Daily Practice… Mula Bandha

Also known as the Root Lock… Mula Bandha… this can be practiced even when simply sitting at your desk.  This lock is the hardest and, I believe, one of the most basic of all pranayama (or lifeforce) locks in the body that needs to be mastered.  To engage this root lock, engage the muscles between your anus and your pelvis.  Sometimes these are known as kegels for women, but men can engage in this practice as well.  Simply try engaging these muscles as you sit at your desk during the day.  Not only will it strengthen your body, it will also allow you to engage this lock in your yoga classes as well.  If you have a desk job, like I do, sometimes practices like this allow us to engage our bodies during the day as well as our minds.

Meditative Knitting

For us knitters, we have all come to it from different places.  For some it was taught to us by our grandmothers and mothers, our trusted friends and our patient neighbors.  For others it was picked up from a sense of wonder at an image or a person we knew who knit.  Maybe we threw down our knitting as a child, only to pick it up later and never set it down again.  For all of us, there is a certain peace that comes when the yarn is flowing through our fingers and the needles are clicking away.  We find our breath slows, our heartbeat falls into a deeper rhythm, and our focus shifts from the bustling world around us to the project at hand.

I am about to teach my first Knitting Meditation workshop this October.  I am scared and also excited to share this side of my yoga practice.  Over the years, I have fielded so many questions about knitting that I feel it only fair to share this wonderful art with others.  I can only hope that this knitting meditation translates into my workshop.  I’m scared that it won’t be relaxing, that people won’t “get” it and that no one will ever ask me about my knitting again.  (Melodramatic I know)

For some reason, there is a bond that forms between knitters.  I can’t tell you the many times I have struck up a conversation or bonded with a total stranger over our knitting.  Maybe they have the needles and I butt in, or they have been so intriqued by what I am knitting that they say something.  An innocent question… “What are you knitting?”… and the friendship has begun.  I really hope that I can give this moment to others.  There is something so special in that moment, that experience.  Maybe it is the peace that we find while creating something that speaks to that same part in all knitters.   Maybe we just know the satisfaction and relaxation that knitting creates. Whatever it is… I hope that I am able to share this with others and that they get that “ah-ha” moment one day while the yarn is flowing through their fingers and something very special is taking shape in their hands.

Quotation-Elizabeth-Zimmermann-life-humor-spirit-hurt-Meetville-Quotes-128650

Yoga is beyond body issues

Good article… Please read.

Home Yoga Practice

 ganesha-coloringpage

There is a great deal of talk about body issues in Western yoga. This discussion is by fed an industry called LOHAS (Lifestyle Of Health and Sustainability) which is making millions off of yoga fashion and dietary products. The latest issue of Yoga Journal has a woman who is considered “full figured” on the cover and a full article about body issues. There is another article that talks about diet. We are fed these ideas that all a practitioner needs to do is get a xyz brand yoga mat, do xyz style of yoga, eat an xyz type of diet, and viola! you fit into xyz brand of sized 5 yoga clothing, or shouldn’t worry about being sized five because you read Yoga Journal that tells you it’s okay to be full figured and practice yoga.

But yoga, when done classically, instructs you right from the beginning that your…

View original post 435 more words

Work / Life Balance

5-Stones-Balancing-with-Leaf

 

So often as yoga teachers we hear that familiar phrase of obtaining a work/life balance and how important it is for everyone to find that. We instill it as a theme for our classes, we use it as an excuse (not in a bad way) to sleep in that extra hour on a Saturday. And we struggle with it, as everyone does. Almost everyone has a story about how they have battled with it and overcome some obstacle that shows them how important it is to obtain a work/life balance, and even more of us feel comfortable telling people that we haven’t gotten there yet. The problem I’m running across is that as much as the yoga community instills that value of obtaining a work/life balance, there are not many tools out there to support us. The Business of Yoga is getting in my way. When I first starting teaching yoga, my teacher training (thankfully) included a dedicated workshop on the business of yoga. Never before did I realize all my teachers had to go through to obtain that persona and presence at the front of the classroom. The requirements to maintain your own separate business in addition to creating your brand and fill your classes can be quite overwhelming. Government regulations haven’t caught up with social media and still require some outdated requirements just so that we can be authorized to teach and to protect the studios that we love and call home. Never before did I realize all the hoops and juggling that came with running my own yoga business. Create an LLC they said. Post on social media they said. No one said anything about needing to maintain a blog and a website when the blog didn’t cut standards. No one mentioned all the paper I might have to waste printing out fliers to submit to my studios so they could even employ me, by government regulations. Darn that red tape.

And then there is the continuing education and finding your niche. I feel so jealous sometimes of the teachers I have met who have time to attend so many workshops and have already found their own particular brand of yoga. Can I just show up and make everyone giggle? Is that a yoga style? Can I make jokes about spirit fingers during Warrior I and make my students hold plank without branding it? Not to get me wrong. I’m kinda finding my own niche. I love outdoor yoga and randomly doing yoga poses places I’m not supposed to be doing them, like on my lunch hour in my business attire and climbing a tree in my backyard. But how do I know if that is my “brand”? Can I market “Random Yoga?”
I love that every yoga teacher I have met has their own certain way of teaching and I suppose that to remain a student forever is the goal of yoga. So that makes me Wonder Woman apparently. I still get butterflies when I go into my regular class and I still stumble and fall out of tree pose when I am a bit too jumpy. I forget to practice asanas sometimes and I never have gotten the hang of meditation. I try, but according to Yoda… that’s only “not doing” it.  I stay up too many nights working on publishing materials and posting classes on facebook and don’t get enough sleep sometimes. I’m overly critical of myself and I hope I’m doing my students some good. I guess that’s all I can wish for.

I guess to make a long story short (too late), remember the next time you go to a class. Be gentle with the teacher who cues left instead of right. Be patient with them and with your fellow students when something doesn’t go according to plan. Know that they are doing their best and think of all they have had to go through to make it to the front of the class for you. Work/life balance is not just balancing job/ home life but might mean balancing main job/second job/ taking classes/ home life and a hundred other scenarios. As yoga teachers, we too have to remember to take those deep breaths, smile at our mistakes, and secretly cry sometimes at the amount of effort that goes into doing something you love. And I do love teaching yoga.