Two chances to practice on Thursdays!

I am pleased to announce that I have a new class that is good for beginners, or those who want to find more time to settle into their postures. I am doing a Hatha Yoga class, which means minimal flow work, lots of holds, incorporating props to find different ways to explore the pose. This class is on Thursday mornings, 9:15 at Willow Glen Yoga.

If Hatha isn’t your bag, directly afterwards, I am teaching a Chair Yoga class at 11 am at Almaden Yoga, Via Valiente location.

As ever, if you have any questions, please email me. I would love to hear from you.

 

My possible pasts

Recently, I caught up with a very old friend who I haven’t spoke to in well over a decade. Thank you, Facebook! Our boyfriends of the time were best friends, and we would all hang out once in a while. What was interesting was talking with her (aside from her being cool) but also realizing how much we had in parallel at that juncture of our lives, and neither of us had any idea about our similarities. Remember, our main connection was who we were dating.

The other interesting thing was to find out that she has stayed in touch, sort of, with my old boyfriend…and to find out after all these years what has happened to him. He has big health issues, and has been getting multiple surgeries to manage them, and he’s only in his early 40s, just like me.

Years and years went by of talking with people, and everything was just the “same old” thing, but now, in my 40s, people I hung out with in high school are dying and getting surgeries. People I dated, and otherwise. For some reason, Pink Floyd’s song Your Possible Pasts got stuck in my head, chiefly for the title. It just got me to thinking though, I’ve been so lucky. Pretty much every possible past I had was a pretty awful one.

When I was a teenager, I hitchhiked across America, which is a story for a different blog post altogether. The salient point here is that for a time, I traveled around with two other girls who were my same age. Both girls returned home a few months before I did, but headed back out on the road a short time later. One girl was eventually abducted and abused horribly, resulting in long term rehab therapy (she had to relearn to walk) and had sustained substantial brain damage. My other friend never could settle down again. She had a child, but abandoned him repeatedly to head back out on the road. How is it that I was in the lucky 33%?

My possible pasts. As a librarian, I loathe to give you any spoilers, so I won’t tell you what book it is (unless you email me, then I will), but once I read a book that had a parent and child one of the worst scenarios I can possibly imagine. At the end of the book, as the parent is breathing their [ha ha! Being tricky by not naming the gender here, so as to not set a spoiler trail] last, they say “we’ve always been lucky, haven’t we?” That line was so haunting to me, and it’s kind of a touchstone line I have for myself. I’ve always been lucky too. Not in the obvious ways, but in the grand scheme of things, what luck.

I hope you are all lucky too, in all the right ways.

 

 

Yoga Therapy Available Now!

I am well into my first year as a Yoga Therapist in training, and am free to see clients! I have already been seeing a number of people, with some good results so far. I love this work, since it is where my librarian brain and my yoga brain meet. When you do reference interviews with people at the library, you listen and take in all the information; what they need, what they think they need, what they want, how the  information will be of service. Then, you have to figure out how to get that information. Sometimes, the obvious search terms, engines, or resources don’t work. After that comes the fun part (or the “hunt”, as I like to think of it).

Similarly, in working with people who would like to build more yoga into their lives, I have to take into consideration the goals of their hearts, their emotional state, the consideration of their bodies and current capabilities. I also have to think about where, how and how much they can realistically do, while working towards the goal. The person may have a restriction or special consideration such as joint instability, recovery from a major illness, muscle weakness, chronic pain, or multiple medications.

Now that you know why I like doing yoga therapy, maybe you’d like to know what it is. Yoga therapy applies movement, breathwork, and meditation to work towards optimal health and well-being. It can be directed to address ordinary special conditions (pre-natal or cardiovascular), more unique conditions (cancer recovery, chronic pain) or in just finding a way to bring more balance into daily life, changing to meet the client’s current condition as required. I personally use this practice in my life to moderate/neutralize my predisposition to migraines, modulate my personal tendency toward stress and anxiety, and if I have an injury, working more conscientiously to support and heal that area.

In working with me, it is a partnership. I get a snapshot of daily life from the client, along with their concerns, goals, and any potential issues, seeing if we can get an idea of where there may be any imbalances that are counterproductive. Then we work together through a selection of asanas (poses), weaving breathwork (pranayama) and meditation throughout to develop a 15 minute sequence that the client will do everyday. After a few weeks, we will meet again, and refine/change/adapt the sequence to keep progress moving forward, and perhaps even a little more deeply. Yoga Therapy is transformative because you develop increased body awareness, you are fully in charge of your experience, and the therapist (me) works closely with you to help you find your edge and keep your goal in mind.

Yoga Therapy generally costs upwards of $100 per session, but as a first year intern, I am seeing people on a need-based sliding scale of $25-$50 per session. I will finish my 500 hour training at the end of the year. My rates will go up January 1st, 2018. So, if this is something you are interested in, come see me at the low price! (And then come see me again at the higher price)!

If you’ve already seen me, I’d love for you to leave your thoughts in the comments.

One More Time with Acute Focus

I’ve told you all of my friend and teacher, Kyczy Hawk before. She says so many wise and funny things that I think I could probably publish my own book called The Kyczy Compendium, but as she is a published author with multiple useful and readable books under her belt with another on the way, she may take umbrage at me mining her sayings for my own gain. Luckily for her, she has little to worry about on that front, as posting here on my blog every couple of weeks is about as disciplined as I can be at this point in my life.

I have the great privilege of assisting Kyczy at her Somatics class at Willow Glen Yoga every week, where we both work. Somatics is made up of a different series of movements which may build on each other in a class. Each movement set is carried out slowly and conscientiously in repetition of approximately 6-8 times. It’s a wonderful practice, that I highly recommend. Click here for more on Somatics. A few weeks ago, we had finished most of a set of Somatics exercises and she said, “One more time with acute focus, in case this was becoming ordinary”.

For whatever reason, this struck me. First off, it enriched my mind/body experience of my class that day. But also, our days are made of routines, and even when something isn’t routine, our brains try to make them so as quickly as possible. How much in a day do we perform unconsciously? As a matter of surety, I will die someday, and so will you. Why don’t we do our best to see the ordinary as extraordinary? With all of the random chance everywhere, with all of the systems in our body just pumping away, with all the crazy random chance that makes life suddenly go from one direction into another one altogether, I challenge us to try to bring that attention, that acute focus into our daily lives, or maybe just even a part of our lives. Let me know if you try it.

 

 

Sometimes, just when you need it…

Friends, I have not been enjoying anything approaching good health. For three days, I ran a fever, compounded by chills, severe, bone-crushing body aches, and nausea. It also felt like an elephant sat on my chest.

Generally, I get asthma like symptoms after a severe cold and have special medicine I take to get through it and enjoy happy and healthy lungs the rest of the year. Because of our incredible blessing of an overabundance of rain this year in California, all those long-dormant seeds came blooming into glorious life all at once, and I am wheezing and out of breath. I couldn’t even teach my class this morning, I’ve been whistling and rattling so much from my chest.

I hate the sensation of not being able to breathe. It makes me feel like I am going to panic, or cry, or freak out and die. (Literally…I imagine freaking out, running out of breath, falling over and hitting my head on the sharp corners of our coffee table and bleeding out before the kids get home from school).

So, there I am sitting on the couch, listening to my rattling and laboring breath, trying to meditate, but spazzing myself out instead. I feel demoralized after so much illness this week, totally out of it and anxious. So, I got online to try to give myself something else, anything else to think about it since even focusing on a book was beyond my reach. And there it was, from the wonderful and erudite B.K.S. Iyengar. I almost cried.

Do not think of yourself as a small, compressed, suffering thing. Think of yourself as graceful and expanding, no matter how unlikely it may seem at the time.

Then I got rewarded with one full breath. It will have to be enough for now. I am thankful.

 

Gentle Flow class to benefit March of Dimes

As I’ve said before, I have twin girls. We did what anyone with multiples should do, and joined a great club for parents of multiples, Gemini Crickets. We formed a playgroup of people who had kids in the same 6 months or so as you, although our particular playgroup just absorbed more and more folks like crazy, since we are a gregarious bunch. Now, I was super lucky. My girls went full term, and aside of a bit of jaundice and a hernia, they were healthy, and weighed about what many single newborns weigh (each).

In our playgroup though, I soon discovered that over half of the moms in my group had one or both children in the NICU (intensive care unit for babies). Some of them had prolonged stays. Some had extremely long stays, and some were able to bring home just one baby before the other one could join the family. Some were only able to bring one home ever.

My very good friend decided to lead the charge for preemie awareness join the March of Dimes baby-focused fundraiser, March for Babies. Since 2011, our team (Team Pirate Power) has raised more money than most other friend and family groups in the Silicon Valley, and is up there with the top teams in the state. This money goes to research and education to help prevent premature birth, and to help beat the odds when things go wrong.

I am offering a gentle flow class on 4/23, 4 pm at Willow Glen Yoga. They are generously donating the space, and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the March of Dimes. I am not taking a dime (haha!). If you want to just donate, you can do so here. If you’d like to donate online and come to class (please do!), just bring your receipt. You can also bring a checkbook or cash the day of the event (but still drop me a line to let me know you will be attending if you can). All donations are tax-deductible. Suggested donation is $20, but feel free to donate more, if it is within your budget. Please join us! MOD_class

 

Kindly rejecting our own expectations

In pretty much every class I teach is that there will be at least one person that berates themselves for their difficulty in approaching a pose. For example, a student of mine may be working towards Dancer pose, which is a balancing pose as well as a backbend. At the first sign of wobbling, or of falling out, the response is often “I can’t balance!” or maybe, “I’m just so weak” or “I have no strength!”.

What’s behind this unhelpful dialogue? In what universe is anyone expected to be able to do something perfectly every time, or even the first time?

I imagine the underlying thinking must be some variety of the following:

I can’t do this

I look dumb trying to do this

Everyone else can do this except for me

People must think I am really weak

I will never be able to do this

But, here’s the thing. The person who is doing it right now while you aren’t either really worked hard to get there, or has some genetic privilege in their favor. A perfectly executed yoga pose may take hours, or maybe even hundreds of hours to refine. And, here’s a secret you may not know. Yoga giveth, and yoga taketh away. You can practice a pose for a long time, and one day, it may not feel good in your body. Or you may have lost access to it due to illness or injury, or mysterious forces. And, that’s the practice. Yoga (despite what all those glossy magazine covers may indicate) is a practice of non-attachment, of being present with what is vs. what we want it to be. It may come back, it may not, and there are still other things to explore. Yoga isn’t just about one pose, or about perfection. Suffice to say, among many other benefits, yoga makes us more comfortable with our imperfections.

First things first though. Start speaking in the present tense. If you can’t restrain yourself from absolutes, at least put a time frame on them. Say, “I can’t balance today”. “Today, I feel weak”. Today may not be your best day, but you don’t know what tomorrow holds yet.

 

 

 

Boddhisattva Prayer for Humanity

Free form prayers and meditations are great, but sometimes, I come across something that reminds me of what my long-range goals are, in a better version than my everyday self. Similar to the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, this one has it all.

May I be a guard for those who need protection
A guide for those on the path
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood
May I be a lamp in the darkness
A resting place for the weary
A healing medicine for all who are sick
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings
May I bring sustenance and awakening
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow
And all are awakened.

See me at Lokahi Acupuncture!

Next Wednesday, the 1st of March, I will launch my new semi-private class at Lokahi Acupuncture. The focus is foundational movement, strength and flexibility building and learning yoga from the ground up. My space at Lokahi is very limited (maximum of three participants!), so if you are looking for an intimate class to develop your yoga skills, email me and I can get you signed up. We can work toward your specific health goals, while meeting your needs with any concerns you may have.

These classes will be comprised of a combination of yoga, meditation and breathwork to center you body, mind and soul.

If you haven’t been to Lokahi yet, check out their offerings. All of the acupuncturists are top-notch practitioners and kind people, and I personally receive care there as well.

 

Time: Wednesdays 11:30-12:45

Cost: $30, or $25 if you sign up for multiple sessions

Contact me to arrange a private session, or an alternate time.