You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘yoga’ tag.

You may have noticed my absence last week. First I felt a little rundown. Then my throat felt funny. Then it was on fire. Then I got sniffly.

Before I knew it, y’all, I was down for the count. I actually, no joke, slept for the better part of 48 hours.

Life lesson #1: You can’t blog about what was good that week when you can barely lift your head off the pillow. So the goodness of week 37 was, I felt crappy and I rested and then I felt (mostly) better.

Now, onto week 38.

Imagine you’ve had a full weekend—when you haven’t fully recovered from the flu-ish thing you had—and after spending a beautiful morning with friends, you go home and take a nap. The nap feels so cozy and warm you want to stay in that space the rest of the day. But you can’t.

Because you signed up for some crazy yoga thing downtown.

So you make the trek to the southernmost part of the city to a helipad, which is a little inlet where helicopters take off and land throughout the day. This is where you will do SoundOff Yoga, or a class where everyone wears headphones, so you have music and the instructor’s voice piped directly into your ears. Actually there are two yoga instructors, both lovely spirits: Elena Brower and Jennifer Pansa.

The class begins as the sun begins to set, which is ridiculously awesome.

IMG_6313

As you downward dog, you see the layers of colors in the sky—peaches and pinks and blues. As the sky gets darker, the sliver of the moon illuminates its own corner of the universe, looking for attention.

And as the sky blue morphs into midnight blue, you look behind you to see what this group of yogis looks like in the dark. You see circles of blue, from each person’s headphones glowing around their ears.  Nothing you see in that moment has ever been more cool.

This was my Sunday.

As I lay down on my mat, the class winding down, one hand on my belly and the other on my heart, I opened my eyes and took in what was above me. The stars were peeking out from the darkening sky. A flock of birds circled and played overhead, as if they were blessing us with their joy.

As Elena spoke some final thoughts, she asked us to be present. She asked the question, how do we feel when we’re connected, when we’re in the flow? Joy, was her answer. Joy, connection, relief (relief? My quiet brain played with the word. And then, such sweet surrender in the ahhhhh, yes, this is how it should be)—that’s how you know when you are home.

I wish this for all of you.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

 

Life is funny, I often think to myself.

We create these lives for ourselves, ones that make sense on paper and look pretty amazing to people around you. You meet people and tell them what you do and where you live and all the things you think add up to who you are, and they are so impressed and pleased with you. So it’s easy to think you are pleased with yourself, too.

And then something (or a series of somethings) happens that rocks you, unearthing the certainty with which you’d been living your life. Or, at least, the supposed certainty. Deep down you knew it really served as a mask for all the things you didn’t want to own up to, those whispers you know at your core to be the truth.

But you ignore them anyway.

I thought about this during a yoga class this week. A few of my coworkers and I had been invited to meet the team at Sakara Life, where we’d been ordering delicious vegan meals for the last couple of weeks. (If you are in New York or LA and you want to feel nourished and well fed, check them out. AMAZING meals.) They graciously offered us spots in a yoga class at their offices, and we happily accepted.

As we moved through the poses, I was reminded of how long it had been since I breathed deeply.

It’s such a silly thing to say. I forget to breathe.

But there it is, the truth. I walk through days holding it all in. I hold my breath as if I’m waiting.  For what, I don’t know.  Something exciting that’s on the other side of the pause. Only, it never comes.

The thing about movement is it forces you to be in the moment. When a pose is challenging, when you are all twisted up and struggling to find your balance, often the only way to get through it is to breathe deeply.  In…out…in…out.  So, in a room full of strangers—kind, open, generous strangers—I found my breath.

Those things I try to hide from, yet insist on gripping me tightly, slowly began to dissolve away. The rough, tough survivalist in me gently lay down her weapons and began to trust that perhaps there is strength in letting go.

Is it really that simple?  Is the key to getting through whatever it is you are going through to simply be present and breathe? Is it possible that is how you find your way?

It may not be.  But, I think it can be.  It’s a choice we make.

IMG_9301

xo, with goodness and grace.

Yesterday afternoon I took part in a yoga workshop.  At least that’s how I described it when people asked what I was doing this weekend, but it’s kind of a misnomer. Because while there was some yoga involved, it was more of a life workshop, almost a chiropractic adjustment for the soul.

It was led by Jennifer Pastiloff, a writer/inspirational yoga instructor, though that description does not do her justice either.  Through yoga, music, and her words, she helps people create breakthroughs in their lives.  If you don’t know her work, check out her beautifully written blog, The Manifest-Station.

In the class, we did yoga, wrote in journals and shared ourselves.  I’m in awe of how brave everyone was in sharing themselves with a room full of strangers.  So courageous that most of us were in tears at some point during the class.

In one of the exercises, we had to partner up and share who we are by completing the sentence “I am…”  The thought behind it is that any sentence that begins with “I am…” is a sacred declaration of ourselves and sets the experience of how we will show up in the world.

I knew instantly what mine would be.

I am love. 

After we declared who we were, we had to look in the eyes of our partner for three minutes straight, without saying anything.  It was unsettling and uncomfortable: we giggled, we made funny faces, we blinked furiously.  But then for a few brief seconds something clicked, and we connected and felt a deep recognition.

It feels goofy to write it, but it was palpable and it was real.

I’m still processing the afternoon, but I do know when it was over I felt transformed from the person I was when I walked in. I floated out of the class, calm, centered and all filled up with love.

I flung myself into my city, finished my Saturday errands—and went on complete and total sensory overload.  I ended the day exhausted, spent and cranky.  I was asleep by 10pm.

But today I felt renewed as I walked around Brooklyn with my father on this clear, windy fall day.  We enjoyed the beauty before us.

And, I saw the signs of what I’ve been seeing these last few months.  Perhaps I knew my “I am…” long before I gave a name to it.

Perhaps this is what I’ve been manifesting in my life.

IMG_3419

IMG_6560

IMG_6602

And this couple symbolized the love of one another.  All against a beautiful backdrop of a New York skyline.

IMG_3529

What are kind of love are you manifesting in your life?

Oh, Mary Oliver.  How you haunt me with the beauty and grace of your “Summer Day” poem, with these words that I’ve written about before:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?  

These are the words that week after week I stumble on—in magazines, on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, even on the Gluten Free Girl blog—constantly imploring me to live the question so I can find my route home.  Every day has become an attempt to understand what the words mean in my life, with my brain and thoughts and emotions trying to wrap themselves around their significance.

It’s overwhelming.  How do you create a life all at once?

The answer to that is, you don’t.

What I do know is that when you are depleted emotionally, physically and spiritually, it’s difficult to hear the call of your spirit.  So with a week off from work and nothing planned, I decided to spend my one wild and precious week re-learning the art of self care.

With my social media feeds peppered with my friends’ vacations in Hawaii, Italy, and various islands, I felt (very jealous, but) perfectly happy to return to myself at home.

My staycation wellness retreat included:

The Spa. No self-care program would be complete without a trip to the spa.  Armed with a gift card and a free afternoon, I treated myself to a 90-minute aromatherapy massage.  As the therapist got to work, she marveled at my knotted muscles and declared that I needed something more intense that the treatment I’d booked, so she brought out her major weapons—hot stones that aided her as she untangled my knotted back, legs and neck and melted some of the stress that has kept my body captive.

I floated away, had lunch by the spa’s pool and took in the awesome city views of Fifth Avenue and Central Park.

Peninsula View

The grace of wellness: Surrender to being cared for and the universe will do the rest.

The Spin. I used to be a spinning class freak, carefully planning my work days around my class schedule.  Of course, my work days were more flexible back then, and as my life got more hectic, cycling went by the wayside.

This week I got back on the bike. I tried my first SoulCycle class.

SoulCycle_2

It was quite possibly the most insane class I’ve ever taken.  You cycle like a crazy person in candlelight to high energy music, and then do abdominal crunches and lift 2 pound weights WHILE you are cycling.  But I went at my own pace, alternately slowing down when I needed to and then pushing myself beyond what I thought I could do.  Oddly, I felt energized and strangely happy after the last song, Fun.’s Some Nights, with the lyric that twisted itself in my soul like the Mary Oliver poem:

What do I stand for?  What do I stand for?

Fitness is religion. My wellness mantra, that is what I stand for.

The grace of wellness: Getting back in the saddle again can be a literal pain in the you-know-what, but if you push through, euphoria is waiting on the other side of that ache.

The Yoga. I discovered yoga almost 20 years ago and though I stray from it, I always return to it like a soul mate.  For those who think it’s a lot of breathing and stretching and not a real work out, it always shows up for me a a seriously athletic undertaking that leaves me breathless.  And it teaches you to breathe through the difficulty, even when you think you cannot.

Never mind that my favorite yoga tape was eaten by the VCR (lest you think I’m a relic from the 80s, it’s actually a DVD-VCR combo…but I understand if that doesn’t change your mind), I rediscovered the joy of finding my breath in the face of some ridiculous looking contortions.

The grace of wellness: The deeper you breathe, the more your body—and mind—will open and release.

The Hugger. I’ve heard about Amma, the “hugging saint”, for a while and was intrigued by the fanfare around her.  One of India’s most highly regarded spiritual leaders, her religion is love.  She spreads joy and comfort through a warm smile and a loving hug. In New York for a stop on her North American tour, I lined up early on her first NYC morning for the chance to be embraced and blessed by her.

While in line and waiting for my friend Corey, I somehow found myself (uncharacteristically) making a new friend.  The lovely woman in front of me, on her own North American journey, was able to come that day because of a delayed flight back home to Australia.  Caryn and I both agreed that delays sometimes open a door to beautiful and transformative experiences and that she clearly was meant to come to see Amma that day. We chatted and found ourselves sharing details of our lives as only strangers with no agenda can.

As we talked and were lead into the hall to meet Amma, I was surprised by the thought that popped into my head.

I feel at home in the world.  

Because she had to catch her flight, Caryn was ushered up to meet Amma a bit earlier than my friend and I.  She looked radiantly transformed when she came back to say goodbye.  As we bid farewell, she kissed me on the cheek and gave me a hug—a real, tight and full-bodied embrace that felt like we’d always known each other.

Spirit draws people together as strangers so they can leave each other as friends.

I feel at home in the world.

When it was finally my turn to meet Amma, she smiled, pulled me in close and held me for what seemed like a full minute, chanting something in my ear while her energy gently pulsed around me.  When she was done, she put a Hershey’s kiss and a rose petal in my hand and sent me on my way.  I had the chance to sit on the stage while she hugged the people that followed me.  I took a few precious moments of my wild life, meditated and got swept away by the rhythm of the music that filled the hall.

Amma

The grace of wellness: When you allow yourself to be embraced, life presents sweetness, beauty, and the grace of new friends.

The Ladybug: Earlier in the week, I noticed a ladybug hanging out around my windows.  I’ve read that ladybugs are good luck, so I just let her be.  (Which probably makes me kind of crazy, but let’s just go with it, shall we?) She must have hung on for three days, playing around the window shades, flying around and just chilling in the summer sun.

On the fourth day, I realized I hadn’t seen her all day.  Then, I discovered her, lifeless, but snuggled just in front of a framed picture that my nephew drew from me a few years ago.

ILoveYou_2

The grace of wellness: Be open to signs.  Even a ladybug can offer a message of comfort.

How fortunate am I to have surrendered to the beauty of my own city? As I woke this morning, I realized today is my last weekday of this vacation and felt sad.  How do I keep up my good self-care intentions when I return to my hectic work life?

As with all good intentions, it all comes down to the measure of the commitment behind them.

And that is how I begin to draw the road map for my one wild and precious life.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: