That shouldn’t happen to you!

“That shouldn’t happen to you, with all that yoga you do.”

Many times over the course of healing from a crippling bout of sciatica, I heard this comment. It exemplifies a misconception I find to be fairly common. People seem to have the idea that there are things we can do, like yoga, that will keep bad things from happening.

I wish this was true, but it isn’t. Bad things still happen no matter what we do. Wear and tear on the body still happens. Aging still happens.

What’s different for me because of yoga, is that I have tools to deal with “bad” things when they happen. I have a lot of body awareness so I can work very easily with my physical therapist. And, more importantly, I have tools to get my mind in the present moment. Without these tools, my mind would constantly be racing directly from the immediate pain to panicked thoughts about how I’m going to live my life if I can’t ever walk again without pain: maybe I’ll have to close the studio, or get rid of my goats, or stop gardening, or quit choir.  I have tools to get my mind back in the present when it travels back through time and starts nit-picking things I “should” have done differently: maybe I should have done more yoga, or less gardening, or not painted the house.

The reason it’s so important to get my mind in the present moment is that, when I’m thinking scary thoughts about the future or beating myself up about the past, my brain is telling my body that there are some even worse problems than the pain. So now I have my body and brain working fruitlessly to deal all this other stuff that isn’t even real – my brain just made it all up – instead of putting my energy into dealing with the actual situation.

Whether I’m doing the yoga postures, breathing, or meditating, I’ve been training myself to notice when my mind goes out of the present moment. This is the first tool that yoga has given me: simply to notice when my mind starts time traveling.

Doing yoga postures is, for many people, the first place they ever (as an adult) experience having their attention fully focused on the moment. Sometimes this will happen the first time someone ever goes to a yoga class. Sometimes it takes a few times. But, usually, new students are quickly so absorbed in trying to figure out when to inhale and exhale and where to put their feet and hands, that they soon discover how freeing it is to really be in the moment.

As it gradually becomes a little easier to find their way into the postures, students begin to deliberately work with some basic tools for getting the attention in the moment in a very intentional way: Breathe, Steady Gaze, Locks, and Gratitude.

Breath and gratitude were the two that really kept me present and able to move through the discomfort of the sciatica.  A lot of the time for about a month, the pain really was horrible. But that didn’t mean I needed to add to the problem by creating scary scenarios about a future where I’d never feel OK again.

Bringing my attention back to the breath anchored my awareness on what was really going on. Once I did this, I could use my energy to choose what the best course of action was right then: more heat, more ice, more pain killers, sleep on the floor, whatever. Freeing myself from thinking about what was going to happen next week, allowed me to figure out these very basic things – which was what I really needed to do to start to heal.

Continually bringing my awareness to what there was to be grateful for in each moment also helped keep me from thinking that the pain was the only thing that existed. Yes, it was bad, but there were SO many things to be thankful for: the students, teachers and staff at Yoga in ME keeping things going without me there, my husband taking most of a month off work to care for me (and even teach two classes!), well wishes from friends, good food to eat, the resources to get a more comfortable mattress,  my 7 year old grand-daughter coming over to clean the house, and more.

So, no, doing all that yoga did not keep me from having sciatica. And it won’t keep me from aging or, eventually, from dying. What it’s done is given me a set of tools to deal with life as it really is. The tools to let go of my attachment to how my body “should” work or how my life “should” be and be able to find moments of joy, love, community, and healing in the face of incredible pain.

A Yoga Tragedy

A Yoga Tragedy

by Sue Mickey

At 5:30 pm, Friday November 2, 2018 a man opened fire at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida. 21-year-old Maura Binkley and 61-year-old Dr. Nancy Van Vessem were killed in the attack. Five others were injured. Maura and Nancy were described as caring and helpful, working to make their community better.

At  8:00 am, Sunday November 4, 2018, thirteen people arrived at Yoga in ME to practice yoga. I was teaching that morning and was wondering how to ignore this latest American atrocity—the 304th mass shooting in 2018.  Usually my personality is humorous and a bit sarcastic. I do not take myself too seriously and try to invoke that during practice especially if I notice someone struggling physically or mentally.  In our studio we preach accepting yourself exactly where you are today. This aspect is important to reach the therapeutic aspect of yoga. On this day the clients were distracted. They were buying merchandise, they were chatty, and one woman was visibly upset. She pulled me aside after checking in and asked what we were going to do about the yoga shooting.

I looked at her right in the eyes and spoke with firmness, while her lips quivered. “We are going to do yoga”. This answer came from somewhere deep inside and I felt assured that this was the right answer. No joking, no sarcasm here.

Why was yoga my answer?

There are many interpretations of the word yoga. Some translations include: “to come together”, “ to unite”, “to yolk (nourish) ”, “to attain what was previously unattainable”, and “to walk with the divine”. My favorite translation of yoga is a thread. I like to think of my mind as a jumble of threads that are sorted out with yoga practice and woven into a beautiful tapestry that will become my life. This of course is a continual work in progress.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is considered to be one of the most important texts for understanding the eight-limbed path of Asthanga yoga. The 196 sutras are concise statements offering guidelines for living a wise and meaningful life. Sutra 1-2 states that yoga is the effort toward ceasing the distractions in your mind.  And Sutra 1-32 states that if one can steady the mind and practice, whatever the provocations, the interruptions cannot take root. When we stop thinking we are present and connected inside and not bound to the outside world. When the ripples stop the mind is still, this is the experience of yoga. It was clear to me that we all needed yoga that morning.

Why we do the work:

 

Many of us really do not know at first. We may feel better physically, then notice that mentally we feel more stable, so we repeat the process. Life starts to get better as we begin to focus on being present off the mat. Awareness  of our thoughts increases and we start modifying our behaviors. We begin to choose to listen to our bodies more and eat, hydrate and rest when we need it.

We also begin to focus our energy and time with people and tasks that bring us joy. Connection to our true self grows. Yoga Sutra 2-1 states that the practice of yoga reduces physical and mental impurities and develops our capacity for self-examination.  And Sutra 2-2 states that this practice will be certain to remove obstacles and clear perception. Well, “Hello!” something gentle, kind, and clears the clutter, why are they not doing this everywhere?

Better News:

Another great yoga text, the Bhagavad Gita, emphasizes that the way to our highest power is through our duties in life. In other words the search for your purpose is not separate from every day activities.  This is a relief, I do not have to search for my dharma (purpose) it is right here in every day life.

Healing and Hope:

This Sunday November 11, 2018, a candlelight vigil will be held in Tallahassee to honor the lives of Dr. Nancy Van Vessem and Maura Binkley. There will be uplifting prayers, reflections and music. The community is trying to transform the tragedy into an event that strengthens bonds and promotes peace.

At Yoga in ME we will continue to practice, do the work and bring that peace into the world.  As part of the world community of yogis we hope that when we calm the waves in our minds the ripple effect of yoga brings change.

I honor the place in you that is the same in me. This is a place where the whole universe resides. I honor the place in you of love and light, of peace and truth. There is but one

Namaste

Sue Mickey

It’s yin season!

Yin Yoga for Clarity this Fall

The temperature is cooling off. The wind is drier. There is less sunlight. Nature is telling us it’s time to drop inside our bodies and open those drier tissues after the yang heat and activity of summer.

The nature of yin is lunar, female, darker, cooler and drier. This contrasts to the heating, male, active mobile qualities of yang. Active yang vinyasa practices tend to work more of the muscular tissues.  The yin practice targets the bones, connective tissue, ligaments and tendons. These tissues respond to a long, gentle hold which draws moisture to the “internal wet suit” we all wear under our skin.

Don’t be fooled by the seeming simplicity of the shapes. As you stay in the postures the sensations can be quite juicy!

 

Our bodies need both types of movement to stay healthy. The squeezing of the tissues also facilitates the flow of energy through our bodies. Balance of both energies is key during this season of transition.


The lesson I’ve learned from yin is that less is more.   Gentle poses held for longer periods of time with attention to even breath and lack of movement produce an incredible sense of relaxation and inner peace.This practice is a superb offset to more strenuous exercise and has become my most favorite hour and a half in  my week.  It leaves me deeply relaxed, is a great stress reliever and I feel as though I float out of class embracing the calm.

Jane

For me, the tightness in my shoulder and hip joints limits the range of expression for certain Yang yoga postures.  I believe that regular Yin practice is helping me to both stretch and lubricate the tissues that support these joints, making them more supple and yield more easily to postures like Lotus and Cow Face.  I love the thrumming sensation that comes from, as Carol calls it, the “marinating” of the fascia during the holding of Yin postures.

Cathryn


Yin yoga is currently offered 5:30 pm Monday, and 10:30 am Wednesday. Check the schedule for the any changes or cancelations before class.

 

8 Reasons Why our Teacher Training is Ranked in the top 5% Nationally

This fall, we are honored to be offering – for the 3rd time – The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute’s 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. We feel beyond grateful to have this highly ranked extraordinary program right here in our small town in southern Maine.

You might not realize it, but besides being a wonderful teacher and inspirational human being, our director, Beryl Bender Birch, is an international yoga super star. She is one of the first people to popularize yoga in the United States.

But that, in itself, would not be enough to rank The Hard & The Soft as a Yoga Alliance® 5-star Rated Accredited Training School.

Here are eight reasons this yoga teacher training course,  when compared to hundreds of other programs, is consistently rated in the top 5%.

 

  1. The students. Our programs attract top quality students and genuine, bright, compassionate human beings from all over the world. We consistently hear from our trainees and graduates that “this is the best group of people I have ever been a part of – I look forward to the training weekends because it feels like I am coming home.”
  2. The Sangha (community). Students meet and are supported by like-minded practitioners and forge lifetime friendships.
  3. The faculty. Unlike many other programs, our teachers have all been practicing and teaching for many years. Most are Certified Yoga Therapists (IAYT) and nationally renowned specialists in a wide variety of fields and yoga applications. Students would need to combine several different professional trainings in order to duplicate the comprehensive quality of our single program.
  4. The practice. There are many ways to teach yoga and many ways to practice. Every weekend includes study and practice in asana, pranayama, and meditation, in order to help students find and define their unique path. The foundation and primary focus of our asana study for the 200 hour training is a brilliant vinyasa sequence of postures called Present Power. It can be as challenging or as accommodating as desired. Every student is certified to teach this power vinyasa system, plus more moderate styles of the practice that are capable of being amended for all limitation and disability, as well as beginning forms of pranayama and meditation.
  5. The depth of training. Because all our faculty have actually been studying yoga and practicing all its aspects – asana, pranayama, meditation, service – for so many years, we can offer insight into the deeper dimensions of yoga that, frequently, the staff of other trainings does not have the experience to provide.
  6. The emphasis on service. Through our affiliation with The Give Back Yoga Foundation, we prepare our graduates for a career in yoga service and help them to take their practice out into the world and be the change they want to create.
  7. The Individualized Yoga Plan (IYP).  Every student develops an Individualized Yoga Plan with help from faculty and the director of the studio where they are training. This provides students with a way to identify their dharma and pursue a path into the specialized field of their choice.
  8. The Director.  American yoga pioneer Beryl Bender Birch, is the founder/director of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute and co-founder of the Give Back Yoga Foundation. As a best-selling author, (Power Yoga, Beyond Power Yoga, Yoga for Warriors) and teacher, Beryl has been teaching yoga and meditation internationally for over 40 years and is a longtime faculty member at Kripalu and Omega Institute. She graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in English and Philosophy, and began the study of meditation in 1971 with her teacher, Jain monk Munishree Chitrabhanu. She traveled to India in 1974 to further her studies and started practice of the ashtanga vinyasa asana system with her teacher, Norman Allen, in 1979. She continued to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois from 1987 through 1993. Her book Power Yoga (1995), an accessible form of the ashtanga asana practice, sold nearly 300,000 copies and was primarily responsible for introducing yoga to the athletic community. She, more than most, walks her talk…and is one of the brightest, most down to earth, knowledgeable, accessible, funny, and joyful people you will ever meet. One of her gifts is making authentic and therapeutic forms of asana accessible to all. Everyone on faculty has trained with her for decades and is at least a 1000-hour graduate of her school, The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. Beryl’s vision trickles down from the top and infuses the program, the faculty, the community, and the students.

REGISTER NOW

 

What is Boomer Yoga?

Boomer Yoga is one of our most popular classes at Yoga in ME. It’s no secret that this is one of my favorite classes to teach. The group of yogis who attend this class are enthusiastic, welcoming, and committed to this practice. It is so much fun to be in the room with them! I feel that they have taught me as much or more than I have taught them.

When students first come to our studio, they often wonder what exactly this class is. It is not, as many people assume when they first hear about it “easy” or “just for old people”. True, most of the students who attend this class are in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond. But this is by no means an “easy” practice.

Our Boomer Yoga class is thus named because it follows a sequence that is based on Beryl Bender Birch’s book: Boomer Yoga. It is meant to be a dynamic and athletic practice. This sequence allows us to offer many options in order to be accessible to all students, regardless of age or ability. We encourage students to do as much or as little as they choose to do. The only thing they have to do is: breathe.

We do our best to offer options in every posture. As we go through the sequence, we encourage students to try different things and learn what feels right in their body. As students become more familiar with this practice, they start to learn their preferred variation for each posture.

Students in this class embrace the opportunity to develop a vigorous movement practice that is appropriate for their bodies. We also delve into some of the deeper aspects of yoga practice.

A large part of this class focuses on learning to pay attention and be present in THIS moment. We work in the right here and right now. We do this through the use of the “3 tools” of yoga.  If you’ve been in one of my classes you have probably heard me mention these 1 or 1 million times. The three tools are the breath, a steady, focused gaze, and the bandhas (a light engagement of the pelvic floor and lower abdomen). We talk about these tools frequently and use them to help towards our ultimate goal: attempting to still the fluctuations the mind (aka yoga!).

Notice how we say “attempting”, not actually doing it. We constantly remind our students that this is a practice, not a perfect!

A large part of why and how this class works is this element of teaching our students to pay attention and listen to their bodies. Our job is to create a safe space for students to find a practice that is somewhere between “it’s doing nothing” and hurting themselves. We often say: “if you are breathing, you are doing it right!” and we mean it!

Are you a student in our Boomer Yoga class? Comment below with your favorite thing about this class!

Yoga Nidra

Elements

Yoga Nidra

 

-a poem by Renee Parent

 

Ring the bell, and call the elements to me.

Earth, embracing the body as I’m a babe in arms.

Wind, caressing my flesh without any offenses.

Water, cleansing my burdens buried deep inside.

Fire, kindling the hidden soul into being present.

After they have come, call the most obscure of all

The Divine, the Holy, the Blessed, the essence of us both

I am! We are! Here. In the right now.

Ring the bell again, and let’s stay a while to drift

 

Namaste

 

The best gift I ever gave my children.

In 1999 I still thought I had to be perfect: I was a full-time over-achieving graduate student. Almost entirely by myself, I managed a household and parented three children ages 6, 8 and 10.  I volunteered at the elementary school. My house was immaculate. And the list could go on.

As a preacher’s kid from a small farming community in Wisconsin, I lived constantly with the idea that people were watching and judging me. And I thought hat I needed to live up to their expectations. I wasn’t hooked into following conventions that didn’t make sense to me (for example, I didn’t have a t.v. in the house for many years​), however, everything I did do had to be perfect.

Not surprisingly,  I did not find joy in my life.

Everything seemed grey to me. I needed to take painkillers most nights in order to sleep because my hips hurt almost all the time. My back would spasm so badly sometimes that I couldn’t get off the floor. I felt guilt or some other negative emotion the instant I woke up in the morning. I was unreasonably irritable and angry with my children. My marriage had been completely devoid of physical contact for 6 years. I was depressed.

I lived with the assumption that there was really nothing I could do to change any of these things. My hips must hurt because arthritis runs in my family I was bound to get it. Back pain must be inevitable in tall people.  I believed I really was a horrible mother so, of course, I should live with feeling guilty and bad all the time.  And, certainly, it followed from this that I didn’t deserve to be touched or loved. It simply didn’t occur to me that there was anything I could do to change any of these things.

Somewhere inside me, however, I must have known there could be more to life

because when an acquaintance mentioned a new yoga studio she’d been going to, I decided to try it out.  I had been doing some yoga poses on my own for more than ten years at that point, but I had never really considered going to a class. What I found at the group class at this studio was something completely different than what I had been doing on my own. The first class I went to happened to be an intermediate level power yoga class that completely kicked my butt. For that whole class time, my mind was only on those postures. Nothing hurt, I didn’t feel guilty or inadequate. When the rest came at the end of class, I felt a miraculous sense of well being. I was hooked.

I kept going back to classes. When I couldn’t manage to find classes that fit into my schedule while the kids were in school, I took them with me and sat them in the waiting room with some books​. ​

Little by little, my body and mind started to change.

I felt that I was physically and mentally becoming more myself. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy were pushed back to a dull roar.  My hips stopped hurting all the time. My back didn’t go out anymore. I was much more the loving and patient parent I wanted to be. The transformation I experienced was so  pronounced that  the kids would announce, “You need to go to yoga today, Mom.” ​whenever I started to go back to my old cranky ways.

These changes inspired me to do even more things to care for myself.  I started getting massage and talk therapy.  These worked together with practicing yoga to help me see that I did not have to live in a world that felt gray all the time. By the time I separated from my husband and began a long and difficult divorce in 2002, I had the tools to be able to be act with some compassion and mindfulness​.

My process of transformation is ongoing.  The tools I’ve learned through yoga continue to help me be more present in each moment. They help me to set appropriate boundaries for myself. It’s much easier to remember that I have a lot to be grateful for. Yoga postures help me feel better in my body. I’m much quicker to forgive myself when I screw up.  And my life is no longer grey most of the time.  I am grateful to have loving and respectful relationships with my children and grandchildren and husband.​

I think my children would all agree: The best gift I ever gave them was to take care of myself.

I was robbed! How to stay in the Present Moment when things aren’t Rainbows and Unicorns

I had the privilege to spend last week on retreat with my teacher, Beryl Bender Birch. This retreat is something I look forward to each year. It’s at a wonderful resort in Costa Rica right on the Pacific Ocean. I was anticipating amazing weather and connecting with other inclusive and inquiring health-minded individuals. Perhaps, most of all, I was looking forward to taking a break from being a teacher and studio owner. To getting to practice yoga and being in the present moment 24/7. Just being a student for a whole week!  

Yoga is all about how to get our attention into the present moment. And when everything is rainbows and unicorns, like this retreat was promising to be, it seems so much easier to do! This is one of the things I value most about going on retreat. Time spent practicing being in the present moment when it’s easy helps me stay in present moment when the situation is not as idillic. 

Well, I was certainly presented with opportunities to practice being in the present moment, but not because the trip was all rainbows and unicorns. I started  the trip with a bang by getting sick literally just as the plane touched down in Costa Rica. I had to bolt to the bathroom and beg the flight attendants to let me in the restroom. 

Aboard the shuttle bus to the retreat center, I wasn’t feeling much better. Eventually, I had to ask to stop the bus so I could be sick by the side of the road. Luckily someone sitting next to me realized the shuttle driver needed to hear my request in Spanish.  I felt a little weak after that, but overall much better. I started really paying attention to the present moment and everything there was to be grateful for: The offers of tissues and cough drops to soothe my throat from my fellow shuttle riders. The fact that I was in sunny, warm Costa Rica. Most of all, I was appreciating the opportunity to just be sick without having any students to teach or work to do at the studio!

Shortly after arriving at the resort, however, a message came from Beryl saying her flight was delayed and she wouldn’t  be there until the next day. Beryl asked me to work with another of her students, Debra, to welcome the group of almost 40 students that evening and then lead meditation and yoga posture classes the next morning. Time to let go of my attachment to how great not teaching would feel and work on getting my attention in the present moment!

I was very grateful and honored that Beryl trusted me to get the retreat going.  And leading a group of enthusiastic and dedicated yogis all ready to dive in is definitely a real treat.  I still wasn’t feeling all that great, however, so as the evening welcome session approached, I realized that I wasn’t feeling well enough to do anything at all. Especially not welcome people and explain why it was me and Debra, but not Beryl welcoming them!

Debra was, of course, just fine getting started without me and also leading meditation at 6:30am the next day so I was able to have a nice, long sleep. In the morning I felt much better and was able to get up and lead the yoga class after breakfast. It was quite a thrill leading a group of focused and dedicated yogis through practice. I felt revived and, with my teaching done, it was easy to be in the present moment.

We were all happy to welcome Beryl to Costa Rica later that day. To enjoy the privilege of having her lead the group and work her magic and make everyone feel included and welcome. I was delighted to be able to turn the reigns back over to Beryl and to get back to just being a student. 

I really couldn’t have picked a better place to recover from whatever was wrong with my stomach. The weather was lovely, the food was great, and it was simply an amazing group of people all gathered together with the intention of being in the moment. We meditated, did pranayama, practiced yoga postures, swam and walked on the beach, listened to the howler monkeys, watched iguanas sitting in the sun, ate healthy vegetarian food, and just enjoyed life. Now that everything was so perfect and I had Beryl reminding me to do it, it was easy to be in the present moment. 

Partway into this wonderful week, news of a  big storm projected for the Northeast US reached our ears. My airline was looking for people to change flights for no charge. I decided to delay my return to the States and join another member of our group scuba diving the morning after the retreat ended. What could be better? The flight change was free and I had some points on a credit card I could use to reserve a hotel near the dive site. Wow, I thought, I’m going with the flow. This being present in the moment just gets better and better!

The hotel I stayed at near the dive site was spacious and convenient. Unfortunately, my room lacked a functioning safe. I wasn’t sure what to do with my valuables. I ended up choosing to take my computer, noise cancellation headphones, phone, credit card, cash, and passport all with me to the dive site. While we prepared to go out in the boat,  I left them in the locked rental car. In retrospect, I can think of lots of better ways to have dealt with this, but I didn’t choose any of those at the time.

We were all standing about 10 feet away from the car talking and getting ready to go. I realized I wanted to leave my pants in the car,  so I went back to the car and put them in. I locked the car again and went back to the group. As we started heading out to the boat a few minutes later, I remembered  my hat was in the car. I walked back to the car once again.

This time, when I open the door and reached in for my stuff, nothing was there. Confusion set in. It felt impossible to process what was going on. I walked all around the car opening every door, looked in the trunk, dug under the seats, and found nothing. The only thing left in the car, thankfully, were my prescription glasses. In the space of about ten minutes and about ten feet away from where I was standing, a thief robbed us! 

I was completely floored. I felt incredibly stupid for leaving my things in the car – especially my passport. I’d like to think that that last time back to the car, I was going to get my passport and phone to keep with me. But I’m not really sure about that. I just wasn’t thinking that morning. I went out to the boat, got in, and shared with everyone what had happened. There didn’t seem to be anything I could do so we all continued with the diving trip.

I remember at this point congratulating myself for how good I was at this being in the present moment stuff. Look at me, I’d just been robbed, but I could still enjoy a diving trip. I could deal with the issue of how I was going to get back home later. What could I do anyway without my phone or any money? I might as well enjoy the diving.

When we got to the dive spot I put my gear on and jumped in and started to go down.  In order to dive safely, however, I had to be able to keep my body out of flight or flight response. Once under water, it became obvious I couldn’t do that. I was way too freaked out to safely dive. 

Back in the boat again, I was aware that this was another opportunity to practice being in the present moment. Someone took my stuff and there was nothing I could do to change this fact. I knew that, without a passport, I would not be able to get home. I wasn’t in a position to do anything about a new one until we got back to shore.

But knowing I couldn’t do anything about it did not make me feel much better. I felt anxious and upset and I began judging myself for this. Like somehow I should just be feeling grateful to be in this beautiful place and that feeling anxious meant I wasn’t doing a good job of being in the moment.

I had to accept that the way I felt was also part of the present moment.

Once I was able to accept that my feelings of anxiety and fear were part of the present moment, I was able to find some moments of joy. I marveled at a pod of leaping dolphins, a ray jumping up out of the water, a needlefish flying above the water to escape some predator. 

Back on shore again, I learned the only way to get a new passport was to drive to the American Embassy in San Jose.  Figuring out how I was going to get to San Jose and how much money this was going to cost was definitely not rainbows and unicorns. It was not at all easy to be present in these moments. It was, on the other hand, easy to feel grateful.  Grateful for my husband back in the States arranging a hotel in San Jose. And to have a friend willing to drive me several hours to the hotel. And then turn around and drive back for his own flight from Liberia.

The entire drive to San Jose was an opportunity to practice being in the present moment. To allow myself to be upset, scared, and anxious. To practice not adding to the difficulties of the situation with negative self talk.

In the moments where I was able to accept how upset I was, I was also able to find joy. Joy in a beautiful drive through the mountains of Costa Rica with pleasant conversation and music.

 

Early the next morning, I took a taxi to the American Embassy. While I was waiting for the Embassy to open, my driver, Oscar, returned to tell me where he was parked. He was back again a few minutes later. Oscar was concerned I didn’t have enough money to pay for my new passport and wanted to loan me money. I initially tried to refuse, but he insisted and I realized he might be right. I was so touched by this kindness that I almost completely broke down in tears in front of the Embassy.  

As Mr. Rogers said,  “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”: My husband and daughter arranging things at home, the taxi driver loaning me money, my friend loaning me money and driving round trip about ten hours to get me to the embassy, the young woman at Newark airport who trusted me to borrow her phone at 1am in Newark airport.  I continue to feel gratitude for all the help I received that got me back to my home in Maine again.

I’m now the proud owner of what must surely be the most unflattering passport photo ever. It will cost a small fortune if I choose to replace my lost electronics. I have a ton of work to do to re-do all my online accounts and bank accounts that we closed. But I am safe. None of my personal information appears to have been successfully stolen. I am back home in Maine now, marveling at the beauty of this moment. The quiet beautiful end of an amazing March snow storm where everything is beautifully covered with clean, white snow.  How lucky am I to be in this present moment?


Interested in a retreat that won’t involve getting stuck out of the country? Lydia & I are leading a weekend retreat at Aryaloka in Newmarket, New Hampshire. March 16 – 18, 2018. We’d love to have you join us for a weekend of present moment awareness.

Emerging Into Spring: 9 Ways to Renew & Rejuvenate Your Yoga Practice For Spring

These past few weeks, it finally feels like there is a slight possibility that spring is right around the corner. I think this is one of the most magical times of year in New England. A time when the days of long dark and bitter cold start to make way for something different. Something new and wonderful. Where there is almost hope that things will be green and alive again and that we are emerging into spring!

A 75* day in February is one of the best possible reminders to live in the present moment! Yes, it will probably snow tomorrow, but today we can feel the sheer joy of the warm sun on our faces. Here and now is pretty darn perfect. THIS moment is filled with the wonder and possibility of the fact that we can leave the house without a coat. The birds are singing and the snowbanks are ever-so-slowly being replaced with mud!

But how does all of this translate to your yoga practice? For many, the fire and heat of yoga is very important in carrying us through the cold and dark of the winter months. As we approach spring, you may find yourself craving a little something new in your practice.

This is a great time to focus on inviting in new possibilities or new perspective to your practice.

This doesn’t have to be anything complicated or fancy. Looking at your practice with fresh perspective can be very simple, easy, and dare I say fun? Here are 8 easy, small ways to mix things up, renew & rejuvenate your practice this month:

  1. Choose a different variation of a familiar pose.
  2. Mix up which days you come to practice
  3. Try out a practice with a new instructor
  4. Come to Yin Yoga on Monday nights
  5. Dive deep: join us for the Peace, Love & Asana masterclass for an opportunity to dive deeper into the postures of the Sun Salutations
  6. Committing to practice 1 extra day a week for the month
  7. Try a home practice
  8. Go prop free OR add in some new props! Big blocks anyone?
  9. Immerse yourself: join us for our Emerging into Spring retreat March 16-18!

Whether you try our suggestions or not, we hope that the possibility of emerging into spring brings you joy and possibility both on and off the mat. Did you try one of our suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!

Self Care: Why Studio Owners Need To Do Yoga Too

Wondering why you are seeing me in class more lately? Me too (…kidding). I’ve been making a huge effort to commit to self care over the past few weeks.

And you may (or may not) have noticed that one of the ways I’m doing this is by making an effort to get back on my mat.

When I’m having a bad day (or week, or month), getting on my mat and sharing a yoga practice with other like-minded individuals is one of the few things that helps me stop feeling disconnected. There’s nothing quite like sharing breath and energy with a room full of people doing yoga to alleviate loneliness.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with a little back story:

As a yoga studio owner, people often assume I’m in great shape. I’m a yoga teacher, so I must spend a lot of time doing yoga. I (supposedly) do a lot of yoga so I must be really healthy and fit. Some of these things may be true some of the time.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I really struggle to take good care of myself.

Lately, I’ve been feeling stressed out, anxious, and depressed. I’ve noticed that I have been spending a lot of time zoning out on my phone using social media. I’m not eating as well as I should be. I’ve had a shorter temper with my kids and husband. I have been getting frequent headaches. And I have been feeling very stagnant.

Here’s my excuse: I have 3 young children. In fact, I have spent all except about a year (total) of the last 7+ years pregnant, breastfeeding, or both. One (or more) of my kiddos has slept in my bed every night for the last 6 years. “Me time” is non-existent. As a small business owner, the primary caregiver of my children, and partner to someone who travels frequently for work, I have a LOT going on.

And I’m a typical mom, taking care of ME is often my very last priority.

But guess what? When I fail to take care of myself, every around me suffers. Whether it’s because I have a short temper, or I zone out looking at my phone instead of playing, or I avoid going out because I don’t feel like getting dressed, my kids are impacted when I’m not feeling like myself. Furthermore, I am not setting a good example of self-care for them.

For many reasons, my partner and I are both making an effort to re-commit to taking some time for ourselves. We are both working to support each other in doing things together and alone that do not involve the kids. We are reminding each other that our self care needs to be a priority in order for us to provide the best possible care for each other and our children.

Here’s what I’m doing to improve my self care:

Reading instead of looking at my phone.

I’m committing to read a minimum of 50 books this year. I love to read and can’t wait to exceed this goal! Plus I am setting a great example for my kids and showing them my priorities.

Moving my body every day.

Even if it’s a 5 minute walk or maybe even sometimes I count steam mopping as exercise. Exercise and fresh air are so important for self care and happiness.

Making healthy eating choices most of the time.

Maybe you do this too? If I eat lousy in the morning, sometimes I decide the whole day is crap and why even bother trying to eat right for the rest of the day. I’m working to make healthy choices most of the time and not let one bad eating choice ruin the rest of my day. Sometimes I eat coffee for breakfast and those “snacking chocolates” from the target check-out line for lunch. But that doesn’t mean I can’t eat a healthy dinner. Good decisions add up!

Seeking out meaningful social connections.

If you know me, you might know I’m a little… antisocial. I almost always choose stay home over go out. But making meaningful social connections is very important to long-term happiness. I’m taking baby steps on this one and making an effort to meet a friend for coffee every couple weeks. And I’m working with Whitney to start up a Mindful Parents Meetup group at Yoga in ME. We’ll be meeting once a month. You can find more information about our first meeting here!

Getting back on my mat.

I hope to practice at least 3 times a week. I know that sometimes things will get in the way and this won’t happen. But I’m going to keep trying anyway. Not only is this important for my self-care, health, and family, it is also important for the studio. How can I honestly and authentically share this practice if I’m not practicing what I preach? I have seen students be positively impacted by this practice time and time again. I know that it works. So all I need to do is set a good example and DO IT!

What’s your favorite self-care practice? Tell us in the comments!

See you in class!