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Yoga off the Mat

March 5th, 2014

yamasoppositeYamas and Niyamas, have you heard of them?

There are 10 total, 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas.  The Yamas are precepts that we can follow to help us relate and interact with the world, nature and all we share this planet with.  The Niyamas help us to better know ourselves, care for ourselves and allow our “being nature” to be strong, balanced, and harmonious as we live in the world.

As difficult or easy as our practice can be on the mat, Yamas and Niyamas give us tools to fine tune who and how we are off the mat.  Whether you have had a yoga practice for years or just beginning I encourage you to include the Yamas and Niyamas in your practice.

Begin by reading a bit about them. There are plenty of resources for studying starting with this article, googling, and books.  Two of my favorites are The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Sri Swami Satchidananda) and How Yoga Works (Michael Roach and Christie Mc Nally).  The first one is a translation and commentary of the sutras, while the later is a story that depicts the sutras.  More importantly I encourage you to explore them as a daily practice.

Starting with the Yamas, you can begin by exploring what it means to be in the world as a non-harming, truthful, non-stealing, moderate, non-possessive being.  Seem a bit overwhelming?  Pick one and begin to shine some light onto how you move through your day (life) with awareness of that Yama.  Let’s say you choose non-possessive (aparigraha), you may begin by noticing how attached you feel to people, situations, beliefs, things in your life.  What would it feel like to let go?  Look around you and what are you holding onto that you no longer need?  Time to set it free.  You may just find some freedom in doing it for yourself.

As you turn to the Niyamas you begin to self reflect, study who you truly are, cleansing all that you are complete with, finding deep contentment, and feeling the bliss of being connected to all that is greater than the simplicity of just you.  Gently, so very gently the practice of Niyamas helps us to shed the layers of the ego body identity- how we see ourselves related to who we think we should be, or how we make others happy with our image.

Again take some time to explore each of the Niyamas individually.  Take a day to reach deeply to explore contentment in your life.  In the moments when you start to struggle turn your attention to those things that bring forth joy in your life.  Read, reflect, study and express yourself through the Niyamas.  You can also ask for some help from your local yoga instructor(s).

Each moment you have a choice or decision to make, take a moment to pause and reflect on how you can make it rooted in the Yamas and Niyamas.  Remember you can only be as clear as you are now, and moving towards more clarity.  It is a far leap (and can be self defeating) if you try to bite off more than you can chew with these empowering tools on the yoga path.  Happy trails!

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Traveling Yoga

February 2nd, 2014

travel-language-tipsDon and I are so very grateful on a daily basis, for the opportunities to meet all of the yoga practitioners that visit us both on Cape Cod and Key West.  Because we teach seasonally in both places a great number of our students are likes gypsies, traveling through our area and stopping by for a quick visit.

We meet some amazing people, share our yoga practice on the beach with a diverse level of practitioners and are gifted with a window into the world of Yoga out there.  And of course, we learn from all of you as you bring the world of Yoga to us through your practice, culture and lifestyles.

I often receive emails full of excitement, query and caution prior to the arrival of a traveling yogi or yogini.  They are curious as to how we operate our business, and are mixed with excitement and concern for trying out a new practice, away from their usual teacher/studio/practice.  Their questions often remind me of the gifts we enjoy while we are teaching out on the beach.

Space Limited – Not here

From some of the questions I have been asked, I have gleaned that many of the big cities charge for mats, and with limited space require pre-registration for classes.  I love that we can still offer mats and props for no extra fee (travel light, no extra baggage needed), and with a large beach area we can always pull up some more beach to accommodate students as they arrive.  We love to give you a “de-stress offering” for your vacation so pack lightly and feel free to drop in anytime.  Our philosophy is that there is always room, space and a way to practice with us.

Distractions Welcome

Another great benefit of teaching outdoors is we don’t have to put any pressure on students to arrive on time.  In most studios if someone arrives late, or needs to leave early, it can be a distraction for others.  The sound of the door opening or a mat being laid down can feel so intrusive, and in the effort to create a calm quiet space for practice, there can be pressure to not disturb that environment.

Well welcome to distractions when you take a class outside on the beach!  Our practice is to find the calm, the centered and the stillness inside, because all around us are distractions.  From the sounds of boats, planes and a city nearby to the call of a rooster crowing a few feet away or laughing gulls reminding you to take yourself lightly, each moment on the beach is punctuated with distractions.  That is only what the ears might detect.

Open your eyes and Mother Nature entices you with a whole array of beauty.  The scene of the sea in its sparkling blue, with some days waves crashing while other days a calm sea until a dolphin or ray pierces the surface.  Be still my heart.  Sailboats, seagulls, osprey and pelicans all fill the sky with a sense of floating, soaring and flying.  Then we are reminded to take a breath, connect to the earth under our feet and ground ourselves back into the practice.

 

Your Arrival is Always On Time

Our doors are always open, literally!  Feel free to come when you can and leave if you have to.  We celebrate when people come to share in our practice, and understand when you may have trouble finding “our studio.”  So if you find yourself running late know that you will be greeted with a smile.  We truly are so very happy to share Yoga on the Beach with you, and certainly don’t want it to be a stressful experience.  So relax, arrive, settle in and join us free of any concerns of what time it is.  The time is NOW, and we take a gentle breath with you joyfully when you join us.

Nature’s Bounty

It is a joy to offer a space for practice that truly is natural in its ability to be spacious, calm, forgiving and free.  Take some time in nature with us to help you unwind from your lifestyle of not enough time, space and even breath. No rules needed, come as you are, when you can and join us for as long as you can.  Namaste

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Righteousness

January 4th, 2014

Has anyone else noticed how unattractive righteousness is?  I know it may seem like an odd question but for a few months now I’ve been noticing how down right ugly righteousness is.

I have seen it present itself on a road as walkers, bikers and drivers on this small island are vying for their space on the road.  “I have the right to take up the road”, says the group of walkers as they meet up with a group of bikers who believe “I have the right to ride side by side.”  And then a car comes towards it all, adding to the righteousness that their size demands a right to forge ahead demanding all get out of their way.  Scowling, angry hand gestures and/or yelling ensue and none of it looks very attractive (let alone thoughtful or kind.) The righteousness stand off begins!

It becomes so very apparent when two “wrongs” meet and each one wants to stand in their self righteousness and blame the other for doing the wrong.  For instance a biker rolling through a stop sign meets up with another biker doing the same thing.  Neither one of them wants to admit that they may have just seen themselves in the mirrored action of the other, they just want to point the finger of blame at the other for doing the wrong thing.  The beautiful opportunity to smile in recognition of the common action and be grateful that no harm occurred is missed, and what remains tends to look very dark, moody and angry.

For some reason righteousness tends to lead us down the road of actions that appear unkind, especially when we feel threatened or fearful.  We start telling one another how they were wrong, or what they should have done right, both of which bring on a churlish response.  The slippery slope of unpleasant magnifies as the person being accused of doing wrong will often retaliate with more unpleasant. No one is feeling goodness and down the rabbit hole we go…..

Self responsibility, when we recognize that our actions may be colliding with another, can help us tremendously when in collaboration with kindness.  Seeing the situation from the eyes of sharing rather than competing is another way to combat the ugly nature of righteousness. We find ourselves somewhere between courtesy and gentility when we open our eyes and hearts to one another.  In the nature of sharing, righteousness no longer holds its grip on our spirit demanding us to spew out fiery barbs, it softens into a feeling that is reciprocally beneficial.

We all have rights, yet it is a dangerous and ugly spirit within when we see our individual rights are more important than how our rights relate with others.   Two people meeting with the right for space, viewing their rights over another creates disharmony, disconnection, and often aggression.  Yet two people with the right for space, who also see that other’s rights are valid will find a way to share the space in a thoughtful, kind way.  Who knows, they may share a laugh or a phone number.

Self reflecting on your own moments of righteousness gives you an opportunity to offer a kinder, thoughtful and gentle sense of yourself into the world.  As this New Year begins why not take some time to be aware of your own moments of righteousness and open to softening into understanding and sharing.  I’m in on that!  See you at the crossroads.

 

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10 Things I’ve Learned on the way to 60

December 8th, 2013

I have been involved with some amazing transformations these past few weeks.

Here is a simple list of what I learned along the way…

1.  I make my choices whether I am aware or not.

I seem to enjoy the choices made WITH awareness!

2. The sweetness of life is magnified as drama is released.

Yes that’s right “drama free living” creates a sweetness in contentment that can not be compared!

3. There are so many ways to live, learn and die.

I embrace diversity!

4.  Resistance exists.

Now I look at how I can live aware of its vibrational chord, and resonate acceptance!

5. Driving up to Miami is not such a big deal.

Especially true when you are traveling with a friend, to see another friend!

6.  Celebrating your birth is a joy.

Somewhere around the 58th day of celebrating I got tired!

7. Pomegranates are amazing, once you get the knack of deseeding them.

Here is the link that saved me: http://lifehacker.com/5895852/deseed-a-pomegranate-in-10-seconds-using-a-wooden-spoon

8.  I am blessed.

Each day counting my blessings expands my understanding of how blessed I AM!

9.  Paddleboarding at sunset with a dolphin is euphoric.

Enough said!

10.  60 isn’t so scary!

My spirit is ageless and the rest is following!

 

 

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Indulging Forgiveness

October 31st, 2013

As the path of life, with its many lessons, converges with the yoga path each of us gets to discover and unfold.  Lessons are presented.  New concepts are explored.  Old behaviors show themselves to us (sometimes over and over again.)  Yoga gives us that extra moment of timeless nature to pause and reflect on it all.

Recently I have been pondering a concept of life, and at first the words “sinner to savior” came to mind.  Now granted Key West just finished 10 days of indulging, carousing, celebrating, creating and rabblerousing all in the name of FantasyFest!  Offering Yoga on the Beach each morning I found myself looking at how to market morning well-being, after the evening celebrations and late nights.

When the term “sinner to savior” popped into my mind I realized that thought was coming from a very old teaching, rooted in my Catholic upbringing, ripe with duality.  It didn’t seem to really represent where I was with this concept (only where I have been.)  My mind did a few flips and flops and I finally settled on “indulgence and forgiveness.”

That is the concept I’ve been searching for – to explore and to share – Indulgence and Forgiveness.  How do they play off of one another?  How are they one and the same?  When we indulge our way through life enjoying the moment does forgiveness have to be an after thought or action, or can it be right there in the moment, linked in a self loving way with our enjoyment? Indulging Forgiveness

Yoga helps me to continually look for the way of Unity. At what point does the sense of duality shift for us, as with these 2 dynamic energies, to create oneness – one thing?  Just as inhalation and exhalation (2 other very dynamic forces) creates breath, how does indulging and forgiveness blend to form one thing?  Indulgent Forgiveness

In each of us is a mindfulness that rises up to explore new concepts, to expand our awareness and consciousness.  Yoga is a practice in this process.  On the mat and off of it, in a group or by ourselves, we have the time, space and grace to allow mindfulness to embrace new concepts, and to discover the way of living life cooperatively.  When we are face to face with a decision, and we have awakened a level of mindfulness that is rooted in self nurturing, it is easy to have our life choices and challenges move from “sinner vs savior” to indulgent forgiveness.

Each and every choice is no longer an act of doing “bad” that needs penance. Instead your choices are looked at from a self- loving, caring and forgiving place.  How will this truly bring joy and a feeling of well being to me becomes the question?  Will I feel good in the moment, only to be followed by self hatred, disgust or a need to punish myself OR will the feeling of good linger and meld into the next moment of choice or life lesson?  Asking these questions on the bridge of decision helps us to cross the bridge onto the decisive side of well being.

Some lessons we choose to learn from watching others and mimicking in a very subconscious nature.  Here is one that you can raise to the surface of consciousness and make on your own every moment.  The lesson of Indulging Forgiveness, a moment to moment awareness of how your next decision will create long standing well being for you and linger around for a long time, while influencing many.  Pause, take note, feel and with your next breath choose with awareness your next act of Indulging Forgiveness.

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