Monday, December 29, 2008

Join Me On Woyopracmo

For another year, I will be participating in an online community called "WoYoPracMo" (World Yoga Practice Month). We are committing to practicing every day during the month of January and blogging about what we do. Please join us! Friend me. I am "Yoga Laura".

View my page on WoYoPracMo

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quintessential Poses for Our Culture: Pose I

I have a few poses I consider to be the “quintessential” poses for our culture. The ones that counter our tendencies to keep us balanced. I will be sharing each of these poses over the next few posts. I like to include these in most of my practices to help keep me balanced.

The first is so simple! And there is power in simplicity...Shoulder Rolls. Yep, so easy and can be done almost anywhere. Sit tall, creating length in the spine. Then bring your shoulders up under your ears. Circle them back to draw your shoulder blades together. Circle them down and forward, rounding your upper back. Do 4 or 5 in one direction then change direction. Do them slowly and make them really big. Use your whole upper torso.

Shoulder rolls help squeeze out the tension in our upper back and chest, opening the breath and releasing the upper trapezius. They also help counter the forward hunch many of us have.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Blogging from Love

I began blogging because I love yoga and truly want to share that love with anyone who wants to read. Then I began to feel obligated, obligated to write regularly. I easily go from joy and love to obligation and duty. So, I decided to stop until I felt moved to write from my heart again. I am back! And looking to sharing some of the ideas that have come up in the interim. I will only write when I feel inspired to do so and intend to do so in more areas of my life...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Creating an Inspired Home Practice

How would you describe your home practice? (or the home practice you want to have...) Is it fun? Exciting? Something you look forward to doing each day? Or is it something you feel you should do? The first step to creating an inspired practice is to make sure your reasons are coming from within, the deeper within the more inspired your practice will be. Whenever you feel a “should” come on, your motivation is coming from without. (I feel there is a subtle, and powerful, difference between motivation and inspiration. You can read more here.)

Yoga is so much more than simply a physical practice. You can use a yoga practice to develop yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, as well as physically. The most important step to take when you are considering beginning a home practice or changing the one you have is deciding why you want to practice. Be honest with yourself. If your reason comes from deep within, you will have an inspired practice, and you will be excited to get to your mat. Be sure it is what you want, not want you feel you should be doing! Your reasons can be anything from strengthening the core to getting off your anti-depressant medicine to relaxing your nervous system, to enlightenment. Whatever your reason, if it is truly yours, you will be much more likely to stick with the practice. Your reasons will keep you coming back to the mat.

Once you know why you want a practice, plan the poses around that intention. If you want to create more calm in your life, restorative, forward folds and longer Savasanas are appropriate. If you want to build stamina and core strength, standing poses and strength building poses are what you need. If you aren’t sure what poses will fit your intentions, email me. I am happy to direct you to the poses you want.

Then, to keep your inspiration, be open to changing the focus of your practice. Most likely, your reason will change periodically which will often change the focus of your practice. Flow with it and be flexible. And enjoy your inspired practice!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Top 50 Eastern Medicine logs

Check out this post on on the Top 50 Eastern Medicine Blogs. You'll find a list of blogs for Yoga and meditation, massage, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Health, Herbal Medicine, and Accupuncture. Fabulous!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Spicy Seeds and Nuts

I love this recipe. It is easy, fast, and my whole family likes it (a double bonus!)

  • 1 c pecans

  • 1/2 c sunflower seeds

  • 1/4 c pumpkin seeds

  • 1/2 c walnuts

  • 1/4 c almonds

  • 2 T grapeseed oil

  • 1 t chile powder

  • 2 T agave nectar

  • 1/2 salt

  1. Oven: 300 degrees.

  2. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

  3. Spread ingredients on a cookie sheet in a single layer

  4. Bake until toasted, stirring during the baking process at least once or twice.

  5. Bake 20-25 minutes. (I find the pecans burn quickly.)

  6. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Spicy Seeds And Nuts @ Group Recipes

Yummy Spelt Bread

I love this bread. Yummy and so easy. The bread is very wheat-like.

  • 1 1/4 c water (I never warm the water)

  • 1 1/2 t yeast

  • 2 T oil

  • 2 T honey

  • 4 C whole spelt flour

  • 1 1/2 t salt

  1. Put all ingredients in the bread maker in the order listed. (Yeast goes in the water for spelt bread rather than in the flour like you do for wheat.)

  2. Set the bread maker on regular white loaf.

  3. Enjoy!

Spelt Bread @ Group Recipes

Snow Day!

Duluth, MN
Originally uploaded by tamantha

We had a traditional snow day yesterday...Lovely. I canceled a class so had a free evening I wasn't planning. Just like the old snow days with school! I played with the kids outside in the dark in the beautiful snow fall, then we had pancakes for dinner and watched home movies. What a fun carefree. More of my days will be care free now...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Pose of the Month: Prasarita Padottanasana

The pose of the month for muselan is Prasarita Padottanasana. I am looking forward to exploring this one. It is one of my very favorites!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Month of Giving

We have entered my favorite month of the year. Really. I love this month. I love that we have a holiday that is nondenominational AND all about gratitude. I love that the holidays are around the corner because I still feel the sense of excitement and anticipation of the season. I love that the new year is around the corner. I also love that it is the month to work on my Spiritual Practice in my program called Awaken to Joy. It is just fabulous! All of it.

So, I found a fabulous online community to enjoy my month on. It is called 29-Day Give. They challenge you to track 29-Days of giving. What a fabulous thing to celebrate! Join me. You can find me there -- Yoga Laura. Be sure to make me a friend!

View my page on 29-Day Giving Challenge

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pose of the Month: Parsvottanasana

So muselan is studying Parsvottanasana this month. It is not my favorite pose at all so I am challenging myself to investigate why that is. I have often found that I don't like a pose because it has something to teach me that I am avoiding. I do know that the pose took me right into my hamstring injury I had for years which I recently resolved. Does the pose still remind me of the discomfort? Well, now that I am commited to practicing it frequently this month, we will find out!

Here are some Ideas for Deeper Study. I also taught it in my classes last night (I commited to teaching it in all my classes for the month). This is what we investigated.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What's for Dinner: Pancakes and Waffles

We always have pancakes for dinner on Halloween. Here is a recipe I make for both pancakes and waffles. Enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 cups barley flour

  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour

  • 1 T baking powder

  • 1/2 t salt

  • 3 T honey

  • 3 T safflower oil

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups rice milk

  • 2 t vanilla

  1. Mix dry ingredients.

  2. Mix wet ingredients.

  3. Add wet to dry.

  4. Make them on the skillet.

  5. Yum!

Wheat-Free PancakesWaffles @ Group Recipes

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Spiritual Practice

In Marya and my Awaken to Joy Program, we are exploring our Spiritual Practice for the month of November. How do you define Spiritual Practice? And what do you do for your practice? We would love to hear from you! Here is the blog to go to.

New Pose of the Month

Welcome to November! We are studying a new pose on ...musasana.... This month we are studying Parsvottanasana. Want to join us? Use the month to practice it, think about it, see what it has to teach you this month. There are also ideas on the blog for studying it more deeply if you aren't sure what to do. Then let us know what comes up for you!.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Old Fat Naked Women for Peace

Generally I prefer to stay out of the political arena, but I couldn't resist this one! It is fabulous!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How I Began Yoga

Recently, Karen at Inspirasana asked me why I began yoga, so I thought I would reminisce a bit. Interestingly, yoga found me more than me finding yoga. (Coincidence, right?) I was eighteen years old when I had my first yoga class. I was in college and using it to fulfill my freshman PE requirement, not the most auspicious beginning! ☺ It wasn’t love at first sight. I was involved in western physiology, aerobics and weight-lifting, and yoga was way too slow for me. (Yep, I cringe at those words now!)

The summer after I graduated from college, I was working in an athletic club. There was a teacher there who taught a “stretch” class. (It was yoga, but back then you couldn’t call it that because people thought it was a cult or a religion. No, I was not in a small town. I was in DC! Which means, yep, I have been doing yoga that long!) She was going on vacation and needed a sub while she was gone. I realized yoga was something I didn’t teach yet and thought it might be something that would grow (prophetic, eh?) so being a yoga teacher might make me more marketable (I had no idea!). I agreed to apprentice with her. Truly, at this point, I could say the rest is history. She was my first teacher and I studied with her for many years. I ended up running her yoga studio and helping her design her first teacher training. Over the years of studying with her, I slowly moved away from my western style of exercise (yoga and weight training) to more and more yoga.

I know do yoga because it feeds me in more ways than I can count, truly. It inspires me and through it, I inspire others. I often tell my students that people begin yoga for one or two reasons and continue for a thousand. Why did you start yoga? Why do you continue yoga?

Related Posts:
What Brought You to Yoga?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Help for Your Psoas

The Psoas is a fascinating muscle. (You may have heard it called “illiopsoas” which is what it is called when it is combined with another muscles the “iliacus”.) It is the only muscle that runs from the torso to the legs (all others go from torso to pelvis and pelvis to legs) so it is essential to the connection between the torso and the legs both physically and energetically. It runs from the front of the spine in the lower back, through the pelvis, to attach to the upper inner thigh bone (femur). Its make up is also a bit different than other muscles so you need to treat it differently. It needs to be relaxed, lengthened and strengthened. Here are some podcasts for you to enjoy to help you with yours! You can also link here to a Squidoo lense with all sorts of information!

Top 100 Yoga and Meditation Sites

Thank you X-Ray Technician Schools! They compiled the 100 best yoga and meditation sites for us. They have a brief description of each so you can find what fits you. Enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

Want to join me in Costa Rica for a fabulous yoga retreat? I will be at Samasati Yoga and Nature Retreat Center January 24-31st. You will enjoy 3 daily yoga sessions with me (a early morning wake up, a before dinner stretch, and an evening relaxation.) You will also be able to enjoy eco-tours such as a waterfall trek:
A zipline ride through the canopy of the jungle:
Or spend an afternoon strolling on black or white sand beaches:
Or reading in the hammock on your veranda:
Or sitting in the hot tub overlooking the Caribbean sea:
You will also enjoy 3 gourmet, vegetarian meals daily in their open air restaurant and regular visits from toucans and monkeys!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Clutter: Part II

Originally uploaded by muselan

In my last post I wrote about how old beliefs create clutter in our hearts and we want to keep flowing and growing with life, discarding beliefs whenever it is time to let them go. Yoga can also help! Yoga keeps our bodies moving and more fluid. When our bodies are more fluid there is less chance for stagnation. There is a caveat: you must make sure that beliefs haven’t begun to stagnate your practice. Beliefs can come up anytime anywhere and in any situation, even your mat.

Here are some of the most common beliefs I hear from students:

I will never be able to do that pose...(whichever pose it is)
I will never be flexible
I will never be strong enough
I don’t have time for a home practice
I can do a practice, but I don’t have time for Savasana
That is my bad shoulder/knee/back...
I don’t know what to do for a home practice so I always to the same 10 poses.
I can’t do restorative poses, they are too boring/time-consuming
I can’t do power yoga, it is too strenuous/sweaty/boring

Any sound familiar to you? Challenge your beliefs. I am constantly challenging my students’ beliefs (sometimes to their annoyance!), inviting them to see more perspectives, more possibilities. Maybe restorative yoga isn’t right for you right now, that doesn’t mean it won’t be right for you tomorrow. If you keep telling yourself it isn’t right, however, you will miss the opportunity to practice it when it is right.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Decluttering: Part I

So, my husband, children and I cleaned out our garage today. If you are like me, you wonder where in the world it all came from! I must admit, I began to philosophize as I went through box after box, wanting to throw and yet finding myself inextricably attached to much I know in my head I no longer need. I very much appreciate the work professional organizers do (I have had one in twice!) It takes a coach and a psychologist to aid us in letting go of our stuff.

We do the same thing with our beliefs. (Beliefs are more than just about religion. You can read more here about what I consider to be beliefs.) Boy do we hang on to those opinions! So much so we even see things and interpret them they way we need to in order for situations to fit our beliefs.

“We build self-images and construct concepts and paradigms that feed our sense of certainty, and then we defend this edifice by bending every situation to reinforce our certainty. Donna Farhi

Old, worn out beliefs can hold us back and keep us from growing, cluttering up our minds and our hearts. Donna goes on in her quote to say: "This would be fine if life were indeed a homogenous event in which nothing ever changed; but life does change, and it demands that we adapt and change with it. The resistance to change, and tenaciously holding on to things, causes great suffering and prevents us from growing and living in a more vital and pleasurable way.”

Is it time to declutter your beliefs and make room for something new?

Next post: How yoga can help.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pose of the Month: Maricyasana III

So, this month on my yoga community's (The Muses) musasana blog, we are studying Maricyasana III. This week, the study question is:

How can you get more deeply into your upper back?
When we twist, we tend to keep the twist in the mid-back,
around T-11, T-12, and L-1.
Getting it into the upper back is a powerful way of
increasing the twist and making it deeper.

Want to weigh in on the discussion? Let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Get Out of the Box

I have been studying the brain lately in reading a book called The Answer by John Assaraf and Murray Smith. Basically the book discusses how our unconscious mind keeps us stuck in our current (usually limiting) way of thinking, stuck in a box. Sometimes the box is pleasant ("My marriage box is lovely!" and sometimes it is mediocre or even very uncomfortable ("My current job is terrible but..."). But it is what we know and there is security in what we know. A step away from the known is scary and we unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) avoid taking the next step. Often we can't even see the next step.

Ready to use your yoga to expand your consciousness? Remember what you do on the mat transfer off the mat and vice versa. Ready to expand out of your box in your job? Marriage? Friendships? You can do it on the mat first. How? Do you always do the same practice or same type of practice? Do you love forward folds and avoid backbends? Do you always want to feel like you’ve worked hard so that your practice “counts”? Do you sit on your mat with no energy and just sit there? Have you done the same 10 poses in the same order for years? Use your practice to break out of the box. Change it up. Do something different! Find a pose you always avoid or one you have never done. Begin to experiment. If you always feel you need a workout, do a restorative practice. If you always do restorative, do something vigorous and get your heart pumping!

Okay, now, does the mere thought of doing something different even for one day bring fear to your heart? That is the sign that you definitely need to do something different!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Savasana is About Not Doing

I was teaching Restorative Yoga the other night and had an insight about my own practice. I used to avoid Restorative Yoga (including Savasana) more than any other types of poses. I have always thought it was because I couldn’t sit still. Tonight, I realized it was about “not doing” and “not struggling”. I hadn’t realized how much in my life I felt I needed to struggle to do. Any success or accomplishments were more satisfying (in other words, they “counted”) when I had worked hard for them. (How many of you appreciate your own gifts? The things that come easy for you? I bet you take them for granted or don’t even see them as well!) I certainly needed to work hard at my exercise whether it was aerobics or yoga. Tonight I learned my greater lesson was the benefit of not doing, of surrender, of not struggling and the benefits that can come from letting go.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Choose Your Own Foot Position

I have been thinking a lot about this pose since my yoga group “The Muses” and I spent April studying it. (Read more about our discoveries here.) I realize I have learned at least a dozen different ways to have the feet in the pose. In fact, I rarely hear the same direction from two different teachers! So, what is the “right” way? In answering that question, I am reminded of something Barbara Benagh said to me years ago. She said that whatever a teacher teaches you is only her opinion about a pose based on how it feels in her body.

What a sage observation! So, it is then our responsibility to take the information we are given and decide how we want to use it or even to discard it altogether if it doesn’t fit our body’s needs. I realized that I needed to find the foot position that gives me the grounded feeling I love in Tadasana (which, by the way, is feet hip width apart. I have a torque in my pelvis so if I put my feet close together I feel like I am twisting.) What foot position works for you? What helps you feel grounded and open in the body? Play with it. What you have always been told might not be what you need in your body.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Yoga Boy

Remember Under Dogs? When someone pushes you on the swing and gets you so high, she can run under you? The other day, while swinging, Zack asked me for a "Down Dog"! That's my yoga boy!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

77 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga.

Check this out! What a fabulous, and thorough, list! It should keep you doing your yoga for years to come...77 Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Injuries as Blessings

What if your injury was a blessing? What if you no longer saw it as an inconvenience? Something to be tolerated until you could “return” to your “normal” life and “normal” practice. If you have been practicing long enough, you probably have encountered an injury and you have probably also encountered the frustration and irritation that often accompanies an injury. What if injuries were blessings? What if they were gifts from the universe to help you focus on a specific area? Stop focusing on a specific area? Or to learn something new about your body or mind? In hindsight, can you glean any gems from past injuries? I have spoken at length on this blog about my hamstring injury that challenged me for almost thirteen years! I can list a dozen benefits from that issue. I also had a neck injury (I straightened the curve in my neck doing inversions incorrectly) that took three years to fix. One of my best gems from that period of time was really taking a fascination to inversions and how to teach them well.

Your yoga practice is about where you are right now, balancing you whether that balance is physical, mental, emotional. When you have an injury your practice is around supporting the issue, helping it heal or release or restructure, whatever is appropriate. When you no longer see an injury as an irritation, a whole new world opens up!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

7 Random Things About Me

I was tagged for this so long ago, I don’t remember who tagged me! (Sorry)! It is a fun one, though, so I thought I would put it out there now.

Here are the rules:

- Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog. (If you can remember who tagged you that is...)
- Share 7 random or weird things about yourself.
- Tag people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs
- Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here they are!
o I am a closet Rocker. It is true! I can hardly sit still when I hear Bruce Springsteen or the Steve Miller band.
o I also love Lionel Richie. I got tickets for a concert in high school and even my boyfriend wouldn’t come with me! My science lab partner said he would love to go and my boyfriend was relieved! ☺ (On a bright note – that same lab partner then took my to Billy Joel as a thank you!) (And did I mention I am a “Fanillow” too! )
o I really do not enjoy shopping. I can hardly even go into a mall for a “quickie”. Even catalog shopping isn’t fun because I often have to return it for another size and returning something feels so inconvenient. My friends often give me hand-me-downs and I love them for it! Pre-washed, I know they won’t shrink, and I never set foot in a store.
o My favorite movie of all time: True Lies. (I think it has to do with the fact that I wanted to be James Bond when I was little. Never a teacher or a mom or a nurse, just a spy!)
o I love to sweat when I am exercising! I love the feeling of working my body that way.
o I cannot figure out lyrics to songs. It can be quite amusing to listen to what I say. (I thought “Midnight toker” was a “Midnight talker” – which makes sense if you know me – I talk a lot!)
o I studied at the London School of Economics. Go figure! ☺
o “Louie” (pronounced Lou – ee) is my family’s nickname for me and has been for as long as I can remember. My middle name is Louise and apparently when I was learning to talk I called myself “La La Louie”. It was used so exclusively when I was young that I thought it was my name. When I went to study in Italy, it became “Luigi”.

Now I want to here from you! and especially: Karen, Marya, Beth, Tammy

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Samskaras: Part II

To take the analogy a bit further from Part I, when we drive through such deep ruts, aren’t you completely fixated on the ruts? It can be a bit scary to go through them and you are focused on the work involved. Ironically, if you were to look up, not only would you see that you are actually in a vast Africa Savannah and can see for miles, you would also find that driving through the ruts is easier as well when you are focused on where you are going.

Ruts keep us stuck in our old consciousness with our limited perspective. Look up! There is an infinite array of things you can do!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Samskaras: Part I

There is this wonderful Sanskrit word I just love: Samskaras. It actually has around 20 meanings (almost literally, check the The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga by Georg Feuerstein). My favorite translation is “mental permeations”. It refers to having a set mental pattern. In other words, we think the same way every time the same thing happens. You always feel annoyed when your Dad tells that story from when you were young. You always feel irritated when the person in the cube next door begins to talk loudly on the phone. You always feel stress and tension when you see traffic ahead. Interestingly, in studies done on the brain, researchers have found that the more we think something, the stronger that thought pattern becomes. Our brain literally builds more connections for that path! The stronger the pattern becomes, the easier it is to go down the same path.

I like to see a samskara as an African mudhole. You know when you drive through mud, ruts appear. The more you drive through the mud, the deeper the ruts become. Once the ruts dry, it can be incredibly difficult to choose a different path.

If you do choose a different path and try to come out of the rut, you may fall right back into the track, but you have shaved a bit of the rut away in the attempt which makes the next attempt a bit easier. Each time you choose a new thought, a bit more gets shaved away as a new track forms. Interestingly, that is just what brain researchers have found. When you choose a new path, a few links of the old are broken, weakening the old pattern a bit.

I use this analogy frequently with coaching clients and my yoga students. It can feel frustrating when you think you have “failed” at changing thought patterns. Success is not evaluated by completely letting go of the old thought pattern and using the new one, success is each time you are conscious of the old pattern and changed it a bit. Each time it changes, you have weakened the old thought pattern.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What's for Dinner: Spinach Balls

I love this recipe! They are good hot, cold and even frozen. Incredibly versatile and yummy, too!

  • 1-10 ounce package frozen spinach

  • 1 cup oat flour

  • 3 eggs

  • ¼ nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese

  • large chopped onion

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ½ t garlic powder

  • 1 t salt

  • ½ t thyme (maybe more)

  • ½ sage

  1. 350 degrees

  2. Mix half the spinach and the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Add the rest of the spinach and pulse until mixed. Be sure to keep the spinach “chunky”.

  3. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out “balls” (they are a bit runny) onto a cookie sheet. I make small cookie sized, but feel free to make them any size you want.

  4. Bake for 10-25 minutes (depending on size)

Spinach Balls @ Group Recipes

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Yoga in the French Alps

Yoga in the French Alps
Originally uploaded by kajo55

I found this photo so inspiring! Both the pose and the location...just wanted to share.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seated Forward Folds

I have been studying seated forward folds for the year in my study of Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender). Since forward folds are the pose of surrender, this seemed appropriate. I just realized I grip the tops of my feet to “pull” myself into my pose! (So much for surrender!) Check it out. Do you do it?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Aligning with the Intention of Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is a very powerful pose. Or, at least, that is its intention. To fully engage the energy of the pose, you must have a balance between grounding and lifting. Often, the balance is tipped one way or the other. If you are overly grounded, the pose is heavy and lacks the expansion. If you are overly lifted, the pose is too light and lacks grounding. The intention of the opse is to be like a mountain, grounded and open to whatever comes. What are you?

Too grounded: Do you have a hard time lifting your chest? Do you feel as if you are standing in a hole? Do you tend to ruminate about the past?

Too lifted: Do you feel your weight in the soles of your feet? Do you grip the tops of your feet? Does your ribcage come forward? Do you tend to spend time thinking about the future?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Musasana: A New Blog

I want to introduce a new blog I have created with the women with whom I am beginning a new company. On this blog we investigate one yoga pose in-depth each month. We share our thoughts and experiences as we study this one pose. Please join us! We would love your comments as well. Musasana

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New Use for Yoga Mats

I bet you hadn't thought of this one!! He taped it together and made it his "skirt".

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Son Eats Meat

It is true. My 4 year old eats meat. It was a difficult decision for me, I have been vegetarian for over fifteen years for a variety of reasons and my seven year old daughter is flourishing as a vegetarian. My husband and I suspected our son needed meat for 6 months before we finally fed it to him four months ago. My husband also eats meat so it isn’t an anomaly in our house. He was vegan for several years in high school and just couldn’t keep himself grounded. He needed meet for balance. He still does. I can tell when he hasn’t had meat for awhile and have been known to suggest he go out for a hamburger so he can feel better. My son is similar. He doesn’t seem to enjoy food very much and yet was very interested in meat when he was around meat from babyhood on. He was thrilled to eat it. He is even more excited about beef than cookies. It is an interesting process in letting go of what you expect and allowing others to do what they need to do, especially when it is with your children. When I surrender to what he needed, I felt myself soften and the rest was easy. Seeing him flourish on beef also helps me surrender. It was clearly the right decision.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Surrender - Being in the Heart

I just realized that surrender is about being in the heart! I spend so much time in my head, ruminating, planning, thinking, analyzing and reanalyzing. None of those things are necessary when you are truly surrendering! I had created this meditation awhile ago when I realized the energy bubble around my head was buzzing when I meditated and the energy in my heart was still. I wanted more energy in my heart for meditation. I thought you might enjoy it too. May it bring you more into your heart and a state of surrender:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Inspirational Quote

“Ultimately, whether we achieve the final posture or not is insignificant. Those who do not believe this may be quite disillusioned to discover that nothing particularly remarkable or even pleasant happens when you finally put your feet on the back of your head. If our practice has been driven by hopes of radiant delight in that final moment, we may find ourselves asking, ‘Is this all there is?’ when we achieve our so-called goal. The delight, the remarkable moment, was happening all along, but we were too busy getting somewhere to notice.” (Donna Farhi)

How many of you needed to hear that one today? Another great quote comes from Ramanand Patel, one of my favorite teachers. In a particularly challenging class when we were working up to a pose that makes you wish you had no ligaments, he wryly commented, "I have been in the final pose. There is nothing there. There is no hurry." We often need reminders of these thoughts. Yoga is not about the final pose. Frankly, it isn't about getting stronger or more flexible either. Yoga is about growing, evolving, learning more about yourself and ultimately growing in consciousness by taking your body where it hasn't been before.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

Surrender: Part II (or is it III or IV?)

Okay, I am back and what an interesting month it has been! Between being sick, attending a conference, going on a trip, and having internet on the fritz, I kind of feel like March was a blogging blur. I feel I abandoned my blogs! I feel renewed energy and a bunch of ideas are flowing around my head and I can’t wait to share them with all of you!

The biggest idea and the one I want to explore here is around my sLinktudy of surrender this year. For those of you who read my blog often, you know I choose a theme each year to focus on. This year it is Ishvara Pranidhana, or surrender. What is surrender? We talk about it a lot. “Letting go” and “trust the universe” are the catch phrases of our current times, but what does that mean? How does one “do surrender”? I am a “doer” and I want to know what I can “do” to surrender. This question is one I am still answering for myself and continue to explore it on my mat in my practice (where I always turn when I have questions). You can read what I do to “practice surrender” yogically here.

Ironically, though, it seems surrender is more about not doing and instead merely being. Relaxing into the space of the moment, the process of what you are doing, and being fully present. It means not forcing yourself into the future nor being stuck in the past. When you surrender, you are open to what the future might hold for you (not your idea of what the future might hold for you) and you are grateful for whatever the past had to teach you so you can move on.

For now, surrender to me means not worrying because I trust God, the Universe, the process, the bigger picture, whatever phrase works for you, to guide me into the experiences I need to have to grow more into the person I know myself to be. It means not doing things out of fear (doing things because you are afraid something else will happen) and instead doing things because you know they will bring good things to you. (Coming from love not fear – intrigued to read more about that idea? Read my other blog entries here and here.) Surrender also means trusting that even the challenging times have their purpose and I needn’t add to the challenge by worrying about them.

As a recovering control addict, I find the balance between doing what I want to do and going over the line to doing what I feel I have to do for something to succeed extraordinarily fine. It is what I am working on now – it is only April!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

YJ Asana Column: Revolved Janu Sirsasana

Ever struggle with reading the asana column in Yoga Journal while trying to perform the actions? Or get your spouse to read it to you? Me too! I finally recorded reading it for myself and thought you might enjoy it as well. This recording is Charles Matkin's article on Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana. I talk you through the entire process, repeating for the other side. Let me know if you enjoy the recording and I will do more. Enjoy! Recording

Monday, March 10, 2008


Hi, Everyone. Sorry I haven't posted in awhile -- I have been very sick! I am better now and am preparing a few new posts. I will put them up soon. Peace, Laura

Monday, March 03, 2008

What Does My Breath Mean?

I sent this email to my Master Class group. (I teach a group of teachers once a month. We study one pose in-depth and then do Pranayama). I had a few comments on what I said so I thought it would be helpful for others so I am posting it. Hope it helps you better understand yourself. I am including the links to the breathing exercises I refer to in the post. Enjoy them!

Getting to a deeply open and relaxed state for both aspects of your breath (inhale and exhale) is essential for moving forward with the breathing into more complex breathing exercises. Begin with the exhale breath and work with that one until you have been able to do it comfortably for 5 sessions in a row, then do the inhale. Be patient! You may be comfortable right away or it may take you 12 months. It doesn’t matter. Be where you need to be.

As you experiment with the breathing, remember what they represent and use what you find to deepen your learning about yourself. The inhale is the stimulating aspect of the breath, it is connected with the sympathetic nervous system (the “on” button for us). It stimulates the stress response. The exhale is the relaxing aspect of the breath, connected with the parasympathetic nervous system the off or relaxation response. Ideally, we want to be balanced between on and off. What are you discovering about your inhale and exhale? What is that saying about your own stimulation or relaxation?

Also, on a deeper, more emotional level, the inhale represents the ability to receive and the exhale the ability to give and release, and surrender. How well do you receive? How well do you give? How well do you trust, deeply, in the Universe?

Be sure you begin a journal to track what you learn. You are headed down an amazing journey and you want to remember what happens.

(Windows Users: Right-Click on the link for the podcast you are interested in downloading.
Macintosh Users: Option-Click on the link for the podcast you are interested in downloading.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


“…it’s hard to see the bigger picture when you think you are the great controller of your life.” (Donna Farhi)

“As I emptied my cup, the world flowed in.”
(Rolf Gates)

I have two quotes for you this month. They have similar thoughts and both are beautiful. In December, I decided to spend this year studying the last of the niyamas, Ishvara Pranidhana or surrender. Like many of us, I have long been the “great controller” of my life with deep-seated fears of letting go and trusting in the process of life. The more I let go, the deeper I go into my heart, to an inspired place from which to live. Both Rolf and Donna are right, I am seeing a bigger picture and the world is beginning to flow in in ever increasing and powerful ways.

I struggled with how to conceptualize “letting go” as we often hear these days. What did that mean? How could I just stop worrying and stressing? I did what I often do when I am unsure, I turned to my mat. Just as our lessons in life show up on the mat, lessons learned on the mat move into our life. Poses create awarenesses and feelings in our body and we can use them to help us do more in our life. I know forward folds are about letting go and being present so my practice has been almost entirely forward folds for two months. I also know child’s pose and Savasana are about surrender so I do them every night before bed. Finally, I knew the exhale aspect of my breath is about letting go so my breathing practice has been focused exhaling as well. In my meditations, I visualize handing over my worries to someone I respect and trust with my problems. Other than my practice, I didn’t “think” about letting go.

As always, what happens on the mat, came into my life. I am letting go. I feel control has much less hold on me. I am much more open to flowing with what comes in and, perhaps more importantly, what goes out of my life.

Think about issues you are struggling with in your life, things you are “thinking” a lot about. How can you take the issue to the mat? You can use poses to build courage, open to love, release grief, soften to the present, and much more. Not sure what to do? Email me. I am happy to help. Yoga is our gift and we can use it for so much more than merely stretching our bodies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What's for Dinner: Cauliflower Soup

Have I got a recipe for you! It is incredibly easy and so yummy! I can sense a taste of butter in it. (No, there is no butter and my husband has pointed out that it has been 4 years since I tasted butter so maybe my butter taste buds are a bit sensitive!) This recipe come from Vegan Italiano.

  • 1 large head of cauliflower. (You can use a huge one here. Just add more stock, if necessary.)

  • ¼ C olive oil

  • 4 large cloves of garlic

  • 4 C vegetable stock (I use Rapunzel brand vegan stock. I love it!)

  • ½ t salt (I haven’t needed to add it since my stock is salty enough).

  • ¼ c finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (again, never used)

  1. Cut up cauliflower into bite-size pieces and blanch or steam until crisp-tender.

  2. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over med-high heat. Add the garlic and, stirring constantly, let it cook for 1 minute.

  3. Add the cauliflower and cook until begins to brown. (I have yet to see it brown. I just cook for 5-10 minutes and then continue with the recipe).

  4. Add stock and bring to a boil.

  5. Puree 2/3 of the soup.

  6. Return to the pot and heat, add parsley.

  7. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Soup @ Group Recipes

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Year of Living Compassionately

Let me tell you about a program I created a few years ago. I call it A Year of Living Compassionately. The story of how why I created it is long and can be read here. For now, suffice it to say that I became acutely aware that I was not the deeply compassionate, loving mom I wanted to be. What was coming out of me was disheartening and I wanted to make a change.

I discovered many things in my year of self-study. The first lesson is we all have a balance of positive and negative energy inside of us. You know which one is outweighing the other by what is coming out of you. If you are feeling negative, negativity is outweighing the positive. I also learned that I was frequently tipped to the negative and was unaware I was feeling and being negative. Because I was so accustomed to feeling it, it felt normal, and I just assumed it was positive. Finally, I learned that if I consciously feed myself with positive things, it helps me tip to the positive and I was unconsciously feeding myself a tremendous amount of negativity.

I also discovered that I could change my feelings to the positive by making the negative influences more conscious so I could make better choices for myself. I also learned more about what feels positive to me and filled my life with those influences.

The program is based on those precepts and the results have astounded even me. One participant, who’s area of challenge was her family of origin, took a vacation with her family merely 5 months into the program and said the time with her family could only be described as “lovely”. Another woman changed her marriage from one of great friction to one of love and deep companionship. Another stay-at-home mom went from sheer frustration to joyfulness in her position.

Interestingly, when I get the question “What is a Year of Living Compassionately?” I still don’t have a pat answer. You would think I would by now. There is so much to the program and it is so powerful, I have a hard time putting its power into words. I have one student who put it beautifully. “It is just about being happier”. Well put, is all I can say. It just seems like so much more. Then again, what else is there?

The program consists of a different topic each month. Each topic comes with a 4-5 page reading with my thoughts around the subject as well as ideas to deepen your learning during the month. My partner, Marya, and a I send out a weekly “Module Morsel” in which we share a portion of the module and a suggestion for your focus that week. You may also participate in a teleclass at the end of the month with us to discuss what you learned and talk with other participants.

Besides helping you find happiness, the program is also a wonderful community; an opportunity to have an online and teleclass discussion group with a group of people on the same path as you are.Link

What I love most about the program is its accessibility. Whether you are someone who is just beginning down the spirituality path or someone has been doing it for some time, there is something more you can learn. (I have been through the program four times now and just continue to deepen my learning.)

You can check out the program and download the free Pre-Assignment Module at the website: You can register for the free weeky inspirational eNewsletter. You can read the blog from the pilot year in which I wrote several posts for each topic, summarizing what people gleaned from their month. You can also participate in this year’s Compassion Club blog.

Here’s to your year of living compassionately.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Limitations are Merely Self-Imposed

In tonight’s class I taught, I had an interesting thought I shared with my students. Do you often go into a pose assuming it will look exactly as you did it last time? I am guessing there are a few poses in which you do. Personally, basic standing poses such as Warrior II and Triangle Poses are my weak spot. I just plop myself into my usual position and hang out there until I think it is time to go to the other side. I don’t even try to take myself more deeply. I just assume my pose will look the same today as it did yesterday and it will tomorrow.

When I realized what I was doing, it made me think. Where else in my life do I just plunk myself down and assume I have gone as far as I can go? There are so many places we can limit ourselves in what we have – happiness (really, test yourself – being happier than you are comfortable with can be incredibly uncomfortable and we usually only allow it for brief periods), love, money, career, health, even the number of vacations or where we go on our vacations! Where in your life do you feel a bit stale? Is it time to blow past a self-imposed limitation? You see, the irony of physical limitations is they are primarily perceived. What I mean is you can move beyond your “wall”, which is, in fact, merely a speed bump. Our flexibility is tied mostly to our consciousness. If you think you are tight, guess what? You are right! If you think you can loosen up and move past your inflexibility or weakness, guess what? You are right, too. If you think you can move past your current health crisis, guess what? You are right! Maybe it is time to blow past a few of those limitations and experience the joy on the other side…

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Random Act of Kindness

I was the victim of a random act of kindness today. I had just taught my morning class and my students were leaving. It snowed throughout class so students were brushing off the windows on their cars. I peaked out the window only to see one of my students brushing off the windows of my car! It just made me smile. Thanks, L, for that kindness. It has brightened my heart today so I know it is being passed on to others through me.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Taxes: Just My Opinion

I just received this email from my parents:

Father Daughter Talk

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, how is your friend Audrey doing?

She replied, Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over.

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA, and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.”

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, "That's a crazy idea. How would that be fair? I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!"

The father slowly smiled, winked, and said gently, "Welcome to the Republican Party."

Perhaps it is needless to say, I tend toward the Democrat side and my parents the Republican. Also probably needless to say, they have considerably more money than I have.

The truth is, I am not a staunch Democrat. After studying government in college, I am far too politically cynical to feel either side is the best answer. But apparently I am Democrat enough to put a bee in my parents’ proverbial bonnet. (Actually, over the years they have made several comments, indicating that it is quite an issue for them. One friend pointed out, with humor, that they were okay with me living with my boyfriend for two years before I married him, leaving my religion of birth, and my brother coming out after 10 years of marriage, but my being a Democrat [and a “light” one at that] is too much for them to bear!)

It all comes to money to them, it seems anyway. As this story shows, they seem to think that I will change my mind when I have more money to lose in the game. Now, admittedly, they may very well be right, I just desperately hope they are not. I may not have had a lot of money to pay in taxes over the years to experience that side of the angst, but there have been times when the taxes I paid made meeting rent/mortgage difficult for me. And even in those months I was grateful to pay taxes. I am self-employed so I pay more taxes than those employed by others. I am also often paid in cash and I always report every penny. I am so incredibly grateful to live in this country. I know this may sound silly, but it is absolutely true. I am grateful to be free, to live where my children can roam the streets without being shot at, where education is free, women have rights, we have religious freedom, we have roads that are taken care of, good medical care, to not have to serve in the armed forces, and to have people who are willing to serve for me to protect my said rights. My list goes on. I have always been willing to pay for my part to be here. I like to think that that gratitude will continue when I am able to pay more and I will be grateful I can pay more so that others who will struggle to pay their taxes and meet their mortgage won’t have to pay as much.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

In the Past Year

Okay, I have been tagged and I am thrilled! I challenged Nona at Everyday Yogini to answer these questions on her birthday and now she challenged me right back. These questions are a tradition started by a group of friends I lived with for a year. For each birthday we had a big dinner for the guest of honor. After the dinner (and, usually, after much wine had been drunk), each person at the table could ask the birthday person one question about the previous year and then one question about the next year. There were no boundaries with the questions and the birthday person had to answer them (although she could be vague…) I continue the tradition with my sister and mother on our birthdays. It is wonderfully introspective on a very special day. These are just some typical questions:

In the Past year:

What was your most embarrassing moment?
Hmmm…I am not sure. I tend to speak faster than my brain can process the appropriateness of the comment so I am guessing there are a few times my mouth embarrassed me…
What are you proudest of achieving?
Two things. One, I continue to homeschool my children. It isn’t always easy, but, like cooking from scratch, feels nourishing to my soul. Two, I have begun a new company, one that is based on my values. I did it by inspiring a group of women to live from their values as well so I am especially proud of changing their lives as well.

What would you do differently with the benefit of hindsight?
I would have let go of my fears so much sooner. Control just makes you crazy. I generally don’t believe in regret, it is a waste of energy. But fears…what an even bigger waste of energy.

What did you love about last year?
I loved learning (and continuing to learn) to live from a deeper, more inspired space. I am finally more inline with my life purpose and it is glorious!

In the Next year:

What do you want to say you accomplished next year on this day?
You know, I don’t want to even limit myself with a guess. Let’s just say I am sure much will have transpired…

What are you looking most forward to in the next year?
I am so excited to see what comes from the adventure of my life now that I am more in the flow of what is coming. It will be amazing.

What goal of yours are you most tantalized by?
My company…

If you knew you only had the next year to live, what would you make sure to do? What is stopping you?
You know what…I AM DOING IT!! And it feels great to be able to say that and mean it!

Okay, now it is your turn. Feel free to tag yourself (or keep the questions for your birthday!) I especially want to hear what Karen, Beth, Heather, Marya, and Aleia have to say!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

What's for Dinner: Skillet Bread

(I get so many questions about what I eat since I am meat-, wheat-, dairy-, soy-, and corn-free. So I began a recipe page at and will be starting a "What's for Dinner" column here in my blog. You can use the widget at the bottom of the column to the left to link to my GroupRecipe page for more recipes.)

  • 1 C Oat flour

  • 1 C Barley flour

  • ½ t salt

  • ¼ rounded t baking soda

  • 2 t baking powder

  • ¾ C rice milk

  • Vegetable oil for frying (I use safflower)

  1. Mix flour together in a bowl. Add salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix well. Add rice milk and mix well.

  2. Begin heating a nonstick skillet over med-low heat with safflower oil.

  3. Now it gets a bit tricky because the dough is so sticky. You may need to add more flour to make it more manageable. It also doesn’t stick well together due to the lack of gluten. Flour a flat surface well and turn the dough out. Cut the dough into two pieces. Shape each into a 6 inch round. Cut like a pizza into 6-8 triangles (depending on the size you want.) Place them in the skillet. Let them brown on one side (about 5 min) and then turn for another 1-2 minutes.

Wheat Free Skillet Bread @ Group Recipes

Day 28 and 30 and 31: I DID IT!!

(I committed to practicing yoga each day in the month of January as part of World Yoga Practice Month. I tracked my progress here in this blog and also at my World Yoga Practice Month Page)

Still feeling under the weather so haven’t been out to blog much. I am proud to say (or perhaps shout) I DID IT!! I practiced every day in the month of January. I have always been quite dedicated to doing something most days, but I can honestly say I would not have done anything the past few days when I was feeling sick if it hadn’t been for woyopracmo.
Even though I have been feeling less than my best, I have still been meditating and sitting on my mat. I was inspired by a fellow yogini, Nona, who brought her mat to the hospital when she had an overnight procedure done! (I especially liked the part about doing a headstand the moment the iv was out – THAT is inspiring!)

For the month of February, we are all setting a goal for ourselves. Mine is to deepen my meditation practice. I will let you know what happens.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Beautiful Women

I just received this email from my mother. I have read it a few times in the past and love its message. Enjoy

Below is a wonderful poem Audrey Hepburn wrote
when asked to share her 'beauty tips.'
It was read at her funeral years later.

For attractive lips,
speak words of kindness...
For lovely eyes,
seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure,
share your food
with the hungry.
For beautiful hair,
let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise,
walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone...
People, even more than things, have to be restored,
renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;
one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Day 28: Not Feeling Well

I am still not feeling well and in a pre-woyopracmo day, I would have skipped a practice all-together, except for my meditation. Not so any longer! I am at least going to do my Savasana (with its focus on surrender) and then off to bed.

Day 26 and 27: Quick Report

I am tired and not feeling well so I am going to make this a quick report. Yesterday I taught in the morning and finished the day with Savasana. Today, not feeling well, I did some restorative work for myself and am off to my Savasana. Good night!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 25: Quiet Day

(I have committed to practicing yoga every day for the month of January for World Yoga Practice Month. You can track my progress on this blog and on the World Yoga Practice Month Site [name: Yoga Laura]. Better yet, join me!)

I slept in again today. Glorious! I just love sleeping in. I used to feel guilty sleeping in because I “should” be working. (Even in college I was in the library by 8 am on Saturday mornings.) No more, my friend! I love to do it, I relish it, and I am grateful I can. I am perfectly okay with missing my morning practice in order to sleep in. I no longer feel the attachment to my practice I used to. My practice is something I truly enjoy and look forward to doing so I know, even if I miss my morning meditation, that I will get to something at some point during the day. I am off to my forward folds and Savasana. Have a lovely evening!

Creamy Tomato Soup - a Family Favorite

  • 1 15-oz can navy or other white bean

  • 2 15-oz can diced tomatoes (can use tomatoes with green chiles but that is too spicy for my family)

  • salt and pepper

  • tortilla strips for the top

  1. Put the beans and tomatoes in a food processor and process until smooth.

  2. Heat the soup to hot, adding salt and pepper to taste.

  3. I fry up strips of tortillas (brown rice ones in our house) and use them as decoration over the top of the soup.

  4. Creamy and delicious!

Creamy Tomato Soup @ Group Recipes

Have you noticed the widget at the bottom of the left hand column in this blog? I have a site at Group where I am going to share our favorite recipes. I will also blog them here. You can link from the widget or the link just above to access my site. From my kitchen to yours. Enjoy!

“Your Edge”

What is your edge in a pose? You know, the place where you feel you cannot go more deeply into the pose? It feels like a wall, doesn’t it? Like you couldn’t possibly go further. Did you know there is no such thing as a “wall” in stretching? We are working with soft tissue here, it can always lengthen. Now, it is true you reach a place in which you can’t go further, for now, but that place is always moving. If you were to hold the spot for a moment longer, breathe into it, see it release, you would then find the “wall” moves. I have begun calling it a “speed bump” instead of a wall because although it may slow us down, it certainly doesn’t need to stop us. The key to transforming your wall to merely a speed bump is to keep your mind in the pose, feel the resistance, breathe into it, see it moving. What often happens, though, is we go into a pose the same way every time. We go to our same place, rest for a moment (often thinking about something else), then we pop out and do the next pose. Of course, this isn’t true with all of our poses. I find it most prevalent in poses you don’t enjoy or ones that you do so frequently you have developed a strong habitual pattern in it. I encourage you to enter poses anew each time.

Think of how many places in your life, off the mat, in which you do the same thing. You assume it will be the same each time, whatever it is. Your job will be just as stressful today as yesterday, your commute will be just as challenging, you will always make the same amount of money, your parents will always be controlling, your children will always be hard to handle in a restaurant. You get the idea. This concept shows up everywhere.

Instead of assuming the same position each time, assume it will be different. Let yourself open to the possibilities. Let your body open to the poses and your mind to your life. Let your life be unforgettable.

“Live the Unforgettable”

I cut this saying out a magazine last fall. Doesn't it sound fabulous! I have many inspirational quotes (I am a collector, as you have probably noticed) and this one, from an ad, has affected more than any other. I realized that much of my life was unforgettable - absolutely fabulous. Then there were also parts that were unremarkable and it was time to change them. I want all parts of my life to be unforgettable - I want to have and do all that I have set out to do and I just get tingly with excitement when I think about it.

What do you want? What would make your life unforgettable? Let yourself dream about it and imagine it. Let the excitement draw you into the steps needed to turn your dream into reality. Let your life be unforgettable, too!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Day 24: A Quickie

I woke early for my japa and meditation. I skipped my afternoon asana to go to my homeschool playgroup. I am off to forward folds and twists and Savasana. You know, I am with all of you who want to continue this group. I am having such fun. Although I have practiced yoga for years, I do find I am even more committed because of this group. Fabulous!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Day 22 and 23: Another Lesson in Surrender

(Continue to follow my home practice as commit to practicing everyday in January for World Yoga Practice Month.)

Yesterday was glorious! Began the day with japa and meditation, did an arm balance practice to Mr. Rogers (other parents of small children will understand!), taught two yoga classes, and then ended the evening with a lovely forward fold and twist practice and Savasana. It is on these days that I have to pinch myself, I am so excited about what I get to do for a living!
Today was a sleep in morning so I didn’t do my morning practice. I also skipped the afternoon asana due to a play date for my children. I taught my advanced class tonight and had a great time! Now I am off to my evening practice.

I have mentioned before that one of my practices for this year is surrender. I found this quote today on my Compassion Club blog, left there by my partner, Marya (breezeatdawn). The quote is from Wayne Dyer:

“I release the need to determine how things “should” be.
If you are suffering in your life right now, I can guarantee that this condition is tied up with some kind of attachment to how things should be going.”

It was just what I needed and perfect for me! I have one area in my life in which I am currently suffering. I have been working on manifesting what I want in that area and then realized that my even bigger manifesting work has been on creating joy in my life, pure joy. My suffering has been because I didn’t think this area is going the way I think it should be. But what if the situation is heading me toward feeling more joy? I want to release expectation, enjoy what is happening, and let everything flow from that energy, not the energy of expectations and attachment, both fear-based thinking. Interestingly, my insight happened in the middle of tonight’s class. I had a burst of energy and felt the “expectation” just flow out of me. Wow! It was fabulous!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 20 and 21: Still Going Strong

(Follow my practice for the month of January as I journal what I do for World Yoga Practice Month -- I am YogaLaura if you want to check out my page!)

Yesterday I had a lovely japa and meditation to start my day. My husband got up with the kids (read: he allowed my to sleep in). It was glorious! When I finally woke up, the room was quiet. I just sat up in bed and meditated right then and there.

I then had a long nap in the afternoon instead of my usual asana practice. Might I say, “good choice!” I felt so much better resting. I get so exhausted during my cycle. Wait, scratch that, I want to change my view of my cycle. It is the natural, introspective, quiet time of the month. The fatigue is just my body’s way of telling me I am not yet quiet enough. Apparently I needed some quieting because I had a fabulous nap! I then did some forward folds before bed.

Today I took a class with Matt Sanford, author of Waking. He is an amazing teacher and I very much enjoy taking classes with him. He spoke about nonviolence (seeing how it was MLK Jr. Day) and what was particularly interesting for me, compared nonviolence to surrender. He said if you aren’t surrendering, you are not practicing nonviolence. Very interesting that he brought up both since I am currently studying both in my own life. Surrender is my niyama study for the year and for my program A Year of Living Compassionately, we are studying nonviolence. Matt likes to teach the subtle. Since he is paralyzed from the chest down, that is the level at which he practices yoga and he is powerful. He encouraged us to surrender in Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Leg Lifts) and encouraged us to view struggle as an act of violence. Very interesting study for me and one I plan to play with in my life off the mat.

Off to my forward folds. Have a lovely night!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day 19 – Early Class

I had an early class today so I was up extra early for my Japa and meditation session. I am really getting to love that early morning time when the house is quiet and I can feel the peace of the pre-dawn energy. My house is frequently filled with the sound of squealing children (either from joy or anger) and that, too, is musical in its own way. There is something about the quiet, early morning hours that connect me to God and my innermost self that is truly powerful. Now I am off to forward folds and Savasana before bed. Good night!

Day 18 – Backbends and Surrender

So, one of my new year’s resolutions is to open my back and psoas to Urdhva Dhanurasana and ultimately Dwi Pada Viparita Dhanurasana. My shoulders are ready and I think my upper back is almost ready. My psoas needs some work. It is where I carry my fear and I need to let myself release a bit more control to fully release this muscle. I am also working on surrender this year so I see many cross-overs in my goals. Today I worked on my psoas both physically and emotionally. I spent some time releasing the muscles in my practice and working in Urdhva Dhanurasana. I also spent the day letting go and flowing with what came up. You know, it is interesting having children. I think it was small children that helped me grasp the concept of the illusion of outer control. I giggle now when I hear a reference to “controlling your children.” There is no control with children. They have their own mind and will and what I hope for is being so in-sinc with them that I can guide them to living from their heart and making beautiful choices. I find I do that best when I can fully let go of my agenda and be present with them completely. Today was one of those days. Although there were things I wanted to do (in the house and on the mat), I didn’t feel tied to anything. I felt like I was on vacation, feeling that light and careless vacation feeling. When a child came to me needing something, I was able to effortless set aside what I was doing and be fully present with the child. When I am fully present, whatever the issue is is always resolved quickly and effortlessly. I am frequently amazed at how much easier a day goes when I am fully present with my little ones. Ironically, I got more done than I had originally hoped to get done!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 17 – Same ol’ Same ol’

I was up bright and early for my Japa session and meditation. Then I spent the morning with clients in my life coaching business and doing writing for a new internet-based yoga company I am starting. So much fun! I spent the afternoon at my homeschooling playgroup. Now I am off to spend the evening with my husband, chatting and doing my forward fold practice and Savasanaaaaahhhh….

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 16: That’s My Yoga Girl!

Today I did lots of yoga and ahhhh….does it feel great! These are the days in which I remember exactly why I do what I do and feel the deep gratitude for 5000 years of wisdom. I woke early to a japa and meditation session. Then I taught a private yoga session. I have a great story to share from today.

This afternoon I did a workout video with my daughter. I love to do all kinds of exercise and I want to get my children excited about it, too. My daughter loves to “dance” with exercise videos so dance we do! Today we did the strengthening section of the video. When it was over, we were ready for more. On this video there is an aerobic portion and a yoga portion. I just assumed she would want to do the “dancing” so I suggested we do that section. She hesitated and then just agreed. My girl really likes to please others so sometimes I have a hard time finding out what she really wants and not what she thinks I want. I wanted to do what she wanted to do and I also wanted to help her voice what she wanted to do. I had her close her eyes and tell me what her tummy said when I said, “dance” and “yoga”. She opened her eyes with a big smile and said, “It wants yoga!” I laughed and said, “that’s my yoga girl!” So yoga we did…

I am off to my evening forward folds and Savaaaaasana.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Day 15: Not Much New…

I didn’t sleep well last night – extremely unusual for me. (I use to say I slept like a baby. Then I had one – they don’t sleep that well!) So I slept a bit later and skipped my morning practice. I taught a couple of classes tonight so I did quite a bit of yoga. I am off to do my evening of forward folds and then Savasana. Good night!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Day 13 and 14: Surrender…Surrender…Surrender…

I was feeling burned out on the computer yesterday so I decided not to do anything on it for the evening (usually when I post). Then, I decided I would at least do my woyopracmo post because, well, I should do it, and wouldn’t you know! It was the same moment the site was down for upkeep. The Universe was out to help me release my control. I bet everyone survived without my post as well.

So, yesterday I taught a class for teachers. I do it once a month and it is such fun! We work on poses as teachers and break them down in ways I don’t do in regular asana classes. I also got up extra early to do my own japa and meditation practice beforehand. Before bed I did my forward folds and Savasana.

Today I slept in and it was glorious! Being the last one up I chose to forgo my morning practice. I taught today and will be doing my evening forward folds and Savasana. Sorry so short and sweet. Must go do yoga…

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Day 12: Celebration Craze

(I am tracking my yoga practice for the month of january for World Yoga Practice Month. You can read each day about what I did that day!)

I was up super early again today. I had an 8:30 class and I was up at 6 am to fit in my japa and meditation and boy am I glad I did! When I got home this afternoon, I had an experience of comic relief (something that other parents will appreciate especially.) First of all, I was deeply exhausted. You know the kind of fatigue, the-I’ve-really-had-enough–and-I-just-need-a-bath-and-12-hours-of-sleep kind. Only your kids need you and have been waiting by the door for you to come home to spend the rest of the day with you and your husband is already out the door to take a break, uh, I mean errands, before you have your shoes off.

I knew that when I came home my job was to make brownies for a family celebration. I have an extremely easy brownie recipe so I didn’t think much of it even in my fatigue. It would be an easy 20-minute job. Only my son was melting down because he was hungry so the first 60 minutes of my time at home was spent coaxing him to eat. Then I realized that I didn’t have the chocolate I needed for the recipe so I called my “errand running” husband (who was eating at Big Bowl when I reached him! ☺ ) to buy some and bring it home. Once I got the brownies in the oven, we began the frosting. (Yep, I forgot this part. Brownies are a treat but frosting makes it a celebration!) I made the frosting and then discovered that the celebratory boy wanted “rainbow” color. Since I homeschool, I am always looking for a way to sneak in a lesson so I agreed that we could make several different colors of frosting, mixing different combinations of food coloring. Out came four bowls, the craft table cloth (have you ever tried to get food coloring out of a wooden table?) and we mixed different food colors together into the bowls. Then he decided he wanted to make “cookies” out of the brownies and frost them individually. First I tried a drinking glass to “cut” them out only to find the brownies are stuck in there once cut (and it makes a very big mess!). The only thing I could think of to use was the cookie cutter my children use for the play dough. I did wash it quite well and I make my play dough from scratch so it is edible, I still found I didn’t want to share this part with my husband! We finally got the brownies cut out and frosted. I then turned to review the result in my kitchen. You guessed it, chaos. I took a deep breath and plunged in. I pulled out a pyrex container to store the leftovers only to find it was too heavy. It came down on the plate of brownies (squishing them) that were in my other hand then they both landed in a bowl of frosting which promptly broke splattering colored frosting everywhere! I cleaned the kitchen for 15 minutes before I even got to the broken bowl! Once the kitchen was cleaned, I realized it was time to start dinner. If I thought I was tired before…

I am off to forward folds and a lovely Savasana…although I must admit, I am not even going to try to stay awake for this one!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Day Eleven: Surrender

Let me begin by saying I have chosen this year to study the niyama, Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender) in my life. Control is a big one for me and can leave me inflexible, impatient, and certainly not in the flow of what life has planned for me. I have studied surrender often in my life and have let go of much of my control. There is still a bit left and I am ready to leave that bit behind! So, with that introduction, let me tell you about today.

Ironically I had already named this evening’s post “Ramping Up Again” because I had every intention (and plenty of time) to do a lengthy asana practice. I did start the day meditating before I got out of bed (my favorite time) and then planned to do a breathing practice. My family got up with me so instead, I chose to have a lovely morning together with them. It felt so wonderful to fully let go of my plan to be fully with them.

Then, this afternoon, I was running in the house with my kids and backed into the couch leg. I twisted my ankle a bit. It certainly wasn’t serious, at least I didn’t think it was, although I did hear a slight pop and I could see some bruising. So, I sat on the couch and put some ice on it. My son snuggled in next to me and told me it was his job to, “Help mommy feel better.” It was so sweet! He has been wanting to learn about giraffes lately so we popped the tape in of a giraffe special from PBS and snuggled in to watch. When my practice time came up, I chose to stay with him. I knew he needed it (I have been working a lot lately and will be gone much of this weekend – on yoga business, of course!) and I certainly needed it, too! What I am particularly proud of is not only choosing to stay with him but also not feeling an ounce of judgment for not doing my asana practice I had planned. Because there was no judgment, I felt perfectly present with him the entire time. What a gift for both of us!

I am off to do some forward folds and twists and then, of course, my Savasana, before bed. Happy surrender to all of you!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Defining a Yoga Practice

I am a huge supporter of defining yoga as so much more than the physical practice. I also firmly believe that you do not need 90 contiguous minutes of uninterrupted practice to consider yourself a “practicing yogi” (Thank goodness because otherwise I could count on one hand the number of “real” practices I have had since my children were born!) In fact, that is one reason I love yoga so much. It is a way of living, a philosophy, a spiritual path, it is so much more than exercise for the body. Truly I find I am practicing yoga almost all of the time -- a fact I hadn’t realized until a student asked me. She was curious if I had yoga on my mind all the time. I laughed, thinking, “of course not!” Then, only a moment later, I realized that I really do. I might be thinking about a piece of the physical practice, thinking about a pose I am going to teach or write about. I am just as likely to be considering the meaning of a Yoga Sutra in my life or thinking about whether I am breathing or wondering about ahimsa (nonviolence.) So, if you have narrowly defined your yoga practice, loosen up! A practice can be one pose, Tadasana in the shower, a twist in the car, savasana before bed. It could also be learning more about nonviolence. Learn more about what this fabulous art has to offer and expand your definition.