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Paradise in Paradise Part III Costa Rica Dec 2014

This is a typical Costa Rican morning/afternoon/evening…I will keep this short and sweet and let the pictures do the talking. Domenic Savino and I went to Costa Rica leading 17 people on a Yoga Retreat and it was awesome. We are doing it again in Mexico at Present Moment Retreat and Spa, in Troncones Mexico. Troncones is known for its chill vibe, gorgeous pacific coast sunsets and legendary surfing. Please come with us! April 11-18th. Email mdyogaretreat@gmail.com for rates, discounts and questions. See you in class! melindababbott.com
2014-11-30 10.17.2210624741_10102795536319634_2503952526768344791_n10428092_10102781122490133_9047186350433657562_n1901260_996824706997874_3066287534188886278_n10414445_10102755949601803_6049808729658181458_n1901358_10102770059121213_4816876901015371394_n1517398_10102756195209603_4767326307655265276_n20141130_150016_resizedDSC_018320141130_222956_resized20141203_140545_resizedphoto 2photo 3photo 110401460_10102793246782884_1609805598383986173_nimage (5)2014-12-03 05.53.43

Energy. Breathe. Teacher/Student. Love! Yoga…or My week on vacation, August 2014

“We are moving energy in our Yoga practice. That is what we are doing. Who are you now…and now… and now?”

These are the words of my teacher, or as she is known in my head “the teacher I will be when I grow up/get to be really good/understand things”. Have you ever found something you didn’t know you were looking for? Have you ever drooled over the sound of someone’s words, the richness of their message and the truth of their teaching when all you thought you wanted was a good yoga class while away on a tiny island? Welcome to my week on vacation. All my time is normally spent in NYC teaching yoga (a lot), practicing yoga (not enough), sequencing classes, planning a second Costa Rica retreat (come!mdyogaretreat@gmail.com) reviewing procedure, learning protocol, embracing etiquette plus a half dozen more additional projects/presentations/my dissertation/blah blah blah…But none of that now. Now I am enjoying a lovely week long vacation. Here I am by myself, with some friends scattered around the island, some friends potentially coming, while there are people/children/my dog/my work that I really do love back in NYC. I am staying in a quaint country cottage. I have an adorable rental bike, complete with basket and broad handlebars. I keep emails from becoming an avalanche with my trusty iPhone…I have no internet service or TV-  I feel wonderful. 

It looks like this – morning jogs to the ocean and back, long and winding bike rides, sunny beach afternoons, glass of wine with dinner, a good book or text conversation and early to bed towards a satisfying night’s sleep – loving every minute. Mother Nature is so stunning! There is something about the expansive energy you feel in unfettered natural beauty – I feel so proud for experiencing my past, excited to be embracing my present, and thrilled about my future. And early on in this vacation, I found this incredible Yoga teacher, a woman so serene, so present, so inspiring, so wise and yet so humble, so incredibly exactly-what-I-love-in-a-teacher…that I honestly felt compelled to write about this experience before its even over. I have another 4 days here on vacation, which most likely will be much like the three days I have already had (read above). What is wonderful is that largely based on years of experience, I know an amazing yoga teacher right away.  I know good ones; I know not-great-for-me-ones, and I know outright bad ones…but amazing ones – those you don’t meet that often. This particular teacher is one of the great ones. She is as wonderful as they come. Her class speaks to me, allows me to breathe and move while she encourages me to explore my practice yet reign in my judgment and expand my breath in order to expand my sense of self, my understanding of this moment and allow forgiveness for imperfection.  All the while, I feel free to satisfy my quest for tranquility in the midst of continuous, glorious, hard earned sweat, deep breathing and honest work. And based on this sacred space I have come to find while in the multiple moments of transformation during these classes, I had some thoughts. I will share those now.

Energy is always available. Energy is here right now, and in a yoga practice we stir up energy that is already in the room, already in our bodies, and already within our breath. We can freely choose this energy. Sometimes this energy has a quality, and sometimes we can give it a quality that reflects how we feel, how we move, and how we see life. We can choose positive, loving energy. That is always available. You just have to choose it. We can choose shy, protective energy. That is sometimes useful. We can choose abundant, giving, generous energy. That is magical and very powerful. We can choose dramatic and explosive energy, but I prefer to use that sparingly –I am a Leo so it can be tough! We lions love to roar. The thing is, we are choosing all the time, and when we distill our actions, awareness and movement down to its elements and its form and its grace, we can freely choose. I would like to say that I always choose love…I wish. That would be to deny my fears, my doubts, my insecurities and my tendency to want from others what I need from them – rather than understanding that they are giving me whatever it is that they have. But this is honesty. Most of the time, I choose love. I choose happiness, abundance and sharing energy. Occasionally I retreat with some shyness, some protection, some walls around me to keep out the perceived threats…but mostly…I choose love. Or at least, I really want to! It is work to keep ones heart open sometimes.

I forgive myself. I forgive myself for my mistakes, because honestly, while they were happening, it always seemed like I was making the right decision at that moment based on what was unfolding. And because I forgive myself, I forgive others. Everything that follows applies to me and everyone else – that is what Yoga teaches us, that there is union, rather than separation.  I forgive myself for hurting others, because I know I never wanted to hurt anyone, but I did. I forgive myself for crowding others and spilling out my need for them to be what I wanted them to be, because that’s a human thing to do, and also sometimes it works. Sometimes people are so happy to fulfill our needs because it fulfills their needs. Sometimes it’s not an actual person but a job, a career, a project; a relationship to anything that we think might give us what we are looking for. We forget that we already have everything we need, that the kingdom of heaven is in the heart.

So I forgive myself. In matters of love, family, friendships and romance past and present, I forgive myself for wanting people/my job/relationship/career/friends to be someone or something other than who or what they truly are.  Sometimes we get stuck in a fantasy of a smoothed out melodic symphony instead of…reality. 

Love is not about getting it perfect. Love is perfect. Love is about knowing that it’s ok. Love between people is complicated. Family love, romantic love, complicated! You don’t have to be twins or read each other’s minds or get it right, or even talk all the time to know that it’s still ok.  Love is not there to tell you how great and wonderful you are, or how unfair the world is. Sometimes Love does not even show up every single time. Love is there for us to remind ourselves that to give is to receive, and trust and faith are always the cornerstones to anything with potential for greatness.

I am going to try to honor all the yoga teachers that have truly changed my practice…Perry (my first!), Jojo (my second!), Cassandra, Yogeswari, Jai, Derek, Shana, Scott, Shannah, Gloria, Evan…For me, in the space of a yoga practice with an incredible teacher, that is where I have found the essence and majesty of growth, renewal, insight and the pearl of love.

Find some space. Then breathe. Remember it’s ok.

“Our whole business, therefore in this life, is to restore health to the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen”. Saint Augustine.

Paradise in Paradise II – Costa Rica July 2014

Hello! I want to keep this short and sweet and invite to feast your eyes and indulge your imagination as I attempt to describe a week long Yoga retreat in Osa peninsula, Costa Rica, with 13 amazing participants and one thrilled instructor (me!).  Here is how I can summarize:

1. It was an amazing experience, full of incredible food, incredible sights and sounds coupled with the fresh air of nature, in an incredible place that is best described through visual images (see below).

2. Everyone had a blast. There was laughter almost non-stop, there was intense yoga practice, there were friendships formed and relationships strengthened.

3. It was a game changer, for everyone. Those new to yoga are no longer new, and those more seasoned broke through long held barriers of doubt, fear and hesitation. Poses were de-mystified and  breath was deepened.  It was a joy to witness and a pleasure to facilitate such transformation. Read below:

I wanted to express my gratitude for your effort, persistence, and patience as a teacher. I am joyous for all the incremental steps I made in my yoga practice as well as mental and emotional development at this retreat. I loved the Iguana Lodge and it’s Balinese and Mexican tropical house influences, which allowed me to immerse myself in nature. In particular, the morning yoga on the beach deck was truly fantastic. In the presence of the awesome and limitless force of the ocean, I felt that I could expand my mental limits as well. I intended to spend a significant time at this retreat, in solitude, for introspection and imbibing the sights and sounds of nature.”
John Firefly
Thank YOU for providing the structure, compassion, humor, energy and tone that carried us through the week and thank you for pushing us beyond our perceived limitations.  It was an exhilarating week and I am so grateful for the experience….Just the fact that I made it through each and every class, even when I was convinced my body would quit…is an accomplishment I will always have in my pocket and it is incredibly satisfying….I am VERY sore.”
Click above for more photos. (looks weird but should work).
Next time for Paradise in Paradise is November 29th-December 6th, with myself, Melinda Abbott and Domenic Savino. It will be at Iguana Lodge, Osa, Costa Rica, once again. Spaces are absolutely going to fill up. Email us at mdyogaretreat@gmail.com to reserve your spot.  It will be epic. We will change your game. For sure:)

“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we receive that heals us.”   M. Hobart Mowrer (1966)

“Things do not change.  We change.”  Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Iguana LodgeCR 3Iguana Lodge CR 2Wonder twinsteamworkSurfer Beachmorning sky_2
Melinda Teaching Moment CRAarti handstand

Paradise in paradise

Paradise in paradise…June in 2012, I spent the month in Nosara,  Costa Rica, studying, learning, running up hills (see photo), practicing yoga, and  rediscovering what is wonderful, beautiful and awe-inspiring about life.  I traveled to Costa Rica to partake in a 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training with Jivamutki Yoga (www.jivamuktiyoga.com).  I cannot express how transformative this endeavor was. Words could never be enough and will only serve to dilute the experience.  There are a few highlights I can summarize below.

What is most exciting is that I am returning to Costa Rica this July 12-19th to lead my own week long retreat. More about that as you scroll down…space still available! register today 🙂 Email Terrie Kane, retreat administrator, Terrie@tkesales.com

1. Nature is beautiful.  We as city dwellers need nature.  We need oceans, dirt, trees, flowers, plants, birds and all manner of living things to remind us of how perfect the natural world is, and how blessed we are to be able to enjoy it. We need to take care of and respect nature, and the living things with which we share the world.  This is possible.  It also feels good!  Costa Rica is a great place to go to see abundant, vibrant nature.

2. Actions that are selfless generally produce better outcomes than actions that are selfish.  This is because with every action we are creating and projecting our world.  If we create and project a world where we are kind, compassionate, selfless and thoughtful, we suffer less.   We are rewarded with experiences of peace, feelings of love and a bountiful stream of blessings, prosperity and feelings of unity rather than feelings of division,  manipulation or guarded self protection.  This takes practice, patience and an earnest desire to change.  We are often up against social norms that tell us how great it is to succeed at the expense of others, and how being nasty, spiteful, vengeful and selfish is  empowering, and being kind and of service to others is weak and leaves us open to pain and hurt.  This shift poses a question only you can answer:  Do you feel good around people who are mean, nasty, self-serving and seeking only power, revenge and control?  Or do you feel good around people who are kind, thoughtful and generous in word and deed?

3. Teaching and practicing yoga is a noble, humble and honorable pursuit.  Sometimes in the competitive, high stress world of winner-take-all and survival-of-the-fittest, we forget that there is more to life than being “the best” or “the only” or “elite”…What about the space to enable peace and tranquility?  How about providing relief from tension, pain, chronic agitation and worry?  What about engaging not only the physical body, but the emotional, spiritual and energy body as well?

4. What we seek, I believe, is control (relative term) over the mind.  We often take a circuitous route to control the mind by first attempting to control the body.  We may live in a state of subtle or very obvious chaos, where whirlwinds, discomfort, dis-ease and often irrational thoughts of likes/dislikes/preferences only serve to limit us. Imagine for a moment if there were no concept such as “I am just not a morning person”  or “I could never do that pose, its too hard for me”  or “Yoga and I just don’t mix, I don’t have the time, and its too far away” etc etc etc…Think of all you could accomplish!  We cant do it alone, usually.  I was fortunate to meet a new lifelong friend, runner, yogi, professor and just beautiful person.  We met almost every day for a 5:30am run in the spectacular hills and countryside of Costa Rica prior to our schedule of asana practice and lectures. Imagine if I confined myself to my perceived limitations!  I didn’t even bring “running sneakers”…I made it work because I wanted it to happen.  A tranquil run in the countryside alongside an inspiring and amazing person is just too incredible of an opportunity to miss!  And guess what?  It was never my body that said “dont run, sleep in today…sleep, so nice…”  It was my mind!  And I learned to discern what mental messages nudged me further towards who I want to become, and what messages kept me grounded in limitations.  And I harnessed the power to choose.  You can do the same.

Below is a link to an excellent article about the science of addiction.  You don’t have to abuse drugs or alcohol to relate to having habits which we cannot seem to break, or tendencies that we wish we could overcome. It is a short read, with a wonderfully concise summary of how the breath can stimulate the relaxation response via the practice of yoga.  I recommend it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patricia-l-gerbarg-md/addiction-treatment_b_1665684.html?utm_hp_ref=health-and-fitness&ir=Health%20and%20Fitness

Now, currently, thanks to the amazing support and savvy of Ms. Terrie Kane, I am leading my own retreat in Costa Rica at Iguana Lodge (www.iguanalodge.com) this July! Look below…If you are interested in a week of Paradise in Paradise, then COME!  Email Terrie Kane (Terrie@tkesales.com) with all questions and payment logistics. Easy.

Melinda_Costa-Rica-1-198x300

Below is my current teaching schedule. All classes are at Equinox Fitness Clubs… I hope to see you there!

Regular classes:
Monday: Power Vinyasa, 7:30am @Soho & 6:30pm @ Rock Center
Tuesday: Flow Play Vinyasa, 7:30am @ 85th/3rd ave, Power Vinyasa 6:30pm, Columbus Circle, Barre Burn (not yoga but awesome) 7:45@ CC
Thursday: Power Vinyasa, 7am Columbus Circle, 7pm Barre Burn & Power Vinyasa 8pm @ Columbus Circle
Friday: Flow Play Vinyasa, 7:15am @ Rock Center & Power Vinyasa 5:30pm @ 50th/Broadway
Saturday: Open Level Vinyasa 10:30am @Printing House, Level 2 12:45pm @ 76th/Amsterdam, & Power Vinyasa @ Greenwich ave, 4:15pm
Sunday: Power Vinyasa, 9:00am, Columbus Circle, Open level Vinyasa @Rock Center 11am, Power Vinyasa @Soho 1:30pm
You can find all of this on my website as well, melindababbott.com/schedule
 
“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we recieve that heals us. ” M. Hobart Mowrer (1966)
 
“Things do not change.  We change.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Random Acts…aka One way to practice yoga

Hi readers!  I was inspired to write this post about the concept of Random Acts of Kindness, sort of a catch-all phrase most often associated with a vague suggestion to do a good deed or something like that. What I now fully understand is that this concept can be quite profound. Allow me to explain…

I have been practicing yoga for many years now, well over 10 and just shy of 20, with an ebb and flow in my practice that I am sure many of us can relate to.  And in this time I have been in some very crowded classes with some extraordinarily popular teachers.  Sometimes these classes are nothing short of electrifying.  The energy in the room is so overwhelmingly positive.  People are full of focus, dedication and power, its almost as if you could see the warmth and enthusiasm bubbling out from the person next to you. The collective energy is harnessed in a way that is not oppressive or intimidating.  It is infectious and inspiring. Sometimes these classes are quite the opposite. People push, shove, use harsh tones and are unforgiving, unkind and plain rude. How can the same circumstances be so drastically different?

Enter random acts…

Yoga is only yoga if we (yes – you and me) create an environment where individuals (like yourself, or like me) choose not to act selfishly and unkindly, but instead act to honor our potential for the extraordinary.

Example one:

Move your mat one inch to the right or the left to make space for other practitioners.  Never have I seen such a small act become such a major event! Just imagine that instead of begrudgingly moving your mat after being asked countless times to do so, you did it on your own, because you wanted to. Because it would be awesome to do something nice for someone else. 

Wow.  One random act like moving your mat in a crowded class begins to create energy like the amazing electrifying class versus the pushy-shovy kind of class.

One day you will move your mat over because that kind of consideration is just a small portion of the beautiful person you really are.  This random act is not a chore and it has no negative effect on your practice. In fact, acting from kindness and consideration elevates your practice.  Your mind and body are becoming integrated: you think and feel peace and serenity, therefore your actions exemplify that  connection.

Lets stay away from the obvious triggers here…Yes classes that are overcrowded can be dangerous…Yes it is important to arrive on time…Yes of course you made an effort to secure your favorite spot where you know you can use the wall/see yourself/that’s-my-spot/whatever.  What if everyone was on time and there is still a need to move your mat? What if every spot in the room was your favorite?  With no attachment to any one spot, you are free to feel wonderful anywhere in the room! This is because you know happiness is from within and not based on your spot in the room.  What liberation!  That is what a random act can bring you…if you let it.

Try it and see! Do something nice for someone, move your mat one inch and make room for someone else. Pretty soon it wont be so random, it will just be you being You.

“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we receive that heals us.”   M. Hobart Mowrer (1966)

“Things do not change.  We change.”  Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Please feel free to visit my website, http://www.melindababbott.com, and my newest blog about my Vegan start-up company, De La Tierra. http://www.delatierranyc.com

 

Happy New Year! 2013…Everything is Possible!

Hello and Happy New Year!  bouganvilla

Short and sweet!  Check out my updated class schedule below and please stay tuned for the launch of my personal website as well as announcements about new classes, a Vegan restaurant I will be opening and much more!

Love,

Melinda

All classes are at Equinox Fitness Clubs in Manhattan.  Current class schedule as of January 4, 2013:

Tuesdays: L2 Vinyasa Yoga, 6:30pm (75 min). Columbus Circle

Wednesdays: L2/3 Vinyasa Yoga, 7:30pm (75 min). Soho

Thursdays: Vinyasa Yoga, 7am (60 min), Columbus Circle.  Power Vinyasa, 6pm (75 min) East 54th street

Fridays: L2/3 Vinyasa, 5:30pm (60 min), 50th and Broadway

Saturdays: L2 Vinyasa Yoga, 12:45pm (75 min), 76th and Amsterdam

Sundays: L2/3 Vinyasa Yoga, 9am, (75 min), Columbus Circle

“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we receive that heals us.”   M. Hobart Mowrer (1966)

“Things do not change.  We change.”  Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

Does it Matter?

Hello readers!  This represents the first update of my blog in many months.  For that I am sorry!  I promised you all a review of Enlighten Up, which was meant to be all sorts of profound meanderings through that magical movie.

Well, instead I got tremendously busy with doctoral work at Graduate school, Ashtanga Primary SeriesTeacher Training at Pure Yoga and teaching my 8 classes of wonderful yogis at 6 different Equinox locations.  Add my relationship, my dog, my family and friends, my yoga practice, early morning runs and an attempt to abstain from sugar (failed) and well, I suppose the blog got the short end of the stick.

And then I realized I was playing the same game we all play… “If I cant do it perfectly I wont do it at all.”  Apply that to anything!  And its easy to see how we let this extraordinarily high expectation drive our best intentions right into…nothing.   This pattern is fairly easy to recognize in our yoga practice, when we shy away from challenging poses, because of above-mentioned logic…for me it was always Virasana (Heros pose in English).  Hello virasana.  Why do you torture me so?!?!?

But guess what?  In the period of…hmm, I have not been counting, maybe 3 years?  My virasana is getting better!  Or the discomfort is easier to tolerate.  Or the posture is getting better.  Or…does it matter?  The title of the post says it all.  You will get somewhere and sometimes not be sure if you go there the right way, or if it took too long or was too easy or too hard, etc.  But does it matter?  One day you will look up and see that you are where you were always headed.  Hey!  Did you take a short cut? Nope. Did you cheat the line?  Nuh-uh.  Did you use patience and sources of strength and resilience? Hopefully, and sometimes maybe not.  Does it matter? Only you can answer that question.

Don’t let the quest be deterred by the journey.  Both are important of course…but when you arrive at a place where you feel at ease, life is flowing and the seeds of prosperity are starting to germinate, you might look back and wonder, Does it Matter (how I got here…)?

If enlightenment, compassion, courage and generosity of spirit are your aims, there are a million ways to get there.  Does it matter which path you take?  It is a great question.  Dive in and find out.

 

Check the post directly prior to this one for my schedule (excluding the Thanksgiving Holiday 2012, for that please check equinox.com for an updated schedule).

“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we receive that heals us.”   M. Hobart Mowrer (1966)

“Things do not change.  We change.”  Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Labor Day and Spoiler Alert

Hello!  I hope you are enjoying the remaining weeks of summer.  NYC is a ghost town and I love it!  Early morning runs are a breeze and there is always a seat on the subway.

This post is short and sweet….an update on my schedule with some subbing for the weekend and Labor Day, and a spoiler alert for the upcoming post.  I will be discussing the movie Enlighten Up, which is a delightful movie about, you guessed it, Yoga…If you haven’t seen it, or you haven’t seen the whole thing, it is on Netflix Instant.  It  is a concise 90 min edu-entertainment-documentary sort of movie that gives you thoughtful pause and has lots of nuggets to chew on while still providing several  moments of unabashed smile-provoking yoga and self-discovery footage.  Now those who know this film are saying “That is funny Melinda, because that movie came out in 2008…”   Those of you who know me are saying “This is right on schedule for the girl who just discovered Pandora…”

Better late than never right?

Here is my regular teaching schedule…I am subbing quite a few classes so take a look.

All classes are at Equinox Fitness Clubs, either Level 2, Level 2/3 or Power Vinyasa.  I hope to see you there! *

Regular classes:

Monday: Power Vinyasa, 7:30pm, 85th and 3rd Ave

Tuesday: Level 2, 6:30pm, Columbus Circle

Wednesday: Level 2/3, 7:30pm Soho

Thursday: Power Vinyasa, 7am Columbus Circle, 6pm 54th and 2nd Ave

NEW CLASS!!!!  STARTS FRIDAY SEPT 7TH, 2012...Vinyasa Yoga, 5:30pm, 50th and Broadway

Saturday: Level 2, 12:45pm, 76th and Amsterdam Ave

Sunday: Power Vinyasa, 9:15am, Columbus Circle

 

Subbing: Please note the time and day, these are not permanent classes, only substitutions. 

Sunday 9/2  NO POWER VINYASA AT COLUMBUS CIRCLE 9:15AM

Sunday 9/2  9-10:15am, Vinyasa Yoga, 74th street and 2nd Ave

Sunday 9/2   11:15am-12:30pm, Vinyasa Yoga, 17th Street and 10th Ave

Monday 9/3   9-10am, Vinyasa Yoga, 76th and Amsterdam Ave

Monday 9/3    11am-12:15pm, Vinyasa Yoga, 85th Street and 3rd Ave

Friday 9/7   5:30pm, Vinyasa Yoga… first permanent class at 50th and Broadway!

*The guest policy requires us to walk our guests into the club at 15 min prior to the start of class.  Guests can be non-members or members of other locations. I am happy to have you as a one time guest so you can try a class or see if you like the club. 

“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we recieve that heals us.”   M. Hobart Mowrer (1966)

“Things do not change.  We change.”  Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Paradise in paradise

Paradise in paradise…that was my month of June, 2012.  I spent the month in Nosara,  Costa Rica, studying,  absorbing, learning, grasping, running (see photo), practicing yoga, and most of all discovering (or rediscovering) what is wonderful, beautiful and awe-inspiring about this thing called life.  Some of you know I traveled to Costa Rica to partake in a 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training with Jivamutki Yoga (www.jivamuktiyoga.com).  I cannot express how transformative this endeavor was, words will never be enough and only serve to dilute the experience.  There are a few highlights I can summarize…

1. Nature is beautiful.  We as city dwellers need nature.  We need oceans, dirt, trees, flowers, plants, birds and all manner of living things to remind us of how perfect the natural world is, and how blessed we are to be able to enjoy it. We need to take care of and respect nature, and the living things with which we share the world.  This is possible.  It also feels good!  Costa Rica is a great place to go to see abundant, vibrant nature.

2. Actions that are selfless generally produce better outcomes than actions that are selfish.  This is because with every action we are creating and projecting our world.  If we create and project a world where we are kind, compassionate, selfless and thoughtful, we suffer less.   We are rewarded with experiences of peace, feelings of love and a bountiful stream of blessings, prosperity and feelings of unity rather than feelings of division,  manipulation or guarded self protection.  This takes practice, patience and an earnest desire to change.  We are often up against social norms that tell us how great it is to succeed at the expense of others, and how being nasty, spiteful, vengeful and selfish is  empowering, and being kind and of service to others is weak and leaves us open to pain and hurt.  This shift poses a question only you can answer:  Do you feel better around people who are mean, nasty, self-serving and seeking only power, revenge and control?  Or do you feel good around people who are kind, thoughtful and generous in word and deed?

3. Teaching Yoga is a noble, humble and honorable profession.  Sometimes in the competitive, high stress world of winner-take-all and survival-of-the-fittest, we forget that there is more to life than being “the best” or “the only” or “elite”…What about the space to enable peace and tranquility?  How about providing relief from tension, pain, chronic agitation and worry?  What about engaging not only the physical body, but the emotional, spiritual and energy body as well?

4. What we seek, I believe, is control (relative term) over the mind.  We often take a circuitous route to control the mind by first attempting to control the body.  We may live in a state of subtle or very obvious chaos, where whirlwinds, discomfort, dis-ease and often irrational thoughts of likes/dislikes/preferences only serve to limit us. Imagine for a moment if there were no concept such as “I am just not a morning person”  or “I could never do that pose, its too hard for me”  or “Yoga and I just don’t mix, I don’t have the time, and its too far away” etc etc etc…Think of all you could accomplish!  We cant do it alone, usually.  I was fortunate to meet a new lifelong friend, the beautiful and brilliant professor/yogi/runner H.M.  We met almost every day for a 5:30am run in the spectacular hills and countryside of Costa Rica prior to our schedule of asana practice, practicals and lectures. Imagine if I confined myself to my perceived limitations!  I didn’t even bring “running sneakers”…I made it work because I wanted it to happen.  A tranquil run in the countryside alongside an inspiring and amazing person is just too incredible of an opportunity to miss!  And guess what?  It was never my body that said “dont run, sleep in today…sleep, so nice…”  It was my mind!  And I learned to discern what mental messages nudged me further towards who I want to become, and what messages kept me grounded in limitations.  And I harnessed the power to choose.  You can do the same.

Below is a link to an excellent article about the science of addiction.  You don’t have to abuse drugs or alcohol to relate to having habits which we cannot seem to break, or tendencies that we wish we could overcome. It is a short read, with a wonderfully concise summary of how the breath can stimulate the relaxation response via the practice of yoga.  I recommend it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patricia-l-gerbarg-md/addiction-treatment_b_1665684.html?utm_hp_ref=health-and-fitness&ir=Health%20and%20Fitness

Below is my current teaching schedule for the summer of 2012. All classes are at Equinox Fitness Clubs, either Level 2, Level 2/3 or Power Vinyasa.  I hope to see you there!

Regular classes:
Monday: Power Vinyasa, 7:30pm, 85th and 3rd Ave
Tuesday: Level 2, 6:30pm, Columbus Circle
Wednesday: Level 2/3, 7:30pm Soho
Thursday: Power Vinyasa, 7am Columbus Circle, 6pm 54th and 2nd Ave
Saturday: Level 2, 12:45pm, 76th and Amsterdam Ave
Sunday: Power Vinyasa, 9:15am, Columbus Circle
Subbing: 
Sunday 7/29,  5-6:15pm, Vinyasa Yoga, 85th and 3rd Ave
Sunday 8/5: 5pm, Vinyasa Yoga, 17th and 10th Ave
Saturdays 8/4 and 8/11,  9:30-11am, Vinyasa Yoga, Soho
Sunday 8/12: 5pm, Vinyasa Yoga, 63rd and Lexington Ave
 
“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we recieve that heals us. ” M. Hobart Mowrer (1966)“Things do not change.  We change.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

This entry was posted on July 16, 2012. 1 Comment

5 ways to deepen your yoga practice (you can do this!)

Hello!  Quick reminder of my Vinyasa Yoga teaching schedule…All at Equinox Fitness Clubs in NYC, NY…
Columbus Circle:  Tuesdays –  6:30pm, Thursdays 7am, Sundays 9:15am  Soho: Wednesdays 7:30pm (L2/3) East 54th street/2nd ave: Thursdays 6pm  Subbing Wednesday May 23rd:  76th and Amsterdam, 10am
 

Hmmmm….Are there really 5 ways to deepen ones yoga practice?  Well, that would be a very convenient answer to a much deeper and complicated question.  In order to deepen something, we are implying that we have a solid basis, a foundation, a place from which we would like to peer just a bit further over the ledge, metaphorically speaking. We may want to feel bliss and joy and serenity in the face of chaos and crisis, but somehow it eludes us time and time again.  We might know that just beyond our current “place” lies something so profoundly beautiful, so incredibly alluring, so wonderfully inviting – we might know logically and rationally that this deeper level exists, yet accessing it feels very perplexing, confusing, downright “I-cant-do-that” material….We may sincerely want to go further in order to achieve that deeper yoga practice, we just don’t know how to get there.

Here are some ways to get to that next place.  They are fairly straightforward concepts, which is great because when applied to a yoga context they can take on a whole new meaning. Most of what I am writing about will apply to the yoga class situation, where there is a large focus on physical asana practice.  Even if you practice at home, or you pursue a different form of yoga other than physical postures, see if there isn’t something here that might allow you to deepen, to go further, to feel bliss, joy, tranquility and most of all, to feel real and lasting spiritual, emotional and overall personal growth.   Ahhhhhh…

1. Breathe!  There is no element of class that is more central to yoga than the breath.  This is what differentiates yoga from other forms of movement.  All movement can bring a certain feelings of bliss and union with oneself.  After a good run, or some serious weight lifting, we often experience wonderfully cascading waves of calm and endorphin induced clarity…I know this because I work in a gym, I do all different types of movement, and I am exposed to the “newest’ and “best-workout-since-sliced-bread” movement based trends out there (Equinox stays very current!  It is an excellent perk…). In all these years I have yet to see another form of movement that integrates breathe the way that yoga does.  Awareness of breathe does more than focus your mind on the present moment -it signals the brain to either engage or disengage the stress response.  Oxygen uptake and the pace/intensity at which we perform the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is a central part of much larger systems that regulate optimal physical performance. Other than the science, the breath is at the heart of practicing yoga, as it draws the mind inward and steadies the often racing thought patterns in our minds landscape.

2. Listen!  When you are in a class, it would seem valid and not really much of a stretch (pardon the pun, hee hee…) to assume that you would like to be taught something.  By someone else.   Namely the teacher.  Often, instead we are in our own world and we fail to listen.  We think to ourselves, “I know what comes next!!!!!  I know!  I know, OOOOOOhhhhhh  please let me do it first!!!!  I know it!!!”  And it  can be fun and exciting to get comfortable with a teachers style and flow, for example a teacher like me who has some set sequences and some more complex sequences.  It can feel very reassuring  – like, “I know this because I have dedicated time to this class, and I have been paying attention!!”  And yes, that is admirable and true.  And its wonderful to feel a sense of command and forethought about what might come next…but when we fail to listen, it usually because we are not being present.  We are ahead of the game, so to speak.  For NYC dwellers,this attribute is an absolute asset to city life… wouldn’t it be nice to know there was one place where that urge to be first, or to think ahead, or to dive headfirst…to know there is one place where you actually don’t have to do that?  Where you can suspend your sense of urgency and just be…in the moment, in the flow…and especially in my class…if you make a mistake, or miss the posture, that’s ok!!!  It really is.  I repeat postures a lot, and I admire the focus and discipline required to stay present, be in the moment, and just listen…Yoga is a practice, not a one time event.

3. Explore!!  The next time you are in a yoga class, and the teacher presents options to take a pose deeper, try one! Normally, there are about a ba-jillion ways to modify the more challenging version of any posture.  It is when we don’t bother to even try something new that our practice gets stale and we stop growing.  Explore!  Move that foot further back in Warrior I!  Try an arm variation in triangle!  Use a block, even if you don’t “need” one!  Attempt to balance!  Even staying with the breath can be an exploration…are you really breathing with the mouth closed, and the thoughts turned in to the present moment?  Explore!  Be not afraid…Just be smart and please, don’t be foolish! Its not worth it. Ever.  Exploration in of itself as a concept is fascinating.  It suggests that beyond finding something that is new to us, we may well find something that has always been there, only we couldn’t see it/feel it/know it!  (Hello- Columbus  “discovered” America…).

4. Prepare!  This one is a bit logistic, in as much as it has a profound aspect as well (of course)… For example, my Wednesday class in Soho has been a sauna!!!  To say the least.  And management informed me that not only is the heat NOT on, but there is a very reasonable temperature set in the room, well below steam room/sauna/ Bikram settings.  We create heat when we move!  Its wonderful. I personally love a good, dripping, well earned sweat.  It feels so satisfying and cleansing on such a primal level…but lets say for example, when you sweat you cannot bind very well because you are too slippery, or your arm balances fall apart because your shirt resembles a wet dishrag…Prepare!! bring a towel or extra shirt, or know that your arm balance might be compromised!  If you are super uncomfortable in the heat, take another class!  Or bring water..or  ask around and see if there are other ways to better experience something that could potentially derail your practice.  If you are injured and don’t wish to be adjusted, tell the teacher!  That will mean preparing, because this is best done prior to the start of class. Prepare for a good yoga experience and you will have just that.  You might even deepen your practice!

5. Accept/Tolerate….This one is tricky, and may take the most  sincere attention.  There may be some poses that exceed your capacity at the present moment. There may be some poses that you might not ever feel that tranquil feeling of surrender and peace, because you have joint complications or scar tissue, or a more pressing issue that makes that pose off limits.  These are some examples of what we must tolerate…what we must accept as flawed and imperfect beings.  We have to understand that although beyond a shadow of a doubt the human body is the most complex, fascinating and intricate work of art that we are aware of, it will fail us at times.  It will limit us, it will deliver pain signals and demand that we stop what we are doing and think twice about doing it again.  And thank goodness!!!  But we persist…we struggle, we ignore, we deny, we flail and we flop, instead of accepting and tolerating.  We are not perfect.  Yoga does not ask that we are perfect.  It asks that we are honest and that we accept.  The discomfort that comes with tolerating our imperfections can serve to empower us in the face of much larger and more daunting scenarios…like the twists and turns of life!  If all else fails, return to step one and breathe 🙂

See you in class!

“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we recieve that heals us. ” M. Hobart Mowrer (1966)

“Things do not change.  We change.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden