Archive for ‘yoga’
Sunday, June 7th, 2015
I first received this wonderful reflection of Letting Go during a course I was taking at the Dovestar Institute. As the season’s are changing from spring to summer when we often shed many different layers, I thought it was a perfect time to reflect on what it means to Let Go. Enjoy, Nancy
To “let go” does not mean to stop caring, it means I can’t do it for someone else.
To “let go” is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization I can’t control another.
To “let go” is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To “let go” is to admit powerlessness,which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To “let go” is not to try to change or blame another, it is to make the most of myself.
To “let go” is not to care for, but to care about.
To “let go” is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To “let go” is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
To “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own destinies.
To “let go” is not to be protective, it is to permit another to face reality.
To “let go” is not to deny, but to accept.
To “let go” is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
To “let go” is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
To “let go” is to fear less and love more.
Monday, September 1st, 2014
As a yoga teacher I know the Yoga path is one of great learning, challenges and tremendous gifts rooted in deep personal growth. We are constantly offered the space to step onto this path that is paved with the powerful element of yogic philosophy, as we traverse the landscape of profound and mystical teachings from the wisdom of ages. Somewhere deep within in each of us we understand these teachings. They call to us and yet we are equally steeped in a culture that clashes with them. The root of the challenge we share is found in that clashing of the softness of our understanding and the firmness that our cultural upbringing holds on us in the subconscious. Raising awareness is our way.
To embrace the teachings, to infuse our life with them, to shed the Samscara (habits) of our cultural up bringing, and to shine the light of the true yoga path is our trial.
As I challenge myself each class, I invite you to join me and challenge yourself to bring forth the voice and words that reflect the yogic path.
Starting with Namaha, bowing to the greater esssence, find words that invite your students to explore the poses and unlock their bodies. Let go of the words that reflect statements rooted in Ego and express what YOU want from or for them. Does it matter at all what you want? Catch yourself when you begin to say, “next I want you to…” and convert it to a statement of offering that brings them to becoming aware of their body or breath in the pose.
Bring your words that cue into the transformative experience that will help the students learn to self-love themselves rather than self abuse. It may take them some time to hear you clearly, as their habit of self-criticism may translate what you are saying. The challenge I extend here is for our practice of alignment with the tenants of yoga to be expressed from our own loving kindness, into the cueing expressions we use and the actions we take. Repeat over, and over again to help them to hear this powerful message.
Make your cueing be full of allowing and diminish the importance of how things “should” be. Guide them to feel what is available to them in each moment, each posture, each transition as they self discover and expand their own potential. For instance in Warrior I, is the angle of the back foot the focus you are encouraging them to explore, or can they find the position from the hip? What happens when you invite them to start from the hip and place the back foot in a position to support their own hip flexibility, rather than telling them to put the foot at a 42.5 degree angle?
Open your own heart as you listen to your cueing. You will slip into your own habit of cueing, born from your teachers (and their teachers) and hear yourself say, “Next I want you to…” Take that moment to smile, self love and transform again. Look for how you can ask them to explore their practice, feel their experience and align from there.
I am offering this opportunity as a challenge of self growth. As you take this challenge your teaching will grow, as your heart expands. Let me know how it goes.
Sunday, June 1st, 2014
Each time you step onto your yoga mat is a wonderful moment to remind yourself that you are embarking on a practice of being present. For many we slip into our comfort with yoga, looking for the type of class we “like” (i.e. are good at, feel safe, know the routine), take from the same teacher, or practice in the same style only to ignore the habit we have gotten into. While those practices can make us feel good about ourselves temporarily, eventually we become disenchanted, restless, unsatisfied or just plain stuck.
Yoga gives us the time, space and reflection to see our personal habits that are blocking us from truly becoming unified and uncovering true bliss. Or shall I just say Yoga helps us to uncover our happiness. In Sanskrit we call these ruts Samskara (read more about Samskara with the link.) Rooted in Ego, Desire, Aversion and Fear (Avidya), Samskara’s ruts, like a train track, take us along a safe path with limited destinations. A Yoga practice gives us the opportunity to change tracks, or vehicles, even learn to fly!
So many students come from the Western mind that looks for the goal of how a pose “should be.” This style of practice neglects being present in the body and being aware of what one’s own body needs in the moment. Making the transition from a goal driven, mind centric practice to a being present, feeling and mind/heartful practice is a huge leap on the yoga path. Feel your mat (sand or paddleboard) and use it as a touchstone to remind you to awaken and rattle the mind cage while breathing into your body. Then begin your practice from what is available or happening in the present time. What feels tight, restricted, unavailable in your body, in your breath, in your mind is the starting point. Let each pose offered to you in a class be an opportunity to open, regenerate, move, or unleash something within you. Feel it!
In the beginning it can be very helpful to learn from one teacher, or use one style of yoga to become familiar with and understand the practice. Once you understand the nature of the practice, and begin to see your Samskaras (yes, there will be limitless potential there), expansion happens as you venture out again from the comfort of the familiar. Remember your first yoga class? Remember how unfamiliar it all seemed? Let your practice grow by reaching out into your community and discovering new ways to “rock your familiar.” After all yoga is a practice, with life being the event.
Practice on your “mat” how to stretch, center, expand, transition and open, then use that practice in life every time something shifts and changes. It is the practice that will help you to be present, see the shifts coming, breath with ease or dig deep into your strength to find your way gracefully through the transitions that life offers you.
Check out all the different yoga practices offered in your community or while you are on vacation, and enjoy exploring your yoga practice. Don’t look for what you like, but open up to what you can explore. If you always take a vinyasa class try out a restorative or yin class. If you always take a class indoors get outside and explore the unevenness of the Earth or flowing nature of water. When you don’t like a teacher or style of class you might want to take a moment to reflect on why not. What is it about who you are that is being challenged by that teacher or style? Maybe it is just what the doctor ordered up for you to expand in some new or very deep way.
Rattle the cage, then pop that lock. Open to liberation, then set yourself free! Aum, I AM, in all of that simplicity!
Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Why I love it!
It was on a very steamy morning about 4 or 5 years ago when I was inspired to take Savasana, the final relaxation portion of a yoga class, into the ocean. Thus Seavasana was born!
Fully clothed, a few of the students joined me as we laid back into the ocean, floated on our backs, with our ears in the sea and drifted with the waves and current. Sounds divine, doesn’t it?
Well, yes but not always right away. The first thing I discovered was my breath was so tight as my body had contracted when it felt the coolness of the ocean. Then I realized, delightfully, that with my ears in the water I could hear my breath so very clearly. Focusing on the sound of my own breath, I used it to help regulate my body and release into the sea. I love that clarity that the sea gives me to hear my breath and feel my tension.
As my body began to relax and float on the waves I could feel this immense sensation of tension in my neck, shoulders and jaw. WHOA! What is that my mind asked, while my breath kept offering me relaxation. I began to feel this smile melt over my heart and run through my body. EASE in a whole new way was the gift the sea gave me.
Over the years many have joined me in this practice, and it is a gift to be present with so many who explore their own bodies (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) in the medium of the sea. I love witnessing the miracles that have been a part of this practice with my fellow students and teachers. I am honored to be present as they birth ease in the flowing nature of the sea.
What I’ve learned
Letting go can be very hard, and equally very easy. It is the conditioning and the conditions that seem to affect our ability to surrender. I have watched and assisted many who bring a fear of the water into the sea with them for Seavasana. Some find their way from a stiffening tension into a jellyfish like floating relaxation in a breath or two. Others ask for assistance and I simply hold their heads until I feel their body go limp and see their breathing regulate, and I release them to their own mastery. It is such an honor to be witness to the powerful transformation of fear into ease.
I’ve learned to open my eyes during this practice and drink in the vastness of space that visually soothes me, as my body feels the vastness of sea floating my body on each wave.
I’ve learned that the powerful nature of this practice of surrender is magnified as the force of a current draws our bodies along the shoreline. Some days we drift aimlessly, while other days it feels like we are flying as the current is swift and the clouds fly with us in the sky.
I’ve been challenged by the windy, wavy days as they present a whole other condition that seems counterintuitive to the practice of Seavasana. In the practice I have been frustrated and fearful of the waves splashing over my face, making me sputter and spew the sea’s waters. I’ve discovered it is less distracting if I position myself with my head into the waves. Even more revealing is the gift given to me the day I surrendered to the conditions of the sea and found my ease and centered nature, even with the ocean boiling and rolling under me. OH, what a gift that I can now walk on land with; to be centered and at ease even when the energy around me is not.
Seavasana is an option we offer at Yoga on the Beach. It is a gift for sure, whether we jump in to cool off, lay back and explore the gifts of the sea or stay on land floating on the sand. Time to just be, to surrender and allow is the offering. It is our joy to create some space for you to explore in.
Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
When we first started to teaching in Key West and Cape Cod we had one location and would end classes in April when Don and I headed north for our summer season on Cape Cod. We would start again in November when we returned to Key West. Over the years our time and locations in Key West have extended and we have had the pleasure of many fabulous teachers to become a part of Yoga on the Beach!
This year we extended our locations to 3 with classes at Southernmost on the Beach Hotel and Marriott Beachside year round, and our Fort Zachary Taylor State Park classes went through July, going into hiatus on July 31. We will be back at Fort Zach Oct 1, but in the meantime please enjoy classes at either one of our 2 other locations. You have the choice of Thursday and Saturday at Southernmost at 9 am or Friday and Monday at Marriott Beachside at 9 as well.
In the meantime, who knows what will happen next summer. Could we go year round at Fort Zach? With a smile on my face, I will watch the storms in Aug/Sept. We shall see.