December 12, 2009

Sacred Morning Toast

Posted in Yoga tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:13 pm by moondeva

Yoga Spy asks, when do Yoga Teachers practice?

My practice both before and after becoming a yoga teacher, has always been full of variety. Also, it depends what you mean by yoga practice. Asana? Pranayama? Meditation? Mindfulness? Parenting? It’s All Yoga, right?

My home asana practice has typically fallen somewhere between 1-3 times per week, sometimes 20 minutes, sometime 60. I, like most students, tend not to practice as “hard” at home as I do when I go take a class. I enjoy starting on the floor mostly and then work my way up, and usually end with some time upside down. I usually choose legs up the wall.  Heaven! 

About five years ago, the year after I finished my teacher training, I felt so unmotivated to practice at home and I realized that I had been pressuring myself to live up to some imagined perfect-yoga-teacher-home-practice. I was so passionate about my teaching, but I realized I was also exhausted!  So, I allowed myself to only practice restoratives if I wanted to. Well, I did a mostly restorative practice for a whole year. Because I let myself do what my body craved – the restfulness – I looked forward to my practice so much more. And, interestingly enough, at the end of that year of restoratives, I found that I was actually stronger and more flexible than during my whole year of training when I was practicing 5-7 times per week!

A regular meditation practice has never manifested for me. I sometimes meditate for 5-10 minutes at the end of my practice if the phone hasn’t rung, or (insert excuse here). My meditations usually come more spontaneously. For instance, while reading a great philosophy book, I’ll come across an inspiring passage and I’ll just close my eyes and feel into that idea, watch my breath and body. This is often where I get great inspiration for classes or workshops.

 In general, I have never gotten into a first-thing-in-the-morning asana practice. There’s no way on This Green Earth that I am waking up any earlier than I have to. Sleep is Medicine! After I’ve gotten my daughter off to school, and myself ready for the day, and baby is playing with something interesting, it is my Sacred Time to just sip tea, eat my almond butter/strawberry jam toast, and read my favorite article or blog. Creating the container of a relaxing morning is part of my yoga practice.

Nowadays, I enjoy getting out of the house to take a class a couple  times a month. But mostly I find myself squeezing in a downdog or hip-openers on the living room floor next to the baby. When I’m trying to fall back asleep in the middle of the night after the baby has nursed, I’ll practice my easy breath, or meditate on drawing my senses inward. And, almost every day, I make time for Nap-asana!

I’m a firm believer that the practice should be adapted to fit the practitioner and his/her changing needs and goals. I am also increasingly falling into the camp of Less is More. Like my new favorite teacher, Mark Whitwell suggests, all you need is 7 minutes a day of non-obsessive movement and breath. Ahhh.

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Best of ’09: New Food

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 4:44 am by moondeva

December 12 New food.  You’ve never had Mexican food until you’ve dined at Mexico DF in San Francisco. If you live in the Bay Area, RUN, don’t walk to this place. If you don’t live nearby, pray that someday soon you will be in the area and be able to savor this incredible, gourmet Mexican food.  All the food is so fresh, with real authentic choices like you’d get in Mexico (I’m told), as well as the California spin-offs. I’m not a food writer so I don’t even know how to describe it. Something like 5 different ceviche to choose from. A tequila bar (I was 5 months pregnant so the world was spared the antics of “Her-Tequilaness”. But they have world’s best Mexican hot chocolate as a stand in.) Pulled pork (pause  for drooling). Really, any part of the pork you’re into… tongue tacos, anyone?

Best of 09 cont….Dec. 7 through 11

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 4:29 am by moondeva

 

December 7  Best blog find of the Year: Have to say this is super tough since I only just starting reading blogs a few months ago and there are soooo many faves. Since my mommy brain is mostly fried, I am loving the humor these days so my fave in that category is Aunt Becky at Mommy Wants Vodka. Pure hilarity!  Haven’t found a favorite Yoga Insights blog yet, but have a whole new list of blogs as of yesterday and looking forward to reading them. Really love Gwen Bell because of her insights, and also for this Best of ’09 thang which has helped me get started blogging! thanks!

December 8  Moment of peace. My 2009 best moment of peace hasn’t happened yet. But I have a plan – keep reading. First, some context (and venting).  I try to make regular moments of peace for myself amidst the yoga teaching, mothering, wife-ing, householding, entrepreneur-ing. I am the kind of person who can get a gazillion things done during a couple hours. But, now I have an 8-month old. It has been 8 years since I had a little baby in the house. I knew things would be different, but I forgot how little time I would have to Get Things Done. Now, I’m lucky if I have 10 minutes to check email while eating my breakfast, while holding my foot over the glowing blue button on the CPU that The Crawling Baby is obsessed with pushing. I’ve been trying to get to writing this post for 3 days. 

OK, now for the Plan for the Moment of Peace: Every year on the Winter Solstice, I build a special Yule fire – adding big branches of rosemary, lavender, and little things that I’ve saved throughout the year that it’s time to get rid of: dried roses from my glorious bushes out front, little prayers that I’ve tucked under into my altar… Last year we didn’t turn on any electric lights (or tv, or computer) when the day darkened. We just filled the house with candlelight and firelight. I’ll try for the same thing this year although not sure how it will go with a lot of candles and The Crawling Baby. Maybe the fire will have to suffice. In any event, I plan on cozying up with hot chocolate, my kiddies, my fire, and my brimming Yuletide Spirit to celebrate the Season of Peace.

December 9 Challenge. Giving birth the old-fashioned way. ‘Nuff said.

December 10 Album of the year.  I’m always hunting for great Yoga music. I like Classical Indian or ambient music that has a classical Indian flavor. The Album “Anjali” features acoustic guitarist Michael Mandrell and Indian music master alchemist, Benjy Wertheimer. Mellow and intriguing, great background music for massage or meditation, but also great, almost shamanic, for asana practice. Not too trippy/New Age-y. Student tested, teacher approved.

December 11 The best place.  Hmm. risking cliché, The Present Moment is the best place, Always.

December 11, 2009

Holisti-Mom Is Born

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 8:54 pm by moondeva

All Moms wish they had extra arms. Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, Beauty, and favorite among Women, has 4. If you need more, go ask Durga. She has 8! Anyway, inspired to make an Avatar (you know that is a Sanskrit word, right?), I photo-shopped this beauty into existence. All rights reserved, please.  Look! She can keep house, make natural remedies, recycle, raise kids, practice yoga, all while keeping a beneficent smile on her face!

December 7, 2009

Best of ’09

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 5:18 am by moondeva

Thanks, Gwen Bell for this idea to help us reflect positively on our year. It’s been a big one! If all of you want to post your best of ’09 also, visit her blog for the instructions.  

Posting for a group of them for Dec. 1-6 since I am making up for lost time here!  

December 1 Trip. My best trip this year was definitely the birth of my son, Jozef, on April 21st. What a ride!  It had been 8 years since I gave birth to my daughter, and although I knew I could rock it out sans medication, I had forgotten (conveniently) just how intense it was.  But, after a relatively quick labor (sixish hours) of riding the waves of an unmedicated birth trip, the little guy surprised all of us by peeking his head out while I was standing up. Peek is maybe not the best word since it sounds all sweet and gentle. Out of nowhere as a contraction came along I was overtaken by a huge force and looked like one of those olympic weight lifters in a mega-vein-busting squat. Jozef was charging the gates! You should have seen the midwife, she had apparently just been standing around chatting with my sister while I was laboring and then when I did the crazy Goddess of Birth squat she leapt into action – hustling to get this whole blue paper suit on (what were we delivering? nuclear materials?) Then she told me to get on the table. All I remember is that I kept repeating “I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that! ” as this baby/my body is NOT STOPPING PUSHING! Somehow I was hoisted to the table and a few minutes later, Voila (easy as that, she says), I have my beautiful little guy cuddling up to my chest as I kiss his warm, wet head. 

December 2 Restaurant moment. For sure my best restaurant moment was the day before Jozef was born. I am 85 months pregnant and it was a super hot day out. Something about the heat, and probably being constantly hungry, had me craving for Indian food for lunch. So, the hubby and I head to our favorite Indian lunch place and order up the works. As we are waiting for our food to arrive, I am overcome by a feeling of LOVE.  I reach across the table and touch dear Szymon’s hand and tell him (feeling all romantic and sentimental), “I hope we will grow very, very old together.” Now, the smell of Indian food and chai and mango lassi can very easily drive me into a mystical fervor and day of the week, but this was different. Like I was on, as Aunt Becky says, The Drugs.  Since I was just a few days out from my due date I realized that my body must be getting ready for labor by turning on the Serotonin Factory. I’m telling you, I’ve never had Indian Food that tasted SO GOOD!  It was like eating Heaven. 

December 3 Article. Speaking of Serotonin you have to read this Article: The Brain-Gut Connection” on AltMedAngel.  It goes into the answers to these three questions: Why do we get butterflies in our stomach before a performance? Why does indigestion produce nightmares? Why are antidepressants now also being used for gastrointestinal ailments?

I’ve read about this topic before, but this article had some great information that I’ve never read before. I’ll post more about this topic another time.

December 4 Book. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. My friend, Kim, who has forever been the one to turn me on to the good read, gave me a thrashed copy of this book that had already been passed around to everyone else and finally made its way to me. Since my father was a young boy in Germany during WWII, I felt like a had a small window into his experience. He told me many stories that were similar to the characters’. Such a vivid, touching book that managed to make even the dark places humorous.

December 5 Night out.  My favorite night out was at my friend, Ashley’s wedding. It was an absolute fairytale wedding. She rode up to the aisle in a freakin’ cherried out horse-drawn carriage!!  As her Maven of Honor (because I’m obviously not a maid any more, but too Hot to be a Matron), I got to unload two Spectacular Speeches at the rehearsal dinner, and reception. I’m just So Talented! 

December 6 Workshop or conference. I didn’t do much workshop-attending this year as mostly I was pregnant or maternity-leaving or being a human pacifier. But, in September I led a 4-hour mini-retreat for the Fall Equinox. We honored the past year, and the passing of the long days by practicing traditional Sun Salutations. It was a great beginning to my 09/10 Mini-Retreat Series. Updates on that soon!

December 5, 2009

O.P.P. Other People’s Posts

Posted in humor, Yoga tagged , , at 8:49 pm by moondeva

Thanks to YogaDawg at My Itchy Third Eye (love that blog title) for turning me onto this hilarious video. Setty Smooth’s booty shakin’ groove  “Goin’ To Yoga Class” music video. What a guy will do for the girl he loves wants. “What ya’ doin today? What ya’ doin today? I’m goin’ to Yoga Class!”

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThDCf2F8jUo

The Meaning Behind the Movement

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 7:57 pm by moondeva

 

article by Nicole Becker. All rights reserved.

The Sanskrit word Vinyasa means “placing the body”. We often encounter it as the name of a style of Yoga class which focuses heavily on postures that flow together coordinating with the inhale and exhale. Vinyasa is also commonly used to refer to the Plank-Chaturanga-Upward Facing Dog-Down Dog series that is relied upon as the athletic “chorus” between the “verses” of the standing postures. Although you may know that this little series of poses is a small portion of the traditional Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) series, most of us are never taught the meaning behind these ubiquitous postures.

The traditional Surya Namaskar series is made up of 12 postures that correspond with 12 aspects of the Sun. Being essential to Life, the Sun has a special place of honor in many traditions, Yoga being no exception. Each posture in the Sun Salutation is meant to be a meditation on a particular aspect of Light. When taking the postures of a Sun Salute, one is mindful of the corresponding chakra/area of the body and is repeating the mantra internally three times. For example, in Plank, which arrives with an exhalation, the focus is on the throat chakra, and the mantra is “Om Khagaya Namaha“. Khagaya refers to “The One Who Moves Through the Sky”, or “The All Pervading Light”, signifying the unending passage of time and eternal light that pervades it. As we repeat the mantra, we meditate on our own Life and the Light of Consciousness – our eternal nature and also our impermanence in this bodily form. It might occur to you that this could take awhile to contemplate! That is why the mantra is repeated three times (to slow the movements down), and the Sun Salutation series is usually repeated 12 times, or multiples of 12.

Although ever present in modern yoga classes, Chaturanga – that clever yoga push-up – is not part of the traditional Sun Salute series. Instead, Eight-Point Pose (Ashtangasana) follows Plank, still on the exhalation, offering toes-knees-chest-chin to the ground. With the attention to the Solar Plexus/Navel, this posture honors the “Giver of Strength and Nourishment”. Repeating silently “Om Pushne Namaha” we honor the aspect of the Sun “Pushne” which is the source of all our food and thus all our strength.

Inhaling into Upward Facing Dog (or sometimes Cobra), we turn our focus to the pelvic chakra and open the chest, looking upward, honoring “Hiranya Garbhaya“, the Golden Cosmic Self. Signifying the absorption of the individual into the universal Ocean of Light, our small movement becomes a bigger offering to shining interconnectedness. “Om Hiranya Garbhaya Namaha.”

With Downward Facing Dog we repeat inwardly, “Om Marichaye Namaha“. Fingers and toes spread wide, hips reaching to the sky, we shift our focus from pelvis to throat. Like rays of the sun beaming through parting clouds, our limbs mimic the brilliant rays of the Sun. We become “Marichi” – The Light.

Understanding the meaning behind the movements, the Vinyasa becomes much more than just a means to get buff yoga arms, or spice up the practice with extra heat. Each movement becomes an opportunity to connect with an aspect of your self and the Natural Order of Things.

Ultimately, the Sun Salutation is a practice that honors the Inner Light that radiates from our own Hearts. Now maybe that Chaturanga will be a little more enjoyable. Better yet, replace it every once and a while with Eight Point Pose.

* Update: Nicole is teaching a 2-hour “Mantras of the Sun”  workshop at her Northern California studio, Ojas Yoga Center on Saturday, June 17 from 3-5 p.m. Click here for registration details.

Ready.Set.Blog!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 7:40 pm by moondeva

Argh! Just want to get this blog going already! I’ve spent several weeks trying to think of The Most Clever Blog Title Ever. Trying to be clever is tiring! So, I will probably change the title of this blog several times. Keeps it interesting, right? I’ve put a list of potential titles at the end of this post. Let me know what you think of the current title, or which one(s) you like or, suggest one of your own.

A little about me (in no particular order): Yoga Teacher, Holistic Aromatherapist, student of Eastern Medicine  & Nutrition, Massage Therapist, Wife, and Mom of 2. My own favorite comedian. Always wanted to write a book. Will start with blog! Ideally, this blog is a way for me to share tidbits of life, laughter, love, and learning. about natural health, yoga, the humorous and challenging pieces of everyday life. To save me writing more here now, you can see what I’m up to with my Holistic Health Practice at http://www.anamiyoga.com/

I’ve also been holding off posting anything since I wanted to have special pages like all those other pretty blogs. Different pages for the categories of What I Do, What I’m Interested In, What I Think I Want To Blog About. But, I kept running into the same problem which is that most of the stuff I think I will post could belong to more than one category (because look at me I’m So Holistic!). So, in order to get things started I’m doing away with the compulsion to categorize and I will just POST! Maybe categories will reveal themselves later.

Potential Blog Titles:

Connected Living (too boring?)

The Holistic Householder (I like this one…)

Live.Laugh.Love.Yoga. (the first one I had up for a while)

The Nameless Formless Blog…. (thought of this at 3 a.m. while nursing baby)

 

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