22 December 2008

May I Recommend...

Two of my new favorites for yoga are these cool yoga practice pants from Yoga Hyde, a new company making some nice organic practice and chill clothes. I am at this very moment sporting the Engineered Seam pant as I have just practiced in them. So soft, but not too soft and flapper, you know what I mean, like they hold you in, but let you move around to your yoga heart's desire. Get this, Deepak Chopra digs their yoga clothes!

If you go to their website and order, right now they are offering 15% off with the discount code: ASANA.
Word up!

17 December 2008

There's Alway Something For Me

After learning I have one seriously tweeked back and starting weekly physical therapy to rectify it, I have had to alter my yoga practice in a major way. My physical therapist advised me to do no forward bending that does not keep the spine neutral (oh, yeah, that's like 67% of the ashtanga practice) nor to twist (like the REST of the ashtanga practice!). At first I was very despondent, I mean, I could not envision yoga practice without these two movements. I felt angry at my back and then angry at Barb, the physical therapist. I mean, how could she even SAY those two things are bad at ALL! It was against all that I felt I had learned about the physical aspect of yoga. But through Barb, I have learned some interesting things about the anatomy of our backs, and that it seems that bending forward isn't inherently bad at all. I won't get into the boring details of my back issues, but I will say that I will be bending forward once I work on strengthening the areas that are aggravated by such action. Same with twisting, although Barb frowns much upon twisting if it is generated from the lumbar region which she claims is not fashioned to perform such action.

The bad news is that it seems yoga may have played a part in my injuries. And I take responsibility for it, by not practicing asteya and ahimsa, I had been, for years, taking too much, going too far and not being humble enough to listen to what my body was really saying it could do. My back developed TOO much flexibility and the muscles in it were not matching that level of flexibility. However, I was informed that to some extent our flexibility is genetic and perhaps I was bending myself around because I just could. Also doing me a great disservice was sitting in my work chair with my leg tucked under my butt, for like, years. My spine is slowly curving to the right...which is totally bizarre to see on an X-ray, let me tell you.

All this blather leads me to what I really wanted to say and that is that yoga is there for me again, and not as I usually experience it being there for me. I realize there are a myriad poses I can do without bending myself in two and without twisting. In fact, I have discovered the joy of so many poses I otherwise didn't focus on that much. And I have also come to love Pilates. A form of exercise I once thought people did because they were too lazy and chicken to do yoga.But Pilates is excellent for keeping the spine neutral and there is almost no twisting and it promotes excellent posture, so I am all about it right now. I feel long and graceful doing it and it blends almost seemlessly into my yoga practice.

My lesson is that we relay so much on habits and ideas about the things we do that when those habits and ideas are forced to change, we sort of tweek out, and I tweeked out, mentally. But once I stopped tweeking out and adapted I discovered something I can really sink my teeth into!

18 November 2008

I just realized (yes just today) WHY practicing yoga puts me (and most people) in such a super-content (santosh-ic!) good mood! To practice yoga is to become one with the Divine, which resides WITHIN US.

Therefore, when practicing yoga you are doing something very special, you are connecting with something so much greater than the YOU you usually consider. And it's so amazing that that YOU, that DIVINITY is within you and you have access to it, anytime.

I spent my lunch hour practicing in my office and then came home to a longer home practice with the heat cranked up in the house. When finished I was just dancing around the house making a salad and listening to Wah! (I am such a yoga nerd sometimes), and that is when this revelation, that really isn't a relevation, but something very simple, hit me!

Then I heard a loud THUD!
Having no idea what it was, I inspected from whence it came and lo and behold my kitty cat, Ella, had knocked my mat down from it's resting upright position andhad it rolled out whereupon she was seated on it like the freaking Queen of Sheba. Oh Ella, you too can connect with your divinity!

05 November 2008


02 November 2008

Today I did a long intuative vinyasa practice at my house, focusing slightly on the hips and sacrum. I was hungry when I started my practice and thought I might cut it short to eat something, but that hunger faded and I ended up having a nice very long meditative flow. Afterward I sat in meditation and chanted:
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
Nishprapancaya Shantaya
Niralambaya Tejase

which translates into:
I bow to the goodness within myself,
known as the Lord Shiva, who is the true teacher.
This essence inside takes the form of truth, consciousness, and bliss.
Always present and full of peace, this essence inside is completely dree, and sparkles with a divine luster.

How can one go wrong with that!?
While chanting my thoughts came to two of my friends that have passed away, one a month ago today. He was someone I would "go to the mountain" with, meaning we would have deep spiritual discussions that sometimes lasted late into the night. Consequently, the other friend that past away nearly two years ago was also a "go to the mountain" friend. I miss them both intensely, and while in meditation I almost cried for the loss of them, but then, I recalled a poem that I used to comfort me after Audrey's death. It's too long to type here, but it in sense presented death as a very beautiful passage - a drop of water reentering the ocean. When I remembered the poem I then pictured the souls of my two friends meeting somewhere beyond and although they never met in this life, they were kindred spirits and I like to think of them connecting somewhere.

27 October 2008

Someone reads this blog!

Downward Deegs was included in a Top 100 Yoga and Meditation Blogs. I am very happy to be recognized as such!

Huffington Post debunks yoga myths

I thought this was an interesting read and even moresore considering it came from the political site, Huffington Post.
Yoga Bunk: Debunked

Be careful what you wish for!

I think "be careful what you wish for" is my rubric for October. And I think I have learned my lesson. It started at the beginning of this month when I was up in northern Michigan with my husband at really great bed and breakfast/inn called Neahtawanta Inn that also had a fantastic yoga space that was always open to use. We also brought our road bikes and on Saturday did a long ride all through the Mission Peninsula. That felt so good, we decided we would go back to the inn, do some yoga and then head to Traverse City for dinner, on our bikes. The ride would be about 20 miles there and back. It was also cold outside. But I was game! So we set out, got to town and had some great fish tacos and well, then I didn't want to ride back at all. I was not looking forward to it. I was wishing I didn't have to. But there was no other way home. So we got on our bikes and not three blocks from the restaurant, I crashed! My tired got caught in a seam in the concrete, and since I was clipped in and it happened so fast I was just face down on the ground before I knew it. And ripped my new pants! Bloody of knee and jarred to boot, Chad and I agreed that I could not make the 11 mile ride back and I would have to wait at the bookstore for him to ride back and then come pick me up in the car. I got my wish! But not how I expected to or wanted to! I was sore for a week and still have a crapped up scabby knee to show for it.

My second lesson came yesterday at Power Yoga. I last posted about how the thighs were underworked in yoga and I felt that I needed to work on strengthening them. Well, I wasn't exactly sure I how I was going to go about doing that, but I didn't have to know because the opportunity came in spades last night at yoga. It was like Jo (the teacher) read my post and was trying to whip my ass for saying such things about yoga! It was so ironic to me that in the middle of class I had to laugh to myself - once again, I "wished" for something and "received" it, though not how I would have expected to.

What's the real lesson here? Let up on expectation. Let up on wishes. Just accept the moment and do not grasp at what is not there, or else, it'll BE there!

22 October 2008

The thighs have it, or not!

Yesterday I went to a new fitness class called Pure Barre. It's pretty much a hybrid between ballet, Pilates and weight-training. Well, it was pretty great because today I am totally sore! The class spends a lot of time each area of the body (upper body, legs, bum & all the while, the core), and the thigh section 'bout did me in. The rest I could totally handle swimmingly, but when it came to thigh work I realized where my weak point was. Then I got to thinking about how my yoga practice has increased my strength in a major way, especially my upper body and core, but uhhhh, the thighs? Not so much. Then it dawned on me that in the Ashtanga yoga practice (at least not the primary series) there really isn't THAT many poses that really require a ton of thigh strength. There's Chair Pose and the Warrior sequence, but aside from that I notice the thighs just aren't asked to work as much as say the arms or core. While I knew this on some level because the Warrior poses are never my favorite, I came face to face with the deficit in my legs yesterday. My thighs just vibrated with the work I was asking them to do. Sure, I run along with doing yoga, but obviously this was something on a whole new level for my sturdy gams. I am way excited about this though, I am looking forward to bringing more power to my legs and I anticipate I will enjoy the Warrior poses more in general.

20 October 2008

Jam out!

Yesterday evening I was putting on my jammies and in the middle of doing so I started some kinda spontaneous yoga practice. Half jammied, half dressed. Sometimes it's like I really not in control of this vessel I walk around in...

16 October 2008

Today I left work a little early, it's a gorgeous and crisp autumn day. My plans were scattered, but I resolved that I would go home and then make a big batch of white bean soup. I also planned to go to a vinyasa class nearby later in the evening so I came home and put on my "comfy" or some might say "active" clothes. But once I was in the kitchen ready to cook, somehow I ended up with my wind-vest and running shoes on. My body had different plans for me! Next thing I knew I was outside for a run! Cool! Then I was home in my yoga room ready to stretch after the run, but nope, I was doing a full-on practice! So much for soup making! Looks like I'll be eat an Amy's frozen burrito!

Sometimes I think about expanding this blog to encompass more of my life, but I think I am wary of a)opening my life up that much in a public forum, b)boring people (if I am not already) c) feeling like I need to post way more than I need to d) feeling overwhelmed by all my interests/ideas/activities because I might try to TALK about them too much!

Nonetheless, I think I'll let it be organic, like today's post. Running, cooking, yoga, working, cat-petting - today.

13 October 2008

What Bubbles Up

Yoga has a powerful way of checking you in with yourself entirely. It's not often in our culture that we just stop and listen to our own breath, it's a rare event for many of us to tune into what our complete being is communicating to us. All you need to do to be "doing yoga" is bringing awareness to your breath, just sitting and breathing with intention is yoga, and at times it's a lot harder to do that than a sweaty, vigorous practice. It is for this reason, this keying in with ourselves on the mat that sometimes intense emotions bubble up. It isn't out of the ordinary to find yourself in tears in certain pose. We spend so much time disconnected, outward looking and in a hurry; achieving, planning and accomplishing. While doing these things we are also storing up, in our beings deep feelings, intense emotions or memories - and since there is often no place for them in our society of locomotion, they remain stored. Until, you slow down, turn inward, and listen.

Recently, my friend sent me an email about her yoga practice, which is now a one year old. She described this emotional release quite nicely I felt,

"Yoga has been weird for me, in a good way. I can't tell you how many times I have cried during yoga. ESPECIALLY in pigeon. I have SO much stuff stored up in my hips and glutes, it's crazy. Of course my practice on the mat directly reflects my mental state... when I am unbalanced in life I totally tip over. But this last class yesterday was really weird... I went in feeling weak (physically and emotionally) and totally unfocused and unbalanced, and had one of the strongest practices I've ever done. I wish I'd had that headstand on video. It was GORGEOUS!! And steady! And effortless! I seriously could have stayed on my head for another 30 breaths without much effort. I felt totally transformed after that class. It was definitely what I needed yesterday."

I love how she describes crying during yoga and then her paragraph moves almost effortlessly to elation and the feeling of transformation. Yoga can be a catalyst for you to find respite in your own being if you allow it to be so.

18 September 2008

A Physical Practice

In need of a honest-to-goodness led Ashtanga class, I went to my friend Lindsay's (www.annarboryogi.blogspot.com) Ashtanga class after work yesterday. I had talked to her earlier in the day about how it is hard to find many classes in Ann Arbor that aren't, well, as I put it "namby-pamby". Lindsay and I came to yoga at the primarily same time, at the same place and did the same teacher training - because of this we share a similar yoga lineage so to speak. Our teachers were excellent, our training was authentic, challenging, and still what seems to us "real". Real meaning, it didn't coddle us and there wasn't a lot of room to slack. At times it was difficult and downright hard. But I still feel that when I first began doing yoga at Yoga Shala, I was getting my own little piece of Pattabhi Jois! Anyway, since those days are over I have yet to find a class, studio, or teacher I can really follow. Where is the teacher! I am told when I am ready the teacher will appear! I think the teacher came and went, I followed that teacher for a time and now I have to wonder, do I get another teacher?

But last night, in Lind's class I got a little bit of that "real" feeling back. She set out to lead what she said was "a very physical practice". And of course it wasn't like a power yoga class, devoid of any talk outside of the physical realm, it was very physically centered. At times it felt strict even, which was SUPER! Love it!
She slaps her hands together to initiate the between pose vinyasas which really prompts you and brings you "up" and present and willing to move into the vinyasa and not slack. She also threw in some Second Series poses which just infused the practice with fun and mental interest.

So, for now, I think I will attend that class regularly, even though it means driving to work that day instead of taking the bus. I figure if I can't take classes from my old teachers I can take classes from a dear friend who was also taught by my teachers. Namaste Linds!

12 September 2008

Nothing is hard and fast.

It's ironic. My last post, a million years ago, was how I could not stop doing yoga, once I started a practice.

And then, I stopped! Ha! And then, stopped blogging because since I stopped practicing regularly I couldn't really talk about THAT. Well I could, but I felt sort of ashamed. But nonetheless, I am BACK!

When I say that I stopped practicing, I really mean I stopped my daily practice. I still did yoga, but it was much more infrequent. Summer took hold of me, new obsessions (estate sales & overall house projects) laid claim to my time. I knew, however, that that was impermanent.

Ahhhhh, impermanence. There isn't a concept that gets me through life more than the idea of impermanence. As days went by without a practice I somehow knew in the back of my mind that I would eventually float back, and I did. I let go of the attachment I had to the idea that I HAD to practice and just let myself do whatever it was I felt to do. And without that judgement of myself I avoided suffering. When I did practice I allowed myself that same "kindness", I just did what felt right then, whatever poses I moved into were fine by me. And gradually, I moved into my practice of yore! My daily NEED to practice returned! My tendancy to start a practice and not want it to end, holing up in my yoga space for longer than I had intended returned. I am SO grateful that my practice is always there for me, whether I leave it for a day or a month, or more. It's always available to me. I just have to remember that it's not about progress, it's not about the poses and what I can accomplish. It's about that sweet sweet feeling AFTER any practice.

Spring is the season of renewal, but I have always felt autumn was moreso - at least for me!

05 March 2008

The problem with yoga...

...is that I can't stop. I can't just practice for 30 min, no matter if I tell myself I only have 30 minutes. What ARE these videos that profess "Yoga in 10 min. a Day!"?? Ain't no way. Once I get my yoga on, it's on and it pretty much matters little what I have planned after this alleged 30 min. practice I think I am going to do. Yoga vortex! Lovely!

Today's practice was one of those, practices where I set out to keep it short, and ended up doing full fledge "yoga potpourri", I do whatever comes, and these practices are so blissful, I just listen, I just follow. I am loving Firelog pose right now, and that pose used to make my knees scream. And oddly enough, I think Warrior 2 is one of my favorites right now, which leads me to believe my hips are dictating my practice, which makes sense, all the sitting I do at work. In addition I am imbuing my practice with these core strenghtening sequences - for instance:
Begin with Surya Namascar B, when you get to Warrior I, move from there to Vrksasana, flow into Warrior III, leave arms in Warrior I postition, back to Vrksasana, back to Warrior I and finish Surya Namaskar B. Good times!

Today my friend said to me, while she was wrestling with the fax machine,
"The fax machine is helping me to become one with rage."

And once again I am reminded that work is an excellent place to practice non-asana yoga.It feels to me that without me really noticing, my yoga practice really DOES come in to play OFF the mat. It's not always something at the forefront of my mind, I should help it to be there though.

28 February 2008

Rollin' Deep with Mula Bandha

This link is an in-depth (no pun intended!) look at mula bandha. I found it a good read, as a yoga student and teacher.

Are You Engaging Your Mula Bandha Correctly?

Bad yogi has birthday, forgets yoga

Ok I didn't forget yoga, I just didn't practice for 5 days. Makes a body cranky!! But life just took me out of my rituals and I went on the ride, just for the hell of it. I didn't try to fit anything in, anything that didn't just happen. So my birthday was on a Saturday, which means it really started on Friday and went until Sunday. There was a lot of eating and antique shopping. There was not a lot of yoga. Yoga is daily life, for me, and birthdays, well, are not-I guess.

But I did practice yesterday and HELLO! this yogini just forgot how much she loves mat time! Holy crap! I know it was only 5 days, but that's a long time without a practice. Practice is sometimes like a person to me, and when I neglect it I feel the need to apologize to my yoga practice. So I whisper to my mat "I'm sorry, you're right, you are so patient, I am bad, forgive me. You rule."

21 February 2008

Breathe In One-Two, Breathe Out One-Two

There are many times when I just don't know what to do. There are times when I dip deep into my yogi mind and still, can't seem to find a "right answer". This occurred today, when, at the gym, in the room designated for yoga a dude came in with headphones on and a jump rope in tow. There was one other girl doing her yoga practice in the room aside from me, but our presence didn't seem to phase this guy. He came in and proceeded to jump & stop, jump & stop, over and over again. I was incredulous. I mean, what balls! Here's this silent room, without any lights, clearly labeled YOGA ROOM and he seems to think its okay to bring his cardio-jam into this space.

I was conflicted; I didn't know if I should SAY something or not. I mean, I am known to act as a general policewoman in a lot of situations, but I have been working on quelling that. I thought, "maybe this jerk will just jump for a little bit and leave"? I started to wonder if it was best to just practice with him there doing his thing, I wondered if that was I *should* do according to say, oh, Patanjali. Was I supposed to create my own yoga island on my mat and go so far deep inside my breath that I didn't even hear him? Is it up to me to make a situation that could be wrong, right? I was struggling to separate my personal offense from what was more "yoga-like". And because I didn't feel like sitting there all night comtemplating what I SHOULD do, because what I really wanted to do was get on with my practice (but one could argue that this inner dialog I was having IS part of my yoga practice, whoa) I just started at him from my side of the room. He didn't seem to take the hint. And THAT made me VERY ANNOYED. He didn't seem like he was going to keep it brief. So after sitting and staring with no effect. I couldn't hold my tongue. But I DID self-talk myself down from chewing him a new asshole. I felt it might be better if I was NICE to him. I know, gasp! Nice! And I was! I just asked if he could do that somewhere else as this was a space just for yoga and the gym has a lot of spot where he can jump rope. Did he like me saying this? No.
But I was NICE, HAHAHAHA! I smiled even! So what was he going to do? Well, he was going to leave. And he did. And I felt like a yoga superhero, saving the yoga room from Jumping Man-Beast.

And then, I was on with my yoga practice, which once again at the gym, was very good. Especially with someone else practicing in the room. Much like Mysore practice. There's a lot to be said for group practice that isn't lead, just a collective consciousness promoting more focus. I also am loving how my practice is very organic and fluid these days. I don't set a sequence in my mind, I don't set an expectation, I just basically start with Surya Namaskars A & B, and then let it flow, doing standing poses and then moving down to the floor. It's very vinyasa, which I feel is so natural and intuitive - counterposes and steady breath decide what poses follow which. I was easy on myself in the twists and back bending because my backs needs the rest. When I felt like going deeper I would call to mind the concept of ASTEYA, careful not to "steal" the health of my back, not to "take" more than I needed.


A week ago today I skipped my Photoshop class and instead did a niiiiice yoga practice at home. I loved that day, and today I have to go to class, got to class and sit for 4 hours after sitting at work for 7 hours. I hear that this will all be over before I know it and May will come, birds will sing, sun will shine, margaritas will appear and 4 hour evening classes will die die die. I must believe this is true, or else SOMEONE will again be skipping class and instead flipping on a space heater and rolling out a yoga mat.

UPDATE: I quit the class. Yes, I just quit. I decided on my way there that it's just not worth it, I am learning enough from the textbook that the instructor follows exactly, I wake up Thursday morning grumpy and well, I just knew, I KNEW, that since it's was only Feb. and I felt this way, I would never make it May. So just like that, I decided. And once I did I felt so elated! So elated I went to a class at the gym, and then, of course, did yoga.

20 February 2008

Lunar Eclipse n' Stuff

There it goes, there goes the light of the moon!
I am sitting in my house in the dark looking at less of the moon every minute, it's fascinating and a good catalyst to put things that have been happening in perspective. Lunar eclipses initiate a slew of changes not to mention other general manifestations that may not bona-fide changes, but something less dramatic.
For instance, this information from AstrologyZone,
is particularing interesting for me:

"If you have any chronic health issues, such as a fluttery stomach or a cranky ankle that keeps acting up, try to take extra good care of yourself now. Sometimes chronic illnesses flair up near a full moon eclipse and can bring on a bit of stress".

This issue with my back that has this past month prevented me from doing as much as I would like to do could be seen to align with this lunar eclipse, in fact tonight I once again had to decide to not do anything physical in order to rest my back. What I am happy about is that hopefully the whole scene - the moon thang, and this back thang, are on their way out.


"If you are born on February 20 (my birthday is Feb. 23) , plus or minus four days, the eclipse on this date will have special meaning to you. The universe wants you to use your time on Earth well and will quickly pull you out of unproductive relationships that appear to have no future."

I have been struggling at work for a couple weeks now, not because of a change in my performance, but because of the change in someone else's overall vibe and demeanor. Likewise with a friend. The long and short of it is that it seems there is cosmic design over my life more than I take notice of.

The Astrology Zone also mentioned that around this time I would be heavily into my home and making it better, nicer, doing some projects that have been waiting in the wings. I just read this tonight and MAN, is it ever true, all I have wanted to do lately is gussy up my bedroom specifically. After three years of harping, I finally got Chad to agree to paint it and the weird part is - it took almost NO cajoling. Now there are color swatches all over the walls, new crisp sheets awaiting use, new curtains planned, and even a new rug in the works.

It's seriously dark out there now that there is only a sliver of the moon left. My cat Rex just HAD to go out there, so I let him out, I wonder if he'll converse with a lunar diety and learn new cat tricks, he already can say "godblessyou" after I sneeze...maybe he'll learn to clean his own litterbox this time!

15 February 2008

Reminder Post - SpinYoga

Attention Ann Arbor-Ypsi Yogis and Cyclists!
I am co-teaching (I am teaching the yoga part) a SpinYoga class in February at the Ypsi Studio, run by the lovely and vivacious Julia Collins. SpinYoga is a wonderful balanced workout. You cycle for 45 min. then I teach a 45 min. post-spinning class aimed at all the major muscle groups used in cycling. Open to all levels.

February 17 1-2:30pm
To sign up just email Julia juliacollins@sbcglobal.net

New Favorite Pose - this week

Bharadvajasana II
(a la Rodney Yee)

Twists are underused, at least in my experience, there's only really enough of them in Ashtanga. So in my personal practice I have been trying to include a lot of them. I also have a naggy soreness on the right side of my mid-back that's been around for ages and twists seem to really work into that area. I am liking Bharadvajasana right now because it's an intense twist and the chest is able to stay really open allowing for good long breaths. Not only that but it's a yummy hip-opener and I always dig a hip opener. What am I saying - I dig all yoga poses! No wait, shoulder openers can be beastly. In the most beautiful way, of course.

I am spending my Friday nights doing yoga lately; it's a great time to do it because there's no rush whatsoever. I can hole myself up in my yoga room for as long as I want with no reason to leave! Only today I think I am going to punctuate my yoga practice with a nightcap of Remy Martin, call me a naughty yogi, see if I care!

14 February 2008

Around Every Corner

Recently I have thought about studying/learning yoga therapy. And of course as soon as I decided that I am seeing it all over the place! A sign?

The "Ah-ha!" Moments Just Keep Coming

Today's practice was unexpected until about 5pm. Wasn't in the cards, what WAS in the cards was my Photoshop class that lasts an absurd 4 hours and that plan died a hard, fast and brilliant death once I let go of feeling obligated to go and assessed that what I really wanted to do was go home and do yoga. Chad and I did yoga together (no, not Valentine's Day yoga, blargh!), with a Rodney Yee video, which was, eh, ok. It is taking time, but I am coming to understand I just don't like yoga DVD's.

What I am also coming to understand is that I am always looking for a teacher, or a leader, when really all I need now is myself. I practice enough, have taken enough classes and have read nearly every yoga book published that I think if I just start to honor my inner teacher I will find great benefit. I don't need to run out to every studio in town and I don't need to rent every yoga DVD from Netflix. My best practices lately are on my own. I am more focused lately in my personal practice than ever before and well, that might be a by-product of practice! Practice and all IS coming!

12 February 2008

Practice at work

Yesterday I took my lunch hour to practice yoga at work. Strategically I wore yoga-y clothes under my work clothes so I could shed a layer and be ready to go. I just shut my office door and cranked up some ragas and away I went. I even have a nice wall space to practice arm balance inversions. I have often planned to do lunchtime yoga but somehow never managed it. It was great to transform my workspace into a whole new environment, and it took so little effort. I did only a 30 min. practice but I think it was complete and I am sure it really helped combat the havoc reeked on the body from sitting in a chair all day (although I DO it in my chair all sorts of unconventional ways).

I am excited because tonight I will practice at the gym in the giant yoga room, all by myself and since there isn't any way to play music in there I feel like I create a super meditative space by just focusing on pranayama.

It's snowing again, fat happy snow!

07 February 2008

So early and already a success!

I did did did it!
I got up this morning and practiced! The cats were sure confused and my back felt like it belonged on George Burns, but after a while and many Suryanamaskar A's and B's, I felt hot (as in warmed up!) and happy. I put on some upbeat yoga music and just went to town. The only downside I can think of is that it was hard to stop, switch gears and get ready for work. When can I find a job just doing yoga all day??

05 February 2008

How Yogini Got Her Groove Back

Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice.
Better than knowledge is meditation.
But better still is surrender of attachment to results
(of one's actions), because there follows immediate peace.

Bhagavad Gita 12:12

I've listened to the universe, the universe sent me a back boo-boo (noooo, the universe didn't really send me a back boo-boo, I incurred that from hurrying toward some unarticulated perfection in my yoga practice/running regimen), and then told me to slow my asana practice down, told me to lay off the running for a bit, to tap into the transformative power of my bandhas.

And interestingly enough, the universe really knew what I needed. It seemed once I *listened* that all signs pointed in the same direction. I did the inversion workshop and still the same message came to me - "chill your ass out!". So for about three days (that a lot of non-asana-ing for me!), I have spent some time reflecting on the yoga outside asana.

I was getting very attached, to so many things. I even got attached to feeling like I MUST practice everyday, and while I still think doing yoga everyday is pretty important, I can see now that practicing everyday isn't even something I can choose to do or not do anymore, or at least, at this place in time. Even when I can't practice poses, I still practice, as I have said, on my way to work, at work, at home, at the store, in a conversion with a friend -everywhere. But lately I have been more specific about this non-asana practice. I must consider the weird, nameless "yoga potpourri" I do when I come home from work and just basically wallow around in the yoga room in front of the space heater, and I must consider the dedicated meditation time I have been giving myself. This is yoga. When you pull back on the postures for a few days you really get into the meat of all the else of yoga.

And this week something came to me via my friend Lindsay. She sent me an excerpt from Osho:

"That's why I am talking; I am talking on Patanjali because of you.
You are in a hurry and I hope Patanjali will bring down your impatience;
he will pull you down, back to the reality.
He will bring you to your senses."

All that being said, I was able to practice asanas today and I feel like a million dollars!!

03 February 2008

Maybe it's time to focus on a non-asana practice?

Yesterday I attended an Inversion Workshop given by Kate Greer, from Sonic Yoga in New York, it was a fairly shoulder and resolve tiring workshop for me, and although I did learn a few good pointers, I overall felt really inadequate. I realize that yoga is without goals, but its nearly impossible for most (all?) of us NOT to at least aspire (better word for goal-setting!) to be better at the fun stuff in yoga, and by fun stuff, I mean inversions. Sure, I've got headstand down, and sometimes even handstand if I can kick up, but this woman opened up a pandora's box for me of all kinds of "floating" through action. What it boils down to for me is that I need to spend some serious time focusing on moola (mula) bandha, as in maybe just do a practice of just sitting with mula bandha engaged, because for me keeping it engaged through my practice hasn't come.

Also, I wrenched my piriformis somehow and have been experiencing some serious low back and hip pain, that oddly enough become dormant during the workshop, but is in full force today, so no practice, no gym, just rest. And well, it's almost as if the universe is like, "Lauren, work on your damn moola bandha for few days (or hell, a lifetime)", so I'll listen. It is after all, the universe talking.

01 February 2008

More with the Unexpectation

Snow Day! I feel like a little kid! I woke up with a sore throat and stuffy nose (this low-grade sick thing stinks stink stinks) and tons and tons of snow on the ground -and still snowing fat fat snow! I am have been debating all week about taking a sick day since in the mornings I have been feeling pretty crappy and well, today it just seems like that day. It's suprisingly hard to decide to NOT DO!


Thursdays are a long day, I work all day and then directly from work go to this Photoshop class I am taking, and the damned class lasts 4 hours. So indeed I sit in front of a computer from virtually 9am to 9pm. It hard to get a practice in on these day, but its all I WANT to fit in. So last night I came home, flipped on the space heater and practiced, a gentle, slow practice filled with any pose to counterbalance desk -sitting. I imagined I would practice for about 20 min. because I was pretty tired, and am still feeling like I am on the verge of whatever this cold-sick things is and wanted to go to bed. 20 minutes turned into over an hour - there's SOMETHING about my yoga room. I never want to leave.

I pretty much did a long Yin practice, which is good for me because I really don't do enough of that. In Agnistambhasana or Fire Log pose (or Double Pigeon) I really opened up my left hip, my obstinate hip. With continued slow deep breaths I just kept folding more forward, more than ever. I can see these Yin practices becoming more frequent, which is good because it's a great way to compliment all the running I have been doing.

31 January 2008

Hopefully that's how heaven will smell

nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa, nag champa
nag champa

30 January 2008


My friend Madeline asked me to tell her about some yoga pants she might like, and well here they be...thought every lady would want to know.

Chaturanga pant, from Athleta

Good choice, feels good!

Almost never does someone do yoga and go, "damn, I wish I would not have done that, it sucked". But sometimes we do eat 7 no-bake cookies and go, "damn, I wish I didn't eat all those, I feel like shit" (last night).

Today I felt awful, I thought I was coming down with the dreaded "something", in fact it's be upon me for 3 days now and my antibodies are just chargin' at this sick-beast and most of the time, winning. But this morning I was sure it was ON, I was sure I HAD it. I went to work anyway, and thought I might make it to lunchtime and then go home, but I started feeling better. Now Wednesdays are extra special because my friend Lindsay teaches ashtanga at the *nice* studio in town. I was very sad to think I would have to miss it. Near 5pm, I was still not sure if I'd go, but Linds told me some good advice (we also work together, yes that's so cool!) and that was that I should come to class and just take it WAY easy and listen to my body...what a great idea, because I love the vibe that class gets going and it would be great just to be in it in any way, shape, or form.

something wonderful happened! I had one of my best feeling practices and I felt strong and healthy! I think it was the absence of any expectation, and also I kept this super calm sensation going by mega-focusing on my breath, the postures LITERALLY came last, as in they were a result of a calm mind and constant attention to pranayama. It's so freaking great when that happens.

29 January 2008

Surprisingly, I had a very good, solid practice today at the gym! Granted this gym is way nice (the Health and Fitness Center at WCC), there is a large room set aside for yoga and when there isn't a class being held in there (which is hardly ever) anyone can practice in there on their own (hardly anyone ever does). So I used to the room today to enjoy a solid 60 min. practice. When I was almost finished practicing, a woman who used to come to the studio where I used to teach and practice came in and did her quite solid ashtanga practice. It was so nice to be silent with only someone else's ujjayi breathing in the room. It helped my focus, I have to say. It was also nice to connect without speaking in a sense. After yoga I languished in the steam room, which is always such a luxury and makes me feel all noodley. Go WoYoPracMo!

I am the opposite of a monkey...

because I think my arms are too short. well, I KNOW my limbs are short, and this is pretty cool when I want to do say, Paschimottanasana, or even Utthita Hasta Padagustasana .

BUT, I think it may very well be that my arms are too short to perform the full expression of Tolasana.

It seems this way because no matter what I seem to do I cannot leave my hands TOTALLY flat on the ground, I am always on my fingers and balls of hands - sounds excruciating right? - well it nearly is. Maybe I am just not lifting through the bandhas enough, specifically mula bandha? Recently, I have discovered the difference it makes when you really engage your mula bandha when taking Bakasana - the effort is less and you just sort of hinge up there without feeling like your hips and butt weight a million pounds (hey, feeling lighter is always nice). So although I feel like I just might be physiologically incapable of Tolasana, I am guessing I am not. But man, when I am nearing the end of practice and perhaps feeling tired it sure is easier to think, "I can't do Tolasana because I am just not BUILT to", rather than, "girl, you ain't doing it 'cause you just can't do it yet!"

28 January 2008

World Yoga Practice Month - WoYoPracMo

February is Deepen YOUR Practice Month, and practice everyday. I think I'll go for it. I came across WoYoPracMo on accident and its quite cool! I joined up on the site, but I think I might do my blogging about the practicing here and paste it there? Dunno if that's possible since all this bloggy blog stuff is new to me. But yoga isn't, so I'm giving it a whirl!

Spin Yoga Class

Attention Ann Arbor-Ypsi Yogis and Cyclists!
I am co-teaching (I am teaching the yoga part) a Spin Yoga class in February at the Ypsi Studio, run by the lovely and vivacious Julia Collins. Spin Yoga is a wonderful balanced workout. You cycle for 45 min. then I teach a 45 min. post-spinning class aimed at all the major muscle groups used in cycling. Open to all levels.

February 17 1-2:30pm
To sign up just email Julia juliacollins@sbcglobal.net

27 January 2008

Effort to Ease

"Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached"
Yoga Sutra 2:47

So far I have REALLY perfected Savasana. All the rest...well, practice and all is coming.
But, what if it never does? That's okay too. This practice has no end point, we might say that samadhi is it, but samadhi can be but a moment and then we are back in the practice, practicing. I say, thank heavens, because it's like when I am doing anything I love, I don't want it to end. Say, I make a batch of vegan cupcakes; I want to eat them all, and then I don't want to eat them all because then they will be gone. I want them to last and last yet I want experience them. I can't have all this. But with yoga I can have all this. I can practice again and again and I can have this practice for all time, there is not danger of an end. How cool!

Yoga Music

Some of us like to practice to music and some of us don't. Personally, I love it and I am a self-described 'yoga music geek', as in, I listen to it in the car and while at work, not just while practicing. The thing about yoga music is it can slip into some really wanky, new agey, downright cheesetastic flavor. So here's a list of the yoga music I have found that I love that isn't too cheesey. That being said, I may have slipped so far into my affinity of for yoga music that I might (gasp!) not be as discerning about what's cheesy and what's not anymore. But still, these are nice, I swear!

Wah! Savasana
Wah! CD Krishna
Ben Leinbach - The Spirit of Yoga
Chinmaya Dunster - On Sacred Ground
Ty Burhoe - Invocation
Craig Pruess - Language of Love
Yoga Mela - An Eastern Vibrational Experience
Tina Malia & Shimshai - Jaya Bhagavan
Maharishi Gandharva - The Eternal Music of Nature

ALSO, this site www.whiteswanmusic.com/ is a super cool resource for all this kinda of music...

25 January 2008

Thai Massage Workshop

My friend Lindsay and I are teaching a Thai Massage Workshop in February at A2 Yoga in Ann Arbor.
We're not certain of the date exactly, most likely Feb. 15th. It's a partner workshop, but you don't need to bring a lovah, a friend is just fine. A couple years ago Linds and I attended a yoga workshop on Valentine's Day and we thought it was just a partner yoga thing, but it was a really a 'bring your sweetie" thing. Didn't really matter, Linds is pretty sweet! More information to come and also check out Lindsay's site at Ann Arbor Yogi.

Thai massage is sometimes called "passive yoga" or "lazy man's yoga".
It is done on a padded floor surface with the recipient wearing yoga clothing and bare feet. The practitioner will massage, stretch, and move your body through beneficial yoga postures as you breathe and relax. Wonderful for yogis or anyone in need of stress and tight muscle relief.

The Checkout Lane

Sometimes I say I want to "checkout", and by checkout I mean, not drive my ass to my office job 5 days a week, not fill my gas tank up with gazzzzoline, not shop at Target, all that rhetorical ballyhoo I throw around. Chad and I talk about it a lot as do Lindsay and I. It's not that I hate my life, or hate people or even my job for that matter. But there's an inherent dissatisfaction with doing work that sits you at a desk all day long (like duh, this isn't new or anything), and I feel it especially because what I would love to do is spend my days at a yoga studio or at least in an environment that fosters holistic health, say, oh...a nice commune in Hawaii?? I think, "oh it would be sooo much easier to live the life I want to live if the weather were nicer, or I didn't have to work in an office, or if I could just do yoga all day long", but really, this life IS my yoga.

My daily life gives me an opportunity to practice yoga all the time (we're not talking asanas , more like Bhakti yoga or even sometimes Jnana yoga for instance). Say this morning, while driving to work - there's a ton of construction near my job right now and getting to work sometimes entails navigating Bobcats and cement mixers both of which have a propensity of move very slowly. I get behind one and am of course, irritated.

Why though? Am I in a hurry to get to this desk I hate sitting at? No. Is someone clocking me in? No. So what's the rush? Why the irritation? OR, also this morning this sloppy chick in a raggedy SUV totally cut me off, and I was really ticked, and then something amazing happened. Ok, not amazing, but let's say...pretty neat, something pretty neat happened; she moved back into her lane and then I was next to her, I looked over at her and she looked puffy and haggard and instead of being mad at her, I felt ACTUAL compassion! Not *sad* for her, but real compassion! And then I thought - "Yay! I'm GETTING it!"

Intention and Intent to Sleep

Probably going to format this blog in the same way that I have yoga conversations, or well, most conversations with my friend Lindsay. It's the only way I can keep myself from sounding like a weenjob.

So last night I decided I would ONCE AGAIN set my intention to do my ashtanga practice in the morning. The only time I ever succeeded in doing this was when I was in yoga teacher training at the Shala. Up at 5:30, at the studio at 6am, practice and then the 1/2 hour commute to work, somehow I managed this, in the dead of winter. But somehow I can't manage to peel myself from the Tempurpedic merely to head to the very next ROOM. Lame! I was all about it, alarm set, excited even! I even set the heat program to go up at 6am so the cold barrier would be eliminated, one less excuse. But nah, sleeping is so so sweet. And I am a professional sleeper. So despite my good idea, good intentions and even a solid at home practice I couldn't do it. Do I try tomorrow - oh no, no no no, tomorrow is Saturday - sacred sleeping day. I can however practice when I do finally get up. And there, there it is. I'll do that. And sure, I have a regular practice that comes later in the day, but for reason I feel like there is some added benefit to practicing first thing in the morning (nevermind my body feels like it's been on this earth for 85 years first thing in the morning). Is that the key, to work out those kinks earlier in the day than later?I realize what's most important is THAT I practice, but still, doubt and questions creep in.