it frenzied drumbeats,
melodious carols, quiet lullabies
or the echoing sound of om.

All songs are one song,
as all hearts are one heart.
Sing your Divine name
into the creation of a new age.

And when, in the deepest darkness,
your song fades to stillness,
a collective pause for breath,
listen. Listen for the waiting refrain.

Listen for the muted pulse of love.
Listen for the hushed jingle of peace.
Then take up their song, your song,
and roar them into being.

(c) Debbie Philp 2012

As we step over the threshold from autumn to winter, from darkness to light, from violence and hatred into the blank slate of a new day, I wish you peace and love. Sing their song with all of your heart. Pass it on.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This is not my Winter Solstice post

Shakti (Photo credit: rouwkema)
This is not my post. My post, which I spent hours outlining and researching, was about inviting the divine feminine into the celebration of the Winter Solstice. This is not the post I intended to write.

This is not my post because today a man with a gun took the lives of twenty children and six adults in an elementary school and I can't read my outline through the tears that keep flowing. This is not a personal tragedy - I do not know anyone in Newtown, Connecticut - but a universal tragedy that stabs at my heart as I'm sure it stabs at the hearts of all parents.

Over the past few weeks, this mother's heart has been shaken, beaten and trampled by sadness, fear and, with its own way of pounding my insides, joy. But that is what a mother's heart is for. Every change, welcomed or not, is like a birth, complete with expansion, discomfort, movement and, sometimes, seemly unbearable pain. Then there is a new creation, but it's naked and bloody and screaming and demanding. And it will be loved and nurtured with every cell of a battered and bruised heart.

Changes as simple as the reassignment of household chores were uncomfortable. The switch to homeschooling brought fear with the adjustments. Finding out my daughter needs to explore life instead of reading about it in college textbooks is pulling my heart in so many different directions I expect it to tear into pieces. There have been losses in my circle of friends and within our community. Not long ago I watched helplessly as my childhood home was devastated by a hurricane. And then, just as we slip into the final week before the foretold longest night to beat all longest nights, there is the grief of universal tragedy. But that's what a mother's heart is for.

Tonight I lit a candle to mourn the loss of children, but my tears are for their mothers who, when the pain subsides, will have given birth to an emptiness that will need care and compassion forever. And my tears are for a world that is clinging to hatred, violence and chaos and collectively digging in its heels to slow the slide into the terrible pain of rebirth, afraid of what the new creation, ultimate freedom and love, may demand of it. But each and every one of us is the embodiment of Shakti, the female power that creates the very change we are fighting to stop. We all have a mother's heart. We have the strength to bear the pains of sadness and fear and joy, and together we can create a new world. All we have to do is let go of everything except each others' hands.

Perhaps the divine feminine is here for the Winter Solstice, invited or not. Maybe this is my post.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pin This Post

Pinterest makes time disappear. I lose an hour here, an hour there, happily pinning clever ideas. However, like a box full of pages torn from magazines (remember those?), I tend to collect pins of recipes and crafts that I will never, ever try.

Tonight I found myself with some unexpected time. The Reiki Share I was supposed to attend was canceled because our dear Reiki Master couldn't escape the bug that's going around our area. After sending her some energy, I decided the universe was giving me time to try a couple of those pinned ideas.

The first pin, which I delegated to Tristan, was Twiggy Tree ornaments from the blog michele made me. I decided to ignore the fact that the slightly over-achieving Michele was making these in July, leaving her time in December for things such as a nativity made from egg cartons. These ornaments were easy to make and gave Tristan an opportunity to use his tools.

I left him in the workshop sawing twigs into various lengths and headed into the kitchen to tackle the second pin, Apple Cinnamon Dessert Chimichangas from Juanita's Cocina. I got the apples cooking and went to check on Tristan, who was now drilling holes in the twigs he'd cut to size.

After the apples cooked and cooled, I stuffed some small flour tortillas with the filling and fried them in oil.

While the Chimichangas were still warm they got rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Tristan, meanwhile, was threading his twig pieces onto a thin ribbon.

The Twiggy Tree is lovely. He'll be making more.

The Apple Cinnamon Chimichangas were very tasty. I just finished my second one. My only regret was not having any caramel sauce.

And, now that I've proven that I may actually do something with them, I can resume my happy pinning. Come follow me on Pinterest and see how many of your hours disappear.
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Monday, December 3, 2012

The one thing you need to do to have a really fabulous holiday season

It's that time of the year. There's shopping and decorating and holiday parties. There's family gatherings and festive meals. There's spiritual rituals and secular traditions. And it's all fabulous...on paper.

The upcoming holiday season looks wonderful on glossy magazine covers and in thousands of new pins. All the recipes look yummy and gift-buying guides are full of inspiration.

All we have to do is make time for the holiday hoopla. And pay for it.

Got your holiday stress on yet?

I've had some pretty miserable holiday seasons. And I've learned one very important thing from them. It's the thing that has kept me from driving head-on into a house trimmed with perfectly straight icicle lights, right through Santa and his eight light-up reindeer.

Before you deck the halls, trim the tree, wrap the gifts or stuff the tofu turkey, take this little piece of advice.

Get on your mat.

Unroll your yoga mat every day and practice, even if that means twenty minutes in Viparita Karani (Leg Up the Wall Pose) while tears run down your face because you are going to have to choose between the toy your kid really wants and paying the rent. (Been there, done that.)

Take ten, twenty or thirty minutes a day for yourself to recharge. Not only will you feel less like strangling an elf, but in a moment of clarity you might just figure out how to get those antlers to stay on your dog's head.

The truth is, in this time of giving, the greatest gifts you can offer are your presence and your inner light. And you won't find either one unless you crawl out from under that pile of tinsel and cultivate your own serenity. Trust me, when your youngest finally climbs into Santa's lap and smiles instead of running away screaming about the scary red man, you'll want to be here and now. Practice, so you'll be ready for the really fabulous stuff that comes in moments, not in boxes.

And however you celebrate the return of the sun, I wish you a holiday season full of peace, joy and Adho Mukha Svanasanas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kripalu's Gifts

I'd promised to share more about my trip to Kripalu, and I didn't forget. During my weekend there, Kripalu gave me numerous gifts.

  1. Henna. I was lucky to have my trip correspond to one of the weekends that the talented henna artist Kelly Flaherty was at Kripalu. She blessed me with beautiful floral henna art on my hand.
  2. Awareness. During some juicy pranayama, I became aware that I am only able to breathe through the left side of my nose. I had a cold and an ear infection in the right ear, but I never noticed that I'm not drawing any air in through the right side. I came home with a daily Nadi Shodhana practice.
  3. Silence. One of my favorite things about Kripalu is the silent breakfast. It's wonderful to start the day with good food and my journal, with no pressure to make small talk. I've tried to recreate it at home, journaling while I drink my Isagenix shake. My son has been writing or drawing in his at the same time, so it's somewhat successful, with only occasional discussion about mismatched socks or too hot oatmeal.
  4. Kale. And chard. And tempeh with lemon butter and capers. Kripalu's food is amazing. It's clean, local and incredibly well prepared. I left feeling very healthy and nourished.
  5. Music. Kripalu hosts musical performers most Saturday nights. Our workshop had a Saturday evening component, but I was able to catch the last few songs by Gaia Roots, a high-energy world music ensemble. After having live drumming during the noon Yoga Dance class, more percussion by these talented ladies was icing on the cake. I brought home a signed CD and I can't stop listening. 
  6. Cohorts. Workshops at Kripalu, especially with titles like "Creating Transformational Workshops," tend to bring like-minded people together. That was definitely the case and I'm happy to have new people to reach out to for feedback or support.
  7. Ideas. Ken Nelson's workshop left my mind full of ideas and a framework in which to organize them.
  8. Yoga. Yes, I know yoga has been in my life for many years, but even yoga teachers need a yoga practice recharge every now and then. Daily yoga classes reminded me how good I feel when I practice regularly.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The Thanksgiving holiday reminds me to be grateful for the opportunity to attend last weekend's workshop at Kripalu. I am particularly grateful to my yoga students, who graciously gave up their weekend yoga classes so I could close the studio and take the trip to Massachusetts.

A big take-away from the weekend workshop was insight into my own mental, spiritual and emotional needs. Not surprisingly, considering my latest career choice, I discovered that I am more confident and better at integrating information when I'm moving. It's no wonder that in my corporate job I fell asleep in business meetings and seminars and never remembered a thing that was discussed.

This got me thinking about Thanksgiving dinner, when my minister brother, whom I love very much, starts the meal by saying grace. It's nice to express gratitude for food and family, but when he speaks with his well-trained preacher voice I tend to zone out. (Nothing personal, bro. It's just hard to sit still and listen without my mind drifting away.)

What if we pushed our chairs back from the table and did a moving prayer of gratitude? Moving prayers are nothing new. Dancing has been a form of worship for millennia. The Sufi Whirling Dervishes certainly pray that way. Yoga teacher Seane Corn teaches how to bring prayer into yoga practice in her "Body Prayer" classes.

Monday's chair yoga class helped me work out a prayer of thanksgiving. It's based on a chair adaptation of a half Sun Salutation.

Reach into the sun's energy. Sitting near the front of the chair, inhale and reach both arms overhead.

And offer it to the earth. On the exhale, fold forward and lay your belly on your thighs, reaching your hands to the floor.

Open your heart to receive the universe's grace. Bring your hands onto your knees, inhale and lift your heart, peeling your chest and abdomen off of your legs. Look ahead and press your heart forward through your arms as your spine extends. Lift your chin slightly.

Bow in humble gratitude for abundance shared. Holding your knees, exhale, drop your chin and round your back.

This works very nicely with a standing half Sun Salutation as well. You can speak the prayer or simply hold the words in your mind as you move. Flow through the sequence as many times as you need to feel it becoming part of you.

Another benefit? All that forward folding will massage your abdominal organs and stimulate digestion, so your body will be ready for that big plate of sweet potatoes, tofu and corn bread stuffing. Or turkey, I suppose.
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Party like it's 12-21-12

Thanks to Happy Box 365 for posting just the right thing this morning.
A weekend at Kripalu was just what this yoga teacher needed. I came home yesterday a different person, not just renewed but having tapped into something deeper, something I didn't know was there. I'm still processing and I'll continue to share as things settle.

The weekend was a business trip. A Bona Fide Butterflies cohort and I participated in a workshop called "Creating Transformational Workshops" presented by Ken Nelson and Lesli Lang. While we each had our individual reasons for going, our joint intention was to get ideas for the upcoming women's retreat.

Last evening, while it was all fresh and bursting out of our heads anyway, the group of facilitators met to revisit our retreat plans. Changes were made, and more changes will be made, but we are very happy with what's coming together.

In an interesting juxtaposition, I found out that a friend is planning an "end of the world" party for December 21st, because if the world should happen to end she wants to go out having fun with the people she loves.

Which got me thinking. Are we planning a post-apocalyptic retreat? How can we make plans for a future that may never happen or may be so radically changed that the plans are irrelevant?

I don't think we'll be gone on December 22nd and the expansion of consciousness which I believe has already begun is more likely to be a slow process than a flick-of-a-switch change. But it does make me think about how I'd like to spend the next thirty days.

If this was my last month on earth, I'd try to be more present to the moments, to listen to my children when they speak, to hug more often, to spend time with people who make me happy, to let go and to forgive. I would keep my house neat, just in case I get a visit from some divine being. I would meditate and do my yoga practice every day, and smile at strangers. I would try to notice and appreciate the trees and the animals and eat the bountiful gifts of the earth and share the energy of the web of life.

What if we all lived every day as if we only had thirty more? Would we create the very change that would mark the "end of the world" and the beginning of something new?

If I knew the world was going to end, would I spend time planning the retreat? Absolutely. And I'd enjoy every minute that I spent with the ladies that are the Bona Fide Butterflies, who laugh, share, support and challenge each other and who, each in their unique way, would enrich my last thirty days in countless ways.

* * *

There was so much at Kripalu that inspired me during my stay. Here's a snippet of a song by a group that I really enjoyed, recorded during another performance at Kripalu earlier this year.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Knitting Chaos

While Tristan was climbing the walls at Rocksport last evening, I did some knitting. I had a project that my mom had asked me to knit because she couldn't figure out the pattern instructions. I'd had the yarn for awhile, but it was buried on my desk until yesterday's clean up. I'm glad I found it. It felt good to have needles and fiber in my hands again.

The yarn, Red Heart's Boutique Sashay, is one of those new ruffle yarns. The pattern for a frilly knit scarf was, I have to admit, a bit vague.

Two rows into it I realized why my mother struggled. My mother doesn't do messy. She doesn't fool around with things to see what they look like. She tried to follow the pattern as it was written, and ended up not with ruffles but with a boring stack of cone-shaped circles. Lucky for her she has a daughter who can do chaos.

The trick with this yarn is to be inconsistent. There are "holes" to work with when you are putting the needle into the weave to pick up strands. If you knit in every hole you get cones. If you skip one, two or sometimes three, in no particular order or pattern, you get fun ruffles.

For someone who is used to knitting lace and cables, where strict adherence to the pattern is crucial, this is very freeing. The more "mistakes" there were, the more chaotic it was, the more interesting the scarf got. I'm kind of bummed I have to give the finished product back to my mom.

But mom needs some chaos in her life. I'm just sorry her yarn was lost for six weeks in mine.

This is the scarf, sitting on my clean desk.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Head Space

enbiggen v. to grow a small job in your head until it's too overwhelming to deal with; a technique used by master procrastinators to avoid starting tasks

I am highly skilled in enbiggening. One day I left a few pieces of paper on my desk and when I looked the next day I saw this:

The problem with enbiggening is that after avoiding what would have taken minutes for a few weeks, my desk actually looked like that. That picture was taken this morning, along with this one:

My home office is where much of the non-teaching part of running the yoga studio happens. It's where I do my bookkeeping, create flyers and plan workshops. It's also where I write my blog posts, answer emails, schedule my son's homeschooling assignments, write letters and, occasionally, play on Facebook.

When my office gets messy, I don't want to use it. My brain doesn't focus well when surrounded by clutter. I need open space for my head to function at its best. Besides, my laptop wobbles when it's perched on piles of paper.

I've been putting off cleaning it up, because I'd enbiggened the large job into something monumental and I just didn't have three straight days I could block out on my calendar for office cleaning. But my dear friend and life coach, Annie, stopped by the other night and happened to see the office. She immediately put on her life coach hat and said something very profound like "no wonder you aren't getting anything done!" only much more eloquently and life-coachy.

Then she offered to bring me a big basket to hold all the stuff on the top of my desk. I knew I had to tackle the job, even if I didn't have three straight days, to get my head into a better space, and to avoid dying of embarrassment the next time a friend drops in.

This morning I got out of bed (an accomplishment in itself lately) and started in right after breakfast. Thirty minutes later it looked like this:

An hour later it looked like this:

All I had left to deal with was this:

Those papers were filed or put in an organized "to-do" pile in less than thirty minutes. The job I had enbiggened into a three-day fiasco actually took ninety minutes.

That's the way it is with procrastination. There are so many things I put off because I assume the time I have to give them is more than I have. And some of them are fun things I'd really like to do. Like writing blog posts.

This is where I'm writing now:

Better, right?

And here's a picture of my dog in my office, because she was there and looking cute:

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Being Inadequate

Suffrage Parade (LOC)
Suffrage Parade (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
It's Election Day in the United States of America and I voted. I hope you did too, especially if you are a woman. Women worked really hard to get the right to vote after our Founding Fathers forgot to include us in that document they drafted. I'm sure they just weren't thinking clearly, what with the shot heard 'round the world still ringing in their ears. Good thing some women had the guts to point out the omission and get it corrected.

Election Day, with all its uncertainty and annoying phone calls trying to get me to vote for the candidate I already voted for or, worse, the guy I wouldn't vote for if you held a gun to my head, was exacerbating an already dark mood. See, I got sick, needed some down time to rest, and lost all my momentum. Or, at least, that's the excuse I've been using for the past week for not accomplishing anything except getting the Netflix award for watching the most consecutive episodes of a mediocre TV show without stopping. (We won't tell them I slept through most of them, only waking up when my earbuds got quiet to start the next installment.)

While I was sick and hiding under the covers I wasn't doing my bookkeeping, creating flyers for upcoming studio events, helping my son with math, cleaning my house or the other usual things.

I also wasn't campaigning for the candidates I support, attending anti-fracking rallies or writing letters in support of clean energy subsidies. It's not that I would be doing those things if I was well - there simply is a limit to how much I can do in a day, even if I feel strongly about the issues - but if I'm going to be a slacker I might as well be a BIG slacker, right?

Then the storm called Sandy wiped out places I used to call home and places I used to visit to get away from home. What could I do about that? Nothing. I didn't even have to pull out my Red Cross volunteer ID because the storm left the Adirondacks alone. Which was good, considering I couldn't talk and a box of tissues was my constant companion. But my slacker-ness grew in my mind.

By last night I was again hiding under the covers, convinced that Superstorm Sandy was my fault because sometimes I forget my reusable grocery bags and I'm still driving a 10-year-old SUV, my yoga studio is doomed to failure because I'm not posting enough on its Facebook page and I'm a terrible mother because my homeschooled 4th grader hasn't mastered long division. I was sure I couldn't call myself a runner because I took a break from running in the cold rain when I got an ear infection. Let's not forget that I forgot to water my plants!

I have big goals and even bigger dreams. There are causes which I passionately support. When I'm feeling good I'm sure I can do great things. Last night, however, I had hog-tied myself with all my failures and inadequacies until I couldn't make dinner, much less change the world.

It was only obligations - little things like giving my kid breakfast and showing up on time to teach this morning's yoga class - that got me out of bed this morning. I was vertical, but in my head there was a running list of things I suck at. My Medicine Card deck was sitting on the kitchen table and, out of habit, I picked it up, shuffled, and did a Moon Lodge spread. It's just five cards with animals on them, but it kicked me in the ass.

I won't go into all the details. Basically it told me to sit with my fears and feel my pain until I can see the many blessings in my life. It also said that I have a message to share, but it's not about telling other people what to think or how to behave. It's about spreading joy by being joyful.

Funny thing, it didn't say anything about having an immaculate house, raising a genius or packing my yoga classes. Not a mention of standing in front of the Statehouse waving a sign or sending money to Planned Parenthood. Nothing about manning a shelter in a storm or even paying my bills on time. Just be with my pain until I find joy, then be joyful. I can be inadequate and, in some big or small way, make the world a better place.

I know it's just a deck of cards with animal pictures on them. But today pictures of a rabbit, a raccoon, a hummingbird, a hawk and a dolphin got me through the day without retreating under the covers. Tomorrow I may even make the bed. And I'll be inadequate. Joyfully inadequate.

Unless the wrong guy wins tonight.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Help Hurricane Sandy victims by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Collapsing Routines

Busy calendar
Life had a routine. Then homeschooling happened and all the established routines went out the window. Days don't have the same rhythm, which is okay.

I'm struggling with creating new routines, and wondering if I want to. Days when I have yoga classes to teach have a schedule. Days off have been unfolding in different ways. Some days we have things to do, some days we just hang out and play.

Homeschooling is taking more time out of my days than I anticipated, and that's a good thing. Tristan works independently for some subjects, but for others he needs help or support. During those times I cannot multitask. I need to be present and as focused as I'm asking him to be. Interesting lesson for someone who teaches others how to be present.

Tristan and I are running together, getting ready for a Turkey Trot. He doesn't think he can do a 5K, but I know he'll be ready. He's running a mile easily and going a bit longer every day. Running together is a great time to talk, or practice multiplication.

Whenever I get short on time, the yoga studio demands more of it. I've come to expect it, so I'm calm about the crazy to-do list. Teacher training started and I couldn't be more pleased with the group that has come together. In November I get to welcome two new teachers to the studio, one teaching a Qi Gong class and the other leading a Mommy and Me group. Over the last couple of months we've started a New Moon Circle and a Drumming Circle. And I've got a list of people to call to schedule workshops, as soon as I get a moment.

I'm also working with my Bona Fide Butterflies sisters to put together our second women's retreat, scheduled for January 2013. I love to collaborate with the other Butterflies. They inspire me.

I haven't blogged much. I'm trying to work more of that into my days. What I have been doing is running, following my own plan in addition to running with Tristan. I made it through the dreaded third week when things start to hurt and I usually slack off. I've made a deal with myself - train all winter and I can try my first full marathon next year. I know I can't attempt 26.2 miles untrained or I'll end up in the van that picks up the stragglers. Or the ambulance. Neither is an appealing prospect.

Perhaps new routines will fall into place with time for everything that's important. Or maybe I'll just republish this post next month.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy Dead Baby Bug

Tristan and I practice yoga every morning. Our current favorite pose is Happy Baby, which looks like the "pose" babies get into when they play with their toes. Some teachers call it Dead Bug pose. Tristan calls it Happy Dead Baby Bug. Whatever he calls it, it's a great morning hip opener.

Image courtesy of  Yoga in my School
To get into Happy Baby (aka Happy Dead Baby Bug or, in Sanskrit, Ananda Balasana), lay on your back and bring your knees over your chest. Grab the insides of the soles of your feet. Keeping your thighs close to your chest, bring your feet over your knees with your feet flexed. Your knees should end up outside your arms. Gently draw your knees down into your armpits. If your tailbone starts lifting, press it back down onto the floor. It's fun to rock from side to side. If you have enough space, rock all the way to one side then back to the other.

Start your morning playing happy dead baby bug. Your hips will love it, and it's hard not to giggle like a happy baby. Or a bug. Whatever.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Everybody needs alittle time away...

Sometimes a vacation is exactly what the holistic alternative practitioner ordered. Since I took a vacation from blogging as well as teaching last week, here's a wrap up of my seven days off.

On Saturday Tristan and I took a walk with a wolf named Cree at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge. We learned tons about wolves and wolf packs. It was fascinating and I have even more appreciation for wolves. I support the reintroduction of wolves and wish they would bring them back to the Adirondacks.

Cree howling to his friends while Tristan watches.

On Sunday I ran in the Adirondack Distance Festival Half-Marathon. I finished in 2 hours and 45 minutes, much slower than I've done in the past. Despite all my springtime intentions, I didn't get much training done this summer, so I was happy to finish. And it was a pretty good way to spend my birthday.

All the volunteers at this water station sang "Happy Birthday" as I ran by.

On Monday Tristan and I drove down to New Jersey. Tristan went to stay with his grandparents for a few days and I spent the time with Sheri, who has been my very best friend for over fifteen years. It's been a couple of years since we've seen each other and we had lots of catching up to do. While I was there I got to take some yoga classes at One Yoga and Wellness Center in East Windsor, NJ, the yoga studio where I did my teacher training. And I had lots of fun with Sheri:

A haircut and henna dye for a new look.

A new pair of Vibram Fivefingers for me and a great 3 mile run with Sheri.

Homemade vegetarian sushi rolls!

The best part of vacation was a chance to reconnect.

I'm missing Sheri's company already but I know she'll always be there, even when we get busy and lose touch for awhile. And until the next time, there's Facebook and Skype.

I'm back teaching in the studio and looking forward to the start of Advanced Yoga Studies. There's a great group ready to get started with me.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall Color

"Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.  What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?"
-   Hal Borland

Although the fall equinox is still a few days away (Saturday, September 22nd), the Adirondack trees have already started showing golds and reds. Sunny days are still warm, but mornings and evenings are cool. As one of my yoga students pointed out, it's almost wool sock time.

This is my last message of 2012 to the "summers only" crowd. It seems every day in September I have said "good-bye" to someone heading south, or west, for the colder months. This is also the last message before I close the studio for a week's vacation.

This break marks not the end of something, but the beginning. Fall and winter are going to be happily busy at True North Yoga. We'll celebrate the reopening on the studio on September 29th with a drumming circle to honor the earth under the Harvest Moon. Advanced Yoga Studies, our 200-hour advanced practice and teacher training program, is set to begin on October 13th with a wonderful group of students. I am in the process of setting up a number of winter workshops for self-exploration. And, of course, all of our yoga classes continue year-round for those who stay and brave the snow.

I see fall as a time to regroup and reconnect. While I'm on vacation I will be visiting old friends and family and unrolling my yoga mat on a familiar floor that hasn't seen me for over three years. It's quite possible I'll be coming home with a new hair style. Maybe, like the leaves, I'll change my hair color. There's no better way to honor the new season than to fully embrace the change.

I'm looking forward to time off, and to returning, refreshed and ready for autumn. For those who will be joining me in classes in the months to come I have two words:  wool socks.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Field Trip Day

Yesterday could have been a scheduling nightmare, but ended up a really nice day. I wanted to attend the monthly meeting of the Saratoga Integrative Practitioners Network, which takes place at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, in the morning. My son, Tristan had rock climbing team practice at Rocksport in Glens Falls in the evening. The two things were 20 minutes away from each other, but both over 45 minutes from here. No way I was doing that trip twice in one day.

Thanks to a suggestion from the brilliant Annie Gregson, we had a wonderful, although long, day in the Glens Falls area. We put Tristan in the expansive children's area in the library, where he used the computers to work on his lessons, read for awhile, then entertained himself by riding up and down in the elevator, pushing the floor buttons for people like an old-time lift man. At least he was contained.

We spent the afternoon at the World Awareness Children's Museum in Glens Falls. Annie knows the creator  and wanted to see it. It was worth the trip. They have art, textiles, toys and other things from cultures around the world. The art is all created by children. The best thing is it's almost all there to be touched, tried on and played with. Tristan had a great time sitting on a cushion in the Japanese Room playing with chopsticks.

He banged the drum, then pretended to paddle the Dragon Boat.

He put on a puppet show with puppets from China.

He tried on clothes from the Middle East, Africa and Japan. His favorite exhibit was the Nigerian Marketplace, where he filled market baskets with food (and Annie played right along with him).

The museum is definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. I can imagine a group of kids playing creatively for hours.

Inspired by the Japanese Room, Tristan consumed two tuna rolls at a sushi restaurant, then we took him to climbing practice. Last night, I put a pretty exhausted kid to bed. That is a successful day.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cold Toes

You can find yoga sock patterns of
Last weekend brought a cold front into the Northeast that's lingered into the beginning of the week. It's supposed to warm up again soon, but meanwhile I'm dealing with cold toes during my yoga practice. If your part of the world is seeing hints of the frosty seasons to come, here's a few things you can do to warm up your yoga practice, without turning on the heat (let's remember Mother Earth, please).

  1. Sun Salutations. That lovely flow that opens your whole body is also designed to warm you from the inside out. Start your practice with as many cycles as you need to get the heat into your toes.
  2. Kapalabhati Breath. A fast breath of forced exhales followed by a natural inhale, Kapalabhati will light a fire in your core and cleanse your system. Practice it on its own or add Kapalabhati breathing to a pose like Goddess squat to get a good burn.
  3. Yoga socks. Yes, there are socks out there for yoga. I knit my own toe-less, heel-less socks to practice in when my feet are chilly.
  4. Dress in layers. The same advice we get for so many other activities applies to yoga, too. Two or three layered tops that can be removed as your practice heats up and donned again before your body starts to cool in Savasana will keep you comfortable throughout your practice. I can't think of anything worse than shivering in Savasana.
  5. Insulate your mat. This is a trick I learned from one of my yoga students. Create a blanket sandwich with two mats. Lay one mat on the floor, lay a blanket on top, then put a second mat on top. The mats will keep you from slipping and the blanket will keep the cold in the floor. If you spread the blanket wider than the mats you'll have a warm place to rest your hands during supine twists and Savasana.
It's 39 degrees outside this morning. I'm thinking about practicing in a hat. Can you add anything else to the list?
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

My body loves prAna

One of the reasons I'm looking forward to fall is that I get to pull out my long-sleeved yoga tops. In the pile is my current favorite piece of clothing - my Julz Hoodie from prAna

Julz Hoodie by prAna (picture from
I'm long-waisted and many of the tops out there end right at my waistline. This was fine back in the day, before age and carrying two kids got the better of my mid-section. (I'm starting my Isagenix cleanse tomorrow to do something about that). The Julz Hoodie is tunic-length and falls nicely at my hips. The sleeves are long, too, and actually extend to my wrists. There's an extra-wide band around the bottom of the sleeves to keep them in place. 

Even though it was designed to be a warm-up piece (they don't need to practice in long sleeves in Southern California like we do in the Adirondacks), I've demoed plenty of asanas in my Julz and it stays in place. And it's beautiful. 

Vintage prAna top and newer prAna capris
I've been wearing prAna for years. I'm still practicing a top I purchased before I started yoga teacher training. One pair of capris has been worn over and over again to practice yoga, run and rock climb and they still look new. prAna makes quality clothes and it's a great company. They promote conservation and sustainability and they support rock climbers and yoginis like Chris Sharma and Shiva Rea. 

I also have to mention that their catalogs are art. I have a hard time finally putting each season's issue into the recycling bin.

Do you practice in prAna? What's your favorite brand of yoga clothes?
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