Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Frame of Mind: Water vs. Rock

Photos via Pinterest.

Life moves quickly, changes often, is not always peaceful. Life is fluid. Life is like water.


And yet so often I approach life with my western mindset and my analytical mind, as though life were a rock. I am in the habit of thinking of life as something solid and approachable, definable, able to be categorized and controlled. I set my expectations firmly and in a way that is bound to be shattered by the reality of life's ever-shifting nature.


Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, once said, "Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it."



Water, as it turns out, is stronger than rock. Enduring, calm, peaceful, and ready for anything. I want to shift my thinking so that it is more like water than like rock. So I see the world as it is, and don't cling to the way I wish it would be.




How does yoga help you shift your thinking so that you approach the world with flexibility instead of resistance?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yoga & Anxiety: My Guest Post on The Greatist

Photos by me.

Hey all, happy Tuesday! I hope you're having a beautiful day. I wanted to share some exciting news: I have a guest post up on The Greatist! (I am so honored to share my thoughts on their site; if you haven't checked them out before, you definitely should. They post on a variety of health, wellness and fitness topics.)

For a long time now, I've been thinking about the relationship between yoga and anxiety. Not too long ago, I discovered that yoga was actually causing me some anxiety instead of helping me feel more calm and at peace.

Has this ever happened to you? Will you please visit my guest post and share your comments? I would love to hear from you. XO

Yoga Dog

Photos via Maddie on Things.

This dog has some serious balancing skills! I recently discovered this playful blog and am in love with Maddie the coonhound's ability to perch anywhere and everywhere. 


Plus, there is just something so heartwarming and yet hilarious about the nonchalant look she has, even when standing on a fence post or set of shopping carts or neighbor's mailbox. 







Do your pets do yoga with you?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Reflections on Letting Go & How to Cry

Photos via Pinterest.

Do you ever get that lost feeling in the pit of your stomach? 

During the last week or so, I've been there a few times. It's hard to let go of negative feelings: resentment, anger, fear.

I keep offering up a prayer that my heart would open up and talk to me a little more. My mind needs to hear from you, heart. 

I have tried to lay it all out on the mat, to make space for what I'm experiencing, but sometimes I still can't move on even after a good camel pose, or an hour of sweating from jumping rope and doing crunches. Inside, I'm wondering, what else do I need? And, deeper down: Does it have to get worse before it gets better?




I want to cry -- one of those good, long bursts where by the end of it, tears are all over my face and my nose is so full of snot that I need three kleenexes before I can breathe again. But lately all I can muster are the little teardrops I get in my eyes from biking in the cold.

I blink them back and continue to pedal, taking the same route I always do. Enjoying the feeling of almost crying, wishing I could really let go and let out all the things that are on my mind.

What does it take to welcome in all the parts of me that are true? Even when some of those parts are scared, or helpless, or nervous for no reason?

Really crying means giving yourself a chance to be vulnerable. Slowing down for long enough to be where you really are, even if that place is a dark one.


What are your go-to methods for coping with stress, disappointment, or frustration? I'd love your thoughts, and your positive energy this week. :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dance Around & Be Curious About the World


To me, this video evokes pure joy. There is something infectious about that playful song, her flirtatious smile, and the boundless energy in those pretty pink feet as they frolic around the screen.

Sometimes we need to take a moment out of our adult lives and run around like little kids, don't you think? :)

PS Anna Rummey is one of my favorite bloggers out there (you may remember her from this post, or this one). It is so fun watching her family grow together and the photos of little baby bear always prove irresistible to me! Thank you, Anna, for sharing the essence of childhood and for being unafraid to show us the whimsical, joyous side of life. Happy Friday, all!

Twin Sister Birthday Party

Photos by me.

My birthday is coming up soon and I am heading out to North Carolina to visit my sister for a long weekend. I can't wait to see her!

It's been a while since I was in North Carolina, too. We used to go every summer to see my (late) grandma, and one Thanksgiving break during my NU days, I went out for a week. But since then, I haven't visited. I'm excited to see where my sis and her husband and little guy are living now.

 

Can't wait to see you, Hermanita! And I sure am looking forward to a relaxing weekend with pedicures, shoe shopping, and cooking at home. Maybe we'll even have a night out together on the town! XO

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Denver

Photos via Pinterest.

Have you guys ever been to Denver? I have been talking about visiting there sometime soon. I think it would be great to have an adventure and take a vacation to Colorado, maybe stay at a cool local apartment, cozy up by a fireplace, hike near the mountains, and walk through an art gallery.


For those who have experienced Denver, what do you recommend?


Little Adventures

Photos in this post via Leigh Ferrara, Sarah Rhoads, and Kate Harrison.

How adventurous are you? Do you like to plan big trips and exciting changes into your life on a regular basis?


Or are you more into trying new things that are close to your comfort zone, and having a staycation now and then? 




Lately I've been finding I'm craving what's wild, free, and full of life. But I'm also very happy where I am.

I think the important thing right now is being open to whatever comes next. Allowing for possibility, and dreaming big.



What do you do during times in your life when half your heart is aching for adventure, and the other half just wants to take a nap on the couch? :) I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Have a Laugh


In case you are in need of a few laughs... yoga jokes, plus a few of my favorite memes at the moment:

 Photos via Pinterest and YogaDork.

Link Love (Yoga Reads around the Web)

Photo via Pinterest.

How's your week going? 


It's been a while since I shared some of my favorite yoga reads from around the web, so I thought I'd post a few. 

Yogini blogs I'm loving lately:
  • Yoga with Nadine (real-life reflections on progress in her yoga practice)
  • Beeyond Yoga (Bee writes about a lovely mix of life experiences, including yoga, fashion, beauty, forgiveness, and taming the inner critic)
  • Danielle Bisaab (a great blog for yoga, travel and slowing down to enjoy life's blessings)
  • Glow Green Girl (a glimpse into healthy yogini Michelle's nourishing eats and family life)
Ever thought of going raw? Here are some cool resources for eating raw:

Photo via Pinterest.


Shop smart (support companies that care):

  • The I Am Idea (you can buy yoga gear and accessories and support clean water, nutritious food, education, health care, and more)
  • Karma Warrior Clothing (awesome t-shirt and tank designs, plus 12% of your purchase supports a cause of your choice)

What are your favorite yoga blogs, studios, spots to shop, and news sources for health and wellness news?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Red Dirt Socks (A Story of Childhood Adventures)


As a kid, my dad would always take us on hikes in the hills of northern California. 

I can remember coming home with rust-red socks covered in that silt-y, robust sediment.

Evidence of an adventure.

 
Photos by my dad.

We'd spend hours exploring isolated trail heads: clambering over rocks, picking up walking sticks, running our fingers over the mossy bark of trees. Dad would tell us stories as we marched through the woods, our shoulders tanning in the mountain sun.

I always got goosebumps and a little thrill thinking about a bear or a cougar waiting around the next corner, or (once we were a little older), the thought of a concealed pot farm somewhere beyond the horizon. "You don't want to stumble upon those guys," my dad would say. "They'll just shoot you. Won't ask any questions." 


My head would be swimming with images of rough-looking men guarding the land, machine guns in hand. I half-wondered where he came up with this stuff, and half-loved the excitement of such a dangerous possibility. 


Looking back I sometimes wonder, who tells their kids stories like that? But now I see how my dad's not exactly average when it comes to storytelling, or hiking, for that matter -- I mean, how else would we have found ourselves wandering down to an abandoned mine in the woods, checking out the vistas in Yosemite National Park, walking through sinuous curves in Death Valley's Mosaic Canyon, or driving back roads in the Sierra Nevadas in "the van that thought it was a 4x4?"

I know one thing: if it weren't for my dad, I'd never have visited the towns of Volcanoville and Last Chance, or Furnace Creek and Badwater.


From him I've learned the value of adventure: how else can you expect to show your kids the natural beauty of a desert landscape, the walls of marble stone cut by water hundreds of years ago, alluvial fans in the red, pink, and yellow hue that's made only by iron salts and volcanic eruption?

 
 Photos  via Flickr.

Thinking back on it now, I desperately want the photographs from those trips sitting on my desk at work. Little reminders of what it means to truly live.

My dad knows the worth of a good exploration -- whether it's in the natural world, or inside the imagination.



Not to mention, we had normal conversations, too. The kind every daughter should be allowed to have with her father: if he wasn't making up stories about secret drug operations, we'd throw around reviews of our favorite novels at the time. Dad always reading a James W. Hall or a Robert Ludlum or a Dean R. Koontz novel (both of us loving that we shared his last name then). He'd tell me about this wily character Thorn, or the scoundrel detective Travis McGee. 



A character that sounds sort of like my dad in a way: willing to take the daring route or bend a few rules in the pursuit of getting the bad guy, fiercely loyal to those he loves, and constantly seeking new adventures. My dad's a hero - don't get me wrong - but he's not your average superman. 

He's the father who wasn't scared to paint my face as Dracula for my first Halloween (bloody fangs and all), and then make my twin sister the innocent-looking bunny (I mean, come on, how many parents cracked up at that sight when they opened the door to hand out candy?!). 


He's the dad who buys a new car to fix up every year, including a big green pickup truck that he hauls up the mountain when he wants to go for a hike. 

The dad who spent Christmas day with my brother in Death Valley this year (the first year neither of them had opened any presents, he says). The dad who takes me sailing and on long car trips and on walks down by our neighborhood creek.


 


Definitely the kind of dad you'd want in your corner when the chips are down, and you better believe he's been there for me.

My dad's no character from the chapter of a book, but he knows how to keep things interesting. And, for as dramatic as I make my stories about our hiking trips to be in my head, the wonder and delight of those California landscapes was nothing like an exaggerated novel plot. 



We never did discover the imagined, far-off plot of land with drugs growing like weeds, or the mountain lion with its claws outstretched. We may have seen a few brown bears and deer and foxes along the way, but we never brought home any scars -- only memories of those traveled paths. Plus, of course, the red dirt covering our hiking boots.

Dad made us shake it off before we got back in the car for the long ride home. But when I was home in the comfort and safety of our house, I'd find the dirt again as I peeled off my dirty socks. Home, and with traces of the day, traces of my own bravery to show for it. That perfect color all over my socks, staining them a lovely shade of crimson. 


Monday, February 20, 2012

Wild Thing (You Make My Heart Sing)

Photo via Geeky Yogini.

Lately I've been working on my Wild Thing pose. Do you guys know this one? 


It's also referred to as "flipping the dog" since you come into it by starting in Downward Facing Dog, and then transferring weight to one side of the body and arching backward.


Camatkarasana pose (known as “Wild Thing”) is such a fun, playful, energetic posture. And it's challenging! You need a lot of strength in your shoulders and core to do it.


Do any of you have any Wild Things tips? I'd love to hear them.
Above photo via Leigh Ferrara Yoga.  Below photo via Yoga Union CWC. 

Here's a little description from Yoga Journal on getting into the pose:
From Downward Dog, bring your weight into your right hand and roll onto the outer edge of your right foot. Step your left foot back and place your toes on the floor with your knee bent at 90 degrees. Exhale and, keeping your right leg straight, push your body away from the floor. Use your legs and buttocks to lift your tailbone and hips as high as you can, until you are almost standing on your right foot. Keep breathing and curl your head back, extending your left arm from your heart and expressing your power and freedom.
To see "Wild Thing" in action, check out this video from Amy Ippoliti and Julieta Claire:


Here's to open hearts as you get your "Wild Thing" on!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Authentic Practice

Photos by me.

On some nights, I just need to breathe, and move, and be present. To really sweat. I turn the music up and dance around in my living room. I hold plank pose and chaturanga until my muscles shake.


 


This week, I did this killer arms and abs workout from Shape. It had me feeling exhausted at the end of it -- the good kind of exhausted, where you're breathless and fatigued and joyful all at once. After workouts like those, I feel amazing (yay endorphins!), plus I sleep so well.



I find it's helpful to mix up my yoga routine and to move in whatever way my body desires in the moment. Sometimes that involves a traditional mix of sun salutations, balances, and twists. 

But sometimes I like to just shake it, let loose, and play around. Or do pushups and mountain climbers and squats and all the exercises I used to when I was a dancer. Once I've engaged all those muscles and lit the fire deep within, I find my authentic practice.

How do you mix up your yoga?

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