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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Friday, September 7, 2012


A black bear standing
A black bear standing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I saw an Adirondack black bear for the first time a couple of weeks ago. In the western Adirondacks, on the way home from my daughter's college, it ran across the road in front of our car. Luckily there was plenty of space between the car and the bear and he (or she) got safely across. Watching the bear run, one thing came to mind - I will never, ever be able to outrun a bear.

According to this article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and some wildlife experts I know, the dry weather has lessened the bears' usual food supply and they are spending more time around people, looking for a tasty morsel in garbage cans, picnic baskets and even camping trailers. A few miles up the road, a woman had to chase a bear out of her car after she opened the car door then went back into her house for something she'd forgotten. I'm sure the stories will get wilder as the bears try to bulk up before winter hibernation.

I have a wonderful divination deck called Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals. The creators, Jamie Sams and David Carson, based the cards on the concept of medicine in the Native American way. Each card in the deck is a different animal and the accompanying book gives a lovely explanation of the animal's particular medicine and what it might mean when you pull that card. Whenever I encounter an animal for the first time, I make a point to read about it's medicine.

After the bear ran across the road, I discovered that bear's medicine, not surprisingly, is introspection. Hibernating in a cave during winter is a common metaphor for deep inner work and meditation. What's interesting is how much I've been drawn to that very thing lately.

This morning I drew a card and there was bear again, reminding me I need to spend more time looking inward if I want to achieve my hopes and dreams. I suspect more bears will be showing up in my life until I complete the necessary inner-looking. I only hope they stay out of my garbage.
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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Teaching teachers

The Adirondacks is the perfect setting for inner exploration.
I took a big leap of faith this year and created an advanced yoga studies and teacher training program at the True North Yoga studio. We're set to begin in October and I am equal parts excited and scared. I struggle with feeling good enough as a yoga teacher so as I work on the lesson plans I must constantly remind myself that I have something to offer my teacher-trainees.

Teacher training was an amazing, transformative process for me. While I learned an incredible amount from my teacher, the lovely Tracey at One Yoga and Wellness Center in East Windsor, New Jersey, the real teacher was me. Teacher training required digging deep and taking a good look at myself. Through the self-exploration, I found power I never knew I had. Plowing through the Chakras showed me what I needed to use that power for. I was spiritually renewed, and I found I could teach because I trusted in a higher power to guide me.

By practicing asana after asana, meditating, discussing the philosophy of yoga and doing lots and lots of reading, I redefined myself. Even if I had never taught a yoga class, I had a new approach to life. And that's worth sharing.

What I have to offer is a safe, supportive environment for those who would like to take their yoga practice to a deeper level and explore inward. I can give them books to read, asanas to practice and guidance that comes from my own experience. I cannot teach teachers, not really, but I can create sacred space where they can teach themselves. It's going to be awesome.

(It's not too late to join us. There's more information and an application on our website. And if you're in Central New Jersey, check out the teacher training program at One Yoga.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Homeschool 101

School in the top of the Goodnow firetower
Today is the first day of school in our district, but my son is happily sleeping in. We started our homeschool experiment three weeks ago and we are settling into a routine. He'll get out of bed soon and join me for a few yoga poses, write in his journal while I take a shower, then we'll have breakfast. During the week, when dad's at work and I have morning yoga classes, he'll bring his books to the yoga studio. He'll read for hours flopped on pillows in the meditation room and he's been quiet as a mouse.

At home, he's working on the fourth grade curriculum from Time4Learning. The lessons are all online and look like a computer game, which appeals to the geek genes he inherited from his programmer/network administrator father. To keep him from going completely over to the dark side, we're supplementing with Kamana for Kids, a home-study naturalist course for children from the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington State. And lots of hiking and just being outside, of course.

Music was my son's least favorite class in school, so I figured we try something different than the typical music curriculum. Luckily we have a very talented singer/songwriter in town and he agreed to give my son guitar lessons. I hope they all go as well as the first one. Rather than jumping in with lots of things to practice, they started the lesson by changing the strings on the kid-sized guitar. This involved lots of holding the strings and using tools and my son was very happy. When they started to play, my son was given permission to make any noises he wanted with the guitar, as long as he agreed to learn the basic stuff too. They're planning to listen to lots of music together, from classical to jazz and rock. This morning my son asked to play Guitar Hero on the Wii, so I think music might have moved up a notch or two.

All in all, my son is doing well with the new routine. I wish I could say the same for me. I'm still adjusting to my daughter being at college and I catch myself taking an extra plate out of the cabinet when I set the table. I can't seem to get to bed at a decent hour and it's throwing off my mornings. Transitions are never easy and I try to remember to be gentle with myself. Change, while scary, is often good, and compared to some changes in my life, this is nothing.
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Healthy Little Secret

The only thing I cook well is breakfast. Pancakes, waffles and omelets are my specialties. I can also bake pretty well, when I have time. It's hit-or-miss if dinner will be edible. I have five easy "safety meals" that I know my family will eat. Which is why all my attempts at creating healthier eating habits - vegan, whole foods, greens - have failed miserably. I can't stick with it and cook dinners anyone wants to eat.

One of my yoga students introduced me to Isagenix products. I have to admit I was skeptical at first. She finally convinced me to try a couple of servings. Then I bought a canister. Then a complete system. I was hooked, and here's why:  I felt better.

One shake in the morning with breakfast keeps me full until lunch, and my energy levels are staying even. That's pretty important to me, since most mornings I teach at least two yoga classes back-to-back. It can be very distracting when my stomach rumbles and my hands tremble. And my muscles are recovering faster after Yoga Body Shop, when I add hand weights and resistance bands to the yoga practice.

And dinners? Well, I've been working on healthier versions of my "safety meals," adding more veggies and cutting out as much processed food as I can. Making changes over time means I'm not trying to talk a nine-year-old into eating a plate of kale that I've cooked to death when what he wants is a taco. (That nine-year-old likes the shakes, too.)

I'm going to do my first 9-day Isagenix cleanse in just over a week, in time for summer to turn to fall. I'm really impressed with the products so far and I'm looking forward to trying more. My yoga students who've tried it have been very successful losing weight and keeping it off with the Isagenix products, while improving their energy level and mood.

It's more fun to cleanse with a group of friends who can support each other during the cleanse and afterwards. Check out the video below for more information. If you'd like to join me, email me at truenorthyoga(at)

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