Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Beginner's Mind

I love teaching yoga classes no matter how long the participants have been practicing, but nothing brings more joy to my heart than teaching beginners. I can still remember my first yoga class, many years ago, and I recognize the awkwardness, discomfort and self-doubt that accompany the first time someone sits in easy pose and tries to focus on the breath. Anyone can teach a class when everyone knows what to do. We prove our mettle as yoga teachers when the students sitting awkwardly in that first easy pose, discovering stiffness and soreness in cat rolls and, obvious from the looks on their faces, telling themselves they were not cut out for this, come back to the next class, and the next. If they continue, I get to experience the joy of watching the moment they realize they are in triangle pose feeling strong and comfortable, when a big heart-opening let them drop back into camel, or when easy pose is no longer awkward.

We were all beginners once, before we started on the journey of self-discovery that is yoga. In truth, we are always beginners; each time we step on our mats we start from where we are and begin a journey to find something new. To advance our practices we have to be willing to be awkward  beginners over and over again.

We call it the beginner's mind - the ability to try everything as if it was brand new, be a bit nervous but give yourself permission to screw up because, after all, you're a beginner. It's letting go of the preconceived notions of what your practice is going to be like and sitting awkwardly in easy pose, really concentrating on breathing and trying not to guess what comes next. It's kicking up to the wall in handstand and, instead of analyzing what you're doing wrong, simply marveling at the fact that you're upside down.

We are two classes into this spring's Beginner Hatha series at the True North Yoga studio. I'm enjoying watching new practices unfold. If you're in the area and have never tried yoga, the next beginner class is Saturday at 1:00 pm. Don't worry about what you've missed. We're all beginners, after all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Beginnings

"Spring is a heart full of hope and a shoe full of rain."

The plants in the studio window know it's spring.
It's spring break for the school kids in the Adirondacks and, for those who didn't travel to warmer climates, it's been a week of cool temperatures and a persistent drizzle that can't quite morph into a decent April shower. My kids, as well as many others, have spent the first half of their break in bed with the flu. My plans to drag them into the springtime woods have unraveled into repetitive tea-with-honey making and temperature taking. And I am getting to practice acceptance. As I often tell my yoga students, it is what it is.

As nature begins to paint herself green, I find myself again at a new beginning. Over the course of a few challenging weeks I re-created  the business plan for the yoga studio - a very rewarding experience which helped me focus my energy and rediscover the heart of the business. And I saw opportunities to expand the True North Yoga community and bring more energy into the studio, but I also saw that I couldn't do it all myself. So I yelled "help," because in the Adirondacks that's all you need to do and help will show up.

The seeds of ideas, fed by hours on the phone and endless emails with cohorts new and old, have blossomed into a really fantastic late-spring and summer schedule that has me bursting with excitement. (And I'm not done yet.) Every other month we'll be hosting a Reiki Share Circle for the local Reiki practitioner community. Annie Gregson's monthly Women's Circle will continue. The new Body Shop classes will also continue, as will our other classes, although there will be a few schedule changes beginning in May, which I will be announcing soon.

What really has me jumping for joy are the workshops. In early June, Wayne White will be leading a West African Drumming workshop (my toes tap just thinking about it), wellness coach Wendy Gallup will be presenting "Lower Your Cholesterol for Life," and we'll host Todd Cunningham's "Introduction to Energy Healing."

During the summer, Natalie will be bringing her amazing bellydance workshops back to the studio. I will be teaching two workshops - arm balancing and back bends. And more will be added when I get back on the phone.

I will be expanding the retail selection at the studio, and will have available, among other things, Wayne White's CD and Todd Cunningham's new book. 

On Saturday, May 26th, Schroon Lake will be celebrating "Opening Weekend" with an expo at the town park. True North Yoga will be there with information about all the classes and workshops, a bellydance demonstration and 30 minutes of sun salutations to welcome summer. Mark your calendars and join us!

There may be rain, but spring has me full of hopeful anticipation. What new beginnings has spring brought you?

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