So, this is like a week and a half late to the website. Thanks for bearing with me. I’ve been having a rough time keeping dedicated to all of the elements of this blog and video series for two reasons.
One – you folks never talk back to me about it. Comments? Likes? Shares? Anything guys? I’m not kidding I really do like talking to people and hearing from them about their experiences. Tell me what you like or don’t like, or give me some requests and suggestions for future videos. Heck you could even keep it casual and just sign up for my email list 😉 That would make me just tickled. (Thank you!)
Two – I’m less than 2 months now from the biggest craziest move of my life. I’m going to Melbourne in Australia in mid-October and I’ll be there about 6 months. Starting to job hunt, wrapping up my life here in Portland, and trying to make the most of time with loved ones here… it’s been a lot. And it’s not going to get much easier over the next few weeks, so, again, your grace with my inconsistency is so much appreciated.
I’m still totally in this project! These videos are going keep coming, I’ll keep writing, and I’ll keep sharing for sure. I might not always get things done “on time” but they’re coming, don’t worry. It would definitely help me out a ton to get some feedback and cheering on from all you readers and viewers, though… just sayin’ 😉
Anyways, I talk in the video. Yada yada yada. Watch it! Do it! Enjoy!
So I was on another TEDtalk watching kick, and there was a talk by Jill Shargaa that really stood out to me and got me thinking. It was about the word “awesome” and how we generally misuse it.
And by “we” I totally mean “me, too.” Then again, if you’ve ever read this blog or seen a video before, you already know that. So I’m trying to do better, trying to use “awesome” when it’s actually appropriate. According to dictionary.com, awesome is supposed to describe something that inspires admiration and/or fear… that is, something that inspires a state of awe.
I’m totally with Jill, for the most part. I mean, yeah, in all likelihood whatever you had for lunch was definitely not truly “awesome”. Jill goes into a list of things that do qualify as awesome, according to her, and as she worked her way through her list I started to disagree with her.
For instance, sharks were on her list for being fierce creatures at the top of the food chain. However, I know that sharks have their flaws as creatures too (their mouths are in really ineffective places to actually eat or maim people) and I also don’t live in or near the ocean, so they’re not really on my radar of “things to fear”.
Realizing this got me thinking about perspective. After all, we all have different experiences and opinions on things. What one person finds admirable or scary isn’t going to inspire the same response in someone else.
And even if we’re going back to using the word “incorrectly” I still don’t want everyone else to think the same things that I do are totally awesome. I like seeing my favorite bands in small, intimate venues for $10 at the door, rather than dishing out hundreds to scalpers for sold out arenas. I want the food I like not to sell out at the grocery store. I want to be able to stretch my legs at the park nearest my house rather than everyone in the city deciding its the best one and crowding around. Differences in opinion and tastes make life not only interesting but, honestly, bearable.
You know what most of us can probably agree on, though?
Yoga is awesome.
That’s right — even if we’re not using slang, yoga qualifies as awesome. There’s a lot of admiration for the things that we achieve in our practice (and seeing what others can achieve, yay for inspiration) . And there’s probably at least a little bit of fear, amiright? (If there’s no fear in your practice, we should talk!)
Why is yoga so awesome? Well, partially because it brings change. Change is scary. But change is also pretty cool, because we are challenged and find growth in change.
Crow definitely qualifies as an awesome pose in yoga. There’s the whole face planting potential, but also the potential that you can suspend the body so very elegantly (or precariously) in that distinctive arm balance. We’ll work on crow a bit in this practice, including a modification I really enjoy.
I also made up a pretty sweet soundtrack for this practice. Click right here to open up a playlist of Joy Division that will play in the background while you do all of this awesome yoga (you should also be able to click the link directly in the video).
Don’t forget to leave me some comments — I still haven’t heard anything from people about whether or not this new “click on a soundtrack if you want it” scenario is working out. Also, what do you wanna listen to next week? What moves do you wanna work on next week? Talk to me!
But right now, join me on the mat, it’s gonna be awesome 😉
Like many Americans, my heart is breaking for the events of the past few days. The shootings of black men, of police officers, the hateful outcries, the heartbreak of the victims’ families… it’s all been so much to bear.
I had an interesting experience in dealing with all of these emotions on Thursday after filming this episode.
As I mention in the video, the inspiration for this week’s focus is coming from this week’s soundtrack artist Lycanthrope, specifically their track “Self Worth”. The lyrics were really moving to me. They’re basically a string of phrases that I believe in very strongly — happiness comes from inside, we’re responsible for our own lives and successes, and also that we need to be sure we’re right within ourselves in order to live well in the rest of the world. It’s some pretty heavy music (which you should go check out on their Bandcamp RIGHT NOW!) but the message to that track in particular was really uplifting.
Anyways, Thursday I went into my afternoon class sick with a heavy heart over the events of the previous 48 hours. I thought, since we were working on the primary Ashtanga series, and most of my students were pretty familiar with the shapes, I would read excerpts of Thich Naht Hahn’s “Inside the Now: Meditations on Time”. I hadn’t told stories or read during classes in a while, and students have always commented they enjoy when I do, so I figured it would be a good time to bring it back and liven up the room.
This turned out to be a huge mistake.
Every poem and excerpt I chose seemed to be focused on violence and waiting and struggle. It was torture for me to read, and I felt so much worse by the time class was over. I can’t imagine how my class felt. Probably not as bad as I was projecting, I’m sure, but it definitely wasn’t the cheeriest hour I’ve spent in their company. Thankfully I was able to let it go, and received a few statements of thanks for the softer environment of class.
When I went into my evening class I was prepared to choose some more light-hearted excerpts and a brighter perspective for reading, but I was in for a pretty big surprise.
My community center classes are pretty consistent in numbers and attendees. I work with mostly the same group of people every week and I’m rather familiar with their practices and their bodies. Thursday night, however, I watched a large group of newcomers walk into the room, many of them clearly very unfamiliar with setting up a mat and unsure of what was to come.
So I set the book down. I announced to the group the same pain in my heart, but then I thanked them all for being there so that we could share the time, energy, and practice of compassion and self-love. And over the next hour, rather than digging a trench in the sadness in my own head-space, I invested in my teaching and connecting with others. I focused on providing the best guidance and instruction I was capable of giving to that room, and together we created a space of positivity, connection, and self-care through self-awareness. I got right with my duty as a teacher without getting into the fluff of reciting poetry.
After all, it’s not that we should look in the mirror and never out the window. There’s a beautiful world out there. Especially our own backyards – our closer community, where we can continue to build up connection and keep each other in balance.
So yes, we need to be responsible for our selves. We need to be sure we’re right within ourselves, but that doesn’t make us separate from others. Separatism is a fallacy. We’re all connected. We all share the same desire and capacity for joy and belonging. So, in times such as these when we may feel that joy and belonging are lacking, that love is being forgotten in the midst of hate and blame, maybe we can focus more on remembering how much good there is. How much happiness and connection and good work we can create when we work together. Teachers and students, minorities and allies, citizens and governments.
Enjoy spending this time with your practice, perhaps getting into your body and out of your head for a while. Then go lean out the window (or, you know, walk out the door) and share some joy and connection with someone else after you find it within yourself. Because we all need a little more of that – there never seems to be enough.
OK I’ll be honest, I’ve been so caught up in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up that I haven’t put a lot of thought or left a lot of time to put up a real write-up here. It’s sunny now, and I’m going out to play with my dog because I have Yoga-ed and Tidied and Organized and Sparked Joy just plain enough already.
Entry update to come.
Also, check out Windhand’s Bandcamp because Relapse Records is super awesome for allowing me to use their music for these videos and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Leave me comments and let me know what you think about the new format and any suggestions for future music, poses, focus, things for me to read. Have you tidied your own home? Thought about it? Scared? (I was!) Talk to me dude.
Happy Birthday to me! Also Happy Birthday to my roommate and bestie, Lex ^.^ We’re going to the park by the river this weekend because it is supposed to be 80* and sunny (in Portland! I know, right?) and I get to wear a bikini on my birthday which I’m pretty sure has never happened.
It’s little things like that — sunshine and a park and a bikini — that really make me happy. I don’t need a huge fancy get-away, grand fancy parties or an epic adventure. True joy is found in the smaller things, the “life” moments that pop up in between.
Since my roommate and I share a birthday, she has been talking for the past year about planning some giant destination vacation for us to celebrate together. She had spent some time on Costa Rica and wanted to return with me for “a good two weeks or so”.
Now, I’m all about travel but I’m usually a bang-it-out-in-a-weekend kind of traveller. I have a hard time leaving work behind for too long. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a workaholic, but in my defense, my job is awesome. So as the time drew nearer and it was clear we didn’t have the time or resources to plan 2 weeks so far away, we started to throw around a week in Mexico, then a weekend in Vegas or LA, and that became a weekend at her sister’s in Eugene which evolved into an overnight on the coast. Now here we are heading to the park, and we’ve adjusted to be totally happy with this decision as well. Sometimes it’s fun to just dream up an adventure – even if it turns out to be in your own backyard. You know, making the most of the hand you’ve been dealt and all that jazz.
Even though the changes to our travel plans didn’t phase me, I had to practice a lot of letting-go with some other things over the past few days and those things ended up turning out pretty well. That blister from the breakfast spatula is healing up pretty well (I was making a vegan omelette and I’m pretty blond, stuck the spatula in my mouth… Never heard of a vegan omelette? You need to follow me on Pinterest!). It’s also my second birthday/mother’s day (they’re always right next to each other) without my mom. She was supposed to come out this year but got tied up with work. Even better than her visiting for a day or two, now my parents are bringing me back to Detroit to spend a long weekend in the middle of summer as a birthday present! More days, more loved ones, and have you been to Michigan in the summer? It’s awesome! And my parents have a boat, I totally miss being out on the water. I’m a pretty lucky girl.
I also have to be honest, it was really hard for me to film this episode. I did so much subbing this week that I was pretty burned out and not really feeling into it. I almost gave up halfway through and just posted a stock episode I had saved up for such an occasion. If it hadn’t been my birthday this week and I wanted to geek out on that, I would have just stopped. I’m glad I didn’t – I started to get on a roll eventually and ended up getting this whole thing filmed and edited in 2.5 hours. That’s pretty good for how new I am to this still, and I’m fairly pleased with myself!
Wanna do something awesome for my birthday? Click here to leave a comment on the YouTube channel, and subscribe while you’re there so that you get updates about future episodes. I’m still working on shorter sections of episodes, there might even be an update on this page soon to break this one up — stay tuned!
Well, after weeks of deliberation and preparation, a solid hour of anxiety and doubt trying to talk me out of hitting “record”, a whole bunch of really bad out-takes (including a wicked crash-and-burn), and a lot less frustration during the editing process than I would have suspected… here it is! Alt Life Yoga has officially launched a (hopefully) weekly video blog series.
Editing, getting this thing going, filming it, posting that it’s available — these were all super scary things, but I’m so glad I did them! I got this thing started, I began the practice of reaching out to people online and bringing yoga to them, and it’s only gonna get better from here, right? I hope? I’m sure it will.
Check it out, and check it out on YouTube! Subscribe to my channel and rave about how awesome or terrible you think this was and make requests for the next episode, and then share it and tell all your friends. I’d love your suggestions as to how this could become a better program. I’m working on it. Baby steps. Like on a unicycle. Which makes more sense after you watch the video…
Looking for Alt Life Yoga?
Don't worry -- you're in the right place! Alt Life Yoga is now "YogaKINDaRocks". It's everything you've loved about yoga with April, the band just got a new name. Don't forget to update your contacts and keep an eye out on your social media accounts for the new name in your feed. Cheers xo